Ylang 49 by Le Labo

Ylang 49 by Le Labo

Hey ULGers, Here’s a funny thing. A couple of years ago Surrender To Chance had a couple of sale days where you could buy 8ml of things for much cheaper than normal. Seriously good discounts. So I spent a truckload. Sometimes buying a couple of the same thing, many blind. Yeah, so I know YOU KNOW how that usually goes. One win to every 10+ WTF. Anyway, one of the things I bought a couple of was Ylang 49. Because it’s only tangentially ylang I was thoroughly let down and they got lost amongst the many. Then as I was packing for London it went in the bag. OMG! With all expectations removed it is bloody fabulous. Full disclosure: Someone I was spending time with HATED it on me and found it hippy patchouli heavy hell. Me, nope, LOVED IT!

I think part of my loathing it earlier is my general side eye cringe and snort at the Le Labo mix-just-for-you bulls**t. It’s so annoying. The juice then needs to macerate in your bottle and takes up to a year to smell like the tester you tried in store. (yes, I know you know all this but it rubs me wrong)

In their favour, the simple Le Labo bottle that is used by so many companies is one of my favourite. Clean lines, easy to hold, nice and hefty.

Ylang 49 by Le Labo 2015

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Ylang-Ylang Patchouli Oakmoss Tahitian Gardenia Vetiver Benzoin Sandalwood

The opening is all cool white florals and grassy greenery. A little more fresh than you would expect from something ylang named but well within purview.

The opening lasts about two minutes and already patchouli has pretty much taken over the field. At about 5 minutes Ylang 49 goes completely quiet on me. It’s so weird. Like a complete drop out of fragrance. When it comes back, not very long later, it’s a complete patchouli bomb with some quiet backing players. Dark, earthy patchouli that feels like walking through the cold still air of underground water cave complexes. Strange, beautiful, slightly dank and cool. Nothing tropical or ylang-ish at all.

Ylang 49 by Le Labo

Later Ylang 49 does get a little sweeter and creamier but still the patchouli is king. Lasting power is excellent and it has excellent projection, even though I as wearer only notice it in huffs.

Is Ylang 49 something you love?
Portia xx

La Fumee Ottoman by Miller Harris

La Fumee Ottoman by Miller Harris

Hey there crew, I’ve spoken about taking my FragranceNet 8ml decant of La Fumee Ottoman by Miller Harris on holiday to South Korea and did a very short thought bubble on it. Wearing it yesterday I thought it really deserves its own post. I really like the Miller Harris brand. The perfumes feel well thought out, mostly very comfortable wears and the price point isn’t all the way through the roof. Their bottles are very comfortable in my hand, hefty and well balanced. Plus they give good spritz. Of course this doesn’t matter when you’ve bought an 8ml decant. Interestingly La Fumee Ottoman is celebrating a decade of production this year.

La Fumee Ottoman by Miller Harris 2013

La Fumee Ottoman Miller Harris

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Cumin Cardamom Rose Bergamot
Heart: Incense Cedar Patchouli
Base: Amber Rose Fruits Vanilla Sandalwood Tonka Bean

Straight out of the gate I’m smelling cold woody incense sticks. They are not like Christian, Indian, Korean or Japanese sticks, much darker, less reverential. It doesn’t feel like I’ve experienced in temples and churches. I love it. Really interesting. This explosive opening quickly morphs into a lovely sweaty patchouli and here I do smell hints of roses. Kind of like potpourri. Dry, dusty rose petals and I also smell anise seed pods. WOW! Every time I wear La Fumee Ottoman it takes me by surprise how beautifully tapestried the fragrance is. This heart lasts well too. Not a top heavy behemoth that collapses on itself in 40 minutes.

La Fumee Ottoman Miller Harris FragranceNet decant

As I move further into the heart the incense becomes much more like I grew up with in Roman Catholic church. That very particular joining of smoke, incense, cold building, old wooden pews and humanity. While not being a church going person anymore this smell still brings me comfort and makes me think existential thoughts. Good ones. I even offer up a little prayer of gratitude for my great good fortune in life.

After an hour or so the woods have taken centre stage. Patchouli still keeps them dark and earthy. La Fumee Ottoman has by this time quietened considerably. Still fragrant but the fireworks are now merely embers. The sweetness doesn’t arrive till much later. Dry down is a mix of woods, vanilla heavy amber and tonka. It’s melded perfectly and I’m sure there are other nuances I miss. What is important to me though is that La Fumee Ottoman stays lovely and interesting till I can’t smell it anymore.

Fully unisex, projection and sillage are above average and longevity is excellent. I would really like to wear this while wandering an art gallery with a friend. I think the cool airy spaces, beautiful and interesting art, conversation and coffee afterwards would be served well by this beautiful scent.

So, does La Fumee Ottoman read like something you could wear and love?
Portia x

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations

Hi there ULGers, There’s no secret that Neela Vermeire and I are close friends. We speak regularly on the phone, catch up whenever we find ourselves in the same cities and our husbands love each other too. I’m prefacing with this because the reason we even met was because I fell madly in love with Neela Vermeire Creations back in 2012 when her first trio was released. In 2013 the four of us happened to be in Vienna together and that was our first meeting. Yes, 10 years ago. It seems to have passed in a heartbeat. We had a couple of days overlap in London while I was there, as we stay in the same club we were both sprung on a super secret visit. Both of us were there for specific reasons and we didn’t catch up with most of our friends. Apologies to all that were missed. Hopefully Jin and I will see you all in November. Anyway, Neela passed me a decant of Pichola while we were there and I’ve been wearing it. Because Rahele and Mohur get most of the spritzes around here I’d forgotten this grand beauty. So I thought maybe you’d like to revisit it with me.

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations 2015

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Neroli Clementine Magnolia Cardamom Saffron Cinnamon Bergamot Juniper
Heart: Tuberose Orange Blossom Jasmine Sambac Ylang-Ylang Rose
Base: Sandalwood Benzoin Driftwood

Yeah, it reads like a mid 80s kitchen sinker. No, Pichola may have a shit tonne of listed notes but they have all gone in to make something clear as a bell. So poised and perfect that it’s overlooked for fragrances less serene that feel more combative, strange, beastly etc etc. A radiant white floral that smells in the same family as Elie Saab, Gucci Guilty and Rush. There are more but I think Pichola does it better.

The sharp brightness of citrus and juniper matched with smooth green herbaceousnous give the white floral opening a springlike lift. it’s both refreshing and foresty. There is also a scratchy dry ache in my throat that often accompanies pepper or tea and I’m surprised at their lack of inclusion. This makes the traditional radiant white floral seem simple and unsophisticated by comparison (yes, I love them too and have well used bottles of all the above).

The heart is a mystery to me. Sure there is a lot of white flower action in the bouquet but it’s given a broad twist. My nose says vanilla but I’m wondering if it’s the ylang and sandalwood working together to give that impression. They are common tropical tropes added to give that island nights feeling and added to the benzoin may well be playing nose games with me. There is a sensuality to Pichola that is making me smile while I write this post.

Pichola by Neela Vermeire Creations Lake palace

Driftwood is such an interesting note. It could be suggestion but I find the sandalwood/amber/white floral base to be lightly salted. This represents seaside to me, and yes, fantasy dreams of tropical islands. Funnily, Lake Pichola that the fragrance is named for is freshwater. If you ever get the chance to stay in Udaipur Rajasthan do go spend a couple of nights in the Lake Palace Hotel. It’s fabulous. Then spend another two nights staying in a hotel on the outside of the lake so you can enjoy the view of the Lake Palace Hotel as well. The above advertising picture represents the smooth bright golden feeling that Pichola has for me so well.

Did you, or do you, wear Pichola?
Portia x

Un Jardin a Cythere by Hermes

Hey Crew, I know it should be Un Jardin à Cythère byHermès but and not using the diacritical marks through the piece. Soz. So it will be Un Jardin a Cythere by Hermes from hereon in. It means garden of Kythira. A Greek island, part of the Ionian group. Just so you know, the only Greek island I’ve been to is Zakinthos and it was years ago with a group of mates. It should have been a honeymoon but my friend backed out of the wedding a week before. Still we had the best time celebrating his anti-honeymoon.

Un Jardin a Cythere by Hermes

Un Jardin a Cythere by Hermes

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Pistachio, Citruses, Olive Tree, Green Accord

Yay! Christine Nagel has signed off on another in the jardin range. Colour me happy. This was the first time I’ve seen it in store to test and the SA was really knowledgable and helpful. Also, I’d met a perfumista girlfriend in town for lunch and she was so impressed we went up and  got her spritzed as well.

The opening is all the citruses but grapefruit becomes the focus after a few minutes. It’s lip puckeringly refreshing and lasts into the nuttiness. I was really skeptical when she said I was going to smell pistachios but it is quite the scent memory. Not exactly but all the pertinent triggers and I loved how it rose out of the bed of citrus. My friend also smelled anise and I got the merest whiff of it but that may have been suggestion working its magic.

Un Jardin a Cythere by Hermes blotter

I’m now about three hours in and the nuts have receded somewhat, the citrus is now a soft pithy cloud and my nose is saying vegetal musks. Un Jardin a Cythere is still noticeable but not heavily fragrant.

If you have liked any of the garden range then this is worth a sniff. If you dislike them it won’t change your mind. A very nicely produced and wearable fragrance that won’t overpower or distract. Low key loveliness. I am imagining a 30ml in the collection already.

The blotter still smells just spritzed hours and hours later though. Interesting. I’m wondering if having it on a scarf might prolong the opening?

Are you a fan of the jardin range?
Portia xx


ZARA Vetiver Pamplemousse Candle.

ZARA Vetiver Pamplemousse Candle.

Hey Crew, Yeah, perfume adjacent today. Recently a mate of mine was waxing lyrical about the ZARA Vetiver Pamplemousse fragrance. So much so that I went looking for it but of course Australia doesn’t have it yet. We do though have the candle. So I grabbed one at less than 1/2 price, YAY! So under AU$20 for 200g. Already it felt like a win.

ZARA Vetiver Pamplemousse 200g. Aromatic Candle.

ZARA Vetiver Pamplemousse 200g. Aromatic Candle.

Pro tip: take the plastic cover off the wax before lighting. HA! Yes, me.

Citrus and vetiver and in lovely soft focus with soapy undertones. Very clean. It does change the scent in the room nicely but isn’t overwhelming. No noticeable smoke. It burns OK, the wick doesn’t seem to be a good choice and the candle tends to hollow out. It could be my opening gambit with the plastic top. The smell though, heaven.

ZARA Vetiver Pamplemousse candle

Worth a sniff, definitely. I like that it’s going to appeal to both sexes and comes in sturdy packaging. Very giftable.

Might have bought a Vetiver Pamplemousse bottle at Zara in Korea. More anon.

Would you?
Portia xx

South Korea Perfume Wearing 2023

Hey Crew, Well, I have a mildly amusing tale about my South Korea perfume wearing on this visit. My travels out on the desk, the Guerlain bag to transport them in and had put my decants into my onboard backpack wetpack. Yeah, I have a kinda G0-Bag here. It has aforementioned wetpack, umbrella, jumper, polo shirt, undies and socks, There are all my phone and Kindle charging needs, lighter, plastic cutlery set, biros, tissues, wet wipes, mints, bottle of water, shopping bags and a small pack of nuts. Sounds like a shitload but it’s hardly even 1/3 of my available space and allows me to shop or carry gifts etc. Jin gave me the bag years ago and his Mum calls it my crap bag because it doesn’t look new and nice. The size is perfect for both daily and travel, it’s really light and is this ridiculous bright blue and orange, which makes me super easy to spot in a crowd. You’d be surprised how often the Go-Bag contents get used.

Anyway, after the decants got packed I must have mentally crossed off the perfume bit of my list and the 5 travels (picked with such love, care and attention to forthcoming adventure), were left behind as Jin and I went traipsing around South Korea. GAH! The best laid plans etc etc etc

South Korea Perfume Wearing 2023

I hear you asking, WHAT did I wear perfume wise in South Korea?

There were two decants. They both came from the same perfumista, I can tell by the writing. My bet is on Scotty but am yet to see him to confirm or deny the hunch. Vintage versions of both and amazing. Hermès Caleche and Givenchy L’Interdit. It was so fun and felt slightly subversive wafting the good old aldehydic florals in a country that wears low key scents. In respect I kept my spritzing light.

Then there was my new FragranceNet 8ml decant Miller Harris La Fumee Ottoman. Bought for around AU$20 it’s a freaking brilliant way to test and not outrageously expensive.

Travelling with perfumistas is really fun. While Jin doesn’t see himself as one his collection and knowledge of the business and its people are formidable. He has a much more acute nose than me, remembers details dropped by perfumers, creative directors and others that I’ve forgotten or not even noted. We cruised through Esxence a few years ago and he throws out little titbits of memory from that adventure still.
Along with Jin were Kerri and TinaG (you may remember her from APJ). Both well read, sniffed and travelled perfumistas with amazing collections.

As we wandered through the Insadong alleys towards our favourite BarBQ joint we had been passing a classy vintage designer clothing and handbag store called NEARED. They had a virtually untouched Valentino bag from the 1980s for under AU$400! Really. It was Jin who sighted the perfumes and we all couldn’t get inside fast enough. A small collection of six fragrances which came in 3 sizes, including a 10ml travel for around AU$19. Colour us interested. We trooped in and smelled the set. On a time budget so I picked the three that spoke to me from the top notes. Sadly I can’t find the brand online to give you anymore info. If I find myself emptying any of these travels I’ll be back to get one of those gorgeous bottles.

Another store I always hit in South Korea is Etude House. Their brand seems to be on the wane and it’s getting harder to find a store. So annoying because they make the BEST liquid eyeliner I’ve ever used. It’s perfect and lasts for an eternity. They have also added a fragrance range and I bought one for my BFF Kath. Aggravatingly I also can’t find the fragrances online damnit!
Here’s the eyeliner though and the perfume box below.

Jin and I also went into the Seoul Station ZARA looking for a bottle of Vetiver Pampelmouuse, which hasn’t come to Oz. It wa the night before we flew out and though they didn’t have it there the SA told us that there were two bottles left in their store just a few train stops across town, they close in under 30 minutes. Well, you can imagine the race that ensued. Run, train, run, run, run. Sure it was about 3C but we were rugged top and by the time we got to the store we had 4 minutes and were sweating like farm hands. SCORE!! Next fortnight I have a little story about how and why I was even looking for this perfume.

Lastly, I love soap and Korean soaps are really good for next to nothing. Their scent is often equal with high end niche (the good stuff) and have surprising note pairings. These all cost around AU$1.

There’s the round up crew.

I hope it was a fun read for you all.
Portia xx

South Korea March 2023

Hey there ULGers, It’s a little CRAZY around here at the moment. I’m writing from last week because currently Jin, a couple of our girlfriends and I are in South Korea for a short but sweet tour. Temperatures are expected to range from -1 to 20C (30-68f). When are you all going to catch up with modern systems so we can all have the same? It will be a very nice change from Sydney’s current 40C (104f) with a shit tonne of humidity. It’s nicer outside than in the apartment though. Jin has the AC on and my body doesn’t really like it.

This will definitely NOT be a perfume shopping trip. We have other adventures planned this year that could become very fragrant. More on those later.

South Korea March 2023

So, I’m furiously trying to work out what to take with me perfume wise. I’m in the middle of the New Idea 2023 and will need to take some samples and decants to use up. Also, I like to have a few old faves for stability in the whirlwind rush of holiday adventures.

So here are my ideas.

Cacharel Amor Amor: A fun fizzy fruit scent that makes me smile in remembrance of Anna Maria who gave me my first 30ml.
Guerlain Terracotta le parfum: Need a white floral with tropical accents to add a little zip.
Hermès Cuir d’Ange: I’m halfway through my 15ml travel of this softly leather beauty.
Miller Harris La Fumee Ottoman: Newish 8ml travel from FragranceNet. Something smoky and dark will be nice for the cold.
Niki de Saint Phalle: The 12ml travel size are perfect in the wetpack. A chypre will always centre me.

On top of that I’m going to grab a random selection of samples/decants to help with New Idea 2023.

Does this feel like a sensible perfume selection?
What 5 would you take?
Portia xx

Green Tea Mimosa by Elizabeth Arden

Hi Crew. Today I’m reminding you that spring will be with you soon. One of the loveliest harbingers of spring in Australia is its wattle. Yeah, that’s what we call our versions of mimosa. Late winter it blooms here and that bright yellow through to lime green puff ball extravaganza always brings a smile to my winter face. Sadly it plays merry hell with Jin’s hay fever and he suffers dreadfully with it. Fortunately it’s the pollen not the perfume so I’m free to wear mimosa perfumes whenever I want. This summer I finally caved and bought a bottle of Green Tea Mimosa.

Green Tea Mimosa by Elizabeth Arden 2016

Green Tea Mimosa by Elizabeth Arden

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Green Tea, Citruses
Heart: Mimosa
Base: Heliotrope, Ambrette (Musk Mallow)

I know, yet again I’m very late to the party. Thing is the Elizabeth Arden counters in the mall are never at the front. That means I’ve usually found something else to sniff and spritz by the time I get there. Also, there’s rarely a specific Elizabeth Arden SA anymore. Perfume sniffing is about engagement, right? Sure it’s fun to go and sniff the aisles solo but having a representative I can make a human connection with will get my wallet out of my pocket so much faster. Sorry, end rant.

Green Tea Mimosa is a perfect spring and summer spritz, yes. I’m wearing it a LOT in our very muggy summer here right now to give me a moments respite. I tried it in the fridge but that is just TOO COOL! HA! It did strike me though today that it could very well be a winter blues buster. I know many of you are suffering the lack of sunlight and warmth. For next to nothing a few spritzes of Green Tea Mimosa could very well give you a much needed lift.

How does it smell? That opening waft is a lovely citrus/mimosa combo with that back of throat ache that comes with perfumery tea. Don’t expect it to be a replacement for Amouage Love Mimosa, or any of the big speedy niche mimosas. It’s a lovely fresh budget spritz that smells a LOT better than you’d expect at the price.

This is a fresh, powdery mimosa with none of the honeyed animals backbeat, though the vegetal musk is very nice. I think there might even be a little lily of the valley accord and some narcissus within the mix. Maybe even some jasmine. The heart and dry down are a little soapy.

Longevity is better than expected for something so ethereal. I’m fragrant but there seems to be a lot of space between the notes. After the first 10-20 minutes it’s a lightweight and gauzy beauty, not under the radar but low key. Totally unisex.

Do you ever use scent to pull you out of the winter blues?
Portia xx

Par 4 by Detaille

Par 4 by Detaille

Hi there Looking Glassers, Back in 2017 Jin and I were lucky enough to get to Excense in Milan. It was my first, and only, perfume showcase. I hadn’t realised exactly how much time I would need and we also wanted to do the sightseeing and shopping. One day I’ll go back, solo, and really spend time seeing, sniffing, engaging and learning. On this adventure we basically went and saw all our mates. That was really nice too. It was the last time I got to hang with Vero, the first time I met Pia and Margo and a slew of other perfume peeps. Made a dick of myself fangirling Katie Pucrick. We stayed in a lovely little hotel just around the corner from the event and unsurprisingly there were industry insiders there. One such was the owner of Detaille and his wife. We got to chatting one morning over breakfast and he gave me a tester bottle of his new at the time Bois d’Oud (which is nearly finished now). It’s a fine, simple, scratchy woods, oudh and saffron. There are a lot more expensive renderings that are worse.

Along with that he gave me a few samples of their other work. Because I’ve been going through the perfume room and getting all the lost samples Par 4 jumped out at me and I thought we could spend a moment discovering it together.

Par 4 by Detaille


Par 4 by Detaille

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Bergamot, Woodsy Notes, French labdanum, Galbanum, Thyme, Fir, Clary Sage, Saffron, Vetiver, Basil

Though I haven’t seen it in real life the bottle looks so beautiful. I love the look of it, modern riff on deco. The fluted lid reminds me of early L’Artisan and Parfum d’Empire, before they went basic.

How does it smell? Opening is very cologne-ish. Crisp, bright, green and citrus. It does become more herbal after the initial fireworks die off. Lovely, surprisingly tapestried and I like the slight resinous sweetness through the herbaceousness. Not mentioned but I smell tomato leaf or a reminder of it. My closest real life analogy as the heart blooms is pesto. Not exactly Pesto but that immediate freshness and healthy goodness you smell as it’s being made.

The woods make themselves known through the heart. It’s not immediately apparent. A subtle rising until suddenly they are prominent and you realise they’ve been hiding under and between the other notes. The resins keep everything to a storyline, if that makes sense. After about an hour, or so, the greenery has become a soft drying grass with the resinous woods. Once this point is met the fragrance meanders comfortably, low key, traditional masculine fading to dry down. Groundbreaking? No. Wearable? Yes. A very nice woodsy aromatic that could easily be a signature scent. Someone who knows smelling good is important and doesn’t want to break the bank. Probably not sophisticated enough for the hard core perfumista but most of us need some easy reach go tos right?

Though I say traditionally masculine Par 4 can easily be worn by anyone who likes the idea of smelling like a day in the great outdoors that ends in the warmth of the 19th hole.

Another good thing: Detaille has the most affordable sample sets. 19 euros will get you all 19 samples, then add postage. What a bargain.

Do you or do you think someone close to you would like to wear Par 4?
Portia xx

Fig Extasy by Mancera 2021

Fig Extasy by Mancera 2021

Hi Crew, Not sure if you know but over on Perfume posse I’m doing this challenge called New Idea 2023. It’s a challenge to use up some of the squllion perfume samples and decants lying in waste around this apartment. I’m finding things in boxes and bags that were bought, given as Press Samples, given as GWP or even given from other perfumistas. I thought there was a lot BEFORE I started opening up everything. Now it’s just stupid and overwhelming. I can feel the weight of these unloved and unused beauties bearing down upon me like….. well I have no analogy but it’s hefty. I’m also really sad at how many of them are now a smudge of oil in the bottom of a vial. So wasteful. Today I’m using up a carded sample of Fig Extasy by Mancera. I know why this remains unused, because their spelling of EXTASY is so annoying to me. Well, I know it sounds stupid but when you are looking at 20 samples then anything to help you decide what to put on your skin real estate is helpful. Yeah I know. Problems of someone with WAY TOO MUCH.

This carded manufacturers sample came from a Libertine purchase GWP bag.

Fig Extasy by Mancera 2021

Fig Extasy by Mancera

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Fig Nectar, Incense, Ginger, Black Pepper
Heart: Fig Leaf, Leather, Sandalwood, Cedar, Thyme, Lavender
Base: Siam Benzoin, Vanilla Pod, Styrax, Tonka Bean

Yes, I know loads of you Poo Poo Mancera. That’s fine but after you take away all the nearly exactly the same oudhs there are still some other gems to be found amongst the line. BTW I do love some of those oudhs too and their The Aoud is one of my favourites of the genre.

Anyway, how does Fig Extasy smell? Delightfully figgy. HA! Well it does but it also has some excellent bells and whistles. That opening raspy black pepper and fizzy ginger are a lovely counterpoint. The heart is more about amber/woods with sweet and green fig-ness. Jin, whose nose is so much more acute than mine yelled CRAYONS!! I don’t personally get that but it’s his take. Most of the mentioned notes don’t make themselves clear to me. From the notes I expected the dry down to be much more amber/vanilla and sweet but it remains unsweet and becomes quite dry. Even the fig that continues into dry down is desiccated  but still maintains interest over the top of this resinous woodiness.

Fig Extasy by Mancera

The vial lasted two really full wears. I’m madly in love with this perfumes progression and story. Though it’s not a brand new idea it works for me in ways that make it very different from my other big fig loves Neela Vermeire Creations Ashoka and L’Artisan Premier Figuier. 

Unisex, longevity is excellent , projection moderate after the initial fireworks. This has gone onto the list of wants, jumped in quite close to the top. SO GOOD!

Would you Fig Extacy? Even with the spelling?
Portia xx