Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 3: Stockholm

“Vacation” is usually not the first association when you hear “Stockholm.” On our itinerary this city got by chance: we live so far away from Europe, that there is a limited number of direct flights between us and the Old World. Barcelona did not have any, so to get back home we’d have to do a plane change. If you were to add an extra flight and a couple of hours for transfer, the trip would easily stretch for 17+ hours – something that I try to avoid whenever possible. So while planning the vacation, we decided we’d do a couple of days’ stopover in one of the direct-flights-reach cities. Stockholm was the one with the best combination of schedules and fares. The fact that all three destinations were monarchies had dawned on us much later – at Livrustkammaren (The Royal Armory in Stockholm) as we were discussing that not a single Royalty has acknowledged our presence in any of the visited countries…

Accommodations

For a change, for that last part of the trip we went for a hotel room. It was a pleasant hotel decorated in the style of Roaring Twenties. Our room was quiet, had heavy curtains and a very comfortable bed, in which we finally had a good night sleep (the first night we slept for 12 hours straight).

Haymarket Hotel Stockholm

It was rather cold (+14C after +26C in Barcelona) and raining; we discovered that Stockholm was a very practical and minimalistic city, even its old town part; but somehow it felt very comforting and friendly. The first evening as we walking in the rain enjoying clean and orderly streets, we came across a small park inside the Art Nouveau building of Stockholm’s Central Pool (Centralbadet) built in the beginning of the previous century. It was an absolutely magical experience: beautiful lilacs and other blossoms in the drizzle of evening rain. I felt happy.

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Three days that we spent there was a delightful coda to our vacation.

Perfumes I took with me

Following the idea of bringing to this vacation only perfumes local to the destination, I packed a couple of decants and a sample from the only Swedish brand I had in my collection – Byredo. La Tulipe was just amazing, and I might re-consider wearing it only as a summer perfume: it was wonderful in the colder weather. Pulp was predictably good. I hope these both perfumes are still available once I finish the decants I have. Bal D’Afrique, which I brought with me for further testing, was nice but not enough for me to go for a bottle.

Perfumes I tested

After my London and Barcelona perfume escapades, I didn’t plan to do much more perfume testing but I still managed to visit a couple of perfume spots – a perfume department in the luxury department store NK and a standalone perfumery Insanto.

Both places had interesting selection of perfumes but not too many of the brands not available elsewhere, and I concentrated my testing mostly on those brands, to which I do not have an easy access.

Insanto Stockholm

Perfumes I didn’t buy

Perfume prices in Sweden do not impel spontaneous perfume purchases. Also, there weren’t that many Swedish brands – so most of the tested perfumes did not fit the original intent to get “souvenirs” from the countries I visited. But several perfumes that I liked while testing on skin are worth mentioning: were they “Made in Sweden,” I would have considered buying one of these.

I love and own two perfumes by Keiko Mecheri but because this brand is not available where I live I’m not too familiar with their line. That’s why I was interested to try at least some of the perfumes – even though I didn’t think I’d buy them there. I thought that Bois Satin smelled very nice, and I hope to be able to test it again soon.

For a long time I stayed away from Xerjoff: even though I tested occasionally some of their perfumes that came my way one way or the other, I didn’t make any conscious attempts to follow their new releases, and of those perfumes that I tried before I didn’t warm up enough to any to go even for a decant. They clearly like Xerjoff in Sweden: I saw it in both stores where I tested perfumes (and I want to remind you that one of them was a department store). So I gave up and tested some of the perfumes. I liked several on paper and then one on my skin. I don’t know why I happen to like the one that is sold out almost everywhere – XJ 1861 Naxos. Now I’ll have to locate a sample to test it again before I start scavenging eBay and FB groups for a bottle.

I’ve never heard of either the “famous Costes Hotel in Paris” (Fragrantica) or the eponymous perfume that Olivia Giacobetti created for that hotel in 2004, but when I tested Costes for the first time, I liked it. I’m not completely sure yet how I feel about perfumes that perfume shops create under their own brands – let alone perfumes for hotels, so I will try Costes again if I come across it somewhere but I won’t probably be actively looking for it.

Stockholm Blotters

Speaking of hotel perfumes, the only perfume I was seriously considering on this part of the trip was perfume sold in the hotel’s gift shop: No 1 Haymarket Eau de Parfum. The scent is described as: “Velvetly vanilla, powdery ambergris, and smoky sandalwood united with modern and surprising tones of bergamot, citrus and a hint of pepper.” For a couple of days I would be stopping by the gift shop to apply this perfume and then would keep smelling my wrist… for the next couple of hours while perfume was still discernible. I thought it was nice. It was local. And it wasn’t even expensive (less than $30 for a 30 ml bottle). Why didn’t I buy it? I realized that with all the great perfumes that I already had in my collection (and several more that I might be considering after more tests), I would just never have time for this pleasant but nondescript little number – no matter how warm I felt about that hotel that sheltered us in the final part of our turbulent vacation.

Haymarket Hotel EdP No1

Just in case you got drowned in the endless parts of my trip: it was the last one, and in the next post Rusty and I will finally reveal what perfumes I brought back with me.

 

Images: all but the last one – my own; No 1 Haymarket EdP – from the hotel site.

Six by Byredo: Two Perfumistas’ Impressions

Undina: When hajusuuri who went to the recent Sniffa event had approached me suggesting a joint post about Byredo scents, I immediately agreed: since our tastes match, by my estimate, 80-85%, I was curious to see how we’ll do with testing the same perfumes almost at the same time.

hajusuuri: Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2016 was but a memory, but the goodie bag samples live on!  This year we got a bonanza of manufacturers’ samples with lots of extras for sharing.

Undina: I was surprised when I realized that I hadn’t previously tested on skin five out of six perfumes hajusuuri offered to share even though I probably saw them all at a store and maybe even smelled from the bottle.

hajusuuri: In this episode of Weeklong Test Drive we’ll share our impressions of six Byredo perfumes.  These are not reviews, just first impressions.

Byredo Samples

Undina: I rarely can smell any specific notes in perfumes, whether I read them or not, so I wasn’t too strict about when I looked up the notes: for some of the perfumes I did it while testing, for others – later, as I was adding them to my database.

hajusuuri: Since my method of perfume application is spray and walk into the mist, having small atomizers presented a bit of a challenge for a proper wearing.  I decided to develop my impressions through the speed testing method – two sprays on each forearm, 5 minutes apart.  I wrote my impressions after 15 minutes of wear. I did not look up the notes prior to testing so be aware that I wrote down what each perfume smelled like to me and what I smelled may not necessarily match any of the “official” notes.

Ben Gorham founded Byredo in 2006.  He was inspired to create fragrances from a trip to his mother’s hometown in India.  With a fine arts degree but no training in perfumery, he collaborated with perfumers Oliva Giacobetti and Jerome Epinette to compose his fragrances.  In 2013, a private equity company, Manzanita, acquired a majority stake in Byredo.  You may recognize some of the companies in Manzanita’s portfolio, including SpaceNK and Diptyque.

Perfume and official notes hajusuuri’s impressions Undina’s impressions
Bullion

Top: Black Plum, Pink Pepper
Heart: Leather Accord, Magnolia, Osmanthus
Base: Dark Woods, Sandalwood, Sensual Musks

Review: Chemist in the Bottle

Woody pencil shavings, almond, slightly sweaty, plasticky Play-Doh If I had liked this perfume a little better, I would have run one of my déjà vu  posts: I swear Bullion is a slightly more masculine version of Annick Goutal’s Mon Parfum Cheri, par Camille. Plum + leather aren’t my thing in either of them
Flowerhead

Top: Angelica Seeds, Lingonberry, Sicilian Lemon
Heart: Dewy Tuberose, Rose Petals, Wild Jasmine Sambac
Base: Fresh Amber, Suede, White Rose

Review: The Scented Hound

 

Watered-down Frederic Malle Carnal Flower with tuberose and jasmine; has a grating chemical woody base (“Byredo base”) A lot of jasmine but it’s less pleasant than in Dior‘s Grand Ball, only comparing to which I can smell tuberose in Flowerhead. It gets more pleasant in a couple of hours of development but not enough for me to want to wear it.
Mister Marvelous

Top: Mandarin Leaves, Neroli Flower
Heart: Bamboo, Green Lavender
Base: Black Amber, White Cedarwood

Review: Cafleurebon

Initial blast of pepper, then lemon, then an unrelenting bitter artificial sweetener smell; has the Byredo base.  Unisex, despite its name I put it on: citrus. I put my wrist under my vSO’s nose: “It smells like a cleaner” he says. In my head it immediately transforms into the jingle “Mr. Clean! Mr Clean!”
Oud Immortel

Top: Cardamom, Incense
Heart: Brazilian Rosewood, Papyrus, Patchouli
Base: Moss, Tobacco Leaves

Review: The Non-Blonde

Leans masculine.  Starts fruity minty nutty woody with warmth threaded all throughout; has the Byredo base The opening blast of sweetness was even pleasant but it disappeared quickly and the remaining medicinal scent was what I usually do not like in agarwood perfumes
Pulp

Top: Bergamot, Blackcurrant, Cardamom
Heart: Fig, Red Apple, Tiare
Base: Cedarwood, Peach Flower, Praline

Review: Now Smell This

Juicy Fruit, sugar, yuzu. Fruit cocktail run amok As I previously wrote, I don’t think I can tolerate Pulp‘s rotten fruits anywhere but in Hawaii where it felt just right
Sunday Cologne (previously released as Fantastic Man)

Top: Bergamot, Cardamom, Star Anise
Heart: Geranium, Incense, Lavender
Base: Moss, Patchouli, Vetiver

Review: What Men Should Smell Like

Leans masculine, smells like Oud Immortel but much thinner and then devolved into Lemon Pledge Opens very citrusy but then I smell some wood and resin. I think it’s a little too masculine for me but it smells nice and I wouldn’t mind smelling it on my vSO – too bad he didn’t like it when I asked him t smell it

Undina: I have two Byredo decants – Pulp and La Tulipe (for those of you who weren’t reading my blog five years ago, I promise: it’s a cute story) and I think I might eventually get a couple more – Bal D’Afrique and Black Saffron. But even with these four I do not see a bottle in my future and the rest of the line that I tried left me cold. And I don’t like their standard bottles and labels: they don’t spell $150 perfume to me (it seems Rusty on the picture below can’t believe it either).

Rusty and Byredo Samples

hajusuuri: Overall, based on first impressions, I found none of these interesting enough to pursue further; however, I do have a decant of Gypsy Water that I enjoy.  Do you have any favorites?  Which perfumes from Byredo should I try next?  I generally enjoy amber, benzoin, birch tar, heliotrope, iris, tonka and vanilla.

Undina: Would you like to try these six perfumes? hajusuuri is still in a sharing mood, and she has an extra set of six samples to send to one randomly selected winner (with all usual disclaimers on either of us being responsible for anything that happens after samples are sent). You do not have to do anything other than confirming that you want to be entered into the draw, but I will appreciate if you share a link to this draw on FB, twitter or any other place where it’s done these days.

 

Images: my own

The draw is closed now. A winner will be announced in a separate post soon.