Saturday, March 31, 2012

The scent of Lazy Town

There have been lots of blog posts lately scenting characters from movies or TV-series, some notable ones are Candy Perfume Boys Muppes post, Diana on Feminine Things scenting the Hunger games, and Birgit on Olfactorias travels scenting several movie stars, and there are many more. I'm just tagging along here. As my daughter has been sick a lot during the last few weeks, nothing serious, but just enough not to be allowed in kindergarten, we've spent a lot of time together on the sofa, watching her very favourite show - Lazy Town!

As everyone might not be as familiar with the plot as I am, I'll give a quick recap. The main charcter is a girl named Stephanie. She comes to live with her uncle in Lazy Town and immediately meets 4 friends, Pixel, Ziggy, Trixie and Stingy (all friends played by puppets). Wile Stephanie loves to do sports and be active, her friends have not such good charcters; Pixel prefers to sit in front of his computer instead of going out, Trixie is a troublemaker, Ziggy only thinks about sweets and Stingy is greedy and wants all stuff to be his. To make matters worse, there is a villain in town, named Robbie Rotten. He tries to get the kids to eat junk food, stay indoors and be quet and lazy. Fortunately there is also a hero, named Sportacus who lives in an airship above town. He helps Stephanie out whenever Robbie Rotten has executed one of his evil schemes.

So, what do the citizens of Lazy Town smell like, in my mind? Lets start with Sportacus. He's a hero who loves gymnastics and can do splits and pushups while standing on his hands without a drop of sweat showing. He's also a "sports elf" which I suppose implies that he's not really human, so for me he does not have a smell in himself. He does, however have an impeccably clean superhero-outfit, so any of the Clean-clones would do. Or Serge Lutes L'Eau. Possibly even Comme de Garcons "Dry Clean".

For the puppets, Pixel is a techie and I can see how the woody/stony simplicity of Esentric Molecules, Molecule 01 would appeal to him. Ziggy just loves his sweets and he's soft and cuddly all over, so the marshmallow note of Love by Kilian is perfect for him. Stingy, with his west and bow tie dresses as someone 10 times his age and might be wearing something like the Eau de Cologne by Chanel les Exclusifs. Finally, Trixie, we don't know much about her except that she draws a moustache on a poster of the mayor in the intro of every episode. What does that tell us? That she isn't into law and order, that she dislikes conformity? As I'm uncertain about her, I'm guessig in a very wide range here, putting her in anything by Etat Libre d'Orange. I'm sure she'll find something she'll like.

And there is Stephanie. Cheery, innocent, forever-in-pink Stephanie. There should be lots of scents for her, only that "pink and cheery" are not adjectives that trigger my interest in a fragrance so I don't know too may of those. Vamp á NY indeed feels pink but it is a bit on the heavy side for someone so young. Atelier Colognes Grand Neroli might not feel pink but it's fresh, cheery and energizing, just like Stephanie so that's probably my best choice.
And finally, there is Robbie Rotten, the basement dwelling bad guy and my favourite. He's very human as he knows he has lots of bad traits and tries to drag everyone down to the same level of sloppyness as himself. Some of his, surprisingly clever and creative, schemes include getting the kids to eat lots of sweets, never brush their teeth, stay indoors and just be lazy in general. Because of this I'm guessing he'll be smelling a bit on the dirty side. Maybe Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan, in all it's cuminy, sweaty, musc-pissy glory (I do like it, in case anyone is wondering)  or L'Artisans Dzing!. Before I tried that one I'd never guessed that the smell of decomposed cardboard boxes would be something I'd love to wear myself...

And, as a bonus for anyone that has read this far, the best thing about Lazy Town, especially according to my 1,5 y.o. daughter, is the music. So here's a medley containing most of the songs. And don't you dare stop listening until you've hear them all! Enjoy :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Perfume in the workplace - phone fun

A while ago I was chatting with some of the girls at work, mentioning that I have a perfume blog. They seemed interested and (remembering Tarelesio saying something similar on Facebook not long ago) I blurted out, "But wouldn't it be fun if I brought some scent samples to work, we could sit in the lunch room after hours and have a little sniffaton?" They seemd positively inclined to this so I went home, trying to choose what to bring. In the end I settled on my sample set of "By Killians". It seemed like a sensible choice as I have a full set and they are all tiny sprays, which I reckoned would be less messy to try on than perfume from those samples that come with a wand cap. And they do know how to make an impression, so By Killian it was!

The sniffaton did go well, everyone found a favourite. Again, I was amazed how different a scent might smell on two different persons due to skin chemistry. Also, no one showed up to lecture us on the risk of Anaphylaxis - a relief.

I was clearly having a tuberose day. When smelling those samples, Beyond Love stood out like a diamond in a pile of rocks (or, maybe more like a pile of gold nuggets, in this case). I just couldn't stop sniffing it. Unfortunately I didn't spray it on myself as I had some stupid idea to prove a point about how Ambre Oud is so different on skin from paper (it wasn't). But I did take a card with BL sprayed on it and shoved into my pocket, thinking I'd sniff it on the way home. The next day I realised my work phone had also been in that pocket, snuggling up to that card. It reeked of tuberose!

Now, I'm a programmer and a very slow context switcher. That means that when I'm coding I tend to forget everything else and sink way into the piece of code I'm working on. If someone asks me something it might take me several minutes to snap out of code mode and get resettled into whatever plane of existence my coworker happens to be on. Not that I don't want to help out, I do, but this is just the way I am. And what I dislike the most, while working, are phone calls (I love mails though, as well all other forms of asynchronous communication). As I can't snap out of code mode instantly I always come across as a complete dork. But with a tuberose smelling phone, talking to people, is a whole different thing!

Instead of getting the smell of electronics and plastic while talking to these, often very agitated, people, I now get them gift wrapped in a big cloud of pinkish, frivolous fun. Instead of imagining them as basement dwelling Richard Stallman-lookalikes, I now picture them wearing big pink ballgowns, secretly buffing their long rhinestone studded nails while talking to me. I like that, as a change!

But why stop there. Aren't phone scents a business idea worth considering? You could manufacture little pods to drop in with the battery. The warmer the phone, the more scent comes out. Maybe a lavender pod for a calming effect? Citrus for keeping you awake during boring conversations? What scents would YOU like in a phone? I'd love to know :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Orange Sanguine - Atelier Colognes

There are days when it's great to wrap yourself into a big and extensive scent, a scent with a lot going on, new notes unfolding all the time. A scent that demands your attention, draws you in, make you witness its drama again and again. And there are days when you just need to get on with business. You have to stay focused and sober and there is simply no time for distractions. A complicated scent would be all waste.

I've had a few days like that lately and the Atelier Colognes have proved to be the perfect companions. They are not very complicated and on the linear side. They also come with a huge citrus burst that shakes you awake in the morning and they tag along all through the day, helping out keeping you alert and energized, without being demanding in the least, themselves.

One of my favourites is Orange Sanguin. It starts with what has to be the biggest and baddest blast of blood orange - ever! It's like letting your knife, slowly, sink into a sun warm, perfectly ripe, sweet orange, cutting it up. Then, using your hand for the maximum sensual experience, squeezing the juice out, drop by drop, into your breakfast juice glass. Yum!

Well, the only sensible thing to do is knock back your glass of orange juice and eat your toast. After 20 minutes or so, that near insane citrus intro note has faded and the scent feels uncannily like after breakfast - in a very good way. It's mellow, the geranium heart is starting to emerge, there are warm woods as well. I'm getting the sensation of being on holiday. I'm sitting on a balcony somewhere warm and nice and I've just had my breakfast, I'm enjoying a perfect moment for myself, listening to the birds sing in the air, seeing how the bumblebees fly around the geranuims in their pots, feeling the sun is slowly warming the stone slabs under my feet. This is going to be a good day and I know it.

Orange Sanguin the Atelier Cologne that I find the fruitiest and spiciest. I also find this one more towards the masculine side due to the geranium (Grand Neroli feels like the most feminine) but that doesn't bother me in the least. It's a very happy and encouraging scent, helping in getting things done.

Official notes: Blood orange, bitter orange, jasmine, geranium from South Africa, amber woods, tonka beans, sandalwood

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

28 La Pausa - Chanel Les Exclusifs

This winter I've been trying out the scents of the Chanel prestige line, Chanel les Exclusifs and I can't help myself but thinking of them as different archetypes in the life of a make believe upper class family from the 1920:s. There is Chanel 22, a beautiful but spoilt blonde. Always gets a little bit too tipsy at the family dinners. And Bois de Iles - the annual holiday to the Carrabean that the exentric patriarch forces everyone to go on.

In 28 La Pausa, I find a shy young girl (or boy!) that doesn't fit in with the rest of the family and their extravagances. Someone who's at her happiest staying alone in the library, maybe writing in her diary, reading books or just dreaming while everyone else is out playing crocket or trying to talk one of the servants into a little private rendez-vouz behind the stables. She's an introvert - and that's just fine with her!

28 La Pausa (named after Coco Chanel’s house in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera) starts with a burst of bergamot. The citrus lasts for about an hour on my skin, after that it's all in iris. It's dreamy, softly woody, I get blue ink from ballpoint pens, fresh air wafting in through an open window. This scent is faint but very well composed, nothing out of place. It has an elegant and high class air about itself. A scent for someone with good taste and no need to prove anything to anyone.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Interview with Linda Pilkington of Ormonde Jayne

Linda Pilkington
A while ago I wrote a post on my experiences with the Ormonde Jayne line of scents. It was a rather personal post and I wasn't sure if I should publish it, but then I went on and did anyway. The day after, I was astonished to find a mail from Ormonde Jaynes PR-woman Sarah, telling me she not only liked the post but if I wanted to, she could set up an interview with Linda Pilkington, the founder, owner and perfumer of Ormonde Jayne. Now, Linda is a role model of mine. She is a self taught perfumer, runs her own business, doing what she loves. She also comes across as a very nice and easy going person, who, just as me, loves to cook and spend time with her family. Well, of course I wanted to do an interview!

FF: First question, how did your interest in perfume come about?

LP: When I was 12 my mother gave me a bottle of Madame Rochas. She felt it was not appropriate for her to keep the perfume, as she was a married woman and had been given this bottle by a man! I loved the look of it and started asking around if other people had bottles I could have. I used to keep them on my bedroom dressing table, thinking they looked very sophisticated and grown-up. At first it was just visual appeal but as I grew older I started to appreciate the scents inside as well. One day a friend of my mothers came into my bedroom, saw all the bottles and asked if I was going to be a perfumer? I hadn't considered it until that point.
I'm also very much a crafts person. My parents always encouraged me and my siblings to make things ourselves, as we lived in the middle of nowhere and it wasn't much to do if you didn't invent it yourself. My sisters were into gardening and chocolate making, I was into making scented candles.

FF: How do you get inspiration for new scents?

LP: I have pointy little police dogs ears and  beady eyes that don't miss a thing. No, really, I get inspiration from absolutely anything. I might smell flowers on a beach in Mombasa, or I might see beautiful colors on a dress and go "Hmmm, I could use that somehow!" For Ta'if the inspiration were the natural environment where the ta'if roses grow. The plantations are situated near a hill-top village in Saudi Arabia and while we visited we got served dates all the time. Dates, dates and then date juice to go with them. That made me want to try to pair the ta'if rose with dates and also saffron, another very Middle Eastern ingredient.

FF: So you did the old chefs proverb "Grow together, goes together"?

LP: Yes, exactly! Also, I like to think that my collection should have something for everyone, I try to cover up if there is a type of perfume that is missing.

FF: I myself has had a rocky ride with the OJ scents. When I first tried them I felt downright intimidated by them, but gradually I've started to love them more and more. Do you get that a lot?

LP: Hm, I do see a similar tendency with the people hired in my shops. Not that they say they feel intimidated but they do say that after having worked here for a while they are not so keen on wearing the type of scents they wore before they started with me. Also I notice my scents seem to be addictive to my clients. You can sell a lot of bottles of a scent with just massive marketing but if you want returning customers you must have something more than that.

FF: Do you have any favorite notes to work with? 

LP: Pink pepper! It's brilliant and it's present in all my scents except for Tolu. And there is hedione, a synthetic that's very useful for opening up a formulation, thus allowing the perfume to follow a journey. And Iso-E, I love Iso-E.

FF: Among the OJ scents, which ones are your favorites? 

LP: There are some that I like to rotate throghout the year. In spring I like to wear Frangipane, it is light but it also has depths. In summer I like Osmanthus and especially if I'm travelling to a hot country I like to spray Osmanthus on a fan and just fan it around. It's very fresh so this is especially good if you're going someplace that doesn't smell that good, like food markets. Champaca, an abstract floral, I like to wear if I'm going to make an impression, maybe if I'm going to meet up with someone in the perfume business or going to a perfumers convention. In autumn I love to wear Ormonde Woman and for X-mas I wear Tolu. Sampaquita is the only one I don't wear a lot as the lychee and peach notes can be a bit much.

FF: Any favourite travel destinations?

LP: Oh, I love Laos, and Nothern Thailand. It's amazing how everything seems to be in bloome there. It's so green and everything grows. I love that!

FF: When you're not working, do you have any hobbies?

LP: Gardening and cooking.

FF: Oh, I love to cook as well, what type of food do you like to cook?

LP: I just love food. I like to plan out the menu for a week in advance and really take my time, let things marinate for days, things like that. My husband is an excellent cook as well.  There are two Indian dishes that we do really well and spaghetti with king sized prawns is another classic. Sometimes we do a big fish in the oven, a good Sunday roast or coq au vin, but not with chicken, but with other wild birds we can get, like pheasant or whatever is in season. During weekends I eat everything I like but on weekdays I eat more healthy, in order to keep my figure.

FF: Haha, my way of keeping my figure is that my kids mostly eat fish fingers, which are so boring I can hardly bring myself to eat more than a mere minimum.

LP: Yes, food and children is always a challenge! I have a 3 and a 5 years old and we try to get them involved in the cooking. Like helping out preparing vegetables and peeling potatoes. Actually they are not that picky. The 3 years old loves seafood like mussels and the older ones likes unpasteurized cheeses. They also eat vegetables, but that's not of my doing. We used to have a nanny that was also a very good cook. She started out serving them vegetables with lots of butter and salt on. Then she gradually cut down on the butter and salt until they were eating just the vegetables. So that's a trick you could try.

FF: Thanks! One thing that I'm very curious to know, how did you manage to work as a perfumes while pregnant? Did your sense of smell get distorted?

LP: I was lucky with that. During the first 3 months I was very sensitive with scents but fortunately that passed. But I didn't mix any perfumes at that time because I didn't want to breathe in concentrated extraits as we don't know how they might affect the unborn. Also, I wouldn't trust myself to get a perfume right while pregnant.

FF: Your scents, do you envision them in any certain way?

LP: Yes, I do envision them. Like fantasy persons. I see an unique wearer for each scent, what dresses they wear, what colors surround them etc. You know, Ormonde Woman is based on hemlock and there are 3 types of hemlock. There is the tree, the bush and the plant. The plant (which is not the hemlock used in OW) is poisonous and if you boil it and then drink the water you'll first get a sensation that you're feet are numbing and as the poison spreads through your body, you get paralyzed and die. This was used in 15th-16th centuries as a womans way to murder a man. As a woman usually is physically weaker she cannot strangle a man, but to boil a plant and put into his food isn't usually a problem. And it's still done today. So, the persona of Ormonde Woman is a woman who knows what she wants. She has long raven colored hair, wears a long black cape and rides through the woods at night, maybe to meet a lover?

FF: Do you have a holy grail perfume?

LP: Yes I do, I'm working on one right now. It's about capturing and recreating a certain smell. I can't tell any more right now.

FF: That's very exciting! Do you have plans for any upcoming releases?

LP: Yes, I do. I'm working on something very special that we plan on releasing in July. It's a new idea and something different from the collection that have at OJ today, I got the idea from reading a newspaper.

FF: So, who is Ormonde Jayne, where does the name come from?

LP: Oh, I needed to have a company in order to handle an invoice I'd been given from an old friend of mine, a long time ago. The company was formed just on a spur. I lived in Ormonde Terraces at that time and my name is Linda Jayne, therefore Ormonde Jayne.

FF: What did you do in order to go from a new company that no one knew about to where you are today?

LP: I did nothing really. I just opened a shop. No P.R at the beginning. I've always used fine and unusual ingredients, that was my idea. It took us 7 years to become well known. A labour of love.

FF: Wow, that's very brave! In what countries is the OJ line sold now? 

LP: We do have 2 shops in London, one is our flagship shop on 28 Old Bond Street and we have a counter at Harrods. Our perfumes are also sold in perfumeries in Brussles, Dusseldorf and Switzerland.

FF: Are there any cultural preferences in what people buy in those different locations?

LP: Well, we do see a difference in our two UK shops. The clientèle at Harrods is more international, a lot of people from the Middle East. Our top sellers there are Sampaquita and Zizan. In the Old Bond Street shop our lighter fragrances are more popular. In our shops oversees I think we sell most of whatever scents the sales persons tend to like the most. For example, our Belgian SA always wears Tolu when I see him and that's also the top selling scent in his shop.

FF: Well that figures :) Do you have any plans to expand to Sweden?

LP: I don't see why not! I'd love to visit Stockholm, I hear you have lots of good antiques shops over there.

FF: Since I'm a perfume blogger, I have to ask, do you have any opinions on perfume blogging?

LP: Well, isn't that a fantastic medium. Anyone can reach out instantaneously to so many others and share opinions and experiences! In my opinion most people are very nice but there is always that one percent that can be very threatening, We get people that say things like "I'm a perfume critic at X , Y and Z and I'm not happy with your customer service. If you don't send this and that for free I'll trash your brand in any way I can until it's totally destroyed!"

FF: Oh no, that's horrible! How do you handle people like that?

LP: Usually we send them a mail or call them up and try to get them to calm down. By doing that, hopefully we get them to understand that we're a small company, run by nice people and if there are any misunderstanding we'll try to sort things out. Usually that works.

FF: Ok, thank you very much for this chat and for you answering my long line of questions! I'm very much looking forward to see what Ormonde Jayne will be up to in the months to come and keep up the good work :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bijou Romantique by Etat Libre d'Orange

A while ago I stopped by at the Etat Libre d'Oranges website and saw that their 2 new scents, "Bijou Romantique" and "Fils de Dieu du riz et des agrumes" are now available for ordering. Of course I couldn't resist and now I've had the chance to try them out.

Now, Etat Libre d'Orange are known for their, eeeh,  vivid, so to say, sales texts but there is nothing explicit in their description of Bijou Romantique:

"This is the portrait of a lady. She can be seen in the feminine cameo, in the soft, delicate profile, in the dreamy image of an incandescent beauty. What once was shell has been carved in relief by a devoted artisan, to emerge as an idealized woman. Jewels, too..."

I think this is a spot on description, Bijou Romantique does indeed come across as a cameo, only ELdO forgot to mention that it's a 15 foot tall cameo, made of  cream and powder, fixed on a slab of granite.

Bijout Romantique starts as a big cloud of pastry cream. There is white chocolate, vanilla, a hint of strawberry milkshake and lots of fluffy whipping  cream, fresh from the farm. There is a powdery cosmetics note in there as well, getting along just fine with the cream. Even though it's full of sweet confectionery notes, BR never gets cloying or overly sweet, its very well balanced. As the scent wears the sweetness evaporates. Steely iris is revealed and the powder moves towards chalk dust, blue ink, faint pencil shavings and cold stone. At the extreme drydown, after a good nights sleep, there is a beautiful vanilla and tobacco accord lingering. A very nice transition!

I keep keep having these associations to how a womans life in the 19th century might have been. As the scent starts out she's a young girl, sweet, all smiles and eager to see what life has in store for her. Maybe she marries that handsome captain. He sails his ship on the seven seas, she sits at home, waiting for him, doing needlepoint, raising children, everything appropriate for a decent woman of her standards. But deep down inside she wonders, is this all? I have everything a woman can wish for but I'm still not happy? Lets see if we can tight up that whalebone corset one inch more, that might push those silly thoughts right out of my head!

The children grow up, time goes on. Her husband always had a bit of a drinking problem and after he's killed in a brawl she realizes there was a gambling problem as well. He has gambled away everything they had and then some more, leaving her dirt poor. She takes up a position as a governess in order to pay back the debts and gets pneumoconiosis from all the chalk dust she breathes in, trying to teach those dumb, despicable kids to read from the blackboard. By now, there are no smiles to be seen. Life has hardened her. Her hair is gray and the children call her a witch when they think she cannot hear. Unfortunately she dies before it is discovered that she's the rightful heiress to a grand fortune. One that had allowed her to pay back all debts and then live in luxury for the rest of her life.

So, what is my verdict of Bijou Romantique? Well it is a big time "lady"-scent indeed. I'm sure fans of powdery cosmetic type of scents will love it, it does remind me of a tamer, but more sophisticated, version of Labdanum 18. I might be the wrong person to review it as I still haven't "got" the powder thing but who knows, a few more wears of BR and maybe "powder" will show up on my list of acquired tastes for spring 2012?

Official notes: Bergamot & Italian lemon, pink berries essence, ylang-ylang, sage, iris of Tuscany, evee, coconut JE, vetiver from Haiti, benzoin, vanilla...

Pic:  Fuckyeahcameos (where else?) and Wikipedia