Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Histoires de Parfums - 1889 Moulin Rouge

I've said it before, the best thing about having perfumes as a hobby is not the many great perfumes you'll get to savour or how good you'll become at recognizing scents. The very best thing is the lovely people you get to meet. A while ago I wrote about how I'd just realised that the mall next to my work had two perfume shops in it. Parfumistan over at Parfumistans blogg commented that she also works near a mall with two perfume shops. And, as Sweden is a very small country, of course it turned out to be the same mall! Since then we've been meeting up for "perfume lunch" once a month, or, as I like to think of it, no-limit perfume nerd fests. And we've been exchanging samples as well. One of the perfumes Parfumistan generously let me try is 1889 Moulin Rouge by Histoires de Parfums. I've had the sample for a while now and been meaning to write about it for some time, but it's a hard scent to write about. I'm a little embarrassed by my perceptions of it, and you'll see why.

Lets start with the name, "1889 Moulin Rouge", a legendary nightclub in Paris, mostly known for it's can-can dancers. How might it have smelled in 1889? Like lots of warm bodies, probably. Some of them wearing the same skimpy scene costumes night after night at a time when hygiene standards probably did not include daily showers or dry cleaning. Is that something you'd want bottled? If you're some kind of Victorian bent pervert, sure, but most us would likely prefer living in ignorance on this one.

The official notes of the perfume tell a different story, though. Top notes are tangerine, prune and cinnamon. Warm, fruity, spicy - Yum! Heart notes are absinthe and rose of Damascus. Liquorice rose, that could be nice. Base notes are iris, patchouli, musk and fur. Sounds good once again. But unfortunately I'm not getting a single one of these notes. What I'm getting out of 1889 Moulin Rouge, is this:
"Strawberry Strings" (=jordgubbssnören)
Strawberry Strings are my sons favourite candy. It's basicly strawberry flavoured liquorice. They are rather nice, I probably wouldn't buy them for myself but I happily gobble down a string or two whenever opportunity is given.

1889 Moulin Rouge starts with leathery strawberry strings. Almost immediatly on applying the scent softens and moves towards a sweeter and fruitier variety of strawberry strings. Toward the end it smells like strawberry strings that have been left out in the air for some time. Some of the aroma has evaporated but they still taste the same, just now a showing off a dustier, more mellow facet of themselves. And those are the notes I'm managing to pin down.

This is a really lame description, which is a pity because 1889 Moulin Rouge is not a lame scent whatsoever. It's just very hard to describe as the notes are all so well integrated it's near impossible to tell them apart. It's a lovely scent, comfy and cheerful and envelops your body in a sweet red-hued shimmer. Although sillage is low, longlivety is great. I've been wearing it for work as it's both encouraging and discreet, and it lasts all day. I've also been wearing it to bed as it's warm and cozy enough to induce happy dreams. Interestingly enough, the only thing it's not made for it's a grand night out, including absinth drinking and watching risqué dance acts - very much in spite of it's name.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A scent for sadness

My grandpa, Jakob Sigurðsson, and myself
In everybodys life there are ups and downs. Some days are good, some great, other not so good. There are times when whatever is pulling you down can be successfully shrugged off, maybe by go seeing a friend, read a couple of blogs or have a long hot bath. And there are occasions when it's not so easy. Sometimes, sadness must be met head on. You have to embrace it and let it do it's thing because then, and only then, it'll pass.

I had a bout of the latter kind a while ago, as my grandfather passed away. It wasn't unexpected, he'd been very ill for a long time, but still, when death actually strikes, it's always devestating. All of a sudden the livliness of floral and fruity scents felt wrong. Gourmands, especially the sweeter ones, I couldn't stand at all as I'm the kind of person who looses apetite when sad. Loud, dramatic scents with a lot going on in them were just too much, I had enough of issues of my own. I tried going scentless, but that didn't feel right either. I wanted something. An olfactory equivalent of a funeral dress. Something functional and no-fuss to get me through the day without demanding any attention.

And what kind of a scent would that be? There was one that came to mind. It was released earlier this year and when I first tried it, back in February, I didn't think much of it. But now, under these new circumstances, there was something about it that kept tugging at my sleeve. I had a try. And yes, Serge Lutens L'Eau Froide did hit the spot.

It starts out with grapefruit. But there is no sun kissed Florida goodness here. When I say grapefruit I mean grapefruit zest of grapefruits 20 years ago. Before ruby was the norm and your face puckered up at every bite. On top of that I get a mint, but it's compeltely stripped of all its herby facets. Only the cold is left.

There came a card with my sample and, if I remember correctly, it said that L'Eau Froide smelles like cold water running through rusty pipes. That is a very accurate description of how the scent moves on. There is water, metal and cold, and that's it. There is supposed to be somali incense in there but as that's not a note I'm familiar with so unfortunately I can't pick it out.

If I'd envision L'Eau Froide as a person it would be as a stiff and solemn old fashioned butler. One who keeps a respectful distance but still is always ready to do whatever needs to be done, day after day after day, without ever letting the tiniest inch of personal emotion slip out through his face. He might never smile but he got me through days when my body felt numb with grief and my mind was so muddled I compeltely lost track of what I'd actually been been saying and doing, thought about saying and doing and dreamt I'd said and done. Thankfully I'm through the worst of it now, the flowers have regained their colors and the food has taste again. I wouldn't call L'Eau Froide either joyful or adventurous but it stood by me when I mostly needed it - and for that I'll be forever greatful.

Images: Fragrantica and my own.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sa Majeste la Rose - Serge Lutens

I seem to be on a bit of a rose spree right now. Possibly, it has to do with the weather, I remember I was into roses at this time, last year, as well. Few raw materials gives me such a width of visions as rose scents. There are so many fragrances, yet they all manage to be so different. There are freshly sprung morning roses, complete with dew drops and a garden. There are pale pink shabby chic/country living/dainty teacup roses that are very nice indeed but somehow lack a lower body. There are the smoldering incense roses. Heavyweight Middle Eastern roses. Dark roses. Blood roses.

One excellent rose scent is Serge Lutes Sa Majeste la Rose. This is an almost rose soliflore (is there a technical term for "almost soliflore", I'd love to know), smelling first and foremost of rose with a skeletal background of other notes adding context and spine.

The intro is rose and rose alone. When applied super light it smells very natural, like smelling a rose on its stem in a garden. At the same time heady, innocent and sweet. But whenever wearing more than a single drop another facet comes out to play. Suddenly the scent toggles between its original pretty rosyness and something oily and metallic. The effect is the same as the picture on the right. Just as you either see the beautiful young girl or the old woman, but not both at the same time, I either get the pretty side or the metallic side of Sa Majeste la Rose, but not both. I find this type of olfactory dynamics very interesting, it makes me think of the mad genius stereotype. A person who's brilliant in some ways but also ravinly insane in others.

But oily metal is not something that should be done in excess, and fortunately it does fade, after a while. As Sa Majeste la Rose develops a luxurious honey note reveals itself. The honey somehow warms and opens up the rose, removes every trace of innocence. At this point we've got a sultry, sexy little thing, someone waiting in anticipation for her lover to arrive. And he sure does. As we're moving toward the dry down a note of gaiac wood emerges. I interpert it as very masculine and absolutely gorgeous. First time I noticed it I immediately assumed that it had to be something a male coworker was wearing. Which was odd, as I'd never noticed that any of them wear perfume before, ever. Who'd have believed they'd this good taste? Then I realised it was all me ;)

So, I enjoy Sa Majeste la Rose a lot. It's great for summer and it manages to sport just the right amount of interesting backdrops while still staying in the "lighter rose" category. A great feature is that it comes across very differently depending on how much is applied. It can be perfectly appropriate for work if applied lightly and more suited for ... other occasions when using more.

Offical notes: Moroccan rose absolute, gaiac wood, clove, white honey, musk

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The new Vero Kern fragrance

When the Swiss perfumer Vero Kern released her newest perfume she celebrated by doing a draw on Facebook. 50 lucky commenters would win a sample of her, yet unnamed and not officially described, scent. Before the official release we were encouraged to write down our opinions and the most interested ones were to be published on her site. And guess what, I was one of the winners of a sample! I've had so much fun sniffing blindly and here's my impression:

This is a little chamelion of a scent. I've been discovering new notes on every try. The first time I tried it on was on a very cold day. 6 degrees Celsius and windy outside. I'd been out and was chilled to the bone when I discovered that my Vero Kern package had arrived. The first notes that stuck me when spraying was citrus, herbs and stone. I thought I got lemongrass, lime and white chalky rocks. It felt chilly, strict and severe, but at the same time, classy and smelling very good. One of my initial thoughts was "An Asian take on Chanel No 19". Unfortunately I fell asleep before drydown.

First try
The next morning, another go. This was a mild and sunny morning, warm enough to wear an unbuttoned light jacket to work. My impression of the scent now was a completely different one. No Asia and absolutely no Chanel No 19. I still got rocks and citrus but the composision felt warmer. I smelled a meadow of lemon trees growing in dry, chalky soil. The sun was shining and there was a glimpse of the sea in a dinstance. I would not call it an aquatic, or even marine, scent, but there is definately a feeling of saltiness and minerals.

Second try
Third time was, yet again, completely different. Now it was raining outside and clouds were dark and heavy. During the opening, I hardly got any citrus at all. What I got was freshly cut fennel, complete with fronds. After a while there was lemon oil but only breifly. There were also wet, slippery grey stones. When the lemon oil faded, mild green notes lingered on. I got lettuce and faint grass.

Third try
The dry down is wonderful but hard to pin down as the notes are very well integrated here. I think there might be myrrhe,  some citrusy resins, salty minerals and there is a super tiny hint of something vanillic. By now it makes my body smell fresh, but not in that artificial soapy clean way. Neither in a musky way. It's like breathing fresh air. It smells like my body might have smelled if I had done my excersises, eaten organic food and taken care of myself. It's a "me, but better" scent that actually delivers - and Vero, I applaud you for pulling that off!


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Trying out Lush Gorilla scents

A while ago lots of bloggers were talking about the Gorilla scents, sold at Lush. A few days ago I managed to drop by one of the Lush shops here in Stockholm and finally I could create an opinion of my own.

I chose two solids to try out, "Lust" on one wrist and "Tuca Tuca" on the other. Lust is bright red and leavs a sticky pinkish stain when applied from the stick. It's all about jasmine and  starts out with a staggering amount of indoles in the top notes. Within an hour the indoles do quiet down and there is a beautiful, thick, syrupy sweet jasmine. This is jasmine on steroids and I must say I loved it. I had a vision of a sexy blonde, bursting out of her 3 sizes too small dress, having a date with a boring lawyerish-looking man. While the man is talking about the benefits of reading up on all the details before doing your tax declaration, the girl clasps her hands over her ears, looks into space and goes "La-la-la-la-la-la-la". That's how Lust feels to me.

Tuca tuca is described as a "sensual violet" and I really don't know why I tried it on, as powdery violets are usually not my thing. But I did. Application felt like painting myself with a gigantic crayon and that pretty much sums up the smell as well. I just don't "get" that "lipstick and body" thing. Tuca tuca has a similar feel as ELdOs Putain des Palaces and that one mostly smells like Play-Doh on me. Tuca tuca smells like a sweetened version of the adhesive putty that is used in primary schools to fasten the kids drawings to the walls (which is also called "teachers chewing gum" in Icelandic).

If Lust is the blonde that gentlemen prefer, Tuca tuca is the mousy brunette, sitting in the corner, hoping that one day, her day will come. But unfortunately it will never happen as her creepy, cloying personality repels everyone coming with in three feets distance. Yes, I'm harsh, but we just didn't get along

In all, most of Lush's products smell loud and sweet and the Gorilla perfumes are no exception.They might not fit into the "refined and sophisticated"-category but if they do happen to smell like something you crave they are good buys. They come as both solids and sprays in 2 different concentrations. I'll most definately try out Lust again.

Pics: Lush and Fragrantica