Monday, July 16, 2012

Introducing my new site!

A while ago I wrote a blog post about how perfume gets such a stepmotherly treatment up here in Scandinavia (for the whole post, read here). I had several ideas about the reasons for that, including our tradition of protestantism, social democracy, white and airy Scandinavian design and the horrendous Law of Jante, saying you should never be better than the rest.

But seriously, just think about it, all the people here that right at this moment are pouring their souls into choosing the perfect wine to accompany the perfect meal, wearing the perfect garment in their perfect living room, just because they like it. That does not sound like people are buried under a pile of protestant, et all, beliefs, does it? Concerning perfume, there just HAS to be something else!

And I think the answer is very very simple. Here, there is no tradition making perfumes and most raw materials used in perfumery are not available naturally here here, so all those references are missing. The perfume supply in the shops is extremely limited (if you don't live in one of the biggest cities) and there is no tradition giving out samples for free. Taking all this into account it's not strange that most people just haven't come across a scent they've seriously fallen for. The rabbit holes in Sweden are sparse and far apart.

But now, Sweden is also a country of nerds. It's considered a good thing to be serious about your hobbies, excel at quizzes and just do a good job in general. I believe that with just the tiniest nudge people wouldn't have any problems tumbling all the way to the bottom of the before mentioned rabbit holes - and I believe they are just as deep as anywhere else.

And in order for that to happen I have created a new web site where I introduce some of my favourite fragrances and explain what I find so great about them. Coincidentally, these scents are also offered for sale, at competitive prices, in different, usable, sizes.

But I want more. Perfumeland, with its beautiful inhabitants, is a glorious place. I want to facilitate for everyone to get to know it. Therefore I'll move this blog over to the new site, and I want to feature as many other perfume bloggers as I possibly can on my new blog roll. So, if you want to be on it but aren't, please, tell me!

Also, I'll continue to do this blog in English, even though the rest of the site is in Swedish. And, even though you don't speak Swedish, don't let the language scare you. Seen one web shop, seen them all. The names of the perfumes and companies are the same. And although I'm starting out with only support for payments within Sweden ("I had to start somewhere so I started here", as Jarvis Cocker of Pulp used to sing), I'm all for international business. Just pop me a mail and we'll talk about it.

So, as this will be the last real blog post here in a while, I want to thank EVERYONE who has read this blog from the bottom for my heart! I got very surprised when I first realised anyone was reading it and I still get just as deliriously happy whenever I see one of your lovely comments! I'd love if you'll update your bookmarks and subscriptions to the new site (yes, you can link directly into the blog and never have to see the shopping part!) and stay with me and see what the future brings. Love, thanks and big hugs to you al!

And finally, the url to the new site:  (I'll be grateful forever and ever if you share!!!)

And for only the blog:

Hope to see you there :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cats and Iceland

I feel so out of the olfactory loop that everyone seems to be in now. First everybody had spring but we had winter. Then everybody had summer, we had the coldest June in 20 years and the most rainy one for 100 years! Now everyone is having heat waves and what did I do? I went to Iceland. No heat waves there.

But I did have a great few days. I managed to meet up with my relatives, spend lots of time with my kids, youngest sister and mom and catch up with the local gossip of Reykjavik. I also managed to get some cat pictures for you. My mom has 4 georgeous cats. 3 are Maine Coons and one is a local blend.



I also managed to try 2 Icelandic perfumes at the airport, Ella Day and Ella Night. Ella Day started with a harsh lemon note that wasn't my thing at all but Ella Night was actually quite lovely, smelling of fur and vanilla, making me miss the cats even more. It lasted the whole trip on my wrist, the fur fading and the vanilla getting thinner and thinner and more like vanillin sugar as the hours went by. Not terribly complicated, but I'm not complaining, I seldom like vanillas so I'm happy I came across this one.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Neighborhood smellies

I've been so busy this week, preparing to go with the kids to Iceland, wrapping up things at work before the holidays, taking care of the garden etc etc that I haven't had time to prepare a proper perfume post. So instead, I figuered I'd show you some other great smelling things that grow around my house.

The area I live in is full of older houses with georgeous gardens surrounding them. A funny thing is that most gardens tend to be very similar when it comes to what plants grow in them. When spring first started the lawns were covered in squills (scillor) and wood anemones (vitsippor). Then came the daffodils in the flower beds. After that came major lilac season, they were everywhere. Then rhodedendron. Currently there are three top players, presented below:  
Up until a year ago I thought mock-oranges were jasmines. In Swedish they're named "Schersmin" which, very confusingly, is pronounced almost exactely the same as jasmine. But apparently they're another species altogether. Nontheless they smell DIVINE. It's a sweet, heady and almost fruity scent. So strong you can smell a few flowers from across the street and so syrupy I wouldn't mind eating it with a spoon!
And peonies! Their scent makes me think of a fat-free, sugar-free rose, but what they lack in scent they make up for in looks. They're so ridiculously big and colorful, make me swoon every time.
Elder flowers
The scent of elder flowers is an interesting one. They remind me of mimosa - minus the almondy facet. Though, I've only ever smelled mimosa in perfume so this might not be a very valid observation. But there is some anise in there, and caraway. According to the Fragrantica database only 4 perfumes have elder listen as a note. That's very few! I'd love to see what a good perfumer could do with this one!

So, this is what I smell at the moment. Coming up plants are lovely honeysuckle and roses. What are you smelling? I'd love to hear!

Pics: my own

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

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Le Labo Baie Rose 26

There was a time when I thought I'd never ever enjoy smelling cloves again. The reason for this is a trip to Malaysia me and some fellow exchange students did 20 years ago. Somehwere I'd read about Kretek, Malaysian cigarettes made of tobacco mixed with cloves. At the time, they sounded amazing! And, with the power of initiative only found in teenagers about to something that's bad for them, we did manage to get some. I can't say they were that spectacular. Yes, they did induce a spinning feeling in my head and the cloves made my mouth go numb. From a "smoking-weird-stuff"-point of view they were very lame but what they DID do was making me sick every time I smelled cloves for a very long time afterwards.

Fortunately, this has now passed. Le Labo Baie Rose 26 opens with rose, pepper, allspice and lots of cloves. It's a spicy rose fragrance, not soft spicy in the way orietals are spicy, full of vanilla and cinnamon, this is sharp and spiky spicy. The peppers and cloves are contrasting against the rose like a new punky haircut and a fresh facial peircing look on an otherwise sweet and innocent looking 15 years old.

As the scent wears the pepper dissappears, the spices soften, but they never leave  completely. After about one hour, there is a metallic phase when I can almost feel the taste of iron in my mouth. This might not sound very pleasurable, but I don't mind. The rose part of Baie Rose 26 is deep red and prominent.

During the long dry down the rose softens and melds into the wooden notes. The scents mellows and matures just like I imagine the girl in the picture, first hanging out with her edgy emo friends at school but then going home, removing the eye liner, slipping into somthing comfortable and at the end of the day she's in bed, reading Nietzsche.

Official notes:  aldehydes, clove, pink pepper, rose, pepper, musk, virginia cedar, amber

And, yes, I couldn't resist this image that came up when googling for kretek:

This guy has very little to do with the smell of Baie Rose 26

Friday, May 11, 2012

Early spring scented egotrip of 2012.

Spring in Sweden can be divided into two phases. The latter is "real" spring when the trees starts getting leaves, there are tiny flowers on the ground and the air starts to warm. And there is the "not-really-spring" (yes, I'm paraphrasing Undina here :) ). A season that is winter by most peoples standards, it's just that it happens during months normally associated with spring.

When peeking at what other perfume bloggers seem to like during that fragile time of the year many seem to mirror their environment in the scent they choose, going for taut green scents and cold florals, especially roses. I've been doing the very opposite. When the view outside my window says "snow" I've been reaching for my biggest and boldest florals, compensating for everything that's not there. I'm naming this trend of mine "Escapism by Florals".

And, for "not-really-spring" of 2012, there are 3 notes I've been craving more than anything else, they are:

Tuberose - it started out when I unintentionally scented my phone with by Kilian Beyond Love. All of a sudden I wanted to cuddle that poor thing and never let it go. Then, again and again, when I went to stores to sniff perfume, and when I found a tuberose I just relaxed and thought, "Mmmmmmmm, yummy, THIS is what I've been looking for!" Tuberose has become my "relax" note. The note I "slip into" when I come home on Fridays after a hectic work week and want to get a break from any professional, responsible and serious parts of myself. Some scents featuring tuberose that I've loved to wear are Honore de Près Vamp á NY, Penhaligons Gardenia, L'Artisans La Chasse aux Papillons and Frederic Malles Carnal Flower.

Aldehydic florals - in my blog post Winter recap 2012 I wrote about how I was starting to appereciate the "aldehydic clean" note. I guess the next logical step was "aldehydic florals". So, I've been enjoying scents like Amouage Gold, Chanel 22 and Lanvin Arpege. I love how they have this old fashioned luxury feel. While wearing them I can imagine being a wealthy lady during the 50-ies whose biggest worries are weather the servants are careful while cleaning her fur coats or if she's gonna wear rubies or diamonds for dinner. It's a little fantasy I like to nuture when, in reality, my dinners mostly consist of me watching my daughter mash her fish fingers into her hair...

Peach - all of a sudden, I smell peaches everywhere. They're in the exquisite dry down of Amouage Gold Woman, they're in Mitsuko (yes, I seem to be her type, after all). Ormond Jaynes Frangipani comes across very peachy and there is Etat Libre d'Oranges Vrai Blonde. First time I tried it, about a year ago, I was expecting the detonation of a fruit bomb. That's not what I got, and I was dissappointed. Fortunately I've tried it again since and after having unintentionally prepared myself using all those aldehydic florals, I was able to approach the composision from another angle. And it's lovely! Bright and happy like a Bellini champagne cocktail - and it's a well know fact we all need lots of thos in order to get through winter ;)

And, since this is such an ego tripping post anyway, let me share my current music love, Frida Hyvönen. This is a great love song and big nostalgia trip for anyone who grew up with Dirty Dancing...


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Wedding Bouquets

A while ago Undina, one of my fave perfume bloggers who always writes very down-to-earth posts on perfume in her own, personal style, did a stunning post on "Bouquet to Art 2012: Craft Imitates Art". This is an event that takes place at the "Fine Arts Museum de Young" in San Fransisco every year. The idea is that florists choose a piece of art from the museum and do an interpretation of the art work, through the creation of a flower arrangement. And there are some absolutely stunning arrangements in that post, so if you haven't seen it - head over here and take a look!

Now, a few days after Undina did her post I went to a gardening fair. My aim was to buy some bulbs or flowers for my garden, and I did get some tuberose and lily bulbs that I'm very curious about how they'll turn out. I also stumbled over a florist competition. One of the diciplines was wedding bouquets. So, I figuered it was in order I did a little break from the usual perfume routine and shared some of the bouquets on display, tagging along with Undinas floral theme.

I find weddings interesting. There are some basics that hardly ever change, there is a white dress, beautiful bride, flowers and some kind of party. But within these fundaments, the trending is severe. The cuts of this years wedding dresses are not the same as last year. And the trends in flowers come and go. This year the bouquets seemed to be mostly round, the size of a small roundish hat. The colors were pastels with something either brighter or darker to accentuate them and several of the bouquets contain elements of fabric.

Here's a classic. I love the way the fushia flowersand deep green sprigs offset the pale pink roses and peonies. I had a similar bouquet when I got married, maybe that's why I like it so much :)

Another great bouquet, I love the contrast of colors and the irregular shape (sorry about the mess in the background).

An orgy of pastels with little beads. Very sweet and romantic.

An upside down bouquet. First time I've ever seen one of these!

Playing with chords and ribbons.

Another unusually shaped bouquet. An intense mix of bright colors.

Creative use of a pink cotton ball and chords. Whimsical and happy looking.

And this is the winner. I love how the whole bouquet is based upon the shape of a rose, just letting it go on and on, expanding outwards. My photo is bad and blurry but fortunately I found out that the girl who did this bouquet has a blog of her own. And she knows how to take pictures! So, here's a (stolen) picture of the same bouquet from her blog,  And feel free to check it out, there are LOTS of georgoeous pictures over there!

So, do you find any favourites among these? And do any perfumes come to mind while looking at the pictures? The last one is Annick Goutals Rose Splendide, to me, but I'd love to hear what YOU think!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Amouage Gold pour Femme

One of the best aspects, if not THE best aspect, of having perfumes as a hobby is that you get to meet so many wonderful persons. I'm not the first blogger to point this out, but perfumistas are the friendliest and most generous people around and one of the most adorable ones is Suzanne of Suzannes Perfume Journal. In my opinion, her perfume reviews are some of  the best out there, full of cultural references to books, movies and music as well as references to Suzannes own life. Always written with great humour and spirit, draws me in and while I may understand that I might not like a perfume she writes about, according to the notes present, every time I still love to share her olfactory experience through thoughts and words in the blog.

A while ago, me and Suzanne did a little swap and through that swap I got my first real glimpse of the legendary Omani perfume house Amouage (that I thought was named Amourage until a week ago, well yes, I'm a natural blonde...). There were several samples in that package but the one I'm going to write about today is Amouage Gold pour Femme. It was the first Amouage creation, from 1983, and a BIG scent, intended for evening wear.

Gold starts out with a burst of aldehyde and lilies of the valley. As the soapy aldehydes fade the scent slowly opens up and softens. I do get rose and apricots in the heart and in the drydown, some 24 hours later, the flowers have morphed into the most beatiful, myrrh-like peach. Soft and sexy and utterly feminine. Now, just because I can't name that many notes does not mean that there aren't many notes, there are! According to surrendertochance, Gold is made from 120 ingredients. But they are well blended and balanced and fit together like a perfectly tailored dress. Or maybe not a dress, the feeling I get from Gold is more like a wall. A big massive brick wall built entirely out of the essence of femininity.

Sometimes in perfume reviews you see writings like "It didn't feel like I was wearing the perfume, it felt like the perfume was wearing me". Usually this denotes a negative experience. I'm experiencing exactely this with Gold, but in a very positive way. It's like it's connecting me with some feminine aspect of myself that I wasn't previously aware of. Wearing Gold makes me reach for my most elegant skirts and dresses instead of jeans. It makes me take my time putting on make-up in the mornings, going for a full skin routine and red lips instead of the usual transparent gloss. It even affects the way I paint my toe nails. Normally I go for punky neons, crazy holographics and glitters (my former favourite is a Japanese one containing tiny poodle shaped sequins). Now, I've been doing pale pinks and nudes - colors that previously made me shudder in discomfort and boredom. But when wearing Gold, they are not boring anymore, just classy and elegant. And that's the way I feel about myself as well!

Have you ever experienced that a perfume is altering your personality, in good ways or bad ways? I'm very curious to hear if anyone has had a similar thing happening! And, about the video, when I thought about Gold being a song this one popped up in my head. I love Patti Smiths voice, it's so strong and has so much personality. You don't mess with her and you don't mess with Gold.

Official notes (according to Fragrantica)
Top notes: wild rose, lily-of-the-valley and silver frankincense.
Heart notes: myrrh, orris and jasmine.
Base notes: ambergris, civet, musk, cedarwood and sandalwood.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scents my husband hates

This weekend me and my little girl have been home alone, My not-so-little boy is off to granny and my husband is off with his mates on their annual all-guys golf trip to Spain. About my husband, he hardly ever comments on the scents I'm wearing, neither in a positive or negative way but there is this one note that I know he absolutely hates - patchouli. So I figuered this weekend would be a great time to get out my patchoulies and take them for a test drive.

The first one I've been wearing is a scent that's also, in my household, known as "that smell". My husband picks it out anywhere, on anyone, because he hates with a passion. Since he's done this since long before I became interested in perfume I haven't really given it a chance. It's a very well known perfume and I don't think you can pretend to be a perfumista without having at least tried it on a couple of times. So, I dropped by at my local KICKS, and since I was in a hurry and had my biggest and thickest winter jacket on, the only bare patch of skin I could find in a jif was my decollage, so I went for it and big splash of .... Angel.

I'd really hoped I'd dislike Angel, considering my husbands opinions on it, but no such luck. The sensation of then sitting in a commuter train and have that...thing...whafting up on me from under my clothes invoked a giggly, exhilarated feeling, a similar one I imagine a flasher might have, walking around before the actual flashing, thinking about what a surprise those innocent bystanders would have if they found out what he was wearing underneath his trenchcoat. Except, with a sillage like that the whole train car probably had a very clear picture about what I was wearing beneath my clothes with no need to take them off. Hereafter, Angel will be my own secret little pleasure to indulge in whenever husband's out of town.

And I also feel disqualified to write about what it smells like, because it smells like SO MUCH and I've just tried it this once, but please head over to  the Candy Perfume Boy who has an excellent review here.

Björn Borg
Next day I tried on ELdO s Nombril Immense. Another love that I feel is not getting the attention it deserves. The way I perceive it there are two antagonist sides, there is the an obnoxious, mothbally and penetrating patchouli set against soft, sweet balm of Peru. The dynamics of NI makes me think of a tennis match featuring Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg, wearing the colors of the patchouli because of his hairdo and alleged accusations of drug abuse. He's playing against someone I can't say because I don't know any other tennis players, sorry! In this game they look like they are be competing but it's really just a show. They're doing this in order to set each other off, look like they're engaged in a struggle but it's really just a convenient way of looking good in front of girls. I'm not sure if my rantings here makes sense to anyone, but it's a scent I enjoy wearing, nonetheless.

And then, no test round of patchoulis would be complete without Chanels Coromandel. Coromandel is one of the very few scents (I can count 3) that my husband has asked me not to wear when I'm near him. And I'm "????????" How anyone can NOT like Coromandel? But the intro can be a bit overpowering. Think about a spot where your local wicca coven might meet at full moon midnights to harvest the mandrakes needed in their rituals (see the top picture). The roots are ripped from the soil, leaving big black gaping holes in the ground. Coromandel starts like what one of those holes migh smell like. Wet, damp and very black soil. But then it changes...a lot. The patchouli calms down and along comes chocolate and vanilla, the whole concoction morphs into dessert bliss from heaven. If there is any one perfume that I'd like to see rendered as an ice cream flavour it's Coromandel. Seriously, it would be so neat to have a perfume themed dessert parlour. With Fils de Dieu Rice Pudding, Coromandel and Bois et Fruit ice cream and a few more flavours for caramel I'm close to have skeleton for an actual menu :)

Last of the patchoulis is Serge Lutens Borneo 1834. It has taken me a while to "get" this one, when I first smelled it it was to weird and bitter but now it's awsome. To me, this one is the cosiest, most relaxed scent of the ones I've written about today, it's also the one where the patchouli is most integrated with everything else. It starts out with lots and lots of tobacco. Then comes along that warm and steamy note, the same one that's present in Fumerie Turque and for a very short while in the intro of Boxeuses. In a very no-frills way Borneo 1834 smells like walking around in a small Asian country-side village. It's hot, the humidity is extreme, you can smell the dirt on the roads and the wood the huts are made of. Someone is burning old palm leaves far away, the smoke barly detectable. As it wears it sweetens and it moves toward cocoa. But it's not the obvious chocolate you get from Coromandel, this is unrefined cocoa, dark and raw, complete with a hint of camphor. Righ now, I feel like I could wear Borneo 1834 forever.

In all I have immensly enjoyed my weekend. I often set up goals like "this week I'm only going to wear citruses", or "lets have a Sonoma Scent Studio Marathon this weekend", but this is the only time I've gone through with something like that. Usually I do one scent and then I'm craving something completely differet. But the patchoulis are so NICE. I've felt relaxed and calmed. As the weather is bad I've mostly stayed at home, relaxing, thinking and playing wth my daughter, and the introverted, meditative feel of patchouli has been a great backdrop to that.

Photoes: D-addicts, Gaygroom, American Folcloric Witchcraft Blog

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lavender Sea Salt Caramels

Lavender can sometimes have butterscotch-ish facets in perfumes and for a long while now I've been thinking about how great it would be to make my own lavender flavored caramel. This weekend I finally made it and I thought I'd share the recipe here on the blog.

Lavender Sea Salt Caramels

3 dl (1,5 cup) sugar
3 dl (1,5 cup) whipping cream
1 dl (0,5 cup) light corn syrup
1/4 vanilla pod (optional, but feel free to use more as well)
5-10 drops of lavender essence (I use Mandy Aftels Lavender Chefs Essence)
2 big pinches of sea salt
1 tablespoon oil

Prepare by putting a sheet of oven paper on a baking sheet.

Throw together sugar, cream, syrup, scraped seeds from inside the vanilla pod, 5 drops of lavender essence and one pinch of salt in a pot.

At the start the caramel batter will be light tan. Boil vigorously until the color start changing toward deep amber. Stir all the time with a wooden spoon. This takes more or less 20 minutes.

Test if the caramel is ready by letting a small drop of batter drip into a glass of cold water. If the drop shapes itself into a hard roundish ball, the caramel is ready.

When you see that the caramel about to be done, taste it. Be careful, it's VERY hot. If it needs any more salt or lavender essence, add it now.

Add the oil to the caramel batter.

Quickly pour the batter onto the baking sheet. Spread it out evenly with a spoon while it's still hot.

Sprinkle on that last pinch of sea salt.

When cool enough to handle, break it into bite sized pieces.


A note about the avender essence, there are some bitter and herby notes present when smelling the essence right from the bottle but they did not make it through the boiling. In all the lavender flavour was very smooth and perfectly married the caramelized sugar. Now, I've only tried making these types of caramels with lavender but there are several other essences that I bet would be just as good. How about caramel flavoured with peppermint, cocoa, coffee or Peru balsam (I'm sooooo curious about cooking with that one)...

And, I did have an unexpected guest showing up. I'd seved him caramels if I thought he'd like them but he seemed very content just to nibble on my neibours bushes. Yep, this is another photo taken from my window. As you see the snow is melting away indeed :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Quick spritzes

View through my window on April 14, 2012

Look at the photo, that was the view outside my window a few hours ago. It has snowed ever since so now there's a 5 inch layer of snow covering everything. Spring just doesn't seem to be happening this year :(

But, fortunately, perfume does happen! About a month ago I discovered that hidden in the ugly mall next to where I take the train to and from work there are not one, but two small perfumeries. Thay both have a very basic mainstream selection, but still, they are there, just when I need a little pick-me-up-spritz after a long day of heavy thinking.

And yesterday I discovered this bus behind the house where I work, it basically takes me door to door in 5 minutes to NK, the department store with the biggest selection of niche scents here in Stockholm (it's not the nicest store, that's COW Parfymeri, but it is the biggest). So now, at any time when things at work seem to be going ugly, I just hang on to the thought that when my shift ends I'll be mere minutes away from drenching myself in good smelling juice, all for free, and then just drift away in the fumes and be happy :)

So these are some of the scents I've tried lately. My opinions here are all based on one times spritzes in stores and should not be taken as serious reviews. I've ordered them from "love at first sniff" to "worse than horrid".

L'Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons. Happy, playful and lovely mix of tuberose, jasmine and orange flowers. I hadn't expected to like it so much but it seemd to get right into my smiley reflexes after a long tedious work week, lifting both my mood and spirit. I'll be trying it again very soon and, so far, I think it's FB worthy!

Lanvin Arpège. A bright floral with a classical feel to it. Aldehydic at first, then jasmine and lilies of the valley. Felt like a great spring or early summer scent (or when you're just longing for spring very much). Must also try again soon! 

Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte. Reminds me of a very watered down version of Bandit. I get greenery and a hint of leathery rubber. It's nice, but I rather just wear Bandit.

Prada Prada (Amber). A perfectly good amber. If I ws looking for a typical amber in a pinch I might very well get this one.

Chanel No 19. A scent widely loved in the parfumista community. I do think very well put together, long lasting, distinct etc etc, but as I do admire it, unfortunately I can't bring myself to love it.

Stella McCartney L.I.L.Y. A clean floral with an aquatic feel about itself. Does it make you smell good? Yes. Does it make you smell interesting? No.

Chanel Allure Eau de Parfum. A mainstream peachy fruity floral with a vanilla base. Hm, probably smells great if you don't know what's more out there.

Viktor and Rolf Flowerbomb. A nightmare! I hadn't been reading up and thus expected a big blast of white flowers, based on the name. What did I get? Cloying burnt sugar from its very worst side. The only good thing I've got to say is that it washed off gracefully, so at least, thanks for that.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes by Etat Libre d'Orange

Happy Easter everybody, I hope you've all been enjoying yourselves during the weekend! I've spent a few days with my in-laws, always nice to get out of town, get properly fed and get some help with the kids. The only complaint I've got is the weather. We had a lovely spring thing going on but then something went terribly wrong. Both on Thursday and Friday it was snowing so our view out the window consisted of dainty little spring flowers, trying bravely to stand up while covered in an icy layer of white snow. Poor little things! For compensating the cold outside I've been reaching for something warm and cheery, namely, ELdOs Fils de Dieu Du Riz et Des Agrumes, which must be one of the longest perfume names around.

It starts off with a very green and Asian feeling citrus accord. There is lime, zest of lime, ginger and shiso. I love the intro. It makes me wonder why there are no green Asian style Eau de Colognes (or are there, and I'm just not aware of them?). I'd love a perfume that was like this on and on and not just for the first 10 minutes like FdD.

But what comes next is not bad either. When the citrus fades there is rice pudding and not just any rice pudding. It's an Indian rice pudding where premium rice has been boiled in thick coconut cream, a drop of rose water added, along with a small cinnamon stick, half a scraped vanilla bean and a few cardamon pods givng the final dish just a hint of well integrated spice. At times I get a hint of something smoky as well. This is clearly a dish that will soon be crated in my kitchen!

During drydown the spices and rose disappears from my skin and I get more of a savory, plain rice smell. I'm also thinking I'd love a Christmas Edition of FdD. In Sweden it's tradition to eat rice pudding on Christmas, either with milk, cinnamon and sugar or with whipped cream and orange segments. I can imagine a FdD flanker (not that ELdO are known for making flankers, but anyway) with an orange intro and stronger spices during the heart and drydown. Yum, that would be nice...

In all, FdD is a lovely and easy-to-wear scent. I find it's both relaxing and energizing. It's unusual as it's about rice, Ormonde Jaynes Champaca is the only other rice scent I know of and that one's a floral-rice, this is a light oriental-rice. As an extra bonus, both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law both loved it!

Official notes (from Fragrantica):
Top notes: ginger, coriander, lime and shiso.
Heart: coconut, rose, cardamom, jasmine, cinnamon and rose.
Base: tonka bean, vetiver, musk, amber, leather and castoreum.

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