Saturday, January 28, 2012

Anyas Garden's Ambress - a winter gem

This winter has, so far, been an unusul one in Sweden. It didn't really start until one or two weeks ago, before that, what we had was more of a prolonged autumn. Not that I mind, I'm not crazy about snow as there usually isn't a shortage. But as the real winter is here now, it is nice, at least for a few weeks, to look out and see that familiar view outside the window covered in a thick blanket of whitest snow.

 It's very interesting to see how this onslaught of winter is affecting my perception of perfume. It's like the snowfall is distorting the perfumes voices. For better and worse. Some scents that that didn't seem  interesting before now all of a sudden make sense. Others, that I liked during autumn, just don't feel appealing anymore. It's like entering a familiar room in a new light, letting me discover new aspects in my perfumes that I wouldn't have seen otherwise. And this is a most welcome and well timed thing as I suspect the upcoming heating bill will eat my money anyway.

One little gem I've rediscovered is Ambress from Anya's Garden, an all natural take on amber. It starts with a heart breakingly beautiful opening of rose, so dark red it's nearly black. A rose that knows it has just a few last precious hours to live and is thus releasing whatever is in there in a desperate attempt to sway the Grim Reaper to hold off the schythe.

As the scent wears it moves towards a more conventional Amber. There is a spicy side waiting to be revealed, I'm getting cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. There is the classic amber bitterness, sometimes it's herby and sometimes I'm getting the bitter edge you get from real honeycombs. There are some very soft balsams at the very bottom. Sometimes I get an unexpected whiff of something chewinggum-like, maybe jasmine?

Somehow this scent strikes me as very humane. As in every person there is both light and darkness, the same goes for Ambress. There is sweetness in contrast to bitterness, life in contrast to death. If I'd cast is as a person it would be a young woman. Very beautiful but with no end of inner demons waiting to be revealed.

Another point about Ambress it that it goes remarkably well with food! I wore it while having blue cheese and crackers and Ambress took on the feel of an aged, semi sweet sherry. Or a good quality port. I've also had dark chocolate while wearing it during the initial dark rose phase and - OMG! Do not miss out on that combo!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wine and Perfume pairing

 While browsing the net I came across a very interesting blog post from "A Lady in London" about a wine and perfume pariring event she went to, organized by none the less than the niche perfume house Miller Harris. I'm dying to try something like this out. Has anyone been to something like this? Any thoughts? I'd love to hear!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Tea for Two - l'Artisan Parfumeur

Tea just has to be one of the most comfortable and versatile scent notes around. It can be light and dainty, perfect with crustless cucumber sandwiches. Green tea goes from tasting like lightly toasted rice towards tasting like whole bales of hay, begging for something intensly sweet to cut through the astringency. And there is smoky tea, black tea, spicy tea, the list goes on and on. And, weirdly enough, most of them can, at some point, be detected while wearing Tea for Two.

First thing that happens when applying is a huge blast of smoky Lapsang Souchong. It's very intense and smoky but somewhere behind that smoke one can detect a balancing gormand note. To me it smells like biscuits. Dry, not very sweet, but with a smattering of vanilla added for flavour.

After an hour the smoke has faded and now we're having a very robust green tea. It tastes strongly of hay and unlit tobacco. The gormand note has also evolved, it's still sweet but it's also spicier now. Mabye there is gingerbread served with the tea?

Fast forward two more hours and most of the hay is gone. Now I get more of a regular, good quality black tea. It's served hot and a teaspoon of honey has slowly melted and been stirred into the cup.

At the extreme drydown all the tea and spices seem to meld together, forming a cup of nice, sweet Indian chai. The perfect warm, comfy ending of an intense day

I percieve Tea for Two more as a olfactorian recording of a series of nice moments than a classical perfume. It's amazing how it manages to morph from one cup of tea to the next. The notes seem to  swirl one around the other and I'm very intrigued how the sweetness first seem belong to the gourmand half of the scent, then in the tea. Same with the spices, first they go with the cake but thy end up in the chai. And its's not just an "interesting" scent, it smells very good indeed. I love it on cold winter days when you'd rather stay cuddled up under a blanket. And it's even better on days that I've anticipated as going to be rather bad. It's like carrying around a warm cuddly teddy bear, nudging you through any challenges out there that you'd rather not have known anything about.

Official notes from l'Artisan: ginger, smoked tea, honey

Notes from Fragrantica:
Top: bergamot, star anise, tea
Heart: cinnamon, ginger, spices
Base: honey, vanilla

Created by Olivia Giacobetti


My new years resolution...

...that you can read all about here is starting to take shape. I've now started another blog where I'll collect the text I'll be needing in order to get the final site up and running. It's in Swedish, it's a perfume blog, aimed at people that have no prior knowledge of perfume at all. In other words, no need to be able to tell your top notes from your base notes, or to ever have heard of Uncle Serge. I'll be doing some reviews there (which I'll double post here) and lots of "question column" type of writing, talking about perfume. If you like to take a look (please do, I only have one pageview so far which is probably my own and that feels a bit depressing). The blog can be found at (drumroll):

Friday, January 13, 2012

More about Sweden - Perfume Bloggers

As I've been bashing the perfume situation in Sweden I realised that I am being a bit unfair. We do have some excellent perfume bloggers, all of them way more knowledgable then myself. I figuered I'd do a little introduction of them here. Their blogs are mostly in Swedish, but they are well worth running through Google Translate for those of you that prefer to do your reading in other languages.

Pojkfröken - perfume from a gay angle. He's currently doing a very informative "perfume school" series, sports a great sense of humour and there are some good posts on perfume options for the budget minded.

Parfumistan - she used to write a perfume column in one of Swedens leading fashion magazines, Damernas Värld. Lately she has been reviewing a lot of ouds and there is a review of Serge Lutens "De Profundis", that I consider the best review of that scent that I've come across.

Julia Forsberg -  blogs about perfume for the beauty magazine Daisy Beauty. Reviews both niche and upmarket mainstream releases.

Confessions of a Perfume Nerd - another good one. She has been sick for a while but I sincerely hopes she's felling better soon and taks up blogging!

And, what about that picture? Well, just to prove that all Scandinavian design is not about fair woods, white furniture and lots of air... That's the worlds biggest Dalahäst, an icon of old fashioned Swedish folk art. Enjoy!

If there are other bloggers that should be included in my list here, please tell me, and I'll have them added at once.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The state of Sweden....+ my New Years Resolution

If you follow me on Twitter or spend a lot of time reading comments on other perfume blogs you might have come across me talking about Sweden. It's a great contry in many ways. If we didn't have such generous benefits for parents, allowing most of us to stay home for 1,5 years after having a baby, this blog would never have come into existence. But, in other aspects when it comes to perfume, it's complete and utter wasteland. Niche perfume is not available outside any of the 3 biggest cities (in Stockholm, the capital, I can only name 2 stores that carry any). Most people are  afraid of smelling of anything but the most common, boring cleanish bleah you can possible imagine. When I started my latest job I had to sign a paper agreeing not to wear strong perfumes in the workplace, and I am a computer programmer working in an office landscape, it's not like I'm around sensitive bilogical compounds or anything like that.

So why is this? There are several theories going around. It might be due to our history of protestantism, saying that any luxuries and pleasures are a sin. It might be due to politics, our society was mostly built by our social democrat party. Traditionally they have been working for that everyone should have equal opportunities (which I think is a very good thing) but they also come with a view that anything bourgoise or "old money" (or, really, any type of money, because if you have it you're probably cheating on taxes) is bad.

Another possible culprit is the Scandinavian design, dictating that rooms should be airy and spacy, preferable with a minimal amount only white furniture bought at IKEA. When imagining those kind of settings there might be a faint pine scent from the wooden floors but nobody thinks much further than that.

There is also the horrible proverb "Law of Jante" that says "You should not think you're better than anyone else". What it does is justifying looking down on anyone who's trying to accomplish anything out of the ordinary, such as smelling better than the rest. It probably sounds utterly stupid to anyone who's able to think for him/herself, but the impact it has on people here should not be underestimated.

When all of these points are taken into account, you'll realise things are not working in favour of the perfume thing here. So I have made a very grand New Years resulotion for 2012. I'm going to put together a very nice, educational site, aimed at Swedes, written in the most inspiering way imaginable, explaining how come I (and so many others) love perfume so much. I will talk about how it transports me to other times and places. How it makes me connect to every aspect of myself (a nice bottle of perfume costs the same amounr of money as an hour of proffessional therapy, just do the maths there...). I'm going to cut the "fanatic" bit, it's not my intention to scare people, but I'm not planning to loose any edge. Yes, that's what I'm going to do. And you may now wish me luck ;)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Back in blog + organizing samples

Finally, finally, FINALLY, my Internet at home is up and running. Yay! We moved a month ago to our new house and since then everything has been crazy but hopefully things will start shape up and get more organized from now on.

And, as I'm mentioneing getting organized, just look what my husband got me for X-mas:

I've been keepin all my samples in a plastic bag that just has been getting fuller and fuller, to the point where I was worrying about samples getting crushed just by me handling the bag (blushing). But no more of that, this is how I'm about to organize my samples from now on. I'm starting out doing one manufacturer per drawer and when all the drawers are "taken" I'll either try to use something up or, if that feels like an impossible option, I'll be getting a new set of drawers.

These things are originally meant to carry items such as nuts, bolts and nails and can be bought at the Swedish DIY store Claes Olsson for around 25 USD. Neato!