Monthly Archives: October 2013

Juliet’s Party

This is not a perfume review as such. It is story inspired by Andy Tauer’s ‘Une Rose Vermeille’. Sometimes only scent can inspire words to form on my blank page. For this tale perfume has been my muse.

wilting rose

August is reaching it’s peak and summer sits heavily this year, how troublesome a shining sun can be when the mind is weary. The insistent, optimistic beam of golden light seeks only to cast the shadow of her ragged edges into sharper contrast. It is not usually like her to be so downcast when the trees are in full leaf. She is worried for herself. Somewhere in the cloudless blue above there is a higher part of her that shouts down in vain to the body, watching as it drags itself though yet another sun drenched day without so much as a glance at the copper beech, turning from deepest purple to green.

Today is Saturday and she must board a train. It is a country line and as the vehicle pulls into the station she thinks that it more closely resembles a school bus, with long benches and metal hand rails. She boards with her companions and they all sit in a row, watching through the windows as the countryside begins to surround them on all sides.

None of them really want to be here today. Their task (and it will most certainly be strenuous) is one they have been collectively putting off for weeks, polite excuses and prior engagements have become a little overused and the time has come to grit their teeth and get it over with. It is sad that although in this they are united, in every other way they are falling apart. At times during the journey the conversation becomes strained between two of them, the third looking on, both awkward and a little excited at the fractures forming, slowly creeping into the heart of things and allowing rot to take hold.

As the train chugs happily through the green and pleasant land she tries to get a hold on herself. She has noticed the watchfulness of her friend, the slight glint in her eyes when her stress bubbles too close to the surface. Always so supportive, always full of enthusiasm, holding herself back from the veiled resentment hissing between the other two. There is a danger that if she cannot keep it together today, she may lose her place within the group, that she will be pushed still further onto the sidelines. In her heart she knows that continuing in such dysfunction will eventually destroy her. She knows she should get out before she breaks but the path ahead is so misted with uncertainty that she is afraid to venture into it. Mustering enthusiasm for anything is so hard while the sun beats down relentlessly. She wants to crawl into a dark space between tree roots and hide.

As the train nears their stop they stuff the tension hurriedly into their handbags and instead share some fortifying words, for whatever may be rupturing between them it absolutely cannot show for the rest of the day. As she steps onto the platform she repeats it to herself like a mantra. ‘Do not lose your temper, do not lose your temper….’

Juliet is waiting on the bridge above the tracks. They can see her waving between the high grasses, beckoning for them to head through the gate. Her voice travels through the warm air like a bullet. They pile into the back of her car and hurtle down the country lanes at a ridiculous speed, Juliet chattering all the while about their journey, the landmarks they pass, the tenuous things they have in common. As is always the case she is unprepared for the physical jolt of energy that scatters her thoughts whenever Juliet is on top form. Perhaps she has become sensitive to it after a few weeks without daily exposure. She is barely holding her thoughts in place as it is. Glancing at her companions she notices that their jaws are set and their eyes falsely wide with interest. She forces her face into the same expression. God this is hard work already.

The car pulls up outside a lovely house with gardens spreading out around it on three sides. Juliet is puffed up with pride as they all gawp with genuine admiration. It is an idyl nestled in between rolling green hills. A tour promptly follows, where every treasured ornament and framed photograph is lingered over, Juliet’s whip crack of a laugh exploding far too frequently for them to relax. The three of them know only too well how finely tuned an instrument they are dealing with here. If one of them plucks the wrong string all will descend into a cacophonous riot.

The kitchen table is groaning under the weight of the feast set upon it. The platters of food look delightful and Juliet requires only a little help to finish it off. Whilst the others carry tables and cloths into the garden, Juliet instructs her how to dress the summer fruit salad. Juliet has a tone to rival any Victorian school mistress and the well intentioned guidance is like a physical assault. To see Juliet here, in her home environment, she had hoped to understand the woman better. There has always been such a contradiction at play, she is never sure how to handle it. Juliet is at once free spirited and stuck in her ways, open minded but also terribly prejudiced, young at heart with a lifetime’s experience, fierce yet fragile, manipulative but naive. She had been hoping that in her own home Juliet would become less frustrating. It seems though, that the whole house pulsates with the strength of Juliet’s contradictions, the pitch of her personality resonating at a purely vibrational level. It makes her head spin. She knows this woman loathes her, loathes all of them in one way or another. The invitation to be here today is an act of defiance, disguised clumsily as a gesture of solidarity. She can’t help but feel paranoid that Juliet has noticed the spots of disease forming within the group, even though they have been so careful to keep it from her. Bad feeling is like fuel to Juliet, it makes her burn all the brighter.

wilting rose

Juliet leaves her instructions hanging in the air like a velvet wrapped threat and departs to ensure the garden tables are being arranged as she intended. Waiting until Juliet has gone, she lifts the lid covering the green dish and breathes in the scent of summer berries. Plump raspberries, blushing strawberries, the softly bloomed skin of dark blueberries. She sprinkles sugar crystals all over, slices a lemon in half and squeezes the tart juice sparingly. Next to the sugar pot stands a dark brown bottle of highest quality rose water. She opens the lid and inhales the wonderful bouquet that blossoms forth, wondering as she does every time at the decadence of such a thing. Luxury is Juliet’s biggest weakness, so she is never one to scrimp on things she considers essential. This rose water is simply beautiful, as you would expect. Placing her thumb over the top, she tips the bottle and pours a little into the fruit, then stirs it all together with a silver serving spoon. The scent is exquisite. Sweet, tart fruit combining with rose into a frothy pink celebration, the lemon just sparkling away at the top to keep it from becoming too sugary. It strikes her as very poignant that such a joyful combination could exist in the tension fueled buzz of this afternoon. Inhaling one more time, she places the cover back over the fruit and steps out into the garden to join the others.

Time passes slowly, compliments are lavished upon the food and the beautiful surroundings, polite conversation is painstakingly crafted through sheer force of will. Juliet seems unaware that the situation is awkward. Another of her strange contradictions is that although she is always the one to cause trouble, Juliet feels adamantly that it is not her but them who are to blame. For once she is running the show and it is a role in which she thrives. To Juliet’s mind this is the way it should always be between the four of them. It is a never ending challenge to keep her in her place, a delicate balancing act performed with a tact and subtlety that once she found admirable. Now she finds it terrifying. She is no longer safe from the master tactician with whom she travelled here today. Sooner or later the true intention of this pleasant get-together will have to be discussed. Ironically, Juliet is in the safest position, even though she makes the biggest waves. Juliet remains the only permanent fixture, like a towering cliff on the shore of a turbulent sea. No amount of crashing and splashing will budge her.

Notebooks emerge from bags and the conversation turns finally to business. It all feels very formal somehow, even though the situation has been engineered to be as relaxed as possible. As she gropes around for her pen she is painfully aware how little she has prepared for this. Her mind, so fuddled and foggy with unhappiness, has been solely focused on getting through each day. Until now she has chosen to cope in this way, but as all eyes turn to her, expectant to hear her solutions and ideas, she realises with sinking certainty that she has not done enough. However constructively her lack of input is dealt with, she can tell from a look that she has greatly disappointed the person she is expected to support the most. That look is one she has encountered with more regularity in recent weeks than anyone in her position should. Her friend happily fills in the blanks she has left, seemingly prepared to do both their share willingly. Shame rolls over her like hot thunder. She has made herself redundant in this quartet, she sees it as plain as this summers day, yet she feels totally unable to change it.

Juliet, however much she feels superior, is managed with breathtaking precision. Her misguided and narrow minded input is made, to her, to seem both valid and useful, whilst actually being of no help whatsoever. This is how the four of them have rubbed along together these past years. They know that Juliet cannot be budged, so they tread carefully and take advantage of her short sightedness. This has become entirely too exhausting to keep up for the one who is unhappy, anger flares inside her with the white intensity of a lightening bolt. ‘Do not lose your temper, do not lose your temper…..’

Juliet, smug with achievement, skips off to fetch the dessert. The other two fall into further conversation, hatching plans whilst on the sidelines, the miserable one battles the storm intensifying within her. She sits mute, with eyes downcast, shame and anger and humiliation smashing at her battered will. She is disgusted with herself for not trying harder, furious that such little effort is praised in someone else. Her fragile ego twists in pain as she listens to her friend proving how much more she deserves to be here, while a little voice in the back of her head is questioning why she cares. It is too much. She is fully aware that while all this emotion is rocking her little boat, outwardly she appears to be in a deep sulk. A child sitting morose until the adults forgive her. She simply cannot find the strength to pull herself out of it. There is that look again, except this time the eyes flicker to the kitchen and back with a raised eyebrow. Juliet must not witness her meltdown or the hierarchy will crumble like a sandcastle, leaving her at the bottom of the heap.

Dessert is served in delicate china bowls. There is vanilla cheesecake too, deep, silky creaminess speckled with black seeds. The combination of smooth vanilla, sweet fruit and fragrant rose is so stunning that in the midst of her turmoil, eating it seems like a cruel joke. A tear escapes and drips into her bowl. She prays for the clouds to roll over the sun and shut out the infernal brightness. For all the lazy bees to take cover under the leaves and cease their happy droning. Glancing at her watch she counts another hour until it is time to catch the return train. She picks up her wine glass, drinks the previously untouched pink liquid in one and reaches for the bottle.

Halfway down the second glass she risks a prolonged glance at Juliet. She still seems totally unaware that she could cut the atmosphere with a knife, working her way steadily through her own bottle of wine. The conversation has moved away from business, notebooks stowed back into bags and laughter coming more easily. Maybe it it just she who is still submerged in this murk, it appears that the others have released some of their pent up tension and the mood at the other end of the table is significantly lighter. With an odd mixture of shame and relief she allows herself to relax slightly, although she knows that in the past hour something has broken. Tiredness rushes over her, encouraged by the wine slipping too easily down her throat. In her befuddled state she watches Juliet and the others chatting away, feels so separate from them that it is almost an out of body experience. A bizarre burst of sympathy for Juliet takes her by surprise, dining blithely with the wolves who manipulate her so cunningly, though she is a dangerous creature herself. It does not last, this fleeting kindness, but is does cast Juliet momentarily in a different light.

wilting rose

The last minutes of the party play out in a half drunken fugue of hot sun and pollen filled air. She is unsure whether she rejoins the conversation fully, she still feels removed from herself. The car ride through the lanes is a green blur, Juliet’s goodbyes are hurried as the train is already waiting. She falls asleep on the journey home. At the station they exchange hugs, bid farewell to their friend, then she and the other agree that they need to ‘have another chat’. The concern is genuine but she knows this tough woman too well to feel comforted by it. As she trudges home, slightly nauseous in the balmy evening, she tries to reflect on what exactly has happened. It feels like a dream now. The reality of her situation and the ultimate change in her mindset will not dawn on her fully until the next morning.

Arriving home she lowers herself wearily onto a chair in the kitchen and opens her bag. Tucked inside is a small tupperware pot with a folded note secured by an elastic band. The pot contains the last of the summer fruits, still sublimely fragrant but slightly bruised from being jostled around on the journey. Strange, she didn’t remember asking for it. She opens the note and reads it once, then again and again. Finally she drops it onto the table next to the little pot of jewel bright berries, pushes herself away from the table and slowly climbs the stairs. In her bedroom she draws the curtain to finally shut out the sun, climbs fully clothed into bed and pulls the cover over her head. She is asleep in seconds.

The note remains on the table until she emerges the next morning to read it again……

 “For you, because I noticed how much you enjoyed it.

 Much love,

 Juliet”

She folds the note into a tiny square and throws it in the bin.

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Von Eusersdorff ‘Classic Orange’

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One of my favourite foody scents is orange. Fat, sunset coloured fruits bursting with sharp juices. Some firm, to be sliced with a kitchen knife, others small and plump and soft enough to peel with your fingers. I adore the lingering stickiness and the slightly bitter tang that citrus peel leaves on skin and under fingernails. Eating an orange is, for me, always a happy experience.

Orange blossom, or Neroli, in it’s essential oil form is one of the most hauntingly beautiful scents there is. It has a bittersweet, almost smokey delicacy that is truly moving. I tend to burn neroli oil when I am in need of some quiet reassurance and a gentle lifting of my worries. Where the burst of sparkling golden citrus from an orange is full of joyful laughter, neroli is a whispered protective mantra muttered over candle flames in the night.

Petitgrain is similar to Neroli, it is still harvested from the orange tree but this time from the unripe fruit, leaves and bark. It is sharper and slightly more woody but still has the same essential delicate, citrussy nature. Petitgrain is cheaper to produce and therefore it is often called ‘the poor man’s’ neroli. However high quality petigrain, mostly obtained from France, is a wonderful scent and used to add depth and texture to citrus scents in perfumery.

As you can imagine, I get very excited at the prospect of orange perfumes. It is amazing how many   interpretations of this humble citrus fruit there are and I have more than a few issues with most of them. The biggest problem seems to be that of longevity. Citrus molecules are notoriously short lived, evaporating on warm skin far too fast for my liking. In order to counteract this, perfumers often blend orange oil with orange blossom and other florals to prolong it’s life, or there are tell tale signs of chemical ‘super florilizers’, which trigger horrible headaches. When orange blossom is blended with other florals I often find that it turns to powder on my skin, it’s something I really don’t like. Only one perfume with a predominantly floral orange blossom accord has stolen my heart and that is Vero Profumo ‘Rubj’ Extrait. In this fragrance the orange blossom is allowed the space to sparkle and shimmer atop the more indolic jasmine and tuberose. It doesn’t turn to powder on my skin and remains light and beautiful throughout the development.

Other perfumes have more focus on the orange fruit itself. Often these are combined with other foody notes like tomato and various herbal combinations, woody notes like sandalwood or predictable festive spices. The most successful fruity orange perfumes that I have in my collection are ‘The Sun‘ from Gorilla perfumes, a sticky orange squash scent with a lovely, warm sandalwood dry down, and ‘Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic’ from Guerlain. This perfume smells completely amazing at first spritz, full of juice and zest with little white blooms floating atop it. That classic, herbal/balsamic Guerlain base comes through a little too strongly for me though, especially in summer when it can smell far too much like I’ve rubbed basil leaves on my pulse points.

Obviously I was intrigued by Von Eusersdorff’s latest launch, ‘Classic Orange’. Given the highly polished and superb quality of their other fragrances, I knew that this perfume was bound to be well made and appealing. Due to my deep love of orange and a distinct lack of scents that actually work on my skin, my standards in this genre of perfume are very high. So how does ‘Classic Orange’ perform…..?

When I spritzed the perfume onto my skin it felt as if I had just pushed my thumb into the firm skin of a huge orange, spraying bitter juices forth. Very quickly the sweeter nectar inside begins to flow. The opening is so completely like the act of peeling of an orange that my mouth waters. Developing slowly out of this torrent of bitter sweetness is the slightly smokey sharpness of petigrain and black tea, beneath that a smoother, polished surface of sandalwood. Now orange and woods are a combination that I’m already familiar with, but the difference here is the balance between them.

Sandalwood can warm a perfume up very quickly. Here the orange is very firmly in the lead role and keeps the whole scent cool and pleasantly bitter, helped by the aromatic and spiky black tea. The wood beneath is masterfully controlled and serves to add depth and longevity to the citrus, without surpassing it. Von Eusersdorff have again created that superb smoothness and finish that so impresses me, particularly here where the sharpness of the petigrain could roughen the edges. It also only has the bearest hint of a floral note, just enough to ornament it’s boldness with a flicker of femininity.

‘Classic Orange’ becomes more sweet and musky as it warms, however it maintains it’s citrus  slammer of a start for over an hour, which is impressive. The orange never fades entirely, it simply becomes more liquid and smooth. The sandalwood is ever so slightly soapy/lemony now and the more bitter bark of the petigrain reigns it all in under it’s quietly stern gaze. It doesn’t have a huge sillage but as I’ve mentioned before I don’t mind this in the slightest. As it has a very true orange nature and I wouldn’t want people to think that I’d emptied a bottle of juice over my head. I believe this is a scent to be sprayed in the air and walked through, enough to give you a corona of freshness. But that’s just me. For those who love a big perfume, ‘Classic Orange’ is up to the challenge.

Von Eusersdorff describe ‘Classic Orange as

 “A bittersweet symphony.”

I couldn’t agree more. I am so impressed with this perfume, it is by far the truest representation of orange that I have come across. Paired with the darker bitterness of petigrain and tea the fragrance is cologne-like and cool. There are no boozy notes, nothing overly sweet and sticky, no spices (thank god.) It is a perfume all about the orange and a beautifully made one at that. Von Eusersdorff do simplicity so, so well. All their scents are highly crafted and finished to exceptional standards. This is not the house to go to if you like a bit of rough. Their orange is a high definition, three dimensional portrait of a big blood orange, plucked from the tree outside the window and freshly sliced open on the wooden table, oozing it’s divine nectar in sticky rivulets into the grain. Damn it is good!

Fragrant Motivations

I have a habit of accosting strangers in the street and asking them what perfume they are wearing. I also do it with customers in the shop where I work. No one seems to mind my incredible nosiness because I am always careful to make it a complement. It is one thing to be asked where you got your lovely boots, but I find that people are even more deeply flattered when they are asked about their perfume.

My second question, if it seems appropriate, is why they chose that particular perfume. The reactions I get are fascinating. Some people know exactly why they are wearing their chosen scent, whilst others look suddenly panic stricken at the blank that this question draws in their mind. Some look at me like I’ve gone mad and say “well, because I like the way it smells of course!” I find the second question far more revealing than the first. The motivation behind choosing a scent comes before the selection of the scent itself. Few people would walk up to a perfume counter and start sniffing bottles at random, settle on the one that smells nicest to them and buy it without any further thought. There is always a more complex reason behind your choice, and that is what I’d like to take a look at further.

It is a nuanced and immensely personal question to ask, but I believe that a person’s choice of perfume stems from one of the following motivations: scent by star association, scent as accessory, scent as memory, scent as armour and finally, the serious perfume enthusiast.

Scent by star association.

coco chanel

Let’s start with scent by star association. The majority of customers who buy celebrity fragrance are buying an association with that person. Admiration of the aforementioned celebrity’s fashion choices, musical talent, glowing personality etc is enhanced by having the opportunity to smell like them too. For the most part it is as simple as that. A person likes a singer, the singer launches a perfume, the person likes the perfume and buys it. Celebrity fragrance is almost always fairly generic, because it has to guarantee huge sales. Bubblegum and candy or sheer florals are usually the theme. For the person buying the fragrance, it is the close association with the star, the novelty of the bottle on their dresser and the idea that wearing the scent gives them the same confidence and allure of the person they idolise is the motivation. It is less about whether the perfume itself smells exactly as they would want, the association is what sells it.

Brands can also use famous actors in advertising campaigns to great effect. Although the scent itself is not linked with the star, the advertising is so effective that the perfume and the star are forever after combined. I cannot smell ‘Coco Chanel’ without imagining Keira’s pouty face, it’s the same with Gwyneth and ‘White Linen’. Uber successful actresses selling big brand designer fragrance is a winning combination if you want to make money.

There will always be someone who throws you a curved ball though. Proof of this is in my dear friend Grace, who showed up at my house smelling of sparkles and hairspray and lollipops. When asked the obligatory question she replied “Britney Spears.” When pressed further on why she was wearing the perfume of a star who’s music she didn’t even like, she replied “it’s not about that. We’re going out tonight and I wanted to smell skanky.” Proof that even negative association with a star will still create sales.

There is also association with a non famous person that will lead people to choose a particular scent. I do not mean a memory, that is something different. I mean a choice that you make because you admire that person’s style or personality. This used to happen all the time at school. The popular girls would bring their bottles of perfume to gym class and within a few weeks every girl in the year would smell the same. I can remember a particularly frustrating period of time when every single female member of my class was wearing ‘Tommy Girl’, including me. I remember thinking at the time that it would probably be so much more interesting to buck the trend and go for something totally different, but I’d asked for a full bottle for my birthday. Again, it wasn’t so much about the smell of the perfume itself, it was the association with being eccepted and ‘cool’.

Scent as accessory.

bottles on the dresser

The second motivation, scent as accessory, links in fairly closely with the first. This is buying a perfume by a particular brand or perfume house because you admire what they represent, but also because you love the aesthetic and the kudos of owning something with a label.

For example, when I was about twenty I bought myself a bottle of ‘Diorissimo’. This was before I became very interested in understanding perfume and my choice was based purely on the excellent sales tactics of the counter assistant. I was wandering the perfume aisles, trying to decide whether to go for another bottle of ‘Issey Miyake’ (bought for me by an ex-boyfriend) or try something else. I had been avoiding the Dior counter because I hadn’t associated myself with the brand at all. It was too polished and classic for my scruffy student tastes. But the sales assistant did a stirling job of convincing me that this could be my ‘going out’ fragrance, one I would wear when I put on my high heels and nice jewellery. Her words were so persuasive that I bought it and actually found myself dressing up for my perfume, taking extra care over my makeup and choosing my nicest outfits to wear out! To this day I would only wear ‘Diorissimo’ if I was going out somewhere very nice (although I don’t wear it at all anymore because something has changed in the formulation and it gives me an almighty headache.)

To buy a perfume because of it’s label is the same sort of thing as buying a designer handbag. The bottle looks great on your dresser, the fragrance has been featured in all the latest fashion magazines and if asked about what you are wearing you can name drop with the best of them. On the other end of the scale, people may choose fragrance from a brand with which they share an ethos. For example, most of the people that choose fragrance from Lush do so because they share the company’s attitude towards environmental, animal and human rights issues. They feel that perfume created by a company they admire better represents them as individuals. Like wearing a slogan t-shirt instead of a designer label.

A similar attitude could be applied to those who search for niche/art perfumes combining extreme combinations of notes and edgy, dynamic branding, with a price tag to match. These people want a perfume that sets them apart, marks them as unique and unwilling to swim with the masses.  Like a bright feathered headdress worn to the supermarket, these perfumes shout “I smell weird and I love it!”

Scent as memory.

memory scents

This is a far more nostaligic attitude towards choosing perfume and one that is usually free of any brand association or following of trends. These people wear a perfume to remember a time in their lives or a particular person that is very important to them. If you are a person that wears lots of different scents, as time passes each of these smells will impregnate themselves into your mind in the form of olfactory memory. You might enjoy going back to them from time to time to remember that particular phase of your life. You might seek out a perfume that reminds you of a loved one who is no longer with you, or a bygone era that holds a special interest. For those with a historical fascination with perfume, finding and wearing the vintage classics, like ‘Mitsouko’ and ‘Jicky’, ‘Shalimar’ and ‘Chanel No.5’, will be a lesson in great perfume making and a vivid flash back to a time when you were not yet born.

This attitude of nostalgia is not always an easy one, it can also completely spoil an otherwise beautiful fragrance for you if the memory it provokes is negative or very emotional. It can also make a particular note difficult to wear. The best example of this that springs to mind is perfume blogger Kafka and her aversion to lavender. She says that it has such strong associations with her childhood in France, where dried lavender sachets seemed to fill every drawer and the air was thick with swathes of blue scent in summer. It makes even really stunning, complex lavenders like Vero Profumo ‘Kiki‘ impossible for her to enjoy. I have a similar problem with very powdery rose scents like Frederic Malle ‘Lipstick Rose’. It is so evocative of my grandmother’s dressing table, her powder compacts and wardrobes filled with dresses. It’s not an unhappy memory, just one that belongs back in that room and not on my skin.

Olfactory memories are potently strong and I have found myself physically swayed by scent. I think people that seek out perfume to induce nostalgia do it for the emotional thrill it gives them. They want way more from their scent than to simply smell nice. They want a relationship with it, to forge an ever lasting connection, to make the perfume an indelible stain upon their memories.

Perfume as armour.

armour

Wearing fragrance like a costume is a habit for the more seasoned perfume lover, and those of us who have the opportunity to wear and experience many different scents. I think we can all name at least one perfume that makes us feel really confident and another that makes us feel sexy and so on. Some people, however, can take this to a whole new level. Perfume is seen as the final layer of intricate armour that they don every day, choosing different scents dependant on how they are feeling. When they shop for perfume they have a clear idea of what they are looking for and on which occasions they intend to wear it.

Perfume for work, perfume for quiet nights in, perfume for dinner parties, perfume for clubbing. Perfume for every occasion and situation. Perfume to cheer yourself up, perfume to exude sex appeal, perfume to comfort and perfume to sleep in. Scent becomes such an integral part of life that it is as important as putting on underwear. It must take years to build up and refine such a varied collection of fragrance. Whereas some rely on a slick of red lipstick or an expensive watch to make them feel complete, others feel naked without a spritz or a dab of exactly the right perfume. Make the wrong choice and it might just spoil the entire day.

I grew up with the notion that perfume was a luxury item, you had one bottle at a time and you didn’t buy another until the existing one was empty. I also have an irritating tendency to feel overly loyal towards things, meaning that if I have more than one bottle of perfume I feel somehow like I’m cheating on the one that came first. I know that this is ridiculous, I’m overcoming it slowly. Imagine what I was like before I realised I could order samples! I love the idea of owning a beautiful wooden cabinet and filling it with only the most exquisite scents, each for different occasions. The reality though is that I have neither the cash or the personality to manage it just yet.

The perfume enthusiast/perfumista.

perfumista

Wow. These are a group of people whom I have only recently become acquainted with and my god their perfume stashes are vast and their knowledge encyclopaedic. Scent is their passion and their hobby and it is how they choose to spend their money.

There is serious dedication involved in building up a collection of scents. Trawling flea markets and antiques stalls for pristine, unopened bottles of vintage perfume. Owning all the classics in every formulation. Staying up to date with new launches from designer, mainstream and niche houses, ordering great packages full of samples and understanding the different notes and compositions. Being able to pull from memory all the best perfumes containing mimosa or the benchmark sandalwood fragrances which all others should then live up to. It is a serious business and one that takes years of learning and copious amounts of cash. Online forums such as Facebook Fragrance Friends and Basenotes are excellent places to chat to fellow fume heads and broaden your knowledge.

In a questionnaire, these people will write ‘perfume’ in the space where you state your interests and hobbies. It is a life choice. Having a full bottle of your favourite ‘Tom Ford’ is as, if not more, important than doing the food shopping. However fanatical about fragrance they may be, I have also found them to be extremely accommodating and friendly, more than willing to answer my naive questions on forums and happy to share their experiences of different perfumes. I would advise anyone who wants to learn more about perfume to join a fragrance forum, just as one helpful blogger once advised me.

Serious perfume enthusiasts are motivated to buy fragrance for all the above reasons with the added passion of collecting rare and vintage items, beautiful bottles and obscure perfumes. If it’s out there, they have sniffed it, or they are hunting it down with the focus of a predator. They are not afraid to tell you their opinions but the wonderful thing is that everyone tends to be fairly open minded. Scent is so personal that there is no correct interpretation and people are generally accepting of that. It’s a little like falling down the rabbit hole for these people, once you’ve taken a peek there is no going back.

I’d say that I started out as a person who bought perfume as an accessory. As I learn more about the fragrance world and continue to write I find myself hunting down scents to provoke memory, scent to create new memories and also to armour up a little bit. I am very far from being a perfumista but I think I may end up there one day. So what is your motivation for buying perfume? Do you find yourself falling into one or more of the above categories? Or do you have a different motivation entirely? I’d love to hear your thoughts…….

Vero.Profumo ‘Rubj’

Rubj

To introduce Vero.Profumo ‘Rubj’ Extrait I’d like to tell you a story. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin…

Once upon a time there was a poor weaver who fell hopelessly in love with a rich silk merchant’s daughter. She was indeed a beautiful woman, her dark hair and flawless complexion was much admired throughout the land. So much so that she was said to rival the queen in both her beauty and her exquisite dress. The merchant was a proud man and always provided his daughter with sumptuous gowns woven from the finest silks and brocades.

The weaver knew that the only way to win the daughter’s love was to create for her a length of cloth that could be made into the most beautiful dress she had ever owned, so he set about weaving a cloth of such rich and vibrant beauty that she would not be able to refuse him. He worked tirelessly through days and nights until he was surrounded by drifts of the finest silk in purples and blues and gold. Silk fit for a princess. He packed it carefully into a sandalwood box filled with scented leaves and travelled across the land to the merchant’s manor house.

The weaver waited outside the gates for three days and three nights, carefully protecting his silken cloth from the haughty eyes of all the other rich suitors who lined up to win the daughter’s heart, believe me when I tell you that there were many, many men. When his turn finally came to be presented to the beautiful woman, he laid the box reverently at her golden slippered feet and pledged his undying love.

Now although the daughter was beautiful, she had a cruel heart and laughed at the poor, ragged man kneeling before her. She believed herself to be every bit as lovely as everyone told her she was and she was vain because of it. She could not see that beneath his poverty the man was handsome and strong as a prince. Raising her hand to turn him away, he begged her to at least look at the cloth he had lovingly woven for her, to touch it’s silken folds and imagine the fabric shifting against her skin. She had her servant open the box, and as the silk spilled out onto the floor she was captured by the vibrant colours and bent down to rub it between her fingers. The cloth was like nothing she had ever seen before and she looked again at the poor weaver, a wicked smile forming on her lips. If this man loved her enough to create something this beautiful, surely he would go even further to prove his love to her.

The daughter had long since heard tales of an enchantress, living deep in the forest, who was said to weave silk from her hair. Any woman who wore a gown made from this cloth would be granted eternal youth. The daughter was afraid of growing old and had begged her father to seek out a piece of this cloth so that she might forever be young and beautiful. However, the tales also warned that any man who gazed into the eyes of the enchantress would be ensnared by her sorcery and could never return to his loved one. The merchant, a cowardly man, was afraid to venture into the forest himself, as were all the wealthy suitors that had previously sworn that they would do anything for his daughter’s hand. Increasingly desparate to own the magical gown, the daughter now emplored the poor weaver to seek it out for her, with much flattery and false adoration, promising that on his return they would be married.

The weaver, his lonely heart bursting with love, grasped her hands and swore to return from the forest unharmed, carrying in his arms a cloth to make her forever lovely. As she watched him go  the cruel woman smiled again to herself, thinking that if he did not return, she might send some other fool in his place. She cared not one jot for this brave and desparate man, seeing only a way to have what she had always wanted. If he was successful, she would simply instruct her father to have him killed on their wedding night.

The weaver set off immediately into the forest, following the path deeper and deeper between the trees. So filled with love was he that nothing could divert him from his mission. He did not fear the enchantress, and as he drew closer to her shaded bower he felt only the glowing of his heart.

Stepping under the hanging branches, the weaver saw before him a beautiful tent, draped with glorious silks of red and russet and gold. So fine was the quality of the weaving that he could not help but be momentarily distracted. Inside the tent was all aglow with hundreds of candles, waxen pools forming on every gilded surface. White blooms filled the sultry air with their indolic breath, spilling from vases and hung in garlands from the ceiling. In the centre of the tent stood an ornate loom, intricately carved and strung with silken threads the colour of brightest copper. Beside the loom, folded with petals, lay a length of the most stunning cloth the weaver had ever dreamt about, shimmering in the candlelight. The weaver glanced about him, and seeing no one, made to step into the tent. Just as he did so he heard a muffled cry from the branches above. Looking upwards he saw, suspended in the trees, the bodies of men, trapped as if in spiders webs. He looked closer and saw that each body was woven tightly with bright copper threads from head to toe and hung between the branches in a tangle of red ropes. Alarmed, he started back toward the tent, thinking that he must quickly grab the enchanted cloth and be gone before the enchantress returned, lest this also become his fate.

She was waiting for him beside the loom, a more perfect vision you could not imagine. Naked except for the white blooms entwined in her long, copper hair, the weaver had looked into her eyes before he even realised he was doing it. Fathomless, those eyes, black as midnight with a single star burning in each. Yet as he stared at her, so blinded was he by false love that he did not fall, only stood with his head held high and asked for the cloth to be handed over. The enchantress could not understand why he did not crumble before her as every other man did. She had no use for them once they fell, still breathing but intoxicated and stupified. She was so lonely, made a sport of stringing them up, like the trophies of hollow victory. This man, this poor, handsome man with a liar’s promise blinding him, stood before her intact and unharmed and she fell in love that very moment.

But she had no choice. He was uneffected by her magic, the cursed magic that kept her alone and isolated from the world, with only her weaving to amuse her. She had no choice but to do as he asked. She feared that sending him away would break her heart, so she plucked a strand of her beautiful hair and wove it with her fingers into a bracelet, bestowing it upon him as a good luck charm. As she placed the shimmering length of cloth into his arms, she whispered a spell into it’s folds. She wept as he turned away.

The weaver, unscathed and his poor, foolish heart bursting with pride, returned to the merchant’s house with the enchanted cloth held safely in his arms. As he kneeled before the daughter, her greed and elation knew no bounds. She grabbed the shimmering cloth and hugged it to her chest, dancing about with glee, her seamstresses waiting with needle and thread. “We shall be married this very evening!” She announced, before sending the servants and the weaver away to prepare.

The house was sent into a commotion, guests arriving from every corner of the land to see the man who had escaped the enchantress’s clutches. The weaver was dressed in the finest bridal clothes, he was bathed and groomed until every woman wanted him and every man was filled with envy. So handsome was he that whispers reached the daughter, preening herself in her boudoir, while the seamstresses snipped and stitched the enchanted cloth into a wedding gown. If this man really was  as handsome as people were saying, maybe she might not have to do away with him so quickly, she thought. A dashing husband would only make her seem all the more attractive. So deep and cruel was her vanity that she still cared not one jot for his bravery.

Finally the gown was ready. The guests were assembled and the priest stood ready. The weaver waited at the alter, eager to see his long awaited bride. As she walked down the isle on her father’s arm, gasps and whispers shivered through the congregation. How unbelievably beautiful she was, her wedding gown falling in drifts of copper light behind her. No one could recall ever seeing a dress so stunning as this. Reaching the alter, the weaver turned to gaze at his beloved. As their eyes met, the air around suddenly grew thick with the breath of white blooms. The daughter gasped and stiffened, clutching at her chest with clawed hands. Eyes wide and terrified, she began to wither before the weaver, becoming old and haggered, coughing and retching. Her hair turning white, her teeth falling one by one from her once beautiful mouth, until she was nothing but a trembling old hag at his feet.

The weaver watched, stunned, as this cruel woman disintegrated before him, the blindfold falling from his eyes as he saw her for what she truly was. As he stepped away, horrified, the woven bracelet on his wrist fell away and began to unravel in a shimmering copper spiral, until the enchantress stood before him in all her carnal glory. He saw now how truly glorious she was, how beautiful and lonely, how she loved him. He looked into her eyes once more and instead of falling to the ground, he took her in his arms, kissed her ruby lips, inhaling her scent, twining his fingers into her hair. Then he lifted her up and carried her back into the forest forever.

The End…..

Red hair

The moment that I touched ‘Rubj’ Extrait to my wrists I was pulled into a dark, fairy tale world. I have my whole childhood and adult life with my nose buried between the pages of a story book, beginning with the brothers Grimm and moving on to Angela Carter in my teens. If a page from ‘The Bloody Chamber’ had a scent, it would smell of ‘Rubj’, in one of her many incarnations.

I imagine that this perfume smells different on every skin it touches. The Eau de Parfum contains cumin, which gives ‘Rubj’ a far more animalic, raunchy character. The enchantress in the EdP version of the story would be a demon, making love to her captives then ravaging their hearts as they watched. The addition of passionfruit combined with the cumin is reminiscent of the post-coital reek of cooling skin. I have found this to be the way with all but one of Vero’s Eau de Parfums. ‘Onda‘, ‘Mito‘ and ‘Rubj’ EdP’s are the more gregarious, lusty siblings of their brooding Extrait sisters. ‘Kiki‘ is the only one who’s character does not alter dramatically. Vero Kern is the master of complexity, her emotional understanding of scent and her unapologetic use of reek and skank are both unsettling and exhilarating. Her perfume is exceptional, her talent undeniable and everyone who wants to experience intelligent, emotional scent making should seek out these perfumes.

I think that most of you will know by now that I am a little shy of the raunchier side of Vero’s fragrances, and this does not change with ‘Rubj’ EdP. The cumin is simply too much for my delicate sensibilities. The passionfruit at the end of the development is something really rather beautiful, juicy and sticky and mouthwatering, but I cannot deal with the cumin onslaught that comes before it. The Extrait however, has wrapped itself firmly around my senses and threatens to topple dear, fun loving ‘Kiki’ from her throne.

The opening is of the most lush and creamy petals, orange blossom that shimmers slightly with citrus and a heady gush of jasmine that hints at the tuberose hiding at it’s heart. I am overjoyed at the orange blossom in ‘Rubj’, it is a scent that I love in its pure form but usually when it touches my skin it becomes fusty and stifled. Here is keeps that remarkable lightness, whilst all the creaminess and fleshliness of the other white florals hold it gently and allow it to shimmer.

The sensation of waxen petals is something that even my husband noticed. He told me I smelled ‘like expensive candles’. When I explained about indoles having a waxy quality he was fascinated and sniffed at my wrist over and over. ‘Rubj’ is totally intoxicating, the perfume builds and swells and tumbles forth over and over. I love that it never becomes overwhelming though, this is a perfume that I would happily wear at any time of the day or night.

‘Rubj’ has a darkness in her heart. A musky, whispered secret that becomes more noticeable as the perfume warms on the skin. Although the initial visual impression is one of tumbling white petals and a light citrus shimmer, the musky civet deepens the perfume into russet and blood red and gold, ornamented with white blooms. The civet also gives ‘Rubj’ a warmth and coziness that I wasn’t expecting. This is a delightful development, to feel comforted by a perfume. Like a much loved story to be read over and over, you know the plot but it never fails to thrill you. I want to wrap myself up in ‘Rubj’ scented blankets and while away the afternoon in front of the fire. How strange that this perfume can be both humidly tropical and comforting as a warm cashmere blanket at the same time. ‘Rubj’ is indeed an enchantress, luring you into her embrace by giving you whatever you heart desires. Vero Kern is a magician. ‘Rubj’ has an effect that twists your expectations and makes you fall in love, whether it be in a wistful, shadow filled fairy tale, or in the lustful embrace of a demon.

‘Rubj’ is the one for you if you adore orange blossom and musk. The EdP will rock your world if you are a raunchy cumin lover, looking to smell of intertwined bodies beneath bloom laden branches. She will seduce you completely. If, like me, you are looking for a floral fragrance that delivers more than just a pleasant bouquet, then the Extrait will not disappoint you. I cannot tell you how bewitching this perfume is. I approached it with extreme caution, expecting to dislike it because of the cumin. Although I would not choose to wear the EdP, the Extrait has everything one could want from an indolic floral fragrance, and more. It is stunning. I need to own it. You need to try it.

Frapin ‘1270’

1270

When I started out on my perfumed quest, I had it in my mind that I was searching for ‘The One’. I thought that I was looking for my signature scent, something that would represent me and anchor my scented presence in people’s minds. I understand a little better now that to only wear one perfume you must either be extremely sure of who you are, or very unadventurous. I feel as if I have only just glimpsed the top of this fragrant iceberg, and I’m certainly not entirely sure of who I am. Besides, there are simply too many beautiful perfumes out there for me to decide on just the one.

I am also coming to realise that, dependant on my mood, I crave different scents. Before I began exploring perfume, I simply didn’t have the diversity of fragrance available that would allow me to chop and change to suit my every whim. Now that I have boxes full of little vials, I am far more emotional about how I choose my scent for the day. There is a time and a place for everything and I’m sure as I continue to come across new perfumes they will find a place in my life too, perhaps supplanting my existing choices.

My current line up of scent is loosely arranged thus: For when I feel cheerful and lighthearted and the sun is shining- Vero Profumo ‘Kiki’. For when I need to be on top form and exude confidence- Von Eusersdorff ‘Classic Patchouli’. When I am feeling ponderous and introverted, usually in the evening- Serge Lutens ‘De Profundis’. When I need a massive energy boost and a reminder of how far I have come- Vero Profumo ‘Mito’. For when I want to feel thoroughly womanly and full of verve and sparkle- Jovoy ‘Gardez Moi’.

I had been missing two scents, a simple ‘white T-shirt’ fragrance to wear for work and a proper comfort scent. Something warm and sweet and delicious. I love a sweet perfume but I have had trouble finding a scent that doesn’t end up overly sticky or custardy. Until now. Frapin ‘1270’ fulfills all the criteria that I had listed for the ‘perfect’ gourmand. It is a really fabulous perfume, so let me tell you why.

To lift a quote directly from Bloom Perfumery website,

 “For 20 generations, since 1270 the Frapin family of Grand Champagne France have been using time honoured techniques to create exquisite, intense and full flavoured cognacs. Drawing inspiration from their rich history, Frapin first began producing perfume in 2002, highlighting the inherent affinity between the creation of perfume and cognac.

Applying the same craftsmanship and artisanal methods to perfume, Frapin have created a unique sensory and olfactory experience that combines layered complex recipes with the suggestion of age soaked oak casks. Each perfume has been created by a different top perfumer, given carte blanche to create fragrance of their choosing, with no limit with regard to artistic vision.”

Named after the year that the company was founded, Beatrice Cointreau has created a perfume to encapsulate the whole environment of cognac production, from the grape vine to the aged wooden casks. I will list the notes for you, because there are some truly stunning ingredients contained within ‘1270’. There is dried orange, hazelnut, pineapple, prunes, cocoa, tonka and coffee in the top notes, vine blossom, linden, pepper and immortelle at it’s heart, while Guaiac wood, honey and vanilla make up the base. Sounds delightful doesn’t it? Well, I wasn’t disappointed.

There is an incredible toffee apple opening that instantly transports me to an autumnal evening somewhere in my childhood. Dry, cool air, a blue glass sky with ragged grey clouds at its edges. wellington boots kicking up glorious tumbles of golden, russet and ruby leaves. Clutching in a gloved hand the stick of a huge crunchy apple coated in toffee, biting into it and loving the tartness and sweetness all at once.

Then I am transported again to a moment not two days ago, at work, when I opened great boxes of  crystallised fruits and piled them into glass jars. Orange peel, lemon rind, candied pineapple, apricots and glacé cherries. The initial development of ‘1270’, after that lovely tart apple opening, is a heavenly rush of fruit. Not fresh, juicy, just plucked fruit, but preserved, candied, liquor soaked fruit in all it’s luxurious intensity. Although my first impression was of a fairground treat, there is not a hint of pink candy floss here, no music blaring and cheap plastic toys to be won. This is a Victorian fair, or an up-market delicatessen. The sweetness and fruitiness is handled in such a refined manner that ‘1270’ never pitches over into that ‘sweet sixteen’ territory of perfume that I despise.

When the cognac note appears it is so fluid and melting that I am hard pressed to pinpoint it. What I notice more is a wonderful brandy soaked raisin, like filling a bowl with plump little fruits, covering them with amber liquid and leaving it all to infuse. Having said that, I don’t find ‘1270’ to be a festive  fragrance at all, it is thankfully missing any hint of cinnamon or clove.

I think that what makes ‘1270’ so successful is the wonderful blend of coffee and vanilla and Gaiac wood beneath all the fruit and booze. This accord adds such depth and intensity to the fragrance that the sugar coating never becomes too sweet. The coffee is ever so slightly bitter and smoky, dark and glossy like fresh beans before grinding. The gaiac wood I will not profess to be able to distinguish entirely, but there is a lovely, deep woody warmth that I shall attribute to this ingredient. The vanilla is smooth, the best quality Madagascan pods that are so rich they are almost textural. Velvety and with a slightly alcoholic buzz. That cognac/raisin accord is still prominent too and is wonderfully rich and decedent, almost creamy now with the added vanilla. Amazing.

As ‘1270’ matures it becomes much more about these rich depths, the fruitiness receding to a pleasant blur around the edges. It is much more orangey now too. There is also a very pretty, pollen like powder, maybe from the linden blossom, that just lifts the base slightly and keeps it from going flat. For all it’s intensity it is a very close scent, and a decent spritzing is needed to help it last through the day. I do not mind this in the slightest, I prefer my perfume a little on the quiet side. I rejoice in the fact that I do not have to sacrifice any detail and nuance for the sake of projection though. ‘1270’ has it all without having to shout about it. This truly is the perfect gourmand for me, an exquisite balance of light and dark, sweetness and woods, sugar and booze.

This is my new comfort scent, I have had the sample for a week now I’ve found myself craving it’s all enveloping warmth. I imagine myself wearing this with an oversized camel coat and a Mulberry handbag, such is it’s class. Considering my current bank balance I will settle for wearing ‘1270’ with my best oversized cardigan and a brown leather satchel that I got at the car boot sale. It is perfect for autumn, however you accessorise.

Vero.Profumo ‘Mito’

Mito

I’ve been stalling my review of ‘Mito’, wondering if, with repeated spritzing, I might come up with a different story to tell. Sometimes though, a scent provokes such a vivid olfactory memory that no matter how much you try to associate it with something else, it will always, always take you back in time.

Vero.Profumo ‘Mito’ was the first fragrance sample I ever ordered from Bloom Perfumery. I chose it after reading an awesome review all about Vero Kern and her inspiring work, written by my perfumed mentor The Silver Fox. I should have ordered samples of the whole range but I was just dipping my toe into the world of niche perfume, I didn’t want to seem greedy ordering loads of samples so I just went for ‘Mito’ Eau de Parfum. I spent the whole afternoon after it arrived with my nose glued to my wrist, understanding what I was smelling properly for the first time. I wasn’t expecting to be sent hurtling back through my memories though, to a time before this perfume even existed. ‘Mito’ picked me up by my ankles and planted me firmly in a snapshot that was taken eight years ago, when I first arrived in Devon….

I had just graduated from university, I hadn’t done as well as I should have and I was feeling just a little bit lost about what I was going to do next. Most people in this situation would have gone home, I would have been welcomed by my parents, but I felt like I had something to prove, that I could support myself whether I had a first class degree or not. I was also in love. It seemed like my best option, so I came straight from Cardiff to Exeter and moved in with my boyfriend in his student house.

We had about five weeks to find somewhere else to live, I had no job, no spare money. It was a steep learning curve I can tell you. I managed to get two part time jobs, one of them at Lush. (I can hear some of you thinking “oh god! Here she goes again about that bloody place!” It’s true that I do talk about Lush a lot, but it’s where my interest in perfume started really. And this memory is from when I had just started there, before I left, then came back as a manager and got very burnt out by it all. This is a good memory.)

My lush job was a relief from all the pressure we were under with finding a house at such short notice. I knew that for the length of my four hour shift I could escape into a world of products that I loved and people who were all friendly. I didn’t know anyone in Exeter really so it felt like I’d been accepted into a ready made friendship group. It was also a distraction from the fact that I was supposed to be thinking about a career. My confidence was particularly delicate at that point, I was  just grateful to be working somewhere interesting while I tried to figure out what the hell I was doing.

That summer there were some massive thunderstorms with rain that was so heavy it was almost like a monsoon. When it wasn’t raining the air was thick and sweaty. The house we were living in was damp and at night dozens of slugs would somehow get into the kitchen and slime their way across the floor and up the cabinet doors. I also came across a moth as big as a saucer in that kitchen. There was no shower so in the mornings before work I would sit in the bath, listening to the thunder roll around in the sky outside. I was obsessed with a lemongrass and lime scented bath ballistic which I would pop into the water and inhale deeply to try and clear the fog of worry from my mind. Then off I would go to work in the heavy air, skin scented with green citrus.

There is one particular day I remember vividly, my shift was from two until six and there had been a storm brewing all day. In the morning we went to view some flats, then I went off to work while my boyfriend viewed more in the afternoon. I was panicky because we only had five days left before we would be kicked out of the house we were living in and we hadn’t found anything that we could afford. At work I was set the task of replenishing all the bath ballistics, which was a dusty job. The boxes of product all had drifts of fragrant powder at the bottom and I remember making a huge, colourful mess on the stockroom floor. My phone had run out of battery so I had no idea if we’d managed to find a flat that afternoon. As I rushed home in the evening the storm that had been threatening all day finally split the sky open and I was caught in the most torrential rain I have ever experienced. My black ballet pumps were soaked through in seconds and filled with all the dust and soap from the shop they began to foam as I walked. As the rain started saturating my clothes I realised that I was emanating the most fragrant fog, leaving a bright streak in the wet air and a soapy trail behind me.

It was powder from a box of the lemongrass ballistics that I had accidentally covered myself with. In the sultry, muggy evening the smell was incredible, mixed with the heat from my skin as I rushed  on home in the downpour, hoping for good news…..

This is where ‘Mito’ transports me every time I wear it. There is such a dazzlingly green and sharp opening that the sensation is fizzy. As with all of Vero’s perfumes, it is difficult to separate and analyse specific notes, ‘Mito’ sparkles and splashes in bright bursts that are at once visual and mouth watering. Although there is no mention of lemongrass in the note listing, the combination of maybe the bergamot, cypress and fleshy magnolia combine to create an effect that is very similar. Combined with that wonderful effervescence the perfume becomes a bright green explosion on the skin.

I find that the lemongrass turns more towards lime as the perfume warms, the fizziness becoming more like sherbet. Another interesting development is Vero’s signature impression of warm skin, slightly salty and lightly powdered. In ‘Onda’ this skin scent is very sexual and fleshy, with a slightly over ripe fruitiness. In ‘Mito’ it is reportedly more subtle. But then I have found ‘Mito’ to be totally different on me to the way that other reviews have described it. I’ve noticed also that it smells almost like another perfume entirely on my friend, who loves it too. On her it is somehow much more controlled and cool. I notice the white florals and the sparkling of champagne bubbles. It is a dappled green stroll through manicured gardens, exactly the image that Vero Kern intended for it. ‘Mito’ is elegant and flowing when my friend wears it and she says it makes her feel extremely sophisticated.

On me ‘Mito’ is sticky lime juice on heated skin, crushed with sherbet and salt in the humid air. It is the first raindrops steaming on hot pavements and the electric hum of a storm filled moment. It has a fluorescent luminosity that feels as if I am wearing a neon sign. ‘Mito’ loses all her class and sophistication on my skin and pulls on her patent heels and lycra for a night on the town. She wears her hair big and her skirt short. She drinks tequila with lime and salt and keeps a lollipop in her purse for the taxi ride home. It also reminds me so vividly of that evening eight years ago in the torrential rain, of that time in my life that was both exciting and terrifying, of being so in love that it acted like a buffer for what could potentially have been a pretty disastrous situation.

I adore ‘Mito’ for all those reasons, and I think that I would have worn it with no fear a few years ago, when I did go out on the town in lycra and heels. I do not feel as if it would suit who I am now. I cannot think of many occasions to wear it because it has some serious sillage and longevity. I am really looking forward to trying the extrait and the Voiles d’Extrait when they are released because I love ‘Mito’s’ character, she just talks a little too loudly for me. Maybe she’ll have a softer voice in her new incarnation, I’ll wait and see. I long to feel comfortable in this perfume.

If you were wondering, that evening I got home, sopping wet, to discover that my boyfriend had found us a little flat, which we went on to live in for three years. The boyfriend is now my husband, proving there really is such a thing as true love.