Monthly Archives: January 2014

Gorilla Perfume ‘The Smell of Weather Turning’

I have been waiting to write about this perfume for quite a while. I was first introduced to it whilst working for Lush and although the specific notes faded from my mind, ‘The Smell of Weather Turning’ left an indelible mark on my consciousness. I know that my memory of scent is sometimes skewed, altered by emotion and association. It can be a crushing blow to smell something again and realise that you’ve remembered it very differently. With this perfume I couldn’t remember the notes, just this feeling that it needed to be revisited, that I needed to spend some more time with it.

The manner in which the slim black vial of perfume arrived back into my hands, a gift from an old friend, has made smelling it again even more poignant.

Along with ‘Breath of God’- which made it into Luca Turin’s top 100 scents- ‘The Smell of Weather Turning’ is the most widely praised and sort after from the Gorilla Perfume line. It is described by almost every person who has reviewed it as ‘weirdly beautiful’. It is not a scent that is easily worn, it is more a scent to be spritzed onto skin and puzzled over. The combination of notes is intriguingly bizarre- oak wood, hay, beeswax, nettle, peppermint and roman chamomile. Green, dry, waxy sweet, menthol and herbal, looking at the note listing one would expect to be reminded of an old apothecary chest, filled with ancient remedies to cure ills. There are certain aspects of that within the perfume’s development but mostly I feel an almost visceral sense of time receding, sun and moon hurtling backwards across cloud darkened skies until I am transplanted into an imagined vision from long, long ago….

Somerset storm

‘Weather Turning’ opens with damp earth and grass, moss creeping across the brittle bark of a fallen tree. This decaying giant lies at the foot of a barrow, outside an entrance sealed by grey stone. Beyond the ridge the flat plains of Somerset stretch out toward rising hills in the distance, flood water reflecting the brooding clouds above. It is a bruised and tumultuous sky, blue-grey with inky smudges, rolling over the horizon with gathering menace. The wind whips around the barrow in chilly gusts as I climb, crushing the greenery beneath my rough shod feet.

The air is oddly still at the top, electric with an inaudible hum that is sensed rather than heard. Adrenalin crackles up my spine in anticipation. There is a farmstead at the edge of the plain below, woodsmoke from the fire drifts up to mingle with the scent of harvested crops. The tiny figures in the fields are rushing to load their carts, to bring the bales in before the heavens open. From my perch I watch them toil like ants beneath the gargantuan sky. I shudder as a distant rumble of thunder cracks the silence.

Although the rain is still far away, I pull my leather cloak more tightly around myself. It’s scent is tanned hide and last night’s campfire, thick and unyielding across my shoulders. It is a comfort to settle in beneath it’s weight, a talisman of protection against the elemental hugeness all around me. As the clouds brew up their storm of noise and drenching darkness, I watch the light scurry away behind the hills, the shadows deepen and the hairs on my arms prickle with primeval foreboding. Every inch of my being screams at me to take cover, but the terrifying beauty of nature when she is angry keeps me rooted to the top of the barrow. The bones in the earth beneath seem almost to judder with the thrill of it.

It seems to me that I am balanced on top of the world, a world about to be ravaged and soaked and split open by lightening. The first splintered flash stops my breath in my throat. In the sudden brightness the landscape jumps out in stark monochrome, a terrifyingly alien vision that sends me hurtling off the ridge towards the farm, down to the comfort of the fire and the shelter and the closeness of human bodies. Nature is too big and I am but a speck on the hillside…..

‘The Smell of Weather Turning’ brings to mind a number of unsettling dreams that I remember vividly from my childhood. I would be going about something normal like playing in the garden, when all of a sudden a low hum would begin to resonate through my dreamscape, bringing with it a terrifying sense of foreboding. Nothing would actually happen in these dreams except this, but I would wake in a panic, scared and disorientated. Later in life I have felt this in the atmosphere as a storm is brewing and I’ve learned to relish the anticipation, yet always as the thunder smashes overhead I feel a spike of real fear that sends me running for cover. That instinctual need for protection is never fully rationalised. The combination of herbal, woody and leathery notes in this perfume seems to trigger some response in me that feels distinctly primal, it touches a long dead nerve, sparking it back into life.

‘Weather Turning’ is an elemental fragrance, green with crushed herbs, fragrant with grasses and mosses, leathered and smoked in burnt umber hues. In it’s dying stages there is a comforting closeness about the scent which is quite at odds with it’s atmospheric opening. There is a feeling of human vs. nature in this perfume. It is about savage wild beauty and man’s existence within it. The leathery smokiness represents the small comfort of fire and shelter in a landscape of rolling earth and storm ridden skies.

Or, if you are less imaginatively inclined, it is a pleasantly green, slightly smoky herbal scent with a deeper leather accord running through the base. When I wear ‘The Smell of Weather Turning’ I’d much prefer to experience the whole story, even if it does vaguely terrify me. Another superbly weird creation from the house of Gorilla and one that really must be sought out by lovers of deeply earthy, aromatic perfumes. It may not be an easy fragrance to wear, it seems to sit rather uncomfortably in these modern times. But this is what sets it apart as unique, fascinating and definitely worth experiencing.

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Shay and Blue- three bright spaces.

S&B Gifts

When one comes across a new niche perfume house with an incredibly strong visual identity, it is easy to jump to conclusions. I have had the misfortune of encountering a few such brands that have all the style and panache, all the engaging, intelligent blurb and enough hype to ignite a forest fire of interest in the perfumes. Sadly, the juice simply hasn’t been able to live up to the glowing picture rendered expertly by the PR company. The money has gone into the look and left very little for the product itself. At the other end of the spectrum there are extremely talented perfumers out there, creating beautiful fragrance, but with a limited budget and no commercial marketing experience the result is poor visual representation that turns the customer off before they’ve even caught a whiff of scent.

This is a particular pet peeve of mine. I have a background in Visual Communication, merchandising and sales, so I understand the need for intelligent advertising and attractive packaging. In fact I would encourage any artisan perfumer to get their brand looking good before they present it to the customer. Niche fragrance is all about luxury and pleasure, we want to feel that what we are buying is special- a little decadent and extravagant. In my piece about fragrant motivations, I’ve spoken about how sometimes I feel the importance of the ‘look’ far outweighs the actual quality of a fragrance, especially within the realms of fashion and beauty. I have been guilty of buying a fragrance because I liked the bottle in the past. Now however, I care far more about the perfume, it’s beauty and quality, the craftsmanship involved in it’s creation. It makes me very angry to see perfume houses fling huge sums of money in entirely the wrong direction because they know that with the right marketing it won’t matter how bad the perfume is, people will buy it. Where is the artistry in that?

S&B Founders

Shay and Blue, established in 2012, are a London based perfume house with fragrance veteran Dom De Vetta at the helm. With twenty years experience working at the very top for the likes of Chanel and Jo Malone, of course the Shay and Blue ‘look’ was going to be masterfully created and styled. And it really is a stunning looking brand. Powder blue packaging with striped ribbons and delicate aqua coloured bottles with golden tops. The typography is an intelligent and subtle blend of classical and modern, the photography a masterful, still life portrait of each perfume, surrounded by it’s key ingredients and styled to ooze sophistication and cool beauty. It’s all very, very well done and I am instantly intrigued. There is also a strong suggestion of artisanal exclusivity about Shay and Blue that I rather like, that ’boutique experience’ I enjoy so much when it comes to choosing perfume. The London boutique looks stunning, with it’s black and white tiled floors and richly hued interior of smoky blues and old wood….

Of course I have warning bells sounding in my head after becoming thoroughly jaded by past experience. Could the scents ever live up to my newly inflamed expectations? The six perfumes in the line have come with high recommendations from The Silver Fox, a man who’s nose I trust but who’s taste sometimes differs from my own. I ordered samples of ‘Almond Cucumber’, ‘Atropa Belladonna’ and ‘Amber Rose’. I’ve waited nearly a month for my sinuses to clear after a horrible cold and all the while the little blue packages have perched on my dressing table and quietly whispered to me about decadence and sophistication. The build up has been rather epic and may I say, thoroughly worth it.

Of the three fragrances I have tried there has been one big surprise, one rather hedonistic joy ride and one beautiful romance. Perfumer Julie Masse is an obviously talented and exciting new perfumer with style enough to match her fragrance’s gorgeous wrappings. Together Julie Masse and Dom De Vetta have created a strong theme throughout the perfumes, one that I can only really describe metaphorically.

If Shay and Blue is a fragrance house, then the fragrances themselves are rooms, each with it’s own stunning interior and filled with the voices and personalities of it’s notes. It is a Regency style house of the type built in my home town of Cheltenham, in the Cotswolds. Regency architecture in Cheltenham has a feel that you just don’t find anywhere else. Grand facades, like pale, square monoliths set within green, leafy spaces. Large, airy rooms, high ceilings, huge windows to let in all the light. I did not grow up in a house like this but I’ve always wanted to own one. That sense of light and space runs through all three of the Shay and Blue perfumes that I have sampled, along with a wonderfully controlled yet expressive imagery that just oozes class. I would happily spend time in all of these scented rooms, and there is one that I could easily never leave. We’ll end our tour there. Let us start in the Sun Room…..

S&B AmberRose

‘Amber Rose’ has been the biggest surprise for me. If you’ve heard me talk about rose you’ll know that I am beyond fussy when it comes to the queen of the flowers. I am a self confessed snob and extremely hard to please. One of my least favourites are sweet roses because although I greatly enjoy eating the sugared petals in various forms, I cannot quite cope with that scent on my skin. ‘Amber Rose’ lists May Rose from Grasse and White Amber among it’s notes, as well as a very intriguing Dulce de Leche facet that really caught my attention. I adore Dulce de Leche. On toast, in crepes, straight off the spoon, it’s butterscotch goodness never fails to pleasure me. But I don’t like sweet roses and Dulche de Leche is so sweet…..I could procrastinate forever, so I thought I should just get on and try it.

‘Amber Rose’ is like opening the door into a room painted palest faun and white. The vast windows are open and behind sheer, drifting lace the sun is setting, filtering through the delicate curtains in a blaze of radiance. On every surface stands vase upon vase of roses, pink, peach, white and apricot, creamy petals fluttering to the polished wooden floor in the summers breeze. The occasional table between the silk brocade sofas is set with a delectable feast of soft white bread, rose lemonade and a huge jar of butterscotch sauce, the spoon all ready for scooping. The air inside the room is warm from the sun’s rays and fresh from the breeze, the blooms all around are sublimely fragrant. All you have to do it settle into the cushions and enjoy your delicious supper….

The beginning few seconds of ‘Amber Rose’ is about dewy soft petals, unfurling at high speed in the growing sunlight. It feels soft and sheer but the rose isn’t ghostly, rather it has a lovely luminosity that renders the pale petals whole. When the Dulce de Leche appears it immediately takes centre stage, growing in intensity and golden butteriness with every second. Five minutes in and ‘Amber Rose’ is all about butterscotch. My mouth is watering, it is a realistic portrait which avoids nasty synthetic sweetness. For a while I wonder if the rose will ever return but after about ten minutes she drifts back in. There is what I feel to be a necessary distance between the massive dose of golden butterscotch and the delicate pink of the rose, they hold themselves very separate from each other and from this point take it in turns to be more prevalent. This is undoubtably a very sweet, gourmand rose fragrance of the sort that I don’t usually like. However, I really like ‘Amber Rose’ for a number of reasons.

Firstly, that Dulce de Leche is difficult not to love. There is such an accuracy to this accord that it never develops an uncomfortable level of sweetness. It is exactly as it is straight from the jar. Secondly, the rose and butterscotch are the only two notes that I really notice, everything else seems simply to support the main players. I enjoy this because for me, gourmand roses are usually spoiled by the appearance of some very inedible note somewhere in the development. It is akin to enjoying a glass of milk then noticing that you can still taste the washing up liquid. In ‘Amber Rose’ all the notes are scrumptiously mouthwatering, deliciously scented, rounded and smooth. There are no sour moments. Thirdly, I find no powdery lipstick quality here, this is not a vintage rose. It is a very intelligently produced sweet, dewy rose with all the sophistication of a classic, but none of the showiness. I think I actually might wear this and that is saying something!

‘Amber Rose’ has a moderate projection and stayed on my skin for about six hours. I tend to apply cautiously though, so I should imagine a few more spritzes would last far longer. But if you are looking for a perfume with some serious tenacity then you’d better follow me upstairs to the Boudoir….

S&B Atropa

Atropa Belladonna’ has been another extremely enjoyable experience. A richly decadent and voluptuous interpretation of berries, white blooms and vanilla that has a narcotic, hedonistic feel in it’s opening moments. Cassis, Grasse Jasmine, White Narsissus, Bourbon Vanilla and Patchouli make for quite a heady concoction.

The door of the Boudoir is made of teak, intricately engraved with garlands of flowers and swags of ripe fruit. It opens with barely a whisper as you step into the velvet darkness within. The carpet is so plush that your feet sink luxuriously into the indigo fibres, not a chink of moonlight is allowed to escape from behind curtains that would not look out of place hung in a proscenium arch. They pool in endless shadowed folds upon the floor. Candles burn intensely in the gloom, the plum coloured wax bubbling and dripping into ornate holders. The flames themselves seem to burn with a bluish hue. A subtle sparkling outlines a figure seated within the depths of the room, the flames reflect from the rubies clinging to her throat. You bring the candle closer and in it’s flickering light you catch the impression of dark tumbling hair, bare shoulders and acres of damson velvet skirts. The woman’s eyes glimmer with a sultry menace, the pupils fully dilated in a face with lips like a stain of berry juices. Whatever she wants with you, it is both terrifying and thrilling….

The opening of ‘Atropa Belladonna’ is very visual, dark juices bursting upon the skin with characteristic sweet tartness. The cassis is so dark it is almost black and dense in texture. The jasmine appears next, swirling through the deep plum and indigo. The effect is one of opening petals in the night, pollen escaping to drift on the breeze.

The perfume blossoms forth in waves, filling out and taking form. I detect a very distinct pollen note which I believe comes from the narsissus and this is what takes ‘Atropa Belladonna’ from dessert into a narcotic fuelled night of decadence and hedonism. The slightly nose tickling narsissus, the head spinning indolic quality of the jasmine, paired with the sweet/tart cassis and a developing rich vanilla is really trippy. There is also a sense of something slightly herbal in the base, the idea of incense burning without the actual scent of it. I believe this to be a very clever use of patchouli and sandalwood, supporting the slick and sweet vanilla/cassis combination and helping it to last.

The cassis note has impressive longevity and carries through the whole development of the fragrance, along with the incredibly rich and almost burnt vanilla. The trippy pollen-like narcissus subsides to allow the jasmine to fully breathe her night time secrets into the dark. Patchouli stays submerged below the surface, supporting the other notes until the final dry down, where it becomes more prominent and develops a jam like quality, next to a drier sandalwood and berry custard dessert of cassis and vanilla.

‘Atropa Belladonna’ is almost obscene in it’s sweetness at times, but it comes purely from a clever blend of cassis and vanilla and never stumbles over into artificial sugarplums. The patchouli is no where near as prevalent as it is in other gourmand patchouli fragrances like Mugler ‘Angel’ and the berry juices far more sophisticated than ‘Nina’ by Nina Ricci. There are comparisons certainly and if you love either of those fragrances then I’m sure you would adore ‘Atropa Belladonna’. I feel that it deserves special recognition for that incredible narcotic quality in it’s opening moments, so fitting considering the effects of Deadly Nightshade, from which it’s name derives. After the unspoken debauchery of the night, it’s time to freshen up. Come done into the Garden Room when you’re ready….

S&B Almond

The third scent that I chose to sample from Shay and Blue is ‘Almond Cucumber’ and it is the one that I have fallen head over heels for. For me it is the epitome of understatement, something that I am forever searching for in perfume. With a nod to the 90’s, the era in which I was discovering scent, ‘Almond Cucumber’ was bound to woo my nostalgic sensibilities. It’s no watery blue pool though, there is light and space in this perfume that draws it firmly into the now.

Stepping through the glass doors of the garden room, the sensation is one of wonderful coolness. The walls are white, the rattan furniture bleached by the weather and the tiled floor carries a faded pattern of sage coloured flowers. Beyond the glass the garden spreads out in seemingly endless greenness, drooping willow against shiny rhododendron, rolling lawns disappearing beneath shaded boughs. This is where you come to think, to work, to refresh a tired soul. Pulling a chair up to the french doors, you sit between the flowing white linen curtains and slowly pick through a bowl of melon and cucumber, breathing in the bright air of the garden and letting your thoughts wander. The afternoon passes in dappled light and shade until finally the sun can be seen dipping below the horizon, a perfect golden orb framed with bluish cloud. Stretching, you set aside your notebook and wander out into the evening mists, dew already forming on the grass. It is deliciously cool beneath your bare feet….

‘Almond Cucumber’ is simplicity itself, a superb combination of cool and milky notes with incredible longevity. Cucumber, Winter Mimosa, Almond milk and Almond wood are the notes listed. The scent opens like freshly peeled and sliced cucumber, crushed onto a white china dish. Chasing behind comes a luscious green melon, ever so slightly sweetened but always chilled and mouthwatering. There is a nostalgic hint of a facial toner I used to use as a teenager but the effect is not astringent or alcoholic, it feels pure and succulent.

The almond, when it appears after about five minutes, is what truly makes this perfume a winner for me and sets it apart from the watery, melony musks of the past. It is freshest almond milk, white and smooth and nutty, cold from the fridge. It seems to blend seamlessly with the pale green cucumber, blitzing the slippery flesh and turning it creamy, almost frothy. There is no soap, no washing powder, just a very realistic white and green fluidity. Occasionally a little sweetness rises in the development, reminiscent of macaroons but this always subsides again under the steady misting of milk and light.

‘Almond Cucumber’ feels spacious, luminous and airy. The balance between nutty and cool is ever perfect and a certain dewy moistness presides. However, the fragrance never feels drenched and watery to me. There is also a very pretty floral quality that lends a dainty texture. Subtle in the extreme but then, that’s what I love the most.

For all it’s dainty politeness, this perfume has lasting power beyond my wildest dreams. I think that the notes really suit my skin and that helps. I wouldn’t call it a perfume of great sillage, it doesn’t project greatly but it lasts and lasts from early morning into the evening. In the closing stages it feels comforting and still so creamy, warmer now with woody shavings. ‘Almond Cucumber’ is the ultimate in cool, reserved and seamless simplicity. I adore it.

A wonderful and surprising bonus comes written on the price tag. At £30 for 30mls and £55 for 100mls, these perfumes are affordable. I honestly couldn’t believe the price. I normally just assume  that the price of the fragrances I review will be close to £100 at least and I had to double check the website to be sure. There is obvious craftsmanship and high quality ingredients at work here, the structure may not be overly complex but the resulting perfumes are all worthy of praise.

Shay and blue have delivered on all fronts. The brand looks stunning and the fragrances have been a joy to write about. ‘Almond Cucumber’ will be arriving, beautifully packaged, as a full bottle on my dresser in the near future. I still have three more scents to try, the vivacious sounding ‘Blood Oranges’, the zest infused ‘Sicilian Limes’ and the very intriguing ‘Suffolk Lavender’. I’m greatly looking forward to exploring more scented rooms within the house of Shay and Blue, I hope that you will seek out these bright spaces for yourselves too.

Let’s talk about Rose

aphrodite-adonis

The Queen of blooms, an ancient representative of love and beauty. In Greek mythology, the sea foam falling from Aphrodite’s body as she is born from the waves turns to white roses, a sign of her innocence and purity. When she must heal her wounded lover Adonis, she sheds her blood onto a white rose, turning it’s petals crimson with her passion and desire. After the wedding of Eros and Psyche, Zeus instructs his children the Hours and the Graces to set everything aglow with roses, spreading the blooms throughout the whole of Ancient Greece and carrying all the power of the gods.

Flower_Nymph

Of the thousands of myths surrounding the rose, the story I find particularly beautiful is about the Roman goddess Flora, queen of the spring and protector of flowers. When one of her beloved Nymphs dies, she begs the other gods to help turn her into a beautiful flower. Apollo gives her life, Bacchus bestows nectar, Pomona gives her fruit, Vertumnus creates for her a beautiful perfume and Flora crowns her with petals. The rose becomes the united effort of multiple gods, making it the most magically powerful bloom of all.

vintage roses

Personally I have lots of memories surrounding roses. I’ve spoken about it before but my grandmother used to wear a rose scent, I don’t know what it was but that particular perfume is trapped forever inside a still frame of her dressing table, jewellery boxes overflowing with pearls and paste gems, golden cased lipsticks and my granddads old war medals.

rose blue sky

In the city where my grandmother lived there was a garden on the seafront filled with roses. During late summer we would go and wander through the rows of carefully tended bushes, surrounded by high walls to protect the delicate blooms from the sea breezes. It’s the colours that I remember here. White, yellow, peach, pink and red, all glowing against a backdrop of azure sky. I can also remember an intense urge to pick the flowers from the earth and gather them into a huge bunch to take home. I was severely scolded for trying.

photo-3

Another memory from my childhood is of the Cotswold Perfumery, in Bourton-on-the-Water close to where I grew up. It’s a beautiful place, limestone cottages with a wide stream running through the centre of the village. The perfumery makes very classic fragrances, as well as running courses in perfume making. As a child I was mesmerised by the shop, all the twinkling glass bottles and the wonderful smelling perfumes within. For a couple of pounds you could buy samples of the perfume, except instead of packaging them in the traditional test vials they were artfully encased in perfect, minuscule bottles, complete with a tiny label and a lovely box patterned like watered silk. I’m sure you can imagine that for a little girl in love with perfume and also firmly insistent that fairies were real, owning a bottle like this was about as wonderful as you could get. I had a rose perfume, I think it was called ‘Rosa’. I used to put a tiny dab on before I went to bed in the hope that the flower fairies would visit me during the night. We went for a lovely walk around Bourton on Boxing Day and although the perfumery was closed for the holidays, peering through the window was enough to bring the smell of that perfume back into my nose.

IMG_0633

A more recent memory, one that still makes me feel tingly with happiness, are the roses that grew around the door of the house we lived in (pictured above) when our daughter was born. It was November and having been in hospital for nearly two weeks, I came home to find a single pale yellow rose blooming just at head height, perfect in every way. The scent of that rose was so delicate and fresh after so many days inside stuffy hospital rooms that it felt like a gift from nature. I don’t know the variety of rose it was, it had a soft citrus character that I found extraordinarily beautiful. I have yet to find that exquisite delicacy in a perfume and I wonder if I ever will, sometimes things are only beautiful when they are growing in nature.

The only time I’ve actually chosen a rose fragrance for myself was in my early twenties. I was a teenager in the nineties when scent was all about clean, watery and unisex. I spent much of my teenage years covered in ‘Tommy Girl’, Davidoff ‘Cool Water’, Issy Miyake ‘L’eau d’Issey’ and ‘CK One’. I also had some Elizabeth Arden ‘Sunflowers’ and Clinique ‘Happy’. You can see a theme developing there. It wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to tire of the citrus- water- white musk triangle and go in search of true florals and more gourmand fragrances. The first perfume I bought that broke my previous perfume rules was ‘Stella’ from Stella McCartney. I really don’t like this perfume anymore but it seemed so chic and classy at the time, a very feminine floral like a sheer tumble of pink and purple petals. It’s the only rose perfume I’ve owned since my tiny bottle of ‘Rosa’. I cannot seem to find the right fit somehow and it’s not through a lack of trying. I am incredibly fussy when it comes to this particular note in perfume, even more so than my beloved orange, to the point where I’ve pretty much dismissed everything I’ve come across so far. I believe my expectations to be rather too high.

turkish

I have a bottle of expensive Turkish rose essential oil that I use very sparingly in my bath water. I’ve tried it directly on my skin and incredibly as it warms it turns woodier and drier until the moist petal quality that I love completely disappears. I smell like pot pourri after an hour which is not what I was aiming for.

I’ve been on this rose quest for a while now. I’ve worked my way through quite a few of the best known scents that sounded appealing to me and so far I have not found what I’m looking for. Admittedly I have probably only scratched the surface and I’m sure people would have hundreds of recommendations. I believe that for me, the vision of a rose that I hold in my head doesn’t ever quite fit the perfumes I have thus far tried.

turkish delight

I also feel a clear divide between rose as perfume and rose as confection. I adore Turkish delight and rose scented cream chocolates and there is always a bottle of rose water in my kitchen cupboard. ‘Une Rose Vermeille’ from Andy Tauer is a light, frothy, rose, lemon, vanilla and raspberry delight that I would feel proud to place on the table in a cut glass dish but somehow cannot quite handle when it’s on my skin. I have some odd prejudices when it comes to gourmand perfumes. Only certain ‘foody’ notes seem acceptable for me to wear on my skin and unfortunately sweet rose is not one of them. So you can imagine that rules out a fair few fragrances.

Frederick Malle ‘Lipstick Rose’ is far too powerful for my rather delicate sensitivities. My skin turns it completely to powder, to the point where I actually feel as if I am inhaling the fine dust from a lady’s glided compact. For all the love out there for this perfume I just cannot make it work for me. The same is true for ‘Une Rose’, a perfume I was sure I would adore as it draws the lightness of rose into the shadows with an earthy truffle note. Although I found wearing this perfume an interesting experience, the earthiness was not somehow dark enough for me, the truffle note turning musty and smudged on my skin, dirtying the rose petals with road dust rather than the loamy earth that I was hoping for. Again, I know I am in a minority here, ‘Une Rose’ is much praised. It is simply not what I’m looking for.

‘Imogen Rose’ from Gorilla Perfume is a lovely, very simple rose and vanilla scent that, when worn in very small doses, is pleasant and reminiscent of baby soft skin. However as with all Gorilla scents it is easy to overdose and the result is an almost visible cloud of pink that is dry and too sweet for me. Lush also make a shower gel called ‘Rose Jam’ that I adore, maybe because, like the bath oil, I leave the majority of the scent behind me in the bathroom, only a whisper stays on my skin. Lush turned ‘Rose Jam’ into a limited edition perfume that my friend The Silver Fox loves, but he mentions a ‘hot plastic’ quality that I just know I won’t like. Are you beginning to understand how fussy I am about rose perfume now?

The closest I get to really enjoying a rose perfume is when I wear Serge Lutens ‘Sa Majeste la Rose’. It’s not quite right but it’s nearly there. ‘Sa Majeste’ has a lovely, dewy opening like delicate pink petals collecting water droplets. It becomes more honeyed and dry, with a very subtle woodiness that gives the green and pink some depth. It is rather sweet but not in a jammy way, there are very gentle wafts of clove that don’t encroach on the soft rose centre. ‘Sa Majeste la Rose’ is extremely pretty, beautifully made and in many respects is a perfect rose fragrance. Alas I find it a little too airy and a little on the sweet side for my ridiculously critical tastes.

dark rose                

I think I want a rose with a dark heart. A rose that exposes her delicate skin in leather fetish wear. But I don’t want a cheapened rose, one who will give up all her secrets willingly. If I could find something that balances the purity and freshness of perfectly furled petals with a deeper, more lush undertone of decadence and debauchery then I would be overjoyed. A rose perfume that isn’t too sweet, isn’t too dry, isn’t too powdery yet isn’t too light. A rose that carries all the power of the ancient gods. A perfume with petals as a costume but perhaps a harder, darker secret hidden within. That’s not asking for too much is it?

There are rumours that Vero Kern’s next perfume is focused around roses. If she can’t make rose into something beautifully twisted then I don’t know who can. While we all wait with baited breath for that launch, any suggestions for rose perfumes that you think I might like would be greatly appreciated…. I’ll try not to be too hard to please…..

Lost Senses- some writing about why I’m not writing.

no sense of smell

My most sincere apologies for the lack of content on the blog of late. I feel I should explain why I’m not writing as much as I should at the moment.

Of course it has been Christmas, which is always distracting, especially because we have a little one to make it extra special for. We had such a wonderful time, dampened only slightly by the presence  of a particularly nasty cold. My daughter had it just before Christmas, mine started on Boxing Day.

I have to say that it’s knocked me for six. I’ve developed sinusitis which is both painful and exhausting. Worst of all, I have totally lost my sense of smell. I hadn’t realised how much I had come to rely on my nose- for all sorts of things. Of course I miss sampling perfume, I have a stack of fragrance that I’m desperate to sniff but at the moment there is simply no point putting it on. It’s strange but I’ve found the more mundane aromas of life the most sorely missed. I can’t smell the food I cook, nor really taste it. I can’t smell my shower gel or my lipstick, clean clothes smell exactly the same as dirty ones. I can’t even tell when my daughter’s nappy needs changing, which some might say is a blessing!

I know that this is not a permanent affliction. It will hopefully come right after a visit to the doctors but it’s left me feeling oddly paralysed and very afraid of what life would be like if I couldn’t smell anymore. When my sense of smell comes back, I shall be even more grateful for it and I promise you lots of lovely reviews.

Happy New Year,

Susie x