Category Archives: 4160 Tuesdays

4160 Tuesdays ‘Urara’s Tokyo Cafe’

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There is something special about Sarah McCartney’s perfumes. I have been living with two of them for the last couple of weeks and both have enchanted my nose and cradled my senses in their spellbinding embrace. ‘Sunshine and Pancakes’ was, and continues to be true love, with it’s simplicity shining from my skin like the glow of pure happiness. ‘Urara’s Tokyo Cafe’ has taken a little longer to find it’s voice but I feel that it becomes all the more powerful for being mysterious…. But more on that later.

The question that burns at the heart of this new love affair that I have going on with 4160 Tuesdays is this: Is Ms. McCartney a genius, or is she just blessed with a natural flair and lots of luck? You see, when I think of the process involved for making fragrance, I have this idea of a poised and immaculate perfumer in a white shirt, sitting at their organ, drawing from a huge catalogue of knowledge as they painstakingly mix and blend and calculate. It seems so clinical and controlled, all the passion of the perfume contained within the glass beaker, to release it’s emotion only when it touches skin. When I think of Sarah McCartney I imagine a lady wearing excellent glasses and stripy tights, chucking stuff into a big mixing bowl and having a cup of tea at the same time. The resulting perfume one would assume to be of a lesser quality to that produced by the perfumer in white. That is simply not the case. Somehow, in her spontaneous, seemingly haphazard way, Sarah McCartney has created fragrance with as much beauty, structure and credibility as any classically trained perfumer.

Sarah

The stories behind the perfumes explain a lot about Sarah’s work ethic. They all started as gifts for friends, as bespoke scent made to measure for a particular person, as perfume to be worn by the characters in a book. Her perfumes are personal, they have not been made for a wide audience, although they certainly seem to appeal to an awful lot of people. They have a wonderful homespun quality that only adds to their attractiveness. The idea that she might be able to sell her fragrance still seems to be rather an afterthought for Sarah McCartney, this being one of a dozen different projects she has on the go right now. It is hard to know whether it is this spontaneity and freedom that allows the fragrances their unadulterated appeal, or whether Sarah is one of those mad workaholics who does an amazing job of making everything look effortless. 4160 Tuesdays has the organic feel of a brand built purely on instinct and a lot of luck, but Sarah McCartney has the look of a warrior, albeit wrapped in multiple, brightly coloured layers. Which ever it may be, I like the outcome very much.

So to the fragrance in question. From what I can garner, Urara was the owner of a cafe in Tokyo where Sarah McCartney hosted an event. Literally translated Urara means ‘breeze in the cherry blossoms’. If that’s not inspirational for a fragrance then I don’t know what is! The perfume contains  notes of Rose, Violet, Geranium, Raspberry Leaf and Tangerine, with a resinous base of Opoponax and Tolu Balsam. One look at the note listing and I was rather excited. I also (although I generally make it a rule not to) read a very lovely review of the perfume from The Scent Critic which is quoted on the 4160 Tuesdays website, which describes the fragrance thus:

 “It’s probably the ‘easiest’ of her scents to wear:  a gorgeous fuzzy marshmallow of a perfume, baby-powder pretty but with a touch of green grass.  And then when you’ve had it on for a while, quite a while, it gets quite sexy.  But it’s probably the hardest of the 4160 Tuesdays fragrances to review:  so seamless it’s virtually impossible to identify any one note.  To me, it is essence-of-spring blossom.  Imagine lying under a cherry tree in a dream, while petals gently float down and shroud you in their floral sweetness, as if on time-lapse.  It smells like all the edges have been lovingly buffed off this perfume, till it’s smooth and soft as a baby’s bottom.  (Only a lot more deliciously-scented.)  It is also quite seriously, seriously addictive.”

I definitely agree with the seriously addictive part. However, such is the wonder of personal skin chemistry that in other respects I feel as if I’m wearing a different perfume to the one described (beautifully) above. My initial reactions were similar but very quickly all turns shaded and mysterious….

‘Urara’s Tokyo Cafe’ opens with lovely fresh rose, petals unfurling in the daintiest of pinks. Atop this  sparkles grapefruit and tangerine, the feeling is very bright and airy. Almost as soon as those petals have opened a slightly more aromatic accord appears, herby and green. The perfume is now dappled with shade between the rose bushes.

From beneath, the resinous warmth of sweet Myrrh stains the green and pink with umber tones. I usually find Myrrh way too prevalent in perfume, my skin makes it cloyingly sweet and churchy. Here it gives the wonderful impression of a great splash of strong green tea, saturating the base of the scent with an almost tannin-like tang. It’s such a pleasant experience to smell the resin balanced by the green goodness of geranium and rose. It has all the atmospheric depth that incense can bring to a fragrance, without any of the smokiness. It took me a good few tests to identify it for what it was and I was so pleasantly surprised.

‘Urara’s Tokyo Cafe’ stays brooding darkly on my skin, like forest mosses. For the longest time it doesn’t change, seeping colours across my wrists, olive green, deep umber with tiny pink blossoms opening like stars here and there. For all it’s depth it stays translucent, like gouache, projecting with amazing vibrancy.

Only after about an hour does the perfume start to shift, warming and sweetening. The sweetness is fruity from the raspberry leaf and warm from the resin and slightly powdered from the violet. I try to enjoy violet in perfume but I often find it rather challenging when done ‘artistically’ and stifling when done ‘classically’. Here it is just a pleasant dusting over the richness of the main body. Very subtly done. ‘Urara’s Tokyo Cafe’ is still brooding and shaded, but now it seems also to glow with warmth. A very enigmatic effect that leaves me with my noise glued to my wrist, trying to breathe it all in before it fades….which it doesn’t, for about ten hours.

There is some seriously clever perfumery at work behind this fragrance. If I hadn’t been testing it over and over to pick out different notes I could have just let it flow over me in one continuous drift of shadow and light. It is at the very end that I can imagine lying under the aforementioned cherry blossom branches, as the notes all blend together and sing me softly to sleep. It has wonderful balance, clarity and structure, it flows beautifully from the skin, last for hours and is undeniably alluring. There is only one tiny hole I would pick in this perfume and that is a very slight laundryesque, musky note at the very end that seems out of place and a bit artificial. It may just be my skin.

So, Sarah McCartney. Talented self taught perfumer or just lucky with the pipettes……..? Without a shadow of a doubt she is getting it very right, whatever she’s doing. I suspect a big splash of magic goes into each bottle she produces and the result is right here on my skin. I sincerely hope that she continues to build 4160 Tuesdays into a brand that gains as much recognition as it deserves and long may her intuitive and very individual approach to perfumery continue.

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4160 Tuesdays ‘Sunshine and Pancakes’

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For all of you who are regular readers, you will know that I am at the stage in my perfume journey where I become infatuated with scents on a regular basis. I believe it is a phase that all perfumistas go through, before the sheer number of new releases begins to wear a little thin. I am enthusiastic by nature, so when I come across a fragrance that challenges me and fuels my imagination I write as I feel. The thrill of discovery is still providing me with the rush that I crave. Give me another year and maybe I’ll be a little more picky with my adoration.

I am self aware enough to realise that although the experience of a perfume may be intense at the time, it is unlikely that I will be wearing said perfume on a regular basis. I think I know straight away, the moment a scent touches my skin whether it’s going to push all my buttons. A little like visiting an art gallery, you appreciate the art, become involved in the experience, but you know which pieces you’d take home to hang on your wall. I only review perfume that engages my interest in a positive way, but of the twenty odd fragrances I’ve written about so far, there are only five or six that I love enough to wear.

These perfumes I love for different reasons. They provoke memories, they give me confidence, they clothe me like a costume. They relax me, or invigorate me, or help me to think. Each scent has a purpose, fits a mood, suits an environment. For me choosing perfume has become just as important as choosing clothes. I am an epic over thinker, my inner monologue is constant and at times intensely irritating. Everything becomes a fairy tale in my mind, it’s why I love to write, but sometimes something just is what it is. Simple beauty is a concept that rubs my mind up the wrong way, but my soul rejoices in it because the opportunity to silence the incessant chattering is right there for the taking. Just experience and enjoy. It’s something I do not do enough.

This brings me to the subject of this review, a perfume called ‘Sunshine and Pancakes’ from a wonderfully fresh and inspiring London based perfume house named 4160 Tuesdays. For your information, 4160 is the number of Tuesdays we will have if we all live until we are eighty. Sarah McCartney, founder and perfumer, believes we should be making the most of them. Previously head writer for Lush, hers are words that I have been reading faithfully since I was thirteen years old. Since retiring from ‘solving other people’s problems’ as her Lush Times alter ego Auntie Pamela, she has been writing novels and making perfume for loved ones. At some point she must have realised she was damn good at it, and 4160 Tuesdays was born.

I chose ‘Sunshine and Pancakes’ for review because I’ve had an experience with this perfume that until now I have been lacking. An experience of pure joy. I have actually struggled to find words to express the way that this perfume makes me feel, not because it is overly emotional or complex, quite the opposite really. This perfume doesn’t trigger any scent memories or conjure up a story for me to tell you. When I dabbed it onto my skin and sat with my nose pressed to my wrist, I just felt really, really happy to be smelling it. Six hours later I was still just so enchanted by it, I wanted to put it on like a wooly jumper, or climb into a bed with it, or run through a field full of it. I wanted to eat it, shower in it, spray everyone else with it. ‘Sunshine and Pancakes’ is simply lovely.

I suppose you’d like to know how it smells. Well that’s very simple too. It opens with a tart lemon zing of freshly squeezed juice, tangy sharp and sunny yellow. This goes on for a while and you think “oh this is nice, this is fresh.” Then the scent becomes a little honeyed and sweet, still very light. Again this continues for a while, warm sunshine through the curtains on a summers morning.

Vanilla arrives all melting and mouthwatering, not too much, never too sickly. Jasmine floats through the window on the breeze, smelt from a distance, the animalic, sexy thrust of it’s concentrated form filtered by the citrus and vanilla into gauzy prettiness.

Then all of a sudden a heart of cedar opens in the airy brightness, settling the perfume into delicious, warm, woody sweet joy that stretches on and on for hours. I continually caught whiffs of scent through the whole afternoon, my husband came home and said that the house smelt yummy. I kept raising my wrist to my nose and the only word that came was “good. I smell good.”

I put more on. I could happily have continued to cover my entire body in it until the little sample vial was empty. Only the fact that I wanted to wear it again tomorrow held me back. Yet more happiness comes in the form of the price tag. At £40 for a 30ml bottle, I can own this perfume as soon as my next pay check arrives. And I shall own it to be sure. I might just pull off the top and empty it over my head in one go, then order another one.

I am thrilled to have discovered ‘Sunshine and Pancakes’. Part of it’s joy is that is so accessible. I feel no pang of resentment that such beauty is out of my reach, as I have with other, ludicrously expensive niche perfumes. Sarah McCartney had created something here that ticks every single one of my boxes, although on paper I initially thought I would find it a little dull. How wrong I was. How speechless I have been rendered. Her voice, that I have heard though the pages of the Lush Times for so many years, has acquired even more strength and individuality in the form of her fragrances. Sarah McCartney should be applauded for setting herself completely apart with such fresh, beautiful scent making. I believe that she has an understanding of human nature that is rare. We all need perfume that makes us feel good in the most uncomplicated way, it reminds us to stop occasionally and just be happy. To cater for the simple pleasures in life rather than making a bold, artistic statement is brave in the ever expanding market of ‘niche’ perfumery.

For me in particular, coming across 4160 Tuesdays has reminded me that serious and complex doesn’t always equal successful. Sarah McCartney’s perfumes are by no means gimmicky or contrived in their lightheartedness. This is scent packed with genuine and intelligent humour, presented with a smile.

In retrospect, ‘Sunshine and Pancakes’ does remind me of something. My daughter. She will be one year old in a few weeks and when I look at her little face I see pure joy shining back at me. If she remembers me smelling of this perfume then I hope her earliest memories of me will be as filled with happiness as mine are of her. Now pass me a tissue.

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