Red and Gold- ‘Tardes’ by Carner

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Some perfumes splash themselves exuberantly onto the skin with raucous fanfare, others slide sensual fingers across pulse points like an amorous lover. Some rage and rip at the nerves, others soothe and sedate a frayed mind. And there are some that leave a body cold. Fragrance is a provocation; an insistent plea to feel and taste and remember those fleeting sensory experiences that otherwise one might deem unworthy of a second thought. It is a bright enhancement- or possibly an unwelcome shadow- that paints the cloak of skin upon which it glistens. All is coloured.

Occasionally one encounters a fragrance that needs no fanfare, no seductive powers, no shock tactics. Once released from the bottle it simply settles over the soul like a blanket of sweet calm, all cherry red and gold. I have found my cloud nine fragrance recently, the gorgeous Tardes from Barcelona-based perfume house Carner. The website has a beautiful description of the scent which begins thus:

“A tribute to the peace and harmony of a late summer afternoon; a fragrance that is pure, serene and enveloping.”

That is certainly is. I’ve been living quietly with this scent through some rather hectic and unsettling moments recently. I’ve worn it and watched the seasons change and turn towards the close of the year. This is my favourite time, when the nights draw in and the air is chilled and the russet leaves dance on invisible rip tides all the way to the ground. Tardes has been everything I needed it to be; a confidence boost, a security blanket, a calming hand upon my furrowed brow. I have also received the most compliments I have ever had whilst wearing it, which is always a happy thing.

I am unsure whether to class this fragrance as a true gourmand, although it has all the elements to suggest that it might be. With top notes of Egyptian Geranium, Bulgarian Rose, Rosewood and Almond, A heart of Virginian Cedar Wood, Celery and Plum and a base of Venezuelan Tonka Bean, Musk and Heliotrope, one can imagine a boozy patisserie confection good enough to sink hungry teeth into. However edible Tardes may appear on paper, the actuality of the fragrance on my skin is far more nuanced and multifaceted, drying down to a soft, hazy grassland in the afternoon sun.

 

It absolutely begins with the mouthfeel; sweet almond liqueur and delightfully ripe red juices, oozy and boozy with a jammy rose petal crown. There is a deeper, unctuous drizzle from the tonka and a heliotrope hit of almond/cherry pastries. This might be where Tardes falls down for some people as it has an almightily sweet opening. However, I urge you greatly to stick with it because after the initial sensation of drowning in syrup, something exquisite happens.

Yes, all the sweetness is still there, but the roses start to sing higher above the patisserie chorus, as does a sharper geranium. The effect is to pull the fragrance up and outward, making it feel somehow like a fluffy, cherry coloured cloud rather than a deeply sticky dessert. I adore cherries. There is something titivating about those luscious orbs, ripe to bursting under crisp, fresh skins. No cherry-centric fragrance ever really smells like the uncooked and unsweetened fruit, it is usually the case that a heliotrope/almond fragrance goes in the direction of cherry pie. In Tardes there is a definite hint of cherry, yet it refrains from becoming plastic cherry chapstick. Instead the tartness and an impression of glorious ruby red is all that lingers.

As the perfume warms it becomes increasingly dry. Rather like the scent is brought upon a warm breeze. There also appears an intriguing savoury note, combined with a growing woodiness that really controls the perfume’s sweeter tendencies. It is at this point that I start to fall deeply in love. The savoury, woody quality is so harmoniously sewn together with the sweet almond, plum and heliotrope. This must be the celery; such a flavoursome ingredient when used in cooking, the effect it has in Tardes is to intensify and emphasise the seemingly opposing parts of the fragrance and bring them together in perfect harmony. I think really it has to be experienced to be understood fully.

At the very end of the perfume’s life, I find it to be a rather atmospheric cloud of red and gold with darker shadows. The savoury celery and woods create the idea of dry grasses, warmed in the last rays of sunshine. The tonka, almond and heliotrope still make up the main body of the fragrance’s sweetness but it’s all soft, dreamy edges now, a memory of it’s boozy beginnings. I can’t resist an atmospheric perfume and although to begin with Tardes appears to be a one trick pony, the development of that fascinating contrast between red sweet juice, golden nuttiness and shadowed woods lends it such depth and intrigue.

I am always going to have a little bit of extra appreciation for a gourmand fragrance, I’m just wired that way. What blows me away about Tardes is the intensity of colour I perceive from it and the juxtaposition of sweet and savoury, crafted with skill to great effect. I find it an excellent statement perfume, it brightens me up as effortlessly as the perfect shade of red lipstick. I also feel sort of protected inside it’s fragrant cloud, the unexpected blows of life arrive to me slightly softened.

I would highly recommend this fragrance to gourmand and fruity fragrance lovers, but also to those who enjoy sweet florals. I think Tardes will probably behave very differently depending on skin chemistry too. I have ranked this ruby red beauty amongst my favourite gourmand perfumes which include Frapin 1270 and Mona Di Orio Vanille. I shall also be exploring far more heliotrope fragrances, that almond patisserie goodness is a little too hard to resist…

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Late summer madness.

I haven’t written about a perfume on this blog for over a month now. That gives me a sad and uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach, something akin to guilt. I have a real sense that I owe this space more love and attention than I can currently lavish upon it.

You see, things have gotten a little complicated recently. I’m still writing regularly about perfumes, except it’s been for London magazines in collaboration with Bloom. It’s been really fun to do actually, very short scent descriptions require me to really think about the vocabulary I’m using.

It’s also meant that I’ve discovered a treasure trove of new fragrances to get excited about, which I hope to be able to write about in more detail soon. I can tell you that I’m currently head over heels for ‘The Architects Club’ from Arquiste. It’s a light and delicious vanilla soufflé with gorgeous sharp citruses. A totally heavenly concoction of my two fail safe favourite notes. I’m also rather enamoured with ‘Tardes’ from Carner. This one is oozy, sticky, dark red cherries and boozy almonds in the opening, with a surprising grassiness in the dry down that’s all sunlit and autumnal. It’s sweet, sweet, sweet but then I like that.

So why haven’t I just sat down and written about either of them? Well, my fickle nature and wanton creativity have led me slightly astray over recent weeks, that and the daily realities of earning money and being a mother. I’m halfway through an unpaid internship with a big wedding blog called Love My Dress, meaning every week I trawl through beautiful pictures of beautiful weddings and pull it all together into an article. I applied in the hope that writing in a different style might broaden my skills, and also because I love a good wedding so I’ll be sad when it’s over in December. I’ve been writing for them and writing for Bloom and I’ve also been keeping up three ten hour shifts a week at work.

The niggling voice in my head that tells me to make things had been growing louder and louder, until I couldn’t silence it anymore. If I’m not physically creating something, anything in three dimensions my mind gets itchy and frustrated, it’s always been this way. Although writing uses lots of my creative juices, the fact that when it’s published it sort of just flies off into the ether leaves me somewhat wanting. So I’ve been making things agaIn.

If you’d be interested in seeing what I’ve been up to then visit The Felted Arc on Facebook. It’s a very fledgling project and I hope to keep it up alongside everything else, as long as my brain doesn’t split one too many ways! My little creatures have been fairly popular so far, one mouse even making her way across the ocean to Boston USA!

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I’m so sorry that there haven’t been any perfume stories of late. My life seems so full of twists and turns at the moment and I don’t feel fully in control of it. It’s exciting though and I’m willing to run alongside this mad runaway train and just try to keep up. Who knows where I’ll be in another two months!

Love from Susie x

Parfumerie Generale ‘L’Ombre Fauve’

L'Ombre Fauve

I was sent a sample of this fragrance as thank you gift from the wonderful ladies at Bloom Perfumery, after we featured them on the bridal blog that I also write for. When I opened the parcel and the contents went tumbling onto the counter, I caught a whiff of something extremely pleasant. Excitedly I opened the little card envelope in which the sample was encased and quickly scanned it for a note listing. There was nothing, just the name. Parfumerie Generale is a brand which I am familiar with, but truth be told had not been bowled over by. Of the few that I had tried, Musc Maori was the only one that I’d particularly enjoyed. My husband had dropped the parcel off to me at work and because I was surrounded by food I held off spraying myself with it immediately. For the remaining hours before home time I felt preoccupied with that fleeting whisper of scent, something about it really seemed to have gotten under my skin.

That evening when I got home, exhausted and hot from a long day, I spritzed a little onto my wrist. My reaction was immediate and a complete revelation; I realised that I have become rather narrow minded over recent months. On the basis of a note listing alone I would have totally dismissed L’Ombre Fauve under the misconception that I don’t like animalic musks and ambers. Well. I stand totally corrected here. I adore this fragrance, I’ve fallen very hard for it’s velveteen charms.

L’Ombre Fauve translates from french as bestial/tawny shadow. It was created in 2007 by Pierre Guillaume and the most coherent list of notes that I can find for it are on Fragrantica. It mentions woods, patchouli, incense, amber and musk. On first spritz the scent is all sweet, resinous myrrh and powdery patchouli. It’s a heady and intense opening, with so many aspects that I have previously said that I don’t enjoy. “Myrrh is too cloying” and “I only like dark sticky patchouli” and “I hate powdery perfumes” are just a few of the phrases that I’ve trotted out in the past. All those qualities are here in L’Ombre Fauve and yet I am already mesmerised…

Developing beneath these opening impressions is a deep and sexy amber, softly wrapped in a fur coat of musk. The perfume becomes rather seamless and slinking, all obvious progression blurred and melding into one feline minx that slowly stretches it’s supple limbs across the skin. There have been several other reviews that mention this cat-like quality. One that I particularly enjoyed being from Tara of Olfactorias Travels. It is a perfect description for L’Ombre Fauve. The scent has the soft power and grace of a gorgeous feline, slipping smoothly through the shadows on velvet paws.

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Those musks turn a little naughty once they have really warmed up. The perfume radiates a glow of sensuality like a heat haze. It’s not an intrusive scent by any means but it certainly has quite an intensity when caught up close. I have been walking through a cloud of scent spritzed into the air, with a little applied at the wrists and still I catch traces of it all day long. I find it a very textural scent,  all softly flowing fabrics and silky furs, powdered warm skin and hazy pleasures. It is most definitely a sexy perfume but perhaps not a raunchy one. For me it is a suggestion, a private thought, rather than a physical act. 

The tawny colours of it’s name suit it perfectly. Visually L’Ombre Fauve is a sensory palette of tertiary colours; umber, taupe, charcoal and peach; dove grey and sooty moleskin. The colours of humans and of animals. There is no green plant life in this scent, only pumping hearts and moving limbs.

Towards the end L’Ombre Fauve sweetens and loses a little of it’s animal magnetism, becoming gentle with a suggestion of vanilla and resins. It is still beautiful but now tamed somewhat. It doesn’t turn to leather and skank, or become overly heavy with incense. I believe this is one of the reasons why I love it so much; it becomes quiet and lulled, without changing it’s essential character. I feel as if I want to climb into the fragrance when it reaches this point, that warm, fur lined sensation just before you fall into a completely relaxed sleep. The patchouli also makes a reappearance, albeit in a much softer, paler form. It has a slightly dry, crispy texture now, like flaked brown tobacco leaves, warmed between fingertips.

If ever there was a scent that could change your mind about musk, it is this one. I feel reawakened from the long period of circular citruses and vanillas that I’ve been trapped in for months. I thought that maybe it might have been all the hot weather, but honestly I think I may have just inadvertently narrowed my horizons in terms of perfume. Sometimes it takes a suggestion from a relative stranger to ignite the flames of passion once again. A valuable lesson had been learned here and a new love has blossomed. I might need to take a look at other areas in my life where I may have been thinking in a rather linear fashion. L’Ombre Fauve shall be my companion on the ever curving road to wisdom…

Mona Di Orio ‘Vanille’.

Mona Vanille

Vanilla. That most comforting of notes. I’ve felt an urgent need for it recently, a yearning for sweetness and creaminess in which to bury myself. I’ve mainly been wanting to stuff myself with fresh croissants and ice cream, the scent of vanilla on my skin had, until now, felt a bit unsatisfactory. It was my gluttony that was craving, not my olfactive sense. 

I find it fascinating that a scent can be delicious to a person if it is meant for the taste buds, yet repulsive if it is applied to skin. Some would be obvious; a paper cone of piping hot chips, covered in salt and vinegar and fresh out of the fryer is heavenly as you anticipate the first bite. That smell carried home on your clothes is quite a different thing. 

Gourmand notes in fragrance can be tricky. I made the mistake once of buying my mum a whole basket of vanilla scented toiletries and perfume, thinking that she would love it because she’s always said that vanilla is one of her favourite tastes. It turns out that washing in it made her feel a bit sick, like she was smearing custard all over herself. That there can be this huge a division within something as closely linked as taste and smell, even with something as friendly as vanilla, continues to baffle and intrigue me. I have the same sort of issue with violet scented things and Parma Violets, Turkish delight and sweet rose perfumes. Somehow I cannot distinguish between taste and sense of smell with these notes. I end up feeling the sensation of the perfume on my tongue and it’s not particularly pleasant.

Luckily this doesn’t happen to me when it comes to vanilla. Now that my gluttony has subsided I feel more able to satisfy my cravings with scent. My favourite type of vanilla perfumes tend to be blended with woods and booze. Frapin 1270 is an absolute winner for me; it’s the cognac and candied pineapple, blended with smooth vanilla bean and a slight dry floral that really pushes my buttons. Mona Di Orio Vanille is my latest crush and a scent that I’ve been waiting to write about for a few weeks now. It wasn’t quite right on my skin in the really hot weather but now there’s a cool breeze this perfume is singing quite beautifully. 

There is something of the Gypsy caravan about this fragrance. It is deep and smoky, slickly juiced with orange yet somehow slightly rough in texture; like well worn boards under leather boots. The Mona Di Orio website states;

“When composing Vanille, Mona di Orio imagined a romantic back story involving an old ship from long ago, on its way to Madagascar or the Comoros Islands, carrying precious cargo: rum barrels, oranges, vanilla beans, ylang-ylang, cloves and sandalwood …”

This imagery does seem rather fitting, however I sense a deep earthiness folded within the shadows of Vanille, a kind of whispered intent. It is not a vanilla scent that one sinks gratefully into, fluffed up and sugared like a candy eiderdown. Rather it is a spiced and drunken juice full of split pods, intoxicating and languidly enticing. A pirate ship would make an effective stage upon which Vanille could perform, but it’s the smoke in this perfume that anchors it to the earth for me…

Smoke from campfires and drifting in ribbons from the smouldering embers of dark resin. Shadowy men and woman, draped in shawls patterned in rich reds and blacks shot through with gold. They sit closely around their fires, speaking in low tones as the horses munch and shuffle next to the caravans and carts, loaded with spices for trade…

Vanille opens with a splash of rum, sweetly alcoholic; a straight up hit from a bottle dusted with powdered clove. It’s a heady concoction quickly followed by an orange that slips between candied, freshly squeezed and flowering, as if the whole essence of the plant has been poured slowly into the rum. White orange blossoms float atop this dark brew, releasing scent into the air above the molten bronze liquid. 

Developing sumptuously around this is the vanilla, of a quality that few perfumes I have tried could top. This isn’t a soft, fuzzy yellow vanillin fragrance. This is sticky black beans, split and smeared, tiny seeds grainy against the skin; a pure vanilla extract. It’s far deeper, boozy even without the rum that sloshes all around. And the smoke begins to impregnate everything now, a fragrant, drifting thing that brings with it a different texture, dimming the light. It’s almost leathered, not intensely animalic but somehow tethered to the earth by a long leash. There is a hint of saddles and belt straps, but the sweet smoke is prevalent.

Vanille isn’t a shapeshifter, once the spiced orange rum, vanilla and smoke arrive they stay for the duration. I feel hushed when I wear this perfume, like being wide awake as the last strip of sunlight disappears from the sky, anticipating the coming night. It is intense when sniffed at close range yet I’ve found that it doesn’t have an immense or loud presence, quite the opposite if that is possible. It has more of a slow, brooding nature, rolling steadily forth in deep tones of amber, bronze and pitch.

I also feel unable to pick apart the different components after the initial opening, it’s more of a textural change in the dry down; syrupy rum receding to let the dry sandalwood and gritty vanilla bean take over fully. At the very end Vanille gets creamy and lighter in tone, the rum popping up again with a candied edge. It’s a wonderful scent to sleep in I have found, but I would be just as happy to wear it in anticipation of anything I hoped might be pleasurable, at any time of day.

I find Vanille rather hedonistic in that I feel dead sexy when I wear it. It’s rolling dark smoke, all sweet and intoxicating, come hither without the cliché. I want to swish my black skirts to reveal red petticoats and sit with my bare feet buried in the ashes around the campfire, the nape of my neck exposed to the night’s chill. This is a appetite quencher in a different kind of way, I don’t feel remotely in need of a sweet pastry while I’m doused in this.

 

 

 

 

 

Why do I write a perfume blog?

It’s coming up to Epiphany’s first birthday and I’ve been looking back at some of my earliest posts. This one has reminded me of the goals I set for myself back then, when my daughter was still a tiny baby and my soul was just bursting with love and passion for everything. Although my plan has developed and changed slightly over the course of a year, I’m still writing and still immensely proud of what I’ve achieved so far. Reading this post again as given me a little boost so I thought I’d share it once more….

Epiphany

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For the first time in Epiphany’s little life so far, I’ve decided to keep the fragrance on the shelf and talk about the reasons why I write a blog and in particular, a perfume blog. I read a very thought provoking piece by Nafia at ‘Confessions of a Creative’ about whether bloggers are selling out for free bottles of perfume and it really got me thinking. Why do I write? Why do I write about perfume? What do I expect to get from it?

I have always tried to be as honest and thought provoking as I can be within these pages, I strive to stir memories, inspire beauty and cause emotional reactions with the words I choose. These are the things that move me and therefor it is all I have to give. This is not a blog where I pretend to be someone else. This is really me. In…

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A Golden Reverie- Penhaligons Orange Blossom

 

 

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As I may have mentioned before, I love Penhaligons. It is that expertly curated ‘Englishness’ that draws me in, puts a blanket over my knees and hands me a big mug of tea (and god knows I feel like I need that at the moment.) The impressive collection of fragrances all project a classical style, encouraged by the boutiques dark wood interiors, elegantly understated packaging and bottles stamped with the royal crest.

The more recent releases from Penhaligons have seen the perfume house reach in a more contemporary direction. Iris Prima was a particular favourite of mine; a whispered ode to the beauty of the ballet, rendered in iris and dusted leather. Tralala, currently in the spotlight, is a collaboration with Meadham Kirchhoff which I have yet to sniff, so shall remain impartial, although looking at the note listing I can hazard a guess that I won’t like it. (I’m ready to stand corrected though, of course.)

When a perfume takes a single flower as it’s name, one might assume that the scent will be soliflore in character. For this reason I’d passed Orange Blossom by on several occasions. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the note, in fact it features in one of my all time favourite perfumes; Vero Kern’s intoxicating Rubj Extrait. Here it is heady and indolic and shimmery, supported by lustful tuberose, jasmine and musks. For some reason I’d decided that Penhaligons Orange Blossom would be too safe, too classic, not very ‘me’. What I have subsequently discovered is that safe and classic are very much ‘me’ and I’m becoming less ashamed to admit it.

I love a weird scent; something that will get my imagination all fired up for the purposes of writing. But actually wearing those perfumes sometimes leaves me feeling jangled and over exposed somehow. Uncomfortable in my own fragrant skin, particularly so when I am feeling stressed. Penhaligons Orange Blossom has been my saviour over the last few weeks, one of only two perfumes that I’ve felt happy to wear. A wonderful and ever supportive friend sent it to me a few months ago and it has been growing on me ever since. An orange blossom soliflore it is certainly not, re-worked from the original of 1976 by Bertrand Duchaufour and launched as part of the 2010 Anthology collection. The resulting perfume is a complex yet extremely gentle glow of citrus, florals and musks that has genuinely won my heart.

Penhaligons website provides an extensive note listing for Orange Blossom. They include; Neroli, Violet Leaf, Bergamot, Lemon-Cedrat, Cardamom Absolute and Pink Berries as top notes; Orange Absolute, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute, Tuberose Absolute, Rose Essence, Peach Flower, and Orchid at the heart and Sandalwood, Virginian Cedar, White Musk, Vanilla in the base.

At first spritz the fragrance is sparkling and bursting with sharp greenery. Bitter sweet orange chased by green tart bergamot, bolstered by a warm spiciness from Cardamom and pepper. The effect is crystalline and full of refracted light, the scent pinging around the nose in joyous tangy abandon. At this point one might be forgiven for thinking that Orange Blossom will be a rather citrus-heavy rendition of the petite white flower, but the magic has only just started.

Soon after the initial sharpness of the opening there develops a creaminess in only the way that white, indolic blooms can be creamy. Jasmine and tuberose billow forth to fill the gaps left by exploding citrus molecules, sweetly fragrant with fuzzy pollen. Although the tuberose is most definitely present at this stage of development, it is masterfully controlled and doesn’t create the slight skank that can be associated with it. Here it is merely a white, fleshy presence that warms the scent like sun on skin. There is also a delicious peachy glow, very like Osmanthus in it’s lactonic comfort, which must come from the peach flower. This milky sweetness combined with peach and orange and jasmine is at once uplifting and embracing. The effect is like the harmonised hum of a choir, nothing shrill or discordant, just a perfect smoothness that rolls off the skin with intricately tuned balance.

There is a slightly powdered quality to Orange Blossom that feels a little bit vintage. I have previously struggled quite a lot with cosmetic notes in fragrance, it’s an association that I cannot help but make with the lipsticks and powder compacts that my grandmother used to use. I hate the term ‘old lady scent’ but unfortunately that’s what I felt. I have worked really hard to appreciate the notes that sometimes create this effect; iris, violet, roses and musks, to try and disassociate that feeling of ‘dated fragrance’ from the perfumes themselves. Some I still can’t quite handle, (Malle Lipstick Rose I’m looking at you) but others have really won me over, Vero’s Rozy and Kiki and Huitieme Art Poudre de Riz to name a few.

There is a touch of 50’s beach babe to Orange Blossom that is actually very appealing. It’s not tropical in the least but somehow has the full bodied curves of a tanned lovely in bathing suit and blonde curls. Pretty, wholesome but a little on the naughty side. As the scent reaches the final drydown the waxen quality of those indoles becomes a little more prevalent, along with gentle sandalwood and smooth vanilla that is reminiscent of wooden surfboards, buffed with wax, lying out to dry in the beach filtered sun.

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On a warm bright day there seems to be no more fitting perfume that Orange Blossom. On a flat grey day there is nothing more able to conjure sunbeams than this most cheerful of fragrances. It would be a misconception to pile it among the flotsam of ‘beachy’ perfumes available on the market. It is too elegant and complex to be classed as a simple citrus either. Penhaligons and Bertrand Duchaufour have created something that is mood lifting, glowing and gently beautiful. It should have another name, something like ‘Reverie’. A daydream. Sweet, golden and never ending.

 

 

When perfume doesn’t solve everything.

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For someone who is supposed to be writing a blog about fragrance, I have found myself doing something a little different recently. I am in awe of those who are constantly seeking out new perfumes to review because of late I have not felt inclined to go on ‘scented journeys’ in quite the same way.

I’m not entirely sure what has caused this shift. my fundamental love of perfume still remains. I still get emotionally transported by wonderful scents and I’m still constantly chattering away about perfume to anyone who will listen. But when the time comes for me to actually sit down and write about it, I encounter a rather large question mark.

Maybe this is what they call writer’s block; my style has always aired on the side of fiction, even with a very real product as the focus. Up until this point I’d always found that a huge bonus, I didn’t have to try and conjure a story from thin air; it was already filled with the scent of the characters. At the moment it’s like those performers won’t quite step into the imagined spotlight, instead remaining grounded in the shadow of reality. A bunch of molecules encased in a glass bottle with some excellent (or not so excellent) branding. It’s all feeling a little too controlled and contrived to bend to the will of my imagination.

I am at a point in my life where I am very much living in real time. My daughter is growing up so quickly, she’s definitely not a baby anymore and I can’t quite believe how fleeting the last 18 months now seem. As a family we are gradually shifting our lives to bring in more of what we hope will lead to lasting happiness and job satisfaction. It’s exciting and tough going so buying perfume samples has had to go right to the bottom of the shopping list. If it wasn’t for those people in perfume land who occasionally send me things I’d be pretty ignorant of what smells new and interesting right now.

I never intended for this to be a place where I just reviewed fragrances in a straight forward way, there is already a wonderful selection of blogs to go to for that. Truth be told, at the moment a lot of fragrances just aren’t doing it for me, with the exception of one or two that I hope to write about when I can find words for them. I think that when life gets stressful and change is shaking the foundations, it’s the everyday scents that I find the most soothing and comforting.

I’ve been craving vanilla to extreme levels. Not the complex, smokey, boozy vanillas available on the niche market, and not the creamy candy fluff from the designers and celebrities. I want real vanilla; ice cream, patisserie, a jar full of pods to bury my nose in. I want simple food; granary bread, salted butter, tomato soup. Cucumber in chunks with slices of strong cheddar. Asparagus with a little salt, lemon and olive oil. Food that smells wholesome and uncomplicated. I’ve cooked the same fish pie about five times in the last two weeks because the combination of smoked fish and fluffy mash is the ultimate comfort.

I would cover every surface in my home with flowers if I could. Summer is coming and the parks and roadsides are vibrant with colour and scent. I have been seriously tempted to pull onto the hard shoulder of the motorway and gather huge armfuls of the big white daisies that grow in abundance there. The simplicity of their smiley faces brings me untold joy. I would fill every vessel with fluttery sweetpeas and voluptuous lilacs, great sheaves of pink and purple scented stocks, cornflowers for their dazzling blue starbursts and peonies with their tumble of petticoat petals. I’d line up pots of lavender along the sunny garden wall for the bees to feast upon.

I’ve also been changing the bed sheets with unnecessary regularity, just so I can sink into that fresh scent every evening. Linen sprays don’t cut it. The smell has to be crisp and line dried. There is a flowering palm tree in our garden that smells incredible at the moment, it’s white flower scent lingers in the cloth and reminds me of sunshine.

There are only two perfumes that I’ve felt even half comfortable wearing over recent weeks. The first is Penhaligons Orange Blossom. It is smooth, full of golden light and it makes me feel pretty, with just enough projection to be complimentary. The other is Papillon Angelique, a quiet, almost savoury blend of iris with a comforting fennel note that I just adore. Everything else has seemed wrong. Either it’s too strong or too complex or too strange for my pared down mood. Most days I have been content to smell of the products I use on my skin; a cheap and cheerful gardenia shower cream and raw coconut oil. My husband wears The Voice of Reason from Gorilla and I find that scent deeply comforting. Sandalwood, coffee and tobacco blended into a smooth, smoky perfume that will eternally remind me of him.

I feel a little guilty admitting that I’m not loving perfume right now, after all, that’s supposed to be ‘what I do’. But life is full of scent and during times when I need my wits about me, perfume almost seems to mask the reality of my situation. I feel more at ease just appreciating the scent that I encounter all around me. I find it grounding, it makes me stop and wonder at this most powerful of senses. It brings me back to myself somehow. I have no doubt that in another few weeks I’ll be spritzing away with the best of them again. Something incredible will waft in my direction and my imagination will spark into excited flames. For today though, I’m going to go and climb the highest tor on Dartmoor with my little family, breathe in the fresh air and try to see what’s coming next. I can smell excitement on the breeze.

What’s your ultimate comfort when life gets crazy? Do you disappear in a cloud of your favourite perfume or do you feel the need to pare it back like me? I’d love to hear from you…

 

 

A Short Story

This is a little story I’ve been working on for a while. Inspired by scent and memory.

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The mirror is round and slightly convex, secured in a dark wood frame to the wall in the hallway. There is a smudged fingerprint at either side where someone has straightened it after a knock. She wonders if the ghostly, complex whorls belong to her.

Behind, light spreads muted and dappled through the frosted glass of the front door and is too pale to be anything but a winter’s morning. The air hangs like a chilly exhalation of breath, nipping slightly at her ears. It is always a thrill to view the familiar reflection of the hall made strange by angles in reverse, slightly bent in the mirror’s curve. Her winter coat, well worn and soft, oddly animated, as if she had hung it upon the coat stand with part of herself still concealed inside. The pretty willow pattern jug on the sill from a visit to an over-priced antiques market; seemingly taller and more slender than it’s actual, rather squat little form. The wooden rungs of the banister appear to be both climbing the stairs and bracing them; at once high stepping and bending as the stairs make their bizarre journey upwards and into the dark of the landing.

Her eyes dart back to her own reflection and she catches an expression there, one that she has never seen before. A flicker and it’s gone and in that moment her face belongs only in the mirror, the gaze already turning to join the electric stillness inside the glass, where inanimate things move so quickly that they remain still. She can sense something in the air of that mirrored hallway; an expectation, the acrid scent of burning paper while the match lies unlit in its box. She is tucked slightly too far into the wings, while shadows flit across the unseen stage.

She finds herself often transfixed by objects. Trinkets hidden in plain sight that flare brightly at the corners of her vision, as if trying to catch her attention. Of course they are just ordinary things when she turns her adult gaze upon them but she becomes convinced that they must have a secret purpose. Like the willow patterned jug for example. She found it amongst the vast cascades and toppling piles of antiquity, partially obscured by a rather grandiose gilded chamber pot. When glanced at, it seemed to peep its delicate form out from behind the immense frilled bottom of its guardian and shimmer a little. The air had momentarily thickened and a suggestion of burning caught her at the back of the throat. With closer inspection she noticed that it was in fact a rather plain, lazy reproduction, cracked slightly and discoloured inside. It lay absolutely still and cold in her hands, yet hadn’t it caught her attention for a reason?

And so it goes, she must have it. How could she possibly leave it behind? On the way home she picked one flower head from an abundant hydrangea bush to crown her prize with softest blue and bronze. Once inside she had placed it reverently on the windowsill and stepped back to admire her purchase. It was such a simple little thing, the flowers with all their fluttering petals somehow threw the shabbiness into sharper contrast. She puzzled over what had possessed her to buy it in the first place.

Looking at the jug’s reflection in the mirror now it seems to regain some of that shimmer and her heart skips slightly. She understands once more how such an ordinary object could practically jump from the shelf into her hands. The blue and white is such a vivid contrast against the dark windowsill, the pattern of boats, bridges and little men made somehow more animated by the amateurish, hand drawn lines. In the mirror’s reflection the jug becomes a vessel in which to hold something precious. She must find a beautiful bit of nature to fill it once again. There will be no hydrangea so late in the year but maybe a sprig of holly. The red of the berries will contrast nicely with the willow pattern blue. There is a magnificent combination, she thinks, the harlot and her sailor boy.

Her need for colour is as important as breathing. She craves it like a drug and puzzles further over whether this is normal. She feels so sad to see Mr and Mrs next door, going about all swaddled in beige and brown and grey. It is as if they are trying to disappear. The soup and porridge hues in which they are cocooned whisper of untold misery. Mrs wears the beige of a hospital curtain when she could have cream, rich and soft as a barn owl’s wing. Mr wears trousers that are mud shot through with ash. It looks as if he has been wading waist deep in gloom. Why does he not want deepest charcoal or chocolate brown?

Last Christmas, feeling especially festive, she bought the Mrs a gift in the hope of lifting the fog which clouds her, making her bland. A scarf of softest, finest wool the colour of a new leaf, almost a silvery green. Not too bright but just enough to bring out the flecks in her eyes. On opening the gift such a look of bewilderment crossed the woman’s face, she stroked the softness of the wool with guilty fingers as if this was not something that should belong to her.

As far as she knows the scarf has never been worn. She imagines it neatly folded in a drawer and glowing subtly whenever it is glanced upon. Maybe that is enough. She believes everyone should have a little colour in their life, no matter how well hidden it is. It amuses her greatly to entertain the idea of the Mrs wearing red lingerie beneath her putty coloured trouser suit.

Sometimes, when she least expects it, she gets the slightest glimpse into other peoples lives, just by touching them. If she were to deliberately lay her hands upon a person in search of their deepest secrets, she’d see nothing but their alarmed face staring back at her. It is the odd moment; like when someone hands her change in a shop, that she sees more than she should. A front door, a favourite item of clothing, the echo of voices. Just small things really, but enough to piece together the bits of that person’s life. Maybe she is just very perceptive. The idea that she might be anything more is faintly alarming. Besides, that sort of thing is all psychological anyway…

She remembers being a child, holding her upturned palms out for goodness to fall into as easily as raindrops. She feels an almost painful stab of nostalgia for those times, when innocence flittered and glistened around her like fireflies and reaching out to make a wish was instinctual. Those fireflies are still dancing, she is sure of it, but now she is grown they stay at the corners of her vision and always just out of her reach. Doubt is a constant presence, muddling her best intentions, dipping a bitter finger into her freshly brewed tea, peppering the downy cloth of sleep with tiny holes. It has such stealthy shadow, she can be sitting in full sunlight and still sometimes it finds a way to darken her day.

She sighs and finishes applying her lipstick, a blushed berry pink that makes her cheeks look rosy. As she tucks the little golden tube back into her purse her mind begins to turn back to the mundane tasks that will take up her day. As she buckles her bag she remembers she has not put any perfume on, so she reaches back into the leather recesses and pulls out a little vial. Another little stab of nostalgia leaps within her as she spritzes a mist of fragrance around her head. This was the scent her mother wore when she was very young and now it seems to throw her recent musings into an even sharper light. It reminds her of forgotten things.

All of a sudden her eye is caught by a slight movement in the mirror. There, halfway up the stairs, is the suggestion of someone small, with a hand clutching the banister rail. She is hit by such a wave of recognition that she feels herself locked into the reflection, unable to turn around. She knows what is about to happen but cannot move her lips to utter a single sound. The little form on the stairs, the size of a four year old child, seems to bend its knees and with an almost audible intake of breathe, jumps.

Her heart is lurching in her chest, the stairs are too steep and the child is too small. She sees it all distorted in the bend of the glass, the arc of limbs as they are raised in flight, the impending impact of fragile body against hard floorboards. Then there is a sudden thickness in the air, a change in pressure that makes her ears pop. The atmosphere sparks with the strike of a match and in that moment she is released from her paralysis, spinning around to face the stairs. There she watches as the child, in blue denim dungarees and small yellow shoes, executes a perfect landing. All around the little figure the light dances in golden beams. The child looks straight at her, dark eyes and brown curls all lit up with delight. There is a delicious little giggle of pleasure, echoing so clearly in her mind that she is rocked again by an immense sense of recognition. As she struggles with the growing rush of blood in her ears the whole scene begins to fade, slowly fizzling away until nothing but the winter sun and the scent of her perfume is left behind in the hallway.

She sits down slowly upon the seat below the mirror and continues to stare at the bottom of the staircase. She knows the small yellow shoes. She remembers them quite clearly. The Velcro straps had rows of ladybirds marching along them. She used to pretend that they were her magic shoes.

For how long she stays there she is unsure, the sudden snap of the letterbox spewing its mail onto the mat dislodges her sharply from her reverie. Glancing out of the window she sees that it really is a lovely morning. She puts on her coat and hat and steps out of the front door into the pristine winter air. The chill nips at her fingers as she pulls on her gloves but the sun is bright and sparkling in the crystal sky. Her hand instinctively flutters over her belly as the child inside does a little flip of excitement.

The scent of her perfume follows behind as she shuts the door. Perhaps it might still be possible to make wishes after all, she thinks as she sets off down the frost-dusted road. So she wishes for her child’s first pair of shoes to be yellow.

Vero Profumo ‘Rozy’

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I’ve been reading about Anna Magnani a lot recently. I wanted to be prepared for Vero Kern’s long awaited perfume Rozy, dedicated to the Italian actress and taking it’s name from the film ‘The Rose Tattoo’ that won her all manner of awards for best actress in the 1950’s. She is described as a woman of great vitality; her performances boiling with raw emotion and her personal life just as tempestuous and fiery.

I can see why Vero has made Magnani her muse for her latest creation. The actress, with her soul shining painfully bright through eyes that sparkle with mirth one moment and sorrow the next. She had such a sense of stark reality about her, something that one doesn’t often see in the polished aloofness of golden Hollywood stars. Her face was angular and atypical of beauty at that time, it’s lines carved by an intensity of emotion and understanding that seems to radiate through the screen, even now.

Vero herself has that same vitality. Although I was not one of the ones lucky enough to meet her at Bloom Perfumery earlier this month, I can sense through the warmth of her messages to me that she is a woman carved and made beautiful by her experience. She is of that rare breed of person who never forgets to say thank you, to ask after your family, even when life is hectic and there are hundreds of other things clamoring for attention. This innate understanding of how important it is to be personally involved in a project comes across in every single one of her perfumes. They all share the same vitality, the notion that one is smelling a person wearing a perfume rather than just the perfume itself. From the bottle escapes all the warmth, all the secret thoughts and movements of a human body. Vero’s fragrances inhabit you, sink into your skin and change you with the emotions suspended between molecules.

Onda, Rubj, Kiki and Mito are jewels with many different facets. Rosy is no different. It seems that Vero feels she cannot portray everything she wants to in just one version of a scent. Each perfume is like a complex being of light and shade, capable of expressing a vast array of emotion; therefor it must have a number of different incarnations. To my mind, all of Vero’s scents are women. I don’t mean that they are feminine fragrances, I mean that in my imagination they become characterised as strong female figures. Each concentration is like a sibling; the brightness and the wickedness.

The Eau de Parfums feel most like a full characterisation. Their attributes are all to be found within the dark glass of the beautiful bottles. For example; Onda is overly sexual, warmed by sun and sea spray; Kiki is frivolous and fun, a flapper girl at a party; Rubj is fully loaded with night blossoms and spice, seductive in the candle light; Mito is a sparkling green fountain, a walk through a beautiful garden.

The Extraits tend to exaggerate the perfumes deeper, darker side. The wicked sibling. Onda’s sexiness turns to smoke and bondage in the night; Kiki’s sweet powder grows languorous with caramel; Rubj’s white petals become dangerously intoxicating; Mito slips from her marble font into patent heels and knocks back the tequila with lime and road dust.

The Voile d’Extraits are the elemental qualities of the perfume, plucked out and suspended. The Voiles contain the most light and shade, transparent yet brightly coloured. The soul sibling. One might think that the Voiles are the most gentle incarnation but I have not found that to be the case at all. They sing from the skin in vivid soprano, somehow both sheer and dense, light and intensely pigmented. I don’t know how Vero has achieved this but the resulting fragrances are quite  exceptional. It is a mark of true dedication and understanding that a fragrance can have multiple facets and reflect in every one the passion and emotion of it’s maker, never losing any integrity or drama.

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So. To Rozy. I have been waiting and waiting for Vero’s rose. There was never any doubt that it would be special, as everything she produces is. There has been a lot of anticipation and buzz surrounding the launch and already many rave reviews are appearing. I’m sure that there have been people wondering when the first bad review will appear, there being a need for balance in all things. I think anyone who reads this blog will know that I don’t tend to write critically. I try to be truthful, but always with a poetic bent. Onda was not an easy perfume for me, neither was Rubj in it’s EdP and VdE forms. I do, however, own a bottle of Rubj Extrait which enchants me over and over again, such is the power of Vero’s fragrances and their contrasting characters. With Rozy I have been utterly charmed, darkly intrigued and slightly repulsed. Like sisters from a twisted fairy tale, Rozy has led me by the hand into the dark recesses of a bloody chamber, then run with me like dawn breaking across the sky. Light and dark, skin and sin, blood and beauty.

Let’s start with the Voile d’Extrait. It opens with an almighty blast of powerful rose and tuberose with an almost medicinal steeliness to it. The fragrance is cold in my nostrils and although I recognise all the elements that I’m smelling, I somehow struggle to reconcile them with my preconceptions. I have never smelled a rose in quite this way before. It is seductive and suggestive of hidden dangers. There is an undercurrent of vivid anger, the tuberose is slashed flesh beneath the roses thorns. A fruitiness develops with sharp cassis, turned more lethal with spices. Beneath this runs the powdered honey that is so synonymous with Vero’s perfumes. In this wicked form the honey soothes nothing, instead acting as a lubricant for the rose’s velveteen seduction, a steely blade tucked into a garter around her thigh. The fragrance rolls forth from the skin with intense power and ferocity. When the sandalwood appears it takes on the suggestion of incense, intoxicating and dark at the edges. Rozy grows more leathered and resinous as it develops, the rose losing all it’s early purity and instead becoming dark, almost sticky sweet with honey and hot, torn flesh. Something slightly fetid lurks in the very depths of the perfume. It is not as prominent as it is in Onda, but nonetheless it appears, sending a shiver through the scent.

The overwhelming impression from Rozy Voile d’Extrait is of seduction, anger and wild passion, of destruction. A rose is such a powerful symbol and a scent which has been expressed over and over throughout history. Here the Rose is slowly sensual yet furious; viciously sexy, she makes no pretence at being refined or controlled. Dark hair flying and nails sharp as thorns, she rages at you with eyes like deepest dungeons, would rip you to shreds as she kisses you brutally with blood velvet lips. The scent of her skin is present in the honey and spices, urgent, hot and intense. Yet her anger is also cold as a razor, the medicinal tang present in the beginning does fade, but leaves behind an almost seared edge, like a frozen dagger into a swollen heart.

There is an undeniable beauty in Rozy Voile d’Extrait. For all the contradictions within the scent it is never discordant. It has a sharpness that chimes above the boudoir petals, a dangerous tone filled with unspoken vitriol. This is a rose as only Vero could do it. Filled with raw emotion and vitality. It is a scorned woman filled with dark intent and predatory want, a dagger in her hand. I found it to be almost too potent, although I have heard a number of other people mark it out as their favourite. The Eau de Parfum is the one that has a firm hold over my heart, and although it is also built around the same rose, it couldn’t be more different.

Rozy Eau de Parfum opens with a luxurious puff of powdered honey and nectar filled blossoms. It has a wonderfully vintage, golden feel to it straight away, lightly dusted, tanned skin beneath a silk gown. As the scent warms a glow of fruitiness appears, peachy and delicious, ripe with passionfruit. It’s at this point that a very beautiful counterbalance between moist juice and pollen filled floral occurs, staying put for the whole of the perfume’s development.

The rose doesn’t make an appearance straight away in Rozy EdP, rather she waits behind a screen of lilacs, peaches and honey dust until the opening scene had been played out. When she takes a step forward she is radiant, in full bloom and warm from the sun. I don’t find the rose to be the most prominent part of the fragrance, rather she is the structure upon which the other components dance, tumbling amid her petals, yet if she wasn’t there the whole scent would blow away in the breeze.

Rozy has a most pleasing sensation of a deep layer of powder upon a polished surface, super fine and so soft that when one lightly presses a fingertip into it, the only proof that it’s been touched is the fingerprint left behind. There is certainly a kind of powder-compact, lipstick quality that I usually would flinch at, yet here somehow it’s not offensive to me at all. I think that superb balance between fruitiness and floral together with the golden honey, keeps the powder from sticking in my throat.

Rozy Eau de Parfum is the golden sibling, with all the charm and charisma of a true star. While her Voile sister rages in the shadows, this rose blossoms in the growing light of morning, crowned with lilacs and smiling her beautiful smile. Whilst Vero’s trademark warm skin note is detectable here too, it smells like polished, clean skin rather than the sexual pungency present in the Voile. The passionfruit is ripe but not turning, the honey is sweet and abundant without becoming fetid.

It is a superbly classy fragrance, classy in the best kind of way. Rozy EdP is naturally charming and beautiful, vivacious and splendid, without having to try. She is entirely herself and everyone loves her for it.

I know that a lot of people will be drawn to the Voile d’Extrait because it has punch, a fuller, more dangerous character with that unmistakable Vero Profumo twist of honey, passionfruit and sex. I know that my friend The Silver Fox will wear the Voile with unashamed abandon, shrouding himself in it’s shadowed purple haze like a cloak of sensuality. I need a little restraint in my fragrances. I need to feel as if I am still myself within the perfumed cloud. Vero has an uncanny ability to make scents that seem to possess me and whilst that is intriguing for the purposes of creative writing, it makes them somewhat difficult for me to wear on a regular basis. Rozy EdP is perfect because whilst it has all the qualities that I adore about Vero’s scent-making, it is also extremely wearable. It makes me feel grown up and classy, which for someone who is often mistaken for a teenager is very important.

Rozy is a perfume full of golden light, yet holds enough weight to last for hours on the skin and stay true until the very end. I imagine that for evening, layering a little of the Voile over the EdP would produce a deeper, slightly more full bodied scent, without letting Rozy’s dark side become too prominent. Unless that’s what you’d prefer of course. Whichever incarnation you think would suit you most, I defy you not to become spellbound by this profoundly real and vital perfume. Just as the maker and her muse possess the power to express emotion in the most human of ways, so do these wonderful fragrances.

 

 

Papillon Perfumery: Smoke, Roses and Powdered Herbs.

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Liz Moores, perfumer and founder of Papillon Perfumery, is probably one of the most approachable and engaging new artisans that I have had the pleasure of conversing with so far on my perfumed journey. Her three debut fragrances; Anubis, Tobacco Rose and Angelique, are due to be launched in the summer of this year and there have already been some lovely reviews about them. The Silver Fox and The Candy Perfume Boy have both written about this new brand and Liz’s undeniable creativity, flair and skill as a perfumer; I am in complete agreement with them. Here we have a trio of perfumes, each with their own strong identity, created with a passion and intelligence that shines through the autumnal hued juices like a bright star. They are complex, non conformist fragrances that challenge the senses, yet they are all versatile, wearable perfumes. There is some serious talent at work here.

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The three fragrances each have their own magic. Anubis, although not to my personal taste, is a deeply ancient concoction of smoke, fleshy blooms and leather that is so intense in it’s imagery that one feels firmly transported into the elaborately constructed tomb of an Egyptian Pharaoh.

This is a fragrance about reincarnation in every way, indeed the whole ethos of the brand is one of transformation, like the butterfly after which it is named. As the first fragrance Liz created, Anubis is the scent that represents her transformation into a perfumer; her relentless search for perfection and the numerous modifications that the fragrance went through to reach a point where she felt it was ready to unleash onto the skin of mortals. Featuring notes of Suede, Jasmine, Pink Lotus, Immortelle, Frankincense, Myrrh and Saffron, it has all the components that I find most challenging in a perfume: lashings of Myrrh and Frankincense, so rich that this scented aura is almost visible in the air; Jasmine in all it’s carnal glory, sweet lotus blossoms heavily woven through the pluming smoke from a golden incense burner. Anubis is the name for the Egyptian god of death in jackal form and there is a definite animalic thrust to the perfume, a leather note so slick with fragrant oils that it glimmers in the light from flaming torches.

Anubis is a heavy, powerful and intoxicating fragrance that will utterly bewitch perfume lovers who like their fragrance classically french in heft and atmospheric as the bowls of a pharaoh’s tomb. The warm, almost humidly sweet incense note is intensified and bolstered by that deep leather quality and the fleshy thwack of jasmine. It’s a perfume that terrifies me and one that I would love to smell on a gorgeous person in full evening wear, be that the textural decadence of silk and velvet or the ancient sensuality of golden amulets and oiled skin. It is a dress up scent and not one for the faint hearted.

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If Tobacco Rose doesn’t receive critical acclaim I might weep, because it is a perfume that has been so cleverly rendered that it has the potential to stand it’s ground amid the greats. Created with a vision of overblown roses in their final flourish of life, Tobacco Rose is a perfume of moistness and dryness, sweetness and bitter bark, delicacy and a beautiful death. A transformative journey from bud to brittle stem.

Liz has taken the classic portrait of a freshly plucked rose and twisted it’s reflection towards the inevitable withering of petals and leaves. Using notes of Bulgarian Rose, Rose Centiflora, Oakmoss, Beeswax, Hay and Ambergris, the scent opens in a plethora of rose, dewy, fleshly, blush pink and blood red. There is absolutely no doubting the quality at work here, this rose note is perfect.

Very soon a dryness develops, reminiscent of tangled grasses beneath bare feet on a hot day. The natural sweetness of hay and beeswax nudge the rose from her first bloom of youth into the full sun of midsummer. Still glorious; petals plumped out and velvet to the touch. This is how Tobacco Rose lingers for a while, until the oakmoss and mulch start to creep in. The sun is setting and our rose casts a shadow now, becoming slightly drooped and sleepy. The hay notes really start to take over, blending with the moistness of forest floor to create a beautiful contradiction of sensations; sunbaked yet loamy with dark earth; richly velveteen petals on the edge of decay; leaves crisp around a gently rotting heart.

As Tobacco Rose settles it’s rosiness breathes forth once more from the undergrowth, but this is now about a rose past it’s prime, a rose with memories of youth smoking on the skin like a charred diary page. The hay and beeswax remain as a slightly singed texture beneath dry petals that have wilted in the flame. Beneath that the mossy depths of a sleeping forest whisper softly. The end of Tobacco Rose is peaceful somehow, campfire smoke drifting up into the starry night.

All of this Liz has achieved with a concentration that is almost extrait in strength and very classical in construction. Yet it is so far from a traditional rose perfume, so juxtaposed with it’s contemporaries that really it needs a plinth all to itself. It is an absolute joy to wear, and we all know how fussy I am when it comes to roses. It is a versatile scent, perfect for day or night with impressive longevity and great projection. This is the perfume that I believe will be the most universally admired of the three. It is an exceptionally skilled and unusual twist on a classic structure that will have people inhaling with wonder.

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Where Tobacco Rose will unite, Angelique will divide. This is the fragrance that had me most captivated and I have continually danced between it’s ethereal soft beauty and strange greenness in a haze of puzzlement and pleasure. Using notes of Mimosa, Orris, White Champac, Frankincense, Osmanthus and Cedarwood, Angelique is singularly odd and wonderful. I love it.

Liz speaks about this perfume as the embodiment of an Iris Pallida flower bed in her garden, and also that she made the scent ‘with her children in mind’. The perfume begins with a savoury crush of herbs; frondy fennel, subtle minted freshness and rain washed limestone. It is most unexpected, almost chalky in texture yet light and airy. There is a sense of ‘otherness’ in this opening, strange and oddly familiar all at once. It is a highly unusual take on an iris fragrance, although the note’s powdered softness is present from the beginning. Angelique has an aniseed accord that is crisp and green at it’s heart but blurred around the edges by delicately dry floral notes of mimosa and orris.

As the scent warms it becomes sweeter, again in an almost gourmand way. Candied angelica, garden mint and a lovely apricot fuzziness from the Osmanthus. The Frankincense appears as much more controlled and delicate here than it does in Anubis, simply adding a deeper resonance to the perfume. It is a very quiet fragrance yet is in no way subdued or brooding. There is filtered light dancing across teardrop blue petals, a breeze drifting through swaying branches. It is a scent of outdoors; in the freshness of morning or a twilit scattering of evening stars, both images work beautifully.

I am continually drawn back to the feeling that Angelique reminds me of something. Implacable and fleeting, it has a familiarity and oddness that is unnerving at times. I have worn this scent over and over, at different times of the day, to work and to bed and it is only sitting here tonight as I write that I begin to realise what the perfume is so reminiscent of. The soft green and white of the scent conjures an abstract portrayal of youth; exquisitely perfect baby skin with it’s indescribable lactonic musk, an innocence and clarity of nature that one only sees in very young children. The ‘otherness’ often glimpsed in a child’s wide eyes as they look further than the restrictions of adulthood allow.

I believe that Liz has captured a feeling in this perfume, an emotional reaction that cannot adequately be described with words. Olfactory sense sometimes moves beyond our powers of communication and into a place that feels far more instinctual. Angelique somehow encapsulates that feeling of connectedness that a mother has with her child, the nostalgia an adult holds for the memory of their own childhood self. It is pure and clean and quiet, brightly innocent yet full of very human responses. The savoury effect of the aniseed accord triggers the salivary glands and the powdered iris is textural like skin. The gentle mint is herb sweetened breath and the floral/apricot accord brings a milky glow of sunshine. Angelique sparks across the senses in their most intuitive and highly tuned state, to the point where I found it almost impossible to adequately describe the familiarity of what I was smelling and how it made me feel.

It is a complex and intriguing scent with multi-faceted interpretations. Combining very sensory aspects of herbaceous plants, chalky stone and soft florals with sweetened fruit and milkiness is an odd yet inspired mix. It could be a perfume about nature and new things growing, or it could be about skin and sweet breath and emotional connections. Yet again there is a theme of re-creation and transformation here, of one thing evolving into another. I can imagine that Angelique will smell markedly different for one person than it will for another. I have noticed the scent lingering on my clothes to be much more floral than the effect of the fragrance on my skin; here it is more green with contrasting lactonic undertones. I cannot stop wondering over the fennel-like accord, it is prevalent on my pale skin but still beautifully balanced with iris dust. I sometimes find Iris hard to handle. I have experienced it before as very cloying, overpowering all other aspects of the fragrance. In Angelique the iris is reserved and plays a lovely counterpoint with the moist, ethereal greenness from the other notes. I found it to be a most haunting and singular perfume that took me a while to understand; now I feel like I should always have it in my collection.

Papillon Perfumery is a brand created with dedication by a very talented woman. It’s expertly rendered perfumes are supported by a strong identity and that feeling of luxury which is so important in the niche fragrance market. I am very much looking forward to the release of the perfumes this summer and to see Liz receive the acclaim that she deserves. All three will be successful I’m sure and no doubt there is more to come from this beautiful sorceress. Put Papillon on your ‘one to watch’ list. I’m putting Angelique on my shopping list.