Tag Archives: Papillon Perfumery

When perfume doesn’t solve everything.


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…



Papillon Perfumery: Smoke, Roses and Powdered Herbs.


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.


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.


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.


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.