Tag Archives: oakmoss

Pure Sylvan Magic: Papillon Artisan Perfumes Dryad

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John William Waterhouse: Hylas and the Nymphs

Ever since Liz Moores launched her perfume house, Papillon Artisan Perfumery in 2014, I have been impressed, nay, blown away by the calibre of her fragrances.  My superlatives have overtaken each other on each new launch and this fifth scent, named Dryad, was much anticipated by me and the many cohorts of Papillon fans.   To say that I was not disappointed would be a vast understatement.  In fact, I feel that this was made just for me, even though I know it wasn’t.

hamadryad
Hamadryad by John William Waterhouse

My favourite  scent genre is the mossy green chypre.  It’s hard to get the good ones these days, especially since IFRA made everything so safe that the fragrance industry suffered casualties in the purge. Green chypres have never quite regathered themselves into that glory-days retro mustiness that I am always seeking: like the end of the rainbow, it eludes me the nearer I get.  Well, there’s a happy ending to my quest and that rainbow has ended in my lap with a pot of gold, because that’s how I felt when I sprayed my sample of Dryad.

Dryads are mythical wood nymphs, whose lives are intrinsically entangled to the tree they inhabit. When the tree dies, so do they. There’s a wonderful message in Dryad. In all the hectic noise of modern life, it is time we slowed down and inhaled the moss and the leaves and listened to the birdsong, because when the trees die, so do the dryads.

It didn’t surprise me at all that Liz Moores chose this as the name of her fifth fragrance: after all, she lives a sylvan existence nursing broken wings and wrangling stripy tailed lunatics in the heart of the New Forest.  So the big question is of course, what does it smell like?

What does Dryad smell like?

Dryad opens with bergamot and oakmoss and a mass of herbs.  I find it rare for oak moss to come out straight away:  it’s usually a base note, sneaking in at the end.  Dryad, though, is all about the oakmoss and it’s pretty much the main figure in this beautiful composition. The greenery is all encompassing: musty, mossy and mysterious, like a dark route through a forest.  There’s fauna as well as flora: deer tongue absolute has been used to beautiful effect.  Deer tongue has a  herby/tobacco accord and  it certainly makes its presence felt. This is everything you find in the woods.

Woburn Abbey
Woburn Abbey

The middle phase reminded me of genuine, vintage, Dior Diorissimo: that classic green ily of the valley chypre. You can still buy Diorissimo of course, but it’s not the same as the slightly dirty version I smelled from a vintage bottle a few years back.  That bottle of Diorissimo gave me a whiff of sweaty, talcum powdered inner thigh.: not so much a sexy smell, as a womanly smell.  It’s no sterile baby powder, but powder it most certainly is. The nymph tries out a ladylike phase before returning to her feral roots.

parfums Christian Dior
vintage Dior advertisement

The base of Dryad, whilst never wavering from the chord I’ve named Oakmoss Major, is a little bit Guerlinade, but greener. There is narcissus and jonquil (a very vernal dafodilly posy) and they merge and move around like weather clouds from one phase to the next.

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Oriel Davies Gallery

My overall sign off from Dryad is a picture in my mind of green damp woods, overrun by thick moss, a delicate glove from a vintage handbag, a  whiff of Diorissimo and  a fluffy talcum puff.  Oh, and the warm flanks of a startled faun.

Stockists

It’s not quite launched yet, but I’ll update when it is.  You can currently buy Papillon fragrance from the website or from branches of Les Senteurs in the UK. Check the website for further stockists in Europe, USA and Canada.  My sample was very kindly sent to me by Liz Moores, and opinions are my own. Papillon has an excellent sample service. You can read my reviews of  the other Papillon scents here:  Anubis, Tobacco Rose, Angelique, Salome.

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Parfums Dusita Issara: An Exciting Debut

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I was recently sent a  travel size bottle of Dusita Issara by my dear friend Patsi, who I know via this very blog.   I knew absolutely nothing about the brand or the perfume, so naturally,  I was keen to try it. sheepReader, I can tell you that I am jolly glad I gave it a chance.  Dusita Issara is utterly delicious and has been  wafting about my person enticingly all day. In fact, my perfume is the only glamorous element to my day at all.  You should see the weather here in Wales.  Gloom.

Parfums Dusita is a new perfume house, and the brainchild of Pissara Umavijani, who trained in Paris and launched Parfums Dusita in 2015. Its haute perfumerie, so it won’t be cheap, but I can tell you that it will be good

The most noticable  note in Issara is musk.  Now, as you know , there are many kinds of musks  and when I find one I like, I become instantly loyal to it. There are dirty musks such as Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan ( We didn’t get on) and clean laundry musks such as Philosophy Amazing Grace. I’m somewhere in the middle myself.  Luckily, Dusita Issara  hits the spot, falling just between the two.  Now throw in one of my favourite ever perfume notes , namely oakmoss, and add a dry touch of vetiver and  you pretty much have Issara (obviously it’s a  lot more complicated than that, but that’s the lasting accord it has on me.)

dusita pic

There is a cosy hit of tonka absolute in here , which gives this a vanilla liqueur finish.  This is the stuff that makes you want to never, ever stop  foraging for Crème Brulée.

Issara is apparently a fresh fougere, but  to me,  its primarily a musk, with chypre style touches of greenery and oakmoss and that buttery tonka finish.  It’s not sweet, but nor is it bitter.  If anything, its a bit like smelling marzipan from the next room.  Not too sweet, a  hint of almonds, and just tantalising enough to keep your mouth watering. if I had to sum up Issara in three words I would describe it thus:  green, almondy musk.

dusita boxI’d defintely put Dusita Issara on my full bottle wish list. It’s totally unisex, so maybe I’ll put it on my husband’s wish list. He won’t mind. He said in the wedding vows that his stuff was all mine. Or something.

It looks as if Dusita Issara is off to a good start as I can see that this is currently sold out already.  Bear with them. It’s worth the wait.

Stockists

You can buy Dusita Issara from the Dusita website. There is a sample service available too, also from the website.

Acknowledgements:  Thank you Patsi for the lovely gift of the mini Dusita atomiser. Photographs are all from the Dusita website, except the sheep, which is from Pinterest.

Molinard Chypre D’Orient: A Treasure Worth Finding

 

chypre bottle

Do excuse the hiatus. I’m on a blogging go-slow due to the summer hols and a jolly nice time we’ve had too. The children go back to school on September 5th and I will be cranking up the Autumn Fragrance posts with aplomb.

Friend of the blog ( and of me) Lisa Wordbird, often gives me little loans of incredible stuff to sample. Among the booty on our most recent meet up was a bottle of Molinard Chypre D’Orient. Reader, I married it.

chypre dorientMy favourite genre when it comes to scent is the mossy green chypre, and I could hardly believe my luck when this big 100ml bottle fell into my clutches. Ignore the “D’Orient” bit: this is chypres as chypres used to be-and still should be- in my humble opinion. All the gang’s here: oakmoss, patchouli, galbanum, amber, musk. It’s a hard hitter for sure. The patchouli is so prickly and spiky that at first I thought it was spices, but then realised it was more of an earthiness. The oakmoss steps in  and takes over straight away like a boss, and peeking out from the edges are glimpses of jasmine and neroli.

Chypre D’Orient has been labelled the poor man’s Mitsouko, but this is a great in its own right. In danger of going under the radar, this treasure made me think of that legendary accord: Guerlinade. You know that tell-tale je ne sais quoi that makes you recognise a Guerlain Heritage with your eyes shut? Well Chypre D’Orient smells like THAT. Except that it’s under £40 for 100ml.

This is a vintage style chypre before modern life got in the way. There’s a touch of rose and powder to round off the ladylike picture and a handsome, vaguely Art Deco style weighty bottle to adorn the dressing table.

If that sounds up your street then bag yourself one now. These are getting harder to find. Chypre fans-remember: a rolling stone gathers no mossy chypres.

Stockists

You can buy Molinard Chypre D’orient from Amazon UK. It’s currently £35.39 for 100ml. Price correct at time of posting.

Balmain de Balmain: My Conversion to Chypres

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Before starting this blog six months ago I  would often turn my nose up at any scent with powder in and call it “old lady”. Then one day, I smelled both Balmain Jolie Madame and Balmain de Balmain. Result? One total conversion to Chypres with all their aromatic powderiness and beauty.

The best definition of Chypres I have ever read is by ThePerfumeShrine. It blows the old lady powder nonsense out of the water. Chypres originated from Cyprus, hence the origins of the name, and were derived from aromatic powders and spices, hence the powdery note.

Since smelling the dreamy Balmain de Balmain, I have learned a new appreciation of the Chypre genre, and it is because of this that I now own a bottle of Gres Cabochard, a bottle of Avon Timeless and a bottle of Balmain Jolie Madame.  I have borrowed my review bottle of Balmain de Balmain, but will be buying a big one soon from Amazon, because, did I mention? Yes, this has been discontinued. Never fear though, it’s still around, but if you discover you like it, make like Tania Sanchez and buy at least two bottles.

Balmain de Balmain opens with an astringent and masculine burst of fresh Bergamot and Green Notes. The drydown turns more feminine, with a hint of Violets, Roses and Sandalwood. The Oakmoss emerges then: all manly, and Violet and her friend Rose both swoon and go demure in his rather butch presence. This has an overall aura of Mossy Greenery, with enough floral background to make it strong but pretty. It has presence, and strength: this is no wishy washy floral dew. I adore this.

This turned me into a fan of Chypres the way a David Bowie album could convert a Country fan to Glam Rock. It converted me the way a glass of Fitou once converted me from White Wine to Red. It was like the day I knew that fresh ground coffee from my coffee machine meant I could never enjoy Nescafe again.

Old ladies and powder? that’s a myth. Open the doors to Chypres and let Balmain de Balmain into your life.

And do it quickly before they run out! (although the Perfumed Dandy reliably informs me that plans may be afoot to reissue it, if enough of us clamour and buy).

Miss Dior: no longer for maiden aunts

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WRITTEN BY LISA JONES

Once upon a time Christian Dior released a perfume that was a classic green chypre, full of oak moss, jasmine, patchouli and galbanum, and very chic and elegant. It was 1947 and things were far more prim and proper then. Young ladies wore neat tailored houndstooth suits, prim little hats with veils and carried white gloves.

To a young lady in 2013 those clothes would feel like a costume for a party, and perhaps Miss Dior felt similarly out of date. Because she has been completely replaced. The Miss Dior that I have a bottle of is now called Miss Dior Originale and has been put very politely but firmly on the back shelf of the Dior counter.

In her place is the pink-tinted Miss Dior incarnated by the delightful Natalie Portman. Previously known as Miss Dior Cherie, this has also ‘had a little work done’ to lose the strawberry top note, has been renamed Miss Dior and is now a flagship scent for the Dior line. It comes in all permutations – from parfum and eau de parfum to eau de toilette and eau fraiche, plus assorted body lotions, gels and all that stuff nobody buys unless it’s as presents. (Do you know anyone who buys or uses ‘official’ body lotion if it hasn’t come in a gift set or as part of a hotel toiletries haul?)(My daughter’s love of Hermes Eau d’Orange Vert can be traced to a very posh hotel suite and a generous friend of mine.)

However, dear, prim and proper original Miss Dior had a secret. Though she might have looked as prim and proper as Grace Kelly on the surface with her bitter oakmoss, give dear old MD a chance to warm up on the skin and that bitterness evaporates. Then the jasmine comes out to play and the oakmoss and woody old-school patchouli become rounder and warmer than JLo’s derriere in thermal undies.

I’ve been wondering how the new Miss Dior eau de toilette with her top notes of blood orange, heart of neroli and rose and base of patchouli will compare. So today I got out the little sample and spritzed. The top notes are sweet and very briefly citrus, though that is so fleeting as to be cheetah-like. The heart is fruity and floral with an element of something artificial but not in a bad way. Then there’s the base note of patchouli; this is the clean, radiant and persistent patchouli that is a staple in modern perfumery. It doesn’t remind me of JLo’s booty, I’m afraid; not in any kind of thermal clothing. Well OK, maybe in snowboarding pants.

You know how I have been whining about frootichoolis? This is one. I expected to want to chew my arm off and profoundly regret spraying my décolletage, but in fact, it’s OK. It’s not offensive in any way, it seems to be well-balanced, it wears reasonably close to the skin and doesn’t have enormous sillage and the longevity isn’t enormous – it was gone completely within 6 hours. That made me quite happy. I should repeat that this review is for the Eau de Toilette; I imagine the eau de parfum or parfum concentrations would last quite a bit longer and have a bit more projection. Be aware though that often fragrance compositions differ between the concentrations, so sniff the format before you buy it to avoid disappointment.

Jo Loves…Green Orange and Coriander

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This is more like it. I love the smell of fresh Coriander leaves and they are certainly discernible Jo Loves Green Orange and Coriander. It’s blatantly unisex and would smell good on either male or female. It’s a clean bathroom-y sort of smell like expensive candles or high end citrussy bath oils in a five star hotel. Again, like all fragrance in the Jo Loves range, this is quite linear. Unlike a moody, changeable Serge Lutens, for example, what you apply at breakfast is what you still smell of at lunch. Inexplicably, my first thought after spraying was of Imperial Leather soap, but then the Coriander and Orange burst in at the same time, in equal measure. To my delight, the Orange is sharp and juicy, rather than sweet and sherbety. There is a bit of Oakmoss in there to make it slightly earthy, even masculine. It’s has definite zing, but is somewhat grounded nicely by the Oakmoss. All in all, it’s good and stays good. Longevity is very impressive: around seven hours for two sprays. (I still say I can smell a faint whiff of Imperial leather though, but don’t tell anyone, it might just be me).

This is my second favourite Jo Loves fragrance after Pomelo.

Molinard Habanita: A Timeless Vintage

histoire_2Molinard Habanitaseemed right for today’s icy temperatures and like Edith Piaf, I have no regrets. Having tried several vintage woody chypres lately and not liking what they’ve done to me, I was pleasantly surprised to find a vintage fragrance that I like, admire, and want to add to my scent wardrobe.

Molinard  was founded in 1849, in Grasse, and remains a family business. The company can even count Queen Victoria among its early patrons. Habanita was created in 1921 to complement the growing trend for women to smoke. It was intended to “perfume cigarettes”, but has remained a steady seller ever since, even in the health conscious non-smoking 21st century.

It may be just me, but I find older perfumes have a whiff of nail polish about them when first applied. This is no bad thing, since it brings old fashioned dressing tables to mind, which feels right and proper when trawling through the history of fragrances. Habanita is no exception: it has that distinctive note of face powder and nail polish when it first goes on. However, the drydown happens quickly and after that it just gets better.

I often find chypres too harsh and woody, but Habanita is more of an oriental amber. I love amber, and already have Ambre de Cabochard (derided by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez, but loved by me), as well as J del Pozo Ambar.

Like all the best perfumes, Habanita changes as you wear it. It starts powdery, and then warms up into a beautiful, feminine scent that lasts a long time. It’s strong, with heavy sillage, so I would save it for evening rather than the office. As time wore on, I could smell a hint of lemon, even though this is not listed as a note, a hint of lilac, some pale musk, and finally strong leather, through an incense-like amber mist.

Fragranitca lists many fruity notes, such as peach and raspberry, but I didn’t get those at all. In fact, I didn’t get any of the top notes listed as Habanita sank into my skin and seemed to skip top notes and middle notes and go straight to base notes: amber, musk, oakmoss and leather. Fans of  Grès Cabochardwill certainly like this.

Habanita de Molinard is a timeless classic. Try it . It’ll bring out the panther in you.

 

EDIT: looking back at this post over a year after I wrote it, it’s very interesting how my tastes have changed.  I still adore Habanita, but these days, I’d be front of the queue for any vintage-y chypres. My journey has been a strange evolution of preferences. 

4th April 2014