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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dear readers, I am now back from what can only be described as an extravaganza of sniffage and olfactory wonder. Imagine a day spent in the most vibrant and beautiful capital city in the world (because I can’t fall out of love with London), add lots of like minded fume-heads, add perfumeries, boutiques and perfume halls, then stick afternoon tea on the end and fill your bag with samples ready to go home. You can see what I mean if I tell you it was as if all my birthdays had come at once.
The day was organised by Pia Long and Nick Gilbert, who you may know from social media where they have a strong and influential presence. Do try and visit their wonderful vlog : Love To Smell. What those two don’t know about scent, probably ain’t worth knowing.
You would be hard pressed to meet two lovelier, more generous people. The work that Pia and Nick put in to arrange this day, at no profit to themselves, goes some way to explaining what Good Eggs these two are. Also, Nick has a dirty laugh and gives good bear hugs.
My dear friend Lisa Wordbird (who is how I got dragged into this heavenly mess) offered to drive. This is because A) I cannot and B) because she knows no fear and is actually willing to cheerfully tackle central London in a car on a Saturday. Mad. Good driver, but mad. We left Wales at 8.30am and hit the M4 seamlessly. “Look at us!” we thought,”We’re on time!” we thought, fitting in a sugar’n’caffeine stop at the services. London, however, had other plans for us and decided to hide all its parking spaces from Lisa’s tiny, nippy car. So our trip was: two hours of motorway and two hours of driving round central London, which despite our frustration, didn’t bring us down, since London is The World’s Best Place For People Watching ( a.k.a trying not run over very rich people with shopping bags in Knightsbridge).
The Smells of London Town
We were due in Fenwicks’ at 11am but instead just about caught up with our group at 1pm. We were Moomins for the day, which meant our group was led by Pia. The other group were Flamingoes and led by Nick. We arrived at By Killian in Burlington Arcade and were given a talk by the beautiful Davina. Not only was she knowledgeable, but she let us sniff everything, whilst explaining the background and inspiration to the aromas that filled the little boutique. Funnily enough, the day was a bit like wedding dress shopping. I loved the first thing I tried on and even though I tried millions of others, I fell deeply in love with the first one. That scent was the first thing I smelled as I walked into the Killian Boutique: “Good Girl Gone Bad.” Nothing I smelled that day beat this and I left with a tiny sample in my sweaty paw.
There were all sorts of innovations going on in Killian: notably scented jewellery that means that people with sensitive skin can smell good all day. This involves a tiny unglazed ceramic disc that’s doused in scent and heats up with skin temperature. There were also home fragrance items: glorifiers, candles, scented paperweights and intriguing tasselled discs that you can hang anywhere, or if you’re Killian Hennessey himself, you can hang loads in your wardrobe. Because you made them. And your wardrobe is probably already very posh. There was some sniggering from me because I was standing next to the legend that is Val Cookie Queen Sperrer, who made some remark about tassels. I can’t remember the remark, but it gave me inappropriate mental images. #DitaVonTeese: that sort of image.
Lost in Fortnum and Mason
There was a break in the timetable for lunch-on-the-go before the next talk at Miller Harris on Monmouth Street. Lisa went to move the car before the charges matched her mortgage payments, and I filtered towards Fortnums with a splinter gang. The Perfume Hall at Fortnums is a sight to behold. I could spend hours there and not even look at my watch. Even as a perfume blogger having written 730 reviews, there were brands and bottles I had never even heard of. However, from the corner of my eye, I saw the Clive Christian salesperson giving out samples so I sidled up and flashed hungry eyes at her. I can’t afford Clive Christian but I collect samples like a miser. The lovely Tamara gave me a long tour of the brand and I was indeed rewarded with some treats to take home at the end. Unfortunately when I looked up, the other fume-heads had gone.
I used to live in London in the 90s so I have a fading muscle memory of routes, which led me vaguely towards Covent Garden Plaza. It wasn’t where I thought it was. Someone had moved it, surely? I ended up power walking around three miles through the throngs and masses. It was actually very liberating and a big change from my usual school run routine. I rang Lisa, who was somewhere completely different and she told me I was heading to the wrong Miller Harris branch. I eventually used an old fashioned method of navigation that you don’t see much these days- I looked at a map on the wall. I was back on track.
Meeting My She-roes
I reached Miller Harris out of puff, but not too late, and what joy! I finally got to meet someone that both Lisa and I had been looking forward to seeing for the first time. I met Liz Moores of Papillon Artisan Perfumes. We have been Facebook friends for a good while and it was a delight to meet her in person. She is tiny and witty and I like her enormously.
If you are reading this, you are most likely already a perfume fan, so you will know that to people like us, the perfumers are our pop stars.
As the group fondled their generous Miller Harris goody bags and moved to Bloom Perfumery, I also managed to meet another perfumer I admire and have reviewed: Ruth Mastenbroek. Unfortunately we missed Ruth’s talk in Fenwick, but she was wonderfully friendly. She is elegant and softly spoken with a reserve that I suspect may be a soupçon of shyness. Ruthwas a pleasure to meet and very kindly completed my missing RM sample collection for me. I adored her third scent:Oxford but have yet to try her first signature: Ruth Mastenbroek so watch this space for a review of both soon. A fourth scent is currently in development.
I was also delighted to meet fellow blogger Vanessa Musson from Bonkers About Perfume. We have been Facebook friends for a long time now, and have a mutual friend in Lisa. Vanessa was immensely generous to me with samples, and not for the first time. She is responsible for much of the content in the photo of my swag. Vanessa and I also share a love of cats and I always enjoy seeing the photos of the Bonkerscat, Truffle on social media. You can read Vanessa’s beautifully written account of the day here.
It was a pleasure to see the charming Thomas Dunckley again a.k.a The Candy Perfume Boy. Thomas is great company and deserves all his Jasmine Awards. Some days his writing is so good it makes me jealous.
Bloom on, Bloom
Bloom is a fascinating perfumery that arranges it scents not by brand, but by family. So you’ll have all the sandalwoods, then all the leathers, then the spices and so on. It is fairly Spartan inside, which is refreshing after the opulence of the perfume halls and the bling, but this makes for more of a studio feel.
Shortly after Bloom, the group split into fragments again. Some of us were heading off to the afternoon tea which Pia had booked for us, and some were making their way home. Many fond goodbyes were said and many Facebook friendships began that day.
Food, Glorious Food
At B Bakery in Covent Garden, we were treated like VIPs with our own individual pots of tea, (which were readily replenished) and a three tier cake stand. I had to compose myself when I saw it, rather than allow my greedy eyes to pop out on stalks. I am still fantasizing about that baby Lemon Meringue Pie. I have become firm friends with my two fellow diners who donated their pistachio macarons to me. Lisa didn’t give me hers, so that’s thirty years of friendship out the window. Her fault. Kirk and Nafia are my new best friends now. Hi guys!
Homeward Bound (small discreet burp)
Groaning with full tummies and sloshing with tea, we bade a reluctant farewell to a wonderful, but tiring day and headed back to Wales. The next morning when I woke up in bed in my house in South Wales (covered in sons who had missed me), I wondered if I had dreamed it all. And then I smelled my pillow. Tuberose, aldehydes, leather and incense. It was all true.
Blind Buys have taught me a lesson many times and it’s often a lesson I choose to ignore. So many times have I seen a bargain perfume, read some reviews of it, looked up the notes and decided to buy it, only to be disappointed. You can always sell your disappointments on eBay but you rarely get the same price back that you paid for it.
In the frugal month of January, which is usually grey and makes Christmas look sad and outdated within days, something nice in the post always cheers me up. A set of samples to work through can help you make a considered decision about your next perfume buy, whilst being a very pleasant way to spend an evening indoors as the wind and rain lash outside.
Samples are the best way to live with a scent for a few days and below is a round up of the best. They also make great gifts for people when you don’t know what they like, and more importantly- when they don’t know what they like either! When you come across samples that you don’t like, hang on to them as they are great for swapping (see point 12 below)
So here are my twelve best places to get samples. I’ve done the homework so you don’t have to. These are all UK.
The Perfume Society Beauty Box– when you subscribe to the Perfume Society for £25 a year you receive a Discovery Box, free of charge, full of scented goodies. After that you can buy a Discovery Box for the discounted price of only £10. A great way to learn about scent new and old.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Boite a Parfums– you can get these online and each pretty tin contains ten 2ml splash samples of L’Artisan Parfumeur fragrances.
Papillon Perfumes– To experience what critics are talking about right now, you can order a sample set of all four Papillon scents for just £15 plus £3 shipping . Critically acclaimed and beloved of perfume fans and bloggers alike, the Papillon collection could lead to you buying a full bottle. A little goes a long way. Heed my warning. You will fall in love.
4160 Tuesdays: There are all sorts of ways to sample these unique scents from handbag sized bottles to a full set of samples. Prices start from just £6 for a generous 4ml splash bottle. I’m a big fan. Here’s the link to the 4160 Tuesdays website.
Pell Wall Perfumes-A Shropshire based UK independent perfumery which is the brainchild of Nose Chris Bartlett. There are some great variations here: £5 for 5 x 1ml samples including postage (four of your choice and one “lucky dip”), or 9 generous 10ml bottles for £49. Here’s the link.
Les Senteurs– The biggest range of niche samples I know of in the UK – they have just about everything I can think of and many more I had never heard of or tried. Here’s the website– but be careful- you can get quite lost in it. Heaven!
Cath Collins: A “cottage” perfumery which makes great zesty scents inspired by flowers from Cath’s own garden. Three EDT samples for £5.25 inc shipping or £7.00 for four, including shipping. Full sized bottles are reasonably priced at £29.50 for 30ml. Here’s the link to the website.
Jo Loves: Try the Fragrance Discovery Gift Experience which gives you a sample set and the option of a full bottle of your favourite. All fabulous quality and mouth wateringly good. Here’s the website link.
EBay: you’d be amazed what people sell. Try for bulk packs of samples such as Thierry Mugler Angel– sometimes cheaper than buying the smallest bottle and handy for your handbag.
Swapping Swap with other perfume lovers on Fragrantica, basenotes and Facebook groups. Join up, join in and get involved. Perfume lovers are generous souls and love to spread the joy and share. This is where all those samples you don’t care for come in handy and can be used as swapping currency.
IScentYouADay turns two today, so I guess being two I can throw a few things, bite stuff and go to bed early. This is also my 500th post, so it is a significant day to me. It wasn’t easy to pick a scent for my 500th post and 2nd birthday, but then I had a lightbulb moment. I have already reviewed two of the terrific perfumes from Papillon Artisan Perfumes, but that elusive Anubis kept escaping me. Twice it has been lost and twice it has been found. The second time was today, and it felt right to choose it when it turned up again as if fated to. I am therefore choosing ( and wearing) Papillon Artisan Perfumes Anubis for my 500th post. It is quite simply outstanding and well on its way to becoming a cult classic.
It’s fair to say that 2014 was an extraordinary year for Papillon Artisan Perfumes. With only three scents to the name, the critical response has been enormous with the industry sitting up and taking notice in the very first year of their launch.
For Nose Liz Moores, Anubis holds a personal place in her heart, initially being a creation for herself. After being asked so many times what her perfume was, Liz made it available to the public (hooray!) and after several incarnations, Anubis was born.
Oddly enough, when I reviewed Papillon Angelique, it was instant love but I really struggled to describe it. It was almost as if it were a classic already and as such, impossible to deconstruct. I found myself in the same position with Anubis. I know I love it, but it’s hard to explain why. I could tell you the notes, but it would be like looking at the sheet music instead of listening to the opera.
Here’s what it smells like to me: An ancient stone walled chapel, as old as a millennium and infused with the smoke from a thousand thuribles. Imagine all that, only on leather, with a bonfire in the middle distance, and a hint of Egyptian embalming oils. That is what Anubis says to me.
But here are the notes so that you can pad out my subjective description: suede, jasmine, pink lotus, castoreum, immortelle, saffron, myrrh, benzoin, rose and frankincense.
Anubis has been blended so seamlessly that each note segues flawlessly into the next. As a whole, it makes one resounding chord, as if it’s always been around. If you like Tauer Lonestar Memories or Cuir Ottoman by Parfum D’Empire (both excellent), then I am almost certain you will like Anubis too. Longevity is around ten hours on my skin, and this is eau de parfum strength.
Anubis has already made waves and friend of the blog MeganInStMaxime named it as her favourite launch of 2014. The great Persolaise has also lauded it, and dear Thomas aka the Candy Perfume Boy has awarded fellow Papillon scent Tobacco Rose one of his coveted “Candy” Awards. The mighty Kafkaesque writes a superb and comprehensive review of Anubis that I cannot begin to compete with, you can find it here.
Anubis is unique: by turns it is smoky, leathery, spicy and redolent with incense and enigma.
And as for Liz Moores? Utterly charming and a delight to deal with.
During my visit to Les Senteurs way back in Oh…2014, I was pleased to see the trio of Papillons by the door, among illustrious company, as they have every right to be. I believe there will be more brewing over at Papillon one day and I believe there will be a queue around the block…
Happy Blog-aversary to me! and thank you for popping by!