Tag Archives: perfumes with Oakmoss

Pure Sylvan Magic: Papillon Artisan Perfumes Dryad

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 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.

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.


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.


Parfums Dusita Issara: An Exciting Debut


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.


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.

Ava Luxe Mousse de Chine: A Scent of Two Halves


 Ava Luxe is a one woman US based perfume brand and is the brainchild of Serena Ava Franco.  I have previously reviewed her scent Madeline (have a search) which reminded me of milk and whisky by a log fire.  She is good at what she does and generous to her customers, always including several samples.

 Mousse de Chine divided myself and my friend Lisa Wordbird, owner of the sample I used. 

 Going off on a tangent briefly, I have an ashtray outside in my garden for smoky guests and I try Imageand ensure it doesn’t get too full between visits.  When I empty it, the black water from the bottom of the ashtray is particularly vile, as you can imagine. Unfortunately, Mousse de Chine smells like a weaker version of black cigarette water and I could not wait to get rid of it. Stale cigarettes can work in perfume, but this was too much, even for me.

 However, as the title suggests, there are two sides to this coin.  On Lisa, in her own words, this smells like “salty wood and maybe some oakmoss”. She was amazed I got cigarettes from it, which is proof, if proof were needed, that scent can vary almost beyond recognition depending on skin type.  According to Fragrantica, just to give you the whole picture, the notes are : Lime, Bergamot, Fern, Lavender, Oakmoss, Moss, Amber, Resin, Labdanum and Musk.

 In other words, it’s not for me, it smells great on Lisa, and if you like the sound of the notes you may not get what you expect.

 Ava Luxe, although US based, can ship abroad because Serena cannily sends oils rather than liquid. The quality of ingredients is very good- nothing synthetic smelling or cheap here. Lisa adores the brand and she knows her stuff, so that’s good enough for me!

Paco Rabanne Calandre: A Vintage Style Mossy Treat


The first time I tried Paco Rabanne Calandre I wrote it off as smelling of celery.  It was only afterwards that I made the realisation that I was wearing Caron Yatagan on the other wrist and that it had coloured my view.

I tried Calandre again recently and was so glad that I gave it a second chance. With its mossy, green opening bursting with Aldehydes and bedding down into a powdery chypre, it has a definite 70s vibe to it. In fact, after about half an hour it smelled as if Guerlain made it.

Trying Guerlain Chamade on the other arm (more of which very soon), I could see definite similarities. There is a prickly, woody base to both of them, beautifully softened by powdery edges.

Calandre opens with Aldehydes, Roses and Bergamot, smelling not unlike Coty L’Aimant.  However Calandre is greener and the green notes stay true right through to the end.  The Bergamot keep it sharp, but it’s the Oakmoss, Amber and Vetiver that makes this deeply impressive in the last act.

This smells exactly like the kind of perfume my grandmother would have worn in 70s.  Its elegant, smart, wears a brooch and always has a mint and a clean handkerchief in its bag.  Although it is rumoured to have been discontinued, it is still available in Amazon UK for around £70 for 100ml and on Amazon.com for around $70. (prices subject to change).