Tag Archives: chypre

Aura by Loewe: The Tide is Turning

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We all know how celebrated the French perfume industry is, but let’s hear some good words about the lesser lauded Spanish perfume industry. As I may have mentioned, I am a big fan of  Jesus del Pozo Ambar (top of my Christmas Wish List as my small bottle is nearly empty), and of course, there’s Balenciaga, Paco Rabanne and even Dana, a Spanish born company that has taken over many drugstore classics such as Tabu, Chantilly and Le Jardin.  Loewe is a Spanish company that is famous for its luxe luggage and bags and has branched out, as have the world and his dog, into the fragrance world.

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FragranceShop.co.uk

The first time I tried a Loewe fragrance , it was from a previous Fragrance Shop Discovery Club Box and it was called Quizas Quizas Quizas Pasion.  I believe I also called it “Death by Red Berries”. Aura is a great improvement, although the leftover red berries sadly didn’t go to waste.  Aura is, refreshingly, a mainstream High Street leather.  Can we call it a chypre? I think we can. I sometimes get muddled by the definition of a chypre, but the excellent Perfume Shrine blog has, what is to my mind, the definitive article on Chypres.  

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Aura is simply made. Top notes: Red Berries, Bergamot and Pink Pepper. Middle notes: Rose, Violet Leaf, Iris and Jasmine and Base notes : Cedar, Leather and Sandalwood.  It’s an unusual journey. Initially I was on the brink of dismissal when I caught a waft of red berries again, but as I persevered, I realised that the basenotes were as good as their word and what I am left with after a an hour is a Leather, Rose, Sandalwood mélange which is really rather good.

Longevity could be better: on me it fades after two hours, but that’s not to say it won’t last longer on you.  You may recall that Delices de Cartier evaporated immediately on my skin, yet others praise its twelve hour longevity on them.   If I were Queen of The World (and it’s just a matter of time), I would order Loewe to stop using the red berries, and crank up the Leather. But that’s just me.

It’s not a chypre in the same class as, say, my beloved Jolie Madame, nor is it a leather in the same league as Cuir de Russie or Bulgari Black. However, I am so thrilled to meet a new launch that doesn’t smell like a candy shop, that I feel it would be churlish to criticise.  When you finally coax something out the woodwork, you don’t want to scare it back off again.

Aura by Loewe is available from the Fragrance Shop for £53.50 for a 40ml EDP with body lotion.  Not to be confused with Aura by Swarowski.

Tableau de Parfums Miriam: I Think I Know Your Cousin

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I have a hotch potch of similar looking sample tubes and tried a new one yesterday without looking too closely at the label. What I ended up smelling was, I initially thought, Noontide Petals by Andy Tauer, but in fact turned out to be Miriam by Tableau de Parfums.

A few minuets of googling explained why I had been thinking of Noontide Petals. Miriam was Imagecreated by non other than our old friend Andy Tauer and his trademarks are all over it.

Tableau de Parfums is a collaboration between  a filmmaker, (Brian Pera), and a perfumer, (Andy Tauer). With each of the three perfumes in the range comes a DVD and a novella.

Personally, I’m not sure I like the idea, since to me, the fun of perfume is where it takes you in your mind and memory, and this should never be prescriptive. I like to smell a scent, and see where I go. It’s often a different journey and can jog long forgotten memories more effectively than any photograph.  However, in this case, the perfume itself is fabulous and has many hallmarks of a Tauer, a brand I regard very highly.

With more Chypre qualities than Noontide Petals, and more Violets, Roses and Ylang,  Miriam is indeed closely related to Noontide Petals but holds her own. Miriam has a wonderful vintage feel,  as does the bottle, and this was, unsurprisingly Tauer’s plan. In fact there are old fashioned notes in Miriam that make me think of a well used, beautifully polished antique dressing table with a fine layer of face powder and talc and some rosewater spilled onto the wood. There’s a hint of nail varnish, and a general impression of a messy boudoir, with shoes in the floor, and earrings by the side of the bed. However , this is very ladylike, and no messy Worth Courtesan.  Miriam keeps her cool with Citrus notes and Lavender, making this wonderful for summer, yet sophisticated enough for dinner at dusk. You can smell the individual ingredients, as if it was made with basic old fashioned methods, rather than today’s overprocessed factory synthetics.

The basenotes go a bit spicy and woody with Amber and Sandalwood  providing a softer background for the bright, chic opening. It ends dry and dusty, but still pretty with plenty of femininity left in the faded flowers.

Frankly, it’s gorgeous and I would be more than happy with a full of bottle of  ladylike, Miriam and her face powder and her nail polish. This is where it took me.  I wonder where it will take you? No two journeys are the same.

PS Does anyone else think Miriam looks like a cross between Anjelica Huston and Carla Bruni?

Chanel Les Exclusifs 31 Rue Cambon: Missing That Je Ne Sais Quoi

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31 Rue Cambon  is named after Chanel’s four storey building, purchased by Gabrielle “CoCo” Chanel herself and which remains today, the site of Gabrielle’s apartment, and the main Paris branch of Chanel.

ImageImmediately, the stakes are high. Named after the Mothership? This better be good. And it is. But great? Not so much.

For one thing, I find this very subtle. My skin seems to swallow it up whole instantly. You may have more luck. Secondly, this strikes me as an odd sort of melange.  It’s definitely a chypre, and it has lovely woody notes, but then clean, citrussy bergamot shows up, along with my old nemesis, Miss Carrot herself- iris. I often have problems with iris, but not with her cousin violet. I find iris dry and cardboard like, with an earthy rooty scent. I don’t always dislike it, but I can often spot it very soon into a fragrance these days, like a fussy eater who can spot a pea in a Shepherd’s Pie (I do that too).

One very wise reviewer on Fragrantica says that Rue Cambon needs and lacks Oakmoss. I think he has a point. It is neither a chypre, nor woody, nor citrus, but somehow all three, without ending up as a green note scent. Frankly it baffled me, and didn’t stay around long enough for me to know it properly.

The jury’s out on Rue Cambon.  I must confess to not loving all of the Les Exclusifs range (I haven’t tried them all yet, to be fair). Whilst I would bite your arm off for a full bottle of Coromandel, I would feel far more “meh” about a full bottle of Rue Cambon. It’s not badly made,  of course, and I know it would smell wonderful on the right wrist or neck, but those wrists and neck do not belong me, regrettably.

In my beloved Wales there is a lovely Welshism which sums up Rue Cambon for me:

“And there it was, gone!”

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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.

Dioressence: a vintage barbarian

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I have to be honest right from the start here: I’m about to write about some of that juice that breaks IScent’s heart. The stuff I let her sniff and fall in love with and then break the news ‘they don’t make this anymore’. Sorry.

The good news is that you CAN buy a facsimile at a Dior counter near you, reformulated by François Demachy in the Creations de Monsieur Dior series to conform to the IFRA regulations that reduce the quantities of potential allergens in perfumes. (Those regulations that make me cry and have led to the death of so many beautiful old fragrances.) The better news is that I bought the stuff I’m writing about on eBay recently and at reasonable prices. I have two bottles of Dioressence Eau de Toilette, a ribbed glass one dating to the 1980s and a square flask-shaped one from the mid 90s when Dior was sold to LMVH and all the bottles were brought into line. (It’s amazing what you can find out when you google.)

Dioressence was created in 1969 by the famous perfume nose Guy Robert, who also created Madame Rochas, Hermès Calèche and the stunning Amouage Gold. It is a rich, spicy, animalic oriental chypre that is as sensuous as a set of satin sheets and as classically slinky as a haughty 1970s French model wearing a fluid little silk shirt dress to strut down the catwalk. It is elegantly sinful, but not a blatant come-on, more a challenge. If you would like to read the story of how M.Robert came to create it, you should visit the fabulous Perfume Shrine blog, which is a fund of information of all kinds and a wonderful resource. Helg has included the tale M.Robert told Luca Turin about a million-dollar lump of ambergris and some cheap soap, which Chandler Burr mentions in the book that started me off on this obsession… But I digress.

The first time I smelled Dioressence on my skin from a tester in a store, I yelped with shock. It’s mucky. It smells of warm human, but it has a powdery element that keeps it from being mistaken for unwashedness. There’s an opening trill of citrus to give a bow to the classic oriental formula, but after that it’s all kinds of spicefest. There’s a slight tang of salt, a green vein of oakmoss and a barrel load of animalic scents that are like a dozen different kinds of leather, fur and skin. Of course I love it.

I’m comparison testing the 1980s against the 1990s versions and they are very similar. I have been lucky to get bottles in which the top notes haven’t been damaged and there’s no ‘hairspray’ smell, but that’s a risk with buying vintage. The base notes are the last to go, so don’t give up hope if you’ve got a burnt bottle, just power through the icky bit. I find the 1980s version is more powdery and rounded, while the 90s Dioressence is more green and a little more carnation-spicy. There’s not a lot in it though and I’ll cheerfully wear either of them, though I might keep the 1980s version for more special occasions.

This perfume is voluptuous, sensual and womanly, but it has the grace and self-worth to be elegant, never slutty. Think of Charlotte Rampling in fur. That little frisson you just got: that’s Dioressence.

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