I heard of this line years ago, when we perfumistas could post little parcels of decants and samples back and forth across international boundaries without a care. Stickers? Declaring dangerous contents? Pfft! Such ideas hadn’t been invented, and IFRA hadn’t spoiled our fun with their nasty old regulations about potential allergens.
The world is a safer and sadder place nowadays. Safer, because no postperson has to go to have stitches put in their hands while reeking of Shalimar after a flimsily-packaged bottle smashed in transit. Sadder, because I can’t just ask my buddies to send me ‘a little drop or two’ of something, drop a little parcel into the post in return, and find myself able to try things I can’t ever remember seeing in an actual shop in the UK.
I had tried a few of the DSH fragrances before and was impressed by their style. I like woods and spices, and she handles both well. And of course I had heard about her recreations of classic vintage fragrances such as Guerlain’s Jicky (DSH’s version is Passport a Paris and it’s very good! It has the ‘lemon and lavender floor polish in a posh house’ vibe to it that I love so much).
I knew Dawn had created a set of fragrances to complement a showing at the Denver Art Museum of the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective exhibition, So when my American friend Joe pointed out that there was the annual 20% off sale on the whole DSH collection, I rather splurged. There were so many of her fragrances that I wanted to try – two from the YSL collection for starters. I was able to order from the US and have these sent to the UK because DSH offers what she calls a ‘Voile de Parfum’ format, which doesn’t contain alcohol and consequently isn’t considered dangerous to ship by air.
“The Tuxedo for a woman was revolutionary and avant-garde at the time that YSL began introducing the style into his collection… Le Smoking is a gender-bending classic that’s great on both men and women.”
Described as “a sophisticated green chypre tabac fragrance” Le Smoking has a deep emerald green opening that has a little rasp to it but no bite as so many vivid green top notes do. This brightens as it opens up, becoming slightly soapy, in a good way. The heart has a spicy aspect to it, with some flowers, but there’s a green woodiness that is pure chypre and that sings like a crystal bell. I adore this heart, it’s gorgeous and wonderfully retro but modern.
It is unisex, and it certainly speaks of classic chypre fragrances to me. The base is lovely and this is one fragrance from DSH I need in a larger size. I’d like to try the eau de parfum spray to see if it’s any different from this formulation, and perhaps has more throw, as the voile de parfum stays close to the skin.
Not to be confused with DSH’s Euphorism d’Opium, from the Denver art exhibit mentioned above, which is a recreation of the eau de toilette strength of the famous fragrance, this is a recreation of the original Yves Saint Laurent Opium parfum extrait from the 1970s. I am a huge fan of the pre-reformulation Opium and have a significant stash, and I have to tell you – this isn’t it. This isn’t even slightly like it. I was deeply disappointed the first time I tried it so I have come back and will give you my impressions of it as a fragrance, pure and simple.
Well for starters, this one isn’t unisex, it’s definitely a feminine fragrance; in fact it’s a vavavoom sort of feminine fragrance. It has round and creamy topnotes, with something a little lush and ripe in there, possibly a rich gardenia note? It is certainly oriental, definitely retro, and possibly a little dark for mainstream tastes (this is a very
good thing to many readers, I know). There’s a funk to it that is indolic and slightly rude – I suspect Sam will have one of her eyebrow-raising responses to this, which always make me laugh. I shouldn’t wear it to work, unless you are Dita von Teese.
I couldn’t restrict myself to just two samples of course, so I shall return shortly with more delights from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.
I’m among friends here, aren’t I? So you’ll all understand how much of a big deal being let loose in a perfume lab with a pipette was for me last Saturday.
Yes, my scented chums, a little dream of mine came true when I attended the 4160 Chypre Workshop and made my own chypre.
With perfume being My Thing, and chypres being My Favourite Genre, it was pretty much an all-my-birthdays-are-happening-at-once sort of day.
So what goes on at a chypre workshop?
There were around six of us and the workshop took place upstairs at the 4160 Tuesdays studio in London. We were greeted with tea, coffee and goodies, and were allowed to fiddle about with the many 4160 Tuesdays purse sprays that were lying around. That would have kept me happy all day, but it was about to get even better.
We went upstairs to the studio and sat around the Big Table, whilst trying not to be distracted by The Wall of Scent: a cabinet full of vintage and modern scents. Some are classics and some are just plain nigh on impossible to find. I had to turn away or I wouldn’t have got anything done.
First of all, Sarah doesn’t so much teach, as blow your mind. I won’t put spoilers in, but just for starters there’s a theory behind the disappearance of the Marie Celeste that may be related to something we handled at the workshop. There’s also a shocking list of chemicals that will make you think twice about natural ingredients. NB I contain zinc, hydrogen dioxide and potassium, but you should see what’s in a kiwi fruit!
Some ingredients cost more than a kilo of gold bullion and tiaras.
There are Mysore sandalwood trees that have armed guards 24/7.
What I learned about the history of “powdery notes” very nearly put me off “powdery notes.”
Cocoa absolute smells and looks like Marmite, until you do stuff with it.
Orris butter will blow your mind in the same way wasabi paste once blew my head off.
The first thing we did was smell sniffing strips. As a perfume blogger of over five years standing, this was a new experience in that there were many ingredients I had never smelled on their own. For example, galbanum, used so beautifully in Chanel Cristalle, smelled much grassier and earthier than I imagined. ISO E Super on its own smelled faint and vaguely ozonic, but lined up alongside say, iris or veramoss (oakmoss substitute) and it emphasises the strength of its surrounding ingredients and brought out the best in them like a great backing singer.
Although my brain didn’t want to leave the studio, my stomach had other ideas and so we all crossed the road and had lunch together.
Despite having unbridled access to granola flapjacks and chocolate cookies, we headed to the divine Paolo’s Café on Vale Road for our lunch. The hardest part was choosing from the delicious brunch menu, and the easiest part was guzzling the delicious chips. there was a brief sleepy time period which my brain had to fight, but I put that down to an early Welsh start. Paolo’s Cafe is worth the trip, trust me.
Making Your Own Perfume
The afternoon session was where we made our own perfume. Several things shocked me about this.
The lack of uptightness from Sarah when she let six fume heads loose on several jars of the good stuff without saying “Get off my things” as I probably would have. In fact, she was highly encouraging and happy to get stuff out of the cupboard on request.
Making perfume involves a great deal of trying different combinations of fragrance together.
In case this sounds like stating the bleedin obvious, I’ll explain what this meant to me: I had a preconceived notion of all the perfume ingredients I would use in my dream perfume. When I tried this on sniffing strips, they didn’t “agree” with each other, much to my surprise. So the iris and galbanum that I had initially planned to include, stayed in the bottle since they didn’t get on, at least not on the day they met. I also loved the Jasmine on the smelling strip, but again, it didn’t play nice with its new friends so it had to go. Along with all my preconceptions of how easy making perfume looks
.There’s an awful lot of maths and a bit of chemistry. I needed help from the teacher with the maths as I’d been up since 5 am. Luckily the teacher was very nice about it.
You start by making a “mod” in a little bottle. Once you’ve chosen your smelling strips and they smell like they all get on okay, you drop tiny drops of actual ingredients into your mod jar to see if they get on in person, as it were. Mine didn’t make enough noise, so I cranked up the Ambroxan and the violet and added some stuff from a new jar I came across called Karmawood. Thus Mod 2 was created.
Lisa and I were both shocked that our bottles were topped up with the good stuff. We had both thought that our mods would be added to some kind of suspension agent, but that wasn’t the case. The big pipettes came out and six of us went away with a combined total 300ml of very, very good ingredients between us. There’s no diluting. We used the proper big jars and filled our bottles to the brim.
It is worth noting however, that the ingredients we used were not 100% strength, as I am reliably informed that that would knock you out cold. For perspective, a 5% rose is very, very strong. These are the jars that we used to fill our bottles.
Here’s the maths. You divide the number of ingredients and proportion of those ingredients into 50ml so you can fill your bottle. Thus: You have say, five ingredients and you want double karmawood and violet, but single doses of everything else and your sheet looks like this: 8ml veramoss, 8ml bergamot, 16ml karmawood, 16ml violet, 8ml Ambroxan, In fact that came to 56ml so I under pipetted and topped up with a “blob of rose”. If you had twelve ingredients you would…nope, sorry, can’t do it.
My very own fragrance in my very own bottle to take home.
I called mine Maenad, which is the name of the handmaidens to Bacchus, God of Wine. Lisa named hers Watson because it has a “lemon entry”. (“Elementary Dear Watson.”) Sarah recommended a spray or three, and then put them to bed for two weeks to mature.
Having my very own custom-made perfume was a deep and gratifying thrill, and trust me, I’m going back to make more. I wasn’t very good at perfume making, but the wonder of it all was the biggest olfactory thrill of my life. Usually, only Sir David Attenborough can make my jaw drop like that.
By the way, if you’re familiar with the 4160 Tuesdays Naughty Cupboard ( sale page), I am here to tell you that it is an actual cupboard and I stood in front of it drooling for a good twenty minutes. ( I also bought stuff, more of which anon.)
I would like to thank Sarah McCartney from the bottom of my heart for a breathtakingly memorable and exciting day. In case you haven’t gathered, I would recommend these workshops as a must for anyone even remotely interested in scent. You won’t be sorry and the thrill of holding your own bottle of fragrance feels amazing.
Hello! Lisa Wordbird here. I’ve persuaded Sam to let me come and play, and I would love to know what you want to read about. I have a big box of samples and I’ll review things you’re interested in if I have them or I can get hold of them.
Like Sam, I’m a big fan of a bargain and I think an inexpensive perfume can be just as beautiful as something incredibly costly. Equally, I think that there are perfumes that justify a whopping pricetag. I’m a fan of artisan perfumers like Andy Tauer, Sarah McCartney and Liz Moores, and I appreciate how much goes into creating and producing their perfumes.
Equally, I recognise that some of the greatest geniuses in the fragrance industry are the ‘functional fragrance’ creators. These are the unsung heroes and heroines who produce delicious scents for shower gels, fabric softeners and shampoos on an ingredient budget of sixpence a kilo. Don’t believe me? I am eking out a Shower Crème from Lidl called Indian Summer, which is a gorgeous woody oriental. It cost less than £2 when I bought it 18 months ago.
Personally, I lean towards orientals, incense, chypres, leather and animalic fragrances. Some of the things I like make Sam say ‘Eurgh!’ and look at me as if I’ve left the house without my trousers. However, Sam likes some white flowery things that make me go ‘yikes!’ and feel like I’m a drag queen.
Some things we both love, like vintage Miss Dior. Oh, I love vintage perfumes, too. Partly this is because they can be so much cheaper on ebay, partly because things I bought years ago now count as vintage because they date back to before the IFRA made companies reformulate perfumes to reduce possible allergens. (They’ve done it a couple of times now. The IFRA are not my friends.)
So – what would you like to hear about? Vintage perfume? Scented toilet paper? My boundless love for the Yves Rocher Secrets d’Essences range? Please let me know, and I’ll do my best.
Welcome to the I Scents 2017! Find your seat. The drinks will be around in a minute. I hope you’ve got your glad rags on and are ready for a fragrant bonanza.
2017 has been a very interesting year for fragrance, with even the big hitters bringing out major new launches. If I’m honest, I found far more to love in the world of niche and indie than I did over the beauty counters. I also had some wonderful real-life perfume experience to break the loneliness of the long distance blogger. It was a delight to meet up with Sarah McCartney, Jo Fairley, Suzy Nightingale (albeit briefly in the toilets at the Jasmines!), Marina Barcenilla, Ruth Mastenbroek, Stephan Matthews, Thomas Dunckley, Persolaise and Nick Gilbert. If that sounds like star struck name dropping, that’s because it is.
Ladies and gentlemen, here are the awards, presented by your hostess, Samantha Scriven (applause. Whooping. Wolf whistles.)
I was moved by very few mainstream launches this year and we saw some big ones come from Chanel, Mugler, Jean Paul Gaultier and Guerlain. Whilst I liked Chanel Gabrielle, I didn’t think it was worth the high price and I found longevity very poor at around an hour. Can’t stop singing the Beyoncé song from the fabulous advert though.
There were, however four launches that really made me sit up and take notice. I’m not even going to pick a favourite, because they all were. If you pushed me into owning just one though, it would be Alberto Morillas’ Gucci Bloom for Gucci. I’m a sucker for a bunch of white flowers at the best of times and I’m pleased to see them hopefully capturing some new hearts with this beautiful scent and stunning campaign.
Gucci Bloom -winner
Gucci really made me sit up and take notice with this one. I have been in a sulk with them since envy was scrapped, but they may be back in my good books again. Gucci Bloom is a wonderful white flower fragrance that is unapologetically feminine and floral. I love that it takes floral scents back to basics, stripping away all sugary artifice, whilst showcasing all the best bits of nature. Read my rave review here.
Cartier Baiser Fou
Baiser Fou is the flanker to lily based pillar scent Cartier Baiser Vole, and in my opinion, the better of the two. Baiser Fou is all about raspberries, Milky Bars and posh lipstick. I love this playful and lovable scent, which always makes me think of summer weddings. My review is here.
It’s not very often Mugler brings out a brand new pillar scent, although flankers are frequent. Aura is one of the most wearable Muglers. It doesn’t have the nuclear sillage of Angel or Alien, nor the divisive love/hate of the discontinued Womanity (shudder). However, with new notes of Tiger Liana (my future stripper name) and Wolfwood, this makes for an unusual and audacious scent. You can read my review here.
La Vie Est Belle L’Eclat
Whilst I feel Lancome La Vie est Belle has become ubiquitous, spawning many homages and dupes in its wake, La Vie est Belle L’Eclat offers something new.
The floral notes are there but the sugary caramel of the pillar fragrance has been toned down, leaving a rather classy floral scent, with a hint of sweetness. The bottle is stunning too- I can’t stop touching the elaborate chiselled glass. Lancôme, I salute you.
Fragrances I Can’t Live Without
It is frankly impossible to only issue one award in this category. It’s like asking me which is my favourite cat (don’t). To choose one implies I don’t love the others as much, and that’s not true. I have therefore listed the fragrances I fell headlong in love with in 2017. If you have to take away my whole collection, just leave me these and I’ll be happy.
Nick Steward founded Gallivant with years of experience in his pocket from his previous tenure at L’Artisan Parfumeur. Basing each scent on a city vibe, Nick has created a scent wardrobe that takes you all around the world. What I like about this brand is that he hasn’t gone for the obvious, but has suggested the unseen underbelly of a city. He’s gone for Brooklyn rather than Central Park and has given Tel Aviv a feel-good optimism. Gallivant is innovative, evocative and original. I look forward to seeing more from this exciting new house.
Best bargain brand
Bargain perfumes are my speciality. I believe that everyone should be able to have affordable perfume and I eschew all snobbery on my blog. In fact, the perfume I reached for most often in 2017 was my trusty £5.99 of Coty L’Aimant.
Avon has been producing some wonderful fragrances that whilst recognisably Avon, are bang on trend and can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with more expensive mainstream brands. In fact, the list of perfumers that have worked for Avon read like a Who’s Who of fragrance; Christopher Sheldrake, Oliver Cresp and Sonia Constant to name but three. Most of my Avon fragrances cost me around £7. Unbeatable.
Some superb fragrances from Bronnley who are shaking up their image to attract the younger scent buyer. Whilst I will always be a fan of the classic lemon soaps and floral bath goodies, (don’t ever stop making them!) there are now innovative roller balls and 50ml eau de toilettes in the Eclectic Elements range. My particular favourites are Wild Green and Exotic Embers. The prices are right too with 30ml eau fraiche bottles, rollerballs and candles all within the £10 range (prices are current as from day of publishing this).
Marks and Spencer
My local Marks and Spencer is next door to The Perfume Shop and I find myself in there far more often than I find myself in the Perfume Shop. Also, The Perfume Shop deletes all your loyalty points if you don’t use them fast enough, which doesn’t make me feel very loyal anymore. Marks and Spencer hosts some of my favourite brands such as Fragonard and Monotheme, but their own brand stuff is pretty good too. I’m a big fan of Autograph Blush, Florentyna White and Rosie by Rosie Huntington Whitely. With 10ml purse sprays starting from a fiver, you can cheer yourself up without breaking the bank.
My beloved Yves Rocher! Whenever I order from them, I am always sent a free gift (usually something good like perfume) three samples, some sort of BOGOF deal and usually some sort of little surprise or purse spray. I am currently awaiting an order in which I spent £30 and will be receiving four bottles of perfume, a Swarovksi necklace and three samples. This is not because I am a blogger, but because I am a customer and they are all treated this well. Fragrance quality is very high and I have never been disappointed. Check out my most recent Yves Rocher review here.
Perfume Superstars Award
The Perfume Society
For the second year in a row I hail the beloved Mothership. The Perfume Society not only hosts workshops and events that are a delight to attend, but I have an addiction to the Discovery Boxes which always, without fail, introduce me to a scent or brands I have never come across before. Alexander Pope once declared that the point of literature was to instruct delightfully and The Perfume Society certainly fulfill this edict. The Scented Letter is a brilliant read, with breathtakingly good visuals and superb guest writers. The latest Discovery Box I had even contained Green & Black’s Chocolate. chocolate. #dreamcometrue
I’m giving all of these equal placing because every one is indelibly engraved into my memory for when I’m an old lady and don’t get out much.
The Jasmine Awards
What can I say? Such an honour to be a finalist and such a day of contrasts. I began my day at BAFTA, followed by tea at the former Simpsons on The Strand with Sarah McCartney and Ruth Mastenbroek and ended it with the 3.15pm school run in Cwmbran. Unforgettable! You can read about it here.
I shall remember my night at the Fragrance Foundation awards for many years to come. I was invited as a guest of Clive Christian fragrance and the team made me feel so welcome. I got to wear a long dress, which doesn’t happen very often to me anymore, and mingle with the movers and shakers in the Fragrance World. It also marked the start of a friendship with FiFi winner Marina Barcenilla and the lovely Stephan Matthews.
The Perfume Society Improve your Sense of Smell Workshop
The Perfume Society held a workshop fairly near-ish to me in Clifton. Since this is nearer than London, it was easy for me to attend, being across the water from South Wales (we have up to two bridges now).
I learnt so much in that afternoon from Perfume Society Founder Jo Fairley, and would wholeheartedly recommend these workshops to anyone, even if you’ve been before! Read my review of the day here.
Also featured in…
Check me out! I feel wanted and special. I got to work with all these delightful people this year and feel extremely flattered to be on their radar.
Stephan’s Six- I join the ranks of hallowed predecessors and felt very flattered to be included in this legendary column.
Escentual- Perfume Expert Thomas Dunckley, (aka The Candy Perfume Boy) called me a perfume expert too! I’m not in the same league as Thomas, but I am thrilled to bits anyway. This is where I give my opinion on the most Christmassy perfume ever: Serge Lutens Arabie. The photo is Thomas’s own.
WOW Beauty– the amazing Denise of Wow beauty asked me to contribute to her fabulous site and I was delighted to join the fun. If you haven’t checked it out, do drop in. Such a lovely environment!
Collaborated with…Moodscent Four
This year saw me collaborate with my wonderful Mood Scent Four colleagues, Esperanza, Tara and Megan. It was all Megan’s idea, so blame her. Megan is a Kiwi, based in the south of France (meganinstsemaxime) and came up with the idea that four bloggers from four different countries could share their perfume recommendations for different moods and occasions. Every few months we all write about what to wear as a wedding guest, what scent to wear when uplifting is called for, and most recently, our favourite Night Out perfumes. They’re a joy to work with and I am honoured to be their colleague.
Over to you
What were your perfume highlights of 2017? What are you hoping to see more of in 2018? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year and thank you for taking the time and trouble to read my blog posts and follow what I’m up to. it would be very lonely without you all and each one of you is appreciated.
As I drench myself in Papillon Dryad (ensuring full 36 hour coverage, I’m not kidding) I breathe a sigh of relief that I managed to make it through the chypre portal and didn’t miss out on a fragrance genre that is now essential to the finished “Me” when I leave the house each day. Clothes, to me, are less important than scent. If it’s black and it’s clean I’ll wear it. In summer, stripes. That’s it.
My scent however, speaks for me more than the black slash neck tops I own six times over. Chypres to me, speak of Dior’s New Look, Cecil Beaton’s photography, fur stoles, lost eras, face powder, lipstick on a wine glass. Gloves. They speak to the teenager inside me, who sat in a bedroom in Cwmbran, flicking through a hardback book of Vogue covers and thinking that glamorous world was still out there for the taking.
Prior to becoming a blogger I often labelled chypres as Old Lady perfumes, a term that makes me twitch now and which I have banned from my blog. To me, chypres were those musty, powdery scents that made me think of Dame Edith Evans rather than Anais Nin.
So how did it change? Well I was enabled and pushed through the chypre portal like a nervy parachutist by my friend Lisa, who knows much more about perfume than me. Everyone needs a fairy Godmother in the Fragrant Firmament and Lisa was mine.
Lisa plonked her bottles of Balmain Jolie Madame and Balmain de Balmain in their fading cardboard boxes onto my table and let me spray and judge. I duly sprayed and I duly judged. Something happened. The fragrance, was somehow, put in context all of a sudden. The penny dropped. The band began to play and the ticker tape parade began.
This scent, right here, that mossy, earthy scent, suddenly turned me into the woman I wanted to be from the elegant line drawings of my Vogue book. It made me join Dorothy Parker’s Round Table, it made me strut like Renee Breton in Dior, it made me wreathe my fur stole in cigarette smoke and immerse myself in other decades, far away from the fast-moving digital era in which I found myself.
Chypres connected me to the teen I used to be and to the beguiling, bohemian world I imagined in my bedroom in the early 80s. No matter what I wear (black top, trousers), no matter what I do (school run, housework, blogging, cooking) and no matter where I am (not Paris) I still smell of the woman I dreamed of being. Who knew that a blend of oakmoss, patchouli, and bergamot ( and often labdanum) could conjure such a cloak around me?
Chypres make me feel like me again. It puts me back in touch with the dreaming teen I was, despite that fact that the world has done its best to bring me down to earth. Chypres, along with Oscar Wilde, remind me that we are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.
Discover Chypres on Your High Street
There are several excellent chypres that you can find on most High Streets. If you’re curious to find out more, check out Lancome Magie Noire, Estee Lauder White Linen, Estee Lauder Knowing, Chanel Cristalle, Paloma Picasso by Paloma Picasso and Miss Dior Originale (make sure it is the Original and not the new Miss Dior with the bow on its neck). If you smell all of those ( not all at once), you’ll start to see what they have in common. That earthy green, musty, powdery accord? There’s your chypre.
I’m a sucker for a good chypre. The greener, the mossier and the older, the better as far as I’m concerned. Serendipity twinned me with a bottle of Paris 1948 today, and reader, a bit of magic took place. Love was in the air and cupid shot me.
A few years back, I tried Paris 1948 and decided it wasn’t for me. I also tried Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn and decided that wasn’t for me either. However, today I received a full bottle of Paris 1948, and by chance, a sample of Lady Rose Lion Monkey Unicorn, and whaddya know? They don’t half go! One complements the other in the way that Guerlain Apres l’Ondee brings out something new in Frederic Malle L’Eau D’Hiver. (Try it, you’ll see. Thanks Lisa!).
My first impression of Paris 1948 is of fresh cut grass in an aged bottle. Have you ever opened a really old bottle of fragrance that has ambered with age and has that sort of bitter powdery thing going on? That’s what Paris 1948 reminded me of. To me, the dominant note is, believe it or not, basil. This is a note that is also really prominent in 4160 Tuesdays Lady Rose Monkey Lion Monkey Unicorn, which is why they seem to go together so well.
Paris 1948 opens with citrus, specifically grapefruit, and peaches. Now, I used to have a problem with peaches until the penny dropped and I realised that many of the Grand Dames of fragrances carry peachy nuances: think Lanvin Arpege and Madame Rochas to name but two. Once this made sense to me, peaches always gave me a
friendly sort of retro yoo-hoo when they pop up. They certainly make their presence felt here, and that could be one of the reasons why I didn’t like this first-time round. The basil has a sweet, herbal thing going on that almost borders on the medicinal, but not quite. The flowers come out after the citrus has calmed down a bit and let them get a word in: roses and orange flower and leathery labdanum.
The base to my nose, at least, is a peachy, mossy (VERY mossy) herby, slightly medicinal chypre. I’m sorry I can’t make that sound more catchy, but it’s true. Call me an addict. Call me a fan. This is a permanent fixture.
Stockists: I bought this from 4160 Tuesdays and you can too. If you buy it before tomorrow afternoon (October 27th 2017) then it’s half price. After that it’s still jolly reasonable. This is not a sponsored post.
Halloween is not necessarily my favourite time of year, but if I ever told my children that they’d be horrified. So, I go along with it, and I hang round at the back when they go trick or treating (at selected homes so as not to be a nuisance). Meanwhile, for me, it’s a great excuse to have fun with fragrance and add something seasonal to my year-round head to toe black ensemble.
Here are a few ideas in case you want to make your mark on Halloween and add a bit of mystery to your night. Maybe you could play guess the E-numbers with your Haribo Haul? Or wonder why the only traditional Halloween songs are Monster Mash or Thriller? Or you could just cram your little hamster cheeks with chocolate until it’s all over. (I don’t do that. Nope. No Sir). In any case, the perfume world has something for every occasion, even this one.
REEK Perfumes Damn Rebel Witches
REEK Perfumes burst onto the scene in 2016 with Damn Rebel Bitches. This is a fragrance commemorating the intrepid and gutsy rebel Jacobite women who fought back against the English with all they had. The nose behind this is Sarah McCartney, and a fine job she has done too. This scent makes me think of wild women with twigs in their hair. The ingredients are inspired by what would have been around way back then so you have clary sage and malt and even broom ( appropriately enough for Halloween). But REEK didn’t stop there. Earlier this year, they gave the bitches a sister and Damn Rebel Witches was the result.
What I find curious about this is that when you think Damn Rebel Witches has left you completely, it disappears and comes back as a sort of light floral ghostie. I was sniffing my arm wondering what petal like scent I had sprayed earlier, only to realise that Damn Rebel Witches dies and comes back! How’s that for a party trick? And where did the dark orangey flowers come from? They’re not even listed as notes. It’s witchcraft, I tell you.
Library of Fragrance Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Spice is big news this time of year. It’s everywhere from Starbucks to the mouthwash in your dentist (okay, I’m exaggerating slightly) so you may as well as embrace it. Personally, I love a bit of Library of Fragrance Pumpkin Pie and every time I wear it, I get compliments. It’s just spicy and warm enough and not too cloyingly sweet. Don’t just keep it for Halloween! Sadly, the UK arm of Library of Fragrance has closed and will be much missed, but the European branch ships to the Uk for 6E per package.
4160 Tuesdays Mother Nature’s Naughty Daughters
The name of this fruity, malty and jolly British fragrance comes from the ingredients. It is often believed that natural ingredients are best for your skin, but they’re not! (at least not always) Sarah has made these naughty naturals behave themselves via witchcraft and alchemy. Actually that last bit isn’t true, she made them behave through encyclopaedic knowledge of skin and substance. And the fragrance? Here’s what I wrote in my review which you can find here. The website link is here.
“…On some damp aromatic moss, on a cedar bench after the rain, with a glassful of sticky Pimms and pear pips. Which is not just fine by me, but wholeheartedly agreeable. If birdsong could be bottled, that would be in here too”
Possets Perfumes Ghost Fart
Just for the name alone, this was irresistible, and once I smelled it, I thought the name didn’t do this lovely scent justice (though it did reel me in). There’s no authentic manual that states what a Ghost fart must smell like, so the team at Possets had a little fun with this. This is a chocolate minty gourmand in an oil form which is long lasting and smells delicious. If you haven’t come across Possets before, so check them out. They ship worldwide and are a vegan friendly brand. Here’s their website.
Papillon Perfumery Anubis
With hints of Egyptian mystery and ancient rites, this incredible debut from perfumer Liz Moores is both distinctive and resonant. If you like Shalimar, you’ll also appreciate the oriental spices and resins in Anubis, but I’m going to stick my blogger’s neck out here and say Anubis is better. Controversial, no? I’m sticking to my guns. Anubis has a dark, resiny enigma about it which I find both intriguing and alluring. Papillon has a good sample service if you want to smell this range for yourself, or you could pop into Les Senteurs in London where they are all stocked.
Dior Hypnotic Poison
The name is so perfect for this time of year, but so is the scent. This deep, almost boozy vanilla comes in a bottle that reminds me of Cinderella’s pumpkin coach after midnight. The vanilla in this borders on marzipan, which is fine by me but gives me cravings for Christmas Cake. I know, first world problem! But if your vanilla palate is jaded by cheap imitaions, then do revisit this beautiful treasure of a scent which always reminds me exactly how good vanilla can be, and should be. You can buy it from here, but it’s available in lots of places. I recommend the EDP over the EDT.
With a bottle like Snow White’s poison apple and a scent that smells like purple velvet, Lolita Lempicka Eau de Parfum is a great Halloween scent, in fact, it’s a great scent for anytime. Opening with green ivy, violet and liquorice, and a burst of deep cherries, this is rounded off with woody musk and vetiver. Suitably bewitching for a dark night. You can find it here and read my review here.
I love a bit of Karma. It always reminds me of my friend Alison who has made this her signature scent. It’s oranges, spices and patchouli. One of the main things I like about it, apart from its gentle hippie vibe is that it holds back on the sweetness and lets the bitter orange shine through without adding marmalade or vanilla. In fact, Alison, just uses the lotion and still smells enchanting and gorgeous, which she is. You can buy Karma from here.
Lancôme Magie Noire
OK, I don’t need a special occasion to wear this deep, mossy chypre. I love how Magie Noire does a dance of the seven veils and unfurls its layers and notes over the hours and hours that it lasts. There’s ivy, hyacinth and roses as it opens, then deep rich florals- all the big ones, then a wonderfully mossy and woody base of vetiver, oakmoss, incense and smoky resins. It’s like a fragrance chameleon, changing faces as the night goes on. Plus check out the divine poster ads! You can read my review here and buy it from here.
Over to you
So that’s my Halloween round up, although I’d wear any of these at any time of the year. What’s your Halloween fragrance? Do let me know. I always love to hear from you.
Welcome to MoodScent 4! Throughout the year, myself and my three Moodscent colleagues write a post on the same fragrant theme. There’s me, (Sam) in Wales, Tara in London, Esperanza in The Netherlands and last but not least, the ring leader and our inspiration, Megan in St Maxime.
You may have read our earlier posts about what scent we would wear as a wedding guests, or what our favourite mainstream fragrances are, or even our rainy day favourites. Today, we are all looking at uplifting fragrances. You know how certain scents can just make you happy even when your day is going wrong? Those.
It was quite hard to choose only five since I could bang on about perfume until we all grow beards and get wrinkly, but I managed to whittle my choice down to five that never fail to lift my spirits.
Writing about how scent can lift my mood is obviously going to be subjective. There’s no right or wrong in perfume. One woman’s Tweed is another woman’s Poison, so I don’t expect your list to be the same as mine. Do let me know what you’d choose though. I always love to hear from you.
Papillon Perfume Dryad
I have a full bottle of this holy grail mossy green chypre made by the wonderful Liz Moores from Papillon Artisan Perfumery. It smells as if it were made in the late 40s or 50s and as if it were a vintage chypre in perfect condition, but with pagan edges. The effect it
has on me is transformative. I can be dolefully embarking on the school run, in the drizzle, in my mac and my boots and jeans, but once I catch wafts of Dryad, I walk taller and feel like one of Dior’s New Look model, with hats and gloves, sashaying down a Paris rue, smelling of vintage style oakmoss and narcissus. I leave the house as a red-faced Mum, rushing and jangling keys, and I strut home as Barbara Mullen. Now that’s what I call a mood elevator.
We’ve been through a lot Cristalle and me. We were together for twenty years and this beautiful citrussy green chypre ( can you see a pattern yet?) saw me though my single days, my sad days, the day I got sacked, the days I got jobs, the day I got dumped, the day I got chatted up, and later still, the day I got married. We’ve sort of parted company now but that scent brings back a rush of memories like a fast-moving montage of film clips, full of scenes I’d forgotten about. Beautiful Cristalle, we’ll always have Paris. And London. And Berlin. And Pontnewydd.
Eau de Cartier
Eau de Cartier makes me feel like I need to wear full length white nightie and float about the house feeling all pure and ethereal. It has the perfect symphony of lavender, violet and bergamot and smells as pure as a snowflake. The nose behind it is Christine Nagel, and I label her a genius for this. Incidentally, if you’re looking for the perfect cure-all hangover scent, this is also good for that too.
Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse
There’s something happy and feel good about grapefruit. I seek it out in fragrances, and in all my fragrant adventures, I’ve yet to find a better grapefruit scent than Miller Harris Le Pamplemousse. Tragically discontinued (“Whyyyy?” I sob on my knees) you can still find this online before it runs out. Miller Harris like their customers so they might bring it back if there’s enough demand. Maybe I should start one of those petition things? Le Pamplemousse is full of petitgrain and herbs and oakmoss, so it’s pretty much everything I love in a bottle.
Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium
Last but not least is this floral beauty from New York firm Aedes de Venustas. The fiorst time I smelled this, I loved it so much I got emotional. That doesn’t happen all the time in this game, believe me. Pelargonium knocked me sideways (in a good way). With its velvety petals, soapy iris musks and mossy drydown, this is a floral that peaks into richness in a way that made me fall in love and greed with it. It’s not cheap, but it will be mine one day. Oh yes. It will be mine.
Check out my fellow moodscent colleagues here. I’m excited to read them myself as we never know what the others are posting until we all go live.:
Annick Goutal Tenue de Soiree is inspired by a Parisian woman getting ready for a night out. It’s the anticipation of the evening ahead with a squoosh of this modern chypre adding a final touch to a presumably chic outfit. Also- check out that pompom! Oh la la.
Tenue de Soiree is an unusual scent in that it professes to have only two notes: iris and patchouli. I love it because it is a chypre (pronounced sheep-ruh) for the millennial palate and for old bats like me at the same time. That’s not easy. These days, the old bats want chypres and the millennials want vanilla and fruit. Tenue de Soiree manages to meet in the middle without being too um “classic” nor too sweet. Applause.
The notes are iris and patchouli. Just those two. Nothing else. However, I definitely get a whiff of sandalwood and the faintest hint of warm vanilla or tonka. In any case, there’s a subtle cosy note that doesn’t wander into cupcake territory. Strictly, speaking this doesn’t adhere to the usual chypre make up: usually but not always bergamot, oakmoss and patchouli. Tenue de Soiree however, does have that chypre style finish which is dry and woody and slightly earthy, thanks to the patchouli.
This is simply done and very effective and out of all the very good fragrances in the Perfume Society Latest Launches Discovery Box, this one really stood out for me. It’s a bit different and a bit daring, but it can also make a cupcake fan look twice. I hope so, anyway.
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.