Last week, after six weeks of painful but also enjoyable unemployment, I started a brand new, and very exciting job (hence the lack of posts). Now like any sane fume-nerd my initial though on gaining new employment was “what perfume am I going to wear on my first day?!” That’s right, not “will I like the job?” or even “what shall I wear”, it was, as it always is, all about the perfume.
So why not just where whatever I fancy on day one? Well the thing is, when entering a new environment it is important for one to ease people in gently, it does not pay to projectile vomit ones personality in people’s general direction. I have found that it’s always best to go for something relatively low key that is still perfume-y enough to let people know that you mean business, and what do you know a few days before my first day just the thing landed on my doorstep – Aqua Universalis by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.
If you’re not familiar with the idea behind über talented perfumer Francis Kurkdjian’s solo project then you should get to familiarising yourself pretty quick because you’re missing out. The house provides an ‘all for one’ fragrant shopping experience with fragrances for the morning and evening, and wonderful scented things for the body (leather bracelets et al) and the home (candles, incense papers, laundry detergents and scented bubbles). With his ‘Maison’ Kurkdjian is selling a completely scented lifestyle like no other.
Aqua Universalis is Kurkdjian’s take on the much maligned genre of laundry clean fragrances. Made to fulfil the average consumer’s desire to feel clean and shower fresh, a style of fragrance that very often ends up producing cocktails of vile, strong musks and calone that sends fumenerds heading for the hills. Aqua Universalis is not one of these fragrances, it is an intelligent and natural take on ‘clean’ that most importantly still smells like a perfume.
Amazingreen, the new fragrance from Comme des Garçons, is not amazingly green
If I had a penny for each and every time I had mentioned that green fragrances really aren’t my thing on this blog I’d have, well I’d have at least 6 pennies I reckon. 6 whole pennies people! In a time of recession that kind of money is not to be scoffed at. Now I’m not entirely sure why it is that me and green things don’t get on, perhaps I just prefer the flowers to the trees, shrubs and leaves, but whatever the reason the truth is that when it comes to me, it’s not that easy being green.
Now if there is one thing I have learned on my journey, wading through all of this perfume, is to never say never. One may think that one hates green fragrances but one can never speak too soon because quicker than lightning someone like Vero Profumo will come along with a fragrance like Mito or Andy Tauer with Verdant and one can’t help but coo at how beautiful it is. But then sometimes you’ll come across a green fragrance that is neither awful nor beautiful, one that is simply nice.
Comme des Garçons’ latest release ‘Amazingreen’ is one such green fragrance and it intends to be “an explosive fragrance that is as wild as the elements” where “organic greenery meets with the explosive elements of smoke and flint.” The sheer mention of the word “greenery” in the latter of these statements would usually send me running for the hills, but I was surprisingly intrigued by a fragrance who’s name promises something that is both “Amazing” and “Green”. What I found however, is a fragrance that isn’t really either of these things, and I’m not entirely sure whether that is disappointing or not.
Christian Dior Fall 2010 – Chic and Iconic but not Cheap…
Picture this: You’re tasked with buying a 30ml bottle of perfume. It has to be something that smells good, isn’t tacky or some horrible celebuscent, and could be classed as a classic due to its unfailing longevity and popularity. Oh and you cannot spend more than £11! That’s doable right?
You may be thinking that you have been set an impossible task, and you would not be blamed for thinking so, after all there are good cheapies on the market but £11 is VERY cheap. But I am very happy to say that you do not have to blow the big bucks to find a decent bottle of perfume, all you need to do is head down to The Body Shop and pick up a bottle of White Musk Perfume Oil.
White Musk is The Body Shop’s flagship fragrance and was released way back in 1981. The Body Shop describe White Musk as “iconic”  and I have to agree, it’s one of those fragrances that everybody knows. It is instantly recognisable and has stood the test of time where other, lesser scents have fallen by the wayside. White Musk may sing a simple little ditty but it is its pleasant simplicity that has secured its well-earned status as a perfume icon.
Plain and simple – not normally The Candy Perfume Boy’s bag…
The purgatory drawer is a lonely place, it’s where my unloved and abandoned perfume bottles go to live out the rest of their days before they inevitably pass on to the other world (eBay) and leave me forever. Very occasionally I will delve into this land of limbo in a vain attempt to rekindle long lost love, and if a bottle is particularly lucky I will have a “what the heck is this doing in here” moment and it will be fully restored, in its former glory, on my perfume shelf.
One such moment occurred very recently, in which i re-stumbled upon my bottle of The Body Shop’s White Musk for Men, a scent that I haven’t worn, or even thought about for at least two years. It was with new found curiosity that I pulled out the neglected purple bottle, spritzed cautiously and inhaled with unexpected joy – “oooh this stuff is good”! It wasn’t long before apologies had been made (mine), forgiveness offered (his) and a place on the prized perfume shelf was offered.
It’s only fair that I was forgiven, I’ve always been a big fan of The Body Shop after all. Their bath, body and fragrance products are well made, well fragranced and generally well priced – what’s not to love? White Musk for Men is no exception, it’s a well constructed, nice smelling masculine that comes in at under £20, a rarity in today’s over-diluted and overpriced industry.
In 2010 the king of dark, brooding orientals and baroque florals, Serge Lutens, decided to launch an ‘anti-perfume’, a perfume that was designed to give you “a lasting sensation of wearing a ‘clean’ scent” . Cue a huge outcry from the perfume community and hardcore Lutens fanboys (and girls); “He’s doing WHAT?! A clean scent?! Looks like Uncle Serge has finally lost it” they said.
Aristotle said “There is no great genius without a mixture of madness” and It is clear to me that Uncle Serge hasn’t lost it, instead it seems that he has quite the sense of humour. I can just see him sat in his office above his flagship boutique in the Palais Royal, chuckling away at the thought of the die-hard Lutenites trying L’Eau for the very first time. In my head he utters Miranda Hart’s catchphrase “such fun” as he tries to stifle his giggles.
This year Lutens has decided to take the joke that little bit further with the addition of L’Eau Froide, and as the name suggests, this time the water he is playing around with is is cold. Where L’Eau is described as a new kind of clean, L’Eau Froide is “Some fresh air in the rusty old water pipes.”  I told you he had a sense of humour! L’Eau was an essay in cleanliness and purity but L’Eau Froide is an essay in austerity and is just as gothic and Lutensien as you would hope it to be.
“The smell of the English countryside in spring time”
L.I.L.Y is the latest fragrance from British fashion designer Stella McCartney. It very much marks a break from tradition for McCartney, whose other fragrances have all be a variation on a theme, namely that of her eponymous debut fragrance ‘Stella’. I love Stella, as far as designer fragrances go it is pretty well done and my sister wears it religiously so I have a strong connection to it, but I am very glad that McCartney is branching out into new fragrant territory with L.I.L.Y.
Where Stella was an ode to rose, L.I.L.Y is, as the name suggests, an ode to the lily of the valley. Lily of the valley is a flower which yields no scented oil yet so evocatively represents the smell of the English countryside in spring time. It’s both beautiful to look at, and to smell, and it represents all that is innocent and virtuous about the world. Lily of the valley is simply one of the world’s most precious of joys.
L.I.L.Y is described as an “evocative scent made up of Stella’s most treasured moments” . Its name stems from her father’s nickname for her mother; ‘Linda I Love You’, and the Lily of the Valley used in the fragrance is reminiscent of her wedding bouquet. For L.I.L.Y, McCartney has aimed to create a perfume that is personal to her, rather than Stella McCartney ‘the brand’. In this world of hyper-focus-grouped perfumes, I can’t help but find the personal touch applied to L.I.L.Y utterly refreshing.
Juliette Has a Gun is the spunky niche brand from Romano Ricci - great grandson of Nina Ricci. The name is taken from Shakespeare’s most famous heroin and the gun that she brandishes is a metaphor for her perfume, which she uses as her weapon of seduction. Juliette Has a Gun has a kick-ass attitude, she’s a gal with tons of moxie and takes no prisoners.
There are currently 8 perfumes in the line, well 7 if you you decide not to count ‘Not a Perfume’, which I’m not, because it isn’t a perfume and it gets on my nerves. Anyways, Romantina was released last year and is Juliette Has a Gun’s latest perfume. With Romantina, Ricci adds something new to the line – its very first white floral, that at first seems quite out of place amongst the mixed bag of misfit characters that hang around with Juliette and her Gun.
Romantina (I love that name) is described as “an ode to insouciance”  and is based on a modern love story. Like the other perfumes in the line, Romantina has a strong character, but rather than being a bad-ass bitch, it exudes a confident innocence that if fallen for, can prove much more deadly. When I received my sample set I immediately reached for Romantina, I am a white floral lover after all, and whilst it may be an ode to insouciance, my feelings for it certainly aren’t indifferent.
I love Chanel, I mean how can you not, it’s Chanel! I love so many of their perfumes but so far I have found no love for Les Exclusifs de Chanel. This is partly due to the fact that I haven’t spent much time investigating them, but each time I dive in and test them my general impression is that they’re nice and obviously very high quality but they don’t draw me in, and I’m yet to find the one for me.
The somewhat awkwardly named Jersey was released last year and is the latest addition to the Les Exclusifs line and it takes it’s awkward name from the fabric that Chanel “daringly appropriated from menswear by Coco Chanel for women’s fashions.”  That may be so, but I can’t get over just how dreadful the name is, it doesn’t befit the style and class that I expect from Chanel, but then again they did name one of the other Les Exclusifs ‘Beige’, so perhaps they don’t have a 100% brilliant track record when it comes to names.
Chanel describes Jersey as being “As light and liberating as the modern fabric for which it was named…An inspired composition, Jersey is evocative of a meadow lush with lavender – an essence previously worn only by men. A tender trail of Vanilla and Musk brings femininity to the forefront, and a rare, sophisticated new scent is born.”  I would describe it as ‘a granny lavender on the warpath’.
This week I have been listening to the new Kate Bush album ’50 Words for Snow’, a striking and beautiful conceptual piece centred around falling snow. Kate Bush is a dab hand at creating a landscape with her music and in my mind these landscapes have been reflected in two of the Mona di Orio’s creations from the Les Nombres d’Or collection. Oud is the golden, shimmering sunset depicted in Kate’s conceptual piece ‘A Sky of Honey’ from the album ‘Aerial’ and Musc is the eerily quiet snow covered landscape depicted in ’50 Words for Snow’.
On the album’s title track, Kate encourages Stephen Fry to cite 50 words for snow (it sounds absolutely bonkers, as you would expect from Ms Bush, but it works), some of the words are real, some are made up and they become completely ridiculous & fantastical as the song progresses (‘Faloop’njoompoola’ anyone?). My favourite of these snowy terms is No 47 ‘Blown From Polar Fur’ (honourable mentions go to ‘Wenceslas Air’ and ‘Bad for Trains’) and it perfectly reflects the snowy nature of Musc.
Musc is part of Mona di Orio’s Les Nombres d’Or (The Golden Numbers) collection which refers to the golden ratio, a mathematical theory of proportion that is showcased in the collection via fragrances centred around a single note, masterfully accentuated by other ingredients.
My introduction to Parfumerie Générale has been somewhat of a baptism of fire. Up until very recently I had ignored the line completely, not because I didn’t like the sound of the fragrances, in fact I have read lots of positive reviews, there are just so many lines to keep up with and sometimes my brain has to skim over some just to keep up with the rest.
Anyway, as I was saying, I had an interesting introduction to the brand. Firstly, I received some samples from the lovely Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels which I have been slowly exploring over the last couple of weeks. I also had the pleasure of being talked through the line by my good friend Nick who works in the specialist perfumery – Les Senteurs. Having smelled most of the scents from the line (albeit briefly), I have to say that I am really pleasantly surprised and I owe Pierre Guillaume a massive apology for ignoring the line for so long.
I hope to review a few of the Parfumerie Générale scents over the next couple of weeks, but I thought I would start with one of the most interesting fragrances in the collection, PG04 Musc Maori.