After an extended hiatus, due to nothing other than my incredible lack of decent organisational skills, my favourite series, Desert Island Sniffs is back! In this series, we explore the lives of people inextricably linked to the perfume industry and the fragrances that have significant sentimental value to them. By discussing the scents that are of importance to people, we can get a unique insight into what makes them tick and a distinct idea of their character. All in all, these sniffs can be utterly fascinating.
If you’re not familiar with this series, the concept is very simple – I invite important members of the perfume industry, such as brand owners, creative directors and perfumers, to be stranded on their very own desert island, along with 5 carefully curated perfumes of their choice. It may be a tricky job narrowing a life down to such a small number of perfumes, but I can assure you that it is an entirely worthwhile exercise!
The perfumes they choose should be those that have had a significant impact on their scented lives and map specific points in their journey of olfactory discovery. In addition to their 5 Desert Island Sniffs one is kind enough to allow them to take a luxury item (only one, mind) and a ‘perfume bible’ to keep them company. By the end of this series there is going to be some rather fabulously smelling desert islands out there!
@FragrantReviews – Fragrance Reviews in 140 Characters or Less
Four years ago today, my good friend, Nick Gilbert and I embarked on an exciting perfume project with a view of turning the world of fragrance reviewing on its head. We set out to use the medium of Twitter to create entertaining and bitesize reviews in 140 characters or less – the result was @FragrantReviews – our smelly baby that launched both of our writing careers.
Writing these reviews is surprisingly challenging. It’s tough to dissect and truly represent a fragrance in such a small medium, but it’s also immense fun and I think I wouldn’t be speaking out of turn if I said that both Nick and I really enjoy putting these fragrant tweets together. They can be funny, they can be poetic and they can occasionally be mean, but one thing they never are is boring.
We’re now at over 3,000 followers, and to celebrate our fourth birthday, I’d like to share with you ten of my favourite Fragrant Reviews – five from Nick and five from me. They range from the olfactory time capsule of Eau de Toast to the utter hideousness of Viktor & Rolf’s BonBon and capture some of our big loves and a number of our, well, not-so-big loves. I hope you enjoy this brief retrospective and will have a go at chiming in with your own 140 character reviews in the comments box.
“Mirror Image” – féminin Pluriel & masculin Pluriel by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
“Perfume is not art.”
- Francis Kurkdjian
At the recent launch event for Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s latest duo of fragrances there was a lot of discussion around art and its relation to the world of perfume. Kurkdjian, who is ever a frank and fascinating speaker, asserted that perfume is not art because it is created to please consumers and where art is given a value by the market, perfume prices are set by their creators. This isn’t to say that Kurkdjian is belittling perfume by any means, in fact it seems that he takes a purely practical view of the subject, comparing his collection to an olfactory wardrobe, containing a plethora of pieces ranging from the everyday staple of the white T-Shirt (Aqua Universalis) to the more occasionally worn leather trousers (Absolue Pour le Soir).
Also at the event, Art Curator, Karine Giannamore spoke at length about what constitutes a masterpiece, piecing together simplicity, hard work, innovation and emotion, as the key ingredients that create a timeless work of art. Giannamore states that a masterpiece “has to be new [and] has to be original” but also must be “cemented in tradition”. This collision of the innovative and the traditional is exactly what Francis Kurkdjian has played with for his two new fragrances – féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel.
“What makes a work of art? A masterpiece? A Timeless work of art? Something so good or beautiful that it cannot be affected by changes in society or fashion.”
- Karine Giannamore
The Pluriel (Plural) duo has been created as a mirror image – two fragrances that perfectly capture the essence of femininity and masculinity, or as the brand puts it; “the eternal feminine and masculine.” With each fragrance, Kurkdjian takes a traditional theme and adds a contemporary twist to create a pair of perfumes that feel thoroughly modern and very much in keeping with his clear and radiant style. For féminin Pluriel and masculin Pluriel, Kurkdjian has crafted two new pieces for his olfactory wardrobe – two fragrant garments that are as modern, chic, timeless and elegant as anything a couturier could construct.
Pretty in Pink – Silk Blossom Cologne by Jo Malone
It has been a busy year for British perfume brand, Jo Malone. So far in 2014 they have launched four deluge-inspired colognes as part of their London Rain Collection, a new addition to their Cologne Intense series ‘Tuberose Angelica‘ and they’re set to launch the very intriguing ‘Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne’ in September. So yes, the perfumers over at one of Britain’s most popular fragrance brands have been working very hard indeed.
In amongst these new launches is a limited edition fragrance, and the subject of today’s review, entitled ‘Silk Blossom Cologne‘. Created by perfumer Marie Salamagne (Vivienne Westwood’s Let it Rock and Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Mandarine Basilic) and inspired by the “pink-fringed pompoms” of the flower, from which it takes its name, Silk Blossom is an airy, roseate fragrance that celebrates pale, powdery and blush tones of pink.
“Nature’s blooms at their most tempting.
The pink-fringed pompoms of Silk Blossom.
Irresistible to hummingbirds and butterflies.
Apricot-fresh with a touch of spice.
Airy with clouds of powder-soft heliotrope,
nestling on a bed of moss.
Fruity and enticing.”
It is often said that one’s wedding day is the best day of their life. Up until 10 May 2014 I would have said that this was a simple cliché and that there are many more enjoyable moments to experience in life – the birth of a child, perhaps or the many successes and milestones that one achieves as time passes. But the truth is that my wedding day – the day that I married my best friend and partner in life and in love, was truly the very best day of my life.
Tears were shed, smiles were abundant and laughter was a common sound. Joy was the theme of the day and as we shared our love and made our commitment to each other in front of the people dearest to us, we felt a happiness that is difficult to put down into words. Let’s just say that my new husband and I had an absolute blast and we danced the night away, hoping that it would never end. In our hearts, it never will.
As with any wedding we opted for a theme, picking the colours white, gold and green to match our (rather natty) Vivienne Westwood bow ties (yes, I’m name dropping – she did our socks too). We also chose a pair of origami cranes, a symbol that represents longevity and good fortune in Japanese culture, as the emblem that appeared in numerous formats throughout the day. All-in-all it was a tasteful and understated affair that matched our personalities perfectly (if I do say so myself).
Of course, The Candy Perfume Boy’s wedding was always going to be a fragrant affair and I would let you all, and myself down if Nigel and I hadn’t opted for at least a few nods to the art of olfaction during the day. I would therefore like to share with you some of the scented treats that we gifted to ourselves and our guests, ranging from the difficult choice of what scent to wear to the more frivolous decisions, which may or may not involve smelly bubbles. So please join me in this little taste of our special day that I like to call; ‘How to Scent a Wedding’.
I’ve always done everything to excess. My mother often tells me that as a kid, I had no off switch when it come to noise and food. Not much has changed since my formative years except for the fact that perfume has now become the outlet for my excessive personality (although I still have time for noise and food), meaning that over the period of time for which I’ve been interested in the subject, I’ve amassed quite a collection of scents.
Having lots of perfume is a good thing, after all, variety is the spice of life, as they say. But it can also be suffocating at times and the sheer thought of there being so much fragrance not being used in my house can be quite unsettliung. It’s a strange balance to strike – one wants variety, but at the same time it can pay to have a more selective approach to what perfumes one wears.
If anyone asks me whether I have a top five perfumes (or a top ten/twenty-five etc), my stock answer is always a definite; “oh, there’s no way I could only pick five”. But the truth is that this has changed over the last year or so and I do feel that I can now quite easily pick out some of my all-time favourites from the many bottles that sit neatly in boxes under my bed or are scattered untidily around the house.
So, to challenge myself, I have put together a list of my top five fragrances – five perfumes that I simply could not live without and if I had to hand over my collection (begrudgingly, of curse), these would be the ones that would stay. They are the non-negotiables and range from the ‘old faithfuls’ to more recent loves. But whether they are new additions or trusty friends, these are the five perfumes that I simply could not do without, right now… (they are subject to change, of course).
Poor, Unfortunate Smells – Scenting Disney Villains
“The Scent a Celebrity Series is my vain attempt at picking perfumes for those who don’t know any better, yes I mean celebrities. Let’s face it, most celebrities are incapable of choosing decent clothing, boyfriends, girlfriends, movies, (insert-celebrity-mistake-here) let alone having the ability to make decisions about something as important as their scent – that’s where I come in. Never fear, my dear schlebs, I will ensure that you are appropriately scented, all you need to do is listen.”
- The Candy Perfume Boy
Like most people on this fine Earth, I love Disney. Yes, I accept that they give one false expectations of love, romance and the presence of talking tea cups, but I’ve found my Prince so all is forgiven. It’s not the Disney Princesses or Princes that interest me though, for it is a simple fact that the pleasant and saccharine things in life aren’t necessarily the most captivating. Instead I have found myself loving the devious, the dastardly and the down right depraved spirits that are the Disney Villains.
For this episode of the Scent a Celebrity Series I am assigning perfumes to four of my all-time favourite Disney villains, ranging from the squid-y sashay of Ursula the Sea Witch to the campy hypnotism of Aladdin’s arch nemesis, Jafar. So read on dear perfume lovers and Disneyphiles, but do proceed with caution, as these villainous perfumes may appear as innocent cartoon follies at first, but deep down they are nothing but trouble.