I’m on a Serge Lutens kick at the moment, which is funny considering that I was considerably late to the Lutens party and it took me quite some time to ‘get’ the brand’s aesthetic. This is due in part to the fact that much of what Uncle Serge puts out is truly hedonistic and oriental, and can often feel thick and oppressive. This style is attractive to many but for years I failed to see the beauty amongst the spices, resins and balsams.
Unsurprisingly, it was the florals (specifically the incandescent Fleurs d’Oranger) within Lutens’ stable that served as a gateway to understanding perfume’s most highly respected, reclusive and artistic individual. But why the florals? What does Lutens do to nature’s blooms that others don’t? What does he see amongst the petals, the stems and the pollen that many perfumers and creative directors cannot?
The answer is simple – Serge Lutens sees the darker side of flowers and he’s not afraid to present the beautiful amongst the downright terrifying. Within his exclusive collection of fragrances housed inside his Palais Royal shop in Paris (a purple-tinted perfume Mecca), Lutens has three of the most deadly, carnivorous and fatal florals ever to have graced the noses of the human species, they are; the maniacal tuberose - Tubéreuse Criminelle, the viper jasmine - Sarrasins and the ghostly iris - Iris Silver Mist.
As you may be aware, I do like a good ‘guide to‘, and one of the luxuries bestowed to me by the wonderful people at Escentual, is that I get to not only write my guide to notes series here on the TCPB, but I also get to create a number of guides for a range of perfume genres too. So far we’ve taken a look at the humble Chypre, a genre of perfume that is aloof and mysterious and this week’s post takes a look at another famed style of perfumery.
This week the focus is on the mysterious and exotic world of the Oriental. Much like last time, I have picked three fragrances to represent the evolution of the genre – from the classic to the modern and the contemporary. So, if you are looking for a bite-size guide to the Oriental then all you need to do is simply click on the image above to head on over to Escentual!
“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.”
This episode of my Scent a Celebrity Series serves as a slight change of tack from the norm. The series usually takes a famous person (ranging from Björk to The Muppets) and pairs them with a suitable fragrance (or fragrances) that perfectly capture the many facets of their personality. However, in this episode the focus has shifted beyond just humble celebrities to the characters they play.
Everyone loves a leading lady and a superb performance from a wonderful actress can turn a good movie into an extraordinary one. Here you’ll find a selection of some of my favourite actresses in one of their most impressive roles, and for good measure some perfumes that capture the spirit of their performances. These ‘Fragrant Femmes’ will have you glued to your seats and with a bit of luck the perfumes will too.
It came down to yours truly to pick the theme for this edition of the group blog post between myself, Olfactoria’s Travels, Persolaise, Fragrant Moments and Eyeliner on a Cat. For me this task was simple, I knew straight away that I wanted to talk about the relationship between fragrance and fashion, and more importantly I wanted to see just what my fragrant brothers and sisters would make of the correlation.
For years the worlds of perfume and couture have collided to create a wealth of classics and a whole heap of dreck. Houses like Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Tom Ford and Dior are as famous for their perfumes as they are for their fashions, with the former serving as an accessible way for one to own just a small piece of one’s favourite luxury brand.
One’s favourite fashion trend is most definitely animal print. There is just something so wonderfully wild about such bold, beastly prints and furs (all faux of course) in fashion and when one wishes to make a statement there is no greater choice than a measured dose of shocking animal print.
This post takes a look at one’s pick of the best ‘Animal Print Perfumes’ – those fragrances that perfectly capture the spirit of the boldest of prints. Whether it be the spots of the royal leopard, the stripes of the elegant zebra or the scales of the deadly black mamba, this post celebrates the collision of fashion and fragrance in the most utterly outrageous of styles.
It’s that time of the week again – Monday means another Escentual post and this week’s article takes a break from the usual A-Z and focuses on a review of the latest fragrance from the venerable perfume world of Serge Lutens. ‘La Fille de Berlin’ (The Girl from Berlin) is a rose of many textures inspired by the androgyny of German-American actress Marlene Dietrich.
To read my review please click on the above image to head over to the Escentual Blog.
Orange Blossoms in Watercolour via Watercolours With Life
I don’t know about you but I am most definitely suffering from the January blues. Christmas and New Year have gone meaning two things; 1) the weather is just going to get worse (boo); and 2) we all have to go back to work for the foreseeable future (double boo). It’s at times like this that one looks forward to summer, when things seem that little bit more joy-filled and fancy free.
If there’s one ingredient that speaks the words of summer it’s orange blossom. To me it is the smell of the elements of summer, It is the olfactory depiction of the air filled with life; the pollen on the breeze, the flight of the bees and insects, and the hot sticky skin of all humans and animals that live for the sun’s warmth and sustenance.
As a continuation of my ‘Guide To‘ series, and to give you all some much-needed Vitamin C, I would like to share with you my list of reference orange blossoms. These fragrances are the ones that I feel that any person exploring the note of orange blossom should pay attention to. It is by no means a conclusive list and as with the other guides in the series (see Tuberose, Lavender and Oud) it is very much a work in progress with new discoveries to be added as an when it is deemed necessary.
Madonna; no other name is more instantly recognisable, no person is more likley to divide opinion. Arguably the most famous woman on the planet, Madonna is a force that is hard to define; singer, dancer, performer, entertainer, provocateur, feminist, business woman, calculating she-devil, love her or hate her, whatever moniker you throw at her will most likely apply.
The fascinating thing about Madonna is that her ratio of talent to fame is perhaps slightly off balance. She’s not the greatest singer or dancer in the world, or even the best looking, but she has that je ne sais quoi that makes a person a star. Some say that she’s just a good business woman and I’m sure she is but that does not make for such longevity. By pushing people’s buttons and having something to say (and saying it rather noisily) Madonna has ensured that she is more than a just a star, she’s that rare commodity: an icon.
Madonna is well-known to be a lover of perfume and is reported to be a loyal wearer of Fracas and practically anything containing tuberose, including her very own (and rather good) fragrance ‘Truth or Dare’ which was released earlier this year. A diva needs her diva-fumes y’all and in honour of the Queen of Pop and her love for perfume I present to you some of my favourite Madonna albums, each with their very own olfactory accompaniment that captures the spirit of the music and all that is ‘Madonna’.
You may or may not be aware that I am somewhat partial to the odd floral or two. OK, that’s a severe understatement, I am a floral addict and if you were to examine me under a microscope you’d probably discover that my genetic makeup has been significantly altered by the sheer amount of white flowers that I wear. Maybe I’ll wake up one day and I’ll actually have become a flower? Is that pushing it? Thought so.
When most people think florals they think of summer; of golden sunlight beating down on fields and meadows of fragrant flowers shouting their narcotic odours into the warm summer breeze. But for me florals aren’t exclusive to spring or summer, in fact one of my favourite times of the year to break out my bottles of trapped flowers is the time, for the most part, when they are not blooming in the wild. My favourite time for florals is winter.
Floral fragrances are surprisingly versatile in winter, they can provide warmth and comfort or they can react with the cold stiff air to create a sparkling aura that freezes on the skin. So as the weather appears to be quickly changing and the mercury is heading closer and closer to the 0 mark (well it is here at least) I thought I would share with you some of my favourite florals for my favourite time of year.
I don’t know about you but it took me a long time to ‘get’ Serge Lutens. The line that is, not the man himself, I doubt there is anyone on the planet who can profess to ‘get’ Serge Lutens himself, but I digress. Yes, it took me a long time to understand why everybody raved about everything Lutens, there was just something about all of those thick-set, heavy orientals that simply didn’t click with me.
But alongside his dense orientals Lutens has a number of gothic florals (Iris Silver Mist, Tubéreuse Criminelle and Sarrasins etc) that really do speak to me and it wasn’t until I tried these that I felt compelled to convert and pray at the altar of Sergeism. It is this great love of Serge’s florals that made me so excited to try his latest exclusive offering, a perfume that focuses on a highly fragrant, yet elusive flower that yields no oil; the gardenia.
Une Voix Noire (A Black Voice) is the name of Uncle Serge’s essay on gardenia and it takes its inspiration from famous American jazz-singer Billie Holiday, or “Lady Day” as she was sometimes known. For the lady who wore gardenia flowers in her hair, Lutens and his olfactory-partner-in-crime Christopher Sheldrake have created a fragrance that evokes the odours of “jazz, drinks and the night, and, beyond all that, a troubling line of white gardenia-scented smoke.”
The Postcards From My Collection Series (if it can be called a series) is where I get to showcase, through the medium of amateur, shoddily taken photographs, the residents of my perfume collection. I feel that I have got to a point now in my fumehead journey that I have built a solid collection that meets most (most) of my perfume needs. There is always room for expansion of course….
So, over the next few weeks we shall be delving into my collection and picking out my favourite pieces. Nigel is quite happy that I’m doing this because he is under the impression that I may do some tidying/dusting on the way. I don’t quite know how to break it to him that I may just avoid the tidying and that my interests lie purely with the perfume, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
This week’s edition looks at the most precious perfumes in my collection and includes my big bottles of treasured things and my little, tiny bottles of just-as-treasured-if-not-more things. They range from the über pricey long agonised buy to the much appreciated christmas present with a ton of sentimental value. Simply put: a varied, but wonderful bunch.