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.
A Gaggle of Perfume Bloggers: Birgit & Tara of Olfactoria’s Travels, Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume and me, The Candy Perfume Boy.
The Perfume Lovers London events organised by Lila Das Gupta as part of Olfactory Events are a fabulous opportunity to learn about perfume, to talk to and meet with like minded perfumeophiles and discover a plethora of new, exciting perfumes. It’s safe to say that every event is a joy to attend so the news that one of my favourite bloggers, Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels, was going to be holding her very own event was very exciting indeed!
I’m sure that I’m preaching to the choir here, but Olfactoria’s Travels has become a go-to blog for many perfume lovers and it’s teeming with beautifully written reviews, informed discussion and passion from Birgit and Tara, who have both changed the face of the perfume blogosphere.
For her event, Birgit promised to take us on a journey through the world of amber, a sensible subject choice seeing as she has rightfully earned the title of “Queen of Amber” through her love for the genre. Now, I’ve made it no secret that amber isn’t my favourite genre of perfumes, but that’s not to say that I don’t like it either, I simply haven’t had the right amount of exposure to it, but now thanks to Birgit and Perfume Lovers London I feels as if I am well-versed on the subject!
YouTube frightens me slightly. Maybe I’m just a wimp but despite the wealth of content YouTube has more loons, weirdos (not the good kind) and trolls than any of the other ‘tubes’, including the London Underground, which indeed has its fair share. Other than the odd music video and occasional perfume-related video I really don’t visit it much and I admire those who can put themselves out there, warts and all.
One person who is not afraid of YouTube and actively embraces the medium with as much gusto as one person can conjure is Katie Puckrik of Katie Puckrik Smells. Katie’s YouTube reviews are pithy, fun and are splashed with charismatic wit, which is no surprise as Katie Puckrik is someone with oodles of charisma and she has been a key player in changing the way that perfume is discussed.
As a general rule of thumb I am not a big fan of YouTube perfume reviews, with my tastes lying with the written word rather than the spoken, but I always make sure I watch Katie’s videos because she talks about scent in not only an intelligent way, but because she makes it so much fun. It was for this reason that I jumped at the chance of spending an evening with Katie Puckrik organised by Olfactory Events and Perfume Lovers London.
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.
‘Layering’ – the practice of layering two fragrance compositions to create weird and wonderful combinations, has always seemed completely alien to me. I have always enjoyed the fragrances in my collection exactly the way they were created (I wouldn’t have bought them otherwise) and have never felt the need to try and improve or change them by adding something new.
Despite my skepticism, layering seems to be something that a lot of perfume-lovers do and enjoy. Some brands, such as Jo Malone, even actively encourage the practice of layering with their fragrances. These ‘layering’ combinations are designed to enhance the perfume experience, but I can’t help but feel that they are just a cheap ploy with the sole intent of convincing consumers to buy extra bottles.
Despite my skepticism, this layering malarky got me thinking (a dangerous habit, I know); is there any real merit to mixing perfumes? and; Can you actually enhance a perfume by layering it with another? So, in the interest of science I thought that I would conduct a few layering experiments to see whether there is any merit to it, or whether it’s just a bunch of phooey.