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!
Today’s cast away is Liz Moores, the hugely creative perfumer behind Papillon Artisan Perfumes – a brand that is making huge waves across the industry with its first three offerings; Angelique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose (my husband even wore Tobacco Rose on our wedding day). I first met Liz at a Perfume Lovers London event and can vouch for the fact that she is not only a talent to watch, but she’s also a fascinating and kind individual that is an asset to the perfume industry.
Liz’s early success with Papillon is a testament to her creative talents but its also due to her heavy involvement with the perfume loving community and the use of social media. Right from the early days of the brand, Liz has kept her followers up to date with the evolution of her three current fragrances, as well as covering their launch. It feels as if we all have an interest in the brand’s success and as I said in my review of the Papillon trio, it is so refreshing to see genuinely beautiful fragrances presented without gimmicks – after all, a perfume should be allowed to speak for itself, and that’s exactly what Liz does with her brand – she lets the perfumes talk.
TCPB: Liz, it is a pleasure to have you inhabiting my fragrant little desert island. As with my other cast always, you were asked to pick five fragrances that are important to you. How did you find the task of narrowing your selection down?
LM: It is a pleasure to be here Thomas and thank you for inviting me. I actually found it relatively easy as the five that I picked are my standout favourites. There are hundreds of perfumes that I love and as the years go by there will undoubtedly be changes to my list of favourites.
TCPB: Your first choice is Shalimar by Guerlain – a true classic and the queen of all orientals. Tell me a bit about your relationship with Shalimar.
LM: My perfume cupboard is littered with empties of this beauty, mainly the extrait version. I started wearing it in my early 20’s and it is the perfume that started my love affair with fragrance. This was my seduction perfume when I was chasing Simon relentlessly.
TCPB: A very good choice! I’m assuming that it worked as a seduction technique?
LM: Absolutely! My calling card in the early part of our relationship was a ‘lost’ bra heavily doused in Shalimar and secretly tucked in Simon’s bed frame. One could say that I was scent marking and indeed I was! Four years on, and we now have a beautiful baby together, so I would recommend this seduction technique to anyone trying to snare their lover.
TCPB: Shalimar brings the boys to the yard, it’s true. What I find remarkable about this fragrance is that, whilst it smells entirely ‘of its time’, it really doesn’t smell that dated to me. Why do you think it has remained so successful nearly 90 years later?
LM: I think Shalimar epitomises the word classic in that it really is a timeless perfume. The perfume industry can at times be a victim of fly by night trends, however, for me Shalimar has rightfully maintained its oriental crown throughout the decades. Personally I think it’s a perfume that can be worn at any time, on any occasion and has the incredible ability to adapt perfectly. It smells as beautiful on a man as it does a woman and is sexy without being too obvious.
TCPB: I agree! Shalimar is entirely versatile. Your second choice is a truly luxurious one. Tell me why you’ve picked Homage Attar by Amouage.
LM: I adore this perfume and it makes me weep that I will probably never own another bottle now that the attars have been discontinued. On my 40th birthday I gifted myself a bottle after a cocktail-fuelled lunch with my best friend.
TCPB: I find that a few cocktails before perfume shopping can be very dangerous! Do you find that you wear a lot of Extraits/Parfums?
LM: The best type of shopping always starts with sensible sobriety, a long break for lunch and ends with a good old spank of the credit cards in the afternoon! When I wear a perfume, it is not only for myself, but it is undoubtedly to make a statement and I find this is best done through layering extraits and eau de parfums together. If Homage had been available in eau de parfum strength I wouldn’t have thought twice about hitting the credit card very hard indeed! I can appreciate the beauty of many “quieter” perfumes, but for my desert island I need them big and powerful.
TCPB: Speaking of “big and powerful”, your next choice is right up my street. I am of course, referring to the inimitable Fracas by Robert Piguet – the tuberose to end all tuberoses. Why is this one so special to you?
LM: It’s the white floral of all white florals. I defy anyone to wear this perfume and not feel sexy. This is biggest weapon in my arsenal when I really want to pull out the big guns.
TCPB: I totally agree that it’s a sexy perfume. I also find it quite commanding. It’s not quite a ‘boardroom bitch’ fragrance (a la Chanel Nº19) but it does command attention. I wear it when I need to be confident, and downright fabulous. You like ‘em big and brash, don’t you?
LM: Haha! I certainly do. The bigger the better is always good with me and Fracas is pretty huge! There are some beautifully delicate perfumes that I own but I tend to save those for the times when I want to fade into the background or when I’m not in the mood for anything too loud.
TCPB: Your next choice, Absolue Pour le Soir by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, really is a ‘big gun’ and it’s full of funk. How did you discover it?
LM: I was late to the party with this cosy sex bomb. I think that you and Karen Gilbert were mostly responsible for encouraging me to buy this perfume and I thank you both for helping me discover it.
TCPB: As chief perfume-buying enabler, I am proud to have helped you discover it! Absolue Pour le Soir is truly beastly. Your beautiful Anubis offers a similar style of cosy warmth, except it exudes smoke rather than filth. How do you get that perfect balance between robust and resinous, and soft and cuddly?
LM: Anubis had to include all of the elements that I really love but it also had to fit the idea I had in my head for this perfume. The base is very heavy on a gorgeous dark labdanum and a fair amount of benzoin all smothered in a special frankincense that I only use for Anubis. There is some vanilla hidden away in the formula that softens the sharpness of the frankincense. There is also oakmoss, tolu, castroreum, vetiver and a lot of sandalwood happening in the base of this perfume. Although there is masses of sandalwood in Anubis, I never list it as a note. It is so heavily dominated by the thicker, more resinous materials that I didn’t want to anyone to be disappointed when they couldn’t easily detect it. Instead it was used to add a texture that wraps the other materials in a soft blanket.
TCPB: For your last Desert Island Sniff, you’ve picked Petit et Mamans by Bvlgari, and it seems like a very personal choice. Tell me a little bit more.
LM: Petit et Mamans is the perfume that I bought for all of my children when they were little. When they were babies I would spray their clothes with this perfume so the olfactory memories of their childhoods are always linked with this one.
TCPB: That’s a wonderful association to have! I’ve never encountered Petit et Mamans, how would you describe it?
LM: Imagine a chamomile lawn that has been lightly sprinkled with delicate orange blossoms and a dusting of powdery orris. It is herbal, floral and cuddly and for me conjures up the impression of very expensive baby powder. This type of perfume usually isn’t my thing but Petit et Mamans is so utterly lovely that I always have this in my collection.
TCPB: It sounds beautiful! All of your choices are relatively heavy-hitters with impressive sillage. Would you say that you’re a fan of a bold and distinct signature in fragrance?
LM: Oh absolutely. I remember walking into a bar back in the late 80’s drenched in Samsara and watching people move out of my space! It wasn’t my finest moment when wearing perfume but I was young, I had a lot to learn….I still embrace huge perfumes but I’m a little less trigger happy than I was back then, although when I wear perfume I REALLY want to wear it. There’s no smearing or dabbing that goes on in this house.
TCPB: Too right! Because I’m a generous chap, you’re allowed to take one luxury item along with you to your desert island. What would you take?
LM: You are indeed Thomas. I’m not sure whether a horse would be an item as such but my beloved horse is my luxury on land so I would like to take him please. Perry and I could gallop around our island and I would have someone to talk to. He’s a great listener and thinks he’s half human so he would be a wonderful desert island companion. Perry is a perfume fan too as I use a particular perfume as a really effective fly spray on him in the summer months. He smells fabulous and the flies leave him alone.
TCPB: How could I deny you a fabulous smelling horse as your luxury item? Perry shall join you! You also have the option to take a perfume book of your choice (i.e. your ‘perfume bible’, as it were). What reading material would you want on your desert island?
LM: That would have to be Steffen Arctander’s Perfume and Flavour Materials of Natural Origin. This book was invaluable to me when I was learning about natural materials and I still constantly refer to it. It is probably the most important reference book on natural fragrance materials ever written and is a fascinating and informative read.
TCPB: Before I sail away and leave you on your fabulously smelly desert island with Perry, I must ask you which perfume you would choose out of your 5, if you were only able to pick one? I’m aware that this is a very mean question…
LM: It is very mean but easy to answer. Homage would be my choice as I can’t buy it anymore. I would use up every drop on my desert island and would even share some with Perry.
TCPB: Liz, it has been a pleasure to have you on The Candy Perfume Boy’s desert island. I truly mean it when I say that I wish Papillon every possible success – it really is refreshing for us perfume nerds to have people like you creating wonderful, intriguing and masterful fragrances. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for you!
LM: Thank you so much for such kind words Thomas. I’ve had a lot of fun on your beautifully fragrant desert island.
You can find more information about Liz Moores and Papillon Artisan Perfumes on her website. You can also check out other episodes in the Desert Island Sniffs series here.
Image 2 via Liz Moores. Image 3 via Guerlain. Images 4 & 5 via fragrantica.com. Image 6 via scentsamples.com.au. Image 7 via iloveperfumes.com. Image 8 via Liz Moores and glasspetalsmoke.blogspot.com.