This post is inspired by Chanel’s Misia, a fragrance named after Misia Sert, the godmother of the Ballets Russes and Coco Chanel’s greatest friend. Smelling Misia properly for the first time over the weekend I was struck by how cosmetic it was, in the sense that it was strikingly evocative of blushes, powders and lipsticks, giving the impression of a gigantic cast of impeccably made-up performers about to burst onto the stage. My mind wondered, as it does, and I got to thinking about other fragrances in the Lipstick League. So here we are with ‘Spritz Me, Kiss Me! – a roundup of five lipstick-esque fragrances.
Lipsticks and fragrances go together like bacon and eggs, it’s true. Every perfume lover will tell you their story of how the smell of their mother’s goodnight kiss was peppered by the lipstick, blush and perfume that she wore, forming a core scented memory that would last far into adulthood. Cosmetics and their distinct smells – odours of violet power, rose blush and waxy lipsticks – have permeated the world of perfume and perfumers have attempted to capture these smells in liquid form so that those precious memories of childhood can be replayed with each and every spritz. Here is my top five.
There is no perfumery quite like Papillon Artisan Perfumes. Situated within a peaceful lodge tucked just inside the New Forest, this perfumery doesn’t march to the rapid beat of the perfume industry, choosing instead to move at its own pace. “It’s hard not to be inspired here”, says Papillon perfumer, Liz Moores, and I can see what she means. In a space surrounded by the natural beauty of expansive woodland, and a practical menagerie of animals (I counted two cats, two dogs, an owl, an assortment of snakes, a bearded dragon, a tortoise, and a horse, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t catch them all), and not to mention Liz’s very own family clan, one can see that Papillon is very much a unique outfit where fragrances are hand made as and when the inspiration comes.
Working from home, Moores is able to set her own schedule, balancing duties of motherhood with perfume-hood. But Papillon is a growing business. The brand now has four fragrances on the market (Angélique, Anubis, Salome and Tobacco Rose) which can be found at a number of points of sale across the globe, so expectant noses around the world are pointing towards the New Forest hoping for more. On a recent trip to Liz’s home studio, I asked her what he release schedule will be and she firmly says that she will only release another perfume when it’s right and won’t follow a set pattern of a scent or two per year, as is often driven by the industry. It’s admirable to see a perfumer work in such a way and it’s clear from the four fragrances within the Papillon line that this particular nose is a perfectionist who strives to create beautiful and unique fragrances without bowing to market pressure.
“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.”
If you haven’t seen the Maysles Brother’s 1975 documentary ‘Grey Gardens’, please click the following link and come back you have educated yourself. You’re welcome. In lieu of watching the film, I shall provide a quick summary. Grey Gardens was (and still is) the name of the East Hamptons mansion once owned by the Bouvier Beales and inhabited by the mother/daughter duo that was Big Edie and Little Edie. After many years of neglect, both the Edies and the Grey Gardens estate were found to be in a dilapidated state, and in need of lots of care and attention. After a load of hoo-hah in the press and calls for their eviction, along came the Maysles brothers who spent a number of months documenting the lives of these two reclusive, yet utterly eccentric women in this strangest of settings. Grey Gardens the movie, is the result of their labours.
Grey Gardens has become a cult classic over time with Little Edie, who is easily the star of the show, remaining a fashion icon long after her death. There’s tons of memorable quotes (“he always compliments me on the way I do my corn”, anyone?) and fun moments, but the overarching feeling is one of sadness. Watching Grey Gardens, the sense of loss both Big and Little Edie feel for their past life, wealthier times when they were members of New York’s high society and not shunned shut-ins, is palpable. It’s safe to say that the longing for the glory days and the constant rumination over missed opportunities, and what could have been, is painful to watch, but the Edies have a strong sense of survival, and they get through. As Little Edie would put it, they are ‘staunch characters’. That’s ‘S-T-A-U-N-C-H’. Let’s scent them.
“Rubbing Noses is a series, in which I, The Candy Perfume Boy, grill the most important members of the perfume industry – the perfumers. These are the brains and noses behind the perfumes we know and love, and their unrivalled insight into one of the world’s most ancient of arts is something to be treasured, enjoyed and shared.”
In chaos theory, it is said that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world can cause a hurricane in another. Small actions have big repercussions and can cause a domino effect across the globe. With Papillon Artisan Perfumes, perfumer Liz Moores flapped her talented wings and created three fragrances that burst on to the scene and made a big impact on the industry. With her initial trio of scents, a small and muted launch, Liz showed the perfume industry that independent perfumers are a force to be reckoned with.
Liz is soon to be releasing her fourth perfume, the evocatively named Salome (swing by on Wesnesday for a review) and I caught up with her to discuss this new launch, her creative process and her inspirations, amongst other things. During our rubbing noses discussion we talked Flapper Girls, classic Guerlains, and most importantly, we chatted filth, lots and lots of filth. I think you’ll find Liz to be a fun, fascinating and fragrantly talented character who really brings something new and intriguing to the age-old world of perfume!
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!
There is so much ‘noise’ in the perfume industry in this day and age that it gets increasingly more difficult to pay attention to the cacophonous din of new launches and brand new niche brands. In order to rise above the noise many niche brands are resorting to ‘clever’ (read: annoying) gimmicks to make their wares stand out from the crowd, ranging from perfumes inspired by blood types (see Blood Concept) to scents that aren’t supposed to be perfumes (see Juliette Has a Gun). Rarely is the product allowed to speak for itself.
Still, for each naff niche brand there is a decent one with high quality products (brands like Arquiste, 4160 Tuesday’s and Maison Francis Kurkdjian to name just a very small few) that allows for the beauty of their scents to be the element that sets them apart from the many other bottles they share their shelf space with. These refreshing outfits remind one that within the crowds and crowds of scent on the market, there are individuals with a passion for perfume and a unique voice waiting to be heard.
One such brand is Papillon Perfumery. Created by New Forest perfumer Liz Moores and launching this year, Papillon has three perfumes devoid of any bells, whistles and gimmicks – they are simply expertly crafted and beautiful perfumes that truly speak for themselves. The perfumes (Angélique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose) prove that familiar themes can still be presented in unique ways if one just approaches them in an entirely different manner.