The Candy Perfume Boy's Guide to Rose
The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Rose

Oof, this is a big one, dear readers. I have been tentatively putting this guide together for nearly 12 months and, after lots of tantrums and rewrites, I finally feel that it is ready to share. The notable thing about rose, and the reason for my drama, is the fact that it’s such a wide genre, with so many different interpretations and styles of just the one ingredient. In truth, I could put together a guide for each type of rose, covering the gourmand rose, or the oriental rose etc. in great depth. But that’s a level of detail that would take a lifetime to perfect and with tradition in mind, I have compiled a Guide to Rose that can be a starting point to the genre – an essential overview that highlights the very best of the many styles of rose.

Now, if you’re new to The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to series, here’s a little overview of what to expect. The series is an award winning olfactory guide to the popular notes found in many of the perfumes we love and wear. Each instalment takes a look at a singular note, its odour profile and the ‘must sniffs’ (i.e. the reference fragrances) that are essential members of that particular family. So far we’ve traversed the domains of; Tuberose, Orange Blossom, Lily, Jasmine, Lavender, Violet, Oud, Chocolate and Vanilla. Today, it’s time for rose, rose and nothing but rose.

Poor, Unfortunate Smells
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.

Ladurée's Ispahan
Ladurée’s Ispahan – The best damn thing I’ve ever eaten!

Inspiration can come along at the oddest of moments and often in the most surprising of guises. This is why I currently sit on a train whizzing home from London and feel the need to whip out my iPad and start writing a post about my day. A little self-indulgent? Perhaps but in the spirit of ‘sharing the joy’ I’ve had the urge to write about the sensory pleasures of the day.

Today, having finished work early, I took myself off to The Big Smoke on a ‘treat yo’ self day’, during which I pottered around the Isabella Blow exhibition at Somerset House, visited one or two of my usual fragrant haunts and took myself for some much earned sugar at Ladurée, before attending a Perfume Lovers London talk in the evening. And why not? I’ve been working very hard over the last couple of weeks so a little sensory R&R is surely deserved.

The main event was of course the food and it will come as no surprise to those who know me that I have spent the last few weeks ogling images of Ladurée treats on the internet. There is just something about the pastel shades of smooth macaron shells and the vivid sight of pastries overdosed with fruit that sends my mouth, stomach and brain whirling towards sensory overdose.

Candies 2012
The Candies 2012

I can’t believe it but it’s the end of 2012 already, which means that it’s time for us perfume bloggers to put together our lists of the very best and very worst perfumes of the year, honestly, where did the time go?! This year I’m affectionately entitling my awards ‘The Candies’ as a short, punchy alternative to The Candy Perfume Boy Awards. Neat huh?

Across all genres there have been many interesting, exciting and unique perfumes unleashed on to the market along with the usual amount of celebrity dreck, dud flankers and down-right-bizarre niche offerings. All-in-all it’s been a busy year with over 1,300 launches. Impressive but exhausting!

Below you will find my awards for Best Masculine, Best Feminine and Best Unisex Fragrances for both niche and mainstream houses. In addition to this I’ve also included awards for Best Flanker, Best Celebrity Fragrance and Best Ad Campaign. But we’re not just celebrating the very best of perfumery in 2012 here, no sir, we’re also highlighting the very worst with the Sour Candy Award, reserved solely for the naffest perfume of the year.

So I hope you’re wearing your very best frock (or tux for the boys, or frock if you prefer, it’s up to you really) and sipping on some fine Champagne as The Candies 2012 are underway…

Oud Ispahan
The Romantic Oud

I think the only thing more frustrating than the constant slew of oud-based fragrances is the fact that each time one is released I have to mention that we’re all a bit fed up with this oud avalanche that we’ve all been facing over the last few years. So, for this review I refuse to mention the frustration (I am aware that I haven’t succeeded in doing so) and instead say that at least Christian Dior appear to have got this whole oud malarky spot on.

In 2010 Dior, following on from the trend started by Chanel with their Les Exclusifs line, created La Collection Privée, a series of exclusive boutique scents. Part of this private collection was Leather Oud, a fantastically pornographic take on oud. Following Leather Oud’s success Dior, who know a good thing when they see it, have decide to launch a second, Oud Ispahan.

Oud Ispahan, which is named after the Iranian city, follows a more traditional route by pairing oud with its beloved partner rose. If the oud trend is considered boring, then the fact that most of its offerings are blends of oud and rose is even more boring, but fear not, Dior has done a good job with Oud Ispahan. Taking its inspiration from Christian Dior’s “fascination with a fantastical orient” along with the “intoxicating scents” and colours of such a place, Oud Ispahan is a very beautiful perfume indeed.

Dior Amber Showdown
The battle of the Dior Ambers

I haven’t entirely worked my way through the entirety of Dior’s La Collection Privée (their ultra-exclusive line limited only to high-end department stores and Dior boutiques) but I know that I’m already in love with it. Out of the five that I have tried so far I would be happy with bottles of three. Not a bad success rate huh?

Two of my latest La Collection Lemmings are courtesy of Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels, who introduced them to myself, and a number of others at her Evening of Amber back in April. I don’t know whether to curse Birgit or kiss her, the kisses would be for allowing me to explore two wonderful fragrances and the curses would be coming straight from my wallet…

The two Dior Ambers that I am falling for are an interesting pair; one doesn’t have amber in the name but definitely is an amber and the other does have amber in the name but isn’t technically an amber. Trust Dior to throw an olfactory curveball (or two) at me. Whether they are true ambers or not, both Mitzah and Ambre Nuit are truly enjoyable fragrances that will make the most die-hard amber-cynic rethink their stance.

Dior-Leather-Oud
Leather Oud Photographed by Diego Porcel for BDBM Magazine

We all have a lot to be grumpy about when it comes to Christian Dior Parfums. Not only must we be giving them the evil eye for the dwindling quality in classics such as Diorissimo, we must also be narked about the shoddy reformulations of modern classics like Hypnotic Poison, Pure Poison and Dior Homme/Homme Intense. So yes, it may just be me, but Dior could do a lot more to get in to many a fumehead’s good books.

One area where Dior isn’t letting us down is in their relatively recently launched (2010) “La Collection Privée”, which saw the original Dior Homme Cologne collection (Eau Noire, Bois d’Argent and Ambre Nuit) bumped up to a total of 9 fragrances, before being joined by two new fragrances; Leather Oud and Patchouli Imperial. My interest in in the former was officially piqued at Perfume Lovers London “Evening of Leather“, in which it was described by Lila as a “Sex God”, a moniker which is not to be ignored!

Leather Oud is definitely a stand out within La Collection, and I would argue that it is also a stand out amongst the onslaught of oud based fragrances that populate the market. On the creation of Leather Oud, Dior says: “Christian Dior searched the world, looking for the most beautiful fabrics that exist. Like the designer, the Perfumer (François Demachy) chooses the most beautiful raw materials, one of which is oud wood from Indonesia.” [1] It is this haute couture approach that makes Leather Oud such a success, it is a wonderful example of what happens when quality and artistry collide.