What's On Your Christmas Wish List?
What’s On Your Christmas Wish List?

It’s that time of year where we all start to put together our Christmas wish lists for Santa, or as I like to call him – ‘Nigel’. Being the perfume nuts that we are means that beloved family and friends can sometimes struggle to pick fragrances out as gifts for us, after all we’re a selective (read: ‘picky’) bunch by nature and nobody would want us to open up a gift that we would deem as unsuitable on the big day.

To mitigate the chances of a botched perfume purchase at Christmas I supply a perfume wish list to my partner and my father every year. The other members of my family family flatly refuses to buy me any perfume, stating that I have “too much” and it’s “bordering on an obsession”. Who knows what they’re smoking, but I can always rely on my dad and Nigel (if he’s in a good mood) to pick something from my carefully selected list.

Let’s take a look at what’s on my list this year!

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.

Do You Dare Enter the Fun House?
Do You Dare Enter the Funhouse?

L’Artisan Parfumeur has an excellent track record for creating interesting and wearable fragrances of exceptionally high quality at a (relatively) affordable price. They are arguably one of the first ‘niche’ houses and whilst they may have had more than the occasional creative lull over the years they now very much seem to be on track, partly thanks to venerable perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.

Duchaufour has created a number of the brand’s most recent and intriguing scents, including; Al Oudh, Nuit de Tubéreuse, Traversée du Bosphore, Séville à L’Aube and Vanille Absolument (quite an impressive list, huh?). It stands to reason then that L’Artisan would wheel Duchaufour out for their latest trio of fragrances – an imprint line they are dubbing ‘Explosions d’Èmotions’.

‘Explosions d’Èmotions’ has been created to translate “the extraordinary emotional power of fragrance” and as a series it contains three perfumes that cover a range of emotions from the intimate and sexual to the giddying and frankly downright maniacal. This olfactory funhouse is an odd mix with all three fragrances – Déliria, Amour Nocturne and Skin on Skin – taking one on a journey of wild experiences from pleasure to fear and sex to err, bread making…

The Candy Perfume Boy
The Candy Perfume Boy

Last night I hosted another Summer Special with the lovely Lila Das Gupta of Perfume Lovers London. The theme of the evening was an ‘olfactory summer holiday’ and all who attended strapped themselves into the seats and set off on a fragrant journey around the world, smelling fragrances that were evocative of specific times and places.

The evening was great fun and it was wonderful to yet again meet with like-minded perfume nerds and discuss all things olfactory. As I was the evening’s host I won’t post a blow-by-blow account of the event, but I would like to briefly share with you the perfumes I had selected and the places they represent. You can look out for Tara’s full write-up of the evening on Olfactoria’s Travels soon.

Update: You can read Tara’s wonderful write up here.

On our olfactory world tour we stopped in:

I is For ‘I Do’…

I have weddings on the brain at the moment, mainly for two reasons: firstly, this week’s Escentual post (click on the image above to view) takes a look at some fragrances suitable for rocking on the ‘big day’ for both brides and grooms; and secondly, because after what seems like a million years being engaged, Nigel and I have finally set a date for our big gay wedding.

We are both incredibly excited about exchanging our vows next May and are finding ourselves to be surprisingly organised in terms of planning everything – we’ve picked our outfits (matching, obviously), the theme, the best man and woman, the cake, the venue and pretty much everything else. There is however, one small detail that we have not been able to agree on as yet – the wedding scents.

We have just under 11 months until the big day and I think we’re going to need most of that to make a decision. Do we go for something old? Something new? Something blue? OK, maybe we won’t go for anything blue (there will be no Bleu de Chanel at my wedding thank you very much) but there is an interesting decision to be made in terms of whether the perfumes should be new – in order to create a scented association with the day – or whether they should be old and already hold a significant amount of sentimental value.

The Silver Song of Spring
The Silver Song of Spring

L’Artisan Parfumeur is one of those brands that took a long while to click with me. I started off exploring two of their cult classics – Tea for Two and Patchouli Patch – both of which left me cold. I then left the brand alone for a few years whilst I sailed off around the perfume world trying anything and everything that wasn’t ‘L’Artisan’.

Fate brought me back to L’Artisan Parfumeur many years later when a friend dragged me into the Covent Garden boutique. It was there that I tried and loved Bertrand Duchaufour’s ode to the clash of East and West that is Traversée du Bosphore for the very first time and after that, well after that I fell down the rabbit hole grabbing and adoring everything that L’Artisan and Duchaufour had done together.

The latest perfume launch from L’Artisan is not a Bertrand Duchaufour creation but that’s not a bad thing in the slightest. Created by perfumer Dora Baghriche-Arnaud this latest perfume joins the brand’s Grasse collection of candles and scented gloves that takes inspiration from “the spiritual home of fragrance, in Provence”.

Named Caligna (meaning to ‘court’ or ‘flirt’ in the Provençal tongue) – the first perfume in this collection is an ode to the Grasse countryside and according to L’Artisan Parfumeur it “evokes a warm breeze blowing over the land, a sense of freedom in the wild open spaces, a lightness of being with laughter echoing into the distance.”

Orange Blossom
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.