A More Affordable Olfactionary
Amouage Interlude Man
Amouage Opus III
Amouage Opus VAmouage Opus VI
Amouage TributeAnnick Goutal Encens Flamboyant
Annick Goutal Heure ExquiseAnnick Goutal Petite Cherie
Annick Goutal Sables
April Aromatics Calling All Angels
April Aromatics Bohemian SpiceApril Aromatics Jasmina
At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)
At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante) At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)
Ava Luxe Café Noir
Carner Barcelona D600
Caron Aimez-MoiChantilly Dusting Powder
Clive Christian C for WomenComme des Garcons Daphne
Comme des Garcons LUXE ChampacaCostes by Costes
Creed Virgin Island WaterDeneuve
Gucci Eau de Parfum Gucci L'Arte di Gucci Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia
Guerlain Samsara Parfum
How I Store Decants
Il Profumo Cannabis
Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant
Kenzo SummerLa Via del Profumo Hindu Kush
La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe
La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project
Montale Black AoudNeila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling
Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps
Nez a Nez Ambre a SadeOmar Sharif Pour Femme
Oriscent Pure Oud OilsParfum d'Empire Azemour
Parfum d'Empire Cuir OttomanParfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs Parfumerie Generale Indochine
Parfums de Nicolai SacrebleuParfums Retro Grand Cuir
Paris, je t'aime
Pascal Morabito Or Black
Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk
Robert Piguet Fracas
Serge Lutens Borneo 1834
Serge Lutens Boxeuses
Serge Lutens Un Lys Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette
Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)
SoOud Ouris Parfum NectarStone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)
Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric RainThe Diary of a Nose, Book Review
Tokyo Milk Ex Libris
Vero Profumo Mito Viktoria Minya Eau de Hongrie
Viktoria Minya Hedonist
Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb
Links to Other Blogs I Enjoy
All I Am - A Redhead
A Perfume Blog (Blacknall Allen)
Another Perfume Blog (Natalie)
Australian Perfume Junkies
Beauty on the Outside
Bois de Jasmin
Bonkers About Perfume
Ca Fleure Bon
Eyeliner on a Cat
From Top to Bottom - Perfume Patter
Giovanni Sammarco (artisanal perfumer) blog
Grain de Musc
I Smell Therefore I Am
Katie Puckrik Smells
Memory of Scent
Muse in Wooden Shoes
Natural Perfumery by Salaam
Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume
Notes From Josephine
Notes From the Ledge
Now Smell This
Oh, True Apothecary!
Purple Paper Planes
Redolent of Spices
Riktig Parfym: Ramblings of a Fragrant Fanatic
Scents of Place
Scents of Self
Sorcery of Scent
The Alembicated Genie
The Candy Perfume Boy
The Fragrant Man
The French Exit
The Perfume Magpie
The Scented Hound
The Sounds of Scent
The Vintage Perfume Vault
This Blog Really Stinks
Undina's Looking Glass
WAFT by Carol
Boardwalk Bliss and Eau de Hongrie by Parfums Viktoria Minya
White Blouse White Shirt
Snow falls on the boardwalk
where they never walked that winter,
Streetlamps in white boas, surf light
patching shuttered storefronts.
Where are they? The Ferris wheel
they once rode looks green.
In this other snapshot
she wears pedal pushers,
he’s in summer whites,
they swing cigarettes
and hold hands, walking toward me,
it seems, into breezy life,
where they don’t know I’m waiting.
Now they’re renting a rolling chair.
Inside the wicker cowl he says
“A five-dollar ride, chief.”
“It’s Chinese, like Charlie Chan.”
Sand buries the sea noise,
resin scents rise from the boards
into deft sea winds
as they roll past windows larvaed
with delftware and sable stoles,
licking each other’s fingers,
french fries in paper cones.
When did the boardwalk look like that?
When was that fresh love?
I stencil red-winged blackbirds
into the scenes, and lilac
brushing windowpanes, and crocus,
one garden of one season,
composite, where we look out,
and between them I become
an hourglass of sand and light
beside the ocean,
where the sun lets more snow
fall around our heads.
Thirteen years ago, I was listening to NPR’s “Morning Edition” and heard W. S. Di Piero read the poem, above, from his then-new volume of poetry titled Skirts and Slacks. It’s remarkable to think that something as small as a poem can stop on in one’s tracks, but the moment I heard it I knew I would have to seek out his book. I wish NPR still had the audio clip in which you could listen to the poet read it—the pitch perfect way it passed from his lips over the airwaves, like the slender edge of ocean wave arriving to meet the sand. However, I think that poems, the very best ones, are written almost in an onomatopoeic way, such that the thing they speak of is ingrained in the words themselves—their meaning arrived through a juxtaposition of images and sounds that is more direct than narrative. And as such, I think you can read this poem to yourself and have that same feeling of wistfulness and wonder wash over you, as it did me when I first heard it on the radio.
Because I like to fill the pages of my blog with things that inspire me, yet be as truthful to the nature of a perfume as it is possible to be, I've been waiting a long time to couple a perfume to this poem. Naturally, I had to find the right perfume and finally I have: the delicate and frothy, yet piquant and immediate beauty that is Eau de Hongrie, the latest creation of Viktoria Minya. Eau de Hongrie is actually one of three new fragrances by the Hungarian-born, Paris-based perfumer: there is also a lovely rose fragrance, watercolor-like in its olfactory hue, that I might write about later, and an iris-soliflore that is not quite my style. Eau de Hongrie, though, had me in its tender thrall immediately, for it is like the echo to the siren song of Ms. Minya’s first perfume, Hedonist. And what a fitting echo it is! Eau de Hongrie touches on the same olfactory tones as Hedonist—a perfume I compared to the honey-wine known as mead in my review—and actually takes its inspiration from a Hungarian dessert wine called Tokaji Aszu, touted as “the wine of kings and the king of wine.” But whereas Hedonist is a perfume that makes it case for pleasure by speaking in rich and lusty tones (it’s a scent of attraction, the catalyst to pleasure), Eau de Hongrie is the quiet cocoon-like response to having found that pleasure. Here is a fragrance of honeyed hush and sighs, of contentment that is too lemony fresh and new to be called comfort, and which might more accurately be filed under the surprisingly quiet category known as bliss.
Notes for Eau de Hongrie: Lemon, grapefruit, clove, jasmine, honey,
sandalwood, immortelle, labdanum, musk, tonka bean and Tokaji Aszu wine.
Eau de Hongrie has a lemon meringue-like opening accord that's every bit as airy as it is piquant. Softly aldehydic, it is an uplifting element of the perfume—a foamy bit of lemon almost immediately underscored by the creamier elements of the fragrance, signaling what to expect from this perfume. An intimately happy scent, Eau de Hongrie reminds me, like the White Blouse White Shirt poem, of that state of fresh love where two people explore their world together as if traveling in a bubble, occupying a plane of existence both contained and free. If the lemony start to this fragrance is gently buoyant, what follows next is richer yet equally immune to gravity: a light and sunny custard that lasts the duration of the perfume’s wear-time on the skin. It smells honeyed in the way of honeysuckle; fruited in the way of champagne; and creamy in the way of an egg-custard pie that is lightly vanillic and sweet. There is also a delicate woodiness to Eau de Hongrie issuing from a weathered-smelling sandalwood accord that allows the perfume to wear on the skin for many hours (about six). If you’re wondering if this suave perfume is detectable, it is. When I step outdoors into the chill December air, the fresh current easily volleys its scent to my nose (and I am only wearing one spritz on my wrist; I transferred my dab sample to a vial with an atomizer in order to get a feel for it sprayed). Even so, it doesn’t announce itself the way a big perfume does, and that’s part of its charm. Refined and elegant, Eau de Hongrie has a very natural quality, smelling as if it belongs on someone who is casually elegant, reminding me of a young Farrah Fawcett or Carolyn Bessette.
Last week, prior to writing this post, I spent seven days straight working at the college bookstore in my town, helping the staff ready itself for the onslaught of some thirty thousand students ordering their books for the new semester, and one of the benefits was witnessing the students who work there. Among them, a young woman of some authority: mid-twenties, honeyed blonde and sweet, also professional and calm in spite of a grueling schedule. Her boyfriend worked there too, and though these two were among the hardest working people in the store, I couldn’t help but notice their affection. The way he periodically, throughout the day, visited her work station to whisper something in her ear and lay his hand on her shoulder. The way they huddled over the lunch she packed for them, in the breakroom where she forked up morsels of pasta salad, offering him a bite of this and that. The way their knees and elbows and heads touched, their bodies forming a sanctuary that was private and sweet—noticeable not because it drew attention to itself, but because it resembled something pure, distilled and separate from the general hustle and exhaustion of the place.
When I say to you that Eau de Hongrie is a perfume that is analogous to this couple from the bookstore, or the couple from the poem, such a description might seem far-fetched, but it’s the best way for me to describe the mood of a perfume (the feeling I think it attempts to convey), and not just its scent. Because I could tell you that Eau de Hongrie is a gauzy, lemony, honey-custard scent with a side of sandalwood and champagne grapes, and you could interpret that to mean perky and confectionery, which it isn’t, or you could imagine it as cloud-like and aloof, which it isn’t either (though it encompasses the latter’s dreamy reserve). My hope is that when I say that Eau de Hongrie is the olfactory equivalent of romantic bliss that happens in the early stage of a relationship—the stage where attraction has been consummated and now you’re moving through the world together in your bubble—you'll understand what I mean. And even if you don't, my description might at least capture your imagination and allow you to recall that fresh love and its halcyon days before you committed your relationship to paper and settled down on terra firma to sow your seeds. Days when your children were still a gleam in your eye and a private expanse of boardwalk stretched before you.
Eau de Hongrie by Parfums Viktoria Minya can be purchased from the perfumer’s website or from LuckyScent.com, where a 100-ml bottle is currently priced at $165. My review is based on a sample I received from the perfumer.
†"White Blouse White Shirt" is from Skirts and Slacks, a book of poems by W. S. Di Piero, copyright © 2001 by W. S. Di Piero (published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, 2001, pp. 20-21)
Photo of couple on the boardwalk can be found across the Internet; author unknown by me.
Photo of Eau de Hongrie perfume bottle stolen from LuckyScent.com, where it can be purchased.
Posted by Suzanne Keller, 1/19/2015.
Exploring the Stuff of Which Matches are Made
with Bond-T by Sammarco Perfumes
When it first hits the skin, Bond-T is reminiscent of the bittersweet, dark chocolate aroma that issues forth from the grinding of freshly roasted coffee beans—and because of this and the way it develops thereafter, a scene from a novel comes to mind. Appropriately, that novel is the wintry, dark-souled Scandinavian novel Smilla’s Sense of Snow, and the scene (the passage excerpted below) is the starting point for the relationship that develops between Smilla, the novel’s savvy yet feral heroine, and the man she calls “the mechanic.” The mechanic lives in Smilla’s apartment building, and in the past he has fixed her bicycle and she has done a minor favor for him, but theirs is mostly a nodding acquaintance. Until this night—when the mechanic secretly follows Smilla to a factory in Copenhagen where she’s conducting her own secret investigation into the death of a child who lived in their building and who had wormed his way into Smilla’s steely heart. Perhaps because the mechanic had been a friend of the child’s too, when he startles Smilla via his intrusion at the darkened factory at 3 in the morning—and she more than startles him back by toppling a series of bookcases on him—he somehow survives the ambush (Smilla is the type of character who could have done him serious bodily harm). He ends up driving her back to their building and she follows him to his apartment, where hovering in the air is a good deal of suspicion between them and not much else to recommend them as a match. Smilla is a mathematical genius with the Greenland Inuit’s inner knowledge of snow and ice (and the Greenlander’s distrust of the Danes she now lives among). She’s also tiny, fierce and quick. The mechanic is tall and burly, slow of movement, a dyslexic, a stutterer—and a genius in the kitchen. “C-coffee?” he asks her, to which Smilla’s reaction is:
Coffee is poison. And yet I suddenly have the urge to roll in the mud and I say, “Yes, please.”
I stand in the doorway and watch while he makes it. The kitchen is completely white. He takes up his position in the middle, the way a badminton player does on the court, so he has to move as little as possible. He has a little electric grinder. First he grinds a lot of light-colored beans and then some that are tiny, almost black, and shiny as glass. He mixes them in a little metal funnel that he attaches to an expresso machine, which he places on a gas burner.
People acquire bad coffee habits in Greenland. I pour hot milk right on the Nescafé. I’m not above dissolving the powder in water straight from the hot-water tap.
He pours one part whipping cream and two parts whole milk into two tall glasses with handles.
When he draws out the coffee from the machine, it’s thick and black like crude oil. Then he froths the milk with the steam nozzle and divides the coffee between the two glasses.
We take it out to the sofa. I do appreciate it when someone serves me something good. In the tall glasses the drink is dark as an old oak tree and has an overwhelming, almost perfumed tropical scent.
“I was following you,” he says.†
Indeed, he was following her, and his ability to deliver up an excellent coffee drink and a plausible explanation for his actions won’t lower the red flag waving in Smilla’s mind. However, this is the juncture where this couple starts to bond and it’s the perfect jumping-off point for talking about Bond-T.
Bond-T is not a coffee perfume, but in mood and even in terms of its scent facets, it evokes the passage above. From its rich cocoa start that reminds me of the making of a mochaccino to its base-note heavy construction that imparts a sense of both weight (importance, nourishment) and wait (a deliciously slow unfolding), Bond-T delivers up what a superlative gourmand perfume should. A feeling of cozy intimacy achieved through notes that speak of delight, warmth and sensuality—represented respectively by Bond-T’s chocolate, tobacco and animalic accords.
The chocolate notes that kick off the scent, upon application, are dense and liqueur-like; sweet enough to tickle the mind’s pleasure center while stopping short any thoughts of the patisserie shop. Cake and candy is definitely not on one’s mind when smelling it, for in the same way that the mechanic’s coffee drink was “dark as an old oak tree” and, simultaneously, in possession of “an overwhelming, almost perfumed tropical scent,” the osmanthus accord in Bond-T quickly makes itself felt through this cocoa haze, creating a similar effect. Osmanthus is a floral that can smell fruity, in the way of apricots and tea, and sensual in the way of suede leather. It can also be used to achieve a full-on impression of tobacco, and in Bond-T, this is the direction it takes. Nectarous and warm, this osmanthus-informed tobacco smells only of the curing leaf and not of anything smoky. It has a boozy fullness to it, thanks to the delicate apricot nuances of the osmanthus and the layer of chocolate scent that quiets but never fully disappears—likely because this chocolate is achieved, at least in part, by way of a deep, throbbing patchouli accord. One that smells earthy and aged, but without the camphorous element of natural patchouli. (Which is a pretty neat trick since Bond-T is an all-natural perfume.)
The animalic notes of Bond-T aren’t immediately evident, and the first couple times I wore the perfume, I didn’t notice them because they don’t thump you on the head the way that, for example, cumin does when it appears in a perfume. Achieved by way of castoreum and tonka, Bond-T’s animalic accord is different from any animalic accord I’ve ever sniffed: it steals up slowly in a way that reminds me both of Smilla and her mechanic. Its furtive nature might be attributed to the languor of the natural castoreum used in this perfume. It is less smoky and more delicate than mainstream perfumes that list castoreum as a note. Whatever the reason, the animalic base of Bond-T becomes pronounced late in the wear-time of the perfume, but while it is slow-building, when it arrives it makes the tobacco heart of this fragrance smell like tobacco leaves curing in the upper part of a barn that houses some cattle and horses below. As such, there is a whiff of what I’ll call the horse-dung-and-cattle-hide aroma that makes Bond-T smell wild and alive and, well, sexy. I think it might also account for the perfume’s staying power, as I get great longevity with this perfume, though the sillage is quiet for much of its wear time.
If liquor can be credited with fueling most of the world’s hook-ups, I suspect that slowly-savored cups of coffee or tea can be credited for fostering the world’s deeper bonds. In this regard, Bond-T is fittingly named: it’s an olfactory libation delivering the kinds of goodies that make serious people like Smilla feel, if not quite drunk with love, then at least tipsy with the possibilities.
Bond-T perfume has notes of cocoa, patchouli, castoreum, tonka, vanilla and osmanthus. It can be purchased from perfumer Giovanni Sammarco’s website, where a 30-ml bottle is currently priced at 140 Swiss Francs (CHF). My review is based on the bottle I purchased.
A Rose By Any Other Name . . .
Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient
Sometimes, or maybe often, it’s the simple things that rivet my attention. This doesn’t mean I eschew opulence—quite the opposite. I thoroughly enjoy the thrill and awe of all kinds of opulent gestures: the feeling of jaw-dropping wonder at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, for instance, that allows one to see what superlatives man is capable of in that rare intersection where extraordinarily fine detail is carried out on the grandest of scales. Or an opulent perfume with layers of undulating accords that shimmer and swish like the tiered fringes of a 1920s flapper dress (again coupling the notion of fine detail with a bolder concept like movement). Opulence is, for me, an occasion to expand my world and understand potential, in its fullest sense, while simplicity is like a poem: intimate, deeply personal, the most immediate and straight-forward route to the heart. Simplicity can be homespun, but simplicity is also the measure of elegance: it’s a very concise statement of beauty.
I’ve been thinking about these things—simplicity versus opulence, poetry versus the epic novel—because while I need and crave both ends of the spectrum, this has been a year in which I particularly crave simplicity, especially in terms of perfume. And the perfume I’ve been wearing rather steadily this past month has been Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient, which, despite its opulent-sounding name, is an elegantly simple-smelling composition. The aroma-materials used to create this perfume certainly smell rich and expensive—and for all I know, its formulation could be very complex—but in terms of how it comes across to my nose, it is streamlined and deft. I smell a dewy rose gliding over silky greenery, at first, and soon afterwards, the rose and the greenery are joined by a touch of something that smells like myrrh to me (though myrrh isn’t listed in the notes), slightly medicinal and bittersweet, a cross between evergreen boughs and cherried syrup. Then there emerges a soft touch of a marzipan-like almond that reminds me of heliotrope (also not listed), and a cosmetic iris that toggles between the scent of suede leather and talc. A sleek rose-oriental—that’s how it wears for hours on my skin, until its far drydown and slow dissolve on a tender sandalwood-like base.
That’s pretty much all I smell and that’s all I need. Does it matter that I can’t detect the aldehydes, frankincense or the expensive ambergris that this perfume contains? Does it matter that its composition reminds me of other perfumes in my perfume wardrobe which revolve around a similar set of notes and share a similar spirit?
The answer to both questions is no. I find when I’m wearing Encens Mythique, I am often thinking of its similarity to Annick Goutal Heure Exquise, but at the same time I’m also weighing the differences between the two. And contemplating them together in this way makes me smile because they are like elegant poems that could have been written by two poets playing around with the same words and sharing a theme, yet there are different shadings, different phrasings, different points of view that make each poem unique, even if both seem to be playing echo and refrain to the same chorus.
Stanely Kunitz, who at the age of 95 was appointed Poet Laureate of the United States, once wrote: “Every new poem is like finding a new bride. Words are so erotic, they never tire of their coupling.” When I was wearing Encens Mythique this week and thinking about how to write about it—how to differentiate it from several other perfumes I’ve reviewed that, while not identical, are in the same vein—his comment kept running through my mind. Firstly, because Encens Mythique d’Orient and the others (Annick Goutal Heure Exquise, Le Labo Iris 39, Parfum d’Empire 3 Fleurs, Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine, and DSH Vert pour Madame) are all elegantly svelte affairs that truly do remind me of poems.
Secondly, because I just realized how I tend to gravitate towards perfumes that contain three main accords (greens, roses and iris), and somehow this combination of accords can be arranged in seemingly infinite ways I never tire of. Greens, dewy roses, and cosmetic irises are so romantic, they never tire of their canoodling—to paraphrase Kunitz. I can happily imagine owning a bottle of any and all perfumes they end up in. Yet here is where personal taste really comes into play: I can’t say the same thing about accords like wood, leather and amber, much as I love a good many of those. (I complain about duplication if I smell too many dry, smoky wood perfumes that seem to be variations on the same theme.) Why is it I feel such an affinity to the aforementioned favorite accords such that if I were trying to decide whether to plunk down money today on a bottle of Encens Mythique d’Orient or Heure Exquise or any of a number of similar scents (of this caliber), I would be a bit tortured in the process, weighing all my options?
* * *
After Thanksgiving ended, I placed my puffin figurines and the two Japanese maple leafs back on my kitchen shelf, juxtaposed next to some seashells, a little crystal I found on a hike in the woods, and a leaf that I have deemed the world’s tiniest oak leaf—just as they’d been before. They have a different poetic effect there, not nearly as potent as when they were arranged on my table with its sky-blue tablecloth and candles. On my kitchen shelf, they are simply a visual poem that reminds me of what I love about the earth. I could arrange them somewhat differently somewhere else in the house—maybe with a favorite scarf or piece of jewelry—and they would take on a different meaning. That’s the analogy I’ll use to justify falling in love with Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient. It’s not that it’s a striking new form of olfactory verse, but rather that it’s written in a sonnet form I favor, another exquisite paean to the notions of beauty, love and romance. That’s pretty much what greens and dewy roses and cosmetic irises always speak of, isn’t it?
Well, don’t feel compelled to answer. Poetry is as personal as it is universal, and there are days when I’d like to think those florals are only talking to me.
Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient eau de parfum is described in more opulent terms on the Guerlain website, where its actual* notes are listed as:
Top notes: rose, aldehyde, saffron note.
Heart notes: pink pepper, vetiver, patchouli.
Base notes: forest floor notes, ambergris, frankincense.
*Some notes I perceive and mention in my review aren’t listed, so take what I say with a grain of salt. The company describes the perfume as follows: “An ethereal frankincense leaves only a fleeting mark on this fragrance, while rose imprints its fiery accents. But the endless sweetness and exceptional depth come from authentic and majestic ambergris of New Zealand, specially selected by Thierry Wasser for this fragrance. An enigmatic opus to sing the praises of a world devoted to eternity.”
Encens Mythique d'Orient is available from the Guerlain boutiques and SaksFifthAvenue.com, where a 75-ml (2.5 oz) bottle is currently priced at $275. My review is based on a decant I received from my blogging friend (and almost-but-not-quite scent twin) Undina.
Photo of the vase of roses stolen from the website Familyholiday.net.
Photo of Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient bottle stolen from Guerlain.com.
Posted by Suzanne Keller, 12/5/2014.