Eiderdown Press
Musings about Perfume and Life
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
Click on Links to Previous Posts, below

A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

Amouage Memoir Woman

Amouage Opus I

Amouage Opus III

Amouage Opus IV

Amouage Opus V

Amouage Opus VI

Amouage Tribute

Amouage Ubar

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

Deneuve

Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

Miscellany

Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Ramon Monegal Pure Mariposa

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

Sammarco Perfumes Bond-T

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

Serge Lutens Boxeuses

Serge Lutens Chêne

Serge Lutens Chergui

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector

Tightly

Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

Links to Other Blogs I Enjoy 

All I Am - A Redhead

A Perfume Blog (Blacknall Allen)

Another Perfume Blog (Natalie)


Ars Aromatica

Australian Perfume Junkies

Beauty on the Outside
 

Bloody Frida

Bois de Jasmin

Bonkers About Perfume

Ca Fleure Bon

ChickenFreak's Obsessions

EauMG

Eyeliner on a Cat

Fragrance Bouquet

From Top to Bottom - Perfume Patter

Giovanni Sammarco (artisanal perfumer) blog

Grain de Musc

I Smell Therefore I Am

Kafkaesque

Katie Puckrik Smells

Memory of Scent

Muse in Wooden Shoes 

Nathan Branch

Natural Perfumery by Salaam

Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume

Notes From Josephine

Notes From the Ledge

Now Smell This

Oh, True Apothecary! 

Olfactarama 

Olfactoria's Travels 

Parfumistans blogg

PereDePierre 

Perfume Posse

Perfume Shrine

Perfume-Smellin' Things

Purple Paper Planes

Redolent of Spices

Riktig Parfym: Ramblings of a Fragrant Fanatic

Scented Salamander

Scents of Place

Scents of Self

Smelly Blog

Sorcery of Scent 

Sweet Diva

The Alembicated Genie 

The Candy Perfume Boy 

The Fragrant Man

The French Exit 

The Non-Blonde
 

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 

Yesterday's Perfume

Exploring the Stuff of Which Matches are Made

with Bond-T by Sammarco Perfumes

I bought a bottle of perfume recently—only the third bottle I’ve bought this year, because at this stage of collecting I find it difficult to justify further purchases. However, a year ago I had received a sample package from Giovanni Sammarco, a former blogger-turned-perfumer who moved from his home country of Italy to start a new life in Switzerland (he is an interesting young man—I love this interview with him from Basenotes.net), and one of those samples lingered long enough in memory that when this winter arrived, I realized I wanted to have a bottle on hand for the season. The name of the scent is Bond-T, and if I told you it has one of the richest chocolate notes I’ve ever encountered—and that it was inspired by the perfumer’s visit to a premier chocolate factory in Pisa—this would be quite true, but it’s only part of this perfume’s narrative. On the whole, Bond-T is more of a tobacco-y gourmand fragrance than a chocolate one, but the way it commingles the smells of decadent, cocoa-infused patchouli, tobacco-leaning osmanthus, and the kind of musky- animalics one associates with a stable, this perfume is a slow-building yet steady exercise in seduction. For seasoned perfumistas reading here, imagine an intersection where the luscious patchouli bomb that is Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 meets the boozy, almost X-rated creation that is Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour le Soir. Then subtract the camphor facet from the Borneo side, the rose-honey facet from the Absolue Pour le Soir side, and consider the incredibly smooth, dark, purring bambino you’re left with. For the rest of you, let me try to describe it using a different tack.

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.


Excerpt is from Smilla's Sense of Snow, a novel by Peter Høeg, translated by Tiina Nunnally; Translation copyright © 1993 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, NY, 1993, pp. 89-90)

Photos of actors Julia Ormonde and Gabriel Byrne are from the film adaptation of Smilla's Sense of Snow and were stolen from the website Byrneholics.com.

Photo of bottle of Bond-T perfume stolen from the perfumer's website.

 

Posted by
Suzanne
Keller, 12/19/2014.
_______________________________________________________________________



A Rose By Any Other Name . . .

Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient

Last Thursday, after spending most of the day preparing the Thanksgiving meal, I got ready to set the table—actually two tables set end-to-end and looking awkward, even after matching tablecloths had been laid in an effort to make it look all of one piece. Every year, when I get to this stage of the preparations, I wonder why my husband and I have never invested in a true dining-room table and an adequate amount of matching silverware to go with the china I inherited from my grandmother. My nieces were arriving for this meal, and though they are grown women now whose focus is on their new careers, I still like to cultivate an ambience that will hopefully make our get-togethers linger in their memories. However, with the turkey about to come out of the oven and the clock ticking down, I simply did what I do most holiday meals: pulled the few odd knickknacks I own from the shelves of my house and, using an assemblage of tea candles, autumn leaves and other things I’ve collected from outdoors, created a series of small arrangements down the center of the two tables. They weren’t Martha Stewart-like arrangements, and I’m not sure anyone even noticed them when all was said and done, but creating them had its own effect on me. The juxtaposition of two burgundy-colored Japanese maple leaves—fine almost to the point of frilly—against my blue tablecloth gave them a jewel-like glow that reminded me of leaves floating against an autumn sky. Situating them at the base of some bird figurines—a puffin family (carved from Mount Saint Helen’s volcanic ash) that was a gift from my father—they somehow evoked a feeling of Thanksgiving that rang true. As succinct as a poem, they spoke of the season, of family communion, and of beauty.

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.
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Ramon Monegal Pure Mariposa: A Beautiful Way to Fly

I wasn’t awake to see the first winter snowflakes swirling in the air this past weekend, but my sister told me they’d arrived and it’s not surprising. I probably should steer my perfume writing accordingly, towards the discussion of a cozy comfort scent or a big oriental that goes great with cashmere, but one of the most beautiful perfumes I’ve sampled recently is Spanish perfumer Ramon Monegal’s creation Pure Mariposa (the full name is Pure Mariposa for Neiman Marcus, as it was created exclusively for that upscale department store), and it draws its inspiration from the butterfly (mariposa means butterfly in Spanish). The name couldn’t be more fitting: this perfume’s white floral heart has a tangerine-like nectar about it which imparts a sense of color, lift and delight while, at the same time, vibrates against a mossy chypre-like base. By virtue of its name and the fact that it’s a shimmery floral perfume, Pure Mariposa might strike one as the perfect scent for spring and summer, but this is not an airy butterfly scent in the way that L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse Aux Papillons is, for instance, with its white florals rendered wispy and fine. I happen to love that one too—it also is well-named, focusing more on the chase of something that is diaphanous and elusive, whereas Ramon Monegal’s perfume offers up a different point-of-view. To me, it’s a statement about being such a creature.

Butterflies in autumn shades of black, orange and olive green are pictured on the retail, carded sample of Pure Mariposa, and though whimsical in terms of their rendering, at least one of them is meant to resemble the Monarch butterfly—again, a perfect match to the perfume. Pure Mariposa has enough olfactory weight to remind one of those late-summer butterflies and their incredible migrations (Monarchs in the eastern part of the United States migrate as far south as Mexico and can cover 50 to 100 miles per day before reaching their destination). Likewise, Pure Mariposa is full of floral fluidity, but its olfactory wings rest on a frame that has an impressive tensile strength. At the end of the review, I’ll provide the perfumer’s full list of notes for this fragrance, and hopefully before then, I’ll have described its flight pattern on my skin. First, though, here’s a list of the things this perfume makes me think of when I’m wearing it:

  • Quaking Aspens with their flutter of nodding leaves that make me think they’re happy to see me when I pass them on my walk.
  • Cheerful waitresses who alight at one’s table with coffee at just the right moment and get everyone’s breakfast order right, on a football-weekend when the joint is crowded.
  • Daisies that spring up at the corner of a farm field planted in soybeans (and pesticided to the point of being impervious to intruders), yet there they are, a wink of good cheer in a sea of green.
  • A male Baltimore oriole songbird moving with trapeze-like grace as he cascades his way from the top branches of an oak tree to the bottom, his orange color quick and flashing as he hangs upside down and then freefalls from one branch to the next.

To a large degree, Pure Mariposa is an orange blossom perfume (at least to my nose), and though orange blossoms don’t smell like oranges, there is either a phantom or real note of orange that accompanies the perfume, not just in the fleeting top-notes stage, but into its very heart. It’s a brisk and bitter orange note that reminds me of an Orangina when it first hits the skin, but as the orange blossom and accompanying white florals develop and come to the fore, it begins to smell more like the scent of a tangerine, lighter and sweeter. (It reminds me of bigarade, the “bitter orange” fruit which produces an essential oil that is surprisingly juicy smelling.) The combination of the two—the orange blossom bouquet and the piquant orange citrus note—very nicely translates into the idea of a butterfly: to my nose, these notes always smell as if they hover at least two octaves above other notes in the olfactory scale. Combined, they signal a state of sunlit, soaring joy.

If I didn’t have a note list, I’d have figured Pure Mariposa’s white-floral accord as largely consisting of orange blossom and jasmine, but the perfumer doesn’t list jasmine among the notes and identifies the other florals (besides orange blossom) as being tuberose, gardenia and orchid. Such an accord would normally play out with a certain amount of indolic headiness, but Pure Mariposa is not indolic, carnal or even what I would call heady. Though uplifting and joyous, the florals never soar out of the stratosphere, becalmed as they are by a base that adds enough bitter greenery, cool moss and amber weightiness to pull this nectar down to cloud level, ensuring that the perfume is naturally buoyant rather than perky or excitable. Of course, perfumistas who don’t care for the high-pitched floral sweetness of orange blossom probably aren’t going to be won over by Pure Mariposa, but those who are fans of the note have something to celebrate. Here is an orange blossom-heavy perfume that truly has a pyramidal development on the skin (I don’t know about you, but I find many orange blossom perfumes to be rather linear). It is a slow development (a gradual unfolding)—one that gradually takes place over three or four hours—but the floaty bouquet eventually transitions to a base that has a good dose of sandalwood in it. Not the super-fatted and vanillic sandalwood which so often provides a cushion to oriental perfumes, but a lightly creamy sandalwood with a smoky edge … a lean sandalwood, more woody than creamy, sometimes smelling as if it’s attended by a tendril of frankincense. It doesn’t make itself known until several hours into wear time, but when it arrives, it’s a lovely surprise—as if the white petals of Pure Mariposa have drifted down from the sky and found a resting place on a weathered branch of tree. It conjures images of the butterflies arriving in the half-parched Mexican landscape where they’ll take their respite from winter.

* * *

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time,” James Taylor once said in a song, and sung in his dreamy style, that advice sounds simple. A relaxed posture, an appreciation for spontaneity, an acceptance that everything is subject to change: I imagine these traits as part of the secret that allows one to go “sliding down, gliding down” through the ride of life. Yet I’d bet good money that those who do it best also possess a quietly steely will—a determination to show up and do the work that helps them navigate the currents and not simply be blown about. At any rate, I was thinking about these things when I was wearing Pure Mariposa, and I suppose it’s why I really like this perfume. It is both lithe and strong.

The Quaking Aspen has a long telescope of trunk; the cheerful waitress rises at dawn, wears sturdy shoes and stores a revolving roster of faces and menu choices in her memory banks. Daisies probably have secrets to their persistence and the orioles no doubt have spent millennia perfecting their acrobatic flight skills, but I don’t know much about either. What I do know is that all possess an upbeat and easy-going demeanor—a graceful way of moving through the world—that flies over a core of strength more felt than seen. Pure Mariposa is composed on a similar structure: it’s one of those perfumes I admire for its sunny nature, breezy beauty and intelligent design.

 

Ramon Monegal Pure Mariposa for Neiman Marcus eau de parfum is described on my carded, retail sample as having notes of tuberose, gardenia, orchid, orange blossom, oak moss, sandalwood, ozone, amber and musk. (I just saw that the notes on the Neiman Marcus website for this perfume are different and more numerous—and include three different citrus notes as well as jasmine.) It is currently priced at $200 for 50-ml. I received my sample as part of a birthday fragrance package from my dear blogging friend, Ann, of Perfume Posse.



On the subject of butterflies: In September, we saw far less Monarchs here than we normally do, yet thanks to blogging friends, butterflies came my way. Thank you, Ann, for the Pure Mariposa perfume, and thank you, Sigrun, for the butterfly nail tattoos! (Using a laser printer, Sigrun can create all kinds of nail tattoos; she sent me tattoos of Portuguese tiles in pretty colors, as well as many other designs.)

Photo of the woman examining butterfly stolen from Themakingofkiastorm.blogspot.com.
Photo of Pure Mariposa bottle stolen from Fragrantica.com. Photo of nail tattoos is my own.

 

Posted by
Suzanne
Keller, 11/7/2014.


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