Eiderdown Press
Musings about Perfume and Life
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
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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 Angelique Noire

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

Puredistance WHITE

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

Smell Bent Florist's Fridge

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

Swiss Arabian Nouf

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 Eau de Hongrie

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

Guerlain Angélique Noire: Singular

In the first week of April, before Lavender died, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross received a good-luck charm from Martha. It was a simple pebble, an ounce at most. Smooth to the touch, it was a milky white color with flecks of orange and violet, oval-shaped, like a miniature egg. In the accompanying letter, Martha wrote that she had found the pebble on the Jersey shoreline, precisely where the land touched water at high tide, where things came together but also separated. It was this separate-but-together quality, she wrote, that had inspired her to pick up the pebble and to carry it in her breast pocket for several days, where it seemed weightless, and then to send it through the mail, by air, as a token of her truest feelings for him. Lieutenant Cross found this romantic. But he wondered what her truest feelings were, exactly, and what she meant by separate-but-together. He wondered how the tides and waves had come into play on that afternoon along the Jersey shoreline when Martha saw the pebble and bent down to rescue it from geology. He imagined bare feet. Martha was a poet, with the poet's sensibilities, and her feet would be brown and bare, the toenails unpainted, the eyes chilly and somber like the ocean in March, and though it was painful, he wondered who had been with her that afternoon. He imagined a pair of shadows moving along the strip of sand where things came together but also separated. It was phantom jealousy, he knew, but he couldn't help himself. He loved her so much. On the march, through the hot days of early April, he carried the pebble in his mouth, turning it with his tongue, tasting sea salt and moisture. His mind wandered. He had difficulty keeping his attention on the war. On occasion he would yell at his men to spread out the column, to keep their eyes open, but then he would slip away into daydreams, just pretending, walking barefoot along the Jersey shore, with Martha, carrying nothing. He would feel himself rising. Sun and waves and gentle winds, all love and lightness.

The above excerpt is from Tim O’Brien’s award-winning book, The Things They Carried, a novel-in-stories about the Vietnam War. I’m not sure any other author has ever written so poignantly about that war, and though all of the stories in the books are mesmerizing, the title story, from which this passage is taken, gets my vote as the most poignant and the most mesmerizing, not only for what it says but by how it is written. The bulk of the story is a series of lists of what the soldiers carried or “humped” across the war-strewn jungle landscape of that country: lists of everyday necessity items like P-38 can openers, mosquito repellent, C-rations and water canteens; lists of the guns and grenades and ammunition, the ponchos and jackets and gear. Lists of the items that kept them occupied in the downtime (tobacco, playing cards, pencils, stationery and stamps for the letters they wrote home), as well as the intangible items they carried too – their “emotional baggage” (fears, superstitions and private shames). O’Brien lists the weight, in pounds, of some of the items they carry, and, by placing that in the reader’s mind, the lists themselves acquire weight. Ticked off in a matter-of-fact style, the lists are both unsentimental and personal (“Henry Dobbins carried his girlfriend’s pantyhose wrapped around his neck as a comforter”), and by some literary sleight-of-hand, achieve two things at once: they function as a shorthand narrative of what an army “grunt,” or infantry man, did during the war, and at the same time, they lend the story its crushing heaviness. The reader feels the stacking effect of these burdens, and the sense that each soldier is carrying them mostly alone, his only community being his small band of army brothers.

Yet for a story to have emotional impact, in addition to dark weightiness it must also have a sense of light – the light that one wants to believe in, that could just as easily slip away. So, in between the lists of the things they carried there is a loosely woven story: a rumination by Lieutenant Jimmy Cross on the college girl he fell in love with, Martha. A girl who sends him letters (and the pebble) but who is too cool and noncommittal to be considered his sweetheart. Because Martha is aloof in person yet poetic in her communiqués – sending him this stone which she carried next to her bosom, which she describes in terms that could lead a young soldier to hope for a future with her, as well as to question that hope – she becomes a distraction. A phantom lover. A burden so infinitely tender it would not seem to be a burden at all, until the day that it is; until the day that Lieutenant Cross feels that it has kept him from performing his duties and decides he can’t carry it anymore.

I have thought about this story, about this stone and the two people who carry it separately yet together, for a long time. Now I can finally put a perfume to it – something I knew I would eventually do. Every time I read or think about The Things They Carried, this pebble has weight to me; I imagine how it felt, tasted and smelled.

Guerlain Angélique Noire is the olfactory version of the pebble (and of the young woman who slipped it into her pocket for several days before slipping it into a letter). Angélique Noire is a vanilla perfume, and yet it is the poet’s vanilla scent: more enigmatic than effusive, more dreamy than direct. Though the name would suggest that it smells primarily of the angelica flower, one only has to sniff the atomizer of whatever vessel is holding this fragrance (the bottle, or, in my case, a sample vial) to know that vanilla is its overriding theme. Sniffing it in such a way (from the atomizer, before applying it on skin), it seems to promise an experience akin to sniffing a pricey bottle of vanilla extract used for baking. What a surprise, then, to spray it on and discover that this vanilla lands on the skin as if surrounded by sea mist, vegetation and suede leather, and that it continues in this vein. For almost the duration of its wear. Angélique Noire is an elegantly-vegetal vanilla perfume that is more cool than warm – or in other words, a vanilla perfume largely informed by the angelica plant: a plant with a juniper-like scent reminiscent of crisp air and the kind of greens that grow densely in the shade. On its own, angelica has a fern-and-pine, mineral water-and-air, gin-like smell. In Angélique Noire, where it is grafted onto a dominant vanilla accord, the melding of the two has a tempering effect on both the angelica and the vanilla. As such, the angelica note is not as brisk and tonic as it appears in other perfumes (like Frederic Malle Angéliques sous la Pluie), but a softer and more amorphous form of cool. It smells like a very pretty form of dill – like the dill and sugar brine that is used for gravlax (minus the actual gravlax, of course). And the vanilla is not the liqueur-like confectioner’s vanilla I expected when sniffing the atomizer, but a vanilla that is more teasing and ambiguous.

The collision of the two accords creates a fragrance that is softly complex – a fragrance that has a true alfresco nature (reminding me of the sea pebble) yet is married to a sweet-and-creamy something that might best be filed under the descriptor of “longing” (reminding me of Martha). It is a fairly linear perfume that doesn’t change much over the duration of its wear, and I am fine with that, finding complexity, instead, in the interplay between the two main accords. While the overall effect is a cool vanilla scent, the rub between the two produces some warm facets – an inky, iodine-like smell that reminds me of the sea; a hint of rum-like sweetness – both of them as subtle as these other facets: A mineral-like scent reminiscent of fresh gravel spread on a road. Suede leather that plays hide-and-seek. And a chill, slightly perfumey herbalness that recalls the kind of herbs used in brines – capers and dill, sweetly refreshing and weedy – rather than the savory herbs one more commonly finds in a garden. Altogether, they make Angélique Noire a vanilla scent that can’t be pinned down. It’s elegant in the way that perfumes from the Guerlain house always are, but it’s got a restless, outdoor spirit. It’s a perfume for the person who quietly follows the beat of her or his own drum, who seems to enjoy solitude and separateness more than togetherness, yet who is dreamy, rather than prickly, in this regard.

* * *

In The Things They Carried, along with the pebble Martha sent him, Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried her letters that were always signed “Love, Martha” even though her letters never spoke of real love or of the war. Without the weight of commitment, she would seem to be an easy thing to carry – a “Gentle on My Mind” kind of girl – but sometimes it’s the softest straw that breaks the camel’s back.

 

Guerlain Angélique Noire eau de parfum has top notes of bergamot, angelica seeds, pink pepper, and pear; heart notes of sambac jasmine and caraway; and base notes of angelica root, vanilla and cedar wood. It can be purchased from Bergdorfgoodman.com, where a 75-ml bottle is currently $260. My review is based on a sample I received from my blogging friend, Undina.

The Things They Carried, copyright © 1990 by Tim O'Brien (Originally published by Houghton Mifflin and reprinted in paperback by Broadway Books, a division of Random House New York, 1998, page 8)


Photo of woman with windswept hair can be found various places on Internet; photographer unknown by me.

 

Posted by
Suzanne
Keller, 5/30/2015.
_______________________________________________________________________


Like Taking Tea with an Asian Beauty: Puredistance WHITE


I should probably state this right off the bat, so as not to confuse: WHITE, the new perfume from the luxury perfume house Puredistance, is neither a jasmine perfume nor a tea perfume. Nonetheless, the first time I smelled it, my immediate comparison was to two specific teas: jasmine, with its leaves wound into pearls that unfurl like anemones as they steep, until one’s cup is filled with an infusion that resembles a delicate perfume more than actual tea; and white tea, which is often accompanied by notes of vanilla, coconut or lychee, such that it smells dessert-like, but softly so. “This is a perfume that would appeal to the tea connoisseur,” I said to myself (and thought of my friend Ann of Perfume Posse). “Especially to someone who appreciates very fine nuances of aroma.” You wouldn’t think that person would be me but you’d be wrong.

I’ve been sampling WHITE off and on now for over a month, and my perception hasn’t changed. Its scent sweeps me off to a country I’ve never been toChinawhere I’m being served jasmine tea in a beautiful setting by an equally beautiful Chinese woman. Or maybe I’m in Japan or Viet Nam or some other part of the part of the Orientit really doesn’t matter. The feeling is one of pared-down elegance that I rightly or wrongly equate with Asian beauty and Asian art, although “pared-down” isn’t quite right. What I really mean is beauty that has a sense of precision, an understanding of form, and a feeling of alignment. WHITE is a fragrance meant to convey happiness, and it achieves this by being fine-boned, focused and centering to the mind rather than (in the western way) eclectic, loping and full of itself. Not that there is anything wrong with the latter: when it comes to happiness, the reckless Bohemian approach can be exhilarating and so, too, perfumes with an uninhibited sense of joie de vivre. I know, because I own a good number of such perfumes, but over the past year I’ve been favoring fragrances that take a poetic and reined-in approach; it is simply where my mood has been. WHITE evokes happiness by way of its elegant and ethereal olfactory strokes that speak of contentment rather than of the dizzying, electrifying joys of freedom.

Composed around notes of rose de mai, tonka bean, iris, sandalwood, bergamot, musk, vetiver and patchouli, WHITE starts off smelling floral and feminine, reminiscent of honeyed jasmine blossoms suspended in a delicately aqueous and green-tinged accord, which is why it reminds me of jasmine tea and not just of the flower itself. As jasmine is noticeably absent from the notes list, I wonder if the effect is due to the Rose de Mai – described by Wikipedia as having a scent that is “clear and sweet, with notes of honey”in combo with the coolness of iris? Whatever accounts for it, this opening stage of the perfume not only has the aroma of a floral tea but is as gently stimulating as that beverage. It taps the pleasure center of the brain in a way that elicits a feeling of joy that is pure (innocently pure, as there is nothing indolic or strumpet-like about this bouquet), calm and very “present.” The warmth of its bouquet reminds me of sunlight, an uplifting and golden smell that makes me feel like a cat basking in the sunlight of a window. WHITE is not as high-soaring a perfume as, for instance, Jean Patou Joy is with its operatic amounts of soprano-like jasmine and rose. WHITE’s floralcy is softer and anchored by a humid botanical element that verges on the aquatic (but only verges). I often develop crushes on perfumes expressing a dewy, almost minty form of greenness in their opening notes, and there is a hint of that here too, lending youthfulness while secretly working as a ballast that keeps WHITE from being too excitable. It is as if WHITE’S humidity has trapped an innocent bloom in its balmy embrace and both want to stay there and talk for awhile.

And luckily they can, because WHITE’s top-notes stage doesn’t burn off quickly. In fact, it’s probably not accurate to reference the perfume pyramid in regard to WHITE, because its floral accord is evident almost as soon as the perfume hits the skin and is the heart and soul of the perfume. Somewhere around twenty minutes of wear, it’s engaged by the slow-developing scent of tonka bean and sandalwood: an irresistible, dry marshmallow version of a vanillic base. Tonka and sandalwood impart creaminess to WHITE, and in this composition they do so in a way that is tender and discreet; like fine pearls of tapioca, they add starch to the perfume in a way that is in keeping with WHITE’s organic nature. This fragrance development doesn’t alter the floral nature of the perfume, but it does change the scent of its bouquet, which now smells less like jasmine tea and more like the marriage of white tea and vanilla. At this stage the fragrance’s florals and botanicals are absorbed in this luscious, foamy base that increases the perfume’s sense of containment. The conversation between the notes in this perfume has gotten cozier – and fluffier – as if there is also shared laughter.

Overall, WHITE is a perfume of gentle enchantment: it never loses its elegant manners, it keeps up its charming dialogue for a long time, and it wears both its heart and its name on its pristinely clean sleeve. Here it should be noted that it achieves these things partly due to a good dose of white musk, which depending on how one feels about musk will ultimately determine how one feels about this perfume. White musks aren’t all the same and neither are the compositions that employ them. This is important to keep in mind because, in my own case, there are many such perfumes I don’t care for, and then there are perfumes like Le Labo Gaiac 10 and Guerlain Lys Soleia, which contain a lot of white musk, that I find utterly captivating. It comes down to the overall fragrance composition and how well musk fits into it (not to mention whether I can smell it at all, because there are some musk scents to which I’m anosmic). In Puredistance WHITE, the musk is an important and well-integrated component, firstly because its fixative property extends the longevity of the delicate florals and their marshmallow base; secondly, because I suspect musk’s diffusive properties might also account for the softness of the bouquet, its ability to entertain the nuances that it does; and thirdly, because it does smell mildly soapy at times – mostly in its far drydown where it concludes with a laundry-fresh linens smell – extending the idea that WHITE is, well, white. Clean, innocent of heart, good-mannered. If WHITE could come to life, she would probably end her part of the long and lingering conversation by checking her watch and letting you know that she must be off to the drycleaners before they close.

 


Puredistance WHITE is a pure perfume extrait (with 38% perfume oil, a very rich amount) composed by perfumer Antoine Lie with notes of Rose de Mai from France, Tonka bean absolute from Venezuela, Orris absolute from Italy, Sandalwood from Mysore, Bergamot from Italy, Musk, Vetiver from Haiti and Patchouli from Indonesia. It can be purchased from the Puredistance website where a 17.5 ml. flacon is currently priced at $170. This perfume officially launched just this week, so it should also soon be available in the US at LuckyScent.com, which carries the rest of the Puredistance line.

My review is based on a sample I received from the company.

Photo of beautiful Asian woman can be found various places on Internet; photographer unknown by me.
Photo of Puredistance WHITE flacon and box is from the Puredistance website, linked above.

 

Posted by
Suzanne
Keller, 4/28/2015.
_______________________________________________________________________



Marriage of Opposites in a Rosewood Perfume:

Swiss Arabian Nouf


I’m not sure I could adequately describe the perfume Nouf, by Swiss Arabian Perfumes, if I didn’t do so by taking some artistic license. In this case (as is often the case), by taking a literary approach rather than a literal one. If this perfume smelled like the desert after the rain, or the inside of a vintage leather handbag, it would be an easier perfume to describe, but Nouf is both as straight-forward and as quirky as the act of writing about perfumes is in itself. Come to think of it, it’s as linear and neat, and as fuzzy and hard-to-pin-down, as the two characters in the story I’m about to introduce you to as a means of analogizing it. And as such, before I say more about Nouf—other than to let you know that it’s a perfume that smells mostly of rosewood (and that “mostly” does not equate with “simply”)—let me tell you about this couple.

They are the young, just-married Indian couple of Jhumpa Lahiri’s story, “This Blessed House” (from her Interpreter of Maladies book of stories, published in 1999), who have just settled into their first home in Connecticut. His name is Sanjeev and hers is Twinkle, and by name alone you can predict which of them takes a Type A approach to life and which one doesn’t. When we meet them, they are sprucing-up their home and getting ready for a housewarming party, an event important to Sanjeev, who has invited some co-workers from his office. Not long after moving into their home, religious relics left behind by the previous owners began turning up in otherwise empty shelves and other odd places, and because these items are also rather kitschy and symbols of a religion they don’t belong to, Sanjeev wants to toss them. Twinkle, however, won’t let him. She views them as found treasures—they are not only amusing to her, but somewhat meaningful—and every time a new one turns up she insists on displaying it on their fireplace mantel, where by this time there is a menagerie of things, including a framed paint-by-number scene of the three wise men on black velvet, a 3-D postcard of Saint Francis, and a kitchen trivet with a picture of Jesus delivering his famous sermon on the mount. Sanjeev finds her display irritating, almost to the point of distressing, and wonders aloud what their guests will think of it. Luckily for him, a period of time passes when no more items turn up—until a week or so before the party, when they find a larger-than-life-sized poster of Jesus rolled up behind a radiator in the guest bedroom. Twinkle won’t let it be thrown out—she promises to keep it in her study where it won’t be seen—and that’s when tension begins to build:

He stood watching her as she left the room, with her poster and her cigarette; a few ashes had fallen to the floor where she’d been standing. He bent down, pinched them between his fingers, and deposited them in his cupped palm.
….

Sanjeev went to the bathroom to throw away the ashes. The cigarette butt still bobbed in the toilet bowl, but the tank was refilling, so he had to wait a moment before he could flush it again. In the mirror of the medicine cabinet he inspected his long eyelashes – like a girl’s, Twinkle liked to tease. Though he was of average build, his cheeks had a plumpness to them; this, along with the eyelashes, detracted, he feared, from what he hoped was a distinguished profile. He was of average height as well, and had wished ever since he had stopped growing that he were just one inch taller. For this reason it irritated him when Twinkle insisted on wearing high heels, as she had done the other night when they ate dinner in Manhattan. This was the first weekend after they’d moved into the house; by then the mantel had already filled up considerably, and they had bickered about it in the car on the way down. But then Twinkle had drunk four glasses of whiskey in a nameless bar in Alphabet City, and forgot all about it. She dragged him to a tiny bookshop on St. Mark’s Place, where she browsed for nearly an hour, and when they left she insisted that they dance a tango on the sidewalk in front of strangers.

As is typical of the stories in Lahiri’s book, “This Blessed House” explores the meeting place where alienation and the enticing siren song of the new rub up against one another; the place where Indian expat characters “arrive at a cultural divide” (to borrow a quote from the book’s dust jacket). That’s the pull of these stories, for while I imagine them to be exceptionally poignant for anyone who has embarked on a new life in another country, almost all of us have passed over similar crossroads. In this story Sanjeev is the expat; he’s an engineer who has done well in the States and who could have married any of the potential brides prescreened for him by his mother in India. Instead he has married American-born Twinkle (her real name is Tanima), who is his equal in caste and education but whose spirit reflects her California upbringing. Twinkle’s boho nature is evident in everything she does, from the way she takes a bubble bath—with her blue beauty mask on while holding a cigarette, a glass of bourbon and a thick paperback book of sonnets—to her master’s thesis, “a study of an Irish poet whom Sanjeev had never heard of.” Theirs is a love marriage (albeit one partially arranged by their parents), but is love enough? The story leaves the reader wondering just how certain their future is with its age-old question, Can two whose natures are so different manage to live under the same roof?

Maybe or maybe not—that’s for the reader to ponder. I’d like to believe they can, and that’s probably why I like perfumes such as Nouf, for it seems to beg the same question. Nouf is as yin-yang as the coupling of Sanjeev and Twinkle (not to mention as yin-yang sounding as the perfume house it comes from—Swiss Arabian—which struck me as odd until I read its history at this link). It is a beautiful perfume that needs some sorting out, because there’s not much information on the Internet about it, and what is there is misleading. The company describes it as an aquatic perfume, and if that’s true, all I can say is (thankfully) it does not smell like one. Reading the list of fragrance notes for it, one might then assume it's an amber perfume, as amber is listed in it twice:

            Top notes: lemon, grapefruit, bergamot

            Middle notes: amber, pepper

            Base notes: palisander rosewood, amber, cedar

To my nose, Nouf is not at all ambery, either. It smells predominantly yet complexly like its base note of rosewood—a wood traditionally used to make guitars and, in India, furniture; a wood so-named because it has a sweetly floral nuance to its aroma. From what I’ve read, rosewood is rich in aromatic oils, and what is interesting is that Nouf, too, smells oily: it has a scent that is reminiscent of the spice-infused cooking oils of Indian cuisine, though not enough to render this perfume a gourmand. The predominant smell of this perfume is woody, and the oily-spicy facet imparts a sense of liveliness and energy to the rosewood, such that it vibrates like a sitar. In terms of character, this aspect of Nouf is very much like Twinkle: it pulsates and swirls and makes me feel as if the scent is lifting me up, yet in a dreamy and self-contained way. In other words, the effect is not that of the champagne-like burst of aldehydes, but there is something effervescently feminine about it. I’m not a nose, but I’ll credit this effect to Nouf’s citric top notes, so well integrated they don’t come off as citrusy. Instead, they assume the sweetly uplifting scent of a Meyer lemon gliding over the olfactory surface of the woody fragrance like a furniture polish.

I love perfumes that have a sense of private intoxication about them, and to some degree, Nouf’s self-contained character can be attributed to the note that reminds me of Sanjeev—the rosewood note itself. Not the spicy-lemony-oily component described above, but the sturdier wood smell. Linear, constant and resistant to change, it is masculine leaning (in the way that wood notes typically register to my nose as masculine) without going too far in that direction, but it definitely has an air of the authoritative about it and balances out the feminine aspects of the perfume. If it weren’t attached to everything I listed in the paragraph above, I don’t think I’d care for the perfume, because it would be too stationery, and already when I wear Nouf I have to be in the mood for a perfume that is not going to develop much on the skin. There are days, though, when olfactory constancy is what I seek, and Nouf delivers that beautifully and uniquely, thanks to the way it is attached to its aforementioned element of Twinkle. Also, for as linear as I make this perfume sound, there is actually a surprise that happens in the first few minutes after application: I get a phantom note that smells like spearmint—not a stand-alone spearmint note, but a very pretty drift of it, cool and green and sweetly camphorous—couched in the smell of the rosewood. It lasts only a few minutes, but it never fails to delight me.

In fact, it’s this phantom note that reminds me of “This Blessed House”—firstly, because it’s like a little treasure that shows up, and, secondly, because it reminds me of both Twinkle (her delight in the offbeat and unexpected) and of Sanjeev (who by nature and upbringing is too traditional to appreciate such treasures, but who is wise and grounded enough to accommodate them).

… In truth, Sanjeev did not know what love was, only what he thought it was not. It was not, he had decided, returning to an empty carpeted condominium each night, and using only the top fork in his cutlery drawer, and turning away politely at those weekend dinner parties when the other men eventually put their arms around the waists of their wives and girlfriends, leaning over every now and again to kiss their shoulders or necks. It was not sending away for classical music CDs by mail, working his way methodically through the major composers that the catalogue recommended, and always sending his payments in on time.

 

My sincere thanks to Sigrun of Riktig Parfym (whose ingenious blog I love!!). She purchased Nouf while vacationing in Dubai and kindly decanted some for me.

Swiss Arabian Nouf can be purchased at Amazon.com, where a 50-ml bottle is currently sale priced at $37.92. The company has stores in various countries in the Middle East, though not in the US. (By the way, even though I took an Indian theme for my review of this perfume, Nouf is actually an Arabian name that means “the highest point on a mountain,” if my understanding is correct.)

Excerpted from Interpreter of Maladies, stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, copyright © 1999 by Jhumpa Lahiri, published by Houghton Mifflin Company (Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY, 1999, pp. 140 & 147)

Photo titled "Holding Hands" is by Jaci Clark for Kimberly Reed Photography.
Photo of Swiss Arabian Nouf perfume is from Swiss Arabian's merchant page on Amazon.com.

 

Posted by
Suzanne
Keller, 3/20/2015.

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