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
If of thy mortal goods thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves alone to thee are left,
Sell one, and with the dole
Buy hyacinths to feed thy soul.
Attributed to Moslih Eddin Saadi, a Persian poet who lived about 1184-1291
The above little gem of a poem is well-known, and though I probably would have discovered it on my own, it came to my notice in my teenage years when I inherited a poetry book from my grandmother. On the inside cover she had written the titles and page numbers of her two favorite poems, and true to who she was—a passionate gardener—both poems were about flowers. (In addition to “Hyacinths,” she had also favored William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils”.) True to who I was—the granddaughter who worshipped her—not only did these poems stay in my head, but their namesake flowers became favorites of mine. Daffodils are more of a visual treat for me: while I do enjoy their starchy, honeyed-pollen aroma (especially noticeable when one has a vase filled with them), it’s their sunshine yellow color that makes me happiest. Whereas with hyacinths, though they come in many lovely shades, from white to pink to deepest purple, it is the incredible richness of their scent that gets me. The perfume of these flowers is luxuriant, and one would think it would translate well into an actual perfume of the cosmetic variety, but if there is a perfume that fully and authentically represents hyacinth, I haven’t tried it. I can think of five perfumes I love which feature the note and use it to impart hyacinth’s coolness to their floral bouquets (the now discontinued Deneuve by Catherine Deneuve and Paris de Coty, as well as present-day Guerlain Chamade, Chanel No. 19, and Amouage Dia pour Femme, though it must be noted that the latter does so by way of cyclamen, a flower that smells like a blend of lilac, lily, violet and hyacinth according to Nigel Groom’s The New Perfume Handbook).
For a flower with such a heady aroma, there is something oddly cool and humid about the smell of hyacinths. I say “oddly” because flowers that have a thick perfume usually strike me as being sensual and warm, but hyacinths prove that’s not always the case. Their complex and bright floral scent also encapsulates an air of the damp springtime weather in which they bloom. This aspect is accentuated in perfume; quite often when hyacinth is listed as a perfume note, there will also be a galbanum note or some other type of green accord. As much as I’d love to find a hyacinth perfume that captures the richness of hyacinth’s distinctive aroma (Amouage Dia pour Femme comes closest), thanks to a perfume blogging friend, I did find a perfume that conveys hyacinth’s damp and cool, misty green breath in an ingenious way: Florist’s Fridge by Smell Bent Perfumes.
“Orchids, hyacinth and buckets of chilled flora” is how perfumer and brand owner Brent Leonesio describes the notes of this charmingly sylph-like scent which presents a shorthand sketch of hyacinth that reminds me of the Saadi poem.
Here is a breath of spring—and one of life’s simplest luxuries. Here is a reminder of both how easy and how important it is to treat yourself well, are my thoughts on hyacinths. How fitting that they bring their cool and humectant facet, as well as a floral sprightliness, to this perfume that does indeed smell like the air that issues forth from a florist’s fridge. Particularly the side that houses inexpensive bouquets of daisies, carnations, day lilies and mums. Smell Bent Florist’s Fridge doesn’t convey the extravagance of exotic blooms like roses, tuberoses or Casablanca lilies; it doesn’t put one in mind of a romantic, dramatic floral arrangement. Heck, it doesn’t even put one in mind of actual perfume, and that’s the novelty of it. It’s airy to the extent that I find it the floral equivalent of classic cologne. In the same way classic cologne refreshes one with its mix of citrus and herbal aromatics, Florist’s Fridge is a pick-me-up of delicate, chilled florals accented by an equally delicate spray of fresh greenery. Its sillage is quiet (longevity is good, in fact, much better than a citrus cologne), and thanks to its uplifting properties—the way that in name and in actuality, it anchors the feeling of being at a posy shop to the pleasure center of one's brain—Florist’s Fridge is, thusly, a fragrance you wear for your own sense of delight and well-being, rather than a perfume you wear to get noticed.
Mineral-like and green in the first minutes when it hits your skin, Florist’s Fridge has an opening accord that reminds me of Perrier water. It’s also has an iris-root smell—with the emphasis on 'root' and its vegetal connotations—in the first five minutes of its development. If you can imagine a blending of scents encompassing mineral-water bubbles, a root vegetable pulled from the earth in winter, and a hint of greenery, and do this while thinking of the hiss of air that hits you when you open the door of a cooler filled with flowers, then you’re fully grasped the delightful top notes of this scent. As it develops on the skin, a violet-like note becomes evident and the fragrance begins to sweeten without ever turning truly sweet. Hyacinth emerges and brings a delicate nuance of carnation spiciness and chilled-lilac floralness to the mix, and Florist’s Fridge stays in this vein for the duration of its wear-time on the skin (about five hours). This floral vapor also smells as if it has a touch of marshmallow-vanilla starch at its base, but only enough to suggest the pollen-like starchiness of flowers and not anything that could be construed as creamy in the oriental or gourmand sense.
One can’t really tease apart the blooms in this floral seltzer water—it’s simply a unique and ingenious form of effervescence. Perhaps inspired by this scent, or inspired by the fact that it was Valentine’s Day last week and the grocery store had all kinds of wonderful arrangements, I picked up an inexpensive bouquet when I was doing my shopping. These flowers don’t have much scent apart from a vague whiff of the florist’s fridge, but are so colorful they generate their own brand of pop and fizz. For $10.99, they’ve injected more cheer into my winter-addled brain than a box of long-stemmed roses could have, even if those roses happened to be fragrant (which they rarely are these days), and they’ve lasted for over a week. “Ooh, where did you get the flowers?” my sister asked when she came over for dinner, and though I think she was expecting that my husband got them for me, it felt good to tell her that I got them from the grocery story for about the same price as two, maybe three loaves of bread. (Not that I told her about the bread, but thinking about it now, that’s the equivalent cost.) Sometimes the most pleasurable indulgences are the ones we give ourselves, and sometimes they are of the “cheap thrill” variety. The orange and fuchsia-colored daisies in my bouquet were achieved with food dye, which was obvious the moment I put them in water and the water turned pink. That’s not a complaint. Sometimes novelty is a good thing, the splendidly inventive thing that will feed you when the hyacinths aren’t blooming yet, the snow is piling up, and you’re tired of running to the store for bread. What could be more novel than a profusion of ultra-colorful flowers in winter?
Florist’s Fridge doesn’t smell like perfume, or even intimately of the florals in its mix, but it’s an ingenious facsimile for the act of buying flowers, such that every time you put some on, your imagination takes over and you’re virtually picking out a bouquet of whatever flowers delight you. Just as delightful, one can experience the novelty of it in a dainty, travel-spray bottle priced at only $7 and still have dough left over for meat and potatoes.
Florist’s Fridge is from Smell Bent Perfumes, an indie perfumery based in Los Angeles, and can be purchased at the Smell Bent website: $7 for a 4-ml travel spray or $50 for a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle. My thanks to my blogging friend Ann (of Perfume Posse) for kindly introducing me to this little number!
Photo of hyacinths on windowsill is by Kevin Lee Jacobs from his website www.agardenforthehouse.com.
Photo of floral bouquet in vase is my own; photos of Florist's Fridge perfume is from Smell Bent's website.
Posted by Suzanne Keller, 2/20/2015.
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.