Monthly Archives: November 2013

STOP THE PRESS! AFTELIER PERFUMES’ CUIR DE GARDENIA EXTRAIT IS GORGEOUS

 

but my computer is broken and I am trying to write this on my iPhone and I can tell you, with the devil incarnate that is autocorrect, plus my aubergine fingers, that writing is NO fun ( this I literally my eighth attempt). 

 

the perfume, just deliciously arrived in my postbox: immediately, for me, knee weakening. not gardenia, as in gardenia, but plumeria; tiare: a tropical, moist, neptunian, sultry white witch emerging, hair slicked to shoulders, from the sea. sweet Italian bubble bath honey. cuir: but fresh.tango’s eminently wearable younger sister, unencumbered

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D A M A G E

 

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The brilliant, gloriously fun new Lady Gaga album, Artpop, is a magnificent, brain-mangling opus so infernally catchy, that when I am not dancing like a dervish around the kitchen or up and down the stairs, my head is so gloriously full to the bursting with hooks, synth bursts and choruses that I can’t even think straight let alone sit down and write about perfume

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O sweet fig : FLAGRANT DELICE by TERRY DE GUNZBURG (2012) (+ miniature figathon for Nina: L’Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier; Diptyque Philosokos; Miller Harris Figue Amere; Angela Flanders Figue Noire; Sonoma Scent Studio Fig Tree; Carthusia Io Capri )

updated figginess for a cold november day

The Black Narcissus

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The pantheon of figs is dominated by two classic creations by Olivia Giacobetti –  lover of the ficus carica and of transparent, fresh fragrances in general – and the very talented perfumer who did Premier Figuier (‘the first figtree’) for L’Artisan Parfumeur in 1991 and Philosokos ( ‘fig lover’ inGreek) for Diptyque in 1996. Both of these scents capture the cool, lactic, dark-green essence of the tree’s lobed rough leaves.

The Diptyque creation is the stricter fig of the two; more spartan and verdant, the leaves of the tree forming the centre of the composition. A tiny hint of coconut adds a hint of sweetness, although this is soon undercut by a fresh (almost harsh), woody note of white cedar that lasts for hours on the skin. Philosokos is refreshing and headclearing, a ‘calm in the storm’ kind of fragrance that allows you to re-equilibrate yourself in…

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Chestnuts roasting on an open fire: CASTANA by ATELIER CLOON KEEN (2012)

The Black Narcissus

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Chestnuts, or ‘kuri’ in Japanese, are a winter staple in Japan. In Tokyo, and in most cities and towns in fact, there are chestnut vendors who trawl the streets at night with their tinny transistors wailing the traditional Edo period ‘chestnut song’ among the cold, steaming red neon: the nuts, in their shells, fragrant, unpeeled, and roasting hot as you grab a quick late night snack before the last train home.

 

 

Marrons glacés, Mont-Blancs (with which I now have something of an obsession, when combined with a piping hot cup of caffe latte on a cold rainy day in winter) and anything chestnutty in fact, are very popular here( they are also traditionally eaten pickled): the tiny, shrivelled, squirrel brains both nutritious and unique in texture, and aroma, and flavour.

 

But although I was always familiar with the famous Christmas time song by Nat…

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LOVE ON A CAROUSEL: DELIRIA by L’ARTISAN PARFUMEUR (2013)

 

 

 

 

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When I was fourteen I went on a French exchange to the town of Moulins in central France. It was my first time abroad, and you might say that I was almost delirious with excitement. After a whistle stop tour of the sights and sounds of Paris, my fellow classmates and I found ourselves plunged, directly and fully, into the culture of the country I had been dreaming about for so long.  We arrived by train, and were soon paired off (a bit scarily I felt, for ones so young); shacked up with our pen pals and their families for a week. Escargots, cooked in garlic and slimy butter for dinner (yuk! I can still feel them sliding around in my mouth); petits pois, “vinaigrette”, it all just seemed so weird, slightly terrifying, and wonderful to an over-excited, easily stimulated, and very Francophile ‘budding linguist’ such as myself. Cela m’a beaucoup plu.

 

One of the highlights of that holiday, I remember, was a trip to the fairground, where my crush, a cute girl with braces called Laetitia, was all eyes, and so was I, and the sweet aromas hanging on the air, different, but familiar (is the rush of the fairground not universal?) were such a thrill. I always loved such places in England as well; the sugared clash of the cold, Yuleish wintry air and the tantalizing, caramelized steam that hung in nimbulus streams on the zingy atmosphere of Saturday night; the mischievousness of the dodgem cars, when you would deliberately bump and crash some giggling, hapless victims into hilarious mercy; that sadness – always out there, waiting in bushes – coated in pink and yellow, sugar glazed delight. And upon smelling this mood-lifting oddity by L’Artisan Parfumeur the other day ( Bertrand Duchaufour at his most playful), I was lifted out of my moment and plunged back, dreamily, into that world of fun, love, and French sweets: those rule-rubbing days when afternoons bled into evenings and the fair came to town: the cold, deep-pocketed frissons you felt at the clown-terror lurking at the concreted edges of the park; the lure of strangers; the dangers in those wild, mechanized rides.

 

“Prepare to be thrilled”, says L’Artisan. “Your senses will be shaken into a delicious blur”. Well, I  wouldn’t perhaps go quite that far, but Déliria, part of a new set of three perfumes called ‘Explosions D’Emotions’, is certainly a bit of light-hearted fun in this often po-faced world of perfumery, and it did put a smile on my face. Composed, apparently, of ‘dizzying’ accords of candy floss; toffee apple; ‘metallic notes’ and rhum, the most memorable theme of this perfume is, I would say however, the fantastically vivid top note of pineapple that bursts out at you from first go from the bottle, like one of those sticky, sugary and creamy pineapple cakes from Braggs the Bakers that my auntie Val is so addicted to.

 

Pineappled, phantasm dodgem cars scrape and spark with laughing electricity; music speakers boom with the gullible, teenage sweetness of surging, pubescent enthusiasms: love blooms, and Kia Ora – Orange & Pineapple flavour – is slurped greedily through stripey, twisty, plastic straws. L’ananas, musing with artificial flavouring, a child-loving burst of taste; of yellowy, custardish vanilla swirling before your eyes as candy floss stings, sweetly, the late November air…

 

 

 

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Just like the clumsy, ardent first fumblings of youth though, the stamina and performance here, are, sadly however, not awe-inspiring. Soon, once the deliria have faded (and they always do…) we find a more prosaic, uglier, tail-end of steel and santaloids, rather than the soft and cheek-pinching vanilla that we were yearning for (…. were those kisses not meant to last?) We can’t help noticing, suddenly, the rust and rudders of those ageing dodgem cars scratching the ride’s dirty floors: for the first time in a good few hours we look at our watches.

 

 

Yes, it’s a shame that it couldn’t last. As they say, after love, omne animal triste est. But who can really complain, honestly, when those first spurts – of fruits, and rum, of fairground thrills, and sweet, vanillic things –  feel so spontaneous, so joyful?

 

 

 

 

 

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LOOK WHAT I FOUND

 

 

 

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Passing time yesterday before meeting up with some friends in Ebisu, we strolled the gentle back streets of this pleasing area of Tokyo and came across a shop called Genio Antica. An Anglophile, eccentric specialist in British and European collectibles, the shop owner, sat bearded and monocled at his desk fixing some delicate, old curiosity, had crammed his charming little shop from floor to ceiling with old cigarette boxes, quaint postcards and…..perfume.

‘Oh, Neil‘ says Duncan, in that familiar tone of ‘look what I’ve found’, summoning me hound-like to the other side of the table, upon which, to the glory of my eyes, was standing, compact and buxom, a big, full parfum of Miss Balmain. ‘Bloody hell, I have got to get that,’ say I; then, eyes scanning the shelves further: ‘Jesus – look at this huge, pristine bottle of vintage Jolie Madame! Look at it! Oh my god that is so beautiful; just a sec, I have to just go to the cash point. I will be back…’

A mysterious, leather bound Patou. An obscure and alluring Patchouli. Beautiful, story-hiding objects layed out on every surface. More British than British. I thought I should show you.

 

 

 

 

 

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Some roses for winter.

The Black Narcissus

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Nitobe Inazo, author of the classic (if highly supercilious) tome on Japan, Bushido, may consider the Japanese quite superior with their love for the evanescent fleetingness of the cherry blossom flower, a sweet but sorrowful bloom that symbolizes the ‘stoic’ samurai warriors’  desire to sacrifice their lives at the drop of a hat; while the gaijin, or westerner, ‘selfishly’ favours the rose that clings, with every last drop of its life, to the putrifying, stinking stem even when dead ….but I’m sorry, the rose is one of my very favourite flowers, and I imagine that I also will be clinging at my last; thorny and desperate, rather than plunging a sword into my gut and ripping out my innards, all for the sake of appearances and some dull and pointless idea of ‘honour’ (the code of the samurai is much more nuanced and spiritual than this, I…

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