Monthly Archives: November 2018








It’s strange. I had decided to sample Winter Spices, DHS Perfume’s sweet, resinous spicefest that was reminding me for some reason of being a fourteen year old tipsy on Chinzano Bianco with my friends back home; one of those delicately delinquent evenings with us eventually plastered on the streets thinking we were cool ( probably the davana oil note here, the tolu, rose jasmine benzoin heart reacting with the pungent pepper and clove notes of the top, all medicinal amber, and if I am right that liqueur had something a bit medical or herbal about it – I used to love it with lemonade )


– when unexpectedly in the post there arrived some samples of the new Chiaroscuro Collection by the same perfumer : shadows and light in two contrasting perfumes based on oud.



Much as I enjoy receiving any packages in the post – though I will admit to still feeling slight fatigue after the frenzy of the last few months – I will also confess  to being a bit disappointed when the samples or bottles are based on agarwood. Oud. Schmoudh- I just can’t. I did, about ten years ago when Montale was initially groovy and it felt new to me, but now, my oud receptors are virtually dead. Incinerated. I have just been over-aggressed by them to the point of non-acceptance.



Smoother, more natural smelling oud blends I can tolerate more ( if really pushed); Aoud Noir strikes me as very straight; woody, taut; indeed dark – quite nice, but predictably overshadowed for me by the more powdery, floral soothing oudh scent that is Aoud Blanc. I tend to prefer suede notes over leather – say, in the original Daim Blond pre-reconstruction by Serge Lutens. I love the suede note in Histoires de Parfums’ Tubereuse Capricieuse, and the gorgeously soft tactility of that material is very present here, flushing the floral notes and the oud note with strokable tenderness. The two scents do indeed complement each other, and worn in tandem by a couple, say, as evening perfumes, I can imagine these working quite nicely.






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I am craving a new vintage Calandre parfum at the moment, but I do love this one as well




















November 23, 2018 · 10:34 am

Miseria on a Tuesday : ENNUI NOIR by UNUM (2016)





I am currently exploring the perfumed creations of Filippo Sorcinelli: photographer, artist, painter, organist, and perfumer turned self appointed mystic behind the fashionably ascetic brands UNUM, Sauf, and the fog-inspired Nebbia.




I should probably be wearing the latter today, as my brain is still fugged after a wild weekend in Tokyo where I was drenched in his perfumes in a stage performance with Duncan (!), forgetting that I am not actually eighteen, and that such events, especially when they begin at midnight, do take their toll on one’s mental clarity.




Now I am on the bus on my way to work, feeling subdued to say the least- puffy and jaded, and I have no brain cells left to speak of, so I will leave my descriptions of those other Sorcinelli perfumes ( which I really enjoyed ) to another day. Ennui Noir –  Black Ennui, or Dark Boredom, or, to give it its full title – ‘The abyss of returning to work after a long and hilarious, stimulating weekend’ is indeed slightly boring, or flat, or at least a little bit depressed : a sawdusty, sweet woody heliotrope patchouli that reminds me a little, in its drydown, of vintage Dior Hypnotic Poison, though you are unlikely to be hypnotized by this, or sent into an erotic frenzy. Rather, you might apply some to your tired, languid wrists; sink deeper into a self-absorbed reverie…..and fantasize, pointlessly, about not going into the office, instead just curling up under your blankets and duvets with a cup of tea, the cat, a hot water bottle –  –         and your iPhone












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My look for tonight  – my first ever dance performance in Tokyo.



Perfumes by Unum.



Reviews to follow…








Me – just taken in our kitchen.









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japanese convenience store perfume







To my knowledge, no Family Marts ( Ofuna has about six ) sell perfume, except this one.




In a place so conformist, where the sales clerks repeat phrases learned in a book, it is odd that one particular premises bends the rules and sells fragrance.



I have bought Pink Sunset, a gender bending fruity floral, for men from here, and would do so again.





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November 14, 2018 · 12:17 am

I had to treat myself





Amid the whirl of discarded samples and sniffing marathons for ‘Perfume’ ( final edits of the manuscript this weekend and then a courier is coming to the house to take it by hand from Tokyo to London ), I haven’t, perhaps understandably, been wearing quite as much scent as I might be in normal circumstances. For work, I have been alternating Roger Et  Gallet’s Tubereuse Hedonie and The Vert – both crisp, fresh colognes with undertones of sophisticate that are unobtrusive enough for me not to worry about offending anyone while sufficiently present for me to feel protected by perfume. Both go well, also, with my iyokan orange Vaseline that I made recently for starbursts of citrus and dust killing moisture when the powder horror of the blackboard chalk phobia strikes; other than that, at weekends it has been mainly Vol De Nuit.



After working my ASS off for months, teaching and writing, I felt I deserved a reward. Something extravagant I would love – a new perfume. Candidates have included Unum’s Rosa Nigra – a dense, rose peach confection I have been intrigued by ( ultimately ruined, after a couple of hours by a deal breaking endocrinic sandalwood note); Etro’s Heliotrope, which I might still get, and Laboratorio Olfattivo’s Kashnoir, an oriental that starts out all lemon and opoponaxy but gradates to a heavenly, tactile skin amber : I might ask for that one for my birthday – it would be gorgeous once the weather starts to properly get cold : right now it is still lingering in a strangely balmy, clement warmth.



One weekend though, I realized to my dismay that I was running out of No 19. This filled me with a certain anguish, as I only wear the vintage, which I used to find all the time here












: thrown away like Coke cans in the trash I have got through so many bottles of the stuff, but those classic years of cheap vintage perfume in Japan have dried up : like fossil fuels, there are only so many flacons of this sublime fluid left and I have given too many of them away over the years ( no more ): wearing a 7ml I knew was there somewhere but couldn’t locate until we re-organized the first part of the collection I realized, when smelling how it lingered on the V-neck of a new woollen sweater, how indefinably sexy, haunting and elegant the final notes can be – an aura that hovers about me, makes me complete.



On a whim one free Monday afternoon I went into Tokyo to a old shop in an arcade I know that I thought might have some, and it did. It wasn’t cheap – but I bought the lot. And then yesterday, in Yokohama, I finally came across the beloved, coveted 28ml – bottles of which are becoming increasingly rare.


Though I should leave them virgo intacto with their waxen wreaths of papery sealage keeping their contents untouched ( I have managed to resist breaking open just one of them – I am like a tomb raider, wrenching apart bottle mouths), I can never resist smelling the contents, as each and every bottle is always quite different, revealing more hyacinth, galbanum, iris, vetiver- more leather – plus I find I don’t actually like the smell of the freshly released perfume : it is as if it is waking up from cryogenic deep sleep and has forgotten where it is, and WHAT it is. Like a good red wine, I find letting the fragrance breathe, coalesce and re-harmonize itself a way to reach a mellower, more cherished orchestration I can apply in the morning, quite liking its florality, but truly LOVING what happens on my skin a few hours later, when it feels like nothing less than an idealized augmentation of my soul.


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