Monthly Archives: July 2021



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-guest post by Catherine

As a perfume lover you’ve probably been there: the quest for the perfect (add note of your choice) fragrance. I’ve been on quite a few holy grail searches, some are completed, others are ongoing, not because I’m not satisfied but merely because they are fun to continue exploring.One of my more recent hunts was for ylang ylang. Late Spring last year when rummaging through my essential oils I found a bottle of ylang ylang EO that must be at least 10 years old, maybe closer to 15. Miraculously it hadn’t evaporated and the scent was (and still is) out of this world amazing. That’s how it began; I needed to find a perfume that smells like this EO, the same eyes rolling in the back of my head take me already aaaaarghhh! tropical fever mind blowing outer worldly I’ve died and gone to heaven scent.When I finally came back down to earth, I retested all perfumes featuring ylang ylang already in my collection (no small task). Metallica, Ylang & Vanille, New Look 1947, Casta Diva, Fleur des Comores, Songes, Kiss me tender, etc etc. None came even close to the marvellous aroma of that essential oil. I realised that while ylang is often used in fragrances, it is rarely showcased as the main player. I will try to write a few words about some of the perfumes I bought and enjoyed during this mission.

Carla Fracci Giselle (yellow box)

Giselle is often recommended on Fragrantica in the hidden gem threads and as usual, curiosity got the better of me. The initial spray smells a bit plasticky, and I wrote it off as a failed blind buy. But hold on, pas si vite! While wearing Giselle I kept getting wafts of the most delicious flower nectar on a creamy vanilla base, enveloping me in a cloud of softness. It is reminiscent of Ylang in Gold by M. Micallef but without that overly sweet fruity bubblegum note (sorry YiG, you are pretty but Giselle is beautiful).Tropical florals feel perfect in Summer, but I often reached for this bottle in winter too when in need of some warmth and sunny vibes. The scent lingering on my sweater the next days was fantastic. It is not THE ylang ylang scent I was looking for but it is a dream of a fragrance, so very cozy, soothing and back up bottle, or four, worthy.

Anatole Lebreton Cornaline

The fragrances that I tried from this house are, to put it mildly, weird. They are interesting, yes, but to me they are difficult to wear, definitely not no-brainer scents. When I bought Incarnata (waxy Estée Lauder lipstick from the 90’s anyone?) I added a few samples to my cart, Cornaline being one of them. I tried my sample a few times, unable to decide if I wanted it or not. It starts with a hint of candied peach, and then morphs into a composition that is rather disturbing. Still, it kept drawing me in, haunting me, and I ended up getting a bottle. It is only while wearing it now to write this attempt at a review that it finally hit me: it’s the “wet cardboard in the cellar” note. I had the same association when trying Ylang Ylang Nosy Be and also faintly with Compliment. This is a facet of ylang ylang that is bordering on unpleasant but at the same time is fascinating. Behind the damp, vegetal, and musty curtain is hiding a banana custard ylang, showing only glimpses of its true beauty. In all its oddity and incongruity, I find Cornaline quite addictive.

Lorenzo Villoresi Ylang Ylang

I’ll spare you the details of having to deal with this Italian retailer; I’m getting a headache just remembering the hassle. Ylang Ylang is part of LV’s vintage collection. In typical Villoresi style, this fragrance is refined, devoid of any rough edges, very well-behaved. It brings us a polished ylang ylang, creamy but not heady, a tad powdery and on the verge of soapy. If I were to compare, I’d say that the ylang here is as gentle as the one in Guerlain’s Ylang & Vanille. The fragrance is clean and classy, perhaps with an air of innocence, it never gets cloying nor naughty, and feels perfect for polite afternoon drinks at a shaded terrace as well as dinner in a chic, chilly to the bone air-conditioned restaurant. This one is a keeper, to spray abundantly on those days when you want to leave the steamy jungle behind and wear crisp cotton over slinky silk.

La Via del Profumo Tasneem/ Tasnim (Abdes Salaam Attars)

My search for the ultimate ylang ylang fragrance ended when I discovered Tasneem. THIS is what I was looking for, my EO in spray format. YESSSS! More please! I was seduced in a split second. Tasneem is sultry, sexy, lush, almost indecently dirty with its dripping over the edges indoles; pure bliss for ylang lovers. I want to inhale it, bathe and roll around in it, become one with it, that’s how amazingly gorgeous this stuff is. There is no wet cardboard, no soapiness, it feels like pure and raw ylang on the stem at its peak ready to be picked. After a while the indoles recede to the background pushing the creaminess more forward, and a subtle incense note lingers around, grounding the composition while giving it a faint air of mystery. Exquisite. Heavenly. The fragrance remains very close to the skin though, an unfortunately irremediable feature of all natural perfumes. Tasneem hits you full force like a huge yellow wave, then gently bobbing carries you to shore. It’s a short ride but an unforgettable one that I want to repeat over and over again.

Are you a fan of ylang ylang? I’d love to hear about your favourites. Catherine


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my last unvaccinated bus ride home


Filed under Flowers



July 23, 2021 · 10:11 pm

TOKYO by SABON (2021)

Japan knows how to put on a festival. By rights, we would usually be hearing the familiar patterns of the taiko drumming local children practicing hard for the O-Bon local festival usually held on the first weekend of August. With the arid drone of grasshoppers, crickets and flittering cicadas, this sound forms a natural part of summer. Like last year, and like many unique and often spectacular ancient festivals celebrated across the country, this year’s has been cancelled.

I think I would have really enjoyed the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It was exciting to be back in the UK during the summer nine years ago for London 2012 – there was a special, celebratory, upbeat and positive atmosphere that was palpable. I was home for Rio 2016 and enjoyed that too. Although not a sport person, there is still something about watching athletes at the top of their game and the meticulous obsession with the medal tables that is undeniably rousing. I know that Japan would have gone all out: Fujisawa, where the sailing starts this weekend, Yokohama, Tokyo, everywhere would have be in full everyone out-at-the -food stalls, drinking beer and fanning themselves in the sunshine mode: visitors would have explored and hugely enjoyed all that traditional and contemporary Japanese culture has to offer (Tokyo and Yokohama are fantastic cites ); the economy would have been given a boost; like 1964 it would surely have been a very memorable, even exultant and jubilant, event.

Instead, the coronavirus happened. And is happening. We can’t change that. But the conservative Japanese government could, I am sure, have expedited the vaccine approval process. That the inoculations came about six months after other countries, simply due to overcaution and what I consider to be a xenophobic exceptionalism regarding the Japanese population and ‘foreign vaccines’, has left the games spectatorless and with embarrassingly flimsy safety protocols ( I am not usually much of a fan of the fascistic, but here we could have done with rules that are far more draconian : : : no vaccine, no participation on any level); a huge money loss except for the corporations with broadcasting rights : a skeleton in the place of full flesh and blood exhilaration.

I have no doubt that, lax disease control aside, the Olympics will be a general organizational success. The televised events will bring excitement and pleasure to their intended audience. Winners will rejoice; losers be unconsoled. And realistically, given the pandemic situation globally, overseas spectators could never have attended : it would simply have been too dangerous. Locals, however, could have thronged the stadiums, and would have, with infectious enthusiasm. Japanese people are famously good hosts: it could have been amazing.

But because of ossified, bureaucratic incompetence, entrenched bias, and logistical failures, right now the Olympics are a behemoth – a nuisance – that hardly anyone here actually wants. To some they even seem like an existential threat.

At least, I suppose, we have Tokyo, a new ( delayed?) release by popular domestic brand Sabon to remind us what might have been- a grassy, pear and lemon raspberry-jasmine clean musk shampoo confection that encapsulates exactly how young people here want to smell; fresh, fruity, dynamic; fashionable. Not great perfumery, but certainly attractive; likeable. This would have been the scent of the air-conditioned trains in the metropolis, fans gathering in groups to make a day and night of it; visitors from other countries – participants and their entourages, handlers, journalists, not restricted to their cabins but venturing out into the neon-lit labyrinths, who might have strayed into a Sabon shop by chance and bought bottles of this perfume as a special memento : a souvenir.


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friday and thank you good night


July 16, 2021 · 11:39 pm

KADINE by GUERLAIN (1911 / 2021)

Anyway. Imagine how nice it must be to have Thierry Wasser’s job: keys to the vaults to revive old recipes ( aside the commercial pressures to come up with jolie fille hits like Ma Petite Robe Noire and Mon Guerlain). A sunny July afternoon spent in a chilly dungeon – I imagine lit tallow candles, yellowing manuscripts : Aime and Jacques’ secret perfume anatomy; meetings a trois with fellow Guerlaineurs and Guerlaineuses on which of the long disappeared perfumes to bring back for the eternally novelty-craving manic parfum collectors.

Will a reconstruction be a lithe Frankenstein, slightly ‘off’ as I imagine reconstitutions of ye olde formulae to be? How could we mere mortals ever know what the original was actually like?

Whatever the new Kadine is like – soft; spicy;

– courtesy of Parfumo: too tired and lazy to type it all out myself –

-I can’t deny it would be lovely to saunter down the Champs Elysees and pick up a telephone reserved bottle just for the hell of it: had I 690 euros available to shell out at my caprice. It does sound nice. Anything of the L’Heure Bleue genus is fine with me.


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July 14, 2021 · 10:12 pm

my commute to work today

With Delta in the air!

Note windows : aggressively opened by me.

There are students going down with Covid now in D’s school. The teachers there are all unvaccinated. Thank God that he, at least, has had the first one…

Happy Wednesday !


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The smell of dirty, unwashed hair is repellent. The smell of frolicking, freshly shampooed hair can also be overwhelming if the product is overscented, as many conditioners, ‘treatments’ and shampoos do tend to be these days. I find all the Pantenes, Luxes, the Doves and wimpy Timoteis quite often to be too much*. Sometimes these perfumed hair soaps eat the air all around them, destroying perfume in their wake. At other times, the ‘sillage’ is enough in itself, as individuals swish by, and you smile at the cozy, blowdried breeze from a mane that seems to be somehow emanating, as the bloodstream pulses under the skin, the person deeper within.

Today I used a special ‘men’s shampoo and conditioner set, ‘Clear’, that made my crummy barnet look slightly fuller; more wavy Mediterranean. I liked the visuals – the sweller texture; a ‘because it gives me confidence’ kind of sensation : even ten hours later I can tell my locks are giving good scent – I smell clean as old Lizzy. At the same time, the whole Clairol aurora makes me feel like an impostor. That I’m not wearing my hair, but that my hair is wearing me.

As perfume lovers, do you also consider these things; how scent and the shampoo and hair products you use will inevitably mix ? (I quickly realized this afternoon that there was no point being perfumed, the scent of this ‘scalp soap’ being so potent): or do you just bathe, in the overall general blend, twirling your haircurtain like Chewbacca in L’Oreal ?

*I miss the lemony citrus, grease-stripping Boots shampoos my mother used to use in the seventies……absolute bath time bliss.

So clean you could hear your hair squeak.


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