Scents I wore in Honolulu: Pu’er Tea by One Day, Spirito by Meo Fusciuni, Patchouli of the Underworld by Electimuss and Bon Monsieur by Rogue

guest post by D

Our arrival in Honolulu had actually been delayed by a day (as we had fallen foul of an ESTA entry visa scam) and so the airport protocols had been a tad stressier than desired (= understatement). However, we sorted it out and the first day at the museum was a breeze with all the staff supportive and encouraging and the building itself attractive and relaxing with its courtyards and cloisters seen to fine effect in the blistering sun.

They certainly knew how to build attractive and sturdy structures back in the nineteen twenties. The Museum of Honolulu opened in 1927 and was designed to be a modern interpretation of a traditional Hawaiian building. It houses one of the most extensive collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art and objects in America.

The perfumes sent through by niche perfumers had caused quite a stir among the museum staff, although Christine, the very person who instigated Neil’s participation in the Cross Pollination show, and head of Education and Engagement, is allergic to scented products and had been suffering the olfactory onslaught for over a month.

Aforementioned scents were stacked on a couple of trollies and my eyes immediately alighted upon the white boxes of One Day, Hong Kong-based perfume company, who had kindly contributed their tea range to the perfume workshop event, as I already know and use their Pu’er Tea fragrance. We settled on this as the perfume for me to wear (only very lightly out of deference to Christine) during the talk, as it is one of the most gentle and serene accords, soothing to myself and calming to Neil, who was nervous about talking in front of over 160 people. The top note of pu’erh tea is just a touch sweet, adding moisture and some enigmatic grace to a woody earthy middle and base of cedar, cypress, patchouli, frankincense and vetiver. It’s mellow and modern, yet also intriguing, and I love the way it develops on my skin.

Maybe the calm spell worked, as Neil pulled off his talk with aplomb…

For the workshop, we decided to come sans scents but after the events were done, I settled on Spirito, by Meo Fusciuni, a modern aromatic with a pleasingly harmonious aura of forest green – perhaps because my skin foregrounds the cedar and vetiver. Also, I love the way musk blends accords with a velvet touch and I am often drawn to scents incorporating musk. This was designed to be an evocation of Emily Dickinson’s meadow walks, though for me it is more sylvan and sensual than that might suggest.

An interesting thing happened as we waited for a bus to take us to the University of Honolulu campus to meet our friend Skyler. The bus was delayed by twenty minutes, so one of the people in the bus queue, a gent from El Salvador, struck up a conversation, immediately noting that we smelled great and pulling out a bottle of Tom Ford’s Leather from his rucksack, which he brandished with pride – and this without knowing anything about our reason for being there.

Though in rather different ways, I found both Pu’er Tea and Spirito to be refreshing scents for the Hawaiian heat.

With Christine now at a safe distance in mainland America on a business trip, I continued my scent journey by delving into richer, warmer territory, and intrigued by the name, I took up Patchouli of the Underworld by Electimuss, a very ambery, woody, leathery patchouli, with a sweet metallic opulence to it.

Neil said it was like a modern Shalimar and although not the kind of scent I would usually wear, I really enjoyed the middle stages where a certain spiced greenness emerges which was counterintuitively cooling. Is this the chill of the underworld asserting itself through the dense toffee opening?

This scent certainly has a charming sillage and though sweeter than I am used to, is definitely one I will be coming back to – perhaps in winter when Neil wears Shalimar – or Bal A Versailles.

We planned one final blast for the last evening as Skyler was taking us to a drag cabaret hotspot called Kat’s Closet in China Town. For this, we had prepared outfits purchased from Bailey’s Antiques, which specializes in aloha shirts that range in price from 20 dollars to 600 or 700 for the real vintage ones that hang from the ceiling, out of reach of most hands and budgets. The emporium has been frequented by many famous people, including Nicholas Cage (our vacations often follow in his footsteps it seems – Honolulu, New Orleans…) and had been recommended to us by our friend Christopher.

I managed to score an excellent $20 polyester chrysanthemum short-sleeved shirt – wholly 70s – which would go perfectly with the flairs and Cuban heels I’d brought. Neil picked up a rather more costly – but not extortionate given its splendiferousness – red sequined jacket for Burning Bush.

My all-synthetic, predominantly beige outfit demanded a manly 70s-esque number – Bon Monsieur by Rogue, purveyor of devilishly fine and dandyish confections (like Hove perfumes but with added twist and natty packaging), completely measured up. The citrusy, lavender facets of this soapy masculine scent helped to deodorize me with a gentlemanly clean but hopefully mischievously rakish olfactory vibe. (You’ll have to take my word for it.) A sartorial/olfactory combo I shall be revisiting with some relish.


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8 responses to “Scents I wore in Honolulu: Pu’er Tea by One Day, Spirito by Meo Fusciuni, Patchouli of the Underworld by Electimuss and Bon Monsieur by Rogue

  1. Congratulations on the HoMA event. I wish I could have attended. I know the museum well and have loved visiting over the last 30+ years while visiting family on Oahu, and living in Honolulu in the early 90’s. The HoMA is a wonderful resource for art and an architectural gem in the midst of an urban fabric largely characterized by somewhat brutalist 1950’s-70’s concrete apartment towers, and of course hotels of various vernaculars dominated by 1980’s and 1990’s Pan-Asian modernist.

    Among your fragrance wears, Spirito surprised me. I own a flacon and know it well. It never struck me as a warm/humid weather scent, and wonderful to hear that you felt inspired to give it a go during your trip.


    • [Duncan] Mahalo ~ Yes, HoMA is really a charming sanctuary and your architectural assessments are spot on. We did however feel that the Brutalist aesthetic combined with the lush tropicalia worked pretty well. Before we went our image of Honolulu was more compact, high rise centre with palm trees – I guess the Downtown government and business district area. But we loved just walking the streets and seeing what presented itself.
      And Spirito worked well in the heat (at least on my skin) because of the cool green wood notes. It’s more forest than grass for me. I look forward to trying it in different seasons. So you prefer it in the cool then? It’s my favorite of the Meo Fusciuni line – though Varanasi is very impressive and striking

      • Glad you took the time to do some exploring in HNL. Chinatown has always been a gem there, now populated with a number of indie art galleries and cafes. Also extra-fantastic that you got in the tour of Shangrila – the experience of which sort of transcends description IMHO.

        Regarding Spirito – this discussion inspired me to unbox my bottle and sample it again, as it’s been a couple years. It now strikes me as rounder than I had recalled, and I can see how it could work in a warmer climate. I had a bottle of Varanasi – won it actually in a CaFluereBon draw a couple years ago, and I never really clicked with it, so ended up selling it. My other favorite that I own from Meo Fusciuni is Narcotico, which is more definitively in the cool weather corner with its incense and patch.

        I first discovered Meo Fusciuni at my friend’s wonderful shop in Lake Tahoe – The Fragrance Vault – where I bought Spirito and Narcotico. It’s a must visit if you ever travel to California. Michelyn Camen from CaFluereBon asked me to write a blog piece on the Fragrance Vault:

        I have not heard of Electimuus, and that Patchouli of the Underworld sound very intriguing. I’ll have to check out that house!

        Also, why oh why did Chanel stop distributing Pour Monsieur in the US?! Have you written about that?


      • (Neil) : Pour Monsieur is my grail. D doesn’t like it on me, but I can’t live without it. Vintage now only, please, on ebay. It is just not of this time.

      • Yes we actually went to a little gallery in Chinatown at the start of the evening – N as Burning Bush! That was fun.
        I wouldn’t myself wear Varanasi but I like sniffing it. It has a satisfying heft to it. I must smell Narcotico again. I think N has it.

        Thanks for the link.

        Maybe N knows more about the Pour Monsieur issue. I was talking about Bon Monsieur by Rogue. I like the sense of playfulness about Rogue perfumes – so you know them? They are quite trad but there is always something naughty and dandy about them.

  2. Agreed, PM is the grail, although the older Gentlemen’s Cologne version for me is a tad weighed down, so I prefer the slightly newer vintages.

    I have known about Rogue and sampled going back about 5-6 years, but haven’t tried his newer compositions. In the last year, Darren Alan’s work has really made a strong impression on me and is hands down fantastic!

  3. Sarah F.

    Just want to say that the shirt you scored looks amazing! Those collars, that print. I’m envious!

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