Category Archives: Neroli

TWO WILDLY DIFFERING ORANGE BLOSSOMS : : APOM HOMME by MAISON KURKDJIAN (2009 ) + NEROLI by ANNICK GOUTAL (20I3)

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One of the joys of the Tokyo and Yokohama thrift shops is that you just never know. While you can go into them week after week, month after month and there not be anything you really want – just the usual uninteresting suspects – suddenly there can be a windfall of perfumes; not just vintage beauties, but thrown-out niche: the kind of perfumes you might never consider buying at full price, but which presented to you as a cache of vastly reduced bargains in the glass cabinet of a thrift shop you think why not: go on then: they might help me to upgrade my repertoire.

And the other day, at ‘Crystal’, a very hit and miss place, I came across a cabinet of Goutals and Penhaligons and L’Artisans and Maison Kurkdjian (something I have never seen reduced before: all these expensive brands found exclusively in the snazzier Tokyo department stores at vastly inflated prices, so what the hell was going on?), snapping up Tea For Two and Opus I860 for Duncan, and APOM Homme and Néroli for me, also debating over Mandragore Pourpre (always intriguing – I now regret not buying that one as well), and Goutal’s peculiarly acrid Vanille Exquise.

 

I would probably never even have given either of these perfumes more than a cursory sniff at Isetan if I had come across them:  anything with ‘pour homme’ in the title immediately puts me off as I anticipate gender clichés that don’t fit the image I have of myself (I had definitely liked the feminine equivalent though and was very disappointed it wasn’t that one instead when I first saw the bottle), and in any case colognes, and neroli in particular, are not something I necessarily go for as I don’t think I can really carry off orange blossom.

 

Although I am drawn to the smell of these flowers in nature and am definitely an acolyte of the essential oil (for skin preservation purposes), in fragrance it doesn’t quite work for me. I was never a fan of the classic cologne formula (the petitgrain, rosemary and musk added to the neroli), and there are very few scents of this type I can imagine wearing on myself. I quite like Divin Enfant, Castile and Dilmun, – all padded, creamily softened nerolis – but they are a bit pampered and cotton woolish for my own tastes. The sharper, more vivid perfumes of the type, Lutens’ Fleurs D’Oranger, Fragile, or Atelier Cologne’s Grand Néroli, are glinting extravagances that I can appreciate but not wear persuasively, and until discovering this rendition by Goutal, I would never have seen myself leaving the house in this flower’s leafy, potent gaze.

 

But Annick Goutal’s Néroli has the green rasp of bitter orange leaves; the snap of a twig and the fresh floral white breath of natural orange blossoms. The full bower; a replenishingly brisk, yet deeply felt neroli that is refreshing in its simplicity yet impressive in its true to lifeness. More than a portrait of orange blossom flowers it is an enactment: a reappearance, almost, of the living flowers on each spray: it is more true than any other neroli I know, yet simultaneously more pleasing than the neural harshness of the pure essential oil. Although as with all colognes the zinginess inevitably fades, this is still quite lovely throughout its duration: cool, yet warm; removed, yet romantic; enveloping, yet subtle. It is excellent, and I am very glad I bought it.

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The almost diametrically opposed APOM, a curious and original scent by Maison Kurkdijian, is woozy, sexed and direct, centred on the same smell of orange blossom as the Goutal – if less sharply defined – but where the Néroli is all concerned with nature and the sweet outdoors, APOM (‘A Piece Of Me’), is all about urbanity. ‘Lifestyle.’ Signatures. Where the Annick Goutal delights and uplifts, APOM disturbs; a prowlingly plasticky leather and cedared amber base (erotic); steam-ironed synthetics in the top accord that reek of freshly pressed, exclusive clothes in a penthouse city apartment.

 

 

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APOM’s creator, Francis Kurkdjian, is in many ways a modern genius. Unlike the vast majority of niche perfumes I smell, his creations are indelibly created with character. Unlike Bertrand Duchaufour and his (often pointlessly) overegged puddings, brimming with details but for me at least difficult to digest, FK seems to pare down his formulae to the essentials, yet avoids the pale minimalism of an Ellena or a Giacobetti, rendering them full-cheeked; replete, and immediately memorable. It often seems to me in fact that the best new scents are still somehow instantly familiar and recognizable in some way that does not detract from their innovation. Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male, a Kurkdjiian creation, had echoes of earlier perfumes but still packed an immediate punch as a zeitgeisty fragrance that became a mass seller. APOM, a perfume I am not sure I entirely like (in fact in some ways I could even say that it repels me; I felt very strange indeed wearing it out in public on the day that I did as it was like being a different person; guised in a costume that was alien, unholy, yet fascinating: I was unable to stop constantly inhaling myself), is nevertheless hotly distinctive and commercial. This scent is pointed; and blunting. Sexy. As I came out of the cinema, alone (“The Tribe”, a brilliant, almost silent film acted entirely in sign language without subtitles), feeling stunned and quite dislocated by what was a very singular cinematic experience, the smell that was rising up from my clothes only added to the disorientating feeling of being suspended in dense, thick time; where the outside reality felt uncanny and heightened – a man cycling slowly by a canal; the mist covered waters, the memories of the beautiful but very violent film rising in splintered vivid  fragments in my scentless brain.

 

‘A Piece Of Me’ thus feels like a very apt name for the perfume. A tattoo; a memento of someone left on a trace of the air in a room. It is intensely modern, of the times, but fully realized, as though it had willed itself from ether into existence….

 

 

 

 

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Later on in that evening, I met up with Duncan and a group of friends who had just done a ten hour marathon charity walk for Medicins Sans Frontières around the Yamanote Line in Tokyo ( I wasn’t able to take part because of my knee), but in any case, rather than feeling lonely or left out as I might have done at another time, on that particular day I was revelling in that particular kind of solitude when existence feels glassy, liquid, double distilled, when you have entered it and own it from the inside. And as the pungent, insistent base tones of APOM began to fade on my skin, I then found that the linking note – the orange blossom, the neroli – meant that despite their great differences in conception and execution, I could also spritz on some Goutal – revivifying, natural; fresh, more innocent – just before meeting everyone at the station

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Filed under Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's The Tribe, Neroli, Orange Blossom

Here comes the sun, little darlin….. SOLEIL LIQUIDE by MEMOIRE LIQUIDE (2009)

Today was the first day of proper, unbridled sunshine we have had this year : blue skies, cold breeze, but in the sunshine directly it was hot enough to not need a jacket; proper soul-warming sun up to the the mid-sixties, the kind of day in London where people strip off their shirts in the parks and soak up some rays on the grass with beers and the first picnics, as multilayered foreign tourists from much hotter countries look bemusedly on, and we pretend to ourselves that this is going to be what the weather will be like for the foreseeable future.

A day, then, for mood-enhancing, summery scents (even though it is only the beginning of March and I am totally jumping the gun…) I have been lucky, though, to receive a lot of perfume samples in the post in recent weeks, and livened by the light, and having just finished my post on piquant greens from this morning, I felt like trying something new and refreshing.

Scrabbling through the vials (all over the house, anywhere, everywhere, total lack of organization I am afraid) I came across one that had ‘Soleil Liquide’ written on it (no name of the perfume house on the vial, inviting me in, cryptically, as a ‘drink me’ bottle might do Alice) as I was ironing my shirt,  with my coffee; music on; the window wide open and the sounds of my  neighbourhood flooding in; my cat, Mori, fighting with the ginger tom across the street (there is some territorial battle going on);  kids on their way to school, birds beginning to ‘twitter’ (I have had the windows shut for so long!)…a quick sniff before applying: ah yes, that will do, one of those nice, unthreatening,  contemporary florals I like in measured doses;  those jasmines and tuberoses like  Beyond Love, Marc Jacobs,  and the new Oscar De La Renta Mi Corazon; sheer, but not too sheer; fresh, clear, but with enough exotic suggestion for me to acquiesce (just on one wrist and one cuff, my guilty, bucking-the-rules pleasure for school, as ‘gender-bending’, nectarous, fleurs emanate from my tutorious person….)

In any case, Liquide Soleil has been my school scent of the day, and I have to say that have enjoyed it. A modern, citrus white floral that is easy on the nose and spirits for its cheering, American summer goodness,  its barely  whispered memories of France (Tendre Poison, even the eighties incarnation of Vent Vert, or am I just imagining it?), its simple, immediate, pamplemousse-gorged uplift.

Neroli, tangerine and lightly candied grapefruit; a pleasingly blended triumvirate of yellows that coalesces very nicely together over the standard, familiarized accords of subtle sandalwood and white musks, yet mixed together knowingly and judiciously to cleverly bring the ‘liquid sunshine’ to the whole.  Conventional if you really have to nit-pick, but something that really does to me smell good, and those were today’s quite simple criteria. Make me smell nice. Make me smell clean and laundered but also nice; handsome; comely.

You may have smelled this type of fragrance many times before, these citrus-boosted nerolis like Fleurs D’Oranger and Cologne Grand Neroli that abound quite frequently in the perfume world;  but a perfectly blended, dependable bottle of summertime happiness is nothing to be sniffed at ( I find most perfumes these days go wrong at some point: there is always some vile woody addition that ruins it; some sweet, banal chemical that turns me off, but I didn’t really get any of that with Liquide Soleil, apart, perhaps, from a sense that by the end of the day, when the sun had actually gone, it was slightly beginning to outstay its welcome (probably because it was clinging, still zinging with orangey, persistent neroli to my chalk-flecked shirt…)

No. The carefree, citrus florality of this perfume is really  appealing, and it is something I would happily wear quite regularly, particularly on warm sunny days like today. If it is nice tomorrow as well, I think it might be getting another outing…

 

 

 

 

 

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Today, 5.36 pm, Hiratsuka station, as I made my way to my evening classes…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Grapefruit, Neroli