Category Archives: Neroli

BLANK SLATE ::::::::::: SESAME CHAN by ANIMA VINCI (2018) + MUGLER COLOGNE : LOVE YOU ALL (2018) + ALL ABOUT THE BOOK LAUNCH AND MY STRANGE, INTENSE, TRIPLE LIFE

 

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Sometimes it is difficult to distill experiences into words. Especially when they have been  among the most intense and memorable of your life (this post might take several chapters; or alternatively, realistically, as time gets swallowed up in the living of the regular week, not even amount to much at all – yesterday I went back to work, shaved my beard off, and became someone I am not again, with all the damage that entails to the body and the soul). The flight home was exhausting, memories gestating in my head, the bifurcation of cultures, the rabbit hole of my existence.

 

 

 

England was fantastic. It was great to have our own pad in Pimlico to slink back to this time, rather than carting suitcases on the underground and half-sleeping on other people’s sofas (those days are gone: I am too old). It meant we could retreat and conserve energy. And wake up on white, Georgian streets, and see England with new eyes. Night taxis past the Houses Of Parliament and the London Eye; gliding silently past midnight clad in new perfumes to demarcate new experience: I had been given a bottle of a perfume by Anima Vinci, and also something entirely not me (and yet me: I wore it in great profusion……after meeting Monsieur and Madame Persolaise for a catch up at an Indian restaurant, though exhausted from the night before – the launch and the gathering afterwards – there was one more assignation to Dalston to go to the house of one Lyall Hakaraia : a fascinating creature from New Zealand who lives in  permanently flower drenched air, on this occasion an almost suffocating pleasure of lilies, hyacinths and tuberoses, his own club in the basement – Femmetopia – but it was too cold for me to dance; my heating needs are now beyond reptilian – Garrick, the host of the party where I played with Anne Pigalle (did I really?) there, resplendent in what looked like black Issey Miyake……it felt like a stage set, I was in The Matrix, Lyall in silk Japanese dressing gown, classical music coming from Radio 3 as they waited for JT Leroy, who was staying there and drinking at a pub around the corner………(surreal).

 

 

I had been unable to bear the smell of all the fried onions on my clothes, to the extent that I couldn’t even wear my coat (death for me): instead I had had an emergency shower and different, boring clothes, and sick of bloody No 19, which I have been signaturing all over the shop, felt like a new skin: : :: Mugler’s Love You All sprayed all over me like a waterfall: all steamed, laundry fresh ultramodern neroli and probably lime and the most innocuous, almost angelic, white musks, for that moment it felt strange but absolutely right, and our host made motions of pleasure as he inhaled me brushing past, climbing the stairs away from the revellers in the basement to the unbelievable florality of the reeking fleurs du mal of the living room and kitchen where we sipped neat Zubrowka vodka and rambled coherently about all kinds of nonsense until it was suddenly 3am and we had to leave in order not to miss our morning trains.

 

 

 

Back home at my parents’, I was completely drawn to wearing Anima Vinci’s delicious Sesame Chan, a perfume of extreme, soothing comfort that fits me like a glove and is my new favourite scent. Those that like Hermes’ Vetiver Tonka will in all likelihood also like this warm gourmand based on vetiver with delicately balanced notes of ginger, hazelnut, cereals, sesame and an eventual base note of pure, soft vanilla……I was LOVING myself on the train ride home, past fields of green, lost in thought and a novel, constantly aware of the aura around me: sweet, but not too much so, fresh, light, yet long lasting and completely pleasurable ; for me this is a perfectly blended comfort blanket and I am going to wear it today in Tokyo as well (tonight, in a sharp reverse from yesterday’s dungeon of condensed office culture I am attending the launch party of a Canadian poet, Joy Waller, and her first published book of poetry, Pause: Heartbeat, at which a range of foreign Tokyoites are going to interpret some of her works, including Duncan, who will be Icarus, and myself and Lola his Grecian tormentors (Burning Bush in a sack and a rake….I am getting whiplash just thinking about it: sometimes I feel that my own life is happening beyond my authorisation and I just watch it salaciously).

 

 

 

It was somewhat similar at the Launch party. The day before, I had been on BBC Radio London, live, which was a terrifying experience (have I already talked about this? probably), but it was so heightened and heartbeaty arriving at Broadcasting House, getting through all the levels of security, going up to Jo Good’s floor, where she was doing her show, talking about all kinds of things: Brexit, the price of tuna steaks, Neil Chapman’s perfume book – and feel free to call in and ask him any questions about fragrance! I am also going to ask him to guess what I am wearing…….as I sat in the lobby, knowing that I would be on after the news and a song::: holding my bag o ‘ perfumes close to me, knowing I would be talking live and having absolutely no idea how it would turn out…Neil you are on in five; Neil you can come in now, as the new single by Bananarama was playing –  who were being interviewed after me – I now wished I could have hung around a bit longer and met them as I used to love their early stuff, but I was already being ushered out at that point, the fifteen minutes having gone by so quickly. Ms Good was a lovely woman; really enthusiastic, and she loved the fact that I had taken so many scents in for her to try. I found myself quite enjoying myself by the end, getting into my stride.

 

 

 

It all took its nerve toll, though, and although D and his parents came round in the evening, fresh from the Norwich bus and staying at the Windermere Hotel next door to hear me on the radio – like families gathering around the wireless in the 1940’s there was something very special and beautiful about this, my mum having also called up having just got back from the hairdresser’s, hearing something about tuna steaks and then not being able to believe her son was on the radio, she and dad gathered around the computer back home……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day though I had to be alone to get my act together for the evening. The Launch. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are times in your life that you know are going to be defining moments. And this was definitely one of them (hopefully not the apex, but who knows? Perhaps this was my small moment). Whatever it was, it involved people from my life coming together – ‘characters’ from my book : girls, women from the past -(and present, we are still in contact) Rebecca, Natasha, Julianne, Julia, of course Helen, but in the flesh – friends from university I hadn’t seen for twenty five years (Lesley! Artemis, it was divine to see you, seriously), my family, and Duncan’s – plus The Perfume Society, hosted by Jo Fairley, who had just rushed across London fresh from winning a Jasmine Award, and though I have realised that in truth I am not entirely comfortable with eyes and attention on me (hence not wanting to teach any more – at times I feel violated by it: : :I get more and more sensitive as I get older, not less – I thought it was meant to be the opposite); this was different: in essence a celebration. The book, with its gold-embossed pages, was piled up on a table near the entrance. The handsome duo of my cousin Dominic and his husband Scott arrived (both architects/ designers) and seemed quite taken with it; there was Mrs Dalloway from The Black Narcissus too, and Catherine, standing shyly in a corner (very nice to meet you!), Samantha from I Scent You A day, with a friend (so sorry we didn’t get to properly talk: it was like that with everyone though: I was jealous of people being able to just relax and have conversations): Emma we hardly spoke at all, which I regret: Rachel and Sally, hardly at all either (sorry!): a lovely Japanese lady who has given me some introductions to perfume people in Tokyo (I am trying to get a Japanese co-edition put out for the small but passionate fragrance lovers of this city), all kinds of people, but in truth within the swirl of the champagne and the food – which I didn’t touch, weird for me I didn’t even get a chance to relieve my bladder- and with everything going on I had to be interviewed in front of everyone and read from the book, and I was not entirely present. At the time, or immediately afterwards, I couldn’t even remember anything I said: : afterwards I realised that despite feeling like the heaviest person in the world, heavier than lead, an animated corpse jolted by electric batteries to come alive and say something, as though I was rallying myself and battening down to the primal basics, eventually I started flowing; Jo was down to earth, relaxed and saying very nice things about the book, and I let my eccentricities out – I do remember quite a few times that people were laughing.

 

 

 

 

 

I signed books – by the end of the event there were none left, or maybe one (Georgia, I can’t believe you bought four, or was it five?) and we all piled next door to a cocktail bar, where everyone met and talked and the time went in no time in a blur of booze and love, and we found ourself in yet another taxi going home.

 

 

 

 

So: the book is out. It came out in America on April 2nd. There have been some extremely glowing reviews from The Perfume Society, Persolaise, I Scent You A Day, Australian Perfume Junkies, The Fragrant Wanderer, and Old Herbaceous (thanks very much), all of which I am so delighted with, – you never know how things will be received,) so it does seem that my crazed and pressurised labours of last year were not in vain. I expect the intense and touching memories will eventually decompact themselves and I may write more on all of this again, but for now I have to get ready for Duncan’s piece tonight, again on stage: : what has happened to me! Am I an extroverted introvert or the other way round: (how about you?). His piece, based on another’s poem, on the intense desire to escape life, or at the very least reality. Which, ultimately, in many ways, is what my book is basically about. The desire for beauty, and the transcendental.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reviews:

 

 

 

 

 

https://thefragrantwanderer.wordpress.com

 

https://perfumesociety.org/delve-into-the-best-perfume-book-weve-read-in-years/

 

https://iscentyouaday.com/2019/03/22/perfume-in-search-of-your-signature-scent-by-neil-chapman/

http://persolaise.blogspot.com/2019/03/persolaise-review-perfume-in-search-of.html

 

https://scentsandsensibilities.co/category/books-i-like/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Citrus, Gourmand, Neroli, PERFUME: IN SEARCH OF YOUR SIGNATURE SCEN, PERFUME: IN SEARCH OF YOUR SIGNATURE SCENT reviews, Vetiver

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