ALL DRESSED UP WITH SOMEWHERE TO GO (in ROJA DOVE’S BIG WHITE FLORALS) : : : GARDENIA (2012) + LILY (2014) + TUBEROSE (2016)

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Roja Dove likes his perfumes to be Perfumes: big, blowsy, luscious, full.

And who am I to disagree?

All three of these confident, and laughing, wide-brimmed divas have no fear of lighting up a room with their scent………full-bodied, sweet; panoramic.

And in these vicious, pent up, and mean-spirited times, I say BRING IT ON.

Tuberose, possibly the least inventive of the three but also my favourite, is, if not a carbon copy of Fracas, at the very least an obvious homage; peachy, cinnamon-pinched and wedded to a classicist sandalwood vanilla musk; creamy, sensual and delicious  (in parfum especially) : quite the new/old tuberose on the block, with the Frenchness of Caron’s cold cream Tubereuse and even a short-lived remembrance in the head of Karl Lagerfeld’s seminal Chloe.

While obviously something of a throwback, this still does feel like an updated Fracas in many ways,  with less of that tuberose classic’s blaring, perfumey base, (if you know what I mean.)

And if, like me, you know for a fact you like the classic tuberoses, you are virtually guaranteed to love it.

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Lily, more contemporary and fresh, is a more complex and multilayered creature than Tuberose, something like a cross between Lauder’s Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia and Hermes’ Vanille Gallante, with all the lip-piqued Americana of the former – at ease in the formal and informal – and the Parisian vanillic salt lily sensuousness of the latter.

This is quite a luscious, tropical urban perfume, gorgeous in a way ( if teetering on the verge of overloaded artificiality), but I still know that come the hot summer months I will definitely be draining my small 7.8ml sample bottle – a dot here and there on work shirt collar surely making a pleasing, sunbeamed, beach-hazy backdrop.

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Gardenia, like Lily, but unlike Tuberose, is also not a soliflore, but more a trompe l’oeil, marmoreal amalgam of a soap-white mythic, gardenia goddess; a creature of the Hollywood studios featuring very little relation to a living and breathing fungally breathtaking gardenia in the bushes.

While the overall impression of this grand creation has something almost gardenia-like, this perfume is ultimately more green-leafed, and white-smoothed, in the unimpeachable sud-soaped manner of Pure Distance’s Opardu – unblemished, feminine,  subtly commanding –  enveloping the wearer in an expensive, generous, dazzlingly faux-demure aura of come here, my darling.

I confess that I find it quite alluring.

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GALBANUM WOUND HEALING VERDICT

 

 

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I put up an impromptu post yesterday concerning galbanum, that strident, acrid, greenest of resins that was generating some interesting comments but which, as often happens with iPhone posts written and edited on the bus, just suddenly disappeared (god knows why), much to my incandescent fury. I am not the kind of writer who can repeat words verbatim  – even if I could remember them – as it suddenly seems somehow dishonest and fake to me, so if I don’t have a draft of something that is it.

 

In essence though, we were discussing galbanum in scent, but also the fact that I had put some galbanum essential oil on a burst blister yesterday as I had read about its purported vulnerary  – wound healing – properties and wanted to see if this was true.

 

The smell of galbanum, even from just one drop of neat essence put directly on the infected area, stayed with me the entire day and all through my lessons.  With the combination of other, faintly vanillic perfumes I was wearing, I started to feel as though I were wearing Must de Cartier parfum (which posits a stringent, green galbanum note over orientalist balsams to intriguing effect ), even as my thumb vaguely throbbed and tingled and I wondered if I had done the right thing.

 

I have great faith in the power of aromatherapy and essential oils, however, have been using them for decades now both for physical and psychological well being, and there is no doubt that the galbanum really does heal cuts and open wounds: this morning after the band aid came off during the night and the area looked a little seepy, I applied another drop of pure Iranian essence to the area and could physically feel and watch it suturing and making skin cells from within (in an hour the affected cut has hardened and pinkened and I feel that pleasurable, corpuscled, flickering sensation you get when you can tell that your white blood cells are stemming into action). In using beautiful, natural essences in this way you get physically closer and more intimate to them because you have internalized them, physically seen them entering your bloodstream, and you can imagine how such ancient knowledge has worked over the millennia, how frankincense, myrrh and galbanum would have been anointed on suffering soldiers on battlefields, potentially saving their lives in the process.

 

The next time I put on my galbanum top noted perfumes, I somehow feel now that I will have been enriched by this experiment. That I will experience its strange, gummy, green, leaf-surging astrigence anew.

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TUBEROSA

 

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Burning Bush, a creature from my imagination made flesh by my person ( see above ), an occasional entity I find quite necessary to embody in these dumb, fascistic times (no matter how ‘horrifying’ some of my old friends and family may find it), performed at a Tokyo cabaret this last Saturday night, singing a slowed down semi-acappella piano version of Kate Bush’s yearnful song from 1978, The Man With The Child In His Eyes.

It was an incantation : an exorcism; pure catharsis.

The scent: :  Dior Poison Esprit de Parfum Proche; Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion, and Roja Dove Tuberose Parfum.

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NARCISSE NOIR by CARON (I9II)

The Black Narcissus

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Narcisse Noir is to Caron what Shalimar is to Guerlain, or Nº5 to Chanel : the perfume upon which the house’s fortune was first established, that made its name, and that subsequently became a legend in perfumed history.

The destinies of these three very diverse creations were not to be similar.While Shalimar’s timeless vanillic beauty still feels relevant, purring and sexy, and N°5 – a beautiful, shimmering, and feminine creation – is still relentlessly promoted as the juggernaut that powered Chanel and one of the world’s bestsellers even to this day, Narcisse Noir, a shadowed and exotic creation, has completely faded into obscurity, known only to perfumisti, those who have worn it for a lifetime, and the dwindling number of people who still frequent the dusty old Caron boutiques on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris or New York’s Lexington Avenue.

Despite the very particular beauty of this perfume, it not…

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WHITE NARCISSUS : : : NARCISSE BLANC by CARON (1927)

                                    The narcissus flower is nature’s narcotic. Worshipped by the ancients, it is an intoxicating, overpowering scent in concentration and in excess can be deleteriou…

Source: WHITE NARCISSUS : : : NARCISSE BLANC by CARON (1927)

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POIS DE SENTEUR DE CHEZ MOI de CARON, VINTAGE EXTRAIT ( I927)

The Black Narcissus

NPG x14113; Martita Hunt as Miss Havisham in 'Great Expectations' by Cecil Beaton

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The vintage Carons are sweet; dense with essence and a yearning, romantic spirit. They are also extremely old fashioned, in a manner that the classic Guerlains manage to somehow avoid with their more intuitively realized timelessness. Fragrances from Caron such as N’Aimez Que Moi, French Cancan, Nuit De Noël and Fleurs De Rocaille, belong to a powdery, gas-lit past that I love, but which tug on me almost unwillingly back to old Paris: to garters and dress-rituals; to lace-concealed candled boudoirs; and the melancholy shadows of the long-fading Belle Epoque.

I talk of the florals especially. The more futuristic, angled scents in the collection such as Alpona, with its strange, orange-green bitterness; En Avion: peppered,flecked: determined and unyielding; Tabac Blond, with its shimmering, gilded interiors, and Poivre, my favourite from this era, a furious, life-loving crooner with a carnation and clove-studded whip, are so rebellious and distinctive in their genuineness…

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THE YEARNING : : : : BOHEA BOHEME by MONA DI ORIO (2016):

 

 

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If I have criteria when judging a new perfume, they are probably these:

 

 

a) does it smell good? does it smell beautiful ? (as highly subjective as talking about music)

b) is it well-made, with solid materials? (more objectively verifiable I would say)

c) does it say something? does it evoke something? is it original, unusual, idiosyncratic?

 

 

 

 

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This perfume by Mona Di Orio (the second posthumous release by current in-house perfumer Jeroen Oude Sogtoen) does for me basically fulfill the above objectives; a shadowy, umbral, and emotional smoked tea fragrance based on the scent of bohea tea from the Wuyi mountains in China that takes me to another place.

 

There is something very melancholic, even elegiac (post-colonial guilt?) about this scent. I think it is perhaps it is the note of poplar buds – a very distinctive, medicinal smell that I and my father love to experience in Autumn: a peculiar, spiced, aromatic note that takes this blend beyond the usual confines of the niche mossed boisé.

 

Familiar, woody accords anchor the delicately pine-fumed tea leaves (oak, boxwood, juniper, sandalwood), while a greener, evocative accord of iris root, bergamot and chamomile then smother the cold mountain earth below with warmth; a smooth, radiating osmanthus and beeswax note at the centre of the scent that hugs the blend together with a distant,  understated soulfulness.

 

 

 

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Bohea Boheme is a perfume that would smell great on my brother. Greg, as sensitive a person as you are likely to meet, loves anything related to tea and tobacco leaves, bonfires, early twentieth century British, and though this scent doesn’t have much projection (part of its appeal), I am quite sure that it would hover about his person, should he choose to wear it as he goes about his London days, in a nostalgic, but unplaceable, aura of bygone elegance and longing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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John Ovington's Tea Essay, 1699

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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