Tag Archives: 2000s scents

O The Virtues: ORIGINAL VETIVER by CREED (2004) + SIGNORICCI by NINA RICCI (1976)

 

 

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A bright winter’s morning.  The bathroom of a stately home.

 

On the wash basin,  lies a pristine bar of soap.

 

It is the most perfect soap imaginable; a hard, impenetrable, triple-milled yellow soap; the clean, heart-clearing brightness of bergamot: the finest essences of sun-binding neroli all married grassly to a light, fresh note of cool, purified vetiver root planted down, somewhere beneath the surfaces, in its fragrant, pounded, centre.

 

A vetiver, then, of spanking immaculateness and spruceness; a perfect accoutrement to the face-splashing morning ritual: a scent that very reeks – very nearly,  ALMOST – of trust.

 

Until you smell Signoricci that is, when the artificial, clammed together, and somewhat hysterical brightness of Creed’s Original Vetiver is suddenly exposed……

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signoricci, one of the few key masculines from a classical house that, in its heyday, produced some of the most delicate and exquisite feminine florals ever created, predates Creed’s scent by three long decades and is of a similar soap-cleansed theme; citrus (lemon, verbena and lime), over delicate, cologne-steeped vetiver, but in this long discontinued perfume the effect is incredibly, incredibly refined.

 

 

I first smelled smelled Signoricci at my brand new friend Federico’s apartment in Rome one October afternoon – standing there, alone as it was on his wooden bookshelf in his room – and I remember how immediately blown away I was by its deceptively simple beauty; a beautiful conception of fine-hearted masculinity that is almost impossible to imagine now in today’s world of hard-hitting woods; spices;  and designer-bearded synthetics.

 

 

Beginning with perhaps the most piercing, yet simultaneously gentle and perfect citrus top note I know of, the vetiver, cedar and sandalwood heart of this composition is  revealed gently and gradually;  an accord of almost heartbreaking cleanliness: a perfection and purity of soul.

 

 

 

Its perfection notwithstanding, if there can be any criticism of Signoricci (and must there be, really?) it is just that: this perfume, in all honesty, is possibly too perfect; a saintly, flawlessly scrupled man who seems too good, almost, to be possibly true.

 

 

 

 

Like doubting Thomases,  we stand agape.

 

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews, Vetiver

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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9 Comments

Filed under Grapefruit, Neroli

SCREAMING JELLY BABIES: TUSCAN BLOOD ORANGE by PACIFICA

 

 

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When the package came, the first thing I tried was Tuscan Blood Orange.

 

I love orange: I love it in chocolate, in cakes, in perfumes, and am a huge consumer of the fruit, especially Japanese mikan, iyokan, and ponkan: I think my colleagues find me slightly bizarre. While I ultimately think I prefer lemon, there is nothing more uplifting and easy than a good orange, though it is not often successfully carried off in perfume for some reason (see my other post on oranges for some exceptions to this rule).

 

This particular perfumed version of the fruit, ‘Tuscan Blood Orange’, is not an orange, per se, as much as a jelly baby, or rather a fistful of jelly babies, those classic British gummis that kids of my generation grew up with, and which my grandparents always brought round to the house on a Sunday night, along with Twixes, Bounties, and Mars Bars.

 

And I loved them.

 

Boxes of Bassetts jelly babies in their bright friendly colours of green, red, black, orange……mild, delicious, as you bit of their heads with a tinge of guilt and kept dipping your hands in for more.

 

 

The marketing teams at Bassetts also decided, a few years ago,  to give a name to each flavour (making the dental decapitation all the more savage, don’t you think?) and this cute little perfume by American brand Pacifica seems to feature almost the entire posse (though Bigheart, blackcurrant, is conspicuously absent)…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While an appley, melon top note makes you question whether the perfume has been labelled incorrectly for a few seconds, soon Baby Bonny (raspberry); Brilliant (strawberry), and even brief flashes of Boofuls and Bubbles (lime and lemon respectively) make appearances in Blood Orange before Bumper – that lovely, sweet orange jelly baby – smiles, winks, and immediately tap dances its way into your affections.

 

 

Wearing this perfume, then, is a total confectionery blast from the past for me and puts me in an excellent mood – it is so cheap as well that I might have to order myself a bottle from Amazon. Sometimes I like such pleasing uncomplication.

 

 

 

 

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The title of this post comes from a science experiment that I wish my school had done, in which jelly babies are thrown into tubes of potassium chlorate as they  fizz away instantaneously in fits of oxidisation, squealing, apparently, as they do so, and leaving the science labs reeking of candy floss. I think that if chemistry lessons at my school had involved such olfactory pleasures, perhaps I might now have been making perfume, rather than merely writing about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 Comments

Filed under Confectionery, Orange, Perfume Reviews

Lady In Red: Pour Une Femme by Caron (2001)

Lady in Red, is dancing with me.

I’ve never seen you looking so lovely as you did tonight.

Never seen you shine so bright….

A made-up, quintessentially vermillion ‘date perfume’ for night time and silk, this beauty by my side has the hairdo of Jennifer Rush and smells indelible, typical; I move my head slightly back.

However, as the candles flicker, our wrists flick glinting champagne glasses, and we sway and smooch to Luther Vandross, the intensity of her opening gambits fades, and the heart of her fragrance is slowly and gradually revealed – an intense, seductress sweet rose and spiced frankincense/benzoin accord that goes quite beautifully with her gown.

Image Image Image Image     I will never forget the way you looked tonight.

3 Comments

Filed under Flowers, Perfume Reviews, Rose, Slinky

A hint of leather: CUIR OTTOMAN by Parfum D’Empire (2006)+ SPANISH LEATHER by Geo F Trumper (1902)+ ROYAL ENGLISH LEATHER by Creed (1781)

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CUIR OTTOMAN / PARFUM D’EMPIRE

As sensual and smooth as brand new suede, this is a great leather.  The beginning, freshly raw and animalic, might be offputting for some, like just-skinned hides being dried in the sun. But this uninhibited, free introduction is then tamed: with gentle woods, iris, and a proud, clean leather that dries down to a superb, suave, finish.

SPANISH LEATHER / GEO F TRUMPER

Antique teddy. Brideshead. Anthony Andrews.

Soft, soapy; gentle. Leather. Hints of sensuality. A touch half-hearted, perhaps, although my friend’s daughter proclaimed, upon smelling it in the shop,  that ‘it does, really, smell exactly like Spain and the air there!’

ROYAL ENGLISH LEATHER/ CREED

Diffusive, warm and powdery; a heliotropic, gorgeous, air-filling suede caress. A scent that thoroughly envelops you in elegance yet is totally seductive.

If you like L’Heure Bleue but can’t quite take all the marzipan,  Royal English Leather makes a beautiful, distinctive,  alternative.

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Filed under Leather, Perfume Reviews

A bristling citrus: PHILTRE D’AMOUR by GUERLAIN (2000)

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With so many perfume houses releasing limited editions that are released, fanfared and then disappeared without trace, it becomes easy to equate their brevity on the market with similar levels of imagination. Neverthless, occasionally, the spontaneity and lack of expectation placed on limited editions can produce bursts of creativity that lead to more singular, less market-tested and common-denominator fragrances; scents that pop up unexpectedly like crocus-bulbs in spring and enchant you with  their fresh-breathed joie de vivre.

For a while at the beginning of the 2000’s, Guerlain would release limited perfumes that were not flankers to their main-line-up perfumes, but separate work, released in a prolific spirit of productivity that yielded such well-regarded treasures as Guet Apens and Gentiana.

In a spirit of mercy to these more inspired saplings that were culled before their prime, some of them were given a reprieve, a chance to star again, however briefly, on the billboard of ‘Les Parisiennes’, a kind of Guerlain Golden Hall of Fame for discontinued classics and limited releases that stubbornly refused to die a death, and Philtre D’Amour, a wonderful, moody citrus, is one of them.

I found my bottle at the flea market and bought it unsniffed, expecting, as the name would suggest, something sultry and floral. Spraying the scent was thus a total shock. Philtre D’Amour is a sour, concentrated, and very natural accord of verbena, myrtle and lemon-leaves layered delicately over a sharp, fantastically dark patchouli: a mysterious and lovely, almost powdery citrus chypre that leaves an intriguing and surprisingly nuanced trail in its wake.

She is a delicate thing, this Philtre; treat her carefully, don’t rub her up the wrong way or step on her emotions, and she will yield; show you through the ivy-covered doors of her secret garden to the other side: her neroli’d, fresh air garden petals of jasmine diced with petitgrain: gentle walks around the topiaries, the April skies opening up and bestowing newness, vitality and Spring as the lemons shine youthfully and you sigh gratefully that someone out there still knows how to make a modern, yet classically structured, perfume.

Vistas and groves open up when I smell Philtre D’Amour: it is slight, it is curious, but it is something I would wear all the time if I had more of it:  the delicate, little 30ml cylinder you see in the picture is kept for special, precious use.

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Filed under Chypre, Citrus, Lemon, Patchouli, Verbena

Is that a camel I see there sleeping lackadaisically in my bed? ……………………ARABIE…..by SERGE LUTENS (2000)

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Celery, prunes, dates, vanilla, spices: at the time this seemed an affront to decency

(“Horrible…………………………………..vile pronounced my mother) – a smell that belonged to a restaurant and not on a human.

 

 

Years later, with the proliferation of anything goes in the niche industry, Arabie’s shock value has decreased (by about 10%), and the big-hearted heaviness of its familiar orientalist contours, with its gorgeous warmth of Iraqi dates, cumin and figs, along with its nutmeg, mandarins and clove, and that cloyed, clogged, foul rug of sweet, so very foreign sweetness, should ensure its survival as an eccentricist’s classic, a scent to don on; and dance, waywardly and obstructedly, the drunken Salomé Dance Of The Seven Veils.

 

 

 

Twirl. Surrender. But remember: this perfume’s main feature is a caramelized celery; and it is wild; and it is sick, and it really is not for the sheepish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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23 Comments

Filed under Camel, Celery, Perfume Reviews, Prune, Spice