Sunday, 3 March 2019

Puredistance AENOTUS - a journey to old Hollywood

Do you wish you could smell in technicolour?

I believe I have. My first spray of AENOTUS by Puredistance unearthed the memory of one of my favourite films, Hitchcock’s - To Catch a Thief. The extraordinary ability of scent to link the olfactory sense with the visual burst in action and journeyed me from my soggy Yorkshire home to the glittering solar playground of The French Riviera. 

Last year Puredistance released WARZSAWA, a composition so opulent and grand that I described it as ‘proper’ perfume. 

AENOTUS, the latest release from Puredistance, feels like the masculine partner of WARSZAWA. It is once again a ‘proper’ perfume that feels far removed from the masses of trend led industry releases of recent years. 

Jan Ewoud Vos, Founder of Puredistance, briefed Perfumer Antoine Lee with the creation of a signature scent for his personal wear. The scent was required to “combine freshness with long lasting sensuality”. Indeed it does, and with a profoundly picturesque quality.

Which leads me to Hitchcock's glamourous masterpiece. In this 1955 movie, Cary Grant plays a retired cat burglar, framed with a copycat crime on the sparkling French Riviera. Locations are lush and verdant, as viewed from the many scenes of Grant and Grace Kelly speeding around the cliffs of Cannes in the ubiquitous open topped sports car. 

AENOTUS evokes this landscape.

The ‘fresh’ phase of AENOTUS is exuberantly Mediterranean. Rocky scrubland peppered with aromatic sunbaked herbs, the waxy green whiff of citrus tree leaves and the lush swollen fruit growing within, the piercing cold sharpness of botanical sap and bursting buds. It’s all there, and it moves in an extraordinary rhythm. The scent doesn’t sit still, notes move in and out of focus, now you smell it, now you don’t. It’s an olfactory kaleidoscope. There is a sense of illuminating optimism, the hope of adventure, all played out under piercing radiant light. 

For a Northern European, this dazzling opening creates a feeling of otherness, so distant from our often dulled landscape that it reeks of technicolour film stock. Fully saturated escapism.

Cary Grant is far removed from the youthful male leads of contemporary movies. He represents the archetype of old Hollywood masculinity. Whilst inarguably suave, he is also somewhat dishevelled and aged. A leathery suntan colours a craggy expressive face that hints at a decadent lifestyle, a wild ride. He is deeply sexy and unashamedly masculine.

I long for a man with sock-free loafers

And this is the thing about men, they smell. No matter how freshly showered and sweetly perfumed they are, they emit a musky, slightly feral whiff. Enter a man’s bedroom and it will smell instantly recognisable as such. They are the ferrets of the gender divide. AENOTUS emphases the muskiness of masculinity. As it begins to dry down, the freshness retreats and a warm fougère-like base emerges. It is deeply mossy. Oakmoss absolute smells earthy, musky, fusty and animal. Distinctly not fresh and green, it is nature at its muckiest and most intriguing. 

In this way AENOTUS exaggerates masculinity, unapologetically creating a gentle trail of post party Cary Grant.  

AENOTUS is a complex and contradictory scent. Fresh and exuberant yet earthily sensual, vibrantly light and softly dark, freshly soaped cleanliness and morning after filth. What is intriguing about the contradiction is that it was created as a signature scent. The purpose of which is to define the personality and presence of its wearer. The most fascinating people are complex individuals who’s contrasts attract our curiosity and desire to know them.
If AENOTUS defines Jan Ewoud Vos, I’d really like to meet him…

Jan, is he a modern day Cary Grant?

Watch the trailer for To Catch a Thief by clicking here.

Thank you to Puredistance for my sample of AENOTUS. In the interests of integrity, the views expressed here are entirely my own and the post is not sponsored.

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Friday, 1 February 2019

On The Emperor's New Clothes and perfume industry fatigue.

It’s been a shockingly long time since I last posted. The reason? Perfume Industry fatigue. I still love perfume. I’ve just become cheesed off by the balderdash that currently surrounds it. To follow are some reasons for my fatigue, hopefully poignant to my readers. I’ll endeavour to return to writing about fragrances that continue to inspire me in the near future.

A cautionary tale

1. The boom of the fragrance market

In 2009 Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez published the semi-biblical ‘Perfumes: The A - Z Guide ‘. It contained a comprehensive review of (almost) every fragrance in existence, and some discontinued gems worthy of a chase. We read it cover to cover.
Last year, they published ‘Perfumes: The Guide 2018’. An insightful book that depicted the state of the current market i.e so oversaturated that they were only able to review a small percentage of what is now a boom industry. Within its covers, I read a marvellously accurate essay entitled ’10  Years Later’, the spot-on review of Black Opium (which represents the worst of recent releases to me) and flicked through the necessarily incomplete ‘Index by brand’. The book remains by my bed with the occasional rare dip. 

This is the situation - there is too much perfume, released too quickly, by too many companies keen to cash in. You can’t blame them, it is after all a business. The result is that a great many trend led dreadful fragrances abound and discontinuation increases as brands are unwilling to continue production of an older line that isn’t selling at ‘trend’ speed.

2. Repetition

Amber de sultan’s flip-flops, rose oud de Thomas Cook desert camel outing, cuir de handbag, bois de something more expensive than all of the other woody scents in our line sold at Boots, cologna di inexpensive ingredients that is the same as Spanish folk sensibly buy for 10 Euro at their local pharmacy. 
We all own at least one, some have spent the equivalent of a new car on repetitions of the same theme. 

3. The death of the pyramid

My great joy in wearing fragrance is the delight of the pyramid, experiencing the journey as a scent develops and transforms from euphoric sparkling top notes to a satisfyingly deep and comforting base. It was an art, perfumers were a cross between alchemists and travel agents. 
If you read the aforementioned ’10 Years Later’ essay you’ll receive one opinion on why we are now stuck in boring linear rut.

4. Niche versus Designer

The internet’s longest running bag of hoo-haa. Snooze…

Frederic Malle manages to make his other fragrances seem cheap

5. Pricing

In a housing boom, your £150’000 terraced house becomes worth £250’000. It’s the same house. Nothing has changed. Your house does not have ‘better ingredients’ than it did before the boom. Ormonde Jayne - I’m pointing my finger at you here, and lamenting the approximately 35% increase on a 50ml bottle of Ormonde Woman in the last 5 years.

6. Daft concept marketing

Walk into a Penhaligon’s shop and you will see beautiful fragrances, created with care and time, released infrequently over a period of close to 150 years, crammed into side shelves as if they were a neglected elderly relative. 
In the main body of the shop will be a big table featuring ‘The Portrait’ collection, an enormous collection of blinged-up bottles featuring names that take a ‘humourous’ slant on heritage or monarchy. Examples include ‘The Tragedy of Lord George’ and ‘Clandestine Clara’. Bonkersly expensive, this collection is now the main focus of the company. A couple of years of aggressive concept marketing has wiped out the history and class of one of Britains few independent perfumery houses.
I imagine the next release will be named ‘The Venereal Misfortune of Major Tarquin’.

8. The dubious rewards of blogging

I love to share my thoughts with the many readers of Odiferess. I am thrilled when I look at my stats and see that yesterday 500 people in the USA read an article written from my sofa in soggy Yorkshire. I love the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made through writing and my fragrant hobby. I love the fact that I now know people from New Orleans and New Foundland. I love to engage in comments and feedbacks from readers.
I do not like the fact that I’ve written the equivalent of at least 2 well-read novels in the last 6 years in return for no income from perfume creators. I made a choice not to add advertising to the site as it was created initially a way to share words and creativity with fellow enthusiasts. But sometimes, when I see the thousands of hits on an article about a niche perfume, I consider how valuable this publicity is to a small brand and think - “Well, you could send me a full bottle as a thank you please!”.

7. My resurrected interest in skincare and toiletries

During my fatigue, I’ve become once more enthusiastic about beautifully fragranced skincare and body products. Wearing less (and sometimes no) perfume to bed these days, I get my nocturnal fragrant kick from that which I apply to my skin post bathing. You can expect to see more reviews and musings in this category at Odiferess in the coming year. 
It’s interesting to compare prices of skincare to fragrance. Some think that exceptional natural ingredients justify the inflated pricing of perfume, and yet a widely revered, science led, natural beauty company like Elemis can sell an insanely luxurious 6 piece set of anti-ageing facial and body products at QVC for around £55. When I bought this set just before Christmas, it brought more Tonka scented joy than an overpriced bottle of Tonka Imperiale would have done!

8. Age

At 45 I’ve seen numerous fragrance trends wax and wane and have scent memories developed over 4 decades. The emergence of trend led brands filling the shelves of Selfridges and Harrods does not excite me in the same way as my first whiff of Aromatics Elixir aged about 14. 

9. This guy...

and this...

and the relevance of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. 

Rant over.
Well done if you’ve got this far. Normal service will be resumed soon. 

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Ineke - Evening Edged in Gold, a review and a memoir of London adventures

London is a bewitching place to live in your youth. 

At the age of 22 I moved to the capital to seek thrills, pizzazz and otherworldliness. I took a sales job in a publishing company, developing a trade title for the casino industry. I travelled Europe drumming up new advertisers for the magazine. My clients were mostly wealthy businessmen who wore radiant citrus colognes of the European tradition. My job smelt good. 

A treat for the bleary-eyed in Notting Hill

At weekend I would hang out with friends from Art College who had raced to London before me, we’d dance all night to drum and bass at The Blue Note and spend Sunday afternoon loafing bleary-eyed around the bohemian bars of Notting Hill. I lived in scummy house shares, saving on the rent to pay for a social life and the occasional treasure from Liberty’s beauty hall. My clothes were eccentric and glamourous, often lucky finds in charity shops and vintage markets. I dressed like Margot out of British Sitcom ‘The Good Life’ whenever possible. I remember a lone visit to The Tate Gallery on a hot summer’s day when I wore a shot satin orange 70s cocktail dress. I pulled - a gorgeous Frenchman with whom I spent several decadent days. There was opportunity - be it amourous, adventurous or simply otherness. 

Margot Leadbetter, queen of glamour

Otherness was a significant feature of London. It was here that I encountered the astonishing wealth of others for the first time. I used to catch a bus from my Soho office and travel home through West London to my rented room in Westbourne Park. It was on this extraordinary journey that I played at window peeping. 

I recently got my nose around a bottle of Evening Edged In Gold by the Californian perfumery - Ineke. One sniff and I was transported back 22 years to my favourite bus route.

It began in the messy throng of Oxford Street, headed west to Marble Arch and then zig zagged it’s way through a maze of enchanting streets populated by some of the wealthiest people in the world. They lived in grand abodes, often white Georgian houses with elaborate plasterwork and ‘Mary Poppins’ doorways. By day the journey was a delight to observe but by night it became almost cinematic. 

The golden light of a West London window

It was by night that the rich were revealed. Nobody rich had slatted blinds, they had grand velveteen old-school folds, fashionable modernist drapes in vintage Heals fabric or nothing. Whatever window dressing their interiors people had selected, they were often open. 

As my bus crawled through the London traffic, I would watch their lives. Dinner would be eaten by gentile candlelight, no doubt by a luxurious Diptyque or Cire Trudon treasure. Furniture was achingly stylish and the space was clear. This was not the land of dumped domestic stuff littering their living. It was ‘The World of Interiors’ enacted by real people. 

By far my favourite abodes were the embassies and consulates where grand gatherings took place. Here I spied on exotic groups of people, often from lands I’d never heard of before. Men were immaculately suited and their wives were decorated with cocktail splendour, dripping with jewels and vertiginous Louboutin heels. Champagne was quaffed from crystal flutes from which light sparkled. Their evenings were literally ‘edged in gold’. 

Embassy flags, signalling a grand peeping opportunity

Ineke’s Evening Edged in Gold reeks of otherness. This spiced wonder is truly International, a treasured foreigner in my collection. Alike the beautiful people at the embassy parties, it speaks in a dialect that can’t be easily recognised. 

At first spray I’m enveloped in spice, a sharp cinnamon that laces luscious plummy fruit. The opening is divinely opulent in it’s gilded sweetness. I'm reminded of fine bone china, decorated with lush interpretations of a bucolic harvest lipped with glowing gold. 

When the vivacious top notes have calmed, Evening Edged in Gold becomes increasingly complex. This overtly feminine opening develops woody tones and an earthy leather element that turns its sweetness into an edgier creation. Floral notes abound, Angel’s Trumpet (a relative of Datura with reported hallucinogenic properties) and Midnight Candy are the exotic species replicated within. A google search of Midnight Candy reveals it to be Night Blooming Phlox, an annual flower that I grew this year in my own garden. These tiny blooms open at night to emit a fizzing scent akin to floral sherbet. Perhaps they contribute to the effervescent nature of this creation. The florality feels tropical, island-like, edged in a golden sun.

Angel's Trumpet

I have smelt the combination of fruit, spice and leather so many times, although undeniably beautiful, it can often be a little flat and one dimensional (Feminite du Bois or Aziyade being typical examples). In Evening Edged in Gold, Ineke Ruhland has created a sparkling version of the theme, that develops and delights throughout its wear. 

If this fragrance were a guest at the party, she’d be exotically beautiful and speak with a mellifluous voice. Her fluid clothes would shimmer, cling to just the right spot and depict a deep sensuality. There would no doubt be a lingering body guard keeping a watchful eye over her jewels, and perhaps the curious lady gazing in from the bus. 

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Sunday, 26 November 2017

Strange fruit - a review of Angelo di Fiume by Linari

I love fruit. Nothing beats the gastronomic joy of biting into a perfectly ripe mango or sucking bits of tasty seeded slime from the dimpled husk of a passion fruit. 

In the perfume world however, fruit is a frequently occurring whiff on the shelves of high street stores but underrepresented within niche perfumery offerings. Whilst citrus fruits have reigned as King of the top note and formed the backbone of tradition eau de colognes, their sticker siblings have not enjoyed the same favourable treatment  Is it the stigma of fruit being one half of the often derided ‘fruity floral’ genre? As enlightened perfume lovers continue to bore of the same old ‘oud-this’ and ‘amber-that’ there is room for a new trend. And with the possibility of enormous olfactory diversity, I hope to see the pulps, pips and juices stake their claim.

Quirky interpretations of fruity notes do exist right now though, we’ve just got to hunt them down. 

Linari’s Angelo di Fiume is a truly eccentric creation, combining a veritable fruit salad with caramelised smoke and vanilla. Sounds weird? It is. But it’s quite lovely. 

Fragrance Notes

Top: Cherry, Raspberry, Orange, Bergamot

Middle: Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Caramel, Rose, Green Leaves

Base: Vanilla, Sandalwood, Benzoin, Musk, Patchouli

Upon first spray, you are hit by sweet smoke - imagine a bonfire where dry leaves are coated in caramel. The smokiness is cut through by a fruit abstraction. You can’t detect the individual notes, instead a general air of juiciness announces it’s presence. There is a distinct feel of ‘Christmas market’ to the composition, rendering the whiff pleasingly wintry. 
As it progresses in to dry down, Angelo di Fuime loses the smoky quality and develops an extraordinarily sumptuous base, a perfect vanilla. Not the sweet tooth vanilla of a teen market scent, nor the boozy vanilla of Mona di Orio or L’ Artisan Parfumeur. This is a creamy, woody vanilla harmony, no doubt an atmosphere enhanced by benzoin and sandalwood joining the party.

The overall effect is delightfully decadent.

Linari house their creations in equally decadent bottles. The design has the weighty ice hockey puck feel of Bulgari Black and is topped by a carved wooden lid that would not look out of place in an old fashioned gentlemen's drinking club. The black label is ringed with 22ct gold. The bottles are luxurious, retro and deeply masculine. You would expect this bottle to hold a fragrance entitled ‘oud wood intense extreme noir’. But instead, it houses a fragrance that is unique, creative and a pleasure to the hopeful nose of a 'smelt it all' blogger.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Winner announced - Perfume print draw

Congratulations to Gerda from The Netherlands who is the winner of the Odiferess perfume print draw! 

I was overwhelmed with the kind comments and encouragement about my artwork and I thank everyone dearly who entered. 

As a treat for those who didn't win, I'm offering a promotion for readers of the blog during November at the Etsy shop. If you buy two prints you can receive a third free. If you would like to participate, head over to the shop do the following:

Add two prints to your basket, then during checkout add a 'message to seller', drop me a note stating 'Odiferess' and tell me your choice number three. I'll then add it to your order free of charge.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Scent your walls with fragrant art - an International giveaway


My perfume collection has extended. It’s filled its designated drawer and mounted the walls.

Fougere, Noir and Florale

Over the last month I created a collection of mixed media artwork themed around imaginary perfume. I spend my working days teaching young people how to make visual art that passes exams, it’s rare that I get chance to relax and create my own. However, in the recent holiday I got the bug back and spent the fortnight ankle deep in cut paper, devouring coffee and listening to French radio. I felt quite the bohemian!




The concept:
I think most people with a serious perfume habit have at least a little bit of Synesthesia. As fitting for an artist, I sense colour in fragrance. That which most pleases my nose tends to conjure gold and yellow hues. I don’t think it’s just the case that I have a deep adoration of ylang ylang. I gravitate towards scents that fizz and sparkle with an emphasis on volatile top notes, so perhaps I’m visualising champagne and jewels in my collection.
The artwork uses colour to describe fragrance genres as I sense them. I wonder if the colours resonate with you?


The process:
I monoprinted, stained, painted, tore and reconstructed paper. I also stained my kitchen worktop in the process which is now light grey wood with ‘crimson accents’. Joseph (also known as the feline paper shredder) ate several of the paper components and gained a temporarily Prussian blue paw. Coloured magazine paper was also used, sometimes soaked and scrunched up or scrubbed at to alter the surface texture. 
Once I’d created a huge collection of papers, I cut, layered and assembled imaginary perfume bottles. As I selected paper for each bottle, I imagined how that piece would smell, as if each section was a note within the composition. The creations represent fragrance genres and were named accordingly. 
The backgrounds were created by staining paper with acrylic inks. I tried to create a kind of abstract ‘shelf’ for them to rest upon, a little like a messy version of a Fragrantica wardrobe. 

Close up of a bottle from 'fougere', showing the layered paper techniques. 


The resulting collection of seven fragrance genres is available to buy as limited edition prints at:

To celebrate the launch of my collection, I would like to offer readers of Odiferess a chance to win their favourite artwork within the collection. The competition is open to readers all over the world and the winner be announced on Friday 17th November. To enter, please visit the Facebook page and leave a comment stating which one you would like to win. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The 100th post - revisiting my favourite articles at Odiferess

Crikey, this is my 100th article for Odiferess!

To mark the occasion, here is a round up of my favourite posts over the last 5 years. They are articles that fizzed out of me faster than my typing speed, those which are an utter joy to write. I like to think that they are somewhat 'different' from what visitors expect to read and that they offer an insight into my often bizarre thought process! 
I hope you enjoy revisiting them.

On Witches:
It seems fitting to include my review of Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne, it is Halloween after all. Highlights include references to my Grandmother's dubious home remedies and getting ferns in your knickers.
click here to read

On Music:
A celebration of exuberant women in music, inspired initially by the technicolour wonder that is Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire. What perfume would suit these musical marvels?
click here to read

On a truly saucy scent:
When Anubis by Papillon Perfumery brought to mind salty pirates, Captain Nolan and the power of female sensuality.
click here to read

On an under appreciated Guerlain:
Why is Idylle not hallowed in the Guerlain hall of fame? Here I speak of my love for the scent and swoon at Thierry Wasser. 
click here to read

On heartbreak:
A personal story of love and loss inspired by Jul et Mad - Terrasse a St Germain. 
click here to read

On the great outdoors:
A picturesque post where a walk in the Yorkshire Moors became an ode to the chilly aldehydes of Clinique - Wrappings
click here to read

On the significance of a Royal Warrant:
A rather slapstick look at branding within the British Perfume Industry featuring discussions about the Queen's fear of warts and why Fergie was the only Royal I'd invite to the pub. 
click here to read

On proper perfume:
The most recent post, on how I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Warszawa by Pure Distance. This posts discusses the concept that we might all be 'a bit too expert' and ponders the days before the online fragrance community existed.

click here to read

On the cats of perfume land:
How I fell in love with a furry little fella called Joseph and a photographic peep at the feline companions of my fellow perfume writers. 

click here to read

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