Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas Everybody

A merry Christmas and a fragrant new year to all of my readers. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported the Odiferess blog in it's first year. I am most grateful.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Review - Yves Rocher, Secrets D' Essences Neroli - A Killer Cheapy.

This week I’ve been flabbergasted by the fragrant marvel of Yves Rocher’s latest addition to the Secret D’Essences range – Secrets D’Essences Neroli. Regular readers will know that I’m a devotee of the ‘killer cheapy’ but the phenomenon of creating something splendid and pricing it under £30 is a rare event. It’s a delight to find one.

 My 50 ml bottle and 15 ml purse spray (purse spray already well ravaged!)

Neroli/orange blossom ‘soliflore’ scents (i.e. scents with a dominant single floral note) have been a significant trend in recent years, with releases such as Tom Ford’s Neroli Portofino and Guerlain’s Nerolia Blanca gaining an enthusiastic following. Of course Neroli has been around for hundreds of years as a key ingredient of the traditional eau de cologne, so it’s revival as a focus note in costly niche perfumery will inevitably lead to comparisons with much cheaper creations. A look at Neroli Portofino’s Fragrantica page shows that 89 readers think it smells like the heritage classic - 4711 Cologne. 4711 costs about £10 for a 50 ml bottle, Neroli Portofino costs upwards of £150. I know which one I’d be testing first..

Secrets D’Essences Neroli is not particularly cologne like, yes it does give us that uplifting citrus burst in the top notes, but it’s warmer and muskier than expected. If I were to compare it to another scent I would suggest either Penhaligon’s Castile, Miller Harris’ Petitgrain or Evody’s Fleur D’Oranger.

The note list is rather confusing, it is composed of; orange blossom, neroli, bitter orange, petitgrain and musk. Here’s my potted explanation.

Orange blossom and neroli are exactly the same thing, the flowers of the bitter orange tree. The only difference between the two is the extraction method. I won’t bore you with geeky tech about this but the outcome is that one smells citrus bright, mildly floral and uplifting (neroli) and the other smells slightly citrusy but more indolic white floral, luxuriant and pleasantly slutty (orange blossom). Petitgrain is an extraction from the leaves from the same tree, one of my favourite notes, it is both sharp citrus and woody/oily/soapy. As for the bitter orange, I think this is an essential oil from the rind of the fruit.

Secrets D’Essences Neroli, unsurprisingly, smells like all of the above. Which is a very fine smell indeed. It manages to be at once luminous and euphoric in the manner of sparkling citrus, whilst retaining a deeper and somewhat saucier element of creamy indole and musk. It lasts for absolutely ages and possesses impressive projection abilities. In fact, on the first day of it’s public wear, I attracted the olfactory interest of a cyclist whilst queuing for a coffee in the park. Said cyclist was a Tom Ford aficionado who was astonished by my admission of it’s price (cue one of those rambling half an hour conversations we fumies get into when we find a stranger who shares our obsession).

Here’s how to buy it. Yves Rocher exists on the high street of most mainland European cities. In the UK and (possibly?) Internationally, you have order from the online shop. Yves Rocher advertise retail prices that are dropped all the time. Expect to pay about 40% less than the rrp during most months. I bought a ‘green dot’ priced gift set of a 50ml bottle and 15 ml purse spray for about £29 (green dot prices don’t change) but currently the £44 50ml bottle is being sold at £24.50.  

In addition, Yves Rocher always ask you to choose from a selection of free gifts with each order. Today (this runs out soon as it was the gift that I got nearly a month ago) ‘Surprise gift no.2’ includes the beautiful neroli scented argan oil body balm that layers magnificently with the perfume.
The free neroli scented body balm

If you are intrigued by this post you might also like to click here to read about some superb quality body products from the same brand that help to amp up the projection and longevity of wimpy scents.  

Thursday, 12 December 2013

A Strange Tale of Vermin Love - Lostmarc'h, Eau D' Hermine

Can you pass a skip without peeking inside?

I certainly can’t.

A couple of years ago I worked in a historic school that migrated to a new building. The exodus caused a mass ‘chuck out’ as we departed our faded but charming 1930s institution to enter a cramped contemporary design monstrosity.

As I dumped a hoard of broken ring files into one of the numerous skips, I saw a hairy little tail poking out from under the detritus. Curious, I gave it a tug and out popped a rather battered stuffed weasel. We bonded instantly. Upon questioning my colleagues, I discovered that he hailed from the 1940s when a taxidermy display was donated to the school’s Science Department.
Manky displaying his stuffing loss and ferocious teeth

The weasel has suffered years of excited teenage manhandling and a long time in forgotten storage. He was dusty, furless in places and the straw stuffing poked out from his belly. His funny little legs had become bandy and drunken after being yanked from his original stand. Despite this, he was eminently lovable. I named him Manky, apt eh? A note to my international readers – the colloquial manky means ‘funky’ or ‘dirty’.

Manky appearing somewhat more cute wrapped up in bed

Manky often wears perfume, being rather furry, his coat holds onto scent and makes it lasts for eons. This is a curious way to subtly scent my living room. He is currently sporting Comme de Garcons 2 which smells a little inky. I imagine he'd love to amble amongst the treasures of old book shops. It suits him.

I cherish weasels and indeed all of the musky mustelidae family of creatures; stoats, ferrets, minks, pole cats and pine martens. My first encounter with these beautiful beasts was in the discovery of a ferret rescue stand at a country agricultural fair. If you paid 10 pence you were allowed to hold one for a few minutes. I risked the potential of finger biting and spent several pounds and a good hour in a blissful embrace with these cuddly creatures. Although I think it was really supposed to be a treat for kids..

The beautiful stoat

I recently met up with fellow fume writer – Vanessa, the author of the enchanting Bonkers About Perfume blog. We spent a long and joyous afternoon waffling about scent and swopping samples and decants (gaining the curiosity of drinkers in the packed pub who caught thick wafts of the rare and the quirky). Amongst the decants donated by Vanessa, was a little spray of Eau de L’Hermine by Lostmarc’h. The name suggested to me that it was one of those glamorous musky creations that are designed to be worn on a fur coat, the word ermine being another name for the stoat or ‘short tailed weasel’ as it’s also known.

On the day of testing the scent I doused myself liberally and revelled in the vibrant citrus musk. As always at work, citrus scents are valued for their ability to revive my spirits in the often pungent and stale air of the school environment. Although I initially liked it, I didn’t think to save any for a review being as I’ve written plentifully on this genre. At lunchtime I emptied the last of the decant onto my skin and grew increasingly regretful as it developed into something I REALLY liked. 

Upon my return home I googled the scent and was gobsmacked to find that Eau de L’Hermine sported a rather dandy illustration of a non-tatty version of Manky running across it’s bottle. I was delighted! If ever a scent was meant for me.. I quickly emailed Vanessa and told her of my obsession with weasels and attached photos of Manky.


To my surprise, she emailed me back with photos of her beloved Max Rat. “ I raise you Max Rat, the 'vermin with ermine', who I take on my trips and who hails from Hamelin, of Pied Piper fame.  The local beer there is called Rattenkiller, for obvious reasons..”

Vanessa's characterful little chap - Max Rat

Max Rat travels with Vanessa on her numerous business trips and has even been known to accompany her to the odd gig. This pleased me. I felt that perhaps I wasn’t so alone in my love of an old dead stuffed weasel (charming as he is). The fact that she is over attached to ‘not alive’ verminous pet somehow seems to lessen my own eccentricity.
I won’t review Eau de L’Hermine as Vanessa has done it so eloquently here, plus, I’ve run out!

Read Vanessa's article by clicking here.

Photos of the delightful Max Rat kindly supplied by Vanessa, photos of Manky daftly posed by myself. Reckon it's a blogger thing?

Monday, 9 December 2013

On The Lure Of The Perfume Pendant - A Guest Spot At The Penhaligon's Journal.

Occasionally, I'll be overcome with a desire to buy something I can't afford. I usually tend to see sense and keep my credit card stashed safely away. But on this occasion, I caved. I thought about it, wrote about it, then obsessed about it. Then I bought one. It made me happy.

Here is a little piece I wrote for the Penhaligon's Journal during the 'obsessing but not buying' period. Out of interest I filled it with Mitsouko, not whisky.. 


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Review: Enchanted Forest - The Vagabond Prince and Fille En Aiguilles - Serge Lutens. The Scent Of Christmas Trees!

As I entered the supermarket this weekend I halted to marvel at the arrival of this season’s Christmas trees. I lingered over these aromatic wonders who looked a little trapped in their ‘easy carry’ netting, and took a deep inhalation. Not much entered my nose. I then crouched down and pushed my face into the prickly netting and tried again.. much better. I stayed for some considerable time and arose to the curious glances of my fellow shoppers and a security guard.

As a child we often had a ‘real’ Christmas tree. I wonder if it played a role in the development of my obsession with fragrance and the scents of my world? After my dad conducted some clever tinkering with something to prop it up, the tree would stand in the lounge awaiting decoration. The decorations themselves were an annual delight. I remember clearly ancient family baubles, in particular a glass teardrop dangler that shone with the same shade of purple as a Cadbury’s chocolate wrapper. It enchanted me. If you gave it a sharp twist it would spin rapidly and emit beams of otherworldly shards of light. All this magic took place within a great waft of forestry olfaction that to this day still renders me puddled with joy.
If you wish to smell tree in the absence of tree, or indeed year round, you can scent either yourself or your home. My urban flat is often transformed into forest with essentials oils of spruce or pine that I warm in a traditional aromatherapy burner.


My favourite oil is the Spruce (Tsuga Canadensis) which smells of authentic Christmas tree. Pine (Pinus Sylvestris) is harsher, with the same ‘back of the throat scrape’ that oud tends to give me.  That said, mixed with patchouli or rosewood, it retains the forestry feel and lends a meditative atmosphere to my home. 

Pinus Sylvestris does not really smell of what we perceive to be the pine made popular with cleaning fluids and in car air fresheners!

Two delightful (but very different) coniferous scents are Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince and Fille En Aiguilles by Serge Lutens.

The first, Enchanted forest, is the result of a collaboration between Elena Knezhevich (founder of Fragrantica) and perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour. It was inevitable that I would relish this scent as it combines two of my favourite notes with equal billing; blackcurrant and fir (in this case - pine needle absolute). There are many notes so I wont write an exhaustive list, but in the top are two extractions of blackcurrant and a bright peppery coriander and carnation combination. It is utterly effervescent, if it were possible to drink this I’d be glugging bottles of it and growing giddy on it’s fizz! In the base is a whole bunch of deep ambery/balsamic notes that thankfully are obliterated by the overwhelmingly beautiful scent of fir tree. If this scent were to only smell of blackcurrant and fir it would be an acrid concoction, tart in the extreme. Although you cannot really detect a distinct and specific base note in the dry down other than the fir, the rich accompanying notes must effect a tenderness and depth that stop this bright perfume from becoming a forest feerie and spiriting away.
Enchanted Forest does exactly what the name suggests – it’s smells of forests and enchants you. It’s very straightforward.

A much more complex composition is Serge Luten’s Fille En Aiguilles. Ranking at number 3 of my (long and unpublished!) list of most beguiling perfumes, this should really deserve a fulsome review in it’s own right. However, in the interest of the Christmas tree theme, I shall keep it brief.

Fille En Aiguilles is as dark and opulent as Enchanted Forest is luminous. It’s forest notes are pine, balsam fir and bay (this herb echoes the aromatic feel of the conifers).  In addition, Fille contains potent spices, sugary dried fruits and incense adding an oriental genre vibe to what would otherwise be simply an outdoorsy aromatic wood. For me it is seasonally confusing.  Whereas most fans associate the smell of Fille with winter woods, cloves pierced oranges, the Catholic church and boxes of sticky dates i.e. the stuff of Christmas, Fille journeys me to summer holidays in the pine forests of the Mediterranean where the blistering heat warms the tree sap to scent the air with aromatic sweetness. As an ‘outdoors type’, this juice elates me, it’s almost spiritual. But that’s just me. For the rest of you, this could be mulled wine drunk under the boughs of your beautiful tree or a hunt through the woods to pick holly for the hearth (if of course you live inside a Victorian Christmas Card).

Other scents of interest:

Ormonde Jayne - Ormonde Woman (a true forest and somewhat witchy scent, to read my review click here)
Parfum D’ Empire – Wazamba (a more biblical version of Fille En Aiguilles, with abundant incense and myrrh)
Pino Silvestre – Original for Men (classic fougere with intense pine)

And for the bath:

Dr Haushcka – Spruce Bath Oil (exactly like bathing in a Christmas tree, emotional rescue)

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