Friday, 31 May 2013

Review – Robert Piguet, Calypso and Parfum D’ Empire, Eau Suave. The rose, creative interpretations.

I have a troublesome relationship with the rose in perfumery. Whilst in nature, scented roses have moved me to the point of becoming tearful, as a dominant note in a little bottle it just doesn’t seem to translate. It’s as if this exquisite fragrance is unable to be captured artificially, it’s just too beautiful.

However, two fragrances have succeeded in creating the perfect ‘Odiferess friendly’ rose. The first of which affected me so greatly that I bought within days of my first sniff (a rarity, I dither about purchases for months). It is Robert Piguet’s Calypso.

Calypso spans genres, at first impressions, it’s a haughty Chypre with it’s nose held superiorly high in the air. Were it possible for it wear a hairstyle, it would wrap it’s brunette tresses in a fearsomely tight bun. The word ‘Calypso’ seems inappropriate, I doubt this initially haughty creation would dance anything other than a formal waltz. The patchouli note is unusually dry and masculine, perhaps because there isn’t a trace of vanilla or other such commercially popular sweetening agent to accompany it. As it journeys on, a softer, increasingly feminine oriental fragrance appears, as the amber warms up the composition and gives the perfume a ‘heart’ or perhaps even a pleasantly sizable bosom. Slightly powdery aspects of orris and a whiff of leather impart a voluptuous creamy base reminiscent of Guerlain’s historical creations. This haughty madam does indeed possess some sensuality, she’s letting her hair down.

So how does the rose work in this composition? In partnership with another flower – geranium. The notes share equal billing at the top of this creation, a phenomenally effective collaboration. The geranium’s slightly sour, pungent, peppery and green facets bring a ‘natural’ feel to the rose, in essence an ‘inside the greenhouse’ effect where we can smell the sap, the leaves and the earthy soil aspects of a flower. With this in mind, I feel that it could easily be worn by a man without the fear of him being overtly feminised by flowers.

The second of my rosy delights comes from Parfum D’ Empire, Marc-Antoine Corticchiato’s extraordinary line of scents that brim full of eccentricity and quirk, yet are still delightfully wearable. It’s name is Eau Sauve.
Eau Suave is atmospherically opposite to Calypso. Whereas Calypso is opulent and deep, Eau Sauve is effervescent and airy, earthed only by a hefty wodge of bitter oakmoss. Those of you that have smelt Comme De Garcons Sherbet Rhubarb, will be familiar with the concept of fizzy sourness, which is exactly what you get with Eau Suave. Notes of dominant pepper, saffron and coriander impart the somewhat startling fizzy nose effect, which when combined with a sharp and sour hit of (very under ripe!) red berries produces a smell of almost combustible vivacity. I’m guessing that aldehydes must feature quite prominently in order to lift the bubbles skywards.
Eau Suave’s rose makes itself felt as the ‘grown up’ in the composition. It appears in a similar way to Calypso’s haughty rose. In effect, it anchors the uncontrollable (childlike?) fizz with an adult’s stern presence. Indeed it’s presence is felt all the way through changing little over the course of a wearing – the stability against the instability.

The rose traditionally symbolizes romance yet there is nothing romantic about Eau Sauve. It wears with the sensation of a high quality Eau de Cologne (except that it has much greater sillage and longevity). It would be ideal as a refreshing spritz in humid heat, ultimately a ‘waker-upper’ in comparison to Calypso’s late night sensuality.

I usually complete a review with a list of fragrances that share similarities with those featured. However, these are highly original creations. Perhaps they will soon influence others?

To smell: For those outside of London, Parfum D' Empire sell reasonably priced samples on their website, with so many excellent fumes in this range it's worth going for the full collection. Robert Piguet is more easily available in the usual high end stores, who often have samples to give away.

Original photo, Sarah Waite

Sunday, 26 May 2013

L' Erbolario, Meharees - Review

Meharees by L’ Erbolario, the scent of biblical resins

I’ve been longing for a sniff of this uber niche cheapie for some time. Retailing at about 26 Euro, with comparisons to Frederic Malle’s Musc Ravaguer abounding, it’s a contender for best value niche of the year. I got it in lovely circumstances:

As a member of a facebook exchange page, I made contact with Lewis, a guy offering it up for swop. Having realised we both live in Manchester, we met up for our trade. I gifted a decant of Comme De Garcons Vettiveru Cologne in exchange for his Meharees.
With a short space of time before we parted to attend our separate sunny day barbeques (a rarity in the notoriously pissy weathered Manchester), time was tight, but we made the most of an encounter with a fellow fume head. So what’s it like to meet ‘one of us’? In a word - talkative. An hour passed by with rapidity as he explored my beloved collection of niche wonders and marvelled at my sample box, enthusing over rarely encountered oddities. My sample box is a large shoe box lovingly plastered with pictures of 1950s Lanvin and Dior bottles, Serge Lutens looking pixie-esque posing in the woods and some peculiarly political Caron adverts from the Second World War period. It’s filled with collection of hard won samples, begged and boldly squeezed from my local stores and further afield. After a long selection, Lewis left with decants of Caron’s Eau de Reglisse (which intrigued him greatly), Robert Piguet’s Calypso (a superbly dark unisex chypre rose) and Tauer’s Pentachord White (which confuses both of us, love? hate?).

Back to the point – Meharees, what does is smell like?
To my nose: the strongest note is opoponax, although not listed, I believe this imparts the myrrh aspect of it’s ‘myrrh and dates’ description. If you are unfamiliar with this note, resinous opoponax smells of incense, amber and mustiness. It’s extraordinarily beautiful in the same way that old second hand book shops smell when they are overheated by winter radiators, in short, cosy and ancient. Les Nereides released ‘Imperial Opoponax’ of which I have a small decant. This fragrance combines the musty old book shop with a hint of cherry sweetness, again, another wondrous creation.
Alongside this note, an air of dirty musk resides, giving Meharees an animalic feel. This is not the clean whiff of laundry so evident in contemporary musks, but a big old whiff of the unwashed, ultimately rendering it a rather sexy fragrance. For those fearsome of ‘dirty musks’ such as Musc Koublai Khan and Musc Tonkin, you will find L’ Erbolario’s interpretation somewhat easier on the nose, yes, sexy, but not ‘inside out second day knickers’.
A third olfactory sensation comprises of a vaguely dried fruit scent. I feel this is the least obvious of it’s components. Is it the date provided in it’s description? I’m not sure. There is a noticable sweet ‘mulled wine-like’ smell that could be constituted of date, raisin, even a slightly plummy jam. Although the fruit appears, it appears shyly, lurking in the background.
Atmospherically, I can recall the dusty watercolour illustrations of my Children’s Illustrated Bible, vividly depicting the exodus through the desert or the Three Kings bearing fragrant gifts at the Nativity. As an adult I have shed any latent belief in biblical stories or indeed organised religion, however, I find the fragrant link to this childhood memory both beguiling and consoling. Overall, this is a scent of comfort, the warming hug of a lover on a cold night, languorous and appeasing. There is no exuberant stimulation here, it’s a soft edged, muzzy headed, fragrant Valium.

Other fragrances with a similar vibe:
Serge Lutens - Arabie
Chopard – Casmir
Les Nereides – Imperial Opononax
Editions Frederic Malle – Musc Ravageur

Monday, 20 May 2013

Fragrantica, home of the fume junkie.

How does a perfume lover transgress to becoming a perfume junkie?
A question that is impossible to answer with just one idea. However, online perfume magazine - helped me journey from lover to (contented) obsessive. 
Here's how it happened..
Many years ago I wore an aromatic body mist by Decleor. This extraordinarily beautiful creation was discontinued, leaving me bereft of it's spicy, exotic delights. It's primary note was liquorice, or at least, that was all I could remember my nose identifying. I began a search to hunt down a fragrance containing this elusive note. At the time, only the Lempicka fragrances were known to contain the rather foody spice, sadly, I was repulsed by their sticky sweetness.
Googling led me to discover Caron's 'Eau de Reglisse', or 'liquorice water' which had it's own page on Fragrantica. The page told me of it's key notes, gave me opinions of Fragrantica members in the form of reviews, a history of the fragrance house and most importantly, the possibility of replacing my beloved fragrance.
Further googling led me to an independent perfumery that posted me a sample of Eau de Reglisse (amongst a generous bag of testers from other niche houses). I was hooked. I bought the fragrance and began to research the other eccentric little vials of wonder on Fragrantica.

Fragrantica encouraged me to test my olfactory ability, I would apply a sample, ponder it's initial effect, consider it's journey from top to base notes and write down what notes I thought it might contain. I then referenced Fragrantica's database to see how many I had guessed correctly. I surprised myself with the realisation that I was skilled at this. Try it, it's the beginning of training your nose.. 

Another relentlessly addictive tool on the website allowed me to 'search by notes', meaning that I could enter in a few of my favourite smells: grass, bay, hawthorn etc and a magical list would appear of links to fragrances made for my unorthodox taste.. except those of us that have a 'blind buying' habit know that we can't always predict the cumulative effect of our favoured smells! 

As my collection grew I joined in 'swops' with other members, a method of disposing of our unsatisfying blind buys and lesser loved fumes and getting something new to love in return. With an ebay purchase of a sizable stash of empty vials and atomisers, my collection additionally allowed me to gift samples to others. This ultimately resulted in 'fragrance buddies', of which I shall write in a future post.

Of course, this was only one element of my journey, but Fragrantica remains my daily dose of an obsessive community. After all, who in the reality of our daily lives shares the hunt for the perfect elixir as we do?

Friday, 17 May 2013

The smell of Instagram, fun with my camera.

With a proliferation of superbly written, wordy, fume fuelled blogs already in existence, I chose to create my first post as Odiferess in pictures. So here it is: tonight's little experiment with a homemade lightbox, Instagram and some favourites from my fume wardrobe.