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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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Puredistance WARSZAWA - a PROPER perfume

I love proper perfume.

Puredistance have released one. It’s called WARSZAWA.

Andy Warhol illustrates some proper perfume

‘Proper’ perfume is grown up. It’s sits on your dressing table and simmers until you are sufficiently dressed up to reach for it’s seductive bottle. It doesn’t travel to work with you, or the supermarket, or similar non-event. It’s an uncommon wonder. It’s got a personality more colossal than your own. You can only wear it when you feel emotionally abundant and dressed to kill. 

Fitting really, as WARSZAWA was inspired by good old fashioned glamour. 

“Puredistance WARSZAWA transports you to a dreamy world of old-time chic. 
Inspired by the class and elegance of Polish women and the rich history of the city of Warsaw, WARSZAWA evokes the chic of the golden days of Fashion and Perfume.” 
WARSZAWA sleeps in a bed of emerald satin
Perfume used to be a curious phenomena. We didn’t know what was in it. Although our noses could detect familiar notes such as culinary spices or garden flowers, we had no idea how the perfumer conjured the mysterious juice. The perfume lover probably new nothing of the nitro musks, aldehydes and other bonkers sci-fi ingredients that helped to create the allure. Nowadays we consult Fragrantica’s (excellent) ingredient database and compare fragrances with similar notes. We avidly read note lists supplied by the perfume houses and actively seek out a perfect interpretation of our favourite. They make it even easier by naming their wares with the notes e.g. Tobacco Vanille, Patchouli Imperial etc. We swop tips and decants with our online friends and gain access to luxury goods that we would not normally be able to afford. 
In some ways this is helpful as it allows us to find fragrances that might suit us more easily. It adds knowledge to our hobby and the research and subsequent hunting offers quite a thrill. We’ve become experts. 
But sometimes I don’t want to be an expert. I don’t want to own thirty bottles of well researched fragrant wardrobe. I want to relish and adore one bottle of precious perfume and not have a clue what sorcery has created it. I want to have saved up for it patiently and bought it full price from a beautiful shop in Paris. I want some proper perfume. 
WARSZAWA is not a note list. It’s a grand composition, symphonic, multi-faceted. You can’t smell a dominant feature ingredient, simply a gargantuan perfume. It’s overwhelming, aspirational and bloody gorgeous!
With this in mind, here is an alternative note list for WARSZAWA. It contains:

Your first ever clubbing outfit, the heady perfume that your mum wore when you were six, the weekend break in Venice when it was minus 2 degrees and all the palazzos sparkled with frost, the sensual (real) fur coat that you bought from a charity shop in Leeds and felt (sort of) OK about because you hadn’t directly contributed to the fur trade, shopping before the internet existed, the jewel hued antique glass Christmas tree baubles from your childhood that reflected fragments of magical light when you spun them, whopping shoulder pads in a 1980s edition of ‘Le Smoking’, red vinyl lipstick, Bryan Ferry’s tight trousers, a pool party attended by Grace Coddington in the 1970s, backcombed hair, violet cream chocolates from Charbonnel et Walker (bought in Bond Street, not the food discount section at TK Maxx), your first trip to London and the moment that you bought your first pair of ‘knickers with intention’.
YSL rocks red lipstick and cabin crew glamour in the 1980s
It’s nostalgic, it’s awe inspiring and it’s insanely glamourous. Odd to think that it's author is the controversial genius - Antoine Lie, creator of the infamous Sécrétions Magnifiques. Has the nose behind the strangest perfume of all time created the most glamourous?
In recent years, I’ve wandered around Selfridges feeling bored. I am throughly fed up with over-priced, over hyped-nonsense, constant replications of a jaded theme, bottles of bandwagon bollocks applauded for being ‘niche’.
In WARSZAWA I feel like I’ve discovered perfume again. I am no longer a 44 year old perfume ‘expert’. I’m 17 year old me, buying my first ever bottle of Shalimar and inhaling possibility.

It feels wonderful.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Eiderantler, a fougère visualised.

Winning a prize draw is thrilling. Even when it’s just a little sample that’s affordable to buy in the first place. There’s something about seeing your name appear on a winners list that feels deliciously victorious. 

The fortuitous win of a sample set from The January Scent Project lifted my scorched mood, as that morning I’d awoken to discover that part of my outbuilding roof had been stolen. Creator John Biebel’s generosity went someway to rebalance the bad karma instilled by the cretins that pinch anything made out of desirable Yorkshire Stone around these parts. I’d planned to spend the rest of the day sitting out back in a deckchair with a rusty rake in hand in case they returned for the rest of the roof. I saw sense and shelved my plan. 

theft hole

good karma package

The January Scent Project is a line of three unisex fragrances created by John Beibel, an Artist from the USA who is well known amongst the fragrance community for his regular columns at Fragrantica. Each of the three fragrances has a corresponding artwork which has been published in the form of gorgeous little postcards. 

John describes the concept:

“The "vintage" artworks for the perfumes was a really fun side project that I wanted to include as part of the creative process. The idea that I could envision the scents in a different time context was so appealing, and it kind of plays on both the timely and timeless, if you know what I mean.”

I know what he means.

My favourite of the three scents - Eiderantler is certainly ‘timely’. It feels neatly into the current resurrected trend of the aromatic fougère genre and yet could easily invoke a spirit of the seventies when airy outdoorsy scents such Alliage and Diorella graced our tanned outdoorsy skin.

Eiderantler is described as an ‘Ivy fougère’. Fougère translates as ‘fern’, a term used to categorise fragrances that contain green notes associated with nature, they tend to feature lavender and coumarin (a derivative of tonka bean). Here are the notes for Eiderantler:

Lavender, green leaves, moss, pink pepper, lavandin, champa leaf, ivy, elemi, fir cone, hay, oak wood, cashmere, vetiver, and musk.

Ivy is essentially an abstract composition, a clever combination of ingredients that create a cool and crisp atmosphere reminiscent of dewy woodland foliage.

What struck me about Eiderantler is it’s vibrancy. Lavender rich scents have a been a trend in recent years with Chanel - Boy (an elegant version of Brut) and Guerlain - Mon Guerlain (muggy sugared lavender) being perhaps the most discussed releases. Both of them feel ‘dull’ to me. Not dull as in boring, but dull in the true sense of the word in that any sparkle or radiance has been eroded. Eiderantler feels sparkly and volatile. It hasn’t been mugged by the blanket of tonka bean that so often occurs in a fougère  I asked John how he created the sparkle effect and received a wonderfully detailed answer:

“In answer to the question about "sparkle" I attribute that to a few different things. There are a number of small elements in the perfume that add a nice touch. In this case, a small bit of ultrazure, a mixed aquatic/air molecule that has a very bright and faceted quality, and other small bits like templin fir cone (which is like a bright pine lemon), pink pepper (which has a lot of sparkle.) There are some key ingredients that help this all along too, primarily champa or champaca leaf. It's related quite closely to magnolia and to the magnolia flower (also known as champaca flower, usually imported from India.) it shares a fairly primary component that is found in a number of greens and flowers called linalool. It's an incredible substance, which has a scent somewhere between lemon, pepper, orange flower and very gentle wood. That, I believe, is at the heart of the perfume and helps it keep its sparkly quality.”

If his paintings are indicative of personality, I imagine that John is a sparkly man. Whilst his artworks vary significantly in subject matter and medium, the character that links each of them is an energetic vibrancy. These hurried brushstrokes and clashing colours certainly speak of a man that fizzes at great speed!

City Afternoon, John Beibel 2016

I shall stow away my sample of Eiderantler until the 29th of October. The occasion upon which the clocks move forward in the UK. When the first dark night of the season closes in I shall spritz myself with Eiderantler and be transported to a forest where dappled light graces my skin.

You can discover The January Scent Project by clicking here
If you love to sparkle you might also enjoy reading about Clinique Wrappings and Perles de Lalique. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Guest blogging at Thompson & Morgan - On the glorious scent of the sweet pea

I've been busy growing stuff, lovely smelly stuff to fragrance my home.
You can read all about my gloriously whiffy sweet peas at Thompson and Morgan's gardening blog by clicking on the link here.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The extra-sensory library book campaign, scent your reads!

 I read a lot of novels.

My love of books was instilled at an early age by my mum who took me to Garstang library every week to borrow an armful of magical free words. 

 The peculiar 60s architecture of Garstang Library

Each night I send myself to slumber via another world; a curious country, an eerie haunting, a torrid love affair or simply the complexities of someone else’s life. My arms cradle the book ‘praying mantis’ style whilst Joseph purrs away under an elbow. 

Most towns in the UK had a library until about 5 years ago when the government cut funding under austerity. Big cities had many branches with the largest ‘central’ library housed in a grand municipal building. Many of the smaller suburban libraries closed forever whilst others now survive on limited hours as volunteer run organisations.

On average, I read about two novels per week, they are free. If I bought them, my reading habit would likely cost me at least £100 per year assuming that I shopped thriftily in charity shops, or up to £700 if I bought shiny new ones from Waterstones. 

We need to support them.

My local library in Huddersfield is a quirky venue where alongside newly releases titles, you can find a selection of the bizarre and unconsidered. Whilst browsing the health and beauty section this morning I discovered that alongside Lizzie Ostrom’s ‘Perfume - A century of scents’ and Sally Hornsey’s two make your own skincare and perfume manuals, you can find books about both DIY welding and the history of arsenic. This could be handy if you are planning a murder and an evidence burial in a skilfully sealed metal box. 

Bonkers genre combo

Library books can smell a bit stale. Whilst new releases still retain a delicious inky print whiff on their fresh unblemished pages, older titles can sometimes carry an ‘eau de damp portacabin’ or more worryingly ‘unidentifiable fragrant stain’ which might be a bit of spilt Ovaltine if you’re lucky.

I scent my library books, and I choose their fragrance with great consideration. 

I imagine that most of my readers have a sizeable stash of promotional fragrance smelling strips as a quick sniffing to trip to the department store usually results in pockets full of the things. They’re pretty, I keep them. But best of all, they make wonderful bookmarks. 

One night I sprayed the last dregs of my Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles onto a smelling strip and allowed it’s pine sap fragrance to seep into my book. The book was Eowyn Ivey’s haunting forest populated novel ‘The Snow Child’. By the following night the isolated atmosphere of it’s Alaskan location was amplified by the harmonious whiff. I recently read the wonderfully spooky ‘Dolly’ by Susan Hill (of Woman in Black fame). I fragranced this with Antonia by Pure Distance, allowing it’s vintage dusty greenery to evoke the ivy clad derelict house conjured in the story.

I like to imagine that the next borrower will pick up on the fragrance, perhaps so subtly that instead of detecting a ‘perfume’, my scenting activities will simply add to the power of the words, providing an extra-sensory dimension. Perhaps if we all start to do this library books will take on new powers to thrill the imagination?

Caron whiffing cards have the perfect dimensions for a bookmark

In discussion with friends, suggestions were made about possible perfume partners for their favourite books. War and Peace was partnered with a fragrance fit for nobility - Zibeline by Weil, Practical Magic amped it’s spells with Moonlight Patchouli by Van Cleef & Arpels and 50 Shades of Grey was sullied by the notorious Secretions Magnifique. A wonderfully vile idea!

I hope that my readers might join me in my guerrilla book scenting campaign. However, if you’ve gone over to the dark side and become the owner of an e-reader, your local library has oodles of free e-books in it’s catalogue so at least you can support their 21st century service updates by joining up and helping to promote literacy in the UK.

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