Saturday, 23 November 2019

Ill communication

Just a quickie to say thanks to anyone who comments on the blog and an apology to say that you won't get a response from me!
For some reason I can no longer comment on my own blog. I may have unwittingly banned myself. 
I shall try and sort it out before I offend my readers and nobody ever comments again. In the meantime, please bear with...


Well not really. It's a problem with Safari. But if I switch to Chrome it's fine. I imagine that's probably the best option for anyone with disappearing comments. 

Puredistance GOLD, a tender Oriental

I can divide my perfume collection into roughly two camps. On one side sit the fabulous oddities, scents like Robert Piguet Visa with its strange odour of overripe fruit and leather trousers, and the original Gucci Eau de Parfum, an exercise in darkly spiced vanilla with an air of antiseptic dental clinic. Whilst I adore them, I wear these scents infrequently, their personalities being so huge that they serve to accompany a specific mood, usually a gregarious one!
On the other side sit my faithful companions, those with a tender beauty, gentle compositions that I’m happy to let in to my space whilst dressing for work at 6.30am. Mitsouko is often reached for at this sensitive hour, as her subtly earthy aroma caresses rather than engulfs me, a hint of peach peeping through to perk up the dark morning. 
These tender beauties are a rarity in contemporary perfumery, especially within the niche market, who’s creations are often either artfully odd or bombastically bold, sometimes linear creations, ‘full on’ from the first spritz. 
A rarity is the perfume house who refuses to follow contemporary trends, a house that simply desires to make extraordinarily splendid perfume. No novel quirky concept, no loud space domination, simply sprayable beauty. One such house is Puredistance
When I smelt GOLD, their latest release, I was immediately struck by the complete absence of novelty. The brief was simple, Jan Ewoud Vos, founder of the company, desired an exceptionally fine fragrance that would synesthetically communicate the concept of Gold. 

With the release of GOLD, Perfumer Antonie Lie describes his latest creation for Puredistance as “naturally rich, warm and harmonious”. The aspect of synesthesia relates very much to the colour of Gold. Aesthetically, gold radiates warmth in the same way as silver emits iciness. Gold is voluptuous and sensual whilst silver is spartan and cool tempered. Gold welcomes us into her glow, Silver shines from a distance. Lie’s GOLD is a sprayable good mood, a cosy embrace, she's a deeply congenial scent. 
Gold could alternatively signify prestige, superiority and wealth, Amouage have a Gold creation, popular in Arabia where Gold is a much utilised sign of wealth. Kim Kardashian and Jay Z have their own Gold scents, again hinting (or pointing obviously!) to a lavish lifestyle. But that is most certainly not what Puredistance GOLD is about. 
JAY Z loves a bit of bling

I’ve said it before, Puredistance make ‘proper’ perfume. GOLD harks back to a time when perfume was a mysterious elixir that we applied with joy rather than ingredient analysis. Indeed Gold smells vintage, almost as if you remember it from the past but realise it never existed. 
The notes for GOLD are:
Top Notes
Green Mandarine Essence - Italy, Bergamot Essence - Calabria, Pink peppercorn Essence - Reunion Island, Rosemary Essence - Morocco, Clove buds Essence - Madagascar

Middle Notes
Jasmin Absolute - India, Ciste Absolute - Spain, Geranium Essence - Morocco,
Cinnamon Bark Absolute - Madagascar

Base Notes
Styrax Essence - Honduras, Benzoin Resinoide - Laos, Myrrhe Resinoide, Patchouli Essence - Indonesia, Vanilla Green Beans - Madagascar, Tonka Beans Absolute - Venezuela, Castoreum Absolute, Vetiver Essence - Haiti.

But you don’t really need to know that. 
You’ll most certainly smell the Cinnamon, Pepper and Clove buds. They’ll greet you from the first spritz and dance around your olfactory bulb energetically. But then everything seems to become one, a harmonious composition where no individual fights for domination. Despite some strident notes, the overall effect is soft and mellifluous, a grand oriental with the volume turned low. 

GOLD is not a ‘statement’ perfume, she’s your companionable accessory. And you’ll always feel content in her glow. 

Monday, 4 November 2019

Forest Therapy - The unexpected Parfum

We shell out oodles of cash for the joy of owning a ‘parfum’ or perfume extract. They are often considered to be the finest version of a fragrance, comprising of the highest concentration of raw materials (usually above 30%) and possessed of the most tenacious grip to our skin. Vintage perfume collectors talk about parfum as being authentic i.e. the Perfumer’s original vision in the creative process. 

Vol de Nuit - The prettiest parfum in the world

Curiously, the difference in raw material content in an eau de parfum and a parfum is often only about 10 to 20%. So why is it usually at least 100% more expensive?

I don’t have the answer. But I have discovered an unusual and significantly less purse-hurty alternative.

My passion for forest themed scents is well documented at Odiferess. I’ve written of the witchy delights of Ormonde Woman, the festive cheer of Fille en Aiguilles, and the outdoorsy vibrancy of Wrappings with deep adoration. As a sufferer of Seasonal Adjustment Disorder, these scents give me a much needed burst of green sapped clarity to cut through the oppressive fug of the dark nights.

With this in mind, I treated my morale to a bottle of the latest bath oil offering from Aromatherapy Associates - Forest Therapy. This 100% natural bottle of oily goodness promised to raise my spirits and give me a sense of serenity which I tend to think of as a little bit of tree magic. 

Aromatherapy Associates specify an application method. You don’t just pour it into your bath and step in, you are encouraged to apply the oil to your torso, deliver a quick massage and a take a deep mindful huff of your hands before climbing into the bath. This works brilliantly as the oil disperses from your body into the bath but retains a great volume of aromatics right underneath your nose. It works similarly in the shower but it feels a bit wasteful in a short-lived experience.

Whilst pondering the emerald scented steam from my bath tub, I considered what this product actually is, a 30% concentration of essential oils in a carrier. It’s essentially a perfume extract. That evening I swiped a little Forest Therapy over my wrists and dĂ©colletage to explore the idea of wearing this bath oil as a perfume. Much in the same manner as Estee Lauder’s clever oily origins of Youth Dew, it worked. I delighted in several hours of it’s scent in full technicolour and fell asleep to a soft earthy drydown. 

Forest Therapy isn’t a ‘Judderman’ style scent. It doesn’t have the glacial Swedish element of cool air breezing through Pine. It feels much warmer, giving the sensation of a Southern European landscape, the arid element of sun soaked evergreens and dense herbal scrubland. When worn on skin, the Lemon note dominates the opening, giving a grand sunny tone to your walk in the woods. It’s definitely more High Summer than Christmas, which is exactly what I need right now. 

“Native to the Peruvian Andes, exotic Pink Pepper berries lend their spicy, fruity scent to uplift and energise, revitalising the senses while also easing breathing. Gently steam distilled from delicate young Cypress needles, soft, woody Cypress essential oil fills your bathroom with the scent of fresh forest air, washing a sense of calm and comfort over you. Our Juniper Berry, foraged from the mountainous regions of Macedonia, grounds and balances emotions as if you were taking a soothing stroll under the canopy of tall, majestic trees.
A woody heart of balancing Petitgrain, cleansing Ho Wood and earthy Patchouli, complemented with sweet, floral notes from the Davana plant, warm, buttery aromas from luxurious Mimosa flowers and sparkling Sicilian lemon, all our ingredients come together to form a fragrance that is synonymous with the crisp smell of nature. Open the cap and be transported to giant evergreens and woodland walks.” (Aromatherapy Associates website)

Indeed, you will be. 

Other foresty treats for the bath:

Badedas foam bath: bright green bubble juice with the unique woody green scent of Horse Chestnut. It hasn’t changed since my childhood, for which I’m grateful.

Olverum bath oil: More Judderman than Forest Therapy, distinctly Pine and herbal with a dominant Lime note. This has been loved and sold at London perfume emporium - Les Senteurs for years. 

Make your own: I favour a combination of essentials oils of Spruce, Eucalyptus and Rosemary blended in a little fractionated Coconut Oil or a cupful of Epsom Salts. 

N.B: Since my discovery, Aromatherapy Associates have released a Forest Therapy wellness mist which is actually designed to be applied to the body (or spritzed into your surroundings). This might be an alternative for those concerned about safety as it features a lower concentration of essential oils. I haven’t had any reaction to the bath oil when applied to the body, just don’t put it on your face!

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.