Happy National Fragrance Day!

Happy National Fragrance Day!

It’s National Fragrance Day in the UK! In fact, this whole week is National Fragrance Week. The Jasmine Awards have been announced, and if you’re in the UK, there seem to be many special offers, draws, etc., listed on the Fragrance Foundation’s website.

What will you wear today to celebrate fragrance? I’m thinking about Etat Libre d’Orange’s Vraie Blonde, which I just got in my Scentbird subscription, for its note of pink champagne. It’s sparkly and delightful!

Scent Sample Sunday: The Wearin’ O’ The Green

Scent Sample Sunday: The Wearin’ O’ The Green

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of the day, let us rejoice in the “wearing of the green” — green fragrances, that is. I love green fragrances, as you might expect from a blogger whose nom de plume is “Old Herbaceous“, and my most difficult fragrance choice today will be to decide which of the many I own I will wear. (Another option might be to wear one of the fragrances I brought home from Ireland last summer, including some from the small independent perfumer The Burren Perfumery, but today I’ll probably go with a classic green). Today will be a celebration of “The Wearin’ O’ The Green”!

Green nymph Fantasia

Image from Disney’s Fantasia 2000; http://www.disney.com

Fragrantica did one of its wonderful “Best in Show” columns last year on green fragrances, which you can read here: Best in Show: Green Fragrances (2018). As the editor notes, “green” can describe a wide range of fragrances and notes, which can include: galbanum, patchouli, vetiver, grasses, mosses, ivy, and leaves (especially tea and tomato), lime, basil, rosemary, mint, and cilantro, green mango and apple, conifer needles, bamboo, and more. Many of the muguet fragrances I love are quite green. As I’ve already written a lot about so many of those, and will again later this spring, I’ll pass over them as a category for now.

Some of the classic greens I own and love are Chanel No. 19, Chanel Cristalle, Annick Goutal Grand Amour, Gucci Envy, Balmain Vent Vert (the 1991 version, by Calice Becker), Jacomo Silences, Estee Lauder Azuree, Clinique Aromatics Elixir.

My newer green niche perfumes include (of course) Papillon’s Dryad, Beaufort London’s Fathom V, Amouage Bracken, L’Artisan Parfumeur’s The Pour Un Ete, Laboratorio Olfattivo’s Decou-Vert, DSH Perfumes Le Jardin Vert. There are others, but many of them I own only in small sample sizes, so I’m not counting them here!

Green fragrances: Chanel No. 19, Cristalle, Papillon Dryad, on Liberty shawl

Favorite green fragrances

While I know that “green” fragrances are said to be the least favored category of fragrance, I know many of you also love them. What are your favorites? Do you plan to wear a green fragrance today?

Outdoor sculpture of the Mud Maid, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

Mud Maid, The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Thunking Thursday: Exceptional?

If you’ve ever ordered from the website Fragrancenet, you have undoubtedly received at least one sample of their “exclusive” fragrances: Exceptional Because You Are and Simply Belle. They throw those into every order, often with the dinky little plastic purse mirror or the (more useful) emery board for nails.

I never wear those samples; sometimes I collect them with little travel supplies like shampoo, to donate to shelters or clothing banks. But today, in honor of Thunking Thursday, I am wearing and thunking Exceptional. I’ll thunk it even if the vial’s not empty, because it is just — meh. It’s only $35.74 for 100 ml with the usual Fragrancenet coupon, but I have better ways to spend $35.74. For example, for the exact same amount, one can buy a 3 oz. tester of Jicky eau de toilette on the Fragrancenet site. I rest my case.

What is Exceptional like? It’s not unpleasant. It has a synthetic citrusy opening, followed by what one commenter described as “a musky little floral.” That’s about all, but it’s okay. I wouldn’t be able to pick out any particular flower notes without prompting — maybe a little freesia? And then a light synthetic musk that fades away within a few hours. I wouldn’t go out of my way to wear or buy this, but if I wanted a fragrance and this was all I happened to have in my purse, or the other options were too strong for where I was or what I was doing, I’d wear it.

Thunk! Have you ever actually tried this one, or its sister Simply Belle? Did you thunk anything more interesting this week?

Scent Sample Sunday: Brocard’s Mechta

Scent Sample Sunday: Brocard’s Mechta

When I last stayed in London, I was able to visit the wonderful Bloom perfumery, near Covent Garden. I highly recommend a visit! They carry an amazing range of niche perfumes and the staff is remarkably friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. I spent a LOT of time there and emerged with a few discovery sets, including a set of three floral fragrances from Brocard, the revived Russian perfume house. It holds three of the series “Gardens of Temptation”, 15 ml each. This set includes: Mechta, Elegantnost, and Luybov.

Brocard Gardens of Temptation set 1 Inspiration

Brocard Gardens of Temptation set “Inspiration”

The set contains three small, simple flacons, not the funky bottles pictured above, which are the full-size bottles.

Mechta is described on Bloom’s website as a “spicy mimosa”. Its composition is described as: top notes are violet, hyacinth, and grass; middle notes are mimosa, linden blossom, magnolia, and clover; base notes are musk, honey, and cedar.

On my skin, Mechta opens as a bright, grassy violet; no hyacinth that I can detect. One thing I enjoy about this opening is the absence of citrus, which makes it a little different. I do love a good citrus opening, but I like this scent’s different top notes. As it dries down, the mimosa emerges, and it is a soft, pretty, yellow mimosa.  In the process of reading for this post, I discovered a wonderful Russian fragrance blog (thank you, Google Translate!) called Parfumistika, and its review of Brocard’s Gardens of Temptation, which includes the brand’s own description:

… drops of morning dew glistening on the grass and unusual green bitterness of hyacinth. The sun rises, coolness recedes, and the bright, joyful smells of linden-colored, mimosa, magnolia and acacia are revealed in all their glory. A firework of flowers gradually turns into a warm, honey-musky trail.

My experience of Mechta is more soft than bright, but very pleasant. If you don’t care for intensely green scents, fear not — the only green I detect is the grassy opening, which gives way to the mimosa pretty early. I would describe Mechta as a soft, warm, yellow, light floral. It’s very pretty, and very affordable if you can find it. I look forward to trying more of Brocard’s fragrances!

Fragrance Friday: Perfumers Who Are Women

Fragrance Friday: Perfumers Who Are Women

Happy International Women’s Day! In honor of the day, Fragrantica published a very nice article highlighting several celebrated perfumers who are women, and some of their creations: Perfumery: Women Creators. In the comments section, readers have started adding their own suggestions. In no particular order, suggested additions include:

Olivia Giacobetti, Liz Moores, Anne Flipo, Sidonie Lancesseur, Nathalie Feisthauer, Daphne Bugey, Vero Kern, Josephine Catapano, Shelley Waddington, Shyamala Maisondieu, Nathalie Gracia-Cetto, Sonia Constant, Christine Nagel, Mathilde Laurent, Sarah McCartney, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Mandy Aftel, Ayala Moriel, Laurie Erickson, Charna Ethier, Diane St. Clair, Claire Baxter, Marie Salamagne, Lyn Harris, Nathalie Lorson.

Do you have any favorite perfumers who are women? Any favorites among their creations?

Here are some of mine:

Liz Moores: Dryad; Christine Nagel: Twilly; Mathilde Laurent: Cartier Carat; Sarah McCartney: White Queen; Diane St. Clair: Gardener’s Glove; Marie Salamagne: Alaia; Lyn Harris: Terre d’Iris; Nathalie Lorson: Shiseido Zen 2000; Jo Malone (the person): White Rose & Lemon Leaves; Marie-Helene Rogeon, Clair Matin.

Featured image: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, from www.denverartmuseum.org.

 

 

Thunking Thursday: Gabrielle

Thunking Thursday: Gabrielle

I’ve realized I have two completely opposite ways that I thunk samples. One, I happily thunk a sample because I liked it so much that a full bottle has entered my house, either for me or a loved one. That is how I thunked Vitriol d’Oeillet, because I had bought a full bottle for my husband. It smells super on him, and I can get another sniff any time. I also thunked a sample of Tiffany & Co. Intense, because I knew I would be getting a full bottle for Christmas.

Two, I’ll cheerfully thunk a sample when I know I probably won’t hanker for it in the future, but I don’t hate it so much that I can’t finish the sample. Gabrielle, the new pillar fragrance from Chanel, falls into that category for me. It is a pretty fragrance, and I’ll even say it is better than most of the fruity-florals aimed at younger women, but to me it suffers by comparison with the much more interesting Chanel No. 5 L’Eau. So today is the day I will thunk my sample of Gabrielle, with some affection but no regret.

How do you think about thunking? Any thunks this week?

Gabrielle Delacour, Beauxbatons students and little sister of Fleur Delacour

Gabrielle Delacour; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Fragrance Friday: Atelier des Ors and Bois Sikar

Fragrance Friday: Atelier des Ors and Bois Sikar

In late January, I had such a lovely blogger experience! I was in Nice for a week, taking a break from work to accompany my husband on his business trip, and free to do whatever I wished during the day. I reached out to a blogger whose fragrance blog I love, Megan in Sainte Maxime, and asked if she might like to get together for coffee or lunch. She said yes! She was working in Cannes, which is a short train ride from Nice, so I met her there. My very first blogger meet-up! And let me just tell you how much grief I got from my oldest daughter, who spent her teens being told “Don’t talk to strangers on the Internet! Never go meet someone you met online!” That child has been waiting for ten years to say that stuff back to me, even tongue in cheek.

Fragrance writer/blogger Megan in Sainte Maxime

Megan in Sainte Maxime; image from her Facebook page

Megan is as charming in person as she is in her blog. She graciously took me to a local coffee shop, then invited me to the offices of Atelier des Ors, where she has been doing some work for the line and its founder, Jean-Philippe Clermont. The two of them spent a generous amount of time showing me the house’s latest fragrances, also created by perfumer Marie Salamagne as are all the Atelier des Ors fragrances. Marie Salamagne is the perfumer behind Alaia and its flankers, Mugler’s Aura, Yves St. Laurent’s Black Opium and several flankers, and others you would recognize immediately, including several for Jo Malone. She is a great talent.

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Visit to Atelier des Ors, Cannes, France

The first five fragrances of Atelier des Ors were launched in 2015, joined by two more in 2017 and four new ones in 2018. Jean-Philippe wrote his own account of how he came to the creation of a perfume house for CaFleureBon, in 2016: CaFleureBon Creative Directors in Perfumery: Jean-Philippe Clermont. It seems he has been surrounded by interesting scents in exotic locations since his youth, including extensive travel in Asia and the Middle East. For some years, he ran a business dealing in fine cigars, and that experience sparked a passionate interest in fragrance and the materials that combine to create great fragrances, because of the variations among the cigars and the blends of tobacco that give rise to fragrant smoke.

Three of the four 2018 fragrances are the “White Collection”, inspired by Gustav Klimt’s “Beethoven Frieze” in Vienna, Austria. Sergey Borisov wrote a lovely piece about the collection and its inspirations on Fragrantica. The fourth fragrance of 2018 is Bois Sikar, considered part of the “Black Collection.” It was inspired by Jean-Philippe’s cigar business, a very masculine scent, evocative of the scents one might find in a traditional London private gentlemen’s club:

A beguiling smoky tobacco scent with robust woody tonalities swirling against the heady vapours. The unique, smoky, peaty character of Islay’s single malt whisky is simultaneously conjured to create the essence of Bois Sikar. These addictive facets entwine with cedar leaf creating an intensely intoxicating fragrance.

Bois Sikar eau de parfum by Atelier des Ors, with whisky and cigar

Atelier des Ors’ Bois Sikar

Bois Sikar is powerful stuff and not for the faint of heart, but it’s brilliant. A little goes a LONG way. The opening is woodsmoke and it is strong. It mellows slowly on the skin, as I imagine an Islay whisky mellows on the tongue after a rough start. Not that I’ve had any Islay whisky myself — I don’t care for Scotch, although it was my father’s drink. I have read that Islay whiskies are especially strong and have an intense flavor of peat smoke, which is used on that Scottish island — known as the “Queen of the Hebrides” and the “burning heart of smoky whiskies” — to smoke the malted barley that is used to make this distinctive local whisky. One writer describes this process: “The peat fuels the fires that roast the barley used in whisky-making, and it gives the finished product a robust flavor that recalls a campfire by the sea: smoky, earthy, a little salty, slightly medicinal.” Big, powerful, fierce, distinctive, super-smoky — these are the descriptors used for Islay whisky.

Peat kiln used in Scotch whisky distillery, Highland Park, Orkney

Peat kiln at Highland Park distillery, Orkney; image from www.whiskyadvocate.com

Commenters on Fragrantica are polarized about Bois Sikar, and their reactions are really all about the smoke. Either they love it, or they hate it. Several refer to it as smelling like a campfire; some who dislike it even use the word “barbecue.” It doesn’t smell to me at all like anything related to barbecue, as there are no food or meaty notes, but “campfire” is accurate. However, this campfire is stoked with fragrant wood, like the apple, mesquite, and cedar wood chips one can buy to add to regular logs in a firepit. This makes sense, given the deliberate evocation of peat fires; I suspect that some of the commenters have as little direct experience with Islay whiskies as I do!

Let us not forget the cigars. Here too, my firsthand knowledge is sadly lacking, although cigars were another pleasure my father enjoyed occasionally. It is interesting that, like whiskies, fragrances, wine, cigars are said to vary widely in their flavors or notes. Like fragrance writers, those who write about cigars review them and post “Best of” lists, such as Havana Insider’s Best Cuban Cigars of 2018.  After the initial blast of woodsmoke fades away, I do smell the tobacco in Bois Sikar. I’ve never smoked myself, but I do like the scent of good tobacco, and that is what I smell here.

Tobacco barn Windsor CT

Tobacco drying in shed, Windsor, CT; image from http://www.connecticutbarns.org

As Bois Sikar dries down, the smoke slowly dissipates and one is left with a pleasantly woody, dry, tobacco scent, reminiscent of an old tobacco shed, or barn, in the middle of a dry field, after harvest. (I do have personal knowledge of those, as I grew up in Connecticut, where a tobacco industry was established in the early 1600s and continues to this day). The drydown and base note stages are  warm, woody, complex, and quite alluring. I applied two small sprays of Bois Sikar on my wrists last night, and this morning it was still fragrant on my skin when I woke up.

Old tobacco shed, barn, in Connecticut River Valley.

Connecticut tobacco shed; image from http://www.connecticutbarns.org.

I think the dryness of the base comes from the vetiver that is listed. I like Bois Sikar a lot, though it’s not my style of fragrance for myself and you have to be ready for that powerful opening. Although I believe that anyone who likes a fragrance can wear it, Bois Sikar is definitely a fragrance at the far end of the traditionally masculine spectrum. It lasts a long time, and the opening is intensely smoky. For those who want to wear it on social occasions, I recommend spraying it in small amounts a good hour before you leave home, as the powerhouse opening may overwhelm bystanders! If you want to wear it to work, proceed with caution and apply very lightly, allowing even more time for it to dry down before you go to your workplace.

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Cannes, my meet-up with Megan and Jean-Philippe, and my introduction to Atelier des Ors! The “White Collection” is much more my personal vibe, and will be the subject of a separate post, as its three scents warrant closer attention on their own.

What traditionally “masculine” fragrances do you enjoy, on yourself or on others? What do you think of strongly smoky fragrances? Any favorites?

Review based on a sample provided by Atelier des Ors, opinions my own.