Seeking Serenity: Black Friday Sale — Trish Burr Embroidery

Hello everyone I have some news! Firstly I am delighted to announce the opening of the new DIGITAL SHOP on Etsy as of today 24th November 2016. The shop can be found here: ETSY DIGITAL SHOP. SALE: Secondly in keeping with the BLACK FRIDAY sales worldwide tomorrow there will be 50% off all downloads for […]

via Black Friday Sale — Trish Burr Embroidery

I’m thinking that some new embroidery projects might help restore a little serenity, after this horrible election season here in the U.S.. I have long wanted to try one of Trish Burr’s needlepainting designs and I just love her new pattern with the little red cardinal. So I’m looking forward to her new Etsy shop and her Black Friday sale! Something to look forward to, after today’s anticipated cooking marathon for Thanksgiving!

Fragrance Friday: Terre d’Iris

Fragrance Friday: Terre d’Iris

Another bottle from my Collection Voyage of Miller Harris fragrances is Terre d’Iris.  I like it very much but I don’t feel I fully understand it yet. Fragrantica says it “represents a fragrant journey around the Mediterranean. Calabria bergamot and Sicilian bitter orange open the composition leading to the heart of delicious southern herbs such as rosemary from Dalmatia and clary sage, followed by orange blossom and roses from Tunis and Turkey. The base is composed of patchouli, moss, French fir balsam and Florentine iris.”

I definitely get the opening citrus notes, bergamot and bitter orange. The bitter orange in particular is pleasant and strangely compelling. I generally like green fragrances, with their herbal notes, and although I wouldn’t describe Terre d’Iris as a green fragrance, it is certainly aromatic, with a little bite to its opening. Here is its “scent mosaic”, from the Miller Harris website:

Scent mosaic by Miller Harris perfumes, for Terre d'Iris

Scent mosaic for Terre d’Iris, http://www.millerharris.com

It is important that one of the key notes is not just iris, but “Florentine iris.” Florentine iris is one of the few irises that is considered to be an herb, not just a beautiful flower. Rachel McLeod writes in NaturalLife:  “The most important herbal use for irises to day is the use of the rhizomes from certain species to make orris root for use in perfumery and pot-pourri. Orris root has been one of the most important ingredients in any scent industry from as far back as the 15th century. The scent is rather like sweet violets but its real value is in its ability to fix other scents…. Orris root comes from three closely related irises – Iris germanica, Iris florentina and Iris pallida.”

Iris florentina is now known to be an ancient hybrid of iris germanica, or bearded iris. It has white flowers flushed with mauve. The flower itself is scented although the main value of this iris to perfumery is as a source of orris root and iris butter, which is painstakingly extracted over a period of years from the plant’s rhizomes. Iris florentina is grown mainly in Italy and southern France, but also throughout the Mediterranean, which is truly the “land of iris”, going back to the Egyptians whose use of iris can be documented. Van Gogh often painted iris flowers in Provence, such as the lovely “Field with Irises near Arles”, above, whose vibrant colors were restored in 2015 by stripping off old, yellowed varnish. Isn’t it clever, how the Miller Harris scent mosaic echoes the colors of the Van Gogh painting? You can still see fields of iris, both in Provence and in the Giardino dell’Iris in Florence, the city for which the iris flower has long been a symbol.

Fields of light purple, mauve and white bearded iris flowers in Provence, southern France

Fields of iris in Provence; image from http://www.luxe-provence.com.

As Terre d’Iris dries down, what I smell is the sweetly carroty note that is supposed to be characteristic of orris root. It is not sugary at all; rather, it is the scent of a freshly dug and washed carrot after you bite into it, maybe even with a little dirt still clinging to it (I’m looking at you, oak moss!). I do not smell powder at all in Terre d’Iris, if you think of powdery as the cosmetic. Instead, there are more dry, earthy, woody, herbal tones that contrast with the citrus opening. If I had to describe the iris heart note using non-flowery words, I would say it is smooth and buttery.

Although my bottle came in a Collection Voyage “Pour Elle” set, Terre d’Iris is clearly a unisex scent, as it is described elsewhere. It may even lean a bit more toward masculine than feminine; it would smell marvelous on a man (really, I’m going to have to start experimenting with some of my fragrances on my husband!) while also smelling lovely on a woman.  This is not a girlish fragrance. Very few floral notes, and the ones it has are not strongly present other than the subtle iris. They lend a smoothness and gentleness to the overall experience but I wouldn’t be able to tell that there was any rose in Terre d’Iris if it weren’t listed among the notes. The only fruit notes are in the astringent opening of bergamot and bitter orange.

Will Terre d’Iris become a go-to fragrance for me? Probably not, as I do love my flowers and floral notes. But this is a well-crafted and lovely fragrance that doesn’t smell like anything else out there. It becomes a skin scent pretty soon but I can still smell lingering traces of it on my wrist ten hours after application.  I’m so glad to have this small bottle of it!

iris_florentina_sydenham_edwards

Iris florentina; illustration by Sydenham Edwards.

Fragrance Friday: ROADS

Fragrance Friday: ROADS

You may be thinking, “yes, yes, I know, you just got back from a trip so you’re using ‘roads’ as some kind of travel metaphor.” Nope. ROADS is, in its own words, “a contemporary and highly creative lifestyle brand based in Dublin, Ireland.” I was able to buy a discovery set of ROADS’ fragrances in the lovely fragrance department of Dublin’s Brown Thomas department store on Grafton Street. I had visited Dublin’s only specialized stand-alone perfumery dedicated to niche fragrances, Parfumarija, where I bought an Ormonde Jayne discovery set. (By the way, Parfumarija is well worth a visit). The delightful sales assistant, when I asked if she stocked any fragrances that are specifically Irish, suggested that I might like some of ROADS’ fragrances and thought I might find them there. Continue reading

May Muguet Marathon: Premier Muguet

May Muguet Marathon: Premier Muguet

Premier Muguet by Bourjois is a bit of a mystery. The nose behind it is listed in many places as Ernest Beaux, creator of the legendary Chanel No. 5 and Chanel No. 22, among other Chanel fragrances. Bois de Jasmin has a wonderful post about him, which is mostly in his own words, a magazine article he wrote about perfumery, translated from French. M. Beaux created a few perfumes for Bourjois (a cosmetics house whose early, but not first, owners were the Wertheimer family and which was sold just last year to Coty), including an early favorite and perhaps their most famous fragrance, Soir de Paris,  or Evening in Paris. He is supposed to have created Premier Muguet for Bourjois in 1955, during the same decade when others were creating muguet fragrances like the legendary Diorissimo and Caron’s Muguet du Bonheur.

UPDATE: the master and perfume legend Luca Turin, now blogging on WordPress at perfumesIlove, sent me this information which he kindly solicited from perfume historian Will Inrig: that Premier Muguet was in fact created in 1955 by Henri Robert, the nose behind Coty’s Muguet des Bois, who had recently joined the house of Bourjois-Chanel (they were jointly owned at that point). I have a small bottle of what I believe is the eau de cologne of Premier Muguet, full and in its original box and bottle.

Continue reading

May Muguet Marathon: Mother’s Day

May Muguet Marathon: Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate it! Just as May is the month for May Day and muguet, it is also the month when we recognize and appreciate mothers. So today, instead of commenting on a specific fragrance, I’d like to share a bit of Lily-of-the-Valley folklore. Apparently, one of its other names is “Our Lady’s Tears”, or “Mary’s Tears”. According to one website: “It was said that when Mary wept at the foot of the Cross, her tears fell to the ground and turned into the tiny fragrant blossoms of this early spring plant. In England it had the name “Our Lady’s Tears” because when viewed from a distance the white flowerets gave the appearance of teardrops falling.” Continue reading

May Muguet Marathon: Lily, by Lili Bermuda

May Muguet Marathon: Lily, by Lili Bermuda

One of many beautiful, interesting places to visit on the island of Bermuda is The Bermuda Perfumery, home of the brand Lili Bermuda. The perfumery was founded in the 1920s. Today, its staff creates particularly beautiful floral perfumes as well as other scents, and you can tour part of its operation in historic St. George’s, which is where I discovered Lili Bermuda several years ago.

The Bermuda Perfumery in St. George's, Bermuda, with pastel houses

The Bermuda Perfumery. Photo: http://www.foreverbermuda.com

I came home with two fragrances: Lily and Coral, both of which I love. Lily is a pretty white floral with several fruity notes that work surprisingly well with its strong note of muguet. According to FragranticaLily’s top notes are clementine, tamarind and fresh mint. Heart notes are: lily of the valley, calla lily, guava and pear (I’m confused by the “calla lily” reference, as I don’t think calla lilies have a scent). Base note is a simple white musk. What I enjoy about Lily is the unexpected juxtaposition of the fruits with lily of the valley, especially the citrusy opening. The clementine appears very clearly, with its sweet, light tones of orange balanced in a  nice contrast with the slightly astringent tone of the tamarind and the fresh green hint of mint. The lily of the valley note makes its presence known right after that and never really fades away. The fruit notes are succeeded by guava and pear — again, light and sweet fruit scents that have no sourness at all. The white musk base grounds Lily but never dominates. Although it is a light, white floral, I find that Lily lasts for several hours on my skin, wafting up with scented reminders of its beautiful island home.

Lili Bermuda’s owner, Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, seems to be a remarkably creative lady. Continue reading

Anubis (Papillon Perfumery)****

Luca Turin is back! He has just started a new blog about perfumes he loves. I couldn’t be more delighted, as his legendary guide book to perfumes was one of the books that started my interest in perfume and fragrance. Like many others, I discovered Mr. Turin’s book by reading Chandler Burr’s “The Emperor of Scent.” I am especially happy to read here that he loves a fragrance by Papillon Perfumery, whose scents I discovered last summer in London. The more I learn, the more I appreciate Liz Moores’ approach and philosophy. It is inspiring to see her work so well received.

perfumesilove

p61_3_0.jpgAs an audiophile of long standing and limited means, I am struck by similarities between loudspeakers and perfumes, especially in the manner of their choosing. Most people who don’t much care about sound (including many professional musicians who tend to listen to the playing, not the recording) buy little desktop or bookshelf speakers that adequately carry the spectrum but turn muddled and shouty when pushed hard. If they ever actually pick them by sound, they tend to go for the most impressive, i.e. the one with lots of treble and unmusical boomy bass, neglecting the midrange where most music and voice actually lies. That’s most of mainstream perfumery, all topnotes and bare but powerful drydown.

Then you have horn speakers, for those who love a huge midrange sound, colored by the resonant cabinetry, but capable of playing very loud, and with a wonderful old-fashioned chesty voicing. That would be the Roja Dove tendency of larger-than-life retro fragrances…

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