Welcome to this month’s installment of “Notes on Notes”, a monthly collaboration between this blog and Australian Perfume Junkies! Every month, we pick one fragrance note and write about it, posting on the first Monday of the month — fragrances we like that feature it, what we like or don’t like about it, anything else we know about it, whatever takes our fancy. For February, the note is vetiver.
Notes on Notes: Oakmoss
Happy New Year! I wish you all a happy, healthy 2023! This year brings a new collaboration between me and Portia Turbo of Australian Perfume Junkies (and other sites as a regular guest blogger). Actually, it’s TWO new collaborations. The first is called “Notes on Notes”; Portia and I agree on a fragrance note we’d like to write about, and we’ll post our “notes” about it on the first Monday of each month, referring to a few specific fragrances. The second project is called “Counterpoint”; we’ll agree on a fragrance, and “interview” ourselves about it, seeing where our experiences coincide and where they differ.
I’m excited about these collaborations – I had such fun doing “Scent Semantics” with Portia and several other bloggers in 2022. I hope many of you will jump in and add your own observations and comments!
The first “Notes on Notes” is about oakmoss.Continue reading
Perfume Chat Room, October 14
Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.
Today is Friday, October 14, and we are having all our windows hand-washed, inside and out, top to bottom! Can you tell that I’m very excited about this? Between procrastination and the pandemic, it has been YEARS since we got this done, and I was lucky enough to find a great company, recommended by other people in old houses (important because old window glass is fragile), and available this week! Timing matters because we are hosting a program at our house next Thursday — the first time we’ve had more than just a couple of friends over since pre-pandemic. So we’re getting the house spiffed up.
I’ve been enjoying this week’s community project at Now Smell This, which is to wear fragrances by independent perfume houses. So I’ve worn Musc Intense, by Patricia de Nicolai, Violet Ida, by Miller Harris, Ormonde Jayne Privé, and today, Futur, by Robert Piguet, which is green and fabulous!
Have you been wearing any perfumes by particular favorite independent perfume houses?
Scented Advent, December 15
What a pleasure, to open today’s Advent calendar drawer and find a sample of Ormonde Jayne’s Ormonde Woman! I’ve tried it before, from a discovery set, and liked it very much, but I’ve bought other Ormonde Jayne scents in full bottles (my favorite being Ta’if), so hadn’t returned recently to this one. Launched in 2002, it was created, like all the Ormonde Jayne signature fragrances, by perfumer Geza Schoen, working with the brand’s founder Linda Pilkington. It is woody and aromatic; the brand’s own description is as follows:
Beginning and ending with the unique scent of Black Hemlock absolute – rarely used in such luscious quality and quantity – this utterly hypnotic, unconventional and mysterious woody essence is combined with jasmine and violet absolute to create a dusky, seductive perfume.
The notes listed on the brand’s website are: Cardamom, Coriander and Grass Oil (top); Black Hemlock, Violet and Jasmine Absolute (heart); and Vetiver, Cedar Wood, Amber and Sandalwood (base). This is a brilliantly structured and executed fragrance. The top notes are very clear and distinct, though well-blended; to my nose, the grass oil is dominant, but then the cardamom and coriander become more evident. As the heart phase emerges and the top notes step back, one can clearly smell both violet and jasmine absolute, with a greenish, woody, undercurrent that I assume is the black hemlock. This middle phase lasts a good while, at least an hour; to my nose, the most lasting middle note is the violet.
Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez awarded Ormonde Woman five stars in their book “Perfumes: The A-Z Guide”, and described it as a “forest chypre.” Comparing it to Chanel’s Bois des Iles, Ms. Sanchez noted that it has “all the sophistication … but none of the sleepy comfort.” Instead, she felt it evoked “the haunting, outdoors witchiness of tall pines leaning into the night.” I agree with the witchiness, but I hesitate to use the word “pines” in relation to Ormonde Woman, lest a reader think it smells like air freshener or floor cleaner! It certainly does not. It does smell evergreenish, to coin a word; but these are living evergreens, rising from a forest floor dotted with violets. It calls to mind a sight often seen on the highways and byways of the Southeast: pine woods in which yellow Carolina jessamine has run wild, so that its vining, yellow flowers fling themselves all over the dark green branches of the pine trees in early spring.
Another vine that does this is the wisteria vine, which smells to me more like the violets featured in Ormonde Woman, though not in its native American form (varieties of Asian wisteria, which are fragrant, have escaped into the wild and have become invasive in hardwood forests).
As it dries down, Ormonde Woman becomes warmer and woodier. I can smell sandalwood and amber more than cedar and vetiver, and yet there is a dryness to the base that tells me they are present. This is a lovely, sophisticated but approachable fragrance, and I look forward to getting to know it better!
Roses de Mai Marathon: Ta’if
Aaah. That’s what my nose felt like when I spritzed on some of Ormonde Jayne’s Ta’if this morning. It’s just that beautiful. The fragrance is, of course, named for the famous Taif rose of the Middle East. Continue reading
Independent Perfumery: Growth in an Increasingly Consolidated Market~ Seven Indies Speak Out!
CaFleureBon has published a fascinating piece with thoughts from seven independent perfumers on their position in a consolidating fragrance marketplace; it is well worth reading.
In any industry’s “ecosystem”, there will be a range of products and services from mass market to high-end artisan work. (I’ve been introduced to the series “Chef’s Table” and am stunned by the artistry that these chefs put into their food creations and restaurants). “High-end” often, but not always, means very expensive, which always limits the market for that product or service to those who can afford it.
What I dislike is when a large investor takes over a fragrance brand and amps up the hype, the marketing, and often the price, while watering down the original quality with cheaper ingredients to the point where it really isn’t the same fragrance. I appreciate the instances when a large company seems to have extended the reach of a formerly independent brand while providing its creatives with the stability and access to quality ingredients that allow them to extend their imaginations and vision, and reach more customers. It seems as if today’s independent perfumers may be more savvy about how to get that deal if they want it. I appreciate, too, when a large company has given its perfumers the resources and permission to update classic fragrances with respect and care, and without cutting corners.
I also really appreciate the vital role of independent perfumeries and retailers, which connect perfumers and customers as curated points of sale and information.. They too are small businesses with many of the same challenges, and yet they have an appeal that no department store will ever have, and a level of service and knowledge that you won’t find in most department stores or brand boutiques. I rely on online sellers of fragrance, including some of the perfumers’ own websites and online stores, to get access to these smaller brands that would otherwise be unattainable to most of us. This is how I have been able to buy fragrances by Laboratorio Olfattivo, Papillon, Parfums de Rosine, PK Perfumes, Solstice Scents, Sonoma Scent Studio, and others.
The internet and blogs like CaFleureBon have been such a gift to perfumers, perfumeries, and fans of perfume! We have been able to find and connect with each other in ways that would have been impossible thirty years ago. It is now possible for someone who lives in any area far from high-end retailers and trade shows to get access to these unique fragrance creations. And for that, all perfumistas should be grateful.
Source: Independent Perfumery: Growth in an Increasingly Consolidated Market~ Seven Indies Speak Out!
Fragrance Friday: Lumiere Blanche
While traveling in the UK and Ireland (Perfume Tourism: I’m Ba-a-a-ack!) this summer and fall, I was given a sample of Lumiere Blanche by the delightful sales associate at Parfumarija in Dublin, with my purchase of the Ormonde Jayne discovery set. I haven’t opened it until now, but since I bought the Olfactive Studio discovery kit at the London independent niche perfumery Bloom, I have started exploring that brand and thought it was time.
And yes, it’s time — because Lumiere Blanche is an ideal scent for the kind of dry, sunny fall we are having in my part of the world. Its top notes are: cardamom, cinnamon and star anise; middle notes are iris, cashmere wood and almond milk; base notes are musk, sandalwood, cedar and tonka bean. In other words, it smells a lot like milky masala chai tea, something I love.
Luckily for me, it is light on the cinnamon. I love cinnamon, but I don’t want to smell like a cinnamon broom (I’m looking at you, Dasein Autumn!). Lumiere Blanche reminds me a bit of Carner Barcelona’s Palo Santo, but lighter. At first spray, I get a delightful waft of cardamom, a spice I love, with a tinge of star anise, warmed by just a hint of cinnamon. The overall effect is milky, too, which I attribute to the almond and tonka bean notes. Those are definitely present throughout, from start to finish. Very quickly, I also smell the woody notes, mostly sandalwood and cedar, but the “cashmere wood” adds, I think, to the soft, milky impression. After a little more time, the iris note emerges, but lightly. It really adds nuance and depth to the progression, with its rooty, earthy, but sweet floral scent. I am enjoying its contribution to Lumiere Blanche, and its addition to the spices and wood notes is an unusual, creative combination that works.
Lumiere Blanche is a soft fragrance overall. On my skin, it is really lovely and I could see wearing this a lot during the fall. It is not as strong as Palo Santo and would probably, therefore, work better than it as an office scent. Olfactive Studio’s website says:
Lumiere Blanche is a comforting cocoon, between milky mildness and cold spices. It evokes the sweltering heat of a sun at its zenith, which erases colors, leaving only a blinding white, and surprised by its spicy freshness.
For the perfumer, [it] is “A cold-hot accord for a perfume of contrasts,” a bright and fresh surge and a creamy softness and a strong signature, warm and sensual.
I don’t perceive this as a scent of “sweltering heat” or “blinding white” light. It is definitely a sunny scent, though neither citrusy nor green, notes which are sometimes associated with sunniness in fragrances (probably why the name emphasizes white, versus yellow or green). For these long, unseasonably warm, sunny autumn days in my part of the world, it is just right.