Roses de Mai Marathon: Rosae

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rosae

So this morning, I was digging through my samples of scents that are supposed to have a strong rose note, for today’s Roses de Mai Marathon, since I’m using this as an opportunity to work my way through samples, and I hit several in a row that just didn’t smell like roses to me! As in, not at all. Not a hint of rose. So while I reorganize my samples, I’m falling back for today’s post on one that I wrote in September, about Aquaflor’s Rosae, a truly rose-based, gorgeous scent I bought in Florence last summer. Click here: Rosae.

I know some of you have had similar experiences of expecting a particular note or accord in a fragrance and then not smelling it at all! Care to share? Comments are open!

If you ever get the chance to visit Florence, Aquaflor is a beautiful destination.

Courtyard leading to Aquaflor Firenze

Courtyard of Palazzo Antinori, Florence, home of Aquaflor.

Featured image from www.aquaflor.it.

Roses de Mai Marathon: A La Rose

Roses de Mai Marathon: A La Rose

Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s A la rose is another fragrance I own in its hair mist format, so my thoughts on that may not align with anyone else’s experience with the “real” fragrance in eau de parfum. However, much of what I experience does generally follow the listed notes, although the scent doesn’t last as long or carry as far (at least, according to my own perceptions). Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Elisabethan Rose 2018

Roses de Mai Marathon: Elisabethan Rose 2018

Two years ago, I received Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose 2018 for Mother’s Day. I’ve mentioned it before, as a rose scent I like to wear around Christmas, but I haven’t given it a review of its own. And this year happens to be Penhaligon’s 150th anniversary, which will be celebrated in various ways throughout 2020, so here we go! Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Roses Musk

Roses de Mai Marathon: Roses Musk

Roses Musk is one of many rose-centric fragrances in the Montale line and it is said to be the line’s bestseller. Wow, is it polarizing! Some online commenters love it, others really hate it.  Continue reading

Perfume Chat Room, May 15

Perfume Chat Room, May 15

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. As regular readers know, I am in the middle of a “Roses de Mai Marathon” during which I am trying to post a daily review of a different rose scent. That will continue today (post will come later), but in the meantime, please feel free to chat! At an appropriate social distance, of course.

Today is May 15, and I have Southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) blooming in my garden! Huge, fragrant white flowers against dark green leaves. What’s blooming where you are? My SOTD is Balenciaga’s Rosabotanica. Yours?

Featured image by J.D. Crowe for www.al.com.

Roses de Mai Marathon: Portrait Of A Lady

Roses de Mai Marathon: Portrait Of A Lady

Okay, enough messing around with neon roses and such. It’s time for May to get serious, with a heavy-hitter, rose-based, niche fragrance: Portrait of a Lady, by Dominique Ropion for Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle. Wowza! Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Neon Rose

Roses de Mai Marathon: Neon Rose

Neon Rose is one of the original fragrances released in 2017 by Floral Street, a relative newcomer to the scene. The fragrances were created by perfumer Jerome Epinette. Floral Street also sells home, bath, and body fragrances, all based on the same set of scents. I discovered Floral Street in 2018, on a visit to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where they had a pop-up store.  Continue reading

Perfume Chat Room, March 27

Perfume Chat Room, March 27

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 March 27, the first official week of spring in this hemisphere, and COVID-19 continues to dominate news and thoughts everywhere. Continue reading

Perfume Chat Room, March 6

Perfume Chat Room, March 6

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 — I’ve been known to write on this blog about biryani, one of my favorite dishes to eat and one I am still learning to make! (If you have a great recipe for it, please share!). 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 March 6, and I am with my family on a spring break holiday in Jamaica, for our first visit here, coronavirus be d—ned! Scent of the day is Montale’s Roses Musk, a soft rose fragrance that goes well with the tropical but temperate climate here. What is your SOTD? Have you been to Jamaica? What scents evoke the Caribbean or other tropics to you?

Scent Sample Sunday: Meet Me On The Corner

Scent Sample Sunday: Meet Me On The Corner

There are times when I am reminded that there is SO MUCH about English experience that is completely unfamiliar to me, in spite of having had an English mother. Of course, she came to America in the early 1950s, married my father and stayed, so much of her actual English experience predates 1960, and after that it was secondhand, mostly via her younger sister who was a model and actress during the era of “London Swings” (in fact, the second wife of Bernard Lewis, of “Chelsea Girl” fame). I bring this up because I am a devotee of the fragrances created by Sarah McCartney under her brand “4160 Tuesdays“, and was recently intrigued by her latest crowdfunding project, Meet Me On The Corner.

According to Sarah, this fragrance was inspired by a song of the same name that reached number 1 in the UK pop charts in 1972, by a folk rock group named Lindisfarne. I had never heard of the group, or the song, but Sarah’s story of how they reunited annually for many years for a Christmas concert in Newcastle, starting in 1976, and the inspiration she drew from their best-known song, were so charming that I took part in this year’s crowdfunding of the scent. Sarah has been thinking about this fragrance for a long time, as noted in this 2014 interview with CaFleureBon. Her latest commentary about it is here:

And now I have my very own bottle of Meet Me On The Corner, and I love it! (I also got the seasonal scent she mentions in the video, Christmas Concert, and will review that later this week after I attend an actual Christmas concert).

Meet Me On The Corner is a citrus chypre meant to evoke the fragrances that were popular in the 1970s like Sarah’s favorite Diorella, before the Blitzkrieg of 1980s powerhouses like Giorgio Beverly Hills — comparable to folk rock giving way to glam rock and its 1980s offspring. The 1971 song itself, which I hadn’t heard before, is a sweet, self-consciously folksy derivative of Bob Dylan’s 1965 Mr. Tambourine Man; of the versions on YouTube, I prefer the 2003 edition:

This is the refrain that inspired Sarah:

Meet me on the corner,
When the lights are coming on,
And I’ll be there.
I promise I’ll be there.
Down the empty streets,
We’ll disappear into the dawn,
If you have dreams enough to share.

So what is the fragrance like? It opens with a really pretty citrus, very lemony but not only lemon. There is another, less sweet citrus note which seems to be bergamot, but I clearly smell lemon too — not so much the fruit, but more like lemon zest and lemon tree. Maybe citron or petitgrain? Sarah says that the fragrance includes a peach lactone (a key ingredient of Edmond Roudnitska’s 1972 Diorella as well as Guerlain’s legendary ur-chypre, Mitsouko), flowery hedione (central to another Roudnitska masterpiece, the 1966 Eau Sauvage), and magnolia leaf. Here is what one producer says about the latter: it “exudes an aroma that is greener, more crisp and woody than the sweet scent of Magnolia Flower. The aroma of this rare Magnolia grandiflora leaf essential oil is clean and refined. Magnolia leaf is quite intriguing with hints of fig, bergamot and myrtle.”

As an official “notes list” isn’t yet available, I will offer a layperson’s guess and say that top notes include bergamot, citron, petitgrain; heart notes include peach, jasmine, fig, magnolia leaf, green notes (myrtle?); base notes include musk, woody and resinous notes (labdanum?), vetiver or oakmoss. I hope someone will issue a correct list! Meet Me At The Corner is a unisex fragrance, as befits the sometimes androgynous 1970s. It neatly combines aspects of Diorella and Eau Sauvage; this might be their love-child. It is bright and sunny, youthful without being sweet. It is, as Sarah has written, a fragrance to be “worn by women in jeans and men with long hair who scandalised our Edwardian grandparents.”

As I learned more about the song, the era, and Lindisfarne’s Christmas concerts, begun to raise funds for Newcastle City Hall, a concert venue, I also learned about the deep poverty that still afflicted Newcastle upon Tyne and its Dickensian slums in the 1970s, so well documented by photographer Nick Hedges for the UK charity Shelter. I also found this marvelous photo of the Pilgrim Street fire station in Newcastle in 1972, and I am guessing this may be the one that Sarah describes frequenting with her friends as teenagers:

Fire station on Pilgrim Street, Newcastle, UK, 1972, with pedestrians

Newcastle Fire Station 1972; image from Newcastle Chronicle.

Sarah has said on the 4160 Tuesdays website that Meet Me On The Corner will likely return as a regular offering in 2020, so keep an eye out for it; you can keep up with news on the 4160 Tuesdays Facebook page. It will be worth the wait!

Teenaged girls wearing tie-dyed clothing, 1970s, Doreen Spooner

Tye-dye girls, Doreen Spooner/Getty Images