Scent Sample Sunday: White Queen

Scent Sample Sunday: White Queen

Oh, how I love literary references! Put them together with a great niche perfume, and I am a happy perfumista! Today’s Sunday scent is White Queen, by 4160 Tuesdays, a collaborative creation with Michelyn Camen of the blog CaFleureBon to mark the blog’s eighth anniversary in 2018. 4160 Tuesdays founder and perfumer Sarah McCartney wrote at length about how this joint project came to be, and her inspirations, at CaFleureBon, here: New Perfume: 4160 Tuesdays White Queen. I won a bottle of White Queen in one of CaFleureBon’s generous giveaway draws and it was sent directly from Sarah with a personal note; thank you, Michelyn and Sarah! Look carefully at Sarah’s stationery — it’s so clever.

 

The literary reference is to the White Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, the sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The character of the White Queen makes some of the most-quoted statements from Carroll’s works, such as the advice to “believe six impossible things before breakfast” and the offer of “jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.”

In the book, the White Queen is an elderly lady, but in Tim Burton’s 2010 movie “Alice in Wonderland”, he reimagines her as a beautiful young (or ageless) woman, played by Anne Hathaway.

Anne Hathaway in Disney Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland movie.

Anne Hathaway as the White Queen; http://www.disney.com.

As many have noted, this White Queen is far from being all sweetness and light, and so is her namesake perfume, alluring as they both are. Sarah McCartney describes the fragrance’s notes as: incense, hazelnut, citrus fruits, raspberry, jasmine (which some call the Queen of Flowers, although the rose might disagree), cream, opoponax, vetivert, patchouli, and musk.  The goal was to create a modern gourmand without evoking candy, while also referring to the phrase “falling down the rabbit-hole”, which many people use to refer to their own response in discovering how much more there is to perfume than a single signature scent.

The modern gourmand aspect is fulfilled by using methyl laitone, which creates what Ms. McCartney describes as “clouds of whipped cream and white fluffy marshmallows.” However, on my skin, the incense note is more pronounced and very long-lasting. Fragrantica’s perfume pyramid lists it and the cream note only among the top notes, but they persist throughout the fragrance’s life and should be included with the heart and base notes. (Fragrantica also lists notes that Ms. McCartney does not, and omits notes she describes; I’m going with her on this one!). On me, these marshmallows are toasted.

Tray of toasted marshmallows

Toasted marshmallows; http://www.maplestreetcandle.com

I love incense as a note in perfume, but I tend to prefer less smoky incense notes, so this is perfect for me. Ms. McCartney’s post makes it clear that her incense note comes from frankincense, or Boswellia Carteri. This incense is also inflected with opoponax, a type of myrrh known as “sweet myrrh”, which brings warm, balsamic, honeyed notes to a fragrance. On my skin, these come even more to the forefront as White Queen dries down, and they are lovely. The combination of frankincense and opoponax makes White Queen‘s incense note more like a lovely vapor.

incense vapor

Incense; image from Fragrantica.

I can’t pick out separate notes of raspberry or citrus, but I can tell that they are present because of the brightness they lend; I think they help lift White Queen and add to its airiness. Similarly, I wouldn’t be able to tell you on a blind sniff that there is any jasmine, but it makes sense once that is revealed — jasmine is one of the sweeter floral notes, though to my nose it is less sweet than tuberose. As White Queen dries down, I do pick up the patchouli, but it does not overwhelm as that note sometimes can; nor am I overcome by gourmand sweetness, which I can only take in limited doses (not a fan of Angel, sorry). The combination of patchouli, vetiver, and musk is meant to evoke the “rabbit-hole” and its earthiness, and I think it succeeds.

Mia Waskikowska in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, by Disney, falling into rabbit-hole

Alice and the rabbit-hole; http://www.disney.com

As much as I love floral and green notes, White Queen is a winner for me! It is especially appealing on these cool February days, when we alternate between warmth when the sun is out, and chill when our climate remembers that it is not yet spring. When the extremes swing too far here in the Southeast, the season is called a “false spring” and, like the White Queen, it can be dangerously deceiving. (I am a gardener as well as a lover of perfume, and these false springs make it quite challenging to time rose-pruning).

This White Queen displays all the warmth and none of the chill of our false spring, so it wears well in cool weather; given the presence of frankincense and myrrh, it would also make a great Christmas-themed scent, and I’ll try that next year! Do you have any favorite cool-weather fragrances you are wearing right now? Any favorites from 4160 Tuesdays?

Featured image: http://www.disney.com.

#NoThunkThursday

#NoThunkThursday

Happy Valentine’s Day! In honor of the day, and the MANY sales and discounts on favorite fragrance websites, Thunking Thursday is SUSPENDED for this week only. Instead, in the interests of enabling, please feel free to share Valentine’s discount codes and specials you have discovered. I’ll start: Twisted Lily has a discount code for 20% off until tonight (Thursday 2/14) at 10 pm ET — LOVEHURTS22. Some restrictions, but applicable to most online stock! Also, their discount code BEMINE2519 gives you a $25 gift card when you buy a $125 gift card, through Feb. 25.

Ice cream cake shaped like perfume bottle, Haagen-Dazs.

Perfume bottle ice cream cakes, Haagen-Dazs China.

Ice cream cake shaped like perfume bottle; Haagen-Dazs China

Perfume Pour Elle Ice Cream Cake from Haagen-Dazs

Images from www.generalmills.com.

MY BOOK ARRIVED IN THE POST TODAY AND I MUST ADMIT I AM RATHER PLEASED — The Black Narcissus

Our friend Neil at The Black Narcissus is a published author!! Publication date for “Perfume: In Search of Your Signature Scent” in the UK is March 21; April 2 in the US. You can pre-order RIGHT NOW at Amazon.co.uk or at Amazon.com.

via MY BOOK ARRIVED IN THE POST TODAY AND I MUST ADMIT I AM RATHER PLEASED — The Black Narcissus

From the Amazon.co.uk website:

A beautifully made scent can encapsulate a particular feeling, transport you to a very specific time in life with clarity, or remind you of a special loved one or friend. And just like wearing your favourite outfit or shoes, your favourite perfume can make you feel invincible. The question is, how do you find such a creation? With the number of new releases steadily In Perfume, Neil Chapman guides readers through a world that can at times seem overwhelming. Fragrances of every variety are listed ‘note by note’ in clearly divided categories that will steer you in the direction of a perfume you not only like, but love and cherish as ‘your’ smell. Chapters are divided into popular base notes (vanilla, sandalwood, cedarwood, jasmine, patchouli), heart notes (lavender, rosemary, black pepper, geranium, juniper) and top notes (bergamot, citrus, basil), and the book features over 200 scents, from department store classics to more boutique fragrances. If a scent intrigues, go out and try it. The further you go on this journey, the more you will be amazed by how many beautiful creations do exist if you take the time to look.

Congratulations, Neil! All your readers are so proud of you! Can’t wait to read a whole book of your thoughts on perfume.

Update: Neil has posted photos of the actual book at The Black Narcissus, now that his parents have seen it first. It is gorgeous! And there will be at least one book event this spring in London, so keep checking his blog for details!

Scent Sample Sunday: Vol de Nuit

Scent Sample Sunday: Vol de Nuit

Within the last few months, I scored a purse spray of vintage Vol de Nuit extrait de parfum, a Guerlain masterpiece. I had previously been able to buy what I think is actually the most beautiful Vol de Nuit bottle, which doesn’t contain liquid at all — it is the limited edition shimmer powder’s blue-green flacon, the twin of the famous propeller bottle of the original parfum.

Blue green atomizer bottle of Guerlain's Vol de Nuit shimmer powder

Vol de Nuit shimmer powder; image http://www.guerlain.com

Propeller bottle of Guerlain's Vol de Nuit parfum

Vol de Nuit parfum; www.guerlain.com

But honestly, when would one have the opportunity to wear them? What occasion? What ensemble to wear with them?

Last night was the night.

My husband and I went to a benefit auction last night, and after much pondering, I decided that a simple cocktail dress in black velvet with tiny black sequins and short sleeves would be my outfit, combined with a necklace of white baroque pearls that was given to me by one of my dearest friends. I couldn’t decide what fragrance to wear, though. Amouage Gold EDP was a leading contender, as I’ve worn it before to dressy events and I always enjoy it. Then I thought of the Alaia extrait de parfum I bought last year, which is also beautiful. And it hit me — I could finally use the shimmer powder! And now I had the parfum to go with it! So Vol de Nuit it was.

Victoria at Bois de Jasmin reviewed the shimmer powder when it came out in 2011:

The powder itself is tinted a silvery shade closer to mother of pearl than polished metal. It is a complex color, with peach and blue creating an ethereal effect. Although Guerlain suggests using the powder for both face and body, I find that it is too cool for my warm complexion. However, it looks beautiful sprayed lightly on the shoulders and chest. The sparkling particles are quite fine, so the impression is opalescent and soft, rather than disco ball glitzy.

I took her advice and sprayed it on my neck and chest, plus a bit on my arms. It is possible to apply it very lightly, for just a hint of glimmer. I think it’s important to have well-moisturized skin before using it, but the moisturizer should be unscented. as the powder itself is scented, albeit lightly. The baroque pearls looked beautiful against the slight shimmer on my neck.

The parfum went on the pulse points behind my ears and inside my elbows. I often apply on my inner elbows instead of my wrists when wearing short sleeves. It’s easier to control the spray, and I can diffuse it on my skin just by bending the crook of my elbow instead of rubbing wrists together (which some perfumistas discourage).

My theater artist daughter did my makeup for me; I don’t usually wear much makeup, so I’m not the best judge of what will work. I may never look so chic again!

How was the fragrance? It was celestial. Neil at The Black Narcissus has described Vol de Nuit better than almost anyone: “Journey Into Light: Vol de Nuit by Guerlain (1933).”

And yes, this is how I felt, although any resemblance is strictly fanciful and internal:

Ad for Guerlain's Vol de Nuit shimmer powder

Vol de Nuit limited edition shimmer powder from Guerlain.

What fragrance makes you feel most glamorous? When do you wear it?

Thunking Thursday: First Cut

Thunking Thursday: First Cut

Today I am thunking my precious sample of St. Clair Scents‘ First CutI’m tempted to get a travel size bottle of it, especially as she has a promo code for 10% off all bottles between now and Valentine’s Day: LOVE10. I don’t think I will, though; I have plenty of scents to enjoy. Besides, I might rather get Gardener’s Glove!

How did your own thunking go this week? Anyone care to post a total for January? I think Brigitte is in the lead …

Fragrance Friday: Parfum et Vous

Last week, I was able to visit Nice, France, thanks to my husband’s work. He had to go for a business trip, I was able to take a few days off from my own job and tag along! During the day, he had meetings and I explored.

I have been to Nice before: once on our honeymoon, and again a few years ago when we took a family trip to the Cote d’Azur. But those trips were both before my perfumania, so I planned much of my week around fragrance. One thing I knew I’d like to try was a perfume-making workshop for beginners. Nice offers options; two different ones with an established perfume house, Molinard, and one with an independent perfumery, Parfum et Vous. I was leaning toward the latter, so when I contacted Megan in Sainte-Maxime to see if we might be able to meet (more about that in another post — such fun!), I asked her thoughts.  She enthusiastically recommended that choice, and she knows the owner, so I signed up. The price included a two-hour workshop to learn about perfume and then make our own scents, using pre-made accords, and one bottle of our own creation. The workshop would take place in a pretty old building in the heart of Nice, a short walk from the famous “Promenade des Anglais”, in the retail showroom of Parfum et Vous.

There were four of us taking the workshop, plus the lovely and vivacious Sasha, owner of Parfum et Vous, and her assistant. Sasha gave a brief introduction and overview about perfume, then had us walk around her small showroom filled with niche perfumes, smelling them and thinking about what genres and notes we might like to try in our own concoctions. Sasha’s wares are true artisan perfumes from niche houses, like Beaufort London, Nishane, NabuccoBarutiPaul Emilien and many others, so there was a wide range of fragrances to smell.

Then we went to a table where there were pre-mixed scents in eau de parfum strength representing categories of fragrance foundations, like “woody marine.” We talked about what we would try to create for our own eau de parfum, and sniffed all of the foundations. I wanted to create a unisex fragrance that would remind my husband and me of our trips to the South Carolina Lowcountry, the marshy coastland that borders the Atlantic Ocean in that state.

Next, we moved to a table that had 22 different accords in large bottles with droppers, divided among top notes, heart notes and base notes, and labeled with identifiers like “iris”, ‘chypre”, “citrus, “spice.” Each one also listed individual notes, e.g. “spice” included cinnamon, clove, and pepper. Sasha started each of us off with a formula to create a foundation for the category we had chosen, specifying how many mls of each accord we should add to our individual 30 ml bottles. I was starting with “woody marine”, so my beginning foundation included marine, citrus, green tea, “oriental woody”, and woody accords. Others wanted to create a gourmand, or a floral oriental, and there were foundations for those and other options.

Then the real fun began! Throughout the process, Sasha had us smell each stage as we added more accords in small amounts, tweaking our fragrances in the directions we wanted. I added notes of jasmine, cyclamen, wild rose, vetiver, and oak moss. As the other students and I added accords, Sasha would have us spray a bit on our skin and she would smell our progress and make suggestions. I got to a point where I wanted to add more heart notes. I was satisfied with the top notes, which by now included a citrus accord of mandarin, orange, and tangerine, the marine accord, and a tiny amount of a fruit accord (grapefruit and apple).

The heart note accords available were: neroli, spices, white flowers, rose, powdery (rice notes and white musk), iris, green tea, and cassis. We thought about adding neroli, but ruled that out. I asked about the powdery accord, and Sasha recommended against it, given the other accords I already had. We settled on slowly adding small amounts of the white flowers accord, which was a combination of jasmine and cyclamen. Then I thought about iris. Sasha was a little doubtful, but when I explained that I wanted that earthier, rooty aspect, she concurred but urged a light hand. In went .5 ml of the iris accord. Sniff, sniff. Wait. Another .5 ml. Sniff. Perfect!

Time to tweak the base notes. I already had accords that included notes of patchouli, vanilla, vetiver, tonka, cedar, and sandalwood. I wanted to add more of the “chypre” accord, with notes of vetiver and oak moss, and Sasha agreed but advised going slowly and adding 1 ml at a time, checking each time to see what I thought. Because of the nature of base notes, which emerge more slowly than the top and heart notes, one relies more on the formulas for base notes; even in a leisurely, unhurried workshop like this, there’s not time to wait for the full progression. Because I love chypre, I ended up adding more of that and no more of the other available base note accords, and I’m very happy with the outcome.

Once we were satisfied with our creations, Sasha had us name and label them. Parfum et Vous keeps a record of our names, and the formula for the specific blend we had created, so one can reorder if one wants. I named mine “Lowcountry Spring”, and I find it charming!

As you can tell, I enjoyed this workshop thoroughly and heartily recommend it. Because of the pre-formulated foundations and accords, plus expert guidance from Sasha, one really can’t go too far astray. It would take deliberate effort to create something that wasn’t pleasing. The atmosphere was fun and informative. I enjoyed meeting my three fellow students; we all helped each other, sniffing each other’s formulas along the way (yes, there were little canisters of coffee beans to help reset our noses, although I find it sometimes works best, when I’m trying many scents, to reset by just putting my nose to my own shoulder). I also really enjoyed seeing and smelling the many interesting niche perfumes Sasha sells in her showroom, some of which I hadn’t encountered before, and others which I had read about but never had the chance to try. If you get a chance to visit Nice, go see Parfum et Vous! Whether or not you have the time or inclination to spend an afternoon in the workshop, it is well worth a visit for the showroom alone, and to meet Sasha.

Have you ever tried making your own fragrances? How did it go?

 

Thunking Thursday: Gucci Bloom Nettare di Fiori

In full candor, I haven’t QUITE thunked this yet, as of this morning, but will have done so by tonight! Gucci Bloom Nettare di Fiori is my thunk of the week, and it’s lovely. It is described as more intense and darker than the original Gucci Bloom, with additional notes of rose, ginger, osmanthus and patchouli. I experience it as somehow “fresher” than Bloom, and I think it’s because of the ginger. Also, while the tuberose is still prominent, to my nose it is toned down a bit in Nettare di Fiori; and that makes it seem lighter to me.

No surprise to me, the nose behind it is M. Alberto Morillas, whose fragrances rarely disappoint me (for instance, I love Blasted Bloom). As with Bloom, I don’t feel an urgent need to own a full bottle of Nettare di Fiori, but I have really enjoyed my sample! And I fully intend to thunk the rest of it today. How about you?