Love Sea – Aquatic ‘Fumes

Alphabeat have a new single, and it’s fantastic, as usual. Unsuprisingly, it got me thinking about perfume… because most things do.

Years of working in the perfume industry has left me disdainful of aquatic notes. They are ubiquitous in designer masculine scents, and I’d lumped them with “bad” perfume in my mind. However, there are some fantastically constructed fragrances in the genre. Here are a selection of my favourites:

Profumum Roma Acqua di Sale – The perfume equivalent of an azure ocean, that has been bottled and carbonated. Fizzy, bright, cool, crisp, and incredibly watery.

Kenzo pour Homme – Frothy water, like breaking waves and driftwood. Some herbal notes make it generally ‘feel’ more masculine, but don’t let that stop you, ladies. Especially if you like the smell of Matey bubble bath.

Heeley Sel Marin – More a breeze coming off of the ocean, when you are stood at the top of a cliff, than the ocean itself. British seaside in a bottle.

Bulgari Blu II – If mint grew in sea water, this is what it would smell like. Sparkly, reflective, and transparent.

Eau d’Italie Eau d’Italie - Whilst this is an olfactory evocation of (and fantastic marketing exercise) the Le Sirenuse hotel in Positano, it also has a distinctly warm, salty air quality about it against the smell of hot terracotta, hazy flowers, and incense.

Thierry Mugler Womanity – Salty sea air, figs, and shortbread. This is utterly genius. Wear it with a light touch though, because it has monstrous sillage.

Parfumerie Generale Bois Naufragé – This is the smell of a bizarre beach: figs, sun tan lotion, coconut-ty tanning lotion, and the driest, saltiest washed up wood that would crumble underfoot if it were trampled on.

Jump on in, the Love Sea with me…

Being busy is no blessing.

I haven’t posted in forever. Life has been so very busy since I moved to London – sometimes so much is happening that I can’t quite get my head around it.

I have been working on developing talks and events for my job. Whilst my first ‘framework’ is complete, it still isn’t suitable for the other scent-education events I want to run.

The first one is a ‘Describing Scent Workshop’. I take a bunch of people, sit them down, and present a bunch of perfumes to them that they may or may not be familiar with, but completely removed from the marketing, bottle, and name, until afterwards – where I explain to them what the idea, notes, etc are. It’s proved utterly fascinating to listen to peoples responses and to be honest, I’d love to do that every day. Also, I’m trying to develop an olfactive dictionary which I can relate to fragrances, and hopefully people will ‘get’ what I mean.

Thank you to everyone who keeps checking in on me. I’m still tweeting, btw, more than ever it might seem.

Also, I need business cards. And the book I was planning has been super-super-sidelined.

More soon, I promise. Even if it’s just another song.

Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling review

I first heard whispers about Juniper Sling a year ago. Penhaligon’s doing a gin scent? Brilliant! Both Penhaligon’s and gin have a rich British heritage, and it almost seemed strange they didn’t already have one.

When I heard the perfumer was Olivier Cresp (of Angel fame), it was time to get a little overexcited. I just knew that I would love Juniper Sling, months before I’d even sniffed the stuff.

So when Penhaligon’s invited bloggers to the launch party at the Covent Garden boutique, with the promise of gin cocktails, I jumped at the chance. You don’t need to ask me twice if there will be gin involved!

The scent itself is bright, crisp, refreshing, spicy, smooth, and warm all at once. Opening on a tingly pepper-angelica-cardamom combination, the gin vibe is immediately apparent but it doesn’t feel alcoholic or as though you have dabbed some Gordon’s on (maybe instead some Tanqueray Ten, which is much smoother). The crispness from the juniper also quite cool and refreshing.

A blend of amber and powdery orris bring a warm, sexier side to the scent, which was truly unexpected. It isn’t overly powdery, but you can feel that powderiness softening the scent. A slightly gourmand side from the brown sugar and cherry also bring a sweetness, but it’s tempered with a suede-like leather note and vetiver.

In my opinion Penhaligon’s deserve to have a huge success with this fragrance, it is a brilliant scented image of my favourite tipple which is easily wearable by anyone. Juniper Sling is very much a unisexy fragrance.

Head Notes: Cinnamon, Orange Brandy, Angelica, Juniper Berry
Heart Notes: Cardamom, Leather, Black Pepper, Orris Wood
Base Notes: Brown Sugar, Black Cherry, Vetiver, Ambrox

[based on a sample provided by Penhaligon's, have I mentioned I like gin yet?]

Gin-soaked Fumes

I adore gin. There really is nothing better than a good gin & tonic (ice and a slice, thanks).

I also adore perfume. So what if the perfect storm happened and a gin fragrance was launched?! Well lucky for all of us gin-soaked fragonerds, Penhaligon’s are launching just that. A full review of their latest launch, Juniper Sling, will follow in the week.

Today I want to talk about the why and how the two subjects are so wonderfully interlinked. (Also, you should read the blogpost from Louise on Get Lippie about her tour of the Sipsmith distillery. I want to go to there, too.)

Gin, to be called Gin, must be made with Juniper berries (genievre in Frenchish). Juniper has a wonderful, bright, green and tart scent. Un-shockingly they use Juniper in fragrance too. Hurrah! Aside from juniper, gin can contain various botanicals that are also famously perfume raw materials, mostly barks, roots, spices and citrus fruits, including: orris root, saffron, angelica, lime/lemon/orange/other citrus peels, anise, licorice root, cinnamon, almond, saffron, baobab, frankincense, and coriander.

As you might guess from my review of Aftelier Perfumes Frankincense Oolong, I’m on the lookout for a frankincense heavy gin.

Here are a few suggestions of Gin like ‘fumes:

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie – rain soaked crisp coriander, angelica and juniper with a hint of tonic watery fizz.

Frapin et Cie L’Humaniste – if gin were a shower gel, that somehow became a perfume, this is it. Fresh, uplifting, and so so good!

Carolina Herrera 212 VIP Men – mostly a sweet amber in the general direction of Paco Rabanne’s 1Million, however, it’s also got a fantastic smooth, soft gin note that lingers for age

Bombay Sapphire Infusion – the famous blue bottled gin also comes in fragrance form and I’m over the moon that it does. Based on their secret formula of botanicals (see the ‘fume link here?) it smells almost exactly like a gin and tonic, but not sure it’s 100% appropriate for wearing to work.

How do you feel about ‘alcoholic’ fragrances? Please let me know too if you’ve ever tried  Demeter’s Gin & Tonic fragrance!

[picture credit: thenibble.com]

Packing & Perfume

So, having uprooted myself to London (I’ve already been here a month, which has absolutely flown by) – I’m trying to get myself prepared for a trip back home to Bristol this weekend. Clothes are sorted so easily that in fact, they are practically inconsequential: a t-shirt and jeans is my “life uniform”.

You'd think I'd have taken moving as a chance to sort out my perfume drawer. But I didn't. (If you think this is bad, wait till you see the samples drawer)

Every time I am going away, even for a short period of time, I struggle to decide what fragrances to take with me. I find it excruciating, unless I have a ‘new love’ that I want to take everywhere with me. I expect I’m not the only one with this problem, especially when I have such a ridiculous amount of fragrance at my ‘disposal’ here. And then I remember those cruel games that people on Basenotes seem to enjoy playing so much come in useful. You know the ones I mean: “If your house was burning down and you could only save a one bottle of perfume or the family pet / baby, which bottle would it be?

5ml atomisers are life savers

I have so far decided on one: Guerlain Vetiver. I pretty much always have a decant of this one on me, because it’s so versatile and always hits the spot (Vetiver is another feature on the list of my top 5 perfume notes of all time ever). I expect the decision will be to take a mixture of samples to see how they play, anyway. I always use coach or train journeys for testing and writing! (Currently I’m working my way through the Huitieme Arts line, because, well, I need to get my head around them for work!)

Do you have any favourites to take with you on trips? Or do you take a different one every time?

Frankincense Oolong Tea by Aftelier Perfumes

Mandy Aftel is a supremely talented natural perfumer. But perfume is not the only thing Mandy crafts. Aside from her Chef’s essences (hello, Juniper Berry and Grand Fir, I have my eye on you), she also creates wonderful perfumed teas.

Frankincense is in my top 5 perfume notes of all time ever, so I was intrigued when I first saw it, and desperately wanted to experience the tea. Mandy has married Frankincense with organic Oolong tea. The result is an incredibly delicate, clear, slightly citrus, sweet and balsamic tea, that has a eucalyptus feel. My favourite part of this tea is normally the part I hate most – the last sip – because you get to savour the full complexity of the resin.

Oolong tea is best when steeped in water at around 85° C (take the water to the boil, and allow it to cool for a while) for 3 minutes (4, if you prefer a slightly richer taste). Mandy’s Oolong can be steeped up to four times.

[Image sourced from the Aftelier Perfumes website]