Friday, 21 April 2017

I've had it on my wishlist blind for a long time and eventually got round to getting the First Sample. It was quite a disappointment:

Either my nose is off or my sample is but I get hardly any rose here - instead a very obvious and persistent coriander (seed not leaf) note...

But I persisted and ordered another one...

This one was marked as 2015 batch and the rose is, indeed, there, beautiful, transparent and persistent. But so is the coriander (?? as it's ot listed in the notes), now greener, fresher, woodier.

I think I'm falling in love with Lyric Man (huh). As others mentioned it has an almost hypnotic quality. I want to go in, let myself be pulled into the space this fragrance creates, somewhere beyond... I'd say beyond the veil, if it didn't sound so wanky.

I have looked up some rosewood images and you know what? Lyric Man smells the way that rosewood looks... minus the jungle humidity, of course.

I am yet to think of another scent that somehow manages to be both cool and warm, at the same time. Like silk, dry and cool but unfolding in desert air. Extremely smooth but matte, not shiny satin. There is a wind, a hot dry breeze that cools me down. I know I'm not making any sense.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

The great Jo Malone cult mystery

I have just read a lovely blog post on the 4160 Tuesdays website  on aspirational and less-aspirational scents and although I entirely agree with the general gist of what it says (go on, read!) I take exception to one example of less aspirational given there.

Jo Malone. The mysterious Jo Malone cult. I don't mean the appeal of the fragrances, nothing wrong with that, though not my kind of thing at that price point tbh.

I mean the lower-key, sneaky, very... very English, perhaps very lower-middle-class English aspiration of a perfect honey-blond bob and Boden.

Jo Malone, however simple and Demeter-like the frags are, is, somehow, unbelievably aspirational as well as pretty bloody expensive for what is essentially a cologne house. It seems to have a cultish following unlike any other mainstream designer brand (mind you, these are all conclusions derived purely from regular observations of eBay sales, which just tells you how much you can tell from second-hand sales patterns) which basically defies my understanding. A kind of English wholesome equivalent of the American soccer mom thing.

Sure, the following of Jo Malone's is very different from, let's say, Creed's but also very different, I'd guess, from Lush's.

But consider this: people sell not just the empty bottles (this is common for many perfumes) but also empty boxes and even empty carrier BAGS (!!!) of Jo Malone products on eBay. I doubt all of them are bough by shady individuals intending to produce fakes.

You see, I get that. In the 1980's Poland, I strategically chose German supermarket and cheap high street shops' carrier-bags to make a certain impression (of someone who has been abroad! in the West! and even did some shopping there! not just in ALDI!). Totally aspirationally.

To see a similar pattern repeated in relation to standard designer-logo-ed stuff is expected, to see it repeated in relation to the boring-in-a-bottle embodied by Jo Malone is... curious.

The lush girl Tuesday (1)

I have to confess to something approaching love for 4160 Tuesdays.

According to Fragrantica, 4160 Tuesdays (the number of Tuesdays we will have if we, optimistically, live till 80) is an artisan perfume house based in London, founded by Sarah McCartney. An author and former writer for Lush, Sarah is a self-taught perfumer who studied fragrance composition in order to bring to life the fictional fragrances crafted by a character in her novel The Scent of Possibility.

Now, who could possibly NOT become immediately interested in such a perfume maker.

I did poke around the website which combines fabulous (blog! stories! notes! humour! cheek! stories! descriptions!) with touchingly twee and yummy-eco-mummy infuriating (the obsessive eco-friendliness, the warnings not to put vintage scent on your skin, presumably in case the evil nitromusks give you rash, I bet you they support breastfeeding at all costs too) with inspired (fragrance! prices! vintage stuff!) and ordered a sampler set. 

I received my generous vials, in a sturdy box complete with Bowie stamps (and I bet you the Bowie stamps are chosen on purpose) plus one extra one, and a hand-written note, and a discount code....bloody hell, I have just realised I had that but I bought more from them since and not used it ;(

And thus started my exploration of 4160 Tuesdays' oeuvre. So far, it has been fantastic fun. Unexpected, exciting, interesting, and unexpectedly joyful. And I think this matters almost more - and certainly as much as - the scents, which are interesting, and some of them fabulous, anyway. I made notes as I tried them on: here is the first batch. 

Goddess of Love & Perfume: Sex Bomb

I bought this one as an extra sample on top of my 7-scent taster set (as a perfume/extrait it wasn't available as part of the set) for 6 GBP - a lot of money for a 2.25ml sample so I admit I had high expectations.

I'm wearing it now and to be perfectly honest I don't smell any oakmoss (or any moss) but what I smell is a very noticeable 'Lush base' (that scent that underlies most Lush bath products and quite a few of their perfumes) plus a very specific fragrance that took me a while to recall but when I did it was obvious and clear: this smells exactly like the Sex Bomb bath ballistic. Fizzy, fruity, sexy, powdery and all that. What I am most strongly reminded of is the original Agent Provocateur frag.

Nice, if not quite my thing.

Mother Nature's Naughty Daughters: Gran Titania

I am half way through the first run of the 4160 Tuesdays sample box and I have decided that although the idea, style and concept of what Sarah McCartney does, I should avoid their scents that feature fruity notes. Not because there is anything technically wrong with them, but because that thick rosy/powdery base (if it is a base?) that I termed 'Lushiade' they share with Lush products make it hard for me to distinguish anything else.

This opens up with blast of lush (and Lush) strawberry which I don't like in a fragrance. Other fruits are there too, caramelised pear is noticeable for example; and also a jammy (syrupy) rose. As well as a lot of powdery notes.

It gets a little less sticky with time, but still just too jammy for me, especially as any moss or chypre-like bitterness is just too hidden for my sense of smell.

Eight hours after applying and after washing up, washing hands, scrubbing carrots and chopping onions, and it's still there, mellowing into a sweet and rosy and maybe just a tiny bit mossy softness. So, longevity on this of this fragrance is mega impressive so far. I'd say my rating is a solid 3/5 at this stage and if someone gave me a bottle I'd keep at least half of it ;)

All in all, it's very nice in its own way, and I'd very happily bathe in this, but as a fragrance is just too Midsummer Night's Dream. In this sense, I think it accomplishes the perfumer's objective. It's should have been called "Gran Titania".

Who Knew?: Roseberry

I love rose in all incarnations,but I'm not so sure about grass with strawberry. As many Tuesdays frags I've tried, I like this one and it's fun and enjoyable to try but not quite what I like. Just as vanilla and tonka in Lush, straw/raspberries get too much voice in Sarah's sweeter stuff for my liking.

But for a non rose fan this could as well do well as it's really well put together ;)

Flora Psychedelica: Who knew?

I don't know what it is, because it's not a kind of fragrance I'd normally go for, but I love it.

It's a floral, but not a classic floral, it's fresh and it's green but at the same time neither cold nor twee.

Strangely, from the Tuesdays' sample set, I love the ones I wasn't at all sure choosing, and I ended up kinda meh about ones I thought I'd love... but trying all of that has been extremely enjoyable.

This one goes on my (recently heavily culled) wishlist.


Filthy flappers and my problem with leather (Robert Piguet Bandit EDP)

The current Bandit is a reconstruction of an original fragrance launched in 1944 and created by Germaine Cellier, discontinued (when a pallid and harsh version of its former self) in the 1970's and revived in 1990's when the Piguet brand was acquired by the somewhat mundane sounding Fashion Fragrances & Cosmetics.

Many of their reconstructions of the original Piguet fragrances using modern ingredients and with some updates for modern regulations and sensibilities are considered to be largely successful, and Bandit is among those.

The original Bandit fitted in a style of provocative early 20th century fragrances for emancipated women: women who wore trousers, smoked in public and generally transgressed social mores of the time. The current Bandit is a dirty chypre with a powerful leather note and an animalic side, and might be more challenging nowadays than it was originally. Why do I say that? Because the current standard for feminine perfumery oscillates between two poles. One is generally sweet: fruity, vanilla, gourmand, fruitchouli, berry, all that stuff that when done well is nice and sweet and when done badly is sickly sweet. The other pole is fresh: aquatic, ''clean'', watery, washed out citrusy fragrances that at best resemble classic Eau de Cologne and at worst smell like laundry soap. There is even a whole brand/fragrance line called Clean, I kid you not. Luca Turin told me it was uniformly horrible, and I believed him without trying them, so there.

Anyway, in the times when smoking indoors is unacceptable, cleanliness is again equalled to goodliness and sweet berry smells are considered to be (1) suitable for grown women (2) actually sexy, a chypre that reeks of sweaty leather might be a sniff too far.

Technically speaking, Bandit is a dark leather chypre and the official notes are as follows:

Top: Aldehydes - Orange - Artemisia - Gardenia - Galbanum - Neroli - Bergamot - Ylang-Ylang

Middle: Carnation - Violet Root - Jasmine - Rose - Tuberose

Base: Leather  - Amber  - Patchouli  - Musk  - Coconut - Civet  - Oakmoss  - Vetiver  - Myrrh

I was very excited to test this when I got round to getting a sample but I was also wary because I rarely love leather fragrances. I mean, I LOVE the smell of actual leather, and I like stuff made of leather, from jackets to wristbands, belts, shoes and occasional less conventional item of leather apparel. But I rarely ''get'' leather notes, or maybe I can't interpret them as leather and so far most ''leather'' fragrances I tried have been less than 100% love - even though I want to love them very much.

I do get leather in Bandit. After the aldehydic/citrusy opening leather comes on in a big way, and my nose reads Bandit on my skin mostly as a woody leather.

This in itself is very impressive in a somewhat inhuman and fairly old-fashioned way. There is a definite hint of a dungeon - a definitely '''cold''' dungeon - about Bandit, and although it's not quite de Sade, neither it is the glossy images of contemporary Tumblr-friendly kink.

A few minutes in Bandit starts to develop into the dirtiest scent this side of ELdO's Secretions Magnifiques (don't even go there): sweaty and borderline gag-inducing animalic note wrapped in leather, surrounded by ripe flowers, underlined by the bitter oakmoss. And it stays like that for hours.

As you might have worked out, the animalic aspect of Bandit is pretty overwhelming - possibly TOO overwhelming - on my skin/for my nose.

Still, this might not work the same way for everyone and as Bandit is a reference leather chypre and widely considered to be a successful retelling (re-smelling?) of a legendary fragrance, it's a must-smell for anybody interested in perfume. I definitely don't recommend buying it blind, especially considering the price, but I do recomemnd acquiring a sample.

All in all, I mark this as good or like but it's less of like really and more of utter awe mixed with a bit of repulsion.

I am glad I didn't buy a bottle blind, but now I am still not entirely sure if I want one having sampled this.