Monthly Archives: April 2017

Worth the Time Travel: Parfums d’Empire

A Serov painting of the Tsar’s court.

There really aren’t many perfume makers I trust myself to these days.  I am afraid of boredom, and ugliness, or of being the recipient of a giant headache from an overdosed ingredient.  I don’t want to smell a “lily” which smells nothing like a lily- as I did recently from a trendy brand which had obviously never gone near a garden in its life. I won’t name names, but suffice it to say that I could not cream  the ersatz lily off fast enough.

That particular brand is not alone. There is far too much awful out there. So it’s a relief when you find that a few brands do know what they are doing and actually do it well.  Parfum d’Empire is one.      Continue reading

The Weareverywhere

Some people like to wear flowers from

Some people like to wear flowers from

Going through my perfume cabinet the other day (which I do every spring just as the mole in The Wind in the Willows took up a brush with a sigh and whitewashed) I noticed a gap.  Perfumes come and go with me, so my collection seldom exceeds twenty bottles, and sometimes gaps open up.

Many  of my choices are emphatic perfumes, things which are uncommon for one reason or another.  I suppose this is the pitfall of collectors, they just can’t resist anything out of the ordinary. However that means that I don’t own much which is a no brainer.  The versatile enjoyable scent is notable by its absence on my shelves, which leaves me with a quandary every once in a while.

Chanel as a company understands this concept very well.  They never produce a perfume which is too extreme, too dramatic, or too topical.  The idea is to make classic fragrances easy for consumers to get accustomed to, in fact fragrances that become habitual. Continue reading

Lost Masterpiece: Angelique Encens

Della Robbia Angelic Choir from

Many people seem not to like Creed.  So many that I find myself hesitating slightly to claim that a Creed actually was a masterpiece. Creed has been around  longer than Guerlain, though they did begin as a tailoring concern in London, offering one cologne with the suits, rather than as purveyors of pomade.

The story of Angelique Encens confuses me slightly.  The formula is supposed to have been composed in 1933 for the Bishop of Paris. So says the sometimes unreliable Wikipedia, but  many people claim that, Angelique was made for Marlene Dietrich.  Hm.  There is even one poster on Fragrantica who says it was the preferred perfume of Pope John Paul II.  I wonder about that since he was rather austere and who can imagine him spritzing or dabbing  vestments or anything remotely similar? Continue reading

Tulipmania : Neil Morris’ Rainflower

Parrot tulip from

You would think-wouldn’t you- that tulips would be a little higher on the radar of perfumers than they are?  There is Byredo’s La Tulipe, there is Il Tuo Tulipano from Hilde Soliani and not much else.

Well now I have some good news for tulip lovers. I smelled Neil Morris’ Rainflower and that does come as close to tulips as you are going to get currently.  Now to a lot of readers Neil Morris may seem like a detour off the Guerlain or Dior or Lutens highways, but he really is a very talented man, and some of his perfumes are surprising.  Rainflower is one that knocks me for a loop because the smell is so real. The story behind the scent is that Morris was visiting London and stopped to see Kew Gardens in spring when it was raining.  Shortly afterwards the sun came out and this glorious smell of fresh flowers is what he caught and tried to recreate in Rainflower. Continue reading


something you don't come across every day.

something you don’t come across every day.

You know it’s a funny thing, most of us, plus the media, plus critics, even academics, like to say that we admire originality.  That is to say that we do, very much, so long as we can see how that originality sold in the 18-49 demographic last year? Also, was that gross or net? We love originality- just so long as someone else has done it first.

This means that you will almost never smell an original perfume.  They’re too risky to sell.  Supposing the public doesn’t like them?  The same goes for any number of new products, but trust me on this one, if you’ve smelled thousands of perfumes you know original ones are extremely rare. Continue reading