Lost Masterpiece: Angelique Encens

Della Robbia Angelic Choir from pinterest.com

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 pinterest.com

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

Originals

something you don't come across every day. Dailymail.UK.com

something you don’t come across every day. Dailymail.UK.com

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

Dorian Gray’s Perfume

Dorian as physical perfection on a summer day.

Dorian as physical perfection on a summer day.

Some writers set the scene of a novel with visuals, others like to give us a sense of how their characters feel, as in the ghost’s cold little hand at the beginning of Wuthering Heights, but Oscar Wilde decides at the very beginning of The Portrait of Dorian Gray to tell us how things smelled.

“The studio was  filled with the rich odor of roses,” the novel begins,” and when the light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden there came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the more delicate scent of the pink flowering thorn.” It’s a very odd way to begin a novel.  Possibly Wilde felt that if you know how a place smells you know automatically how it looks and that a long description is  therefore unnecessary.

Instead Wilde continues his olfactory description. Lord Henry Wotten is lying on “Persian saddlebags” which implies a smell of old wool, and is smoking cigarettes, so a nicotine haze blurs this atmosphere. Through the  open door come more flower fragrances, laburnum  in bloom, and the flowering woodbine, which are just other names for gold chain trees and honeysuckle. Continue reading

At Hello

The coup de foudre isn't common even with perfumes

The coup de foudre isn’t common even with perfumes

There is a quote about perfume, and for the life of me I can’t remember to whom it’s attributed, but the translation is, “Perfume should be like love, it should strike a person from the very first contact.” Which is a pretty fair description of infatuation.

This is one of those experiences perfume lovers are always on the lookout for and enjoy inordinately when they do happen.  How often though does it really strike?  In my own case I have to say very few times.

Continue reading

Musk and Victoria

Victorian looking soulful and wearing a sapphire. Winterhalter is the painter

Victorian looking soulful and wearing a sapphire.
Winterhalter is the painter

Sometimes the Victorians are good fun.  Not intentionally fun, you understand  because they took themselves pretty seriously. They’re fun in the sense that they are always jostling one another to take home first prize in the propriety contest.  That competition was such a feature of the 19th century, “I’m really much more respectable than you dear.”  The losers were not respectable, and their behavior was not in good taste, or “not for common consumption”, as my mother used to say.

Well it seems that Victoria herself came in for some criticism from those dreaded taste doyennes of the 19th century: parisiennes.  You see the queen had musk in her perfume. Continue reading

Non Rose Perfumes that Smell of Roses

From The dailymail.com.uk A reconstruction of Arcimblodo's Spring

From The dailymail.com.uk A reconstruction of Arcimblodo’s Spring

It appears that I have not done a “list” post in a very long time.  I really hate to do these at the end of a year, but once in a while there is a little space and time to do one and if you can’t re-live rose perfumes in February-when can you?

They do some pretty good best of lists over at Perfume Posse, but I am a fuss pot about roses because I grow so many, and like my perfumes to be really evocative of the real thing, thorns and all. So no Stella, no Diptyque Eau de Rose (only rosy for five minutes anyway- subsequently dryer sheets) and I find the Early Roses of Teo Cabanel to be too timid .  If you want exhaustive lists of the real thing  Undina’s Looking Glass has a really long one. Continue reading

Down to Earth

The edge of our pond

The edge of our pond

There is a definite shift in the season here.  Connecticut has those four clearly demarcated seasons and this one is the transitional, the rainy, the mucky, the still cold but the light is brighter, the sap is running one, we have a name for it: mud season.

This should be a little more shoe and less wellington boot, but the fact is that I have spent the last several weeks cutting brambles out of the garden.  This is not a pleasant job and generally has me battling something very long and spiny which then manages to work thorns into jeans, shirts, scalps, wrists and fingers no matter how plasticated and tough the gardening gloves.  I really do find this season irritating from a purely epidermal point of view. Continue reading

Violets for Valentine’s Day

Fragrant blue violets from pinterest.com

Fragrant blue violets from pinterest.com

So I realized I had been remiss here.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers and a bouquet of violets to mark the day.  I hope it is a fragrant one for you all!

I would also love to know what everyone decided to wear for Valentine’s Day?  I stuck with an old  formula Jasmin de

Double White Violets from Logees'. com

Double White Violets from Logees’. com

Corse a Coty perfume that has a violet beginning and then

is a solid, sunny and rather rural jasmine with a distinct hay note to the fragrance.

What did you choose?  Did everyone decide to stick to roses?

The Battle of The Bottle

Le Parfum Ideal Bottle

Le Parfum Ideal Bottle

We have all had similar experiences if we buy old perfume, namely stuck stoppers.  In this particular case the stopper was stuck tight in a bottle of Houbigant’s Le Parfum Ideal. The bottle was quite small and from my reference books on perfume flagons, I was convinced that the scent probably dated from 1925-1930 or thereabouts.

All of that was fine I had the bottle, I had the box, and the bottle was pristine with threads still tied and sealed in wax as a matter of a fact, which suggested an early 20th century date to me.  BUT there was no way of getting Ideal open. Continue reading