Thursday, 24 July 2014

Regine Chassagne - Kaleidoscopic Woman, What Should She Smell Like?


 Regine Chassagne


Whilst watching the Glastonbury Festival on TV the other week, I was overwhelmed by just how much I adore Arcade Fire’s wobbly voiced soprano songstrel – Regine Chassagne. I’ve enthusiastically followed Arcade Fire’s art school indie style output for many years, but with the launch of the ‘Reflektor’ album they seemed to have morphed into a kind of ‘cyber rave orchestral noise spectacular’ of the kind that excites me the point of thinking “They are better than the Pixies”. Which is my measuring stick for how good a band is.

Watching the extraordinary Regine’s performance this year was an utter delight. She is simultaneously; charming, coquettish, exuberant, luminous and technicolour. Her voice possesses a beautiful flaw where amongst the high soprano peaks, cracks and creaks occur, perfection is boring. She isn’t.


I’ve always been inspired by these type of ‘women of colour’. Those who character (both in personality and visual appearance) radiates an uncontrollably vivid exuberance. As Regine whirls around the stage twirling coloured ribbons in the manner of an Olympic gymnast on amphetamines, I see a history of equally technicolour women of pop. There is no doubt that Regine must cherish Cyndi Lauper who shares a similarly squeaky voice and love of ‘dressing-up box’ clothes. 



The eighties also produced some fine ‘men of colour’. Remember the video for pointy faced love god – Paul King’s ‘Love and Pride’? It had all the elements of essential 80s pop played out in a sun parched quarry where Paul danced like Elvis wearing an amazingly green suit. To amplify the colour, many leather jacketed children ran amok spray painting each others Doc Marten boots whilst graphic splatters of animated paint popped across the screen in time to the drum beat. Ahhhh.. the eighties.

Gorgeous and brilliant - King

I wonder what perfume might Regine wear? Arcade Fire present a psychedelic super charged extravaganza of light on their stage. Neon paint daubed onto their costumes and much (terrible fire hazard) metallic, fringed and futuristic lycra abounds. Lead singer, and Regine’s husband – Win Butler rejects the archetypal pair of shades for a ‘pair of shades theatrical make-up’ rendering him somewhat sinister and beautiful in equal measures. There is nothing natural about Arcade Fire. They exist in a futuristic and synthetic world where electric chaos reigns. With this in mind, I can only imagine any of them wearing a symbol of the future, an aromachemical, a very artificial one. The obvious choices where I to present Regine with a perfume would be:



Lalique - Perles De Lalique.  Whilst patchouli usually contributes a warm, earthy and damply sweet quality to a perfume, in Perles De Lalique it’s rocketed skywards by shockingly huge dose of space-age wood replicant – ISO E Super. Add to this a rather piecing rose and you have something that is (on the negative side) migraine inducing and (more positively) a uniquely bright and fizzy experiment in NASA-esque perfumery. I own a bottle. I wear it now and again. I love it but it makes me feel shouty.

Or

Tauer Perfumes – Noontide Petals. A rather ‘un-Tauery’ Tauer, Noontide Petals was inspired by the modernity of the 1920s and 30s, a time of air travel, fast cars and girls embracing the art of acting like boys. In perfume terms, this means aldehydes, those sparkling chemicals brimming with vivacity that brought an oddly chilly, metallic and genderless edge to the blousy compositions of an earlier era. If you haven’t smelt Chanel No 5 or Baghari for a while, sniff them out and ponder how strangely contemporary they feel. Noontide petals mixes Aldehydes with a whole caboodle of woody and floral notes but it still feels primarily aldehydic and as such makes me think of Clara Bow smoking a fag in manly pants whilst winking through a bit of untamed frizzy red fringe. In her time, as visually Bonkers as Regine or Cyndi. 

As for Cyndi, a fruit bowl would match her kaleidoscopic style. Byredo's vegetal overdose 'Pulp' is a possible choice. It polarises opinion, a love or hate scent where fans cite it as the greatest indie adventure in fruit of all time and others state that it recalls 'bin juice', a literal pulping of rotting vegetation leaking from the bin bag. Whichever side you take, it's certainly vivid, shocking and eccentric - perfect for Cyndi.  

 Tropical fruit warrior 



And lastly, little know Malcolm McLaren punk-pop invention - Bow Wow Wow. If you haven't heard it PLEASE watch 'Go Wild In The Country' on Youtube. Singer Anabella Lwin was just 14 when McLaren discovered her. She was immediately famous, if only for a brief time, shouting her angry lyrics over the tribal drum beats of the band in a combustive and rather glamourous wallop of noise. Fond of block coloured batwing jumpers, flappy bits of fabric worn in tribal headband style (another influence on Regine?) and bejeweled animal prints, Anabella is the ideal wearer of Kenzo's 'Jungle L' Elephant'. A curiously (or furiously) cumin fueled riot of mango rich spiced oriental decadence.

Anabella Lwin

If you've enjoyed this post, you may wish to read some other music related perfume waffle by clicking here:

On Olfactive Studio - Chambre Noire and Adam and The Ants

On Jovoy -  Psychedelique and Nico and The Velvet Undergound

On Byredo - Flowerhead and The Gossip's Beth Ditto

And for those of you who didn't see it. Here is the beautiful Regine singing Sprawl II (squeakily) live at glastonbury. Enjoy.







Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Review: Nobile 1942 - Infinito, Sun Warmed Wood For Late Night Dancing


In recent months I’ve been drenching myself in citrus scents, revelling in the joy that is a great big spritz over lethargic hot skin. In fact, the delight of the citrus cologne is one of my favourite aspects of summer, so much so that I will heave my enormous bottle of Guerlain’s Eau Imperiale around in my work bag all day, just for the simple pleasure of admiring the bee festooned vessel as I reach for my next immersion.

By evening however, I’m hankering after a richer scent, seeking out a heady and stinking white floral or a syrupy oriental to add a sense of occasion to the decadent atmosphere of summer in the city. You cannot retire drunkenly late to your bed on a Tuesday night wearing lemons, it’s just not rock n roll.


Nobile 1942’s smoky spiced wood – Infinito, is most definitely rock n roll. It’s the elder, sexier (and much more dangerous) brother of Acqua di Parma’s Cipresso di Toscana. Whilst AdP’s Cypress refreshes and revives with notes of aromatic woods and herbs so clean that the scent feels like a vitamin shot, Infinito presents a night time cypress, dancing in the woods with boozed up blood and a sense of hedonism.

My first thought upon discovering Infinito was that it smelt similar to a fine single malt whisky, perhaps an ‘eau de Jura’, so steeped in dense peat and smoke that it could be sold as the official scent of the Scottish tourism board. It contains vetiver, a lot of it, which often reads as smoky grass. Nobile 1942 are known for their use of predominantly natural materials, which is clearly evident in their offerings.  Lovers of Chanel’s Sycomore would be mightily excited by the authentically intense vetiver in Infinito.

It is also cloaked in a great swathe of greenery. With oakmoss, cypress and cedar, there is a distinct forest vibe to be imagined. Whereas this can be a (beautifully) chilly combination, in Infinito there is a great warmth alike a forest being warmed under the sun. Ginger provides this heat, with an almost sweet quality, most unusual in a vanilla free whiff. In the many paintings of Van Gogh that feature the cypress tree, we see this coniferous icon baking under a harsh Provence sun. It’s a wonderful visual representation of the smell of Infinito, especially due to the burnt ochre and deep emerald green palette that seams so harmonious to scent that surrounds me as I write.

Van Gogh - landscape with Cypress trees

In the heart of the hills of North Yorkshire, a brilliantly debauched summer music festival takes place called Beatherder. Some years ago I danced here all night, weaving in and out of the trees in a haze of deep dark waves of bass heavy beats. Across the fields rode wisps of campfire carried on the breeze. Infinito reminds me of that forest, not just in the associated scent memory but also in it’s spirit. It’s grandly natural smell would merge beautifully with the genuine whiff of humans, never smelt more clearly than at a festival where showers and cleanliness are replaced by dancing, hedonism and a sense of tribal unity. Humans are no longer the sanitised polite folk of daily life here, we regress into beasts enthused by the emotion of a truly euphoric sound. I’m not suggesting that I’d like us to return to the stinking bodies of long ago, but if Infinito were layered over the natural secretions of the camping and dancing body, it would smell damn fine.

Dancing in the forest at Beatherder

If you enjoyed this article you might like to read about Nobile 1942’s citrus themed Vespri series by clicking here.
Forest lovers can take a peak at related posts about Serge Lutens - Fille En Aiguilles and The Vagabond Prince – Enchanted Forest by clicking here. Those who like their forests filled with witches can get spooked out with Ormonde Jayne – Ormonde Woman, here.


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Yves Rocher Sample Giveaway Winner

Apologies for the slightly tardy announcement of the winner of the Yves Rocher Yria and Voile D' Ambre samples.

Congratulations to Margaret Anderson!

Thank you to those who joined in the killer cheapy discussion by commenting here or over at www.facebook.com/odiferess. There were a couple of good tips that I shall hunt down.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Yves Rocher - Yria, Another Killer Cheapy & A Reader's Giveaway


Once again I’m writing about an Yves Rocher scent in the context of ‘killer cheapy’. I really don’t know how this company continue to make a profit as they sell superb quality fragrances, full of natural botanical ingredients, all ethically sourced and produced without skanking anyone in a far off land.

And they smell great.

One of the 55 hectares of fields farmed by Yves Rocher in France

The curious thing is that when you sign up to their website and start ordering, you receive increasingly tempting emails with offers that you cannot ignore. The more you order, the better the offers become. A few days ago, I received an email telling me that I could have ANYTHING free if I spent £15 on other products. Predictably, I went straight on to the website and put one of my favourite Yves Rocher scents (the dry incense and resinous oriental - Voile D’ Ambre) into the web-basket (value £49) and then added £15 worth of toiletries to make up the order. I’m going to buy shower gel and body lotions anyway so this basically means I have a free bottle of very pleasing perfume. I already have a nearly full bottle so this one can live under the bed in the fume crèche until the inevitable discontinuation occurs as seems to happen frequently.

My mum has a kitchen cupboard that I call her ‘nuclear winter’ cupboard. This is stocked with an endless supply of cans of Ambrosia Devon Custard. The excessive amount of custard is due to the fact she bulk buys it when it’s on offer at Morrison’s. She consumes it with wild abandon. She is a custard tart.

Should a nuclear crisis occur in Manchester, I shall be perfuming the contaminated shower water supply with my abundant collection of Yves Rocher’s almond and lily of the valley scented delights until my limbs begin to drop off or I mutate into a zombie.

I’m waffling. It’s because I’m always a bit overwhelmed in the face of a massive scrimping bargain.

Yria is sumptuous oriental/chypre hybrid. Not, as Fragrantica have labeled it, a fruity floral. It has an eighties shoulder pad feeling in similarity to classics such as Dior’s Dune or Guerlain’s Samsara. 
Yria would suit Joan Collins, vamp queen of the shoulder pad

Most importantly for me, it has a defined structure that begins and ends with entirely different notes. As you will know by now, I’m a pyramid lover who grows terrifically bored of fragrances that smell the same all the way through their wear. This is how it journeys on my skin:

It opens with an opulent combination of coriander and bergamot. These notes usually read as sparkling, fresh and vibrant but in Yria they have an unusually ‘oozy’ quality with a surprising depth. Don’t expect to be enlivened by the first spray, this is the heady whiff of drowsily sensual perfumery. They sit upon a cushion of creamy white floral notes (particularly noticeable as a gardenia/jasmine duet). The rose and lily of the valley notes are however not really discernable. This white florality is balanced with yet more ooziness from a base of sandalwood, tonka bean, labdanum, patchouli and vanilla, which deliver a traditional heady oriental sensation. Towards the end of it’s (lengthy) wear it reduces to an authentic vanilla that thankfully doesn’t make your teeth ache with cloying sugar.

Grown up glamour

It’s a rather unique fragrance but it does share a slight similarity to both the original Dior Addict and to the much-missed Midnight Poison (minus the rosy aspect). Most certainly a ‘grown-up’ scent that is distinctly more adult vamp than flirtatious teenager.
I paid £15 for my 50 ml bottle, a reduction from the rrp of £30.

Yves Rocher shops abound in mainland Europe. Here in the UK, you’ll have to risk a blind buy to join in the perfume fun. Fortunately, if you take advantage of the offers, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t like it. And of course, there is always Ebay for the mistakes. Here are my recommendations:

I love:
  • Secret D’ Essences Voile D’Ambre - dry, powdery, incense and resins, marketed as feminine but easily unisex.
  • Cedre Bleu - now discontinued, fabulous fresh cedar cologne if you can find it online, vile plastic blue bottle.
  • Secret D’ Essences Neroli – bargainous - read my review by clicking here
  • Muguet En Fleurs (Lily of The Valley on the UK website) – more of an eau fraiche than a perfume, a striking resemblance to Diorissimo but with a much lighter touch. Short lived but very pretty and natural.

I’m less impressed by:
  • Comme Une Evidence – a sharp chypre that sells in enormous quantities in France, I find it rather sour.

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I am giving away samples from my bottles of Yria and Voile D’ Ambre for a lucky reader to try. Sadly, only in the UK due to our daft postal laws. To enter, please leave a comment below or at the facebook page with your thoughts on ‘killer cheapies’. Closing date 30th June 2014.




Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Review: Byredo - Flowerhead, A Boxing Gloved Contender For Fracas Fans


I am writing this post in the midst of my sixth day of an unfeasibly aggressive skin rash. This is odd as I’m not an allergic type, in fact I could probably shower in Swarfega and powder myself with Vim scourer without so much of a pimple arising. I can only assume that it’s viral. My chest and back have gained the prestigious status of ‘rash worthy of a photo on Google’. I won’t be posting one, but I’ve seen some corkers in the last few days that defy believability.

This please

An outcome of the rash has been a self-imposed perfume ban. Although it’s been interesting, from the point of view that I didn’t miss it after the first few days (eh?), I found myself today craving something obscenely ‘perfumey’.

And so I reached for the floral Armageddon that is Byredo’s latest creation - Flowerhead.
Curiously, the only part of my body that isn’t peppered with scarlet anger is my left wrist. Perhaps it’s developed a feisty blockade against any form of soppy skin type behaviour from the many years of being soaked in aroma chemicals at least 3 times a day. I figured it could cope.

After the tender watercolour fragility of Byredo’s 2013 release – Inflorescence, this years floral – Flowerhead, is the absolute opposite. It’s an enormous tuberose and jasmine madam that makes Robert Piguet’s notorious Fracas seem like a wuss. Which is quite an achievement.



The words ‘tuberose and jasmine’ are rarely uttered on Odiferess. I dislike this pairing as much as I dislike smoked salmon. It’s possible that my hatred of the slippery fishy dreadfulness stems from my sisters wedding banquet, where as a child bridesmaid I ran to my mum in terror at the fact that the waiters appeared to be delivering plates of dead goldfish to our tables. It doesn’t smell very pleasant either, which is exactly how I feel about a gargantuan dose of tuberose and jasmine.

So why am I writing about it? Because I think it’s brilliant.

Byredo’s website describes it thus:

IN THE TRADITIONAL INDIAN WEDDING FLOWER HEADS ARE STRUNG TOGETHER ON GIANT LEIS, INCLUDING JAIMALA GARLANDS WHICH ARE EXCHANGED BETWEEN BRIDE AND GROOM AS A TOKEN OF MUTUAL RESPECT. COUPLES ARE OFTEN SHOWERED WITH PETALS BY THE GROOM'S BROTHER FOR SPIRITUAL PROTECTION. FLOWERS ARE ABUNDANT; FROM THE MANDAP WEDDING CANOPY, WHICH IS ENTIRELY COVERED IN EXOTIC BLOOMS, TO THE SPIRITUAL POOJA ROOMS AND VERANDAHS, THE EXPLOSION OF COLOUR IS WILDLY CELEBRATORY AND THE SCENT IS OVERWHELMING.”

Overwhelming indeed. It echoes it’s name in it’s atmosphere. The suffix of ‘head’ emphasizes whatever it follows. E.g. in expletives, we refer to someone who is a complete shit as a ‘shithead’, someone who lives primarily for the pursuit of wealth is a ‘breadhead’. In ‘Flowerhead’ we find a sense of extremism, an excessive slap in the face of white floral hedonism. Flowerhead does not have a complex structure, it’s simply a whopping great unapologetic dose of tuberose, jasmine and spikey wood. I can’t describe it’s precise scent any further than that, it is what it is.

There’s been a trend in recent months for barely perceptible fragrances where subtlety is favoured over character. It’s affected both the niche and mainstream market and has resulted in many perfume lovers being dissatisfied with poor longevity and the fact that they actually have to put nose to wrist to smell their own perfume. As the main point of perfume is it’s ability to scent the air around us, this is a bit rubbish. Flowerhead is capable of bombasting all noses within a 10 foot radius, for that reason, it will be received with great pleasure by those bored of fragrant will-o'-the-wisps. 

Beth Ditto - lead singer of The Gossip

Flowerhead will be greatly loved by those seeking a perfume that has the mettle and noisiness of a pre-reform Estee Lauder. In personality, it reminds me of the indie scene darling - Beth Ditto. She’s brash, strident, enormous and boisterous, loved and loathed in equal measures, and she’s in possession of an army of enchanted fans. I imagine that Flowerhead, alike Beth, will become a cult classic.

It was the ideal choice with which to break my fast, abstinence must be followed with excess.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review: Les Exclusifs De Chanel - 31 Rue Cambon, The Modern Chypre & A Tale Of Urgent Shopping


The bitter earthy delights of the chypre, the most prized vessel of pleasure for many fragrance lovers, is changing beyond recognition. This isn’t going to be a moan about IFRA and it’s legislation on our beloved oakmoss, instead I’ve chosen to describe a perfume that has probably evolved as a result of the restrictions. It is Chanel’s magnificent 31 Rue Cambon.

It’s also a tale of daft perfume junkie habits.


Coco, at leisure with a fag on, at 31 Rue Cambon

A few weeks ago, I visited the Les Exclusifs de Chanel counter in Manchester’s Selfridges. It’s tricky to quietly browse amongst the bizarre scented ‘nose funnels’ in which we take our whiffs of these famed fragrances without attracting attention. In this instance, a sales assistant helped me to further my cravings by spraying a little Bois Des Isles on a card and wrapping it up in tissue for me to sniff later (my skin was of course completely saturated with a myriad of fumes having previously ‘done’ House of Fraser). For days I repeatedly lifted the precious card out if it’s paper shroud and made audible pleasure noises as I breathed in it’s sandalwood creamy goodness.

And so began my obsession with Bois Des Isles.

Last weekend I returned to the counter with clean, scent free arms. My aim was to skin test and gauge the difference between the EDT and the recent addition to the range, the parfum. On this occasion I was treated to an application of the body cream that acts as the ‘underwear’ to the scented gowns, followed by a spritz of the EDT and a single drop of the parfum (which emerged from surely one of the most covetable bottles in the land of ‘brilliant teeny things’). Initially I was astounded by the beauty of Bois Des Isles. It reminded me both of the smooth woody drydown of No. 5 and the breezy aldehyde opening, but it was less floral, tonally much more cello-like and significantly more sensual. Although this is purely a bit of Odiferess imagination, it transported to me to what No. 5 might have smelt like in it’s youth, prior to the many reforms and tinkering.  But then, as I chatted to the SA, it disappeared, literally, poof! I sniffed and sniffed but it was fading at great speed. My encounter with the fragrance lasted all of ten minutes in concentration and a further hour in a kind of spectral whisper of itself.

Gutted.

The parfum offered a little further longevity but not with the gusto that I desired. Luckily (or unfortunately for my self-imposed weak willed no buy period) the SA gave me a parting gift of a sample of 31 Rue Cambon which I stuffed in my bag in the imperative manner of someone who has just scored some crack. On my walk home, I stopped for another of my guilty pleasures, a frappuccino (filthy sweet coffee Slush Puppie) at a favourite café. I took a seat outside and rooted for the sample which I sprayed liberally on the now bereft of Bois arm.

Oh my..

Minutes passed by with my beloved slush sitting in a non-consumption stupor as I inhaled with all the strength my nose could muster. Upon opening my eyes and pausing to draw unscented breath I saw I was under the gaze of a curious man sat in the window. He quickly dropped his eyes as if he were trying to avoid contact with ‘the nutter in the bus station’.
So what had enamoured me so deftly?

My own photos - for once, not robbed from Google

It was the iris. 31 Rue Cambon opens with a great gust of the most extraordinary bergamot and iris collaboration. It’s shockingly beautiful. Whilst iris can be a little dusty and powdery (and thus smelt with a sensation of it’s afterlife), Chanel’s Iris is moist, terrestrial and truly alive. The bergamot is clear, vibrant and elating and melds with the iris to form a soprano voice. It smells high.



And then soon after, it doesn’t. This stuff transforms itself at great speed. If you love a distinct perfume pyramid, 31 Rue Cambon will feel like the equivalent of a fragrance rollercoaster.
By the time I got home it had changed into smooth cream. When perfume lovers speak of ‘creamy scents’ they often refer to an ice cream gourmand quality, lactonic (milky) notes or even the lush milky depth that comes with an authentic sandalwood. In the case of 31 Rue Cambon, the luminosity of the bergamot fades and is replaced by an hour or two of softly spoken iris milkshake, sucked up through a faintly leathery labdanum straw. 



In it’s final hour it grows increasingly sweeter as a whisper soft  ‘chewy’ patchouli enters the scent. A Fragrantica member used the term ‘chewy’ some time ago, I think it describes the patchouli in both this scent and in Robert Piguet’s Calypso with superb accuracy. As one of those odd synesthethic terms it’s impossible to describe exactly why it’s chewy. It simply is. 31 Rue Cambon’s patchouli is notably gentler than the bombastic patchouli of Coromandel. In fact, it’s a slightly apologetic end to an extraordinary fragrant ride.

Needless to say, by 11 am the next morning I hurried into town to claim the last of the ‘gift with purchase’ and get my eager hands on my first ever bottle of this Chanel Exclusif wonder. Now, four days after my urgent purchase, I still take it out of it’s elegant box and sigh as I fondle the monolithic bottle in my hands. This is love.

But it is a chypre?

I don’t think so. The modern trend of replacing oakmoss with patchouli creates a fragrance that has lost it’s grace without the bitter inky earthen ending that we find in archetypal perfumes such as Mitsouko and Diorella - which is basically why we love them so much. 31 Rue Cambon has pulled off the chypre vibe magnificently in the opening due to the best use of bergamot that I have ever smelt. However, the ‘big softy’ ending fails if we want it to fit entirely within the genre. The art of loving 31 Rue Cambon is to forget that it’s supposed to be a chypre and love it for what it is, my favourite iris yet, and probably always.

For further reading on my shopping adventures, you may enjoy this post about a trip to Selfridges to sample the Dior Privee line. 

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Monday, 26 May 2014

Review: Caron - Muguet Du Bonheur & Frederic Malle - En Passant, The Superior 'Eau De Toilet'


It smells like Pledge!

Have you uttered these words before? Or indeed, toilet cleaner, cheapo air fresheners, little hanging cardboard car de-funkers and washing up liquid?

Some olfactory joy for the 50s housewife

Certain notes are synonymous with ‘eau de toilet cleaner’ and it’s sibling domestic hygiene products. This is the sweetly scented land of pine, lavender, lily of the valley, lilac and lemon and lime. Perhaps it’s a scent phenomenon that those of us in our middle and older years will understand more readily, being that there are some mighty clever folk working in labs to create increasingly exotic aroma chemicals for the home (or British seaside B &B) nowadays. My gorgeous Asda own brand washing up liquid bears a distinct resemblance to Comme Des Garcons – Incense Avignon, which I’m sure can’t be a coincidence.

Eau de toilet cleaner is not necessarily an unappealing thing. In fact, I find myself attracted to all of the above notes and will actively seek them out for a sniff. There’s a reason they’ve become commonplace in popular domestic products. That is because they bring the outdoors inside. If my bathroom emits the whiff of a wood in springtime I’m rather chuffed! The almighty turpenic pine of Serge Lutens - Fille En Aiguilles reminds me of those pine scented little hanging car-tree thingamees and Ecover ‘Pine Fresh’ toilet cleaner. I’ve worked my ecstatic way through 40 mls of it. I’m also a fair way through a large beloved bottle of Penhaligon’s – Lavandula (Pledge lavender furniture polish).

So here are some thoughts on two of my favourite fragrances that have bravely defied the hygiene connotations and made magnificence with the familiar household notes of lilac and lily of the valley.
Van Gogh's Lilac Bush

Firstly, is Olivia Giacobetti’s nostalgic creation for the Editions De Parfums Frederic Malle collection – En Passant, a lilac scent with some extraordinary notes. En Passant translates as ‘in passing’, which is an unusually relevant name. A lilac tree tends to ambush you with it’s beguiling fragrance as you pass by. A walk through a suburban neighbourhood can be delightful thing if you are lucky enough to encounter one of these heady shrubs cutting through the smell of, well, not much. If you get really lucky you’ll find one close to a recently cut lawn and be in all kinds of olfactory heaven.

En Passant features an eclectic mix of lilac, cucumber, petitgrain and wheat, an unimaginable combination. But how this works is to make lilac ‘more lilacky’. The accompanying notes are not intrusive but they do add a kind of ‘after the rain’ sensation that takes me right back to countryside of my childhood. En Passant is a hyper-realistic lilac, bearing the oily green quality of the real thing. Crucially, it’s delicate and it wears close to the skin which stops it being an almighty headache of a fragrance as soliflores can often be.

It fits into the category of ‘journey scents’, i.e. that which allows your imagination to create a dreamed up location rather than smelling ‘like perfume’. I can imagine En Passant scenting the scene for Rene Magritte’s surrealist painting ‘Empire Of The Light’. Alike honeysuckle, lilac throes out it’s come hither beauty on a warm summer evening. When I peer at the intriguingly illuminated house in this picture, I can sense the unseen apparition of it’s garden. It would smell like En Passant.
Magritte, Empire Of The Light

Another vividly natural scent is Caron’s ethereal Muguet Du Bonheur. This is a long way removed from the lily of the valley that we associate with those old fashioned solid gel air fresheners, so popular in budget hotel bathrooms.

Alike En Passant, Muguet Du Bonheur is spookily realistic. I use the word ‘spookily’ in that lily of the valley has a slightly supernatural feel to me. Perhaps it’s because we find it emerging magically through the forest floor as the light of spring emerges from the dark depths of winter. In France, sprigs of lily of the valley (Muguet) are gifted on the 1st of May as a symbol of good luck for the year ahead, again carrying a bewitched connotation.

Ludmila Anderson's spooky muguet

Caron’s interpretation of this lucky flower is vibrantly green, oily, sappy and soapy. A spritz of this scent post shower is capable of making me feel euphoric at 7am, quite a feat in that there is very little that can bring me out of my grumpy night-owl slumber with anything resembling joy. ‘Outdoorsy’ scents are my favourite genre and this one contains a clear whiff of the country life. Just for a little while, I can pretend to be off to explore the woods instead of battling through the city traffic to work.

Caron’s fragrances are always complex multifaceted creations. Within it’s composition, Muguet Du Bonheur hints at lilac (which comes across slightly anisic here) and woods (sandalwood). Although there is no oakmoss in the composition, a ‘mossy’ note can be sensed  in the general earthy quality of the scent.

I tried the current version of Dior’s famous Muguet scent - Diorissimo recently, which smelt ‘like pleasant perfume’. In comparison, Caron’s Muguet smells like some sort of picnic in a pastoral paradise.

The soapy aspect could be described in this one of Degas’ bather paintings. As his elfin model bathes, a shaft of sunlight from the window illuminates the room and casts a green and white reflection across the water. She is outdoors inside.

Bather, Degas

To read more on the lovely Muguet, take a peak at this romantically penned post over at The Black Narcissus. It’s rather good. 

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