Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Review: The Library Of Fragrance (Demeter) - Musk 7 - Marvelous Filth + Giveaway!

A couple of weeks ago I was offered the chance to trial some of the recently relaunched Demeter fragrance line (now called The Library of Fragrance in Europe). With evocative names abounding such as Thunderstorm and Snow, I was thrilled by the prospect.

I set out to choose a few of the diminutive bottles which took some considerable time, with 100 fragrances in the range it was decidedly difficult to narrow it down to just a few. Obviously, being an outdoorsy type I chose some replicant weather conditions straight away but then became somewhat stumped as to what to select next. Having never written about a true ‘musk’ on Odiferess, Musk ’hash’ 7 seemed an appropriate selection. Musk ‘hash’ 7 has nothing at all do with hash/hashish. It simply means that I can’t work out how to make a hash sign on my laptop! I shall thus refer to it as ‘Musk 7’.

After being a little emotionally refrigerated by the (very odd) squally weather condition scents, I was pleased to get my nose into something considerably warmer, more jovial and rather quirky.

Musk 7 is one of three musk scents from The Library of Fragrance, all claim to be based upon a synthetic white musk which is described as ‘clean, smooth and sweet’ as opposed to dirty and animalic. In complete opposition to the claim, my skin appears to be able to turn it into a superbly filthy and complex scent.

Complexity isn’t a term you’d associate with most of the line as The Library of Fragrance don’t create pyramid structure perfumes. Instead, they attempt to capture a specific isolated smell, either as a replicant (such as the gorgeously realistic Honeysuckle) or as a conceptual experience (a prime example being Laundromat). With this in mind, they are not ‘perfumey perfumes’. This presents a conundrum for me as I am an avid lover of a good old-fashioned structure that transforms throughout the wear.

However, being priced at a mere £15 for a 30 ml bottle and even cheaper in the USA in smaller sizes, there is definitely a niche for the brand to inhabit with their quirky linear scents. Launching in the UK at the high street pharmacy Boots last week, they chose to market just 30 of the almighty library. Included in the selection were mainly ‘friendly’ scents, many with a gourmand, optimistic or clean feel (which I think will be ideal affordable gifts for the teen market). Pleasingly, they have also included some more avant-garde concepts for us fume junkies to get excited by and the inevitable patchouli and amber for the many who adore this uber-trend.

I’d expected the musk to be a tad boring, in that it was likely to mimic the notorious White Musk from The Body Shop. Whilst it does share a similar opening, this is by no means the same scent. The ‘pretty’ is absent, replaced by a daring skin accord that will no doubt intrigue those with their noses permanently stuck to their wrist. In fact, had it arrived in a blank bottle from a secret benefactor I would have imagined it was a new release from Etat Libre D’Orange named ‘Hot Carpenter’.

(Here should be a photo of a hot carpenter but Google offered little until I turned the safe search off, the results were spectacularly un-publishable!)

It basically smells like unwashed (but certainly not unpleasant) skin mixed up with a little wood and leathery labdanum - a hot carpenter wearing a leather tool belt! I’ve longed to smell the almost mythical ‘complex musk’ accords spoken of so longingly by the perfume community. I’ve encountered the truly rank – the rather pissy and feral ‘tonkin’ style musks and the sexless – the ever so clean laundry yawn creators, but not the almost mythical ‘fatty’ skin musk. And here it is! In Musk 7 I can detect scalp (at a gentle midpoint between clean and grease laden), butter or even baker’s lard, skin from areas of the body without major secretions (an inoffensive bit of arm after a few day’s shower-free camping), brazil nut flesh, the warm fur of snoozy cat, bacon rind and a vaguely cheesy whiff (more Edam than Stilton). And I really rather like it.
 Perhaps my position as 'cat lover' sways me but isn't warm cat fur a wonderful smell?

Memories of childhood baking - Trex brand lard

The truly inspired aspect of this creation is that they have added a patchouli and amber accord without it becoming a ‘patchouli and amber’ perfume. They are there, but in such a subtle manner that they remain in the background, rare amongst a sea of fragrances that shout these notes at ear trembling volume. Instead, they offer a woody warmth and a temperance to what would otherwise be a straight up lardy whiff.

Ultimately, I’d recommend this scent to the amber/woody oriental lovers as I think they’d appreciate the surprisingly sophisticated background. It won’t please those who hanker after a great scent trail as this wears very close to the skin. It does however last a lot longer than the others I sampled giving a good four hours wear and tonight, amazingly, it survived a lengthy bubble bath albeit in a slightly drowned capacity.

You may also enjoy my post on the fruity desert musk of L’ Erbolario - Meharees

For a chance to win a 5 ml decant of this creation, please leave a comment below or at the Odiferess Facebook page telling me your thoughts on musky scents. A winner will be randomly drawn on the 27th of September, sadly only available to UK readers due to the rubbish postal laws.

To ensure that you never miss a fragrant waffle, subscribe to Odiferess using the ‘subscribe by email box on the right hand side, or find me at :

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Review: Papillon Artisan Perfumes - Anubis, The Siren's Song

 Gustave Moreau - The Sirens, 1872

Much has been written about Liz Moores’ recently launched Papillon brand. It became an internet phenomenon long before the scents were ready for sale, mostly due to her prolific engagement with scent lover’s forums online.

What has not yet been discussed yet is the untamed erotic disposition of the scent that stirred me most significantly – Anubis.  

True erotica isn’t concerned with the sex act, instead, it brings forth imagery to tease and rouse the imagination. It is enigmatic rather than explicit. In the fact that is more to do with the mind than actuality, erotica can play with concepts or imagery that perhaps you might not necessarily want to connect with in real life.  I’m sure that no seafaring man wished to end his life shattered upon the bloody rocks, lured by the bewitching call of the Siren.  And yet there is no doubt the fantasy of resting his cheek amongst the plentiful bosom of the sinister maritime songstress sisters would have surely whistled a breeze up his flagpole.

Anubis is primarily a smoky leather scent, underpinned with a spiritual incense that renders it ‘otherworldly’. My first thoughts were of David Hemmings playing the startlingly handsome Captain Nolan in the 1968 film – The Charge Of The Light Brigade. It’s not just the almighty horsey leather boots reference, it’s in his eyes. A star reigning long before the advent of Touche Eclat, his beauty was magnified by the dark shadows underneath eyes of sapphire. Shadows that hinted at late nights and Byronic decadence. Gothic chic – a deathly pallor.

Captain Nolan

Leather has traditionally signified the erotic in perfumery. It’s no wonder when we consider the connotations of this whiff. The obvious (and to me unappealing) signification is the relationship between leather and S&M. However a more intriguing idea is the imagery of the horseman, the hero that will rescue us from danger, or perhaps the highwayman that will hold us at peril. The young girl that reads stories of valiant horseback rescue may also be the girl who’s first love is a pony. In this case the ripe leather and grassy sweat smell of saddlery and the excitement of our first pair of proper riding boots is associated with the obsessive equine love of the teenage girl, creatures that we adored and nurtured and nuzzled long before we discovered boys.

Anubis contains an almost briny element, reminiscent of fresh sweat upon the skin or the seawater that clings to us following a dip in the sea. The sea brings me back to mythology and the great paintings of classical tales. Manchester Art Gallery displays a melancholically erotic depiction of Sappho, poet of Ancient Greece, said to have ended her life by jumping off a sea cliff driven quite mad by her love of a ferryman. Some years ago I swam in icy, weed riddled waters off the West Coast of Scotland. Under a black sky spattered with the incandescent spectacle of the Milky Way, I was struck by the terror of unseen creeping hands of the  seaweed and yet overcome by the almighty feeling of being consumed by vivid raw nature in a vast landscape. When I stand in front of Sappho I feel both the terror of the sea and the absolute elemental nature of feminine sensuality.

Charles-August Mengin - Sappho, 1877

We are indeed creatures of Mother Nature, affected at base level by the stuff of the earth. Living in the modern world we take our sensual pleasures in our homes, most often in bed. But our fantasies often take us outside where our visions of amourous embraces are acted out in the forests and mountains, the picnic with the sun baked and bonded skin, the hidden shelter of a canopy of trees in an electrical storm, the whiff of a man’s hair tainted by wood smoke. Were I not afraid of the chanting, rituals and terrible fashion, I’d without doubt become a Pagan priestess.

Which leads me nicely back to Liz. Not that I’m suggesting that she is indeed a Pagan priestess, but she does live deep in the countryside surrounding by a gaggle of children, various pets and domesticated wildlife. It seems fitting that such an evocative perfume came from a nose with a profound love of rural life. 

Similar posts:

On Ormonde Woman and witchcraft

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Friday, 22 August 2014

Scent Shopping In Knutsford At Pulse Of Perfumery & The Discovery Of Lubin

This week I had the joy of spending some time with fume retailer Peter Murray at Pulse Of Perfumery, an independent scent shop in Knutsford. For my International readers I must explain that Britain is sadly lacking in independent scent shops, having just a small handful outside of London and (I think) only three very much spread out over the North of England.
Knutsford is a great example of ‘ye olde England’, a teeny historic town in the heart of Cheshire, dripping with wealth, yummie mummies and day trippers. An ideal spot to launch a shop that sells luxury items. This seams to be a commonality as the other two are in Lytham St Annes and York, both towns of a similar nature.

Pulse Of Perfumery has been a great success, launched during Britain’s financial recession, it could have easily been boarded up six months into it’s life. A quirky shop in a small town is a dangerous investment these days. There are several reasons why I think it thrived.

Firstly, range. The lines are a mix of the classic (such as Chanel, Acqua di Parma, Hermes), the contemporary designers (Tom Ford, Jimmy Choo, Narciso Rodrigues and the like) and Niche (Bois 1920, Serge Lutens, Lubin, Grossmith and Atkinsons). Breadth has allowed for a wide spectrum of tastes and aspirations to be catered for.

I arrived purposefully early to get some time with Peter before the lunchtime rush. With just a few early morning customers, I had the opportunity to eavesdrop on some sales. The first was what could only be described as a ‘hit and run’. As we were chatting over some smelling strips, a lady hurried in, muttering the words Chanel No. 5. Nothing else, no hello and certainly no stolen glances at the marvellous wares on display. Peter wrapped, bagged and swiped at record speed and the woman was gone. The entire purchase took about 60 seconds. I’ve never seen a bigger contrast in shopping style to my own, I can only imagine she was parked on double yellow lines.

It’s a shame she hurried because she missed out on reason number two that the shop thrives – Peter. The man is a true scent lover who believes in the value of lingering with testers and handing out samples. Shopper number two had called in previously to buy a fragrance (I think it was for her daughter or niece). Instead of hammering a sale, he’d sent her away with samples to be tested, allowing the purchase to be of choice rather than a quick buck for his till. This lady returned to buy the chosen one, a contemporary designer brand, and then came to join me in my ‘Lubin swoon area’ where the three of us had a thoroughly lovely time sniffing from the decadently opulent bottles. I could tell in that instance that she’d be back to buy something spectacular for herself.

Personality and passion is crucial in scent retail, I’m sure we’ve all endured the bored type Sales Assistant bereft of any real passion.  Peter reminded me of the wonderful ladies at Manchester’s House of Fraser, who instead of employing teenagers, chose to staff their perfumery with Assistants old enough to have experienced a few decades of great perfumery. My favourite Assistant is an uber glamourous blonde with scarlet lips who personally wears Estee Lauder’s classic leather chypre – Azuree. I can tell her in a meagre few words what atmosphere or concept I’m hoping to write about and she’ll find exactly the right scent for me to sample. She knows and she cares.

Peter also ‘knows’. Whilst playing with the bottles he gave me a whiff of a very popular niche perfume that I won’t name, then followed it with a vastly superior scent that shared some similarities allowing me to compare. I was wowed at the complexity of the second, the recent release by Van Cleef and Arpels – Collection Extraordinaire Precious Oud. Now you know I don’t really ‘do’ oud but this one used it’s precious wood with subtlety, allowing it to dress a composition of incense and white floral notes. Somehow I was smelling an olfactory utopia that was rich with oud and tuberose that didn’t made me gag, in fact it made me sigh wistfully.

Double swoon..

The grandest discovery of my morning lay in the introduction to the scents of the historic French brand, Lubin. I’m going to cover a couple of these in a future article so I won’t babble on about them here, but with limited shelf space in the tiny shop, I can see exactly why he selected this brand for his niche chosen few.

Peter's prized vintage possession, brought down from the mysterious 'upstairs'.

Amongst the online community, we tend to be bargain hunters who rarely pay ‘shop price’ for our scents. Rather cheekily, we tend to browse the shops to gain our sniff and then wait for a discount online or a slightly used Ebay bargain. We are different from the average shopper in that our collections are often incongruent to our personal wealth. Average folk with millionaire scent cupboards. However, I think there is still worth in spending some time (and moolah) in an independent real world shop. If only for the fact that the small stock selection has been ‘curated’ by somebody who actually cares about what he’s selling. And if it costs you full price at least you’ll walk away with a pretty bag stuffed full of samples!

Readers, where in the world are your favourite scent shops? Do you have a fabulous dusty rummager full of discontinued gems, or a palace of contemporary creation? Do share your stories in the comments section or over at:

You can also ‘subscribe by email’ using the link on the left hand side, ensuring that you never miss a post of fragrant waffle. 

Contact details for POP: 25 Princess Street • Knutsford • Cheshire • WA16 6BW • 01565 755650

Friday, 15 August 2014

Review: Guerlain - Idylle, And Why We Should Stop Wasser-Bashing

Consider Idylle, presuming that numerous Odiferess readers are Guerlain devotees, how many of you actually know what it smells like or own a bottle?

Some time ago I chatted to a Sales Assistant in Selfridges who used to work for Guerlain. We were occupied sniffing niche roses together when she announced that she thought there were none comparable to the beauty of Idylle. Somehow I’d never smelt it despite about 20% of my wardrobe being composed of Guerlain scents.

Why do we ignore this scent?

It could be due to the phenomenon of Wasser-bashing. When Thiery Wasser succeeded Jean Paul Guerlain as In-House Perfumer at Guerlain, he embraced on the terrifying prospect of directing the output of the world’s most revered historic fragrance house. How do you possibly create the next Shalimar, Jicky, Mitsouko or L’Heure Bleue, the fragrances that signify the archetype in a market of stereotypical genre replications and adaptations? Add to this the 1990s acquisition of the brand by LMVH (Luis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) that I suspect necessitated a whopping great output of scents, and we have a very pressurised career. I can’t imagine that LMVH would relish a potentially uncommercial quirky scent that might be a flop, potentially meaning that the innovation of the avante-guarde in line with scents such as Vol De Nuit or Apres L’ Ondee would be undesirable unless marketed as an ‘exclusif’ and priced up accordingly.

Wasser perfects the sniff and pout technique

And then tells someone to do something expressively..

That said, Wasser created a superbly quirky scent in his Acqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea. The name possesses connotations of fairies, watercolour washes and girly stuff, not very appealing to me, the owner of a pair of Doc Martens and a tool box. But the scent! Oh my.. this is a gargantuan wodge of hardcore feral floral sex, perhaps as stonkingly indolic as Fracas (Robert Piguet) or Tuberuese Criminelle (Serge Lutens). I did not expect to be challenged to my floral limit by a scent containing the word Nymph. Wearing it requires one of those ‘safe’ words used by people who practice S&M. I’ve reached my boundary, I need out!

He’s clearly not sitting on the ‘safe’ bench, despite the restrictions of the parent company.
I admit to having developed a whopping great crush on Monsieur Wasser. It’s partly because of his voice, Swiss born, his accented French has a peculiar sweetness a little like when Bjork speaks English with a haywire intonation. Add to this that he looks damn fine in a well cut suit and we have an enigmatic handsome man.

I’m waffling.

Back to my point. Idylle is an exercise in elegance and simplicity. Released at a time when the perfume world was churning out increasingly lurid exercises in fruity patchoulis, and amber orientals were rising to niche domination, Idylle quietly arrived shouting not very much at all.

For his first large mainstream release within Guerlain, Wasser chose to encompass the history of French perfumery in a bottle. There was however no nod to the Guerlain house style, no powdery iris, no tonka bean and vanilla sweetness, simply the great ‘trilogy’ of Frenchness – rose, jasmine and lily of the valley. With just a little patchouli and musk to earth the composition, Idylle is a thoroughly minimalist chypre.

Of course, in the employ of Guerlain, Wasser could draw on the finest ingredients. Heady Bulgarian roses hand picked at dawn and (in a later ‘Duet’ Flanker) an unusually fruity jasmine sourced from a resurrected plantation in Calabria, meant that simple could be exquisite.
Wasser checks out the rose crop (during my fantasy holiday)

The first appearance of Idylle took the form of an EDP which was followed a year later by an EDT, my favourite of the two formulations. Whilst the EDP possesses the greatest depth of grand patchouli rose, the EDT’s top notes radiate an almighty great whoosh of lilac and lily of the valley. It does not last very long, but that gives me an excuse to spray repeatedly, relishing my hit of intense green florality. Both share a similar heart with the Bulgarian rose sitting majestically dominant. And that’s all it is. Essentially a very good floral chypre with no ringing bells or dancing bears.

As perfume lovers we often yearn to smell the unique, that which smells unlike any other fragrance we’ve encountered before. Idylle doesn’t offer this experience, perhaps that’s why it lacks a vocal following amongst the online perfume community? What it does do however, is present a recognisably ‘French’ composition, an exercise in how to convert classical ingredients into an elegantly understated wonder. As the perfume industry churns out increasingly high numbers of new scents, with superstar perfumers ‘creating’ at record speed, there feels like nowhere else to go in terms of innovation. I am thankful that Monsieur Wasser rejected the notion of a ‘concept’ scent and pared his perfume back to a sumptuous simplicity.

If you would to know more about Wasser’s rise to Guerlain head-honcho (or just want to feast your eyes on him whilst glugging gin and crisps on the sofa), the BBC’s marvelous 3 part documentary on the perfume industry is still available on Youtube. If you input Guerlain + BBC + perfume you should find it.

Rose lovers might also find the following posts interesting:

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Mitsouk-alikes: Grossmith - Golden Chypre, Acqua Di Parma - Profumo & Carven - Ma Griffe

I’m a devoted Mitsouko lover. I’m working my happy way through bottle number three following my first encounter with this rather snooty beauty about six years ago. I know Mitsouko will always reside in my perfume cupboard on the ‘often picked’ shelf, perhaps turning her nose up at the lesser loved bottles.

This is one lady's collection of Mitsouko bottles that she alone used up - I salute her

However, it’s possible to get bored smelling the same scent year after year, especially if you’re a promiscuous perfume lover. One way to shake up your Mitsouko addiction is simply to change formulation. I’m currently wearing the EDP which seems to have an increased florality in comparison to the EDT (the incitement of my adoration). Although all three formulations are awash with moss and cinnamon, the lilac and jasmine notes are more prominent in the EDP.

You could consider adopting an entirely new perfume that echoes the spirit of Mitsouko. My favourite Mitsoukalikes are Grossmith’s - Golden Chypre and Acqua Di Parma’s Profumo.
Acqua Di Parma’s Profumo is very similar to Mitsouko indeed. I’ve just reached for my sample to perform my comparison and to my terror, found it completely empty. So empty that in a thorough dismantle of forlorn plastic there is not even a ghost whiff remaining. However, from memory, a powdery iris/orris note was distinct, as was a milky ‘sucking a brazil nut’ sensation. I remember thinking that, although a beautiful composition, this was a very expensive alternative and probably a bit too close to Mitsouko to warrant the £100 difference in price.

Regular readers will know that I’m a champion of the cheapie. The prices of Creed, Tom Ford, Clive Christian and their fellow moollah shelf mates appall me when I consider how much their ingredients actually cost. A high-end perfume is highly unlikely to contain ingredients worth more than about £10. Occasionally, I’ll encounter brands that really are worth the investment. For me, that means that the perfume itself is exquisite and the bottle is an object of great desire that I’ll keep forever. One of these rare brands is Grossmith who I previously featured in this article. There is no bombastic marketing team behind Grossmith, just a small family firm who resurrected their historic brand to bring it back to lovers of bloomin great perfume.

One day I shall own this grand glass monolith

Grossmith’s Golden Chypre is a contemporary interpretation of the chypre. Alike Mitsouko, it shares an earthy, spicy and arid quality that typifies what we would expect within the genre.  Golden Chypre has done the impossible act of IFRA imposed modernity– replaced oakmoss with patchouli and created a perfume that does not smell of patchouli! It’s essentially an orange juice chypre, which sounds vile, but is extraordinarily lovely. The opening is ripe with orange zest, not at all sugary sweet, but distinctively perky. This awards it an optimistic quality, unusual for the earthy chypres that tend to feel somewhat Greta Garbo in their understated moodiness. 

Greta, chypre personified

It takes about an hour for the orange vibe to diminish, at which stage it develops the complex composition of a Mitsoukalike. A faint powdery floral, a whisper of sun baked hay, a deep forest floor soiliness and hint of nutmeg spice. As I sniff at my competing arms, Golden Chypre reeks of subtlety and (dare I say it?) smells more intellectual than Mitsouko. Less dense, less obvious and intensely shape-shifting. There is a marked difference between beginning and end. It’s only drawback is that it doesn’t provide the enormous trail of Mitsouko, it sits much closer to the skin doing it’s own complicated thing in quiet motion. Although very similar at the drydown stage, Golden Chypre retains a clear personality of it’s own. For that reason, I’d definitely consider this an admirable alternative to Mitsouko, even with the significant leap in price.

My final contender is Carven’s classic chypre - Ma Griffe. This one smells the least like Mitsouko but ‘feels like’ her. I’d wear Ma Griffe in a similar mood to that which finds me reaching for Mitsy. Carven re-bottled and upped the price significantly, what was once a reasonably low priced drugstore perfume has been poshed up with no major difference other than a pretty bottle. I’d go and test it in Debenhams then buy the cheaper old bottle whilst there are still plenty available online.

Ma Griffe is a ‘feral yet soapy’ chypre. Oddly it carries a slightly urine whiff, not the almighty outright wee smell of MFK’s Absolu Pour Le Soir, more a kind of ‘freshly cleaned loo’ with a bit of wee - wee plus a pleasingly scented disinfectant. I’m not trying to put you off here, it really is a very good scent indeed. On top of Ma Griffe’s abundant earthy moss, there is a bright green astringency and a soapy aldehydic vibrancy. It is famous for it’s gardenia note, a recently revived floral trend. Despite it’s 1940s heritage, it feels surprisingly modern. Don’t buy this thinking it will smell like Mitsouko. It’s only very vaguely similar. But do hunt it down if, alike myself, you enjoy some quirk and sparkling greenery with your moss.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Mitsoukalikes. Do you agree or disagree with my comparisons or have you discovered one of your own?

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 other's 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.


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 known 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.