Happy Birthday, Floral Street! The sweet smell of success

Florals, but absolutely not as you know them, were the driving passion that launched British niche house Floral Street in to the perfume world, and we’re thrilled they are now celebrating their second birthday (and the sweet smell of success!) So let’s take a look at exactly why we think they’re blooming…

When we first encountered Floral Street, suffice to say we were blown away by their concept – and oh boy did they deliver in the execution of the fabulous new spins on floral fragrances. Within their standalone Covent Garden store having expanded into several other department stores around the U.K. (including John Lewis and Liverpool’s Harvey Nichols), and now, completely thrillingly, recently having been stocked in the mighty Sephora internationally!

Time-travelling backwards for a bit, our co-founder, Jo Fairley, has known Michelle Feeney for longer than either of them care to admit – back to Michelle’s time at the Estée Lauder Companies, and then at the helm of revolutionary tanning name St Tropez. So when she announced she was unveiling a fragrance line ‘built on the streets of London’, we were rather excited by the whole idea and the stunning reality…

Floral Street’s fragrances are as far from traditional (what some see as ‘old fashioned’) florals as it’s possible to get – each created by the star perfumer Jérôme Épinette, who is known for his mastery of natural ingredients. As Floral Street put it: ‘These are bunches – not bouquets. Ingredients, not notes. And it’s about ease, modernity and joy.’ Michelle adds: ‘My mission is to bring fine fragrance to the modern female – so that she might build an entire fragrance wardrobe, which can express the many facets of who she is.’

At the heart of each fragrance is a specific flower (sourced by the legendary fragrance house Robertet) – but each creation brings an unexpected twist,   treated in a way that brilliantly ignites the senses.

The fragrance which most excited our editor, Jo, is Chypre Sublime: an utterly modern take on this sophisticated fragrance family, blending incense with Damask rose absolute, midnight violet, pink pepper and geranium, on a stunning base of benzoin, labdanum and olibanum which – as Floral Street nails it – ‘offers a resin-soaked wood table for the flowers to perch on. A fragrance for musicians, painters and poets.’ We absolutely knew this HAD to be included in our perfume pick for the Precious Perfumes Discovery Box.(Scroll down for more information and how to get your hands on the samples we chose!)

All of us in the office have recently been gravitating toward the daringly delicious Ylang Ylang Espresso: A strikingly modern and supremely wearable blend of red rose, ylang ylang and jasmine resting atop a soothing cloud of just-brewed coffee, fresh cream and Sichuan pepper – sustainably harvested from the foothills of the Himalayas. ‘A fragrance to get lost in’ they say, and oh how we love to do just that. There really isn’t anything to compare, you have to try it for yourself, among the myriad delights of the Precious Perfumes Discovery Box. (Scroll down to snag your scents today!)

Wild Vanilla Orchid (see main picture) is vanilla, yes, but definitely not as you know it – and we’ve ‘turned’ several previous nay-sayers with this one! A raw-edged confection of creamy vanilla beans, blossom, cassis and citrus, dressed in a bunch of just-plucked jasmine. Offsetting the lingering sweetness; bamboo and sandalwood bend and fold underneath. Laid-back but exquisite. White tulle and high top, in fragrance form. It’s such an unusual evocation of vanilla that we were untited in agreeing that it had to be the third pick for the Precious Perfumes Discovery Box

Precious Perfumes Discovery Box £40 (£35 for V.I.P. club members)

Bursting with NINETEEN niche fragrances, many of them full-size or generous minis, prepare to be dazzled by each of the three Floral Street fragrances, and salivate over our curation of these fragrant gems for you to try at home…

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrant Reads: Scent and Subversion

Did you know we have an ever-expanding bookshelf of Fragrant Reads here at The Perfume Society? Combining two of our favourite things (perfume and books), we’re always on the lookout for great reads to recommend you – from just-published new novels and scholarly scent explorations through to more historically inclined tomes – all with a central scented theme.

We know we’re not alone in getting ever more geeky about fragrance – our feedback from you overwhelmingly shows we’re seeking more information about the fragrances we wear – and the people who make them. Throw in some scientific facts or fascinating glimpses behind-the-scenes of ingredients, or take us by the hand to explore the faces and inspirations behind some of our favourites and we’re happy as pigs in… er, petals!

Today we’re sticking our noses into a book that lovingly recounts scents once regarded as ‘forbidden’ or even dangerous, and the incredibly glamorous people who flouted such milksop opinions and wore them anyway. We rather think you’ll fall in love with this one, just as we did…

 

Scent & Subversion: Decoding a Century of Subversive Perfume, by Barbara Herman

Far more than merely a way to smell pleasant, those of us obsessed by fragrance know well that perfume has historically been seen as subversive – and still can be used to break the rules and unsettle cultural conventions. Highlighting the use of perfume to play with society’s gender conventions, Barbara Herman analyses vintage perfumes and perfume advertising – a theme that she began on her popular blog, Yesterday’s Perfume.

Lavishly illustrated, and lovingly detailed descriptions of vintage fragrances through the ages – and the femme fatales and mysterious stars associated with wearing them; Herman includes essays on scent appreciation, a glossary of important perfume terms and ingredients, and tips on how to begin your own foray into vintage and classic perfume – such a great way to navigate this sometimes intimidating world, and to find a new love from a back catalogue you may have missed.

I love how Herman injects wit into her descriptions, such as this from her review of Le Galion Sortilége: ‘Boozy, lush, animalic, but lady-like, this is one of those perfumes that, to an untrained nose, might be described as ‘smelling like my grandma.’ Well, maybe if your grandma was Colette or Marlene Dietrich…’ The volume is written with a mixture of humour, historical fact and useful advice, and this is a book that any perfume lover would be delighted to read.

Publisher: The Lyons Press

At amazon.co.uk

*****

Barbara’s blog is well worth re-visiting, but you may notice the last entry was updated in 2016. This is because she had a rather exciting project up here sleeve…

Barbara Herman: ‘I launched a perfume brand — Eris Parfums. Named after the Greek goddess Eris, daughter of Nyx (Night), and one of the bad girls of Mt. Olympus with a reputation as a troublemaker and subversive, Eris has thrown down her gauntlet (or thrown her Golden Apple?) in the form of three new perfumes. I think you’ll like their inspiration: vintage floral animalics.

Belle de Jour, Night Flower, and Ma Bête were each composed by perfumer Antoine Lie (Tom Ford, Givenchy, Comme des Garçons, Etat Libre d’Orange, et al) and each are a take on vintage perfume styles but with a modern twist. I really love them and I hope you do, too!’ And there’s now a fourth fragrance in the collection – Mx.

Having had the pleasure of sampling each of the fragrances, I can confirm that those of with a penchant for vintage will get a real kick out of these. My favourite has to be Ma Bête – ‘(My Beast) caresses you with the suggestiveness of perfumed fur. A collision of the floral and the animal, MA BÊTE combines a regal Tunisian Neroli with spices and a 50 percent overdose of Antoine Lie’s own animalic cocktail.’

‘Ma Bête is a fierce beast with raunchy elegance.’ – Antoine Lie

Whether reading about delightfully subversive scents or wanting to douse yourself in their forbidden essence, this season is an excellent time to slip into your most fabulous gown and exude dangerous glamour, don’t you think?

By Suzy Nightingale

Tatty Devine perfume bottle collection: you’ll want them all!

Renowned for their quirky jewellery and accessory designs, Tatty Devine are coming for us fragrance fans with their latest House of Tatty Devine collection. ‘This is the best email we’ve ever scent…’ their email header teased. And they weren’t kidding: we want them ALL!

Tatty Devine Vintage Perfume Bottle Earrings £40

Themed around vintage style perfume bottles, the collection comprises earrings, a brooch and two types of necklaces – all in their glossy, laser-cut, glitz-tastic style. Each vintage style perfume bottle piece includes the finishing touch of a beautiful pearlescent label, ‘etched and hand-inked to bear our logo, just like all the finest perfume houses.’

Tatty Devine Vintage Perfume Bottle Brooch £80

Attention to details like this are what sets Tatty Devine apart, and if you’re anything like us, we bet many of you are adding to your Christmas Lists right this very second! We will even forgive the ‘Ho-ho eau!’ pun on their website (mainly because we wished we’d thought of it first).

Tatty Devine Vintage Perfume Bottle Necklace £35

Alright, we must admit to swooning over any perfume-related accessories (see the Couture issue of The Scented Letter Magazine for more perfume-themed pieces) but there’s something super cute about the vintage style bottles rendered in an almost Pop Art kind of realism, don’t you think? The chunkier version of the necklace (below) also features the laser cut mirrors in yellow, blue, silver and shimmering micro glitter acrylic.

Tatty Devine Vintage Perfume Bottle Necklace £95

We also loved having a read of their accompanying blog, Making Scents with Rosie & Harriet, going behind the scenes with Co-Founders, Creative Director Harriet Vine and Managing Director Rosie Wolfenden, revealing the inspiration behind this unusual festive collection. Probing into their perfume habits and personal scent memories, it was fascinating to learn what Harriet and Rosie thought the House of Tatty Devine perfume would actually smell like, if it truly existed.

For Harriet, ‘There’s a real nostalgia: my attic, old photo albums, my Mum’s old dressing up clothes… You’ve got to get some classic Yardley Violet and Lily of The Valley in there too, my nan’s scent of choice. Oh, and geraniums growing in a greenhouse.’ While Rosie revealed she would add ‘…floral notes from violets in the garden and Ventnor Botanic Gardens’ big Magnolia and Mimosa trees! I was brought up in a hotel on the Isle of Wight and so there are accents of herbs and nutmegs from the kitchen, with a hint of Sherbert Dib Dabs after school.’

Many of us at Perfume Society Towers can already be be seen toting the Gin water bottle and Gin necklace (you can see where our interests lie) among others, but this new perfume bottle collection just got our hearts beating all the faster. You can bet we’re going to be accessorising Christmas outifts with these little pieces of wearable art – be that a little black dress for a ‘do’ or (let’s face it) our comfy pyjamas. Eau yeah!

By Suzy Nightingale

Latest Launches: Let yourself be lured

An exotic feast for the senses lies in store with this week’s latest launches. From the bold glamour of Juliette Has a Gun In the Mood for Oud to the heart melting beauty of The Merchant of Venice Imperial Emerald. Round off your autumnal mood with warm leathers and the silvery tingle of Tom Ford Métallique.
JULIETTE_HAS_A_GUN_IN_THE_MOOD_FOR_OUDJULIETTE HAS A GUN
IN THE MOOD FOR OUD

If you don’t generally find yourself in the mood for oudh, do yourself a favour and take this daring red flacon for a scented spin. As JHAG perfumer Romano Ricci reveals, ‘I decided to add my own touch of mystery by twisting the oudh with a top note of bergamot.’ As the citrus elements in this fresh-Ambrée drift away, you’ll discover the signature oudh buffed, sweetened and beautifully softened by vanilla and tonka.
£220 for 75ml eau de parfum
harrods.com
THE_MERCHANT_OF_VENICE_IMPERIAL_EMERALDTHE MERCHANT OF VENICE
IMPERIAL EMERALD
While this Venice-based heritage fragrance house is known for its stand-out bottles, Imperial Emerald takes that art of glass to a new level, adorned with peacock feathers. What’s inside mirrors that exoticism, with perfumer Jordi Fernandez’s exquisite layering of iris, lily of the valley and Egyptian jasmine over a hazy layer of musks, designed to conjure up the scent of an Italian stately garden, the sun setting and the hedgerows scenting the alleyways.
£250 for 100ml eau de parfum
harrods.com
TOM_FORD_METALLLIQUETOM FORD
MÉTALLIQUE
Whoosh!, go the aldehydes, catapulting crystalline notes of vert de bergamote and pink peppercorn coolly out of this equally cool, metallic bottle. But we know to expect more than clean and fresh from Mr. Ford, and this doesn’t disappoint, amplifying as it wears on the skin to reveal white hawthorn blossom, exquisite lily of the valley and narcotic heliotrope, with ambrette seeds, Peru balsam, vanilla and sandalwood imparting their warmth in the finale.
From £98 for 50ml eau de parfum
tomford.co.uk
ALLSAINTS_LEATHER_SKIESALL SAINTS 
LEATHER SKIES

This shareable All Saints introduction sits somewhere between light and dark, hard and soft. It’s tough but tender, like a smoky caress of a scent, with dark tendrils of olibanum – sweet, resinous and smoky – wrapping around dry leather to create a carnal, animalic warmth. Black sandalwood creeps in the base with a dark softness, bolstering the leather overtones while remaining cosily comforting. Like a cashmere scarf nestled within a favourite leather jacket.
£49 for 100ml eau de parfum
allsaints.com
MALIN_GOETZ_LEATHERMALIN+GOETZ
LEATHER
Malin+Goetz make a nod here, so they tell us, to the age-old tradition of fragrancing hand-made leather items. We may no longer need to disguise the scent of leather tanning with perfume, but we’d happily get up close and personal with any skin scented with this shareable blend of eucalyptus, clove, lotus flower, lily of the valley, cool green violets and orchid, with the smoochiest of leather, cedarwood and sandalwood finales.
From £75 for 50ml eau de parfum
malinandgoetz.co.uk
 

1950s archive film: how perfume is made (unintentionally hilarious in parts!)

We urge you to take some time off to watch this glorious archive film from the 1950s on how perfume is made. Unintentionally hilarious in parts, it’s a fascinating watch, with many of the processes still relevant today – much of the perfume-making method not haven’t changed much in centuries.

We can only picture the male narrator of this short film smoking a pipe throughout, pointing it disapprovingly at the woman we see sitting at her dressing table applying makeup and then dabbing herself with perfume, as he launches such eyebrow-raising comments like these…

‘Throughout the ages, women the whole world over have sought to adorn themselves for the benefit of the male… And here we have a young girl preparing for an evening’s outing in what she thinks is the height of fashion. A mask of makeup and a deluge of scent. HEY, steady with that bottle!’

It’s enough to make us up-end an entire bottle of perfume over our heads this evening, just to annoy men like this narrator, but leaving that hilarity aside, do make yourself a cuppa and settle down for seriously great vintage viewing!

Another note of amusement comes toward the end (after a brusque makeup demonstration in the beauty department) when the perfumer, ‘Mr Collins’ gives a talk describing how women should only choose a perfume they really like, and that the right fragrance, the one you truly love, will bestow great confidence on the wearer. Sentiments we can certainly get behind.

But wait, because when the model is asked to choose her favourite – ‘Oh, I like this one!’ – Mr Collins snatches the bottle out of her hand as though it were on fire. ‘Well,’ he chuckles condescendingly, ‘I don’t think you’re going dancing… You should wear this light, floral one.’ Okay Mr Collins, thank you for your TED talk on confidence.

Although some of the practices, such as cruel methods of obtaining animal products for perfume, are completely outdated; sadly the practice of making condescending remarks to people about their choice of fragrance, or how much of it they should wear, can still be experienced. So to that we say: wear an extra large dose of your favourite ‘dancing’ perfume today – yes, in the daytime. Shocking! – and as you spritz, say ‘cheers!’ to Mr Collins…

By Suzy Nightingale

Angela Flanders Aqua Alba returns!

When fragrance ingredients become scarce, suddenly our favourite scents can be rendered obscure – something fans of Angela Flanders Aqua Alba know all too well. But those craving this perfectly seasonal, warm and smoky fragrance can now rejoice, as it’s back, baby!

Originally released as a limited edition in 2012, Angela Flanders Aqua Alba soon achieved something of a cult following – and no wonder, for this loamy swirl of amber-rich magnificence celebrates the very art of blending, distilling the distinctive flavours of whisky – translating them into a fragrance that captures the character without smelling as though you’ve had one too many. Indeed, the name Whisky stems from the Gaelic word meaning ‘water of life’, and the dark, peaty notes of Aqua Alba perfectly evoke i’ts magically restorative properties.’

Brown Oak Moss – one of the key base ingredients for Aqua Alba – suddenly became unavailable, meaning that the original formula needed to be completely re-worked from scratch. Flanders’ daughter, Kate Evans, has now painstakingly amended that original formula with new accords that still create the spirit and true character that so many fell for, which has been, she admits, ‘…quite a journey.’

Kate reminisces that ‘It was a fascinating process to watch Angela create Aqua Alba originally, inspired by her conversations with Jim Beveridge, Master Blender at Johnnie Walker Whisky; and attempting to replace the lost ingredient while remaining as true to the original as possible has been quite an olfactory challenge.’

So what did Kate discover to re-create the distinctly cosy mossiness of the first fragrance?

Angela Flanders say: ‘Distinguished, comforting and rugged, Aqua Alba draws on elements of the Scottish landscape that so imbue whisky with its distinctive flavours – peat smoke, heather, wind blasted wood, soft green mosses… Labdanum and patchouli represent the moss and earth, overlaying a heart of heather and gaiac wood, on a base of sweet amber, oudh and smoky peat.’

Says Kate, ‘With such a loyal following for this particular perfume, and a waiting list for the new iteration we are thrilled to have it ready in time for this winter season.’ Not nearly as thrilled as though of us who have waited breathlessly for it to return…

Angela Flanders Aqua Alba £79 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at angelaflanders.com

By Suzy Nightingale

Versace’s Holiday saga: Sarah Baker’s glam-azing project

Multi-media artist and perfume-house founder, Sarah Baker, has collaborated with none other than Donatella Versace and supermodel Helena Christensen as part of the most 80s-tastic spectacular campaign you’re likely to see this season.

Dripping with decadence, every aspect of the project exudes the kind of soft-focus glamour Baker’s artistic endeavours are known for – from the fashion and art magazine, a six-part Jackie Collins-esque romantic saga through to the drop-dead gorgeous photography.

 

 

We first met Sarah Baker through her innovative, often tongue in cheek (and always provocative) series of short films (scroll down), photography and performances that explore the seemingly luxurious worlds of celebrity, fashion and fragrance through a Vaseline-smeared filter that has long been inspired by her passion for romantic novels and soap opera storylines. Baker was so inspired by scent, in fact, that she went on to make her previously fictional fragrance brand a reality – launching a fascinating collection of fragrances she created in collaboration with niche perfumers.

 

 

Central to this new Versace project is Baroness – the second issue of the British fashion and art magazine, founded by art and creative director Matthew Holroyd and Dazed & Confused editor in chief Isabella Burley, with this issue written by Baker and guest edited by Donatella Versace. It’s available to order online (click the link) and at all Versace flagship boutiques.

Baker and Helena Christensen, lavishly dressed head-to-toe in Versace (obvs), then feature as the main protagonists of the six-part Versace’s Holiday Saga, a series of short films which veritably bristle with glitzy scandals and opulent intrigue, following protagonists Angelina and the Baroness (played respectively by Baker and Christensen), ‘as they navigate tumultuous affairs and overcome adversities.’ Sounds like the average festive family get-together, right? Well perhaps, but with added blackmail letters, a pop song called Spritz Me With Your Love, and the glamour turned up to eleven, dah-ling! Watch the glam-azing trailer below…

(Then head to versace.com, to read the story and binge-watch them all.)

Says Sarah: ‘It was incredibly rewarding for me to work with Donatella Versace and Baroness Magazine. I have so much creative inspiration for the future of Sarah Baker Perfumes and my own art practice — I’m eternally grateful to continue to work in both worlds.’

A while ago we interviewed Sarah at her studio to delve into her personal scent collection for our #ShareMyStash feature in The Scented Letter Magazine, and she told us many Top Secret projects were brewing – but we had no idea quite how thrilling they would be!

If your penchant for glamour evoked in a frivolous, fun way has been tickled, why not check out the trailer for the short film that began Baker’s love affair with fragrance, below?

And if your sybaritic nature really needs feeding, we suggest you head to Sarah Baker Perfumes to further indulge your senses…

By Suzy Nightingale

Map of the Heart, the niche house pulling at our heart strings

‘It is everything pure, good and evil. It aches, it desires, it is who we are.’ This is how Map of the Heart co-founders Sarah Blair and Jeffrey Darling describe the human heart, and a clue to the inspirations behind the fragrances.

With a creative partnership in writing, design and film, it felt like a natural step to take that expression further in to fragrance – a wearable art form – borne out of their collective need to creatively explore ‘the full atlas of the senses’.

Proudly Australian, each fragrance by perfumer Jaques Huclier has a seam of sandalwood at its core, and it throbs life through the perfumed pulse of this niche house’s scents, using indigenously and sustainably sourced Santalum spicatum. Huclier says that for him, the smell is ‘woody and explosive,’ providing ‘a unique signature of sensuality, texture and deepness to the range—it’s the heart of the Hearts, a beat within the fragrances.’encompassing a passion for telling stories and their understanding that scent can transport the wearer just as words, images and films can whisk us to another world. And oh, those bottles!

 

 

Designed by the legendary Pierre Dinand to resemble an anatomical model of the human heart, each piece looks like it’s straight from a gallery of modern art. Each perfume has been carefully crafted to evoke a differing emotion – the perfumer translating the co-founders words and startling imagery in to the notes he uses, the bottle designer evolving the story through the colours that echo the theme. So you will discover that, gilded, brightly coloured or starkly monochrome, the flacons hold juices just as experimental. From burned bush land juxtaposed by snow, forbidden fruits, passion and the essence of bravery, the spirits of rebellion and attraction: all are unique, and utterly wearable.

Map of the Heart fragrances are £150 for 90ml eau de parfum from harrods.com, but we are thrilled to now stock the Map of the Heart Discovery Set in our shop – try the entire collection for only £25!

 

 

Clear Heart v.1 – Australian summer: surfing, swimming, hot days, cool breezes and the salt that hangs in the air promising more.

Black Heart v.2 – Smoky. Impolite. Dangerous. Its smoky heart of mysterious spices is shot through with shards of fresh eucalyptus and citrus to create an impolite mix of opposites.

Red Heart v.3 – Explosive. Seductive. Addictive. A composition of feijoa, tuberose and spices with sensual notes of musk and vanilla.

Gold Heart v.4 – Nurturing. Precious. Ancient. An exotic warm breeze that wraps around to protect and comfort.

Purple Heart v.5 – Brave. Instinctive. Triumphant. Inverting the olfactory pyramid by opening darker and then brightening.

Pink Heart v.6 – Mingles on the skin with the spiciness of the sumac accord and cistus absolute for a mesmerising ride.

White Heart v.7 – The ethereal and sharp opening of French lavender, aldehydes and cardamom coolly invite us into the vast landscape of love.

So now the only thing left for you to wonder is, which fragrance will pull on your heart strings…?

By Suzy Nightingale

Latest Launches: Tempting treasures await…

This week’s latest launches are truly irresistible; from fabulous flacons to scents you’ll love at first sniff. Smoulder seductively with new Intense editions of Burberry Her  and Mon Guerlain Eau de Parfum. Wrap yourself in Velvet Splendour and give in to the temptations of Penhaligon’s Terrible Teddy. Bvlgari adds decadence with Le Gemme Coralia.

BURBERRY_HER_INTENSEBURBERRY
HER INTENSE
Imagine bramble fruits entangled with swags of jasmine and violet leaves; wearing this is like the last gasp of summer with luminous flowers catching golden sunlight, and the darker greenery and ripe berries a touch of frost on the breeze, presaging the change of seasons. Brilliant perfumer Francis Kurkdjian works his magic here, yet again, as ever a ‘nose’ who makes every fragrance radiate on the skin. A soft kiss of autumnal sunlight, glowing gloriously.
£49 for 30ml eau de parfum
theperfumeshop.com
BVLGARI_LA_GEMME_CORALIABVLGARI
LE GEMME CORALIA
For the latest opulent, gem-inspired introduction to BVLGARI’s Le Gemme Collection, perfumer Sophie Labbé explains: ‘I really wanted to translate the fascinating beauty of the coral gemstone, its extraordinary Mediterranean origin, joyful and deep colour, and its secret power, in a unique olfactory journey.’ Dazzlingly bright pepper and mandarin essences, fruity-leathery osmanthus, soft orris, velvety musk and ambergris were the olfactory tools she deftly deployed to deliver its enveloping floral muskiness.
£239 for 100ml eau de parfum
harrods.comGOLDFIELD_BANKS_VELVET_SPLENDOURGOLDFIELD & BANKS
VELVET SPLENDOUR
Sumptuousness personified with a fluffy Australian mimosa snuggled up to decadently waxy orange blossom and luminous jasmine against a leathery, resinous backdrop of intriguing complexity. Drowsily splendid, this unfurls for hours on the skin as it warms, telling the story of a day spent in bed with your lover – a decadent plushness to sink into and sigh at the heliotropine-drenched dry-down, as you sip tea and eat buttered toast, while warming your feet on theirs…
£135 for 100ml eau de parfum
harveynichols.com
Guerlain-Mon-Guerlain-IntenseGUERLAIN
MON GUERLAIN EAU DE PARFUM INTENSE
‘A play on intensity’ is how co-creator Delphine Jelk refers to this new, richly-textured version of bestselling Mon Guerlain. Patchouli, white musk and lavender feature generously, but less expected is the note of heliotrope, teasing out Mon Guerlain’s almond facets. Vanilla Planifolia tincture reveals unexpected hints of leather – Guerlain are one of the last houses to use this tincture, which uses real vanilla pods infused in alcohol, for a rounded, utterly addictive sensuality.
£80 for 50ml eau de parfum
guerlain.com
PENHALIGONS_TERRIBLE_TEDDY.PENHALIGON’S
TERRIBLE TEDDY
In this seventh chapter of Penhaligon’s Portraits, Teddy is a smooth mover, at once dangerous and enchanting – and, we’re also promised, is not quite what he seems. It’s fitting that the fragrance itself – capped by a golden rhino, on this occasion – is also packed with contradictions: luminous pink peppercorns juxtaposed with mysterious incense, dry cedar contrasted with smooth leather, supported by vetiver, patchouli and musk. A marriage of hot and cold that we’ve definitely warmed to.
£188 for 75ml eau de parfum
penhaligons.com

Fragrant Reads – scent books to snuggle up with

Now there’s a distinct nip in the air, now is the perfect time to snuggle up with a good book – and we have a whole scented selection of great books to recommend you in our Fragrant Reads library of reviews.  All of them focus on our favourite subject (obvs), with some specifically on the topic of perfume, while others explore the wider scent-scape of our sense of smell.

We read A LOT of books about perfume, but we don’t always have time to write up our reviews in full. So lately, we have been concentrating on updating our virtual library with some of the more recently published books we’ve come across, including this FANTASTIC volume by longtime Perfume Society subscriber, Catherine Maxwell, which we will pull out of the bookshelf for you now and examine below…

Scents & Sensibility: Perfume in Victorian Literary Culture, by Catherine Maxwell

We’re honoured that Catherine has been a Perfume Society subscriber pretty much since day one, so when we heard she’d published a book, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it. And even more wonderful was the realisation that her choice of subject tied together two of our greatest loves – perfume and books. Delving deep into literary culture, she explores the myriad ways writers have been influenced and inspired by perfume, and how scent can become an invisible ‘character’ or reflect the inner workings of an actual character’s mind. More than that – the way a writer describes and uses scent can give us an insight into their own personality. We were particularly fascinated by how outrageously catty Virginia Woolf, for example, could be!

Catherine’s inclusions from her personal diaries and correspondence reveal Woolf loathed strong perfumes, and had very exacting opinions about those women who wore it (we feel she definitely wouldn’t have approved of us!) On meeting the writer Katherine Mansfield, Maxwell relates, Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary that she wished ‘that one’s first impression of K.M. was not that she stinks like a civet cat that had taken to street walking.’ Later, Maxwell cites Woolf’s further biting comments regarding overly scented women, quoting an occasion Woolf condemned some women she’d met in the library, saying ‘A more despicable set of creatures I never saw. They come in furred like seals and scented like civets.’ Don’t hold back, Virginia – what do you really think?! Further writers and their works are examined – from Oscar Wilde – Catherine also draws on a wealth of contemporary material such as ettiquette guides, advertising, beauty manuals and perfumer’s guides. Altogether, it’s the most eye-opening account – a scented snapshot of perhaps the greatest literary period in history – and a must-read for anyone who loves literature and wants to enhance their sensorial understanding (and enjoyment of literature.

Publisher: Oxford University Press 2017

At Amazon

*****

By Suzy Nightingale