So you think you hate… Oudh

There’s no doubt about it: oudh divides opinion. It’s one of those ‘Marmite’ perfumery ingredients, which people either swoon over or clutch their pearls and scream while avoiding at all costs.

But if you think you hate oudh – or any one of the other fragrant materials we’ll be discussing over the coming weeks – get ready to have your perfume preconceptions challenged, and allow yourself to experience some of the newer scents using it as more of a background note. Think of it in the same way you’d use a seasoning, like salt, in cooking. You wouldn’t want the whole dish to be dominated by it, but a judicious sprinkle can utterly alter the way the other ingredients behave and react with one another.

So, let’s go back to basics before we plunge in to the perfumes you should sniff out.

What is oudh?

When we blithely say ‘oudh’, we are actually referring to agarwood – the resinous heart-wood from fast-growing evergreen trees – usually the Aquilaria tree. The agarwood is a result of a reaction to a fungal attack, which turns this usually pale and light wood into a dark, resinous wood with a distinct fragrance – a process that can take hundreds of years.

From that ‘rotten’ wood, an oil is produced, tapped from the tree like maple syrup, and then blended into perfume. The aroma of ‘natural’ oudh is distinctively irresistible and attractive with bitter sweet and woody nuances: seriously earthy and, in small quantities, supremely sexy. Depending on the type of oudh, how long it’s been aged and the quantity used, it can be smooth as velvet, smell like fresh hay drying in sunshine or like a particularly busy barnyard on a rather ripe summer’s day. Just like anything else used in a fragrance, it depends entirely on the expertise of the perfumer, how much they are using, and in conjunction with which other ingredients.

A key ingredient in old and new Arabic perfumery, renowned for centuries as an element within high-quality incense in Arabic, Japanese and Indian cultures, oudh has gone from a ‘trend’ ingredient we saw emerging a few years ago on our scented shores, to now having definitively crossed over to the west as something you can find everywhere – even in fabric conditioners and deodorants. And yet, true oudh is rare, seriously expensive and even endangered: as it’s become more popular, high-quality oud is becoming difficult to source.

Collection of agarwood from natural forests is now illegal under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endanged Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), but some is now beginning to be plantation grown in Vietnam. As an alternative, many perfumers have turned to synthetic oudh, although highly trained noses will tell you it can smell less nuanced, still woody and leathery, but without the warm, balsamic qualities.

So now, we want you to challenge your own nose and seek out some of our favourite fragrances, below. We’ve chosen scents that use oudh as that ‘seasoning’ we spoke of – a way of subtly adding depth, smoothness and velvety plushness within a perfume. Go on, even you oudh naysayers, we double dare you: and bet at least one of these will become a firm fragrant favourite in your collection…


Here we travel to the land of Assam via the richly resonant aromas of the East. Cinnamon leaf oil and nutmeg make for a lively opening with the heart notes giving way to the wonderfully exotic citrus-fresh elemi oil so prized by perfumers. Black tea accord marks our fragrant journey with its smoky tendrils slowly opening to the deeper base and that sweet, wet earthiness and smooth wood played out with notes of oudh and vetiver. Honey is drizzled to sweeten the mix but never becomes sickly, the stunningly smooth tobacco accord putting us in mind of freshly-rolled cigars and dense canopies of greenery outlined against mountains beyond.

Molton Brown Mesmerising Oudh & Gold Accord £45 for 50ml eau de toilette
Buy it at Molton Brown

This feels like an homage to the very origins of perfume – ‘per-fumum’ meaning ‘through smoke’ – this exploration of incense, made exclusively for Harrods, melding the gentle fruity notes of fresh Turkish rose petals plucked from a misty, dew-specked garden, with a fragrant drift of exotic spices. There’s a myticism, somehow, to wearing this. A pure parfum, it lingers beguilingly on the skin for many hours, waves of wamth unfurling, tendrills of smoky woodiness curling around you as you move – your own invisible velvet cloak to swirl, joyously, all day. Just as perfect as night falls, the scent swoons duskily onto the skin like a sunset kissing the earth. Sumptuous.

Atelier Cologne Rose Smoke £325 for 100ml pure parfum
Buy it at Harrods

We automatically began smacking our lips at this, even before we’d sprayed. And oh, once you do, it’s every bit as delicious as you’d hope – if it did come in a jar we’d want to spread buttered crumpets with it, and most definitely smother ourselves from neck to ankles. Probably best it’s bottled, then. With a truly honeyed note that deepens as the sustainably-sourced oudh kicks in, this is intensely nuzzle-able, and there’s nothing whatever to frighten the horses. A gourmand-esque take on oudh, think soft rose and creamy sandalwood rippled with dark seams of oudh, amber and vanilla-specked deliciousness.

Floris Honey Oud £160 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Floris

Unashamedly salacious, the Turkish and Bulgarian roses entwine the heart, bereft of thorns they mingle with the gently powdered violet – a sheer dusting bestowed from a swan’s-down puff – and the most opulently creamy vanilla base you’re likely to encounter. The evocation of luxuriously stretching out on a satin bedspread and enjoying the feel of the silky material beneath your limbs is hard to resist – add to this image a silver bowl of decadent white chocolates decorated with sugared violets, and you’ll be in seventh Heaven! An animalic (thank you, oudh) smokiness underpins the sensuously draped covers, making this the perfect after-dark fragrance for illicit encounters…

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood £200 for 70ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Selfridges

Named after a small Turkish village on the banks of the river Euphrates and famed for its intensely dusky roses that bloom so deeply crimson they appear to be black, Halfeti is certainly not your ‘blushing English rose’. A balmy breeze of bergamot wafts forth saffron’s warmth, followed by a sizzle of spices perfectly blended with a bouquet of jasmine, rose, lavender and lily of the valley. In the base there’s a flex of supple leather, sensuous oudh swirled through glowing amber, chocolate-y patchouli and finally, a smooth dry down of deliciously almond-like tonka bean, sandalwood and a gently powdered musk. Take us away, immediately…

Penhaligon’s Halfeti £175 for 100ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Penhaligon’s

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrance Family Friday: Woody

As part of our continuing series exploring the differing Fragrance Families – the ways that scents are classified – today we’re getting up close and personal with Woody…

Many fragrances contain wood in some aspect, but what exactly designates a fragrance as ‘Woody’?

The clue, quite simply, is in the name – although some of these fragrances do smell like they’re closely related to the chypre family. It’s true: they share some characteristics, but generally without the floral flourishes of the chypres.

Perfumers have so a fabulous palette of woody elements to weave into their creations:  sandalwood, cedar, agarwood (a.k.a. oud), guiaiacwood, as well as patchouli and vetiver.  (These last two aren’t woods:  they’re roots and leaves, respectively – but you’d never guess, from their intensely earthy, woody character.)

Woody fragrances can be given a spin by adding spices/fruity notes, or herbs – so if you like woods (or you’re simply interested in learning what they smell like), do explore the other members of this family, too.

In the meantime, why not try some samples of this Fragrance Family at home? We can’t think of a better introduction than to plunge into the exotic delights of Fragrance Du Bois

Fragrance Du Bois Oud Noir Intense

FAMILY: WOODY
TOP NOTES: bergamot, cardamom
HEART NOTES: rose, jasmine
BASE NOTES: sandalwood, saffron, patchouli, vanilla, musk, amber, 100% organic oudh oil

A perfect marriage of bergamot and cardamom blends smoothly into floral, woody notes of rose, jasmine, amber, sandalwood, vanilla and musk, stimulating the senses with its complexity, while the oudh base adds to its strength and depth.

Fragrance Du Bois Sahraa Oud

FAMILY: WOODY
TOP NOTES: grapefruit
HEART NOTES: rose absolute, geranium, jasmine, patchouli
BASE NOTES: black pepper, sandalwood, saffron, vanilla, amber, 100% organic oudh oil

Sahraa Our immediately invokes the mystery and majesty of the desert, and has been crafted for the sophisticated palates of both Middle Eastern connoisseurs and aficionados of fine perfumes. Beautiful floral top and heart notes of grapefruit, rose absolute, geranium and jasmine, create a symphony that blends softly into base notes of patchouli, sandalwood, saffron, vanilla, amber and oudh.

Fragrance Du Bois are, quite unashamedly, so oudh-obsessed. And are we surprised? Derived from the dark resinous wood of the Aquilaria tree, oudh (often spelled ‘oud’) is an utterly fascinating material – a resin that occurs in less than 7% of trees, in the wild. Which explains why the material is so precious – and, sought-after. And not all oudh, it transpires, is harvested with the focus on sustainability that Fragrance Du Bois are renowned for.

In fact, so Fragrance Du Bois tell us: ‘Due to illegal logging, wild resources have been severely depleted. So, since 2004, all species of the Aquilaria tree have been protected under CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species].’

Created by some of the best noses in the world, each fragrance expresses true mastery of this unique ‘liquid gold’ (as oudh oil is known). You’ll fall in love, we guarantee it – even you oudh naysayers!

Be transported to exotic fragrant lands, happy in the knowledge that Fragrance Du Bois is also looking after caring for the environment, planting a tree for every full size fragrance purchased.

If your appetiete for Woody fragrances has been whetted, you can try a Fragrance Du Bois Discovery Set including these two we’ve reviewed above, along with three other of their fabulous creations, exploring the other fragrance families through oudh, for only £20!

Bloggers’ choice: scents of the summer

We asked some of our favourite fragrance bloggers which scents they’ll be reaching for throughout the summer. Do you automatically switch up your scent game when the season changes, or are there some fragrances you reserve only for the most sultry of days (or to use on holiday?) Let’s have a rifle through their checked luggage…

Thomas Dunkley The Candy Perfume Boy

‘This summer I’ve been obsessed with the zesty, tart and refreshing note of ginger because it’s an unconventional way to cool down on a hot day. My two go to picks are Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Ginger Piccante, which is soapy and spicy, with a hint of rose, and Mizernsir’s Eau de Gingembre – an ice cold eau de cologne with an invigorating blast of freshly sliced ginger.

On the hottest of days, when I can’t take the heat and I need some olfactory refreshment, I’ll usually reach for Atelier Cologne’s Orange Sanguine because it’s like diving into a swimming pool filled with juicy oranges. Who wouldn’t want to do that?’

 

Katie Cooke Scentosaurs

‘I am no sun-seeker, preferring climates that need a summer coat rather than shorts and sandals, so as it gets hotter I reach for perfumes that evoke cool shadows rather than tropical beaches. I’ll retreat to the old stones, incense, and clear air of Oriza L. Legrand Reve d’Ossian, or hide in the chilly crypt of Serges Lutens Iris Silver Mist and the dark, smoky underworlds of Papillon’s Anubis. Or Chris Rusak’s 33, where the balance of vetiver, orris, and angelica feels like sitting by an open window in the shady corner of an old library.

I do love the way some lusher scents bloom with warm skin and humid air, though. I am smitten by the heady florals of the night gardens conjured up by St Clair Scents’ Casblanca, and while I’d not inflict it on the sweaty confines of the London Underground, the spiced rose and ambergris of Encens Mythique is amazing, if a little antisocial, on a hot day.

If all else fails, Guerlain Vetiver, or vintage Dior Eau Fraiche give the illusion of ironed linen even when I’m a crumpled sweaty mess.’

Nicola Thomis the-sniff.com

‘I go one of two ways with summer scents: either light, breezy and carefree, or dark and dangerous. When the temperatures rise, it’s easy to pick a stereotypically summery scent – like Pierre Guillaume’s Sunsuality. This to me epitomises the joyful vibe of sunny holidays, and it’s a great pick-me-up for when the British summer isn’t quite going as planned.

At the other end of the spectrum, I also like darker and more smoky scents when it’s hot. I enjoy the way that increased temperatures reveal new facets and dimensions to the fragrances and they often have the extra oomph and staying power needed. This comes in handy during the summer months when I live under a constant sheen of SPF. I’ve been reaching for Embers, by Rouge Bunny Rouge to satisfy that craving a lot recently, and Nanban by Arquiste.’

Sam Scriven I Scent You a Day

‘As a freckly redhead, the only thing I like about heatwaves is that my beloved green mossy chypres really come into their own. You’ll find me in Chanel Cristalle and 4160 Tuesdays Paris 1948 most days. I also like to keep a few fragrances in the fridge in this weather and in my opinion, 4711 or Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass are hard to beat when sprayed on a hot cleavage. Speaking of all things blue, I’ve just discovered Merchant of Venice Blue Tea and it’s utterly divine for summer. It makes me feel freshly showered with a hint of butterflies.’

It doesn’t always strictly feel like ‘summer’ in the UK at times, and of course there are places where it definitely isn’t summer at this time of year. So let’s jet to Australia and see what they’re wearing in winter…

Pep The Scentinel

‘June in the southern hemisphere equates to single digit overnight temperatures, and the shortest day of the year. What have I been favouring? Two masculine classics, both firmly entrenched into my all-time favourites: Dior’s (2012) Eau Sauvage Parfum and Guerlain’s Heritage eau de toilette.

The beauty of these two is that with some thoughtful application, and timing, they work wonderfully well in the summer too. Well on my skin anyway. Each have significant depth to chisel through the icy air, and enough fizz, sparkle, and spice for hazy summer evenings.’

By Suzy Nightingale

Cologne Rangers

They’re pure liquid refreshment, but for many of us Colognes are also‘ happiness in a bottle.’ As we try to make sense of troubled times, it might behove you to reach for the (Cologne) bottle, yourself! Here, we look at some of the houses reworking the traditional Cologne for modern-day seekers of scented refreshment –more than 300 years from its invention…

Firstly: what denotes a true Cologne? Well traditionally, Colognes tend to be poured at a strength of 2-4% – meaning that’s the amount of pure fragrance within a carrier (usually alcohol in spray or splash form). They were traditionally this strength because half the pleasure was in the re-applying of these cooling scents.

And when were Colognes first used? In a feature for our magazine, The Scented Letter, fragrance expert Persolaise ruminated on the history of Colognes, remarking that ‘Back at the start of the 18th Century, the Italian barber and entrepreneur Gian Paolo Feminis moved to Cologne, Germany, and began selling a blend of bergamot, neroli, lavender and rosemary oils diluted in grape spirit. Dubbed Aqua Admirabilis, the product was such a success that Feminis summoned other members of his family to northern Germany to help develop the business.

His nephew, Giovanni Maria Farina – a.k.a. Jean Marie Farina – tweaked the formula, committed it to writing and, crucially, began advertising the product as a miracle potion not just for scenting one’s person but also for drinking and combating all sorts of ailments, including skin, stomach and gum problems. ‘This perfume refreshes me,’ Farina wrote to his brother, ‘and stimulates both my senses and imagination.’When travellers and soldiers began taking what they called ‘eau de Cologne’ back home with them, its reputation spread, causing high-profile figures to take note.’

And so, for centuries since, we have wanted these immediate hits of happiness. Perhaps now more than ever – and how we welcome the longer-lasting formulations. So what should you splash or spritz on, if you’re looking to join the ever-growing ranks of new genrations eager to become Cologne rangers of today…?

An enticingly fresh and floral composition that’s perfect for spring, summer (or any time of year you need an extra hit of sunshine), you’ll be smiling as soon as you spritz this blend of Calabrian bergamot, Egyptian jasmine and ambrette seed from Ecuador. A perfectly harmonious union of fresh and floral is totally wearable by either sex (if you allow them to share!) and the lasting power really is remarkable for something that smells so effervescently fresh and bubbling over with good cheer.

Atelier Cologne Bergamote Soleil £95 for 100ml Cologne absolu parfum
harrods.com

Brilliant perfumer Alberto Morrillas continues a Mediterranean olfactory narrative with a deep dive into the intense heart of Spanish Cypress essence. Beguiling, resinous tones are shot through with a floral buoyancy of heliotropine and violet, as a dry down of earthy, grounding patchouli warmth of cedarwood are hushed by a welcome blanket of so-soft musks. A scent that uplifts and soothes in equal measures, and surely to become a summer staple in your collection.

Gucci Guilty Cologne £67 for 90ml eau de toilette
boots.com

A timeless classic that nobody can fail to fall in love with, as Colonia unfolds you find yourself entering into an elegant floral-herbaceous space, as if you’ve wandered into an Italian sunlit idyl, Sicilian citrus, bergamot, lemon, sweet and bitter oranges infusing your soul with sunshine. Finally the warmth of the woody base notes comes through, wrapping around you like a cashmere sweater as the sun goes down over the Tuscan riviera. Bliss in a bottle.

Acqua di Parma Colonia £74 for 50ml eau de Cologne
acquadiparma.com

PS: You can try a sample of Colonia in our new Explorer Men’s Box, along with SIXTEEN other fragrances to try at home!

The Explorer Men’s Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

Just as you enter the spicy beginnings, the woody heart andwarming base resonate with unanticipated thrums of juicy freshness and mouth-watering appeal. Then, asurprise appearance of heady patchouli in the heartgets up close and personal with a balmy resin-rush of styrax as the Cologne dries down. We salute this fresh spin on bestselling Aventus, with fresh mandarin replacing pineapple of the classic, and along-lasting, fruity/musk dry-down that resonates beautifully.

Creed Aventus Cologne £215 for 100ml eau de parfum
creedfragrances.co.uk

A world away from the sometimes cloying citronella candles, it’s scented with a delicate lemon tea fragrance, that’s not at all overpowering, and certainly doesn’t make you feel you’ve doused yourself in insect killer! You can also use the spray freely on bedding, pillows and clothes, without the worry of stains since it’s non-oily – and as it’s a whopping bottle, we sprayed with abandon. So, thank you Mrs White: you truly are a hero!

Mrs White’s Unstung Hero £20 for 250ml
Roullier White 

By Suzy Nightingale

Fragrance Family Friday: Oriental

As part of our ongoing feature – Fragrance Family Friday – today we focus on: Oriental. What fragrances are found in this category, and which should you try? (Find a link below, too, for the perfect set to help you explore this category at home…)

With their spices, musks, incense and resins, the Orientals are rooted in perfume’s own history, using many of the same ingredients today that were first enjoyed in the orient – India and Arabia – at the dawn of fragrance creation.

Ingredients like heliotrope, sandalwood, coumarin, orris, vanilla and gum resins are classically used within an Oriental fragrance structure – though these can be tweaked, for men, women (and fragrances designed to be ‘shared’).

Seductive, voluptuous and with a va-va-voom, Orientals tend to feel ‘grown-up’ – and many have a warm, heavy, diffusive richness that’s more suited to after-dark wearing.  They linger sensually on the skin:  they’re heavy on the base notes, which tend to last longer. However, there is a new ‘mini-family’ of fresher Orientals, with a lighter touch, and a more ‘daytime’ feel.

Many of the original fragrance families have additions and cross-overs of sub-categoreies, so none of them are set in stone, and you’ll find much discussion in books and online, on eactly which fragrances should be in which families. Nobody seems to absolutely agree! So we’ll focus instead on some fragrances you might like to try under the umbrella heading of ‘Oriental’…

Memoize London are a niche house that excel at crafting exquisite scents – Orientals being a particular passion of theirs – celebrating ‘the importance of creating a harmonious balance between fragrance and emotion’. The discovery set has been curated to explore the Seven Deadly Sins, with orientals being the perfect family to explore the sultry, addictive theme, hence why five of the eight fragrances are Oriental in nature!

 

TRISTISIA

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: red roses, jasmine
HEART NOTES: vanilla
BASE NOTES: oudh, patchouli, civet, amber

A wonderful Oriental blend with rich red rose and white jasmine top notes beautifully balanced with creamy vanilla heart wrapped in warm base notes of oudh, patchouli, civet and amber.

 

 

Avaritia:

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: orange , bergamot, armoise, Geranium
HEART NOTES: jasmine, cedarwood
BASE NOTES: patchouli, musk, amberwood, sandalwood

Moreish woods with unsparing jasmine will leave you craving for more. An Oriental blend of amber and patchouli, with sweet musk, interlaced with vanilla and spices, and a top note of citrus and herbs.

 

 

ERA

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: saffron
HEART NOTES: iris, ylang ylang, jasmine
BASE NOTES: myrrh, amber, oudh, leather

A sophisticated and rich Oriental fragrance that reveals a saffron top note that mingles with a beautiful iris, ylang ylang and jasmine heart. Exotic, warm base notes myrrh, amber, oud and leather create the depth in the blend.

 

 

SUPERBIA

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: rose, ylang ylang, orchid
HEART NOTES: cedarwood, sandalwood, saffron
BASE NOTES: oudh, leather, amber, musk, patchouli

A luxurious fragrance opening with floral top notes of rose, ylang ylang and orchid infused by fine woods resting on a bed of rich oudh wood, leather, amber, musk and patchouli notes.

 

 

BLACK AVARITIA

FAMILY: Oriental
TOP NOTES: grapefruit, honey
HEART NOTES: ambrette, cistus labdanum, incense, Kashmir fusion, oudh, violet
BASE NOTES: amber, cedarwood, musk, powder, sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver

A woody Oriental fragrance leading with top notes of grapefruit and honey. A luxurious heart of ambrette, cistus, incense fusion, kashmir fusion, oud and violet, rests on a base of sandalwood, cedarwood, amber, musk, vanilla and vetiver.

 

There’s much to explore in this sumptuous set and we know you’re going to adore it as much as we do. Apart from the five oriental fragrances we’ve highlighted as a must-try, here; there are a three fragrances to explore, included in the set: Luxuria, a beautiful floral fragrance, opening with waves of juicy cassis and raspberry; Gula, a complex floral weaving jasmine and galbanum with sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla and black musk; and Invidia, a floriental (sub-section of orientals) marrying white tuberose, orchid and ylang ylang with undertones of woodiness and tobacco.

So prepare to have your senses tantalised by these opulent orientals and their equally fabulous floral and floriental friends – and be one of the first to discover this new fragrance house…

 

Memoize London Discovery Set £57 – find it here

Fragrance Family Friday: Floriental

What exactly is a ‘floriental‘ fragrance, and how can we tell them apart from an oriental or floral? What’s more – where should your nose be seeking out perfume samples to explore this style of scent at home? We have all the answers…

Fragrance Families‘ – the classification of what they smell like, based on the main ingredients – can be a bit baffling to work out (and so many of them are fusing these days), so we have an entire section dedicated to explaining them, and suggesting fragrances to try, giving you a head (well, nose) start. You can read more here about how to identify all the differing fragrant family members, but each week we’ve decided to take you through a particular perfume genre, and suggest a couple of scents to explore at home.

If you scroll down, you will find a review of two floriental fragrances we think you’ll love, with links to buy samples. But for now, let’s sort out what a Floriental is…

Well, the name for this family does most of the work for us: florientals are a sophisticated fusion of floral and oriental notes, and so many fragrances now fall into this category that it’s a real family in its own right. Florientals blend flowers – including gardenia, jasmine, freesia, orange flower – with spices, warm woods and resins. The result? Fragrances that are sensual and often sweetly seductive, but generally airier and lighter in character than true orientals.

Many people who adore orientals like trying florientals in warmer weather, or when travelling, for a still characterful experience, but with a bit of added breeziness. Similarly, those who enjoy florals might like to venture forth into something a little more nuanced, or simply less heady to wear in summer temperatures.

Floris A Rose For…

FAMILY: FLORIENTAL
TOP NOTES: Darjeeling tea, incense, cassis
HEART NOTES: red rose, orris, oudh
BASE NOTES: sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, amber

Intriguingly smoky, velvety wine-dark petals unfurl in the heart of this fragrance. Revealing a sophisticated sprinkling of powdered iris root (orris) and a wisp of carnality with the rich seam of smooth oudh. The amber-y base swathes you in vanilla’s gossamer embrace – that makes you feel is the way your skin should always smell.

After visiting the rose fields of Morocco, Edward Bodenham – director of Floris, and continuing the tradition of perfumery in their presigious family history – became obsessed with the idea of re-interpreting this Queen of flowers. Exploring what has tended to be seen as a ‘classic’ (and therefore trifle old-fashioned) note in perfumery, and looking at ways of marrying the intoxicatingly exotic warmth with the elegant beauty, the resulting floriental is a stunning version of rose – a contemporary twist on the dusty, fustiness we are sometimes still guilty of associating it with.

Mugler Alien Fusion For Her

FAMILY: FLORIENTAL
TOP NOTES: ginger, cinnamon
HEART NOTES: tuberose, orange blossom
BASE NOTES: tonka bean absolute, white musks

Flickering between the heat of ginger and cinnamon with the silvered coolness of tuberose and an aquatic orange blossom in the heart, the warmth returns again as the scent acclimatises to your skin’s temperature, white amber radiating like sunbeams on volcanic stone.

One minute it’s hot, the next it’s cool. (Well, strictly, Alien is always cool.) A new addition to the Alien universe, its futuristic, talismanic bottle reinvented in fiery, translucent ruby red, this sets out to bring us ‘the power of an eclipse, captured in a bottle’, via radiant sambac jasmine and orange blossom, ablaze with ginger and cinnamon, with carnal tuberose igniting the heart before white amber and Madagascan vanilla make their presence known.

These two floriental perfume samples are both included in the Launches We Love Discovery Box, where you’ll find THIRTEEN fragrances in all, with a variety of families to explore.

From that contemporary rose floriental celebration by Floris and ultra-modern Mugler floriental style to tantalise your senses, you’ll also get to try a ground-breaking Gentle Fluidity duo by Francis Kurkdjian. Or delight in the lipstick-and-leather-handbag sauciness of Miller Harris Violet Ida and explore their homage to urban foraging in Lost. Live you ultimate glamorous fantasies with Cartier’s best-seller for summer, and surrender to an evocation of succulent White Peaches by Shay & Blue. Then, why not immerse yourself in a trio of blooms by Yardley and revel in the oh-so-Parisian Mademoiselle Rochas Couture?

Oh yes, and in addition we’re giving you a stunning new nail polish by Nails Inc. (worth £15 alone!) and two travel-size body washes by I LOVE Cosmetics.

Compare and contrast the floriental fragrances with other families represented in the box, with our famous Smelling Notes to guide you along with each spritz.

Launches We Love Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

By Suzy Nightingale

Father’s Day – stage a scent intervention with these fragrant gifts

Dad, it’s time to step away from the Cologne Auntie Brenda gave you when you were 19: we’re staging a scent intervention for Father’s Day…

Today, June 11, is our last cut-off day for posting before Father’s Day on June 16 – but you can use these tips whenever you’re buying a fragrant gift!

Buying a fragrance for your father – or the father-figure in your life – can be tricky. You want to gently ease them away from the one they’ve been drenching themselves in for decades because the scented landscape has (mercifully) changed; but where to begin on their new fragrant adventure?

We specially curate a selection of our Discovery Boxes with men in mind (or anyone who prefers more traditionally ‘masculine’ leaning fragrances), as well as stocking a superb selection of Brand Boxes from new niche houses and the more unusual, already established names.

Discovery Boxes/sets really are the best gifts: you’re not imposing your own taste or guessing at theirs, and with a plethora of perfumed delights to explore, the chances of scented success are greatly increased!

Choosing a new fragrance deserves time and space to properly see how they develop on your skin, and something we know you love is the chance to try things you’d perhaps never heard of before. When given as a gift, these boxes also represent the chance to gently move someone you love out of a fragrant rut…

Bringing brand new releases, much-loved classics and niche perfume houses, with an unprecedented SEVENTEEN FRAGRANCES to explore, there’s something for all to fall for in this bumper selection! Including FIVE fragrances from the Elements of Man line-up by ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA, a zing for your step from TOM DAXON Sicilian Wood, the power of the just-launched CREED Aventus Cologne – alongside classic ACQUA DI PARMA Colonia, inviting you to dip your toe in summer waters… We’ve also thrown in TWO GROOMING PRODUCTS! The evocative Milano Cento Body Wash 30ml, to pair with the same fragrance in the box, along with Jack Black Double Duty Face Moisturiser SPF20.

And if you buy this box before 28th June, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win a full-sized fragrance or grooming product. Which you can choose to give as a second gift, or well, *cough* just keep for yourself.

The Explorer Men’s Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

If he’s something of a rebel or always up for trying the latest technology – we’d steer him toward the incredible, ground-breaking fragrances of Escentric Molecules. Creating unique duos that combine a man-made aroma-molecule with naturals, try each of them in turn, compare the four pairs, and find out why this continually innovative house are set to blow your mind. What’s more, feedback tells us these fragrances last the whole day through, and smell utterly unique.

The Escentric Molecules Discovery Set includes four duos x 2ml samples.

Escentric 01 – the Iso E Super molecule features heavily, with the remaining formula using ingredients ‘designed to underscore its low-lit mood.’

Molecule 01 – the ‘partner’ to Escentric 01 contains nothing but Iso E Super – a single ingredient.

Escentric 02 – vetiver, synthetic musk, Muscone plus powdery orris, elderflower extract and hedione

Molecule 02 – unadulterated Ambroxan

Escentric 03 – a tribute to the more familiar side of vetiver: its dark, slightly exotic woodiness.

Molecule 03 – Vertiveryle acetate, a refined vetiver note is celebrated at its purest

Escentric 04 – pink grapefruit, rose and pink peppercorns

Molecule 04 – a seriously room-filling sillage of smooth sandalwood

Escentric Molecules Discovery Set £25

It’s time to switch up their scent game and move from heavier fragrances to a fresher wardrobe. We curated this selection especially for chaps looking to find something new, so there’s something for every man (and plenty of ‘borrowable’ finds) – including Bentley, Parfums de MarlyCristiano Ronaldo and TWO duos from cult brands – Escentric Molecule and Clive Christian – among others. This is a thrilling collection to sniff your way through, and with two added extras from Penhaligon’s and Aromatherapy Associates, this box is worth over £40 to begin with, and priceless when you help them discover a new favourite…

The Men’s Edit Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIPs)

Not all dads and father figures are fuddy-duddy, and if yours is more hipster than has-been, this box is the way to go. Featuring 14 truly exclusive niche fragrances, there are an incredible THREE LUXURY-SIZE SAMPLES perfect for travelling – the new addictive Anima Vinci Sesame Chān (7ml), fabulously fresh Tom Daxon Laconia (4.5ml) and the exotic Merchant of Venice Blue Tea (5ml). Showcasing scents from very exciting perfume houses – including decadence from Juliette Has a Gun and exquisite naturals from Prosody and Parterre – he’ll be among the first to smell BDK Parfums with the so-French Rouge Smoking and Parle Moi De Parfum’s delectable celebration of rose. And yes, men smell utterly fabulous in florals – take it from us. All of these fragrances are totally sharable and higly desirable for those who want something more unique.

Limited Edition Niche Discovery Box £23 (£19 for VIP Club members)

If he wants ultra luxury and something we’re sure none of his contemporaries will already have, we’re delighted to introduce a very exciting new brand – Memoize London – and invite you to delve into this treasure trove Discovery Set, which includes eight wonderful new fragrances. Memoize celebrates the importance of creating a harmonious balance between fragrance and emotion.

Tristitia – the essence of calm, relaxation and pure leisure. Reminiscent of of a lazy Sunday morning, cocooning you in floral and vanilla scented sheets, no need to rise, the amber is keeping you warm…

Avaritia – the essence of insatiability, opulence and unquenchable desire. The first time you dare to think you can have exactly what you want, the need for something that is all yours.

Era – the essence of passion, provocation and power. Lose control of your emotions with this powerful fragrance; reigniting the fire within you, evoking deep seated memories within.

Luxuria – the essence of lust, seduction and intoxication. Memories of the first moment of interaction, where desire and passion consumes you. Your skin will tingle with luscious blackcurrant, tuberose and the warmth of musk will captivate you.

Superbia – the essence of self-confidence, self-love and self-worth. An overwhelming feeling of pride, joy and delight. Recalling a first day of school, the pruned rose bushes, games in the woods, the leather strap of a satchel, a mother’s proudest moment…

Gula – the essence of pleasure-seeking and self-indulgence. A fragrance of sumptuous vanilla, absorbing orange, rich clove and delicate lavender. Gula is an immeasurable mix of thought provoking scents providing unrestrained gratification for your appetites, desires, or whims.

Invidia – the essence of insatiable desire to want, to have, to be who you want to be. Envious and aspirational, your mind takes you on a sub-coconscious journey through the memories from your childhood; always wanting what you can’t have – sweet vanilla ice cream, caramels, tobacco….

Black Avaritia (Limited Edition) – the essence of indulging all of your wants and needs in abundance. Travelling through the rich and woody tones, takes you back on a journey to a foreign land. The warmth on the skin is reminiscent of the sun kissing your skin.

Memoize London Discovery Set £57

Knowing a lot of niche-loving chaps who want to look their best are out there, may we also suggest the second Niche box – it includes a 7.5ml of Anima Vinci Neroli Wisdom which basically smells like a Moroccan summer in a bottle. Alongside treasured houses such as Amouage and Atkinsons we’ve included exciting newness from Parterre, Stories by Eliza Grace, Memoize, The Modernist, Tom Daxon. But it doesn’t stop there… WE’VE ALSO ADDED SOME SKIN LOVING TREATS! Yes, dads need pampering, too. Keep his face glowing with the recent GOLD AWARD winning skinSense ANTI-AGING Overnight Leave on Mask (WORTH £8.50) which he can slap on overnight for minimum fuss – and ensure his hands are looked after with the wonderful bestselling Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream (WORTH £10). When you consider the value of the two grooming items alone is worth £18.50 – you’re basically getting the rest free!

Niche Collection II Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

 

Fragrance Family Friday: what is ‘Fresh’?

The perfume universe is divided into ‘families’. but what does this terminolgy actually mean to someone searching for a new fragrance to wear? We know it can be baffling to work out, so are here to help guide you with a new feature decoding and exploring the main fragrance families, and choosing an example we think your nose should get to know…

What are fragrance families?
Technically, ‘fragrance families’ are a classification system the perfume industry has used for years, to place individual perfumes into olfactory ‘groups’, based on their dominant characteristics. It’s part of the language of scent.

A true family, of course, has lots of members – and so it is with fragrance. Most of the eight main fragrance families will have some variations on their theme, particularly these days, as increasing numbers of fragrance houses describe their scents as ‘fresh woody floriental’ and suchlike, which is rather confusing for everyone! Here. we’ll try to break down the characters of the main families so you can discover which you’re most drawn to.

Will I only suit fragrances from one family?
Not necessarily – but it all depends on personal taste, the time of year, your mood and even what you’ve eaten recently (spicy food can mask the more subtle notes and alter how others smell on your skin for up to two weeks, for example).

In reality, very few of us have a completely jumbled wardrobe of scents from lots of different families: often without even realising, we tend to fall for one main family time and again. Just as you might open your wardrobe and find that a certain colour dominates. Instinctively, we prefer scents from some fragrance families and dislike others – although we may tend towards one particular family for colder weather, another for sunny times (or moods).

What is ‘fresh’?
Uplifting, zesty, cooling: most eau de Colognes fall into this family. They feature a whoosh of notes like lemon, bergamot, orange, grapefruit, mandarin. (These notes are also slightly randomly referred to as being ‘hesperidic’ – after the Hesperides, the nymphs from Greek mythology!)

Fresh fragrances usually smell clean, and often come in the eau de toilette and Cologne versions, though now we’re finding longer-lasting eau de parfum fragrances evoking that zingy Cologne style. These are the best of both worlds, because many citrus-based scents disappear more quickly on the skin – the oils are the lightest in perfumery so evaporate more rapidly, particularly if you have dry skin. Stronger concentrations (like Aventus Cologne – see below) allow the freshness to give you jolt of energising enjoyment for several hours – hurrah!

Ideal for splashing, and generally more suited to summer, some conjure up a sea breeze, while others smell like bottled sunshine. Many people find fresh fragrances give them a ‘lift’ – a bit of a perfumed kick up the proverbial when you’re feeling drained or in need of a quick hit of happiness.

With all this in mind, let’s take a look at a brand new fresh fragrance we feel exudes the very best of this family’s characteristics…

Aventus Cologne
FAMILY: FREsh
TOP NOTES: ginger, mandarin, pink peppercorn
HEART NOTES: patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver
BASE NOTES: styrax, birch, musk, tonka bean

How does it smell?
Lusciously juicy mandarin fizzes with a rasp of freshly grated ginger, a gentle spicy heat enhanced by the addition of pounded pink peppercorns. Just as your nose is getting used to the sunshine warmed top notes, a supremely smooth patchouli swathes creamy sandalwood and cooling vetiver for an interplay of textures and temperatures that continues to intrigue. Finally, the resinous base pulses in a throb of almond-like tonka beans amidst soft drifts of smoky musk that demands to be nuzzled…

The original Aventus is a best-selling fragrance around the world, and most particularly known for the iconic pineapple top note. Wanting to create a more summery alternative, instead of just weakening the strength and turning it into an eau de toilette, perfumer Olivier Creed – sixth generation master perfumer for the house – crafted a luminous, utterly radiant fragrance that feels like a younger (more tanned) sibling of the original. It’s uplifting and vibrant, but still carries itself confidently for hours of perfumed pleasure!

Try a sample of Aventus Cologne
You can try a sample of the just-launched Aventus Cologne at home – it’s one of an incredible SEVENTEEN fragrances we put together in The Explorer Discovery Box of more masculine-styled scents for you to wear and explore your feelings for. Will you fall for this fresh example…?

The Explorer Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

PS: Don’t forget to order for Father’s Day on June 16th – our last posting day is the 11th to make sure it arrives in time!

By Suzy Nightingale

Splurge vs Save: fragrance bloggers choose

Could you ever splurge on an all-time lust list fragrance, or save the cash by buying more pocket-friendly (but still utterly fabulous) ‘fumes? We all have fantasties of winning the lottery and suddenly having access to the rarest scents in the world… But when reality hits and more attainable scents are the name of the game, what, I wondered, would some of our favourite social media fragrance commentators choose…?

Persolaise
Splurge: If money were no object, I’d love a full bottle of vintage Diorissimo extrait (price… priceless?) in the famous, gold-topped Baccarat flacon. Actually, I’d be happy with some vintage Diorissimo in ANY bottle, but if we’re dreaming, let’s throw in the Baccarat. I could probably write a whole dissertation on why I love the perfume so much, but if I had to sum up my feelings, I suppose I’d say that, for me, it is THE most perfect example of a perfumer both reflecting nature and putting his own personality on it. Roudnitska’s nose was being guided by the scented gods when he made it. It is an absolute masterpiece.

NB: You can see this very Baccarat bottle at the Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition in the V&A.

Save: I might go for Gorilla Perfume Kerbside Violet £29 for 30ml eau de parfum from Lush: a modern, uniquely urban take on florals, mixing that strange, green, lung-filling ‘openness’ of violet leaf with smoke, concrete and exhaust fumes. Genius.

Viola Levy, Scents & the City
Splurge: If money were no object, I would go for a dazzling bottle as much as the fragrance itself – and for stunning perfume bottles, you can’t go wrong with Lalique (they pretty much invented the concept!) Their limited edition Crystal Collectible Bottle in Naïade €1,200.00 is a miniature work of art, featuring a mermaid-like Art Deco figurine as the stopper, while the fragrance inside: ‘Lalique de Lalique‘ ticks all the boxes when it comes to my favourite perfume notes (jasmine, rose, blackcurrant and sandalwood). I like to think of this scent as the equivalent of an off-the-shoulder cashmere cardi – old-school elegance with subtle sex appeal. Plus you can never go wrong with a mermaid, can you?

Save: Coty‘s L’Aimant,£14.49 at Boots for 50ml eau de toilette, would be a no-brainer. Created by François Coty (dubbed ‘the father of the modern perfume industry’) it was launched in 1927 at the Galleries Lafayette in Paris and is an incredibly romantic concoction. The backdrop was the Roaring Twenties – of girls emboldened by their contribution to the war efforts and the greater freedoms this had allowed them – which lead to the perfume being promoted as ‘the pure essence of Modernism – vivacious, warm and magnetic – the passionate woman’s perfume.’ Certainly it’s similar to No.5 in its composition: sparkly aldehydes, rose and jasmine (always a winning combination for classic scents), but it’s got a lighter spring in its step and a certain sparkle all of its own.

Sarah Gallogly
Splurge: If money were not an issue I would blind-buy Mendittorosa Osang. It has a lot of my favourite notes in it such as honey, frankincense, myrhh, labdanum and sandalwood and Mendittorosa is a perfume house I would really love to explore further. I recently tried a sample of Le Mat and it’s straight up beautiful! I can only imagine how spectacular Osang is…

Save: For a fragrance under £40 I believe you can’t beat Lush and I would reach for I’m Home £25 for 30ml eau de parfum, or Cardamom Coffee £39 for 30ml eau de parfum– both wonderful and with sweet, resinous depth. Lush make excellent and creative perfumes for such an affordable price, and I’m a big fan.


Sam Scriven, I Scent You a Day
Splurge: My fantasy bottle would be Aedes de Venustas Pelargonium £210 for 100ml eau de parfum, without a doubt. The first time I smelled it, I got emotional. That’s happened about twice in my life, and as a blogger, I’ve smelled thousands of scents. Pelargonium is a woody floral, but so seamlessly blended it’s like a cloak of iridescent fairy wings merging into each other. It’s mainly geranium, but it’s also musk, oakmoss, spices and smooth orris. Just perfection.

Save: There’s a huge choice of great value fragrances at the other end of the spectrum, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d go for Lanvin Arpège £29.99 for 100ml eau de parfum.  It’s a classic aldehydic chypre created in Paris in 1927 and it makes me feel like a grown-up sophisticated lady even when I’m in pyjamas. Trust me, that’s powerful. Because my pyjamas don’t even match.

 

Viola Cserkuti
Splurge: If money wouldn’t matter, I’d possibly get a lot of raw materials and make something, or rather experiment with my favourite notes: say, a kilo of Iris butter? I’d be pretty over the moon if I could go into Fortnum & Mason and buy a super fancy Caron bottle and get it filled with Farnesiana from one of those glass samovars (price on request!)

Save: I’m a big fan of discovering affordable scents in unexpected places. I love &Other Stories’s Sardonyx Fire £28 for 50ml eau de toilette, it’s very on-trend with a lot of iso-e super and ambroxan, metallic and musky with sweet florals in the background.

Blueberry Chicks
Splurge: The first perfume I’d choose is unavailable today, but if somebody had a sealed version I would have spent my (imaginary) thousands on La Rose Jacqueminot by Coty. I love rose and it is a legendary perfume. It was used by one of the last Romanoff princesses! For a modern perfume, it would be Puredistance White £455 for 100ml eau de parfum – because it smells like diamonds! I have never met a fragrance that’s so deliciously ‘posh’ and yet fresh. The first thing that comes to my mind when I smell it is a sumptuous ballroom full of finely dressed ladies.

Save: Jennifer Lopez Deseo £10.95 for 50ml eau de parfum, on the contrary,  is a recollection of a tropical holidays on the beach. A sweet memory doing nothing all day, with a pina colada in one hand and a book in the other.

Having salivated at the thought of the luscious lottery-win type fragrances mentioned above, and added many of the budget-friendly options to my own shopping basket, of course I couldn’t resist throwing my own scented suggestions into the ring…

Splurge: Oh go on, then, I’ll have a bottle of the original Guerlain Mitsouko, from when it was first released in 1919. Can you imagine? The thing is, I’d want to time-travel back and buy it myself, dressed to the nines in a velvet Opera coat by Elsa Schiparelli, with an ebony cigarette holder and scarlet lips, being shockingly daring yet romantic – presaging the turn of the century and those Bright Young Things to come. One spritz of this (well actually, as money is no object, several lavish applications) and I could snuggle in the cinnamon infused, milk-lapped plump peach skin and oakmoss for hours. In reality, the current reformulation by Thierry Wasser is as close as we’ll get, thanks to oakmoss restrictions, and it still smells *expletive* wonderful.

Save: If you’re looking for something with a sassy swagger, which smells about ten times more expensive than it is, consider unleashing your inner Diva with Emanuel Ungaro‘s much-overlooked masterpiece. First released in 1983, it’s a pleasingly buxom affair of softly powdered rose and iris with a purr of ylang ylang and sandalwood. And the perfumer? None other than Jacques Polge, darlings. Yes, he of the many, many Chanel fragrances. But this can be snapped up at £29.95 for 100ml eau de parfum. I know. You’re welcome.

By Suzy Nightingale

How to Feel Good with Fragrance

Increasingly, people are turning to aromatherapy and using smell to soothe stress, add a sense of comfort or revive their spirits. There’s a whole feel-good festival with this in mind, and we’re thrilled to be taking part in Live Well London from 1-3 March 2019 – which you can read all about here – where we’ll be bringing our How to Improve Your Sense of Smell Workshop and exploring how scent truly can have a deeply emotional effect, every day.

In fact, we’re pre-conditioned to have smell preferences, and our response is based partly on our individual genetic make-up (our DNA), and partly on our life experiences. So: that crushed tomato leaf note that reminds you of a beloved grandmother and her greenhouse – or the jasmine that was growing round a door when you were poorly on holiday, and which you can now hardly stomach.

Many people use fragrance as a boost for their spirits, perhaps without realising they’re doing so, and there is even a name for the science behind this: ‘aromachology’.

It’s been scientifically proven that different aromas can impact on mood and emotions – not just personally, but affecting those around you. Bergamot is a feel-good ingredient, peppermint makes you perkier and more alert, and grapefruit – believe it or not – apparently makes others believe you’re younger than you are!

This is one reason so many people now have a ‘wardrobe’ of fragrances, rather than just one signature scent: a perfume to make them feel romantic, after a hard day staring at a computer screen; to give them a relaxed, weekend feel on Saturdays and Sundays – or simply something that they spritz on for work, in the morning, which makes them feel focused and professional, in the same way as a smart suit or a crisp white shirt.

We’re huge believers in using scent every day as a way to – literally – take a breather, and for the first time, Beauty Bible and The Perfume Society have teamed up to collate the Feel Good Discovery Box, filled with fragrant award-winning goodies you can use and enjoy on a daily basis.

If you love the smell of a product, you’re far more likely to use it regualrly and see the benefits of adding it into your beauty routine, but it’s also time to consider allowing yourself the luxury of a few minutes each day: inhaling the aromas and treating yourself to a mini-spa experience by focusing on the smell alone.

It’s genuinely life-changing.

If your spirits could do with a boost, read more about wellness scents to try, or why not indulge yourself (or treat a friend who’s been going through a hard time) to a whole box of fragrant, feel-good delights….?

Feel Good Discovery Box £19 (£15 for VIP Club members)

So how do you use fragrance to make you feel better, stronger, calmer or self-assured? Are there perfumes you find yourself reaching for in certain situations, and how do they make you feel? Live Well London would love to hear from you about whatever makes you feel better – and we sure many of our readers will already be using scent to boost their spirits on a daily basis – so do get involved in the discussion by using #yourlivewell in social media…

Written by Suzy Nightingale