Bring on the Winter Zing: Getting Fresh With Neroli

Okay, yes. We tend to associate citrus fragrances more usually with warmer weather – where juicy lemon, lime, orange and even the more unusual yuzu are used for their refreshing, thirst-quenching appeal. However, holy moly, we need brightness more in these earlier months of the year than at any other.

So, what else can we look for when summer-y Colognes just feel wrong, but we CRAVE freshness nonetheless? Well, we would be well advised to lean into scents that put us in mind of the sunshine one gets on the very best of winter days. The kind of light that sparkles on frosty leaves, adds glitter to even the greyest pavement, and brings a feeling of almost childlike joy (despite the bitter weather!) An ingredient we would urge you to look for to recreate such sunshine-and-ice-kissed moments is neroli.

 

 

It’s truly one of THE most prized perfumery ingredients for gifting a uniquely floral freshness and zing to a fragrance’s formula. But where does this magical note come from, and how does it differ from other fresher notes?

The bitter orange tree – Citrus aurantium var. amara – is one of the wonders of the fragrant world. (You might better know it as the Seville orange tree and associate it with marmalade.) The leaves and twigs give us petitgrain, while the cold-pressed peel of the fruit gives us bigarade. But it’s the olfactory orgy of white neroli blossoms which get ‘noses’ (and fragrance lovers) really excited: airy, citrusy, green, but with whispers of honey and orange bubbling subtly underneath; it’s like taking scented  stealth vitamins that seep into your consciousness and make everything a bit better; or a short break to warmer climes in order to recharge your soul. In bottles, how much handier (and less ruinous) to access for instantaneous uplift, though.

 

Neroli is extracted by steam distillation of freshly-picked flowers, a process which much smell akin to perfume heaven, while the name ‘neroli’ comes from a small Italian town near Rome, and a princess who lived there. Anne Marie Orsini (aka Anna Maria de la Tremoille, and originally French, though basically adopted as Italian because that’s how it rolls when you’re noble and rich ), fell in love with the scent of neroli, which fragranced the air in spring. Can hardly blame her, really, because it’s surely one of the most universally pleasing smells in the world, and oh lord (or Princess) – how we are craving springtime right now!

Ah well. Until the opaque tights can be safely ditched, and until the actual change of season; might we suggest you make like Anne Marie, and similarly seek out these neroli-centric scents for some added joy and sparkle in fragrant form…?

 

 

 

 

Mizensir White Neroli £185 for 100ml eau de parfum

Radiating the gasp-making mood-shift of dawn’s first ray of light touching the ground, neroli gently shakes the senses awake, scattering pearlescent dew drops of hedione among the fluff of white musk and spiritual drifts of frankincense.

 

 

 

 

Granado Limāo & Néroli £52 for 100ml eau de Cologne

Encompassing the entire bitter orange tree’s gifts to perfumery, the neroli adds clarity and pale sunshine slicing through clouds, petitgrain brings leafiness, invigoratingly bracing lemon and the more herbaceous lime a tonic for the soul.

 

 

Edeniste Neroli Sensuel £68 for 30ml eau de parfum

Expressing the tender nature of neroli, the white petals are wrapped around the more biting wakeup call of petitgrain, harmonising perfectly with juicy pear and luminous peach (still sun-warmed it feels) for a fresh caress at any time.

 

 

 

 

 

Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa £104 for 50ml eau de Cologne

The classic gets sultrified, the freshness of neroli and iconic Calabrian bergamot charismatically sizzled up with slices of ginger, atop a supple leather, cedar and patchouli-snuggled base. Marvellously smile-inducing, even on Very Trying Days.

 

 

 

Maison Crivelli Neroli Nasimba £85 for 30ml eau de parfum

The neroli smoulders unusually amidst oodles of orange blossom and luminous mandarin contrasted with the cool spice of cardamom and deep, animalic purr of Saffiano leather. Like discovering your pockets are lined with soft yellow velvet.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

 

Jasmine Scents to Match Your Mood

As we’ve discovered from our in-depth ingredient focus this month – jasmine is a much-treasured raw material found in many fragrance compositions. Beloved by perfumers for its versatility (segueing from sunlight to seduction) jasmine is a floral note we know many perfume lovers also adore (even if they’re ‘not really a floral fragrance’ type!)

So, this time, we’re taking a look at jasmine scents that truly can match – or counteract – any mood…

 

Ruler from ARgENTUM - The Perfume Society

Strength: ARgENTUM Ruler

Fresh jasmine, tuberose and rose reveal a disarmingly crisp, green, yet spicy heart shot through with ginger, pink peppercorn and juniper berry – laced with sparkling citrus and amber.

Balance the strength of the No.X archetype to build integrity and bring honour with a sense of responsibility. Adaptability is the key – others will follow as you lead the way.

£228 for 70ml (or try in the ARgENTUM Air Collection Sample Set for only £28 for four fragrances)

 

 

Balance: Memoize London Concordia

The essence of harmony and accord. In the toughest of times, this trusted inner monologue whispered, ‘be still’ – and so you found peace. Despite life’s greatest challenges and difficult moments, your inner smile, sense of composure and stability has always shone through.

A fruity opening of pomegranate, bergamot and orange with a hint of pink peppercorn blends beautifully into a heart of floral orris, magnolia and transparent jasmine, as more fruitiness sustains with green fig and ripe plum. The complex dry-down of this fragrance offers notes of opulent patchouli, vanilla and white musk, juxtaposing with green vetiver.

£177 for 100ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Relaxation: Edeniste Lifeboost Relax

We love this scent, empowered with neuroscience beyond merely smelling wonderful! A mellow solar white floral. A solar Madagascan ylang-ylang essence matched with a creamy monoi note – the name means “sacred oil” in Tahiti –, wrapped in pure jasmine sambac absolute from India and relaxing Madagascan vanilla absolute.

Relax, feel the sun shining up above, let yourself be rocked by the sound of the waves and trees swaying in the breeze… You’re in Eden.

£68 for 30ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

Seduction: 4160 Tuesdays Sleep Knot

Sleep Knot is a soothing come-hither scent, featuring four of eastern tradition’s aphrodisiac aromas: sandalwood, jasmine, ylang ylang and black pepper. Perfumer Sarah McCartney first made it for a Valentines Day event as a pillow mist, but it was far too beautiful to restrict to hotel bedding when it can be worn on your skin.

Jasmine absolute is described in Indian literature as calming and seductive: ylang ylang is named “the oil of tranquillity” and black pepper is traditionally used as a stimulant. Together, you have a beautifully sensual spiced white floral.

£85 for 50ml eau de parfum

 

 

 

New Beginnings: Stories 01

STORIES N°.01 tells the uplifting story of sorrow transformed into beauty, of the dark yielding to the light – aided in part by their beautiful use of jasmine in the composition. Says founder Tonya:

“As I sat surrounded by the tiny brown bottles of the Perfumer’s Organ in a village on the French Riviera, I was confronted by some of my most painful memories. Each scent I inhaled illuminated past shadows and marked the start of a healing journey towards joyful new beginnings.” Tonya Kidd-Beggs.

Inspired by: A personal journey of healing, discovery and joy. A new beginning; lightness, contentment, vigour and vitality.

£75 for 30ml eau de parfum

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Chanel Jasmine Harvest: From Field to Flaçon

Chanel have their own fields of jasmine in Grasse – there are actually over 200 species of jasmine, but they choose to cultivate the exquisite Jasminun grandiflorum there (it translates as ‘big-flowered jasmine’) which is sometimes simply referred to as ‘Grasse jasmine’, because it grows exceedingly well in that micro-climate.

Chanel explains: ‘Grasse jasmine. The original flower chosen by Mademoiselle, its sensual notes are the signature of N°5. A delicate flower with 5 long, chalk-white petals, jasmine has been cultivated using the same techniques and savoir-faire for generations in the fields of CHANEL in Grasse. A night-blooming flower, it comes to life at sunset to diffuse its smooth, heady scent. Jasmine is an incredibly light flower that reveals its purity and finesse in the hands of the nose of CHANEL. The essence of femininity, it is a CHANEL flower…’

‘Initiated by Jacques Polge, the partnership between the House of CHANEL and the Mul family began in 1987. “Jasmine production in Grasse was on a steady decline and we feared we would no longer have enough for our formulas,» he remembers. And so began a beautiful story of trust and cooperation. Ties of friendship were formed, ensuring a lasting future for this rare heritage in Grasse and perfect control over the transformation from flower to fragrance. “At the time, no one was concerned with replanting jasmine, so we conducted a scientific study to find a viable rootstock and bypassed the industry by controlling all of the links in the production chain, from growing the plant right through to its extraction”, Polge continues. This partnership provides a guarantee of both the olfactory quality and the quantity of flowers required for CHANEL fragrances.’

The quality of Chanel’s Grasse Jasmine is quite exceptional because they ensure the crop flourishes at every stage, as Olivier Polge, CHANEL In-House Perfumeur Creator describes:

“Our work begins at our plant in Grasse. It is not only a production and processing unit for flowers, but also a genuine laboratory where we test, compare and take the time required to continually improve the olfactory result of each harvest. The raw essences are shaped and refined to become CHANEL essences.”

Let’s follow each fragrant step, as detailed by Chanel…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For another instalment of our jasmine focus this month, we look at some of the most iconic Chanel fragrances that make use of this exceptional jasmine in their compositions. Until then, we shall be dreaming of the heady scent of jasmine that must billow from the Mul family fields, through every single step, until it’s captured in the bottle. Close you eyes, now and dare to dream along…

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale [quoted extracts and images provided by Chanel]

Sana Jardin – where jasmine turns to sunshine & hope…

Jasmine is at the heart of the majority of Sana Jardin‘s scents, and formed part of founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed‘s fragrant inspiration to launch the house. Here, we take you through the differing forms jasmine takes within each perfume’s composition, and how it will wear on your skin….

As Amy explained to us, for her, the smell of jasmine is a scent memory that will linger forever:

 

‘The scents I’d encountered on my travels over the years were enchanting to me: the pure and golden shimmer of orange blossom, the mystical, enveloping depth of sandalwood, the seduction of jasmine blooming at night. I felt I could never find that captured anywhere on a department store shelf.’

‘Sana Jardin is the world’s first socially conscious luxury fragrance house created primarily as a vehicle for social change and the economic empowerment of women through The Beyond Sustainability Movement ™. Sana Jardin believes in the sacred and ancient power of scent to heal, transport and inspire.’

 

 

You can read far more about Amy’s fragrant journey – and how it all began – on our page dedicated to Sana Jardin. Meanwhile, we invite you to embark on your own scent journey as we discover each of the Sana Jardin fragrances that utilise the gorgeousness of jasmine within genius perfumer Carlos Benaïm‘s interpretations of Amy’s scent memories.

For an even richer scent experience, why not treat yourself to a Sana Jardin Discovery Set and smell each fragrance as you read the descriptions, and explore how the note of jasmine weaves so perfectly within each perfume? The set includes ALL the six fragrances we explore in this article, AND four of their other beautiful collection, comprising ten stunning scents in all.

 

 

Sana Jardin Discovery Set: £30

 

 

Sana Jardin Savage Jasmine:

Top notes: cloves

Heart notes: jasmine

Base notes: musk, tabacco

They say: ‘Savage Jasmine captures the moment when petals unfurl and unleash their exotic, heady scent into the balmy night air, midnight blooming Moroccan jasmine intertwined with intoxicating musk. A perfume high so intoxicating, the senses are forever beguiled by the depth of intensity and shimmering lightness. Promises of magic, mystery and ecstasy.’

We say: This is a best-seller for a reason – the jasmine here is utterly enrapturing, an overtly feminine embrace that will surround and protect you all day, like an invisible, yet divine smelling shield of scent. Think of your favourite exotic dream destination to escape to, moonlight silvering crests of mellow waves; the air so thick with jasmine you could swim in that, instead.

 

 

Sana Jardin Revolution de la Fleur:

Top notes: jasmine, frangipani

Heart notes: ylang ylang, rose

Base notes: vanilla, sandalwood

They say: ‘Revolution de la Fleur is a sultry, sun-filled melody of Madagascan ylang ylang, Moroccan jasmine, frangipani, rose, vanilla and sandalwood floating on the humid, tropical air. An exotic beauty with a golden aura, sensuous presence and soft strength.’

We say: Imagine late summer days slowly turning to autumn when what you really wish for is plunge into that first truly hot day of the year – a luxurious melding of warmly tropical floral notes in which the jasmine glitters as though borne on a balmy breeze. The vanilla and sandalwood give a sense of sun-warmed skin, the jasmine buoyant, blooming as moonlight beams.

 

 

Sana Jardin Jaipur Chant:

Top notes: lemon, sfuma primofiore, clove leaf oil

Heart notes: tuberose, jasmine, narcisse

Base notes: galaxolide, muscenone

They say: ‘Jaipur Chant is centred on the essential oil of the tuberose flower. Tuberose is associated with love, heightened sensitivity and intense emotions. In this scent, its effects are amplified by enveloping Moroccan jasmine, narcisse and sensual musk, brightened with sparkling Italian lemon, making for an arrestingly beautiful and feminine bouquet.’

We say: For Jaipur Chant, the jasmine provides a a narcotic boost to the already sashaying sensuality of the tuberose and narcisse – a fragrant cloak that embraces all the notes and pulls them together. Jasmine also helps bridge the floral bouquet and the solar, almost effervescent musk as it warms.

 

 

Sana Jardin Nubian Musk:

Top notes: rose, jasmine, grapefruit flower

Heart notes: sandalwood

Base notes: musk, vanilla, vetiver

They say: ‘Nubian Musk is a sensuously inviting blend of musk and vanilla, rose, jasmine, Moroccan, grapefruit flower, Haitian vetiver and Australian sandalwood, with an innate appeal for men and women. A seductive scent of skin, amplified in the heat of passion, desire and intimacy.’

We say: Jasmine is a vital part of the way Nubian Musk devlops on skin – the jasmine here is a kind of scented cushion between the rose and the freshness of grapefruit flower, and the plumptious snuggle-me-closer notes of the woody, addictive base. A real shape-shifter, this one, it flickers and follows you all day.

 

 

Sana Jardin Vanilla Nomad:

Top notes: coriander, cardamom, bergamot

Heart notes: olibanum, benzoin, jasmine

Base notes: vanilla, sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli

They say: ‘The Vanilla Nomad eau de parfum is a gourmand fragrance that coaxes out the sensual side of vanilla, opening to a bright burst of coriander and cardamom bouncing atop milky vanilla and sandalwood. There is a sense of darkness around the edges of the fragrance – smouldering with vetiver and patchouli – that caresses the creamy heart notes with a rich, ambery resinoid, subverting the sweetness with a compelling depth and sensuality.’

We say: ‘Jasmine and vanilla really has to be one of the most fabulous fragrant combinations, especially when Vanilla Nomad is so wonderfully unique. Within the dusky, radiant heat shimmer of Vanilla Nomad, the jasmine feels like a glint of reflection within a vast, arid landscape. Drily simmering, yet sensually silky via sandalwood, jasmine slinks through the composition.

 

 

Sana Jardin Celestial Patchouli:

Top notes: rose, jasmine, osmanthus, orris

Heart notes: cinnamon, sandalwood

Base notes: patchouli, leather

They say: ‘Celestial Patchouli is an intense and rich fragrance. The earthy, exotic aromas of patchouli, leather, cinnamon bark and Australian Sandalwood give way to the abundant warmth of rose, jasmine, osmanthus, and Moroccan orris. Sensory gold for global treasure seekers.’

We say: Within Celestial Patchouli, the jasmine adds a gilded gleam of sunlight, the sense of clouds parting momentarily and shafts of sunbeams awakening the senses, dazzling the loamy earth. Offering a brighter contrast to the deeper notes, it’s a perfect balance for the blend.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Jasmine – Mythology, History & Scents…

Jasmine and rose are the two ‘foundation stones’ of perfumery. VAST numbers of scents feature a type of jasmine somewhere in their construction, and little wonder we are addicted – the smell of jasmine has enraptured and inspired human civilisation through centuries…

 

every year it seems
the jasmine
creeps back
into my life
just when I begin to worry
nothing will smell sweet
anymore

Samantha Rae Lazar

 

Since ancient times, jasmine flowers have been prized for their antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, relaxing and even aphrodisiac qualities. The scent is certainly potent (most powerful at night) and its Jasmine gives a richness and intensity to fragrances:  a sweet floral note, but with a dead-sexy muskiness to it.  If you smell different concentrated ‘absolutes’ (the oily liquids created through macerating the jasmine flowers), they have their own characters:  some smell medicinal, some sweet, some musky, some green.

 

 

  • Jasmine has variously been referred to as both ‘the Queen of Flowers’ and ‘the King of Flowers’, and in different cultures is synonymous with love, romance, weddings, passion, seduction and beauty. It is also known to perfumers, quite simply as ‘La Fleur’ – or ‘the flower’ – such is jasmine’s importance.

 

  • Even though jasmine may not be listed in the pyramid of ingredients, chances are there’s a touch in there somewhere; it’s one of the most widely-used ingredients in perfumery.

 

  • The name itself is Persian, meaning ‘a gift from God’.

 

  • In Persia, Ancient Greece and Egypt, jasmine’s healing powers were already recognised: aromatherapists still use it for improving digestion, weight loss, accelerating the metabolism – and for its aphrodisiac effects…

 

  • There are actually over 200 species of jasmine – but two members of the beautiful white-flowered family are prized above others, by perfumers. The first is Jasminum grandiflorum – which translates as ‘big-flowered jasmine’. The other is Jasmine sambac, a.k.a. ‘Arabian jasmine’ (something of a misnomer, since it originated in southeast Asia).

 

  • Jasmine actually originated in China and India and – who knew? – is a member of the olive family.

 

 

The lifecycle of Arabian jasmine – from Wikipedia.org

 

 

The website jardineriaon.com gives a delightful recounting of some of the mythology surrounding jasmine, including this tale…

 

‘…the meaning of the jasmine flower occupies an important space within Arab mythology. In this mythology it is said that a beautiful young nomad whose name was Jasmine used large amounts of veils to protect herself from the harmful sun rays that are in the desert. A prince belonging to a North African race was fascinated by Jasmine’s beauty as people described her. In order to find out if that woman was real or not, he marched through the desert in search of her. This is when he found her walking among the desert sands and dunes and was able to observe her graceful demeanour.

The bearing was so graceful and reminded him of mythological goddesses and fell madly in love with her, even though she always kept her face covered. The prince proposed to her soon after, and the woman agreed to live in his palace and leave the desert. However, with the passage of time, he realised that he was not from and since he had lost freedom when leaving the desert. For this reason, in one night she escaped mounted on a horse and returned to the desert where she belonged. She opened her arms to the sun and released all the veils that enveloped her. It is then that the sun decided to immortalise it in the beautiful flower that is known today as jasmine.’

It’s extraordinary that a single plant can smell so different, depending on where it’s grown. The genius of perfumers is knowing just what they have to do, to blend those into perfectly constructed scents for us to wear – and on this (scented) note, we’ll be following up with the perfect jasmine fragrance suggestions in the weeks to come.

 

 

Jasmine enfleurage

 

 

For thousands of years, though, jasmine’s precious scent has been naturally extracted for perfumes through enfleurage – a lengthy and labour-intensive process whereby countless flowers are pressed into layers of fat, gradually the scent impregnating the fat with each new layer of the blooms, from which it could eventually be extracted.

 

Observe
the jasmine lightness
of the moon.

— William Carlos Williams

 

When the solvent evaporates from the mass of petals, what’s drained off is a semi-solid mass known as a ‘concrete’:a wax-like substance with a long shelf life; and a whopping 400 kilos of flowers are needed for just one kilo of that concrete. That translates at around 8,000 hand-picked blooms to produce one millilitre (1 ml) of the ‘absolute’ – which is why it’s so extraordinarily expensive.

But jasmine can also be recreated synthetically with other aroma chemical versions of white flowers and added ingredients to create an ‘accord’ (though perfumers and connoisseurs will always explain that the real stuff is the best, as far as jasmine’s concerned, and why fragrance houses who use it are so keen to share their scented stories).

 

The smell of jasmine makes people tell their secrets.

Jandy Nelson

 

Seducing writers, artists, poets and perfume-lovers, alike; there’s no doubt that your nose needs to get know jasmine, intimately. So, watch this space in the coming days and weeks for even more jasmine-centric scented facts, history and fragrance suggestions…

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Powder to the people: the many moods of iris

A rather unprepossessing looking root with a heavenly, suede-like aroma, iris is one of the most costly of fragrance ingredients – adored by perfumers for generations, but shaking off the unfair ‘grandma’s talcum powder’ reputation it perhaps once was cloaked by, now being championed by ultra-cool niche brands for a new era of purple passion.

Curiosity combined with ingenuity altered the history of perfume forever. Who exactly was the first person rootling around in the earth beneath the gloriously flowering iris, discovering the fleshy, creeping rootstocks (known as rhizomes) that look for all the world like the key ingredient in a fairytale’s curse, and pondering, “what if…?” Taking those roots, putting them in a cave to age further (the older iris rhizomes get, the more pungent they become), and grinding, distilling and extracting the essence, only then does it transform into the uniquely powdery, skin-like, sometimes almost bread dough-esque scent that lingers and clings low to the skin for hours.

Lauded for centuries as a symbol of majestic power, dedicated to the goddess Juno and revered by Egyptians who placed the flowers on the brows of the Sphinx and scepters of kings – the three petals of the blossom supposedly representing faith, wisdom and valor. In both ancient Greece and Rome, orris root was already highly valued in perfumery, with fragrant unguents of iris widely used in Macedonia, Elis and Corinth, for which they became famous.

Iris fragrances can smell as sweetly innocent as freshly laundered linen, or hint at the siren call of the boudoir – lipstick, powdered skin and silken underthings that gradually take on the body scent of the wearer. This is an ingredient you’ll long to snuggle in the bosom of, and once truly appreciated you’ll never want to be without – a new religion, a way of life… Okay, I’ll go and lie on the chaise lounge for a bit (iris always makes me want to drape myself on plush furnishings, anyway).

I could wax lyrical about its myriad charms all day (and often do, to the delight of my friends), but I want you to go out and allow yourself to be enraptured by some of these suggestions. Join my iris cult  swathe yourself in one of these scents, showcasing the many moods of Iris

 

 

Refined Iris:

Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile eau de parfum – High society swanker subtly wearing amber necklace and oakmoss Chypre fur coat (with silk knickers).

Ormonde Jayne Vanille d’Iris eau de parfum – A rope of creamy pearls knotted over see-through silk blouse, delicately skin-warm from décolleté’s touch.

Prada Infusion d’Iris eau de parfum – Immaculate white shirt line-dried in Spring, crisp sheets on bare skin: the allure of clean linen waiting to be sullied.

Xerjoff Irisss eau de parfum Warm bread roll joyously ripped asunder and secretly slathered with butter; face re-powdered, pink pout re-applied.

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie – Chaste kiss from cool blonde of the Hitchcock ilk, wearing lipstick too expensive to smudge on plebs and silk stockings you’ll never see.

 

 

Romantic Iris:

4160 Tuesdays Paradox eau de parfum – Thunderously moody walk in a storm; wrapped in cashmere stole sucking violet pastilles on a comfy sofa, temper’s becalmed.

E Coudray Iris Rose eau de toilette – A silk wedding dress on a velvet hanger, lovingly stroked by thoughtful bride-to-be at a vintage fair. Loved again.

Huitieme Art Parfums Naiviris eau de parfum – Searingly hot love letters liberally dusted with rice powder, sealed with red wax, smuggled in the spicy cargo of a ship’s belly.

Penhalligon’s Iris Prima eau de parfum – Ballerina’s farewell performance, a lithe curtsey as the curtain drops, feathers scatter the stage, tears of joy mingled with makeup.

Aerin Iris Meadow eau de parfum – Expensive bouquet tied with silk ribbons, nestled in a jam-jar on a bedroom window-sill, the handwritten card beckoning smiles.

 

 

Bohemian Iris:

Atelier Cologne Silver Iris Cologne absolue – A purple velvet gypsy-style skirt’s hem dampened by dew, pale wrists loaded with bangles, reaching for blackberries on a misty morning.

L’artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha eau de parfum – Temple stones cool beneath bare feet, chai tea sipped on a verdant mountain’s terrace, distant bells deeply resonating.

Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Iris Bleu Gris eau de parfum – Freshly laundered sheets cannot hide the masculine scent of a Dandy’s midnight visit, still lingering in the sunlit room.

Sentifique Dangereuse eau de parfum – Chanteuse shuns cold weather, languidly stretching golden limbs on tropical sun-lounger, coconut ice cream drips on hot skin.

Vancleef & Arpels Bois d’Iris eau de parfum – Free spirits chasing rainbows, lovers of lemon sorbets, cashmere stoles & black tea sipped from vintage china cups.

 

 

Bad-gal Iris:

Etat Libre d’Orange Bendelirious eau de parfum – Wild child starlet swigging Champagne while chewing cherry-flavoured gum, emerging chaotically from rock gig’s dry ice.

Parfumerie Générale Private Collection Cuir d’Iris eau de parfum – Leather-bound prayer book stolen from church, smeared with face powder fingerprints. Chocolate-covered illicit kisses confessed.

Juliette Has a Gun Citizen Queen eau de parfum – Ms. Capulet rescues herself from tragedy by ignoring poison, a flirty heroine in floral basque and leather jeans.

Miller Harris Terre d’Iris eau de parfum – Hidden doorway leads to secret library, furtive fumblings among dusty tomes, her husband’s brother a better lover.

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre eau de parfum – Smiling seductress imbued with moral turpitude, impatiently tapping manicured fingernails on glass-topped cocktail cabinet.

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Get ready for sandalwood’s snuggles

Suddenly our duvets have become irresistible and those opaque tights have made their appearance from the back of the drawer. Along with cashmere cardis and hot toddies replacing the t-shirts and G&Ts (okay, we actually haven’t quite given up G&Ts), so our fragrance tastes tend to swing toward something warmer – a snuggle in a bottle that helps you get out of bed in the morning and comforts you throughout the day.

Sandalwood-rich perfumes are great ones to look for in the autumnal months or colder climates, offering a smooth creaminess that clings to the skin like a cashmere blanket – a poncho made from perfume. Yes we may sometimes wish to be pepped up with a citrus blast every now and again, even on a chilly day; but the majority of us here at TPS Towers are longing for something to snuggle into, and sandalwood as a dominant note definitely fits that bill.

In our just-published Couture edition of The Scented Letter Magazine, my leading feature seeks out ‘The sensational history of sandalwood‘, looking into versatility of this ingredient, and finding out just why perfumers (and perfume-wearers) love it so. But the topic is so vast, I really wanted to give you even more sandalwood-filled snippets, and urge you to swathe yourself in sandalwood scents you already love, or to think about getting seriously cosy with something sandalwood-y and new to you…

Some sandalwood facts:

Sandalwood is used in the base of up to 50% of feminine fragrances.

Supremely versatile, it blends exquisitely with clove, lavender, geranium, jasmine, galbanum, frankincense, black pepper, jasmine and patchouli (among others).

It works as a ‘fixative’, tethering other ingredients and keeping them ‘true’, in a composition.

So many sandalwood trees have been cut down in India, largely for production of perfume and incense – often illegally harvested, because it’s such a valuable commodity – that it’s become endangered.

The good news is that plantations in Australia are now coming on-stream, producing (santalum spicatum) sandalwood oil of high quality – to the relief of ‘noses’ (and conservationists.)

A wide range of synthetic sandalwood-like ingredients are now used in place of this at-risk wood, to give a similarly smooth milkiness (see below for our guide)…

The synthetics now available for perfumer’s to expand their palette is now fairly extensive. With the cost of Mysore (often considered the best quality, and the most endangered) sandalwood increasing approximately 25% per year, you can understand why many fragrance brands are choosing to use these aroma-chemicals, for cost-effective (would you continue to buy a favourite fragrance if it doubled in price every four years?) as well as conservation reasons.

In my magazine feature, indie perfumer, and founder of 4160 Tuesdays, Sarah McCartney, explains why synthetic sandalwood is so vital for perfumers – and how most people asked to compare natural and synthetic sandalwood side-by-side in a blind smelling, will confidently declare those synthetics to ‘definitely be the natural’ wood. So generally, ‘…if you have sandalwood listed in the notes, it will either be accompanied by its synthetic sisters, or replaced entirely.’ Among these synthetics we have:

Beta santalol – considered to be one of the most ‘nature identical’ of sandalwood notes, this imparts the comforting creamy snuggle we expect.
Polysantol – formerly trademarked by Firmenich , it has herbal depth with just a touch of filth for the animalic scent lovers out there. Realistic enough in a composition, it also has great lasting power.
Levosandol  – by Takasago is shot through with tang of dry cedar-like notes for an overall woodiness.
Ebanol – a Givaudan trademark, is remarkably rich and surprisingly potent. The snuggle that just keeps going.
Fleursandol – by Symrise, this one has a lightly floral character beneath the dominant, life-like sandalwood note.
Try sandalwood in these beauties…

But McCartney also reminds us that many naturals also ‘replace’ or snuggle up to natural sandalwood in fragrances, ‘One good natural substitute is amyris essential oil,’ she continues. ‘Mine is from Haiti and smells closer to aged Mysore oil than my Australian or modern Indian sandalwood. Amyris is known as Hatian sandalwood, but is a different species. Sandalwood has strength and richness but never overpowers or forces its way through a composition.’

David Moltz, perfumer and co-founder of cult niche house D.S. & Durga agress on this so-special charcteristic of sandalwood, explaining, ‘Though long-lasting and incredibly umami for a wood, its overall throw is soft. So it’s persistent but never overpowers other oils.’ Personally, he likes to mix the types of sandalwood he uses, depending on what he’s trying to achieve, so he uses ‘…a bunch of different sandalwoods. In the D.S. fragrance, I used top-grade Sri Lankan sandalwood which is the closest we have to the fabled and ethically challenged Mysore varietal from south India.’

Whichever character of sandalwood you choose, it’s just perfect to embrace on chillier, grey days – so do have a look for some of these, and get ready to fully embrace sandalwood’s cosy sensuality…

Molten sandalwood and cedar melds with warm amber, a wispy jasmine that fluffs itself up around ghost lily, waxy magnolia and narcotic ylang ylang. It all dries down to the most glorious pepper speckled honey for a ‘your skin but better’ daily cuddle. Self-care in a bottle.
Estée Lauder Sensuous £56 for 50ml eau de parfum
theperfumeshop.com

 

 

Like burying yourself in a boyfriend’s favourite jumper, textural layers of pink pomelo, ginger and green lemon brush against soft lavender and jasmine whispers. Finally, skin’s wrapped in that comforting sandalwood, with birch, oak, patchouli and musk. Sans boyfriend? I think this amply replaces many.
Missoni Parfum Pour Homme from £33 for 30ml eau de parfum
thefragranceshop.co.uk

Distant recollections of being warm without woollen undergarments evoked with the delectable creaminess of iris butter swirled into sandalwood. It’s all blissfully relaxed limbs slathered in retro-smelling coconut suntan oil and a cool lick of vanilla ice-cream. Thanks for the memories…
Juliette Has a Gun Sunny Side Up £110 for 100ml eau de parfum
harveynichols.com

 

A handsome (completely unisex, we think) scent that’s crisp as a tall G&T (told you we were clinging on) at first, then sinks beguilingly to a dandyish clove, cardamom and nutmeg-laden heart and the softness of sandalwood and vanilla muskiness beyond.
Floris Santal £80 for 100ml eau de toilette
florislondon.com

 

A sacred signal to the Gods, incense billows through saffron’s golden glow, precious frankincense swirled amidst a plush heart of rose absolute, smooth sandalwood soothing you like a whisper on a breeze of translucent white musk. Wearing it feels like knowing the very soul of perfume – ‘per fumum’ meaning ‘through smoke’.
Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire Rêve d’Encens £260 for 125ml eau de parfum
harrods.com

Written by Suzy Nightingale

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

Leather's the traditional gift for a third anniversary – so to celebrate our birthday, here are leather fragrances to lust over…

For each year of marriage, a gift based on differing materials is traditionally given – we all know diamond and ruby celebrations, but did you know the third year is symbolised by leather, which has come to represent the durability of marriage?
We’re actually celebrating our third birthday all month, here at The Perfume Society, but we’re certainly wedded to our love of fragrance and in any case it’s a marvellous excuse to lust over our favourite leather scents. Of course leather and perfumery go way back together ç hand in scented glove, you may say…
The links are rooted in the tradition of the ‘gantier parfumeurs’, a guild of glove-makers in Paris who fashioned gloves for royalty and the aristocracy as far back as the 15th Century.  The whole tanning process smells utterly repulsive, though, so leathers were treated with oils, musk, civet and ambergris, to mask the smell of the animals’ skins. The very first ‘leather’ scent, so far as records show, was worn by King George IIICreed’s Royal English Leather.  He was so taken with the smell of scented gloves that he asked Creed to make it into a fragrance, and thus a whole fragrance family was born.

Fragrances can be ‘leathery’ but not always easy to love – yet it’s not really essence-of-leather in that bottle, as Andy Tauer explains below.  It might be from birch tar (which has a leathery smokiness), or juniper, aldehydes or other synthetics, designed to give a skin-like scent. Patchouli, black tea and tobacco can also conjure up that old library/leather-jacket sensuality.  Women’s chypres, and men’s fragrances, are most likely to have a leathery sensuality, but perfumers can take leather on all sorts of fragrant journeys:  woody, aromatic, floral, even gourmand.

Here’s what leather means to perfumer Andy Tauer, and how he uses it in his creations. ‘The first association, when you tell me “leather”, honestly, is “Swiss Army” and me serving there as soldier: my generation had the privilege of serving in thick leather shoes that were made to endure a Swiss invasion of Moscow, including the way back. Solid and as uncomfortable as can be. Every evening we had to brush them, polish them. As mixed as my memories of proudly serving in the Swiss Army are, I loved the scent of my leather boots. Rough leather, made from Swiss cows, with a thickened skin due to a happy but rough life in the Alps (we can dream, can’t we?). Leather in perfumery is not a natural essential oil that you buy.’
Reminiscent of a favourite, battered biker jacket, curling up on a Chesterfield sofa or surrounded by leather-clad tomes in the library of your dreams – bedecked with flowers for a feminine balance or positively exuding a snarl, we urge you to explore and indulge leather fragrances with a few of our favourites, below…

The Queen of feminine leathers, originally created by Ernest Daltroff in 1919 for (shockingly, at the time) women who smoked. A refined descent in to layers of leather powdered with tobacco and carnation, through lime blossom, ylang ylang and iris – then deeper down to a bone-dry vetiver and ambergris base that lingers like a slap’s tingle. Think furtive cigarettes smoked in a leather-clad starlet’s dressing room amidst mounds of maribou feather boas.
Caron Tabac Blond £105 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Fortnum & Mason

A classic American image of a cowboy sipping coffee by a campfire after a long day on the saddle, Andy re-imgines this scenario in a delightfully ambiguous way. Seasoned leather is richly infused with smoke from the fire, an intriguing hint of carrot seed that almost seems iris-y with geranium juxtaposed by clary sage, jasmine with vetiver, and a myrrh-rich tonka dry down. Beaneath the bluster, this cowboy reads poetry and weeps openly.
Andy Tauer Lonestar Memories £90 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Les Senteurs

A hyper-sophisticated chypre blends warming saffron with iced raspberries plucked straight from a cocktail glass garnished with thyme. Richly resinous olibanum sinks in to heady clouds of night blooming jasmine and the smooth leather seats of an expensive car. Suggestive of the nefarious limousine antics of A-List celebrities involving chocolate-dipped fruit and cigars.
Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather £155 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at House of Fraser
The sense of black ink languidly swirling through opalescent water with soul-warming West Indian spiced rum intermingling with leather-bound books lining a library wall and the immediately evocative notes of vanilla pipe tobacco all following the trail of a dark heart laden with birch tar and labdanum. This is truly a fragrance with a story to tell…
BeauFort London Coeur de Noir £95 for 50ml eau de parfum
Buy it at BeauFort London

Deceptively nonchalant, this is a leather to wear when you want it to be your saucy little secret rather than up front and personal for all to see (and smell). The leather here is subtly slipped in to a bouquet of roses, with a background of lime, pink pepper, clary sage, juniper and a rounded, woody base. We see this spritzed by a Gallic muse sipping a G&T, who enjoys communicating via exaggerated pouts and deftly arched eyebrows.
MEMO French Leather £195 for 75ml eau de parfum
Buy it at Harvey Nichols
Written by Suzy Nightingale

Marvellous mandarin – the citrus scent to cheer

Mandarin somehow seems the most user-friendly of citrus ingredients: not in-your-face fresh as lemon and lime, nor tenaciously zesty as orange, it’s a happy-making scent linked to fortune and good luck in Chinese culture and reminder of happy childhood memories, for others.
Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays shared her thoughts with us on mandarin:  ‘It’s childhood Christmases for me. I’d use more of it except that citrus fruit essential oils are restricted these days, and I almost always want to get some grapefruit in there too. It has more character than sweet orange; it seems naughtier to me. It’s a special treat and it’s packed with sunshine. Oddly enough, I find that my customers describe certain synthetic fragrances as ‘fresh and natural’. Tangerine is one of the genuine natural fragrances that has the same effect. It’s light and flighty though, so it works as a top note then flits off, leaving an impression but not hanging around to be judged. Mandarin works nicely as long as you don’t mind its lack of commitment!’
And were you one of the original Aqua Manda mandarin fantatics, or a newcomer to the happily revived – by consumer demand – brand? Perhaps the iconic affordable scent of the 60s and 70s, its sweetly zingy fragrance of mandarin infused with ginger, lavender, patchouli, cinnamon, eucalyptus, tarragon and juniper berries spelled grooviness abounding, and a surge of interest in mandarin as a note in perfumery. Sunshine-y in a laid-back way, it’s the perfect note to explore for summer…
 
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Read more about mandarin and other fragrances to explore this ingredient in our dedicated Ingredients section of the website – what are some of your favourite notes – or perhaps it’s time to branch out and try something new…?
Written by Suzy Nightingale