Winter Rouge

The samples of Winter Rouge and Tabanesque by Eternal Scents | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

The samples of Winter Rouge and Tabanesque by Eternal Scents | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

I put my Christmas tree up the other day. The days are drawing in and the bite in the air is announcing that the winter solstice is just around the corner. Soon, we’ll have the mountain tops capped with snow. In the campo, the red leaves are feebly clinging onto the grape vines and just as the reminder of the past autumn days, the remaining poplar leaves are gleaming gold in the early evening light. When I walk down the village streets, all I can smell is the smoke from the burning logs. Winter is here.

The heavy blue-grey clouds have been lingering over us for over a week and I’ve been feeling rather lethargic and contemplative. So many questions with no answers keep filling my head and, just like the heavy winter sky, I cannot seem to break free from them. To shake off my low mood, I wandered up to my dresser and picked up a small bottle of perfume. I traced my finger along the contour of the bottle, and then hesitantly unscrewed the golden top.

I dubbed a drop on my wrist; immediately, intoxicating tuberose scent swirled up in the air. Tantalising dance of flowers was joined and intertwined with the warm opulent balsams, giving somewhat musky, velvety feel to the floral notes. The richness and the warmth of this fragrance captivate me every time when I open this bottle and, somehow, it always brings me back to the time when we were living in Egypt; especially the narrow, maze like streets of Khan el-Kalili where I enjoyed walking around so much.

Khan el-Khalili, Egypt | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Khan el-Khalili, Egypt | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

So many memories started unfolding as the scent developed; the voice and the smile of someone I so long for, the places we visited together, and the conversations we had… I knew this would happen.

I’ve won Winter Rouge by Eternal Scents from the giveaway hosted by the Sorcery of Scent blog back in April and wanted to review it in the wintertime for its warm quality. But now the cold season is here, I feel reluctant to dissect it into pieces. Some scents are special to each person for their own unique reasons; they might be better left alone.

This perfume, to me, is the intersection between joy and sorrow. While I rejoice this fragrance as I celebrate life, the memories that woven into this fragrance still torment me. (See my earlier post.)

I just hope, some day, I can wear Winter Rouge with full of joy… not with tears.


Winter Rouge is created by Rafael and Sharon Rodriguez, Eternal Scent.

The notes: Narcissus, Tuberose, Tahitian Gardenia, Tolu Balsam, Cedarwoods and plant Musks. (Official notes according to Eternal Scents website.)

It is available in 5ml Perfume Oil, AU$ 239.95.

Disclosure: I received the 3ml samples of Winter Rouge and Tabanesque from Eternal Scents as a giveaway prize hosted by Sorcery of Scent.

What others say: You can read a review on Sorcery of Scent.

Signature Scent

I was tidying up my stockpiled notes and folders and found an article titled “PERFUME TO MATCH GIRLS BY… FREDERIC MALLE by Kathleen Baird-Murray. I had no recollection of printing this article… Obviously I did so while I was in my usual scatterbrain mode and put it away to read later. The later came after several months.

Having read the article, it got me into the mood for filling out the Frederic Malle’s “Find Your Signature” questionnaire. Like many perfumistas, I love quite a few perfumes by FM and own a couple; it would be interesting to find out which one they think would fit for me. I got on to my laptop, went to the Editions De Parfums website and answered all the questions HONESTLY. A few days later, I received an email with the names of three fragrances.

Can you guess what they chose for me as my signature scent? The big Carnal Flower. They also suggested Portrait of A Lady and Musc Ravageur. Wow! I must say, they made me feel like a real gorgeous and irresistible diva! (Ha, I wish I was… In reality, it has nothing to do with my every day persona.)

Three perfumes chosen by Editions de Parfums -- Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Three perfumes chosen by Editions de Parfums — Photo by The Perfume Magpie

I must admit, I’m a floral girl. I love big white florals. So, naturally, I love Carnal Flower almost unconditionally. But out of these three choices, I would rather go for Portrait of A Lady. As it happens, Portrait of A Lady is already one of my “must have it around” fragrances. I can’t imagine running it out. Would I call it my signature scent though? Not really. In fact, as I get deeper and deeper into the abyss of fragrances, I’m moving further and further away from the concept of the signature scent.

When I was younger, I always wanted to have a signature scent. There was a time when I truthfully stuck to only one fragrance day after day. If I remember it correctly, it lasted only for a few months. I got so sick of smelling the same perfume every single day and eventually it got to the point where I didn’t want to smell it anymore. I had realised that having only one perfume would bore the heck out of me.

I love trying new perfumes; it’s endlessly fascinating. Moreover, I love choosing fragrances depending on the moods, seasons, occasions and what I wear – there are all sorts of reasons to wear a different one. I am a sort of person who values variations and changes in life.

There are so many articles about helping you find your signature scent and, naturally, so many perfume houses encourage you to choose one of theirs as your holy grail. Do any of you have a signature scent?  If you don’t have one yet, would you like to have one??

Love in Black by Creed: Review

Love in Black by Creed - Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Love in Black by Creed – Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

I like fragrances with a bit of shady nuance. I have to admit, that’s one of the reasons I tend to get drawn to the perfumes with “Black” or “Noir” in the name. Those words have got certain connotations, doesn’t it? Dark, mysterious, evocative, hidden, forbidden, and somewhat dangerous… Am I shallow? Maybe so. If I see a perfume with a somewhat dark sounding name, I feel compelled to try it. But so often, I get disappointed by the actual scent. Usually there’s just nothing dark or black about it. A lot of “Black” or “Noir” fragrances are just as light, pretty and airy as so many thousands of others and these words are just used as a marketing ploy. I know, I KNOW! But still…

Violet - Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Violet – Photo by The Perfume Magpie

When I decided to try Love in Black by Creed, I wasn’t holding high hopes for this one. I’m not a huge fan of Creed – having said that, I do love Green Irish Tweed, Silver Mountain Water, etc. – and wasn’t particularly impressed by the predecessor “Love in White“. The only reason I picked this one up was because of the listed note; Violet.

As some of you might have noticed, I’m obsessed with fragrances but that’s not the only thing I’m crazy about. I also have an obsession with violets. I’ve trekked up the Japan Alps, driven through the desert in the Middle East, and waded down the rivers just to see some flowering violets in their natural habitat. On my bookshelf, you’d find so many encyclopaedias and botanical reference books about genus Viola. So, the combination of Black and Violet, I knew I had to try Love in Black.

The first time when I sniffed this, I didn’t like it. It smelt decidedly synthetic and chemically. The perfume vial was thrown into my “sample chest” and has been forgotten for a long time. Then, just the other day, something prompted me to try Love in Black again. It must have been a divine inspiration from the goddess of perfumes. (By the way, the Egyptian cat-headed goddess Bast or Bastet, perfumed protector, is regarded as the goddess of perfumes.)

Lovers - Photo borrowed from Favim

Lovers – Photo borrowed from Favim

This time, I couldn’t believe why I didn’t like this one in the first place. The opening was a little harsh for my liking but it settled nicely within minutes and turned velvety & earthy violet fragrance entwined with iris and blackcurrant. The cedarwood and musk undertones are comfortable and attractively enhancing the dark creaminess of this scent. Somewhere in the background, I could smell very faint rose but it never came out strongly. It is unique – to say the least. Feminine? Yes. But the drydown can be described as unisex. It’s filled with contrasting aspects.

Love in Black was created, inspired by the former US first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. To me, Love in Black smells like a scent of hidden love. It is a sort of love, not celebrated out in the open, and kept secret from the prying eyes but nonetheless, the love the lovers feel is so real, undeniable and pure. Akin to the afterglow of the love on the edge of the dark night, the sweet but somewhat dry afternote lingered on my skin for a long time.

I’ve worn Love in Black quite a few times since. Am I smitten by Love in Black? It is indeed a dark and sweet fragrance I should like, and I would like to say yes. But, each time when I wear this fragrance, I sway between certainty and uncertainty; I can’t help feeling a certain degree of ambivalence.

The Notes : Top note –  Night-blooming wildflowers from the Greek isles where she wed; Violet from Italy, where she later visited; Virginia cedar. Middle note - Iris from Florence, a favorite city; Clove; Tonkin musk. Base note - Blackcurrant from Bourgogne in her beloved France, where her ancestors were born; Bulgarian rose (Official notes according to Creed Website.)

It is available in 75ml Eau de Parfum, £165.00 from Creed.

Disclosure: Review is based on a sample I purchased.

Storm and Blue Encens Review

Blue Encens by Comme des Garçons | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Blue Encens by Comme des Garçons | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

The weather has been really freaky here. Peaches and apricots are nearly finished and blackberries are in full bloom; all the indications of summer are everywhere. But it snowed. The last Sunday of May, we were having a paella party at my friend’s casita on the foot of the mountain, enjoying the view, fresh air, lovely food, plenty of wine & beer and the conversations with friends. Then the storm clouds gathered over the valley. The lightning started flashing criss-cross the sky and tearing it apart, the thunder ripping through the air, the rain coming down in sheets and the hailstones bouncing off the ground… It turned so cold and by the time we got back to our village, the olive groves were covered with the thin layer of snow. Who would have expected that!

Ray of Light | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Ray of Light | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

As I walked into my bedroom after having a hot shower to warm up, I noticed the silver and blue packet sitting on my dresser and it looked just like the stormy sky outside. It was a sample of Blue Encens by Comme des Garçons I’d been meaning to try. I hadn’t done it so only because of my prejudice against the word “blue”.

I like blue as a colour. In fact, it’s one of my favourite colours to wear and I got all shades of blue hanging in my wardrobe. Just when the word “blue” associated with perfume, it tends to mean Aquatic perfumes or Sport fragrances and I get a bit sceptical… Somehow, “cheap”, “generic” and “boring” jump into my mind. I know it’s a prejudice against “blue” fragrances but, please tell me, have you come across anything mainstream from this category that you actually enjoy wearing?

Mountain in the Evening Light | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Mountain in the Evening Light | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Two sprays on my wrist, I wanted to apologies to Comme des Garçons. Blue Encens is actually a unique and delightful incense fragrance. The opening is spicy with cardamom and pepper and, yes, incense. Mind you, it’s not one of those smoky and heavy incense; it’s airy and kind of fresh. There’s a slight, somewhat pungent note lurking on the background and I guess it’s cinnamon. It’s not unpleasant and it adds to the lightness of this fragrance. After a while, the sharp spiciness subsides and it becomes herbal and “bluish” incense; it’s cool, radiant and icy, like an alpine meadow surrounded by permanent snow or glacier. The drydown is very different to the opening; it’s soft with a touch of amber. It lasted on my skin for 5 hours.

Blue Encens is smooth and sexy in androgynous way. I like the divergent qualities which this fragrance brings out.  It’s quite wearable and pleasurable.

The Notes : Crisp aromatic Artemisia, frozen spices (Indian cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon), mystical incense, mineral amber crystals (Official notes according to Comme des Garçons Website)

According to Fragrantica, Blue Encens is a Unisex, Aromatic Spicy fragrance and it is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum, £80.00. It was launched in 2013 and the fragrance was created by Evelyne Boulanger.

Disclosure: Review is based on a sample I received from Comme des Garçons.

Androgynous

Androgynous | Photo borrowed from Tush Magazine

Ylang Ylang

Zanzibar: photo by thinkingmagpie

Zanzibar | My own photo

I was sitting at a beach side café, enjoying the gentle sea breeze and the sight of fishing boats gliding through the calm, turquoise blue water. Not many tourists were around. The local shop owners were all concerned about the backlash of the recent Arab Spring which took place throughout the region. “Not many tourists come here now. They are all afraid.” Drinking coffee in this kind of tranquil setting, you could almost forget the troubles sweeping through this small Indian Ocean Island.

Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang

As I stood up to pay, I caught a delicate sweet whiff of something from the garden. Being obsessed with plants and fragrances, I trotted to the source of the smell to find out what it was. There, among the lush green tropical plants, was a small tree with greenish yellow flowers. I immediately recognised it as Ylang Ylang; the Flower of Flowers.

Any of us “perfume nuts” knows Ylang Ylang. It plays an important role in Chanel No. 5, Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps, Estee Lauder Amber Ylang Ylang, Givenchy Ysatis to name a few. Its warm and sensual quality has been admired by many perfumers throughout decades.

Ylang Ylang’s sweet, earthy floral aroma is comforting and calming, yet it has got seductive and alluring sides to it. It’s not surprising that it’s been identified as an embodiment of the Goddess, or the Divine Feminine in some cultures.

“She is love combined with power, creating the potential for a more powerful love and a more loving power. She is also joy and love of life, particularly life as we experience it through the Earth and her cycles. We live in a beautiful physical world, and in order to survive in it and fulfil our birthright of enjoying ourselves here, we must reclaim the Goddesses and myths which celebrate life and its cycles.”

The author Hallie Iglehart Austen says in the Introduction of her book; The Heart of the Goddess. The Goddess is another word for Love; physical, emotional and spiritual.

In some parts of the world, Ylang Ylang oil has been used in love potions to attract the opposite sex. Some believe it to be the best aphrodisiac, as it induces feelings of warmth and sensuality. It also finds its place in tantric ritual and sex magic as a calming agent that helps lower inhibitions and gives an erotic atmosphere to enrich the whole experience. Its properties to alleviate depression and anxiety, while relax the body and induce the feelings of joy are well documented in Aromatherapy as well.

Stone Town, Zanzibar | My own photo

Stone Town, Zanzibar | My own photo

After leaving the café with some Ylang Ylang flowers from the tree, I called in one of the gift shops in Stone Town to buy an Ylang Ylang soliflower solid perfume which I’d been eyeing for some time. It was cheap, contained only locally produced Ylang Ylang oil and coconut oil. It’s been over a year since we left the place but, whenever I smell this, I can still see the bright colours of flowers, ocean and flowing women’s kanga, and brings me back to the 4 months we spent in the island of Zanzibar.

Suggestions?

I’m still looking for a divine Ylang Ylang perfume. I’m currently yearning for Yin & Ylang by Sonoma Scent Studio to try. Do you have any suggestion or recommendation for other Ylang Ylang perfume?