Magpie Goes To Esxence: Part 2

Magpie Goes To Esxence: Part 2

Can you believe it? Magpie actually smelled at least 160 perfumes in 3 days. | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie


Toward the end of Day 2, I finally met Megan from Megan In Sainte Maxime in front of Nishane stand. Megan was such a lovely bubbly person. Wish we had more time to catch up! Originally I thought it shouldn’t be difficult to find someone in the same building but I was so wrong. I was hoping to have some chat time with Jakub from Persefume and  a few more perfume people as well but finding someone there turned out to be an impossible mission like trying to find a black cat in the moonless night.

After saying goodbye to everyone on Day 1 and Day 2, my Day 3 started with meeting Miya Shinma from Miya Shinma Parfums. I visited her stand at 10:30 and I guess I left there around 12:00-ish. It was great to have good chats about perfume in Japanese for a change. Miya was elegant and warm, and so were her perfumes. I needed to try Yuki (snow) since we share the same name and I was quite surprised by her interpretation of snow. Yuki was kind of snug and luminous at the same time, and I rather like its woody & musky drydown. All of Miya’s creations reflect her feelings towards nature. Other favourites of mine were Tsubaki (Camellia) and Tsuki (Moon).

Next stop was Extrait d’Atelier. I instantly fell in love with the concept of this new brand. As the brand name suggests, perfumes by Extrait d’Atelier poetically illustrate the ateliers of craftsmen, and Chiara Ronzani certainly captured the essence of such workshops in 3 new releases: Maitre Chausseur, Maitre Couturier, and Maitre Joaillier. My favourite was Maitre Chausseur with comfortable incense and leather.

They didn’t have anything new but I had a quick stop at Orlov to try a few I hadn’t had a chance to sniff before. Star of the Season was truly gorgeous and it was the winner for me; a perfect combination of sandalwood, rose, iris, and vanilla. It definitely has a Dominique Ropion feel.

Anatole Lebreton was another new discovery (to me). He is a fascinating guy, not to mention his lovely smiles, he used to be on stage, selling imported tea, blogged about vintage perfumes, and then self taught himself to create perfumes. I tried all four of his line: Bois Lumière, L’Eau de Merzhin, L’Eau Scandaleuse, and the newest Incarnata. All of them are totally different to each other but have solid shared back bones – daring and artistic. One biggest aspect I really enjoyed about his creations was imageries his perfumes evoked – especially Bois Lumière.  Honey is the dominant note in Bois Lumière but it doesn’t give out sticky sweet vibes thanks to other aromatic notes. This, to me, was the smell of Spanish countryside in summer – hundreds of bees buzzing over wildflowers and the hot air carrying the smells of trees and browning grass baked in the scorching sun… It made me feel like doing oil painting again.

After visiting this relatively new perfume brand Anatole Lebreton (since 2014), I went back in time over 200 years and stopped at Rancé 1795 (yes, since 1795). Their classic and vintage looking bottles were so attractive and I expected their perfumes to be also vintage-ish.  I was quite wrong.  They smelled relatively current and contemporary in style – in good ways. I need to revisit some samples again soon.

Coming back from my little time travel, I embarked on a different kind of olfactory tour at Olibere. I visited Rome, Bali, Kuala-Lumpur, and Istanbul through their  5 perfumes: Il Mio Segreto, Balinesque, Escapade a Byzance, Midnight Spirit, and Paradis Lointains. Olibere created these perfumes in collaboration with Bertrand Duchaufour and Amelie Bourgeois, and each one is accompanied by a mini film. I was most taken to Balinesque as I liked its energising opening with ginger, orchid, cardamom, and bamboo. I also had a little sniff of the not-yet-released 6th perfume. This new one will be released in September coinciding with the Fragrance in Motion Awards during Milano Film Festival.

My next stop was M. Micallef. Last year’s release Akowa was a great hit, and now they present a new perfume called Osaïto. The perfume was in a similar stylish bottle to Akowa, only in grey. The opening of Osaïto was bright with plenty of citrus, then slightly spicy herbal notes stepped forward. This would be rather nice in summer.

I dropped by Atelier Flou’s stand. No new releases but recently they changed their bottle design.This new design was inspired by 19th century inkwells and the gold or silver latticework encasing the bottle looked pretty impressive. I have to admit, I was quite drawn to this decadent looking bottle. I own samples of women’s line but never had the opportunity of trying men’s line, so  I decided to go through all five. I liked Amarcord most; it was spicy and incense-y.

Of course I had to visit Renegades. Three kings of the perfumedom — Mark Buxton, Geza Schoen, and Bertrand Duchaufour — contributed a perfume each to this project. Everything was different with Renegades;  nameless perfumes and quirky bottles. OK, the bottles were not my cup of tea but the idea was fun. Unfortunately samples were all gone by the time I got there, so I had to sniff them out there and then. They all seemed to feature pink pepper but in different styles to each other. Hail the Master Perfumers.

Malbrum extended their eclectic line even further. Now on top of original three Psychotrope, Shameless Seducer, and Tigre Du Bengale, they added new Bagheera, Safariyah, and Wildfire. While I was listening to the hunk Creative Director Kristian Hilberg talking about the concept behind his perfume line, I was thinking that he looked kind of like a well polished version of Crocodile Dundee. No, I didn’t mention it to him. This line strongly reflected his “air” and looks.

Bali is the island I would go back in a heartbeat. The little baskets of offerings were one of the first things I fell in love with while I was wandering around the streets of Bali. Une Nuit à Bali’s 5th perfume Murmure des Dieux was these Balinese offerings in a bottle; gentle scents of frangipani, jasmine, some spices were entwined with a very noticeable rice note.

If you think Le Galion as a stylish and sophisticated older brother, Aether Parfums is a geeky, modern-day younger sibling. Aether is a contemporary perfume brand that uses synthetic molecules only. Among 5 of their new releases, surprisingly I rather liked Rose Alcane. It was an airy metallic rose.

Toward the end of the day, I had a pleasure of meeting Abderrazzak Benchaâbane from Les Parfums du Soleil. He is an ethnobotanist, a photographer, and a perfumer and I’ve been fascinated by him as a person since these are the fields I’m also into. He was a soft spoken gentleman in his signature hat and didn’t look too comfortable being at Esxence. To be honest, his stand had a totally different air to the others. He didn’t have anything new and had only one perfume on display – Soir de Marrakech. It was simply beautiful — not fussy, an unadorned beauty.

As it was getting close to the end of Esxence 2016, I headed for a few more stands for quick sniffing sessions before the show ended. I tried Atelier des Ors, Sammarco (I was quite taken to Ariel and Bond-T), Antonio Alessandria (classic and opulent; I liked Noir Obscur and the last year’s release Fleurs et Flammes), Alchimista, Gri Gri, Cristinana Bellodi, and a few more but by this time, quite a few stands had already packed up and gone.

I decided to say goodbyes to Neela Vermeire, Nishane guys, Puredistance team, Tanja Bochnig,and other lovely perfume people I met in 3 days. I left The Mall with bagsfull of perfume samples and great scented memories.

The 8th Esxence is over and now a month has passed but I still haven’t sorted out all the perfume samples I received in Milan. I  guess I wasn’t at all prepared for the numbers of exhibitors there.

To give you some ideas, here are the official statistics of Esxence:
* 7.083 people, including operators and visitors, attended this show from 5 continents.
* 206 brands showcased their products (+25% comparing to 2015), of which20 were skincare & cosmetic brands attending the second edition of Esxkin – The Excellence of Beauty.
* 75% of the total number were the exhibitors.
* Exhibiting brands came from 17 Countries (Italy, France, UK, Spain, Germany, USA, United Arab Emirates, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Norway, Morocco, Denmark, Ireland, Turkey, Qatar).
*…and they all gathered in this more than 6.000sqm of exhibiting area in Milan.

On top of above official numbers, I should also add my own as well:
* According to my notes, I sniffed at least 160 perfumes in 3 days (which exclude the ones I tried at Campomarzio 70 and other perfume stores). I say “at least” because my note-taking wasn’t quite up-to-date.
* I sprayed only one perfume on my wrist at Esxence – which was Cierge de Lune.
* Brands I visited at Esxence were somewhere around 43 -46.

Well, I tell you, it was really an eye-opening experience.

Smile, smile, smile... What incredible 3 days! Even the coffee I had at the end of Day 3 reflected my feelings! | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Smile, smile, smile… What incredible 3 days! Even the coffee I had at the end of Day 3 reflected my feelings! | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Magpie Goes To Esxence: Part 1

Magpie sniffed a lot of perfumes in 3 days. Magpie didn't want to smell any perfume for 2 days after Esxence. | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Magpie sniffed a lot of perfumes in 3 days. Magpie didn’t want to smell any perfume for 2 days after Esxence. | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie


The first smell of Milan was manure. Sorry for the strange opening but that was the fact. On the Thursday evening, the last day of March, I was greeted by the familiar smell of countryside when I walked out of the airplane at Linate airport in Milan. It was a little ironic since the reason I travelled to Milan was to attend the 8th Esxence to smell and experience (hopefully) fantastic perfumes from all around the world. But, to be honest, I found some kind of weird comfort in this primordial smell.

If you are reading this blog, chances are you already know what Esxence is but for the sake of people who are not quite sure what it is – like I was a few years ago – here’s a little excerpt from the organiser:

Esxence – The Scent of Excellence, is an international appointment that cannot be missed by any brand name which operates, with passion and conviction, in promoting the marvellous art of olfactory language. It rises ever higher in determining the fundamental style choices of every person who likes to be noticed, relying upon the search for personal taste, who seeks expression by choosing between superb creations which are not made to please everyone, but to be admired in their intrinsic beauty by those who wish do so.

Esxence – The Scent of Excellence provides surroundings for examples of excellence from throughout the world, displayed together without competitive tensions, presented for those who are interested in listening, in savouring aromas, in understanding and enjoying stories, anecdotes and creative decisions, in courageous innovations and distributive consistency, so that each producer’s priceless olfactory taste can be best selected and chosen from among the finest creative excellence.

So, basically, it is an artistic perfumery event where you can talk to actual perfumers or directors in person and smell around hundreds of perfumes as you wish. At least that’s the case for perfume enthusiasts like me. For perfumers and perfume brands, it’s a little different story and more serious thing for their business, of course.

Because of my late arrival on Thursday, I missed the opening day of Esxence, but I had enough time to meet Val the Cookie Queen from Australian Perfume Junkies and the celebrated perfumer Vero Kern from .vero.profumo. Greeted them with big hugs but I bet I smelled disgraceful from travelling. And then I had a pasta dinner with Lucas from the Chemist in the Bottle, catching up with all sorts of things like old friends. Pretty good start, I’d say.


The next day, Esxence was heaving and totally mesmerising. I received my press pass at the entrance and went inside with Val, Vero, and Dr. Fox. It really was a sensible choice; otherwise I wouldn’t have known where to start! I was tottering behind them through the columns of people already gathering in front of each stand.

Before flying to Milan, I prepared a list of perfumes I wanted to try and perfume brands I wanted to visit in 4 categories;
the first priority – desperately want to smell and can’t go home without a sniff,
the second priority – after sweeping through the 1st priorities, let’s take a look,
the third priority – if there is time left, go around in a leisurely manner,
and the rest.
Also my strategy was to go easy on Day 1 and get my footing first – important for the survival – and then attack most of the brands on Day 2 & 3 and conquer Esxence.

I wouldn’t go on talking about every single thing I did or smelled. It’ll be a torture for you if you decide to read through. For this Part 1 of my Esxence report, I’ll just give you the overview of Esxence and some highlights of first 2 days. In the next post, I’ll cover Day 3.


Oud la la — Oud this, oud that. There were so many oud perfumes. I was so traumatised by oud while I was living in the Middle East, now when I see oud in the name of the brand or perfume or in notes, I flinch. I appreciate miniscule amount of oud in some perfumes but if it’s the main thing, that’s a no-go zone. Hence I walked pass most of the oud brands.

Déjà vu — Even though the perfume itself wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t outstanding or memorable. I guess it is difficult to come up with completely unique and good perfumes in this oversaturated perfume market.  I don’t blame them.

Bling Bling — There were quite a few flashy and gaudy bottles scattered around at Esxence. I was kind of frightened to touch them, so I didn’t venture into those stands to smell what was inside. They might have been great, who knows.

Showtime — Some really fancy displays caught my eyes while I was walking around. Usually these stands were surrounded by big crowds and, to give them credit, some of them looked pretty impressive. The only problem was that I didn’t have the patience to queue up to try their perfumes. I missed quite a few.

My way — Generally speaking, these were well established brands and already have their own styles and philosophies. They had more down to earth approach and, although they were happy to answer the questions and assist you, they didn’t seem to pay heed to their surroundings. Personally I liked them.

Charming Charmer — Energetic and full of life perfumers and assistants. Loved them. OK, it was supposed to be all about perfumes but I thoroughly enjoyed talking to them and listening to their stories. Even though some of their perfumes were not exactly my cup of tea, it was still delightful experience. Their enthusiasm was infectious.

Day 1 Highlights

There were two important things lined up for Day 1. One was to hang out with Val, Vero, and Dr. Fox and to visit Campomarzio 70, which I’m going to cover in another post but I still have to mention a few things here. Val was a real blast! Her oozing energy was like none other and, talking about energy, I was astonished by Vero. Have you seen her walking down the streets? In a few seconds, she can be out of your sight. Swift like a summer breeze.  Another amazing thing was the sense of direction Dr. Fox possesses. I have a pretty good sense too but mine is more like of a dozy pigeon. In the case of Dr. Fox, I have a strong suspicion that she has own GPS installed inside her. I had a brilliant time walking around with them.

Another big thing for the day was to meet Mary Gooding and Puredistance team. It was so great to see them finally in person! They were radiant and beautiful, perfect personifications of their perfume line. We had a good chat and talked a little bit more about their new perfume Sheiduna. Sheiduna will be released later this year and its representing colours are red and gold. But I can’t tell you anything more. I’m sworn to secrecy.😉

I also had a chat with Pauline Rochas from Coolife and it was fascinating to hear inspirational stories behind the creation of this perfume line. Each perfume represents individual chakra – the energy centre. So far 4 of their perfumes have been released, including the latest Le Quatrieme Parfum; it was smoky grounding scent and was really good.

At Maria Candida Gentile’s stand, I was introduced to her new Rrose Selavy. It was a rich and deep rose perfume containing different varieties of roses. Although I’m not a rose perfume person, I enjoyed it a lot. Rose lovers, check this one out.

Olivier Durbano was such a lovely guy and fun person to talk to. I loved his brilliant display of perfumes! He didn’t have new releases at Esxence but sounded like something would join his line later this year.

I visited Jardin D’Ecrivains toward the end of the day. I wanted to try some I hadn’t had a chance to sniff before. I don’t usually wear perfumes when I go to bed but I though La Dame aux Camelias – Night Cologne would be a great one if I did.

Day 2 Highlights

Day 2 had started with the lecture “New Fragrances: A ten-years Review, 2006 to 2015” by Michael Edwards. Then I embarked on my sniffing sessions with Lucas. At the Nishane stand, we split up for a while. Nishane was on my first priority list and I really wanted to try their 2 new perfumes: Fan Your Flames and Hundred Silent Ways. Don’t you love the names? I do. They are well composed and I liked both of them. Mert Güzel & Murat Katran were so approachable and with genuine smiles; fantastic guys. Since I mentioned “fantastic”, I need to tell you about Mark Buxton. He has been my puppy crush of the perfume world. My hawk (OK, magpie) vision spotted there was nobody at his stand, so I swiftly manoeuvred through the crowd and perched clutched onto his stand. How could I miss this opportunity? I tried his new A Day In My Life. It was so Mark Buxton. He revealed that this would be the last of his current line and he would move onto next projects. It was a delight to listen to him talking about background stories of his creations and his creative approaches. It really was GREAT!

Another one on my priority list was Au Pays de la Fleur d’Oranger. Virginie Roux warmly showed me around their collection and I tried quite a few including 2 new perfumes Liberté Bohème & Poudre de liberté. Violette Sacrée was another perfume that I wanted to try for a while, and finally I got the chance. I’m glad I did. This will certainly join one of my favourite violet perfumes.

Dusita is a sparkling new brand. I stopped at their stand to sniff 3 new releases – Issara, Melodie de l’Amour, and Oudh Infini – and chatted with the perfumer Pissara Umavijani for a quite long time while munching on Ferrero Rocher. All of her perfumes were inspired by her father’s poetry. On the strip, I thought my favourite was Melodie de l’Amour but I rather liked Issara when I tested on my skin. I’m not a big fan of oud perfumes but even I could tell that Oudh Infini was a good creation. I have a high hope for this line and I’ll definitely be following her progress.

I also managed to catch Tanja Bochnig from April Aromatics in a slight quiet moment. Believe me, other times her stand was always surrounded by a huge crowd and it was so hard to get close to. After sniffing Purple Reign – soothing violet and iris scent with lavender twist – and other quality creations by Tanja, we met up with Lucas and had a little quiet lunch break on a park bench together. We all needed that brief tranquil moment away from people and perfumes!

Gabriella Chieffo’s artistic display for her new release Maisia is worth a mention. It plays on light and shadow and seemingly random letters on the wall cast a shadow in the shape of a woman. The perfume itself tells a story of a woman, accused of being a witch and burnt at the stake. The slightly smoky ash note does give an imagery of her final fate. The word artistic also goes to Nettuno by Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima. The bottle was adorned with a glass and mirror mosaic plate, each handcrafted by an artist, and looked stunning. It was quite fitting for this multi-faceted perfume; clear, deep, and somewhat animalic. Artistic in more classic way was The Merchant of Venice.  The bottles for their Murano lines are real eye candies. I asked if we could choose a scent and a bottle separately and mix and match, but answer was, unfortunately, no. I sniffed 3 new perfumes from the Flame Collection; Divine Rose, Orchid Oud, and Pearl Bouquet. All of them featured oud, but it wasn’t prominent in any of them (at least when I tried them there) and stayed at a comfortable level.

Did you know that I have a thing for the periodic table? It was partly because of my late husband; he was a chemist and his desk was often covered with chemistry books. That fond memory brought me to the One of Those/Nu_Be stand to try their new Curium. I have no idea what radioactive materials or elements smell like – I guess there wouldn’t be a specific smell – but Curium smelled of cool iris and vetiver. I rather liked it.

Dolce Passione by an Italian brand Pantheon would carve your chocoholic craving without making you worry about your waistline.

I had avoided spraying anything on my skin all day but it had changed when I reached Aedes de Venustas. Cierge de Lune, developed by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin, was new to this line and I’ve always admired the botanical illustration of Night-Blooming Cereus in the book “Temple of Flora”; I had to try this on my wrist. It really was worth it. It was musky, powdery, and spicy simultaneously in a sensual twirl.

Dali Haute Parfumeire collection was from Salvador Dali and it was completely new to me. The nose behind this line is Alberto Morillas and each bottle cap (Regard Scintillant de Mille Beautes, Voyage Onirique du Papillon de Vie, Calice de la Seduction Eternelle, Melodie du Cygne de la Main, and Fluidite du Temps Imaginaire) is decorated with a golden symbol inspired by Dali’s jewellery. I liked the melted watch design and Lucas liked the Eye of Time design.

I’m a naturalist at heart, so I was quite drawn to the concept of Raw Spirit. Their perfumes were inspired by the energy, spirit, and connection to nature as they collaborated with some of the oldest communities around the world. I liked Citadelle and Desert Blush.

Quite a few stands were offering different methods to experience their perfumes rather than using traditional blotters. Some of them were using ceramic tablets, perfume soaked objects in containers, bells, and many other creative ways. The stand of Making of had sizable flasks lined up on the counter top. Lucas and I stood in front of them, passing flasks to each other to sniff from them; this movement somehow reminded me of the tea ceremony. We also tried their not-yet-released perfume there.

Lucas and I also visited Corsica Essences and tried their 4 perfumes portraying the power of the four elements: earth, water, air and fire. Another brand we visited toward the end of Day 2 was Bahoma London. I wasn’t aware of this brand before, so it was good to discover something completely new. They had quite a few EDTs and candles. My nose – and everything else – was pretty weary by this time and things got blurry. Later I’ll try 10 samples I got from them and then tell you what this line is like.

I visited a few more brands on Day 2 and I can tell you, by the end of the day, I was as tired as a turtle that raced against a hyper rabbit. I’m sure I missed out something else but, as I said earlier, my note taking skill is yet to be improved. If I remember, I’ll add them later.

That’s more or less the glimpse of what I did at Esxence in the first 2 days. By the end of Day 2, my olfactory system was in overdrive and under high pressure. The concept of Esxence this year was Infinity. Certainly, it felt like infinite.

Off to Milan Tomorrow!

Esxence 2016

Hello lovely perfumistas! I’ve been packing our suitcases and now I’m more or less ready for Esxence -The Scent of Excellence in Milan. I’ll be leaving tomorrow morning and should be in Milan in the late afternoon. My original plan was to be in Milan around mid-day but Alitalia rescheduled my flight, so I’ll miss the first day. Never mind. I’ll still have next 3 full days.

This is my first Esxence and I have no idea what it’s going to be like but it will be awesome for sure. I’m so excited about it all. I don’t know if I can sleep tonight.😉

I will be taking lots of photos and posting them on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Mind you, I don’t normally use Instagram that much, so it will be a challenge.

Wish me luck and stay tuned.

The Perfume Magpie

Magpie is getting ready...

Magpie is getting ready…

A Magpie and Violets

A Magpie and Violets | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

A Magpie and Violets | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

It’s officially spring. This time of the year, I always seek out for new violet scents. It all started in 1998.

I was working for an art gallery combined with a field museum then, and I got newly appointed as a local wildlife surveyor there. As a part of the job, I was required to walk around the local woodlands and meadows extensively and to know everything inhabiting the area, which included birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and plants. Spring came and soon the whole area was filled with the cacophony of renewed life.  I was busy researching and creating new outdoor exhibitions every single day. Then I was met with a great challenge. Violets (genus Viola) started popping out everywhere. Not one, but over 20 different species and varieties. I don’t know if you are into botany but identifying similar looking species can be truly challenging and it demands a very close and precise study. I was out in the field every day with a magnifying glass in one hand and a sketch book in the other, crawling low and scaring occasional unsuspecting visitors. The sense of satisfaction in correctly identifying the species was like a detective solving cold cases. I buried myself deep in reference books day and night and I ate, slept, and breathed violets during the whole spring of 1998. Within 2 months, I got trapped in the depth of violet abyss and I quickly became a violet fanatic. The more I got to know about violets, the more I sought after the species I had not yet seen. You might think I’m crazy but I trekked up the snow-filled valley wearing crampons and travelled across deserts just to see the rare violets. In some occasions,  violets got me into some troubles and mishaps. I got surrounded by soldiers at a gunpoint, nearly fell off the cliff, was almost washed away by a flush flood, had close encounters with bears, and even found a body in the forest set deep in mountains while I was searching for violets.

Collection of Violets from Magpie's Sketchbooks | Sketches by The Perfume Magpie

Collection of Violets from Magpie’s Sketchbooks | Sketches by The Perfume Magpie

The distinctive sweet and powdery violet scents as we know in perfumery are similar to the flowers of Sweet Violets (Viola odorata) and Parma Violets (scented violet comes from a mysterious origin. Botanically, their taxonomic affinity has not been found to link to any other violet. Viola odorata is the closest relative genetically), although the natural extraction of flowers is rarely used nowadays. Originally the perfume from violet flowers was extracted by the enfleurage method, followed by the solvent extraction of the leaf at the end of the 19th century. Until the 1940s both flower and leaf were used in the production but the yield of extraction from the flower was so small that it became more profitable to use synthetics and concentrate on using the leaves. So the violet flower notes in modern perfumes are likely to be created from isolated molecules like ionones or methyl ionones. (Yeah, if you are an avid perfumista, you’ve probably heard of it.) The ionones range from a scent that is reminiscent of violets in full bloom to an aroma of soft wood overlaid with violet sweetness. The methyl ionones are stronger, have more oomph, with pronounced orris and woody facets.

Have you ever smelled a bouquet of violets? Have you ever experienced that violets smelled so strong at one point and suddenly seemed to have lost their scents completely in a split second? One peculiar aspect of violets is the elusive scent of their flowers. Violet scent is primarily caused by the presence of ionones which temporarily desensitise the receptors in the nose. They essentially short-circuit our sense of smell. It is only a temporary thing though; the effect fades away very quickly and we can enjoy the smell of violets again. It’s an olfactory  peek-a-boo.

Besides Sweet Violets and Parma Violets, the smell of other species of violets are pretty enjoyable too. A lot of them are scentless but, for example, I came across some Viola grypoceras with a floral-minty aroma, Viola obtusa with a hyacinth like smell, and Viola inconspicua subsp. nagasakiensis with a juicy grape-like scent. Now I live 10,700km away from the little violet paradise where I had learnt so much about them; it was a shame that I didn’t try to enfleurage them to keep their unique scents in bottles.

Some Wild Violets | Photos by The Perfume Magpie

Some Wild Violets | Photos by The Perfume Magpie

I can write about violets on and on but I don’t want to torture you, so let’s move on.😉 As I love everything about violets, I thoroughly enjoy violet in perfumes too. I thought I’d share my favourite violet flower perfumes.

My absolute favourite violets:

Bois de Violette by Serge Lutens
Rays of spring light shine through the dark cedar forest. The damp earth, warmed by ribbons of light,  emits aromas of the forest life; the air is filled with smells of peppery leaves, fruits from the last season unfound by the forest dwellers, bark peeling off trees, and sweet dainty violets among the ancient trees. The season is still young but the nudging gentle light awakens the fragile early-spring bloomers one by one. It is the time; the forest floor, once again, celebrates  the return of life.

My image of Bois de Violette is Viola eizanensis. It is a pale-pink-flowered violet with most gorgeous deep-cut leaves. I often saw them in cedar forests.

 De Profundis by Serge Lutens
The sun slowly sets beyond the hills and the memorial garden, now empty, basks in the last breath of the evening light. The light breeze stirs the scent of chrysanthemums, placed in front of a memorial plaque, up in the air and carries to her nose. She sits on the bench under the tree, filled with old longings that will never come back. As day rolls into night, the dying light paints the sky purple – the same colour as the violets around her feet. The last remnants of pink fades into the darkness and the night tenderly envelops the garden and her. Everything melds into the black oblivion. Only the smells remain vivid.

The violet for De Profundis is Viola vaginata. I wouldn’t go into detail why it is so but there is a strong link between this blue violet and death & life in my mind. Everything about this violet is beautiful, especially its young leaves. The young leaves have otherworldly shimmering silvery hue.

Violets I love:

Violet Blonde by Tom Ford
An elegant nymph in the bright forest. Violet Blonde is not a sugar coated sweet violet. It has a good down-to-earth vibe and it’s positively foresty.

Misia by Chanel
Misia is a high society violet. But not to be fooled by her lady-like appearance. She may be adorned with smooth silk and flawless makeup, she is a Bohemian at heart.

Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne
If you go down to the woods today … No, you are not going to see teddy bears, instead, you’ll encounter a wise woman enjoying her solitude. Some might call her a witch. She is strong, self assured, but has an air of hidden sadness.

La Danse des Bleus et des Violettes by DSH Perfumes
A lovely English garden in the early summer morning. Dew glistening on spider webs and on petals of violets flowering along the wooden fence. Beautiful and positive, and makes me feel like it is going to be a fantastic day.

Opus III by Amouage
Decadent, elegant, and luxurious. Opus III is the richest of all violet perfumes I’ve tried so far. Resinous and buttery combination is rather enchanting.

Violets I like:

My Queen by Alexander McQueen
I was taken aback at first but now I enjoy wearing this on cloudy days. To me, it is a perfect violet for a thunderstormy weather. It is creamy but somewhat spicy for a violet perfume and it has some darkness about it.

Francesca by House of Matriarch
An oriental violet. For some strange reasons, Francesca smells very different every time when I wear it. Sometimes it’s very incensey, and some other times it’s green and dewy. Usually oud comes out quite strong on me.

Après l’Ondée by Guerlain
“After the rain” is a perfect name for this radiant but melancholic perfume. I strongly associate Après l’Ondée with the piano version of La Fille Aux Cheveux De Lin by Debussy. Both make me feel serene and calm.

And other violets I enjoyed sampling:

Violet Disguise by Imaginary Authors
Youthful and full of energy and life. Dangerously innocent.

Insolence by Guerlain
A cheerleader violet. If you are not familiar with the TV series, I apologies but the only image I keep getting from Insolence is the character Caroline Forbes from Vampire Diaries.

Love in Black by Creed
I have reviewed this in the past. If you are interested, here’s the link to follow.

Violetta by Penhaligon
A classic violet with dry, peppery twist. It’s not too powdery like many other violet perfumes. This is definitely a wild violet in the open field.

Zen by Tan Giudicelli
A subdued and calm violet. If you ever feel like experiencing the mindfulness of the moment, I’d recommend this one. “Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form…”

Putain des Palaces Etat Libre d`Orange
Isn’t there cumin in it? It’s not listed on Fragrantica but I’m sure there is. This is one of the most unique violets I’ve found and I would love it if the cumin doesn’t come out so strong. Only if I can manage the 1 hour-ish cumin dominant period… This “putain” is not a modern-day lady of the night; she is Violetta Valéry from La Traviata.

Well, that’s it for now. Once again, like other springs, I’m hunting for more violet perfumes to try. If you have some recommendations, let me know.

8th Esxence – The Scent of Excellence 2016

Almond and Peach Blossoms | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Almond and Peach Blossoms | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Spring is here. The countryside around the village is pink, pink, and pink – an infinite sea of pink. Pale pink blossoms of almond are more or less gone but peach blossoms with deeper shades of pink, whiter shades of apricot and plum blossoms, apple blossoms with dusty pink colour, they are all in full bloom. Anemones and narcissuses are adorning my little garden, and some tulips I planted last autumn are poking through the ground. When I was gardening this morning, I heard the first call of hoopoes. Everything feels full of life and positive in spring. An exciting time of the year.

Esxence 2016

Esxence 2016

There is another reason I feel excited about this spring. At the end of this month, I’ll be in Milan attending Esxence! You perfumistas would already know that the 8th Esxence – The Scent of Excellence 2016 will be held from 31st March till 3rd April in Milan. Unfortunately I’ll miss the first day because of the rescheduling of my flight, but I’m planning to be there for the next 3 full days. I’ll be meeting Val the Cookie Queen from Australian Perfume Junkies, who will be my guide and mentor, Lucas from Chemist in the Bottle, and other bloggers and perfume people. Being a first timer and a newbie, I have no clue what to expect. Sensory overload in various aspects will be a certain thing.

The Esxence website says;

Esxence 2016 is… INFINITY
An abstract, far, impalpable and sublime concept. Artistic Perfumery has the capability to make it real, closer and to enclose it in bottles, as real masterpieces perfumes that don’t follow the rules of time and space. They stop within the senses, in the heart, and there they stay, they resist trends and fashion, going along in our lives. We can pass them down, communicate, represent, endorse them, by wearing and remembering them. They give us the chance to access memories we thought that were lost or places we’ll never see.

During four days, the protagonists of this perfumed infinity meet in Milan within Esxence – The Scent of Excellence, for the eighth edition of the Artistic Perfumery’s Event, from March 31st to Aprile 3rd, 2016, at the The Mall spaces, the futuristic location in the heart of the new skyline of Milano. The expo area of excellences, perfumes but also cosmetics thanks to Esxkin – The Excellence of Beauty, the space dedicated to skincare, together with a calendar of rich and interesting events, offer the public a unique and unmissable experience. Professionals, exhibitors, retailers, buyers and distributors can find here the ideal place where to enhance their business network while visitors can get in touch with perfumed realities, laboratories and workshops.

Infinity. With the vast numbers of exhibiters and other additional workshops and events, it will feel like infinite for me for sure. Now, is there any perfume house I should head towards or a new release I should give a sniff? If you have some ideas, let me know. The list of exhibitors will be found here.

So wish me luck that I’ll survive through it.

Smelling in Geneva

Magpie at a fountain in Old Town, Geneva | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Magpie at a fountain in Old Town, Geneva | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie


Recently my travel bug has been nudging me to leave the confines of my office walls and see somewhere new again. I think EasyJet employs a psychic to target people like me; timely I found an email waiting in my inbox with great flight deals. Normally emails like this will go straight into the bin but this time, the bug made me click the link. The return flight to Geneva was too cheap to ignore. All the excuses popped up in my head; I have never been to Switzerland so it will be a good experience, I haven’t seen snow for a good few years, Geneva is only a short flight so it won’t affect my work schedule, etc. When I came out of my hypnotic daze, my mini holiday was already booked and confirmed. Go with the flow, seize the opportunity, I say.

Travelling is smelling. I enjoy smelling everything; the air of new places, the aroma of local food, and the scent of each shop I walk in. A lot of them are pleasant, some not so, but every single smell is a strand of memory.  They will be woven into an eternally complex tapestry of life experience and stay with us forever. The olfactory sense, the most primitive of our five senses, produces memories that are incredibly powerful and everlasting and smells can rekindle all the experiences as vividly as the first time when we encounter the same smell elsewhere later in life. As we headed for the airport, I promised myself to be conscious of smells for next two days to add a few more strands to my unfinished tapestry.

When I settled myself into my seat on the plane, I had to ask myself why I made that daft promise. I mean the “conscious smelling” thing. Monsieur 21C, who sat next to me for the duration of the 1-hour-40-minutes flight, smelled out-of-this-world awful. Whatever perfume he was wearing, whatever he had been doing before boarding this plane, he smelled putrid, overpowering, and absolutely torturous in the confined space. Sadly, once a perfumista, always a perfumista. While a part of me was thinking about pulling down the oxygen mask above me, another part of me started analysing his perfume. The dominant note was tobacco but it was too acrid. Also there were cinnamon, cumin, oakmoss and some woody notes…  A dash of rose? Maybe. OK, it shouldn’t smell too bad BUT WHY EVERYTHING SMELLED SO SOUR AND FERMENTED ON HIM!? I’ve smelled perfumes that had past its time and had turned but this was on another level. It’s got to be something to do with his body chemistry. I had never appreciated the arrival of inflight coffee so much in my life. I buried my nose in the cup as long as I could for the rest of the flight.

To my relief, once in Geneva, my olfactory experience improved significantly. The city was filled with a lot of pleasant smells – fresh bread and croissants from the boulangeries, damp streets, grass, malty aroma from the brewpubs, leather, coffee, sweets, and cold air. One of the smells I truly enjoyed was the crisp air in the falling snow. It was a pure bliss.

Now, this is a so-called perfume blog, let’s move onto the subject of perfumes. I did, of course, try some perfumes while I was in Geneva. In total, including the time at the airport, I tried 14. Most of them were “nice” but nothing outstanding. I felt most underwhelmed by Poison Girl. It’s not a bad perfume but it’s so caramel sweet with syrupy jam, just like other trendy perfumes on the current market. Definitely a younger sister of La Vie Est Belle.

Perfume Related Places I Visited In Geneva

Bongenie: Rue du Marché 34

At Bongenie | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Bongenie | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Sniffing... | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Sniffing… | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

I didn’t check if there were any worth visiting perfume stores in Geneva before the trip. But the goddess of scent was smiling on me. While we were walking around the streets of the old part of the city, I spotted something pink and green gleaming in the store window. I backtracked a few steps. There I saw Candy Aoud and Fruity Aoud by Roja Dove. I’m sure you can see what was going on in my mind. Yes, I was thinking, “if they have Rojas in the window, what else is in this shop.” Inside? It was Seventh Heaven. I was so dazzled by the huge selections of perfumes and I just staggered from one shelf to another like a drunken bear. For those who are used to visiting good perfume shops, this might not be anything out of ordinary but 400-500km radius of where I live, there are no perfume shops carrying anything other than mainstream designer brands. Actually this was the first time I saw Bond No. 9, Goutal, Juliet Has A Gun, Il Profumo, Amouage, Creed, Monegal, Malle, Roja, and so on all under the same roof. Ladies at the store were so forgiving and let me loose to spray from bottles to my heart’s content. Among the perfumes I tried there, I rather liked Ashlemah and Lazulia by Bvlgari (Love the bottle!).


Mizensir Genève: Rue Verdaine 4

Mizensir Genève | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Mizensir Genève | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Do you know this brand? In the heart of the old town, I stumbled across this charming little shop. They specialise in home fragrances and candles but recently released nine Eau de Parfum as well. Apparently Mizensir is the only manufacturer of perfumed candles and home fragrances to have an in house nose to create the fragrances for each product. I was pretty surprised to hear that the nose in question was Alberto Morillas. I love many of his creations such as Penhaligon’s Iris Prima, By Kilian Voulez-vous Coucher Avec Moi, and Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa. The shop had a lovely atmosphere. Also having a friendly good looking guy was a huge plus. I’m going to talk more about their home fragrances in the next post.


Flea Market of Plainpalais

Eau de Cologne Impériale | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Eau de Cologne Impériale | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

On the edge of the old town, we found this flea market. When I come across flea markets, I tend to pop down for a wander to see if any of the stalls happen to have old perfume bottles. Indeed they did. Among boxes after boxes of old household items and some peculiar art objects, I spotted some empty bottles; mostly Soir de Paris and Samsara. There were a few minis and some relatively new partial bottles but they were not what I was hoping to find. Eventually among the junks I spotted something made my heart skip. A Guerlain’s bee bottle. OK, it was a little dirty and the stopper was well stuck but I really wanted this bottle of Eau de Cologne Impériale. I assumed that the perfume itself would have already turned but the bottle itself would be a charming display on the dresser. Haggled? Not half! I also talked the stallholder into throwing a mini bee bottle in to keep it company. When we got home, my partner somehow managed to get the stopper out without breaking it. I didn’t expect the perfume inside to be intact but to my surprise, a bright summer day like lime scent rose up and enveloped us immediately. It smelled so drinkable. I guess I have to keep this lovely little find somewhere dark to protect it from going off. Now I need to find something else for my dresser.

The flea market takes place in Plainpalais on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

Our time in Geneva involved lots of walking. We were there only for two days and most of our time was spent exploring the old town wearing our shoes out, listening to the sound of the city life, admiring the snow-capped mountains, smelling, and indulging in beer and chocolate while people watching. It was a little break happened on the spur of the moment but we loved it.

Do you travel just for adventure or always with a purpose and a plan?

Scenting Cats

Which Perfume Would You Like To Wear? | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Which Perfume Would You Like To Wear? | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

I’ve been thinking about doing the “scenting cats” post for months. No, I’m not talking about spraying cats with actual perfumes. I’ve seen some “pet perfumes” for sale here and there but I’m not too thrilled about the idea of covering our furry companions in them.

Let me explain first. I’m an ailurophile. Cats have been my love and comfort ever since the day I had my first cat. I love everything about cats, especially their peculiar little behaviours like sitting on an open book, staring into empty space, touching my face with their cold paws… If you are a cat lover, you know what I’m talking about. But for the past 15 years or so, I’ve been moving from one country to another and I haven’t had a chance to commit myself to a long-term relationship with a cat. So to fill my craving for feline companionship, I started photographing – and befriending with- local cats wherever and whenever I had opportunities. Most of them were feral or stray, roaming the streets freely and living the lives of their own. I have met real characters along my journey. One night when I was sorting through my cat photos while sniffing my wrist (I was testing a perfume, of course), a crackpot idea popped up in my head. I suddenly thought choosing a perfume for each one of these cats would be a great idea. Call me crackers. I know. But the perfumeland is full of cat lovers. Some of you might understand and enjoy this post.

Cats below are the ones I acquainted when I was living in Egypt. We had a ground floor flat with a front terrace and a small secluded garden and it turned out to be a cat haven. Many local cats gathered there on a daily basis to play, to socialise, and to have a kip.

So here we go.


Hannibal | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Hannibal: Black by Bvlgari | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

We named him Hannibal because of his bizarre behaviour; whenever he was in a threatening mode, he would narrow his eyes and lick his mouth hungrily. He was a sleek, athletic, and tough loner. He never opened up to me, younger local cats were terrified of him, and he never socialised with others except for Princess (see below). He was a true gentleman around Princess. He used to guard her, share his food with her, and occasionally snuggle his face in her soft fur. In the presence of Princess, Hannibal was a different cat; a noble knight.

Perfume choice for Hannibal: Black by Bvlgari
A little bit of elegance mixed with a dash of sweetness. Like Hannibal the cat, Black is mysterious and gives out a sense of danger and tenderness- both at the same time.


Princess | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Princess: Datura Noir by Serge Lutens | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

What a dainty creature she was! When I first met her, she was sleeping in the flower bed in the spring sunshine. It was right next to the garden path and there were plenty passersby but she was so still; no movement at all. I had to walk up to her and hesitantly touched her as I feared the worst. Thank goodness she was warm and soft! She opened her eyes ever so slowly and looked at me straight in the eyes. There was no fear, only curiosity in her golden green eyes. She gave an inaudible meow, and went back to sleep. Since my first encounter, I often spotted her sleeping in/on odd places and when she was awake, she was usually accompanied by Hannibal (see above). I felt she wasn’t all what she appeared to be. She was resilient and always had the air of knowing.

Perfume choice for Princess: Datura Noir by Serge Lutens
Bright yet seductive. Under her sweet and innocent look, Princess had a calculated sultriness. Appearance is such a deceiving thing. Datura Noir is a cocktail of a narcotic contradiction and I think it’s pretty apt for this beautiful cat.


Marmalade and Cream

Cream | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Cream: Aqua Universalis Forte by Maison Francis Kurkdjian | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

They were brothers and were always close. Marmalade was bigger and more muscular than Cream and always acted like a hormone-driven teenager. He was handsome and macho but very cautious, and always followed the lead of Cream. Cream, on the other hand, was rather feminine but curious, courageous, and smart. He was definitely the brain of the brothers. When they came across something new, Cream eagerly investigated it while Marmalade hid behind him. One morning when I was mopping the terrace, Cream decided to chase and give hell to the fluffy monster. While he was happily destroying my mop head, Marmalade retreated to a safe distance and watched his brother bravely battling against the abominable creature. Now, I’m not proud of what I did to Marmalade next. I lifted the mop and put it on top of his head while he was distracted by birds in the bush. I’ve never seen a cat jump so high in my life. He toppled the bucket over, knocked plant pots off the staircase, and managed to turn the garden sprinkler on… Pure mayhem. A moral of this story: don’t underestimate the force of a scared cat.

Marmalade | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Marmalade: Dzing! by L`Artisan Parfumeur | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Perfume choice for Marmalade: Dzing! by L`Artisan Parfumeur
I cannot explain why but the first time when I smelled Dzing!, I immediately thought of Marmalade. Maybe the cat fur like smell in Dzing! or maybe the orangey  colour image I associate with this perfume. Who knows.

Perfume choice for Cream: Aqua Universalis Forte by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Cream’s strong eagerness to know and learn things truly impressed me. He was a great observer and he soaked up all the information like a sponge. Aqua Universalis Forte’s uplifting and invigorating qualities fit perfectly with this cat’s attitude to life.


Deep Throat

Deep Throat | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Deep Throat: Delicious Closet Queen by Etat Libre d`Orange | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Now who has a dirty mind here? We called him Deep Throat because of his hoarse and raspy voice. He couldn’t meow; it was consistently “ugh, kuh, grrh”. Deep Throat was an extremely friendly chap with gorgeous odd eyes and he used to visit us daily. He loved a fuss, purred like a tractor, and always drooled all over my hand. This fluffy giant had a big heart and he was often seen looking after younger cats. Cream (see above) had completely taken to Deep Throat and decided he was the ultimate role model and used to mimic whatever he did. Deep Throat drank water off his paws, so did Cream. Deep Throat enjoyed belly rubs, so did Cream. Deep Throat loved tapping a keyboard, so did Cream. Because of his loving nature, he had plenty patrons. He was a bit of social butterfly.

Perfume choice for Deep Throat: Delicious Closet Queen by Etat Libre d`Orange
Lovely and complex Deep Throat. Like his two different coloured eyes, Deep Throat seemed to have existed in two worlds of yin and yang. He was masculine and feminine. What’s more fitting than Delicious Closet Queen?


Ginger Daddy

Ginger Daddy | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Ginger Daddy: Herod by Parfums de Marly | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

I strongly suspected that he was the father of Marmalade and Cream. Ginger Daddy was the godfather of the neighbourhood and acted as if he had no care in the world. He was a de facto leader of the vicinity and his demeanour clearly showed it.  Autumn came, and with it arrived the mating season.  As yodelling of cats intensified around blocks of flats, Ginger Daddy’s eyes got set on Princess. Inevitably, that brought clash between Hannibal and him. Blood chilling yowls shattered the silence of otherwise peaceful afternoon. As I looked through the window, I saw two of them trading blows in a ferocious battle in my garden. Also there was Princess, tall and graceful, perched on top of the wall, watching two toms fighting over her. Ginger Daddy was older, bigger, muscular, and had years of battle experience than Hannibal. Despite all the odds against him, at least on this round, Hannibal pulled through. Suddenly Ginger Daddy dropped his stance and walked away into the bush with twitching tail, as if to say he was never interested in the fight in the first place.

Perfume choice for Ginger Daddy: Herod by Parfums de Marly
Not loud, not forceful, but Ginger Daddy exuded an air of authority with a slight touch of sweetness. Marmalade loved Ginger Daddy and on one occasion, I saw Ginger Daddy grooming this young orange cat. Assured and warm. Herod comes to my mind.


Do you love cats? Do you live with them? If you were to choose a perfume for your furry companions, what would it be?