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?

Wildflowers and Mini Review – Shalimar Initial L’Eau

Yellow Flower

This gallery contains 18 photos.

The sky is blue, the blight coloured bee-eaters are glistering in the sky as they fly, orange is in full blossom and filling the air with its sweet scent, and the countryside is filled with wildflowers. Now it’s late spring, … Continue reading

Unknown Pleasures by Kerosene: Review

Unknown Pleasures by Kerosene

Unknown Pleasures by Kerosene – Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

I love fragrances evoke my creativity and imagination. It could be the scent itself, it could be the design of the bottle, or it could be the name of the perfume. Kerosene fragrances, created by John Pegg, definitely stir up something inside me. I must admit that they are not always easy to wear but certainly touch the artistic side of me.

The inwardness of your you by Michael Lightsey

The inwardness of your you by Michael Lightsey

When I received and opened the black sample box, in an instant, I fell for the name Unknown Pleasures. Who wouldn’t? It’s really thought provoking name; negative and positive, fear and anticipation, ecstasy out of chaos, something that is almost ethereal…

When I put it on my skin, I was met by an unexpected pleasure rather than unknown pleasure. I was expecting slightly darkish, dreamy kind of scent, but instead, what I smelt on my wrist was a sunny & cozy café. It was delicious and rich, positively edible.

Unknown Pleasures starts off with tangy and bitter citrus notes; it reminded me of a bitter marmalade with a dash of whisky. There is a slight smokiness, kind of burnt coffee. I assume it’s the Earl Grey tea. It is like walking into a heaving tea room where people are already enjoying their tea & coffee with honey & orange slices. Then, shortly after, a rich, mouth-watering caramel sauce starts to emerge and a hint of vanilla, whispering in the background throughout, starts announcing its full-bodied presence. It’s creamy and luxurious. I am not the world biggest fan of gourmand fragrances, but I adore the way John laces all the notes together and creates this delicious perfume.

On the Hose of Kerosene website, John notes;

“You’re walking down a cold street in Manchester, listening to Joy Division, sipping on a warm cup of London Fog. This fragrance opens with the smooth sweetness of honey with Earl Grey tea, with a zing of lemon. It dries down to a cozy vanilla, soft tonka bean, and waffle cone base sure to make any gourmand lover smile. “

Sex Sells by margolove

Image borrowed from Flickr

I’m having a slight problem with the image he portrays… No offence to my friends from the Manchester area, but I can’t associate Manchester with somewhat posh Earl Grey tea; It’s more like lager or hard liquor. But never mind. Everyone experiences things differently.  We all see things in an individual way.

I must say that Kerosene fragrances are very individualistic.

 

The Notes: Earl Grey tea, lemon, bergamot, honeycomb, tonka bean, caramel, vanilla and waffle cone.

Unknown Pleasures is a Unisex perfume and is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum, $140.

House of Kerosene Website: http://www.houseofkerosene.com/

Disclosure: Review is based on a sample I received from CaFleureBon. Read their review on Unknown Pleasures.

Kerosene - Unknown Pleasure

Kerosene – Unknown Pleasures

Puredistance M : Review

Puredistance M

Puredistance M — Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

It was love at first sniff… It’s really unusual for me.  And with my second try, I fell in love with M even deeper. Even my husband who is usually nonchalant about perfume caught a whiff of M and said “This one is nice. What is it?” This comes close to a miracle in my household!

What are the words I’m looking for to describe Puredistance M? Exquisite, impeccable, rich, luxurious, elegant, sophisticated, glamorous, sensual, delightful…

Puredistance M 60ml

Photo: Borrowed from Puredistance

It is a unisex perfume but it sounds like it’s leaning towards masculine side according to the Puredistance website;

Puredistance M is sumptuous, sensuous and complex, but at the same time noble and sophisticated…  M is inspired by the stylish comforts of the interior of a grey Aston Martin… The warm smoothness of the blend is incomparable. The composition purrs softly along, weaving the leather accord into the road-map of spices, woods and resins. Enveloping and comforting as it is, M, with its elegantly smoky leather, has a hint of excitement and danger, which is just how it should be, in a fragrance inspired by Bond’s car.”

But, BUT!!  To me, the image I get from M is not masculine, not James Bond, but a strong woman who knows her intelligence, sensuality and the power of her own femininity. A woman, who doesn’t bend to the opinions of the others, stands firm, believes in herself, and yet has the flexibility to play along with the different roles if it suits her.

Painting by Mark Spain

Painting by Mark Spain — http://designyoutrust.com/

Puredistance M opens on my skin with a swirl of citrus and oriental spice. Within a few minutes, rich rose, jasmine and cinnamon emerge and create a velvety air. At this point, I was so sure that I could detect some cardamom and cumin but neither of them were listed on their official notes.  After a while, among the pleasant, somewhat enigmatic oriental ambience, slightly smoky leather, patchouli and vanilla start to join in the dance.

M is a complex and sophisticated perfume. From the beginning till the end, it announces its presence in a captivating way but never shouts or screams for the attention.

I’m completely enchanted.

Photo by Jeanloup Sieff

Photo by Jeanloup Sieff — http://www.jeanloupsieff.com/

The notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Rose, Jasmine, Cinnamon, Patchouli, Mosses, Cistus, Vetiver, Patchouli, Vanilla, Leather and Musk.

M is made from a high concentration of perfume oil (25%), Perfume extrait, and it was made in London by the Master of Perfume Roja Dove.

Puredistance Website: http://www.puredistance.com/

Iris Garden

I love this time of year. We visited our friends on Sunday and came home with an armful of irises from their garden. They are just gorgeous! Brightened up our living room completely. So, today, I decided to write about irises. 🙂

Abandoned Orchard

My own photo – Abandoned Orchard

The scent of this particular iris from my friends was subtle. You need to get very close to the flower to smell its sweet, slightly powdery and somewhat honey like scent. Unfortunately these lovely flowers don’t last long. Within a day, the open flowers would decay and they turn into blobs of violet-coloured rubbery goo…

Quite a few people believe that iris flowers have almost no smell. That’s not true! Some do, some don’t but, did you know, if you care to look through the garden catalogs, you’ll find a category of ‘Fragrant Iris’. The odor characteristics of the iris flowers are wide; from musky to spicy, peachy to violety. I personally smelt only handful different kinds but definitely there were ones with make-you-feel-dizzy type strong scent and even one with chocolaty scent.

In perfumery, rhizomes (or called ‘root’) of Sweet Iris (Iris pallida), German Iris (I. germanica), Florentine Iris (I. florentina) and Cemetery Iris (I. albicans) are harvested and used as orris root and it is one of the most expensive ingredients due to the fact that the yield is very low and the preparation is time and labour-consuming. There are synthetic orris available which are replication of the materials known as orris butter, orris concrete or orris absolute. Orris was once a common ingredient in face powder, which might be one of the reasons that the smell of orris is often described as ‘make up’ smell. I have to say, orris root smells totally different to the smell of the flower and it smells a bit like earthy carrots.

Iris

My own photo – Iris

Iris flowers do not yield an essential oil, so the “Iris” fragrances in the market are usually created with its rhizomes (orris root). Sometimes they are perfumer’s creative reconstructions of the scent of the flowers or an image of the flowers using other natural or synthetic essences.

There are soooo many iris fragrances in the market and there’s no way I can cover all of them but I’d like to name a few notable ones here;
Hiris by Hermes — The first minutes are wonderful then it becomes very subtle. Powdery. Easy to wear.
Infusion d’Iris Eau de Parfum Absolue by Prada – Bittersweet and somewhat smoky. I love it!
Bois d’Iris by Van Cleef & Arpels – Dry, woody, sweet and dusky.
Iris Bleu Gris by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier – It’s supposed to be a masculine scent but I would say unisex. Lush powdery. A bit too green for my liking.
Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens – Pretty strong opening but love the drydown.

The Songs of Bilitis Cover

The Book Cover of The Songs of Bilitis

From their earliest years, irises were used as a medicine and, in some parts of the world, an ingredient for love potions. Love – iris association isn’t so common but there was a poet who loved to link irises to sensual love; Pierre Louÿs. In his well praised collection of poems of pagan sensuality and love of beauty, The Songs of Bilitis (Les Chansons de Bilitis), irises emerges among the tenderly erotic scenes. He also mentions irises in his other literary works and, like in The Songs of Bilitis, a hint of sensuality and femininity are entwined with the flower.

I personally don’t associate irises with sexuality; to me it’s more like nobleness, honourableness or spirituality.

What about you?

 

Excerpts from The Songs of Bilitis;

THE STREAM IN THE WOOD

I bathed alone in the stream in the wood.
I must have frightened the poor naïads,
for I could scarcely see them far away in the dark water.

I called to them.
To mimic them I plaited iris blossoms,
black as my hair,
about my neck,
twined with knots of yellow gilly-flowers.

With a long floating weed,
I made myself a green girdle,
and to see it I pressed my breasts and inclined my head a little.

And I called:
“Naïads! naïads! play with me, be nice.”
But the naïads are transparent,
and perhaps I even caressed their lissom arms, unknowing!

 

SCENE

Where were you?

At the florist’s. I bought some lovely irises. Behold them, I have brought them just for you.

And you took all that time to buy four flowers?

The merchant kept me waiting.

Your cheeks are pale, and your eyes are shining.

The weariness of walking such away.

Your hair is wet and tangled.

The heat is great, the wind has tossed my hair.

Your girdle was untied. I made the knot myself, and not as hard as that.

So loose it opened; a passing slave tied it up for me.

There is a spot on your dress.

The flowers dripped.

Mnasidika, my little soul, your irises are far more beautiful than can be bought in all of Mytilene.

How well I know it, oh, how well I know!

 

The Songs of Bolitis

The Songs of Bilitis – Image borrowed from Sacred Text Archive

DESIRE

At night, they left us on a high white terrace, fainting among the roses. Warm perspiration flowed like heavy tears from our armpits, running on our breasts. An over-whelming pleasure-lust flushed our thrown-back heads.

Four captive doves, bathed in four different perfumes, fluttered silently above our heads. Drops of scent fell from their wings upon the naked women. I was streaming with the odor of the iris.

Oh, weariness! I laid my cheek upon a young girl’s belly, who cooled her body with my humid hair. My open mouth was drunken with her saffron-scented skin. She slowly closed her thighs about my neck.

I dreamed, but an exhausting dream awakened me: the iynx, bird of night-desires, sang madly from afar. I coughed and shivered. An arm, as languid as a flower, rose in the air, stretching towards the moon.