All the Pretty Bottles

Magpie's Perfume Bottle Collection

Magpie Loves Perfume Bottles | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

I’m a visual person. I get drawn to anything pretty. Over the years I’ve learnt to behave (a bit) and restrain myself not to collect anything and everything I lay my eyes on but I’m still a magpie through and through. I enjoy being surrounded by things that are pleasing to the eye. As you can probably guess, perfume is one of such things I adore not only for the smell but also for the visual effect. If I had an unlimited amount of money to spend, I would have a huge perfume library in my house with a collection of beautiful bottles adorning each shelf.

So when I decide to buy a perfume, the design of the bottle plays a big part. The number one factor is still the smell, of course, but even if I *like* the smell, if I don’t like the bottle, the prospect of the purchase becomes very slim. (By the way, if I *love* the fragrance, I would buy it however the bottle looks.)

Anyway, I was looking at my humble perfume collection on the dresser this morning and I happened to notice that they have one noticeable visual quality in common – simple. A few of them have so called whisky decanter shapes and the rests are more or less the variations of the prism shapes. For fun, I decided to gather some of the images of the perfume bottles I like and dislike. All the bottles are chosen only for their appearance, nothing to do with the actual fragrances themselves. The choices are completely biased and personal.

So here we go…

The Bottles I Like

I decided to limit to ten commercial fragrance bottles here. Needless to say, there are so many more I like. I didn’t add any of the vanity bottles or vintage scent bottles but I love those gorgeous cut crystal and Art Nouveau glass bottles, especially by Lalique, Daum and Galle.

Perfume Bottles Magpie Likes

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Likes

The Bottles I Dislike

I think you can see some patterns forming here; I don’t like those dolly ones or plasticky ones. I didn’t list it here but I’m not too keen on the bug on the bottle of Maai by Bogue either.

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Dislike

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Doesn’t Like

The Bottles I Feel Somewhat Embarrassed

Not that I get offended by the designs or anything like that. I’m not a prude at all. I just wonder why they couldn’t come up with more suggestive but elegant looking bottles… OK, the Azzaro Duo bottles aren’t so bad if you look at them from the front but the side views they used for the advert definitely make them look like sex toys… Someone said that the bottle should be the physical embodiment of the fragrance… Well…never mind.

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Feels Embarrased

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Feels Embarrased

Extra

I want these.

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Wants

The Perfume Bottles Magpie Wants

So, when you buy a fragrance, does the design of the bottle affect your decision making? What is your favourite bottle design?

Disclaimer: The images of the fragrances and the bottles were borrowed from various perfume house and brand websites, Pinterest, and Google image search.

Tea Anyone? : Oolang Infini, Osmanthe Yunnan & Infusion de Tubereuse

Tea Fragrances for Spring | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Tea Fragrances for Spring | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

February had come and gone with mountain piles of work and paperworks. What happened? A month had just disappeared into thin air. I guess now I need to relax and have some tea.

When the weather gets warmer, I ritually dig out fragrances with tea note. I realised it a few years ago that the tea fragrances somehow go well together with the heat and the outdoor environments.  Since spring has finally arrived here in the eastern part of Spain, I’ve emerged out of my nest, started venturing around the countryside and made a start with my herb garden. When you are covered in dust and God-knows-what, heavy or sweet perfumes are huge no-nos but for a perfume addict like me, go without any fragrance is just unthinkable.

Magpie's Atelier Cologne Collection | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Magpie’s Atelier Cologne Collection | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

One of my favourites for outdoors at the moment is Oolang Infini by Atelier Cologne. It is refreshing, not overpowering, and decidedly blend well in the dusty settings. In fact, in my humble opinion, most of the Atelier Cologne line are your perfect al fresco companions. They are almost like couture fragrances for me; specially designed to withstand the Spanish scorching climate. Around Christmas 2014, I was the blessed winner of the Atelier Cologne Ecrin Absolute giveaway hosted by The Sounds of Scent. I chose Oolang Infini and Sous le toit de Paris as my prize and I can tell you that I’m getting the best out of them along with Grand Néroli I own. I will be wearing a lot of theirs this coming season and I’m pretty sure that my Atelier Cologne collection will increase over time.

Another tea fragrance I adore and love to wear in spring/summer seasons is Osmanthe Yunnan by Hermès. It is smokier and juicier than Oolang Infini and it makes me think of the spring haze over the blooming fruit orchards. I’m not too keen on the fruity fragrances but the fruits in Osmanthe Yunnan are very subtle and add to its vibrancy. All the notes are very well balanced; it is juicy, soft, gentle, and kind of ethereal. In a few days time , the campo around the village will be filled with bright pink peach blossoms, then apricot and plum blossoms. I can’t wait to wear Osmanthe Yunnan and have leisurely walks among the falling petals.

Flowery Tea

Flowery Tea | Image borrowed from Mighty Leaf

Here’s another addition to my warm & sunny fragrances; Infusion de Tubéreuse by Prada. Is it just me? It’s not a tea fragrance but I keep smelling something like tea in this one. I blind bought a bottle just because I liked the look of it (yes, shallow of me) and due to my love for its big sister, Infusion d’Iris.  When I sprayed it on me for the first time, my reaction was “Meh”. It wasn’t interesting enough and lacked gravitas. It was hardly a tuberose fragrance; I couldn’t smell it at all. To be honest, it was one of the most disappointing fragrances I’ve ever bought. Then, on one hot spring afternoon, I put it on and went out for a wild asparagus picking. What an ideal outdoor fragrance it turned out to be! It didn’t lose its freshness in the dust and sweat (sorry for the image) and it stayed airy and transparent all the way through. Actually, when it got mixed with the smell of dried grass in the field, Infusion de Tubéreuse smelled very much like pleasant Chinese fragrant tea. Who knew?

Do you like tea note in fragrances? Do you have any tea fragrance you would recommend?


Oolang Infini by Atelier Cologne – 100 ml €105.00
Osmanthe Yunnan by Hermès – EDT 100ml £167.00
Infusion de Tubereuse by Prada – EDP 100ml £55.70

Read what others are saying about them.
Oolang Infini:
Bois de JasminOlfactoria’s TravelsBonkers about Perfume
Osmanthe Yunnan:
Perfume Smellin’ ThingsOlfactoria’s TravelsPerfume Posse
Infusion de Tubereuse:
Perfume ShrineThe Non-Blonde

Disclosure: The reviews are based on the bottles I own.

Perfumed Memoirs: Amouage Dia and Frankincense

Amouage Dia | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Amouage Dia | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

The rugged rocky mountain terrain, the tranquil beach with fishing boats, the endless dunes disappear into the Empty Quarter, and the oasis, the water sparkling in the desert’s light. They are the images of Oman I remember. I used to live in the desert city of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates, adjoining to Al Buraimi, an oasis town of Oman. At weekends, we used to venture into the deserts and wadis  (dry river beds) to enjoy their harsh but unspoilt natural beauty.

When I lived there, I wasn’t at all a fan of the Middle Eastern perfumes. Occasionally I trotted into some Arabic perfume shops in the malls but I couldn’t find the one I liked. All the perfumes I smelled in the shops or on people were too gooey and hideously resiny… That was the impression I got until I came across Amouage Dia Pour Femme.

I wasn’t aware of the “pedigree” of this perfume when I had my first sniff. All I knew was its connection to Oman. On the way home from the mall, I kept smelling and smelling my wrist, admiring its sheerness and the dewy-ness of this fragrance. It felt like an “Arabic” fragrance but it was so much lighter… and more complicated. The aldehydic opening was like a dawn; bright and cheerful .Then the lustrous florals, swirling up to reach to the limitless sky. By the time I got home, the revitalising woody notes started to unfold… and, gosh, that was the best part for me.

Oasis | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Oasis | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

In the desert, after the spring rain, the wildflowers start blooming all at once. Tiny yellow Arabian primrose, desert campion, desert hyacinth and wild carnation…  They all appear in abundance, forming a luminous floral carpet on the otherwise barren sand. It is a bright, joyful and uplifting sight. It is all about the celebration of life – and that’s how I felt about Amouage Dia. The discovery of this fragrance among the heavy perfume oils was like the finding of an oasis hidden in the monotonous sand dunes.

I went back to the mall next day to smell Dia again. The nice guy at the perfume shop explained to me about the Omani royal family and Amouage connection and the facts about frankincense over a strong cup of cardamom dosed coffee.

A few months later, I had an opportunity to visit Sir Bani Yas Island, an animal sanctuary island in the Arabian Gulf. There, among the freely roaming endangered Arabian wildlife species, I unexpectedly stumbled across the frankincense tree for the first time in my life. I don’t know what I was expecting but this legendary tree didn’t look too impressive; it looked rather tattered.

Sir Bani Yas Island | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Sir Bani Yas Island | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

“The paler the better…” Like a mantra, the words by the perfume shop guy echoed in my head. I lustily scraped and collected the small beaded resin off the tree without really knowing what I would do with them next. I wanted to burn some as incense but other than that, I had no idea what I could or should do with the rest. But fate, in the shape of a parakeet, decided for me.

While I was getting rid of sand from my travel bag back home, I casually placed the frankincense resin in a small plastic bag and put it on the windowsill, and then went into the house to make some coffee. I heard a bang and a squawk. Looking out of the window, all I could see was the bright green feathers flying away into the next door’s palm trees. The plastic bag wasn’t on the sill anymore.

So, here I am, gathered a bagful “quality” frankincense in the burning sun, never got to smell a whiff of it. My first bottle of Dia has long gone and to this day, I haven’t had a chance to smell burning frankincense.


Nose: Jean-Claude Ellena

Notes:

Top: Bergamot, Fig, Tarragon, Cyclamen, Sage, Violet Leaves

Middle: Orange Blossom, Orris Root, Rose, Peach Blossom, Peony

Base: Frankincense, Gaiac Wood, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Heliotrope, Vanilla, White Musk

It is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum, £170.00 from Amouage.

Read what others are saying about Dia: I Smell Therefore I Am, The Non-Blonde, Australian Perfume Junkies, Suzanne’s Perfume Journal.

Disclosure: The review is based on the bottle I used to own.

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.