Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from The Perfume Magpie | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Merry Christmas from The Perfume Magpie | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Another year is nearly complete. It has been a different and interesting year for me. It was filled with so many “firsts”. Each day, I learned new ways to look at things and new ways to navigate through. Some were challenging but some were brilliant and exciting. If I were to pick one quote to capture the essence of my 2015, it would be this:
“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru

Thank you for visiting The Perfume Magpie and always leaving encouraging and lovely comments. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing over Christmas, I’m wishing you that your days are filled with love and joy.  I’m also wishing you that this magical season brings you all the fun, laughter, happiness, and perhaps a perfume or two that stay with you forever!

With love,

Yukiko a.k.a. The Perfume Magpie

Christmas Message from The Perfume Magpie

Christmas Message from The Perfume Magpie

A Biography In A Bottle: Frida by En Voyage Perfumes

Frida and Magpie by The Perfume Magpie

Well, you know, I couldn’t help creating an illustration of Frida with a magpie… | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Painting is one of the greatest ways to confront, express, and release your inner most struggles. At least that was the case with me in my teen years. The canvas was my battlefield. Fear, anger, grief, guilt, despair, hope, love…  Every single canvas was filled with multitudes of emotions that were buried deep behind my quiet and withdrawn demeanour. I wasn’t good at showing my emotions in front of other people including my own family. For me, painting was the only way I could freely express myself.

Love's-Embrace-of-the-Universe,-Earth-large

Love’s Embrace of the Universe, the Earth | By Frida Kahlo

I encountered Frida Kahlo’s paintings when I was fourteen; it was an eye-opener for me. I found their mesmerising colours and bold and esoteric imageries were weirdly in unison with my inner states. Many people are disturbed by some of her gruesome expressions but, for fourteen-year-old me, they were like embodiments of my own inner world, depicted skilfully in ways that I couldn’t bring out. Frida seemed to have known all the agonising emotions and what lies beneath. She and her work became an epitome of strength in my dark world. So when I heard about the new fragrance created by Shelley Waddington, En Voyage Perfumes, I was so curious and a little bit apprehensive to say the least.

I first tried Frida in the hottest summer month and, to tell the truth, it didn’t go well. I sampled it in the over 40 degree Celsius heat and I was immediately hit by the overripe watermelon and I couldn’t fully enjoy my sampling experience, even though I appreciated the juicy greenness peeking through it. I put the sample vial away in the “Try Again” box and decided to test in the cooler season.

A few months have passed and sitting in front of the fire has become my nightly pleasure, I finally decided to take the sample of Frida out again. Interestingly, the perishing watermelon was no more. Instead, what I smelled first was fresh dragon fruits rather than watermelons. Isn’t it funny how the climate conditions change the perspective of the same perfume so drastically?

Roots, Raíces | By Frida Kahlo

Roots, Raíces | By Frida Kahlo

There is something very corporeal aspect in Frida. Initially it feels like a bright fragrance with juicy fruits and lush greens, but underneath the shimmering veil, there exists something physical and dangerous and it is slightly unnerving. As the top notes settle, something wild appears out into the otherwise peaceful garden. It steps out into the open; you can feel the warmth of its body, and you become aware of its body exuding the musky – and slightly sour – smell. Is it a beast or a person? Faint smooth tuberose suggests that it might be a woman but I cannot determine it. It is wounded and tired, yet valiant. After 2-3 hours, Frida reaches the dry down stage; through the remnants of sweeter notes, smoke starts rising gently. The final phase of Frida stays close to the skin and remains for some more hours. In an air of peace and a sense of silent acceptance, in the end, the being bends its knees, gently lie down on the ground and exhale its last breath.

Frida is an enigmatic perfume. What I find fascinating about the perfume Frida is that the story it tells trough its transition. The feminine side and the masculine side of Frida Kahlo, the pleasure and the pain in her physical existence, her love, her anger, and ultimately the emotional and physical relief in death…  Frida’s life was ladened with two extremes, and I cannot help thinking that she perhaps knew these two polar opposite aspects were the same essence expressed in differing degree. I don’t know whether this was the perfumer Shelley Waddington‘s intension but she certainly captured the life of Frida Kahlo and artistically created her superlative biography in a bottle.


Frida was launched in 2015.

Nose: Shelley Waddington

Notes according to the En Voyage Perfumes Website:

Top Notes: The fruits of Frida’s Garden including Apricots, Watermelon, Peaches, Lemons, and Lush Greenery

Middle Notes: Tuberose, Hibiscus, Cactus Flower, Champaca, Ylang Ylang, Gardenia, and Jasmine

Base Notes: Light Woods, Sugar, Oak moss, Aldehydes; Myrrh, Frankincense, and Copal; Tobacco, Green Pepper, Sexual Animalic Notes, Musk, Amber

It is available in 15ml ($75) and 30ml ($95) Eau de Parfum. Sample ($6) is also available from En Voyage Perfumes.

Read what others are saying about Frida.
The Candy Perfume Boy, Perfume Polytechnic, Olfactoria’s Travels, The Scented Hound, CaFleureBon, Megan In Sainte Maxime, The Sounds of Scent, Colognoisseur, Fragrance Daily

Disclosure: Review is based on a sample I received from En Voyage Perfumes.

Real Neat Blog Award: Surprise, surprise!

Real Neat Blog Award

Real Neat Blog Award

My morning routine starts with a nice steaming cup of tea, followed by checking emails and the day’s schedule.  Some days my inbox contains something exciting and special, some other days, just full of notifications and adverts. Well, there was an email waiting for me this morning which belongs to both categories.

Melita from the Perfume Polytechnic blog nominated The Perfume Magpie for a Real Neat Blog Award. This was a lovely surprise to wake up to.

Real Neat Blog Award seems like a baton passed by a blogger to another blogger, and the recipient is supposed to answer the questions that came along with the award if she/he is willing to accept the nomination. I’ve seen this kind of awards on other blogs but, to be honest, I’ve never imagined that it would come to my direction.

So, Melita, thank you!! I’ll accept the award as gracefully as a magpie can since this is my first award and there may never be another, and pass it onto other bloggers. As for the bloggers I nominate, I know some of you choose to run award-free blogs, so if I mention you in this post, participate only if you want to. No obligations. I just want to shout out “I love your blog!!”

Here are the rules for accepting a Real Neat Blog Award:

1) Show the award logo on your blog.
2) Answer seven questions asked by your nominator.
3) Thank your nominator, linking his or her blog.
4) Nominate any number of bloggers you find deserving of the award, and provide a link to their blogs.
5) Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)
(Again, feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.)

Well, anyway, here are my answers to Melita’s questions:

1) If you’re old enough to remember, what do you miss the most about the pre-internet era?
Handwritten letters. I used to have a great collection of letter papers and envelopes for the different friends, moods, seasons and occasions. I loved the moment of anticipation just before opening the envelopes. (Actually, I get similar excitement now when I know the package contains perfumes.)
2) Could you be self-sufficient if you had to be?
Yes. I’ve grown up in a farm and now I’m living in countryside. I grow vegetables and herbs, I can weave baskets and sandals, and I’m pretty good at milking cows. I’m crap at chopping wood though.  I’m also into natural & botanical medicines.
3) What are your thoughts on climate change?
It’s a nature’s cycle but human beings are not helping it.
4) What is your best developed sense?
Hmmmm, this is a difficult question. I have a very good sense of smell and I can recognise wide range of colours as well (well, according to one of those articles on the internet). I can also hear bats.
5) Do you make anything with your hands?
Yes. I love making jewellery in silver. I love the moment when the metal glows red and solder flows. I also enjoy making stained glass panels, knitting and sewing.
6) What is the most thoughtful gift someone has given you?
Love. Does it count?
7) Tell us about a person you miss, and what you miss most about them.
My husband. Although now I’ve met someone who is loving, caring, understanding, and completely accepting me the way I am, I still miss my late husband a lot. I don’t think I would ever stop loving him and missing him. He was highly intelligent, adventurous, humorous, grumpy, animal loving, spiritual and a gentle soul. I miss everything we used to do together, just him being there with me.

So there we have it. A little more about me. 🙂

Now, my nominees. I wanted to choose a lot more but I thought five was a good number.

I nominate the following perfume blogs:

L’eter
Bonkers about Perfume
The Scented Hound
Undina’s Looking Glass
The Sounds of Scent

Here are my 7 questions for the bloggers:

1) What is one of your talents?
2) What makes you smile?
3) If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
4) If the world ends tomorrow, what would you do?
5) If you can go back in time, where would you go?
6) What the weirdest thing you’ve ever smelled?
7) Which perfume are you craving to obtain?

As I said earlier, please don’t feel obligated to accept the award, it’s just a small way of showing my love to a few blogs I enjoy!

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.

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.