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.

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.

Vanilla Fiesta: 11 Mini Reviews

Magpie had a enough of vanilla... | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Magpie had enough of vanilla… | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

To tell the truth, I haven’t been a big fan of vanilla fragrances. Don’t get me wrong, I do love the smell of vanilla itself. I have a whole bunch of vanilla beans that I brought back from Zanzibar stashed in my kitchen cupboard and I sometimes open the jar just to enjoy their heavenly sweet smell. But I like vanilla in something edible, not in something I put on. I don’t enjoy smelling like a little cupcake.

Recently when I was digging through my perfume samples, I discovered that I had quite a few un-sniffed ones with vanilla as an important part of their compositions; they were all lying at the bottom of my sample boxes, buried and forgotten under the other little vials. I suddenly felt kind of pity for them. Whether I was feeling mellow in the recent cooler weather or merely trying to escape from my workload, I gathered them around and decided to have a good vanilla sniffing session. People say that life will never give you more than you can handle. Well, I certainly survived through it and managed to find a few vanilla fragrances I could wear.


So here we go, the list and mini reviews of vanillas I tried:

Love – don’t be shy – by By Kilian

Peppery Orange Vanilla
This is a seriously sweet fragrance, peppery nonetheless. You’ve got to love gourmands to enjoy wearing this one. Very strong orange blossom and neroli, and a touch of jasmine and rose with a blast of sugar and vanilla. It is pretty, not beautiful, and it has an amazing lasting power. I don’t hate it but I won’t be able to wear it. I think you need to be twenty-something & bubbly to get away with this.

Nose: Calice Becker
Released in 2007.
50ml EDP | $260 from By Kilian.

Back to Black – aphrodisiac – by By Kilian

Moody Vanilla
First of all, I like smoky and powdery fragrances. Back to Black is sweet, smoky, powdery and yummy, all at the same time. I’m not too keen on its opening with raspberry but the smoky drydown is rather attractive. I quite enjoyed the honeyed gingerbread notes in this one. Yes, it’s sweet but I can wear this in winter. I don’t love it but I like it. Some people suggest that it smells like Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford and Hedonist by Viktoria Minya but I didn’t find it so.

Nose: Calice Becker
Released in 2009.
50ml EDP | $260 from By Kilian.

Amour Liquide by Memoire Liquide

Milky Vanilla
This is a sugary vanilla that you will either love or hate. The vanilla itself smells quite authentic but it’s all about vanilla and nothing else. There are three notes listed in this one; vanilla, tonka, and incense. I was hoping to smell more of the incense note but it was very weak and completely overpowered by the sweet notes. If you are very careful, you might be able to catch a whiff of it. There is something woody-musky smell in the background, like sandalwood, and it adds to the milky-ness of this fragrance. Great longevity. This is too “edible” for me to wear.

Nose: Ilias Ermenidis
Released in 2009.
50ml EDP | $95 from Memoire Liquide.

Seven Veils by Byredo

Country Kitchen Vanilla
It’s nothing like other fragrances I’ve ever smelled in my life. The opening is a mixture of slightly bitter wisteria and orchid, soon taken over by vanilla, carrot seeds, and pink pepper, then it settles straight into sweet and tangy spiciness. It smells like a lovely country kitchen with a wooden spice cupboard on the wall, occasionally catching a whiff of flowers through the open windows. The vanilla is prominent but it isn’t in your face. I don’t love it but I somehow appreciate it. I might wear it on a golden autumn day.

Nose: Jerome Epinette
Released in 2011.
50ml EDP | €95 from Byredo.

Vanille Insensee by Atelier Cologne

Edgy Vanilla
Like other Atelier Colognes, it is clean and very wearable. The mixture of woody incense, amber, and vanilla is fairly cozy but there is a sort of edginess to it.  It’s not a cute vanilla fragrance, more for the grown-ups. The citrus notes at the beginning don’t last long; it soon reveals vanilla and exotic coriander with velvety vetiver and amber in the background. It might work in the spring to summer seasons.

Nose: Ralf Schwieger
Released in 2011.
30ml Pure Perfume | €65 from Atelier Cologne.

Un Bois Vanille by Serge Lutens

Dark Vanilla
Another woody vanilla but totally different to Vanille Insensee. It is much darker and deeper. I was a little bit worried about trying this one at first because of the coconut and liquorice notes. Actually they coordinate with each other very well and it didn’t give me the choking effect that I was concerned about. Vanilla is on the sweeter side but the strong wood note keeps holding it back. There is a strange plasticky smell in it and it disturbed me a little. I can probably wear this, maybe in late autumn to winter.

Nose: Christopher Sheldrake
Released in 2003.
50ml EDP | €90 from Serge Lutens.

Eau Duelle by Diptyque

Well Behaved Vanilla
Surprisingly, I liked this one as soon as I opened the vial. It is resiny and earthy vanilla with a touch of greenness. I was so sure that I could smell floral note in it but it’s not listed. It is delicious but not in a cakey way. It is one of the most inoffensive vanillas I’ve tried. Actual vanilla in this one is very rounded and not too sweet. I think this one works all year round.

Nose: Fabrice Pellegrin
Released in 2010.
75ml EDP | €105 from Diptyque.

Shalimar Souffle de Parfum by Guerlain

Lemon Meringue Vanilla
Shalimar Souffle opens with bright citrus notes. It is a delicious vanilla fragrance with the bitterness of citrus peels and a fraction of white florals. Somehow it’s a little ozonic too. It’s decidedly sweet but not sugary. As so many people already suggested, Shalimar Souffle smells like a lemon meringue pie and makes me feel hungry. Very light weight and airy for a vanilla fragrance.

Nose: Thierry Wasser
Released in 2014.
50ml EDP | around $100. More information: Guerlain

Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford

Smoky Vanilla
Tobacco Vanille is a spicy and smoky vanilla fragrance. I usually enjoy tobacco fragrances but, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure about this one at all. I kept smelling something tart and ripe besides rich tobacco, vanilla and spice mixture and it was a little unnerving. But after 15 minutes or so, it turned into more luscious sweet tobacco fragrance and I could enjoy it better then. Towards the end, sweetness of vanilla intensified a lot and it was a bit like a combination of ice cream, cigar, and Pepsi. I quite liked it.

Nose: Olivier Gillotin
Released in 2007.
50ml EDP | $220 from Tom Ford.

The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. IMHO by 4160 Tuesdays

Spicy Vanilla
It doesn’t match with my idea of sexy scent but it’s not bad at all. The vanilla wasn’t sugary sweet and merged well with the citrus note. Also the woodiness of this fragrance was down to earth and comforting. It’s not listed but I could smell something like patchouli and strong peppery/spicy notes – could there be ISO E Super or something similar in this fragrance? Whatever it is, it’s nicely blended into it and gives warmth to it. Definitely an autumn to winter fragrance.

Nose: Sarah McCartney
Released in 2013.
50ml EDP | £60 from 4160 Tuesdays.

Baiser Vole Essence de Parfum by Cartier

Flowery Vanilla
A flower shop right next to a patisserie; loads of lily, loads of vanilla. You’ve got to love the smell of luxurious lily and gourmand vanilla to appreciate this fragrance. There is something green and spicy in this fragrance, like fresh juice seeping out of the cut carnation stem. The vanilla is sweet and strong but it’s a proper vanilla pod smell. At first it was too intense for me to enjoy fully but the combination turned creamy and a little bit woody after a while. If I can manage to stand the initial stage, I might be able to wear this one. I’ll try again.

Nose: Mathilde Laurent
Released in 2011.
40ml |around €50. More information: Cartier


Eleven Vanilla Fragrances | Photo Collage by The Perfume Magpie

Eleven Vanilla Fragrances | Photo Collage by The Perfume Magpie

Now I can feel approaching autumn in the air, I long for something evocative and snuggly to wear. Vanilla certainly has those qualities – warm, cuddly and nostalgic – and it would be pretty appealing in the cool autumn days.

After experiencing the different takes on vanilla by ten perfumers, I came to the conclusion; I don’t hate vanilla fragrances, I just prefer the vanilla to be in the background and not on the main stage. A whispering level would be nice. I’ll be re-trying some of the fragrances again in the coming seasons when I swap my sandals and summer dresses for boots and jumpers.

Do you like vanilla in fragrance? What is your favourite?

A Stroll Down Memory Lane: Puredistance WHITE

Magpie & Puredistance WHITE | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

Magpie & Puredistance WHITE | Illustration by The Perfume Magpie

White clouds are moving fast across the endless blue sky, the seasons are rapidly changing day by day. The fields are now dotted with crimson poppies, alkanets, and bee orchids surrounded by the abundance of white wildflowers. Now I can see the signs of fast approaching summer everywhere.  As I watched the swallows crisscrossing the sky, I found myself reflecting on the ephemerality of life and everlasting memories we create along the way. Every single moment we lived through has been stored somewhere inside of us, even though we don’t recall them in our busy daily lives.

I got into this somewhat pensive state just after I tried the newly released fragrance WHITE by Puredistance.

Puredistance WHITE

Puredistance WHITE | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

A sample of Puredistance WHITE arrived in a beautiful white presentation box on one beautiful morning. Inside the box, I found a white satin sachet and a little white flower next to it. Enclosed card said “The main idea behind the creation of Puredistance WHITE Perfume has been to create a perfume so beautiful and positive that it gives the wearer an instant flow of happiness.” How beautiful is that? I like the idea of “happy perfume”. I gave a little sniff to the sample vial and sprayed it on my wrist.

The breath of spring. That was my first impression I got. Luminous rose and sparkling bergamot, completely in harmony with each other, rose up and enveloped me. The next were buttery orris and sweet tonka, I could smell them emerging from the background.  It’s so smooth, soft, blight, and luxurious, like a piece of beautiful silk scarf. Then, something told me to stop analysing it and just experience the wholeness of this fragrance. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

The images of the flowering fields, the sunshine through the spring haze, and the dandelion parachutes dancing in the breeze filled my mind. A gentle, happy spring afternoon. Pure joy.

Flowering Field | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

Flowering Field | Photo by The Perfume Magpie

And then, those images changed and shifted.  I saw the flashes of our wedding on the red rock, two of us lazing around on the beach, visiting the ancient temples, hiking up the volcanoes, watching the sunset together… Memories from the past flooded through me, and with the memories came the intense feelings of happiness. I was seeing other places and times, and above all, smiles. I was happy, we were so happy, and my heart ached… I opened my eyes with tears rolling down on my cheeks. WHITE had opened a floodgate of emotions that have been waiting to be released.

I’ve never experienced or expected to have such multitude of emotional reactions from a fragrance. All the memories were joyful, beautiful and full of love; just like this exquisite Puredistance WHITE.

I went out for a walk to mull over what had happened. The sense of happiness and aches in my heart were still there.  The sun was now going behind the blue shadows of the mountains. The breeze rose, the wildflowers swaying in the rosy evening light and I caught a whiff of warm musky scent of WHITE. Everything around me was breathtakingly beautiful. I allowed myself to surrender to the intense beauty of the moment. I wondered if this beautiful moment too would be stored somewhere inside me as a memory, and one day, it would spring up in an unexpected moment in the future.

Life is ephemeral; it literally comes and goes in the blink of an eye. I told myself to remember to live for the day and, most importantly, appreciate its subtle splendour every single day.


* I wrote this blog post several weeks ago but I couldn’t bring myself to publish it for unknown reasons. – Yukiko


Nose: Antoine Lie

Notes: Rose de Mai from France, Tonka bean absolute from Venezuela, Orris absolute from Italy, Sandalwood from Mysore, Bergamot from Italy, Musk, Vetyver from Haiti and Patchouli from Indonesia

It is available in 17.5ml Perfume Extrait, €155.00 from Puredistance.

Read what others are saying about Puredistance WHITE.
Bonkers about Perfume, Kafkaesque, Perfume Posse, Chemist in the Bottle, CaFleureBon, The Scented Hound, Colognoisseur, Eiderdown Press

Disclosure: Review is based on a sample I received from Puredistance.

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.