I’m BACK! Histoires de Parfums Tubéreuse 1 Capricieuse Review

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“Did you miss me? Did you miss me? Did you miss me?”

“But he’s dead, you told me he was dead… so how can he be back?”

Fans of the hit BBC series Sherlock will immediately get the reference to the return of Moriarty (Sherlock’s arch-nemesis) at the end of the final episode of Season 3. I do suppose I should be allowed to provide this ‘spoiler’, seeing as how the episode came out at the very beginning of the year in January, so fans of the show would already have known about it. In any case, it feels good to be back. A number of reasons have made it difficult for me to blog about perfume for some time now:

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Signature Fragrances – Halwa, Lola & Woody Conjure

source: Signature Fragrances Facebook Page

source: Signature Fragrances Facebook Page

Some months back, I received a few samples from an upcoming fragrance company based in London called Signature Fragrances. I’d recorded my initial thoughts on paper back then, but never got round to posting as I was in the midst of final examinations. And then summer came by and I had to deal with moving back to Singapore, and finally preparation for my move to the USA. But reading Lukasz’ reviews of two of their fragrances over at Chemist in the Bottle reminded me of my backlog, and since I had some time to spare, I decided to post my thoughts. Even now, though, the brand hasn’t been properly launched, since the webpage still lists the fragrance oils as “coming soon”. Well, I guess we all operate on different time scales.

So, here are my thoughts on three of the fragrance oils. As a warning, let it be said that it starts out rather rough, but then gets better.

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Moving to the USA… and some fragrant musings.

source: avdoeswhat.com

I haven’t posted in a gazillion years, not because I don’t want to, but because I’ve been swamped with my move to the USA. First there were the visa applications, which involved so many bureaucratic processes that I must be wholly covered in sticky red tape at this point. Then there was the packing – how do you fit your entire life for one year in one suitcase that can only weigh 23kg? And finally, there was the meeting up with friends and spending time with family whom I wouldn’t be seeing for an entire year. So yes, blogging kinda took a backseat.

Right now, though, I’m sitting in a room in New Haven, Connecticut, with plenty of time to spare before University Life starts (I’m doing a Masters program at Yale University), so I can share a bit about what it’s like down here. After a grueling flight that lasted more than 24 hours, followed by a 3.5 hour shuttle bus ride from JFK Airport to New Haven, I was exhausted beyond belief. Checking in to the student dormitory wasn’t the breeze I expected it to be, as I had to lug my suitcase up and down three times – the first time I went up, I realised they hadn’t given me the keys to my room, the second time, I thought my keys didn’t fit, so I went down again to get them changed, whereupon they checked and told me that it DID fit, so I went up a third time and voila, fit they did.

source: cannygranny.org

I was pretty sure I smelt quite funky at that point, so the first thing I did was to hit the showers. After getting cleaned up, and upon returning to the room, I noticed that the room smelt rather strange (and it still does), with the odor emanating from the mini-fridge that sat in the corner. I suppose that’s what you get when you let mould grow in a fridge and when you leave a jar of mayo to rot over the summer. Not the most fragrant of starts. I cleaned out the fridge, but the smell still remains. I’m just waiting for Tuesday to arrive, when I can take the bus out to the nearest mall (which is an hour away) to perhaps get some room scents from Bath and Body Works.

Then there are the fragrances I brought over. I didn’t bring any full bottles over due to a lack of luggage space, but I packed some decants to hopefully last me the year. It was an agonizing process to whittle down my choices down to 10, but eventually I managed. I made my decisions based on a number of criteria:

  1. Wearability. Would I wear these fragrances often? Being the fickle-minded person that I am, I rarely repeat the fragrances I wear in a month, so the fragrances I chose would have to be those I wouldn’t mind wearing more frequently.
  2. Uniqueness. The fragrances had to be somewhat different from one another. No point choosing 10 vetivers to wear, or 10 tuberoses.
  3. Likeability. I had to really like these fragrances, which seems kind of like a no-brainer, but when you’re limited to 10 choices, you want to make sure that you do feel really happy whenever you wear any of them.
  4. Versatility. These were the fragrances that I had to wear all the time, be it summer or winter, day or evening. They had to be fragrances that I could wear whenever, wherever.
  5. Emotional Resonance. The fragrances have to move me emotionally.

So, what fragrant selections did I make for my stay in the USA?

  • Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

The diva tuberose that always brings me much joy, when I want to smell resplendent and to stand out. I have a thing for tuberose, and Carnal Flower is one of the best.

L’Eau d’Hiver is what I wear when I just want to smell good without offending anyone’s dainty olfactory sensibilities. With its amorphous, sheer haze of iris and heliotrope, it makes for excellent wearing in the heat.

Is there anything quite like bewitching as Ormonde Jayne Woman, with its unique note of black hemlock and woody witchiness?

I wear L’Heure Bleue everywhere, even when I’m out doing grocery shopping. I figure this is the one I’ll run out of first.

  • Guerlain Après l’Ondée

This ethereal beauty is what I pop out when I’m feeling melancholic, sometimes when I’m lonely.

Is there anything quite as cheerful as Séville à l’Aube? This orange blossom bombshell ticks every one of my boxes and lifts my spirits whenever I wear it.

  • Vero Profumo Rozy EDP

There’s something dirty and skanky about this rose that seduces me.

  • Vero Profumo Mito Voile d’Extrait

I had to have at least one green scent with me, and this was it.

Cherry-tinged iris, powder and blush. For a throwback to the past.

  • Le Labo Labdanum 18

My go-to powdery animalic scent that’s like a fur coat (not that I wear fur).

So that was it, my perfume selection for my move to the USA!

What perfumes would you bring along with you if you had to live abroad for a year? What criteria would you use to help you make your choices?

~ The Smelly Vagabond

Moschino – I Love Love

source: iloboyou.com

It’s often far too easy to rip apart cheap designer fragrances with one’s words, much less fragrances that call themselves “cheap”, or worse still, flankers with ditzy, nonsensical names like Cheap & Chic I Love Love (henceforth referred to simply as I Love Love). The question is: do I love I Love Love or do I not love I Love Love? (How’s that for a mouthful of love?) We’ll get to the answer near the end of this review.

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Rochas – Tocade

She sits at her vanity table, powdering her nose.
The bed in her boudoir has been slept in, the scarlet satin sheets crumpled,
a suggestive hint of the previous night’s activities.
A little bit of rouge to accentuate her cheekbones
although she doesn’t really need it, flushed as she is.
Her lips are ruby red, pillowed and pouty;
she presses them together, plumps them
Face done, she starts on her nails, painting them a
deep crimson of passion and enticement
She’s ready.

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Guest Post – “Why I don’t Wear Florals” by Andrew Smells

source: doobybrain.com

The Smelly Vagabond: Today we have my first ever guest blogger and fellow fragrance friend, Andy, who recently started writing at Andrew Smells. We first met at a an Arquiste evening with founder Carlos Huber at Bloom Perfumery. After exchanging contact details, we began emailing one another, but things really took off when we met up again in Central London for a bout of sniffing. Since then, we have been regularly corresponding via Whatsapp (it’s so convenient!), comparing notes on fragrances and enabling one another to buy more perfumes.

“This isn’t another old woman floral is it?”

Was the question I asked a few times of the Vagabond on our mini “Tour de Smells” in London.
I consider myself open minded and am willing to have my tastes challenged, but there are some notes and qualities I find off-putting in a fragrance.

That means I wouldn’t wear them but also I find them painful to smell and make a face like a scared cat upon inhaling.

I remember at school there was a joke where you would be asked,

“Do you like potatoes?”
no
“Do you like chips?”
Sure.”
“Then you like potatoes ahahaha”

Clearly they aren’t the same thing, even though they share an ingredient, and so it seems my disdain of florals has a similar pattern; I don’t like potatoes, I do like chips.

It’s powdery, clear, loud and petal-y florals that I bemoan.
Petal-y is my way of describing how a fragrance smells too much like a flower and nothing else. The flower is tangible and I want to spit it out as if someone had hidden rose petals in my sandwich.

It’s soliflores and bouquets that scream:

HERE ARE THE FLOWERS YOU ORDERED

They just seem uninspired, but that’s a reflection on my personal taste and what I like a fragrance to do (complexity and development). But if you like all of these things I am cracking the whip at, then good for you. I’m glad someone likes them.

It’s probably memory and evocation too. Stuffy old women that belong in a police lineup for Madame Bucket (It’s pronounced Bouquet!) who wear too much makeup and want to smell like the roses they are pruning all day long in their retirement village.
Too bitter of me?

Floral outift to match

They are linear, dull. It’s a flower.
An hour later; it’s still a flower.
Nothing wrong with a linear scent, but of all the things to choose to smell like!

So now I’m going to demonstrate how I like floral elements so long as they make up a small percentage of the total blend and are not pronounced or distinct.

Opus 1870 by Penhaligon’s is wood and rose. Decent fragrance. The powerful wood is at the fore so this is like a single rose on a log pile ready for the fire.

Fahrenheit 32 by Dior is a simple concoction of vanilla, vetiver, and orange blossom. Here it’s the sweetness that wins out for me whilst the blossom gives a clean white quality.

My two favourite fougeres, Eau Sauvage Extreme and Rive Gauche Pour Homme, both contain lavender and are great because they have balanced composition but pass me a paper strip of Lavandula and I’ll do my goat face.

Coco Mademoiselle, which has a hefty rose backed with vanilla and fruit, or Elie Saab that’s got orange flower, jasmine, and honey.

I like feminine florals so long as they come with something sweet, a jar of honey or lashings of vanilla, anything to prevent me thinking I’m just smelling a flower.

And so it was, as I was passed two paper strips that I sniffed deeply and exclaimed delight that the Vagabond also lit up with satisfaction in having shown me that actually, maybe I do like florals – Shalimar with it’s iris, jasmine, rose and Portrait of a Lady with a distinct yet palatable rose.

What have I learnt?

To be more specific with my complaints and to relax my rules. It’s not helpful for me to have “I don’t like florals” as a belief. It can only limit my scope of experiencing new fragrances and whilst it’s good to know what you like, if you hone that spotlight too narrowly you might miss a beautiful fragrance simply because you once said –

I don’t like florals

The Smelly Vagabond: Well it seems as though our dear friend Andy has learnt a thing or two about florals! I haven’t yet given up on my quest to get him to like soliflores, bouquets and “old women florals” (which are absolutely my thing). Do pay Andy a visit on his blog and welcome him to the blogging community! 🙂

L’Artisan Parfumeur – Nuit de Tubéreuse

source: deviantart

Let’s face it: Nuit de Tubéreuse is neither ‘nuit’ nor ‘tuberose’ in any sense of those words. Despite a somewhat promising opening, in which the floral notes sing together harmoniously, the whole choir falls apart into an off-key mess in less than five minutes, with a cheap orange blossom soap attempting to soprano its voice over the rest, but cracking nevertheless – the result is a sweet, faceless dreck that seems to have been cobbled together in a focus group… except L’Artisan Parfumeur doesn’t do focus groups. This is not the beautiful ‘abstraction’ that Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez speak of in describing Beyond Paradise in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide; rather, it is a clueless Bath and Body Works wannabe. Heck, I’ve smelt better Bath and Body Works fragrances that I’d much rather wear, thank you very much. To make matters worse, Nuit de Tubéreuse degenerates into a sweet vat of musk that further underscores the fragrance’s utter lack of direction, in the same way that a tourist visiting Paris for the first time tries to navigate his way around without a map, except the latter experience is far more enjoyable. Imagine my dismay when I found out that it was created by one of my favourite perfumers, Monsieur Bertrand Duchaufour. I guess even the best have their bad hair days. Avoid it if you actually like perfume.

~ The Smelly Vagabond

Serge Lutens – Fourreau Noir

source: sergelutens.com

source: sugarbombbakeryblog

If one were to sum up Fourreau Noir in brief, it would be this: Lutens takes lavender and gives it his signature oriental treatment. It dispels lavender’s common associations with ‘grannies’ (hopefully that’s not what you lot think) and fusty scented drawers, and instead marries its herbal elements with a very edible tonka bean that is delectably creamy, and dare I say… fluffy. Throw some musk into the mix and we get a perfume that is thoroughly warming through and through. This lends it a quality that can best be described as the olfactory equivalent of a mink stole – not that I have worn one, nor ever intend to wear an animal – a furry coat for the coldest of winters.

source: citysafe.org

But then midway through, the edibility gives way to the strangest olfactory flash mob – a turpentine note emerges, which I suspect to be the result of an interaction between the medicinal aspects of tonka bean and the herbal aspects of lavender, and the composition veers towards a woody dry down, which is pleasant enough. Once the surprise of the turpentine wears off, the mild shock on one’s face is replaced by the widest of grins that can only be an indication of the adrenaline stemming from a sensational roller coaster ride. I tend to have a hate-hate relationship with lavender, so it definitely is high praise when I say that this is my favourite lavender fragrance and that I actually love it. Sadly, as with most brands, prices have been inflating year-on-year, so all I can say is try it while you can still afford to.

~ The Smelly Vagabond

Christian Dior – Cuir Cannage

source: mimifroufrou.com

If Knize Ten were a leather-clad biker rocking a Harley-Davidson, and if Jolie Madame were a cigarette-wielding bad ass Mama-san dressed in a violet cheongsam, then Cuir Cannage has to be a smartly-dressed, high-ranking executive striding confidently into the office while carrying a leather briefcase/handbag.

Diehard fans of leather who whine about suede not being leather will have nothing to complain about, nor will those who like their leather to come without too many floral or animalic embellishments. Despite the somewhat medicinal opening, Cuir Cannage does its job of being a smooth and elegant leather, and does it well. The light sprinkling and dusting of powder throughout the composition keeps it restrained and serves as a reminder that Cuir Cannage isn’t about delivering knock-out, migraine-inducing punches in the manner of LM Parfums’ Hard Leather, but seeks rather to be the definition of refinement. And just when one is left wondering if the person wearing the suit has a pulse, a tiny (very tiny!) trace of birch makes its presence known, a reminder that it is still very much human at its heart.

I could see Harvey Specter from Suits wearing Cuir Cannage.

Ultimately, Cuir Cannage is ‘safe’, but in a good way. It’s very nice, very nice indeed.

~ The Smelly Vagabond

Guerlain – Insolence

I remember wearing Insolence (EDT) while driving in my car to pick up some friends to go for supper. Supper, for those unfamiliar with the strange ways of the regular Singaporean, refers to the rather full-sized meal that one eats AFTER already having had dinner (the evening one, I know the meaning of dinner varies from country to country), usually anywhere from 10pm – 2 or 3am. To put this in context, we usually have dinner at around 6-7pm, unlike some countries where dinner starts at 9 and finishes at midnight, which was my experience when I lived in a French friend’s lovely home for a vacation! The size of our supper meals sometimes matches up to the size of our dinner meals, and can be anything ranging from nasi lemak (an extremely lip-smacking rice dish cooked in coconut milk and topped with plenty of other ingredients) to a bowl of steaming mee pok (blanched noodles with minced pork, braised shiitake mushrooms and lots of sauce). In short, supper in Singapore is pure gluttony.

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