Grab Bag Round-Up – April 2015

A look at random things from perfume news to some of the things occupying my attention this month.

Source: hoax-slayer.com

Source: hoax-slayer.com

Training Your Nose: This should be in the perfume news section below, but I wanted to devote more focus on an article in The Telegraph called “How a ‘nose workout’ can unlock the power of smell.” The significant part is this: “The average person is capable of recognising around 10,000 scents and women generally detect more than men. So how can you improve on that? “Smell and write at the same time,” says Fairley. “That’s what you do in perfume school. Words fix the smell in your brain. Make associations.[“…][¶] Fairley quotes Prof George Dodd, who set up the Olfaction Research Group at the University of Warwick, and who affirms that with this practice “you actually strengthen the neural pathways in the brain itself and in turn that helps you to become better at smelling things”.”

This is essentially what I do when I test a perfume, and I think it makes a significant difference. I don’t jot down cursory descriptions, key words, or summations; I take pages of detailed notes in full sentences on a large, yellow legal-pad. For a recent review, there was 8 pages of analysis. Now, I am NOT saying that you should do anything as intense, OCD, or extreme. However, I don’t think the sort of analysis that consists of something like a simple Excel spread-sheets with keywords (something I know a lot of people do) is sufficient if you want to really hone your nose for the finer nuances and to lock the details in your memory. In my opinion, to expand your mental and olfactory Rolodex, the best way to “strengthen the neural pathways” is to take detailed notes on the finer points so that your mind locks in the connection between an ingredient and a particular smell. Not simplistic keyword summations, but full sentences just as you would do in school when analysing a book or science project. It’s just a thought for the most obsessive amongst you if you’re truly keen on developing your sense of smell.

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Les Liquides Imaginaires Saltus & Tellus (Eau Arborante Collection)

Tellus, Saltus & Succus. Source: Les Liquides Imaginaires website.

Tellus, Saltus & Succus. Source: Les Liquides Imaginaires website.

An ode to trees in three parts, from their dark roots surrounded by damp earth and wilted flowers, to their leaves and inner essence, all the way up to their outer canopy and the sky around it — that’s the goal for a trio of new fragrances from Les Liquides Imaginaires. Saltus and Tellus represent the first two stages in this vertical progression, and will be the focus of today’s review.

Les Liquides Imaginaires is a French fragrance house co-founded in 2013 by Philippe Di Méo. According to his website, the goal was two-fold. The first was to return perfume to its essential origins, both as a ceremonial ritual where incense and resins were burnt as a sacred offering to the gods, and as something that triggered dreams, bewitching fantasies, and new worlds for the individual. The second goal was to create new, modern rituals centered on bewitching, new objects.

"Bello Rabelo" for Les Liquides Imaginaires. Photo & rights: Roberto Greco

“Bello Rabelo” for Les Liquides Imaginaires. Photo & rights: Roberto Greco

Les Liquides Imaginaires releases fragrances as a thematic collection of trios. The last one was called Eaux Sanguines, and was centered on alcoholic beverages such as port, red wine, and champagne. I always wanted to try them, not only because I love boozy fragrances of all kind, but also because the brilliant photographer (and now my friend), Roberto Greco, had such a gorgeous rendition of Bloody Wood, the cherry-port one (which you can see in my post about his work). At the time, Les Liquides Imaginaires was not sold in America, and samples were difficult to come by, so I gave up. (The brand is now sold in America, though it is exclusive to Barney’s.) But when I heard about their latest collection and its new theme, I was determined to try it, so I ordered samples of two of them from Europe.

The new trio, photographed by Roberto Greco.  (Direct link to his website embedded within photo.)

The new trio, photographed by Roberto Greco. (Direct link to his website embedded within photo.)

The Eau Arborante Collection was released in early 2015, and each fragrance in the set is an eau de parfum. At the time I ordered my samples, I knew the thematic link between the fragrances, but didn’t realise that they were meant to literally capture the scent of a tree from top to bottom. I was simply driven by the great set of earthy, woody, dark notes for Saltus and Tellus. (The third one, Succus, didn’t capture my attention with its fresher ingredients, and I turned away at the description of an “airy and solar” scent that was like a perfume “in flight.”) For whatever reason, First in Fragrance‘s passing reference in one summation about “a vertical journey from the earth to the sky […] that takes us from the roots to the crown” simply didn’t register. Now that it does, I have to say, I’m impressed on an intellectual level. Vertical progression seems like quite a novel, original approach. On a concrete olfactory level, however, I’m less enthused about the actual smell of the two fragrances, thanks to an accord that forms a unifying, thematic backbone linking them together.

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Couvent des Minimes Cologne of Love (Eau Aimable) & Matines

Couvent des Mimimes hotel and spa in Provence. Source: splendia.com

Couvent des Minimes hotel and spa in Provence. Source: splendia.com

I’m always on the lookout for a bargain basement gem, but they’re not very easy to find. So I decided to look at two newer releases from Couvent des Minimes, a brand with a very solid line of body products and one cult favorite fragrance, the boozy vanilla Eau de Missions. Their latest creations are Eau Aimable (or Cologne of Love), and Matines (or Cologne of the Morning). One of them is worth trying if you’re looking for a bargain floral.

EAU AIMABLE — COLOGNE OF LOVE:

Source: Ulta

Source: Ulta

Like many of the Couvent des Minimes fragrances, Cologne of Love has a few different names. The actual bottle says Eau Aimable, but Couvent des Minimes’ American and British websites call it Botanical Cologne of Love. (I’ll use both names from this point forth.) Regardless of title, it’s a light eau de cologne with an orange label that is centered on fresh, non-indolic, neroli-like orange blossoms. On its website, Aimable’s description and notes read, in part, as follows:

Botanical Cologne of Love gives a feeling of well-being and serenity. [¶] Thanks to its Original Recipe combining Orange Blossom, a source of softness, with 5 Plants selected for their beneficial properties, this exquisite, sparkling, scented water perfumes the skin with a soft and soothing fragrance. The skin is fresh and perfumed, the body is enveloped in softness.

INGREDIENTS
•Orange Blossom: source of softness
•Bergamot, Mandarin: sources of serenity
•Wild Rose: source of hydration
•Nasturtium: source of radiance
•Petitgrain: source of harmony

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

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Penhaligon’s Ostara: Radiant Beauty & Luminous Spring

Photo: Adam Gibbard, SWNS.com. [Photo cropped] Source: dailymail.co.uk.

Photo: Adam Gibbard, SWNS.com. [Photo cropped] Source: dailymail.co.uk.

Penhaligon’s new Ostara is an ode to Springtime and daffodils. It is also one of those rare scents whose opening left me wishing I had poetic talent in order to convey its exquisite beauty and the multitude of images which it inspired in my head. I wished I could paint like an Impressionist master, so that I could capture its rare sense of luminosity. I wished there were a way I could adequately express its essence, its intricate delicacy, and Bertrand Duchaufour‘s technical brilliance — which is on full display here, more than usual, in my opinion. I looked for sonnets, paintings, something, to convey just what the spectacular opening felt and did to me, but I failed time and again, because everything seemed trite or a clichéd in comparison. Perhaps that is because Ostara’s deceptively simple, seemingly unadorned opening is ultimately more of a rapturous sensation than a bouquet of notes. It’s as though a moment in place and time — as well as all the radiant light of that day — had been squeezed into one bottle. I wish I had the poetic words….

Source: voyageenbeaute.com

Source: voyageenbeaute.com

Ostara is a new eau de toilette that was released a few weeks ago. On its website, Penhaligon’s describes the scent as follows:

Introducing Ostara, the beautiful new solar floral inspired by the ultimate spring time bloom, the daffodil. Master Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour created the fragrance, using his own childhood memories of abundant, sweet narcissus flowers in Auvergne, in France to capture the optimism and sunlight that spring brings. Named after the Goddess of Spring, Ostara represents resurgence from bulb to bud to bloom.

Daffodils with grape hyacinths via wallpapershares.com

Daffodils with grape hyacinths via wallpapershares.com

Ostara opens in an affirming burst of green and yellow: Juniper, Violet Leaf Absolute and Spearmint are layered against vibrant notes of Aldehydes, Blackcurrant and Clementine. Narcissus Absolute leads the sun-drenched floral bouquet, gathered with Hyacinth, Hawthorn, and Cyclamen, which are given depth by the humming warmth of beeswax. The fragrance then settles into a powdered, resinous base of Benzoin, Vanilla, Styrax, Amber and White Wood effects.

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