Niche & Artisanal Giveaway: Bogue, Papillon, Neela Vermeire, Ensar Oud, St. Clair Scents & Sammarco

Source: Amazon.com

For perfumistas, reading about fragrances is fun but smelling what you’ve read about is even better. As most of you probably know, Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez just published their Perfumes The Guide 2018, the first new version of the book in ten years. The authors sought to examine the changed perfume landscape since the original Guide was released and, consequently, there is a heightened focus on both niche and indie/artisan houses.

I haven’t done a giveaway in years and years, but this seemed like a good occasion to make an exception. One of the criticisms of the book, in some quarters at least, is that too many of the houses are small and unknown. That won’t be the case if you’ve been a regular reader of this blog because I’ve long emphasized niche and indie/artisanal houses over big designer ones. In fact, a good number of the brands that I’ve covered are reviewed in the book.

Continue reading

Neela Vermeire Créations Niral

Niral, the new release from Neela Vermeire Créations (hereinafter “Neela Vermeire” or “NVC”), is a play on East and West, India and Europe, and the silken creations which ensued when they met as one with the creation of Tussar Silk. For me, however, Niral is about a very specific, concrete, olfactory interaction: a play on cedar, a play in multiple acts where a variety of other elements — rooty irises, sugared loukhoum/Turkish Delight roses slathered with jam, lipstick violets, sandalwood, spices, creamy magnolia, soft ambrette musk, and even wisps of jasmine green tea — all serve as supporting players in a constantly revolving game of musical chairs.

Niral, its flacon, and box. Photo from Neela Vermeire.

Continue reading

2015 in Review: Best New Releases & Personal Favourites

Source: World in a Bottle Facebook page. Photographer unknown.

Source: World in a Bottle Facebook page. Photographer unknown.

As another year draws to a close, it’s time to look back at the best of 2015. For me, this was an iffy year for brand new releases because there weren’t a huge number of fragrances that stood out from start to finish. The exceptions to the rule were impressive or lovely but, when I went back over all the fragrances that I covered, I found the vast majority fell woefully short.

One reason stems from the hot new trends of the year. Leather was a major compositional note in 2015 or, to be more precise, the tarry, woody, forest-fire smokiness that purports to recreate the sense of “leather.” Another hot trend seemed to be a deluge of black pepper. Neither one is appealing to me, particularly since their chemical nature was usually so intrusive as to be front-and-center. Yet, that sort of excessive darkness was, in and of itself, the most common stylistic approach, one that was frequently juxtaposed next to shapeless white florals, amorphous spiciness, or some sort of limp “freshness.” The end result was that a lot of new releases smelt far too similar for me to find them distinctive, interesting, or compelling. In addition, many of them lacked the quality to warrant the higher prices that we’ve been seeing across the board.

Continue reading

Neela Vermeire Creations Pichola

"Cleopatra," by  John William Waterhouse via Wikipedia.

“Cleopatra,” by John William Waterhouse via Wikipedia.

One fateful morning, Cleopatra sailed up the Nile to meet Antony on a barge whose billowing sails were made from gossamer-light orange blossom petals. Her white silk robe bore a long train made from even more orange blossoms, carried by her handmaidens, Neroli and Mandarin, who wear garlands of jasmine in their hair. The trio danced joyously and exuberantly, sending out a bouquet far and wide like a royal proclamation, one whose sweet floralcy was redolent with tart tanginess from green fruits and the zesty oils of the rind. The fruits’ sun-ripened juices poured off their bodies to drip below decks on sailors hewing oars of buttercream sandalwood and green vetiver. It was as though the Queen had captured every part of an orange tree —  from the bright floralcy of the fresh flowers to the multi-faceted fragrance of its fruit, the green leaves which surround them, and the wood which bears them on the tree — and made them all genuflect in worship before enveloping her like a protective shield.

Artist unknown. Source: ldmark.com

Artist unknown. Source: ldmark.com

As the barge moved up the Nile, the scenery changed and the mood softened. The white-blossomed sails now merely fluttered in a soft breeze; the pulvarizingly energetic, zesty, brightness of the wild Bollywood music became a slow dance; and the Queen of the Orange Blossoms lay languidly in sensuous repose on a pile of greenness as a golden haze of velvety ylang-ylang and sweet jasmine hung heavy in the air. The barge itself almost seems to melt into creaminess, and the water glistened with a shimmering of benzoin powder. They occasionally passed bits of driftwood, overly desiccated and oddly out-of-place, but they were small pieces that soon passed out of sight. When they arrived at the meeting place, the barge docked and you could see its name: Pichola.

Continue reading