I just came back from a week long vacation in London and I had BLAST folks! It's been a week already and I so much to catch up to in Basenotes and other perfume blogs LoL! Well anyways, my trip started on the 12th where my friend and I arrived at Grosvenor House at around 1pm to check in. We didn't waste time at the hotel and a half hour after we arrived we left to check out my favorite shopping haven, Bond Street! We then went to Dover Street to check out the CDG flagship store, Dover Street Market. The place is huge! It's still overwhelming everytime I go in; 5 floors of CDG, Lanvin and other niche brands. But I went there to test out my number 1 on the lemming list: Daphne . I expected an ugly, loud scrubber, but what I got was a very strange, old-school (almost Guerlain) floral disguised in an oriental suit. It started out with something faintly similiar to today's Mitsouko, with the orange replacing the peach, and had that fuzzy, bread-like topnotes running through it. I was pleasantly surprised continued to sniff until the drydown. Although the tuberose is the major player here, I couldn't help but notice that it had a chypre feel to it; is treemoss listed in the notes? Anyways, I was this close to purchasing it, but I decided that I should purchase a decant and try it then. I was also surprised to see it sold everywhere (Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty, DSM).
Some time passed and we (I!) decided to check out another one on my lemming list: Amaranthine! I quickly spritzed some on my skin and again I was pleasantly surpised! I expected a lot of banana leaf and condensed milk (given the notes!); and what I got was a tropical floral in the same vein as Manomalia, but less intense and indolic. During the drydown, it got creamier and sweeter and a bit more indolic. The lovely SA told me that it had the highest percentage of ylang-ylang for a perfume. I wonder if the new IFRA regulations will give it a break? I also saw the lovely parfum flacon for it (which retails for 350 quidaroos for 30ml!). I asked the SA if she had a tester and at first she said she didn't. I pressed on and on, and she finally said she can show me the one on display! The parfum version, although very similiar to the EDP, cuts straight through to the indoles and "condensed milk" accord. It is truly heavenly and swoon-worthy. Actually I didn't expect it to be that much different, but it is (but not 350 pounds worthy). She gave me a couple of testers for the Amaranthine to try out.
The next day, we stopped by Ormonde Jayne to try out the new Tiare. Well, Tiare is not what it sounds like. It is NOT a tropical floral, but is a very Chanel-like chypre. It is impecabbly made and feels very, very solid. I was on the brink of purchasing it, but they didn't have any stock of the EDP or the parfum. I asked the SA if she had a tester of Seraphim which my friend could smell. She said that she didn’t know that perfume and called upstairs, “Linda! Do you have perfume called Seraphim?!” OMG!!! I was in the presence of Linda Pilkington! She came downstairs, with a bottle of Seraphim to show my friend. I quickly shoved my friend aside, and greeted Ms. Pilkington, “Ms. Pilkington! It’s an honor to meet you! I’m a big, big fan of your perfumes!” Bla, bla, bla, bla!!!!! I couldn’t shut up!!!! Seriously, if you didn’t know who I was speaking to, you’d think I was speaking to Obama! She is a short, lovely, petite woman with a very British “dry” sense of humor and quite a bit of sarcasm. In a way, we got along really well, because I’m not much of a people’s person, and I have a dry sense of humor as well. She asked me where I found out about Seraphim. I told her I read about it on Nathan Branch’s blog and purchased it blind from 20ltd, and that it was my most satisfying blind purchase ever! Linda then dabbed a bit of Seraphim on my friend’s wrist and then he told me that he hated me because he loved it so much. Linda also joked that my friend couldn’t buy it because he wasn’t from the fifty people who had the perfume. She told us that she had picked #33 out of 50 for herself because it was the number of the house she had stayed in all her life; mine is #29. She also mentioned that Tiare was such a painstaking perfume to make because tiare absolute was such a pain in the ass to get. The company that produces tiare absolute didn’t mention to her that it would take 8-9 months to gather the absolute between bulk refills. Not only does she have an enormous waiting list for Tiare, but she has to make it in such a meticiulous manner that has proven very time consuming. We also talked about the different concentrations of ingredients in all her perfume. For example, she mentioned her Ormonde Woman has 6% of hemlock in the formula, while the very-noticeable oud in Ormonde Man has 1/1000 percent! That goes to show, that a perfumer has to be extremely skilled in preparing ingredient and using them correctly. Well, we talked for about an hour before we had to leave to catch a play in Covent Garden. It was a pleasure talking to Linda and was really an honor.
The next day browsing through Harvey Nichols, I stopped by the By Kilian counter hoping to sniff the new Rose Oud; they didn’t have it and said they would be getting it by March. What I did sniff was the new Balenciaga, which sorry to burst your lemming bubble folks, I found too fruity and watery for a supposedly homage to the great violet-laden Le Dix. Pass… I did smell the new Intelligence & Fantasy and actually found it quite interesting. It starts off very lemony, then quickly veers off into a candied sweetness that it not cloying and alluring. It disappeared very quickly though. Will have to try again.
Later that day we stopped by Liberty to sniff the new Malle candles and all sorts of goodies. I was greeted by the lovely SA which recognized me immediately and asked me how my Carnal Flower was doing! We chatted for a bit and then asked her to show me the candles and incense. Now folks, these have been on the top of my lemming list for quite a while now, so my expectations were huuuuge! Let’s cut to the chase. Un Gardenia, la Nuit, the priciest of the bunch, is the most realistic gardenia I have ever smelt. Imagine taking Velvet Gardenia, stripping it of the sweetness, making the cheese-note bearable, and then dumping a wallop of butter to make it…well, as smooth as butter. This is truly breathtaking. 1er Mai, smelt like a more natural Diorissimo and is a very true-to-life lily of the valley. I would imagine vintage Diorissimo smelling like this. Rosa Rugosa is a very pretty, watery rose; not earthy and luscious as Une Rose but more liquer-like and closer to Caron Rose. Rubrum Lily is one spicy carnation! I remember someone mentioning it smelling like Jar Golconda and yes…it smells exactly the same! My favorite of the bunch! Jurassic Flower is basically a citrusy magnolia and smells like a more natural AdP Magnolia Nobile. Magnolia just isn’t my thing. Saint des Saints smells like…Serge Noire!!!! And wait for it…Santal Cardamome smells like…Saint des Saints but with a touch of cardamom and bit more sandalwood! The difference is negligible, yet Santal Cardamome is twice the price of Saint des Saints. I’m guessing Santal Cardamome has actual Mysore sandalwood in it. Coffee Society and Russian Nights, the two candles yet to be released, were pulled back by Malle because he wasn’t satisfied with the formula. I didn’t purchase any of the candles, but purchased the Fleur Mechanique instead with Un Gardenia as the free refill and Rubrum Lily as an extra. Yaaay! My first fragrant purchase! I also ran into the Francis Kurkdijan line and found only a couple of scents…okay. The orange blossom one was nice, but none actually attracted me. I think I have to try these as decants first, then judge, but till then, they were very ho-hum! Oh, and I smelt the new Annick Goutal, Ninfeo Mio which I found to be a weird citrusy, figgy thingamajig! Blech!!!
The next day we stopped by the new Santa Maria Novella store just a few meters away from Fortnum and Mason. I have sniffed a lot of them before but never really gave them justice. What really bothers me, is that they have such a huge selection of perfumes that when you actually do find one you love, another one captures your attention too. Anyways, I liked many of them and found them actually quite original and old-school at the same time. The one that really cut straight through my heart was Peau d’Espanage (Spanish Leather). It was deeply animalic, leathery and had a distinct vintage vibe to it. I was smitten to the point of madness! That was the only one I bought from the thrity+ fragrances I smelt. When I sniffed my arm about an hour later, I knew why I had fallen so hard for this one…it smelt exactly like vintage Rochas Femme. The sweaty, dirty leather coated in butter and topped with oakmoss. Heaven!!!! If you love vintage Femme and cry everytime at the thought of your depleting ¼ ounce parfum, fear not…purchase this masterpiece!
My most memorable fragrant experience, probably EVER, was when we visited Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie. I am friends with all the wonderful SA’s there and they have grown accustomed to me visiting everyday just to spritz a little Jicky parfum or just plain browsing. This day, however was different…Roja Dove himself was there! I’ve met Roja about a year and half ago in Harrods but didn’t gather the courage to say hi. We approached Roja and greeted him and he greeted us with a firm and friendly handshake. We started to chat about where we were staying and what restaurants we went to and all that came with a London holiday. The conversation soon veered into a deep, passionate talk about perfume. I told him that I read somewhere that his first memory of scent was that of his mothers’ sillage, and he replied with a sigh and got a little choked up! This really touched me and I truly felt Roja’s true passion for perfume was intertwined with family. I then told him that I had a passion for vintage perfumes and had started collecting vintages such as Vol de Nuit and others. I asked him what he thought of the current Mitsouko and he said, “Not much!” He wore Mitsouko for thirty years before discovery the tragedy that is the reformulation. He was with a client who asked to smell Mitsouko. Roja then told one of his SA’s to spritz some Mitsouko parfum on a blotter. Before Roja hands anything fragrant to a client, he has to smell it himself. When he smelt the reformulated Mitsouko, he said with a puzzled look, “What’s this?!” From that day on, he never wore Mitsouko. I myself, quite like the new Mitsouko, but agree with Roja, that it is very different from the vintage. I asked him what is his favorite raw material and he told me that it would have to be ambergris (among others). Roja then told me a story he had with a piece of ambergris. He was showing his favorite piece of ambergris, one that he had treasured deeply for many decades, at the Haute Parfumerie to prospective clients. When Roja was busy explaining the different facets of ambergris, one of the attendees stole the piece discreetly. Roja didn’t find out about what happened until everyone was gone. He was deeply saddened because he, one day, wanted to be buried with it!!!!! OMG! Is that sad or what!??!!? Roja mentioned that Shalimar has changed immensouly and gone was the incense and bright bergamot topnotes and now smells like vanilla custard. I quite like Shalimar but never smelt the vintage. He told me I should look for a vintage Shalimar parfum because it is a very stable formula unlike Vol de Nuit. He mentioned that the two least changed Guerlains, were Vol de Nuit and Jicky. We talked for a couple of hours about perfumery and then he mentioned if we had read his book. I mentioned that I had heard about it but never got the chance to purchase it. He took out two cellophane wrapped copies of his book, signed it himself, to me and my friend and then continued to explain to us all about the book. I also took a picture with him and will upload it as soon as I get a copy from my friend. Now, is that icing on a cake or what?!
So all in all, it was a very pleasant, fragrant holiday experience. I hope I didn’t bore you with my extremely LONG post (and this is paraphrased!), but I just wanted to share my fabulous experience with you lovely folks!
PS: Excuse the spelling mistakes and the fragments!!!