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During the past 10 weeks I had enough time to go through my perfume bottles and samples, making an inventory of a kind. I ended up playing like a little kid with perfume and desert sand, and just sniffing certain fragrances made me close my eyes: I traveled in time and space to deserts I long for, or the ones I’ve always dreamt about.

I wanted to share them with you, and maybe inspire you to do the same, so here are the 5  desert-themed fragrances I wore the most this spring! I’m not (never) saying that these are the TOP5 ever or anything like that – you’ll make your own choices. I’ll try to explain why I singled out these five, and what makes them special.

Bienetre. The moment I thought about this phrase, sweet memories surfaced quickly: just last Summer we were getting bucketloads of bienetre while cruising along winding roads of Côte d’Azur, and the region of ProvanceAlps MaritimesGrasse included, of course! (if you want to find out more about things to do in Grasse, you can find my travelogues here and here)

“Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly One, thy sanctuary!
Your magic binds again
What convention strictly divides;*
All people become brothers,*
Where your gentle wing abides.” – Friedrich Schiller

Oh, what a joy: Friedrich Schiller for a read, Beethoven for my ears, Klimt for my eyes…and Atelier des Ors White Collection for my nose!

There I was, walking streets of Vienna early in the morning: from Graben, alongside Wiener Staatsoper (Opera House) towards parks surrounding Museumquartier, moving on to Secession Building at Friedrichstrasse 12.

Its doors were closed, at 10 AM temperature was rising above 27C: the building of Secession is currently under construction and small groups of visitors, not larger than ten are allowed to enter and see Beethoven Frieze by Klimt. I waited patiently.

Three months have passed since I first had a chance to sample Atelier Des Ors White Collection! I was selfish, I must admit: I needed to test them on my skin, to get to know them and yes! I became a fan. I smell great, I thought: here you go, my perfume, I am taking you to see the source of the idea standing behind this collection!

When art forms meet…miracles happen! Perfume as an art form? Here we go with that question again. Allow me to quote Mr. Chandler Burr:

“Works of art must elicit emotion, thought and some reaction. At their best they make their audience perceive reality differently than they did before experiencing the work. Works of scent do all these things brilliantly.”

Art, craft or design: whatever your opinion on perfumes is, what is certain is that they engage senses, elicit emotions and that olfactory art is a wearable art form! We are wearing art (in the best cases, yes)!

I first encountered the White Collection by Atelier des Ors during a closed presentation held at Esxence – The Scent of Excellence in Milano earlier this year. As much as I was impressed by a new addition to the previous, „Black Collection“ line – Bois Sikar (you can read my full review here), which left me thirsty, I was eager to discover what stands behind white packaging of the new, not yet disclosed line.

Mr. Jean Philippe Clermont and Ms. Megan Paki were all smiling while talking about the new collection: smiles reaching beyond eyes and stretched lips, genuine smiles: you could feel their joy and excitement! This was contagious! There it was, right in front of me: an idea, a story, a perfumer, fine ingredients and a niche house: all elements you might need for a great new olfactory experience!

I took the samples home, wore and tested them for months on my skin. Even that was not enough: I had to travel in order to research deeper, to get to know my perfume better. I had to see the source of the idea, I had to hear that music, I had to read poetry, preferably in original (German). So I did and when I completed my quest, this is when I can share my review with you.

Nuda Veritas, Crepuscule de Ames and Choeur des Anges, a triptych in white bottles and boxes:

White is where it all starts, which is obvious if you look at the presentation of perfumes. White is paper we write upon, blank is the screen before we start typing. A void we aim to fulfill with our own creation. A new beginning…New hope!

Gold. Klimt painted with gold, gold flakes in bottles are Atelier Des Ors signature detail.
Orange. The connecting element between perfumes in this triptych, created by perfumer Marie Salamagne, is present in citrus notes: mandarin, neroli and orange blossom form the atmosphere.

Joy. The main idea is human quest for joy, inspired by Gustav Klimt’s Beethoveen Frieze (1902.), a monumental work of art, taking its theme from Richard Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Vienna. This is where I went, to see and feel this masterpiece once again, to the Secession Building in Vienna. I walked in, wearing my „Choir of Angels“. This is where it all finally made perfect sense to me, this is where I connected with these three perfumes on a much deeper level.

Joy. Daughter from Elysium (heaven). Aren’t we all in search of joy? Isn’t that the deepest desire of all human beings, happiness? Let’s take a quick look at the protagonists mentioned:

Friedrich Schiller died in 1805. At the age of 45. During his lifetime, Schiller was a close friend with the famous writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. What was his source of joy? If you look at his biography, clearly it is not when he was a young man attending a Military Academy. We can only guess that he was happy when he could do what he was best at writing.

Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” was used by Beethoven for the choral movement of his Ninth Symphony. What made Ludwig Beethoven a happy man?

We do know that he was an exceptional composer who struggled against deafness.

Interesting is that many of his most accomplished works were created during the time he was – deaf. In a note dated October 6, 1802, and referred to as “The Heiligenstadt Testament,” he writes: “O you men who think or say that I am malevolent, stubborn or misanthropic, how greatly do you wrong me. You do not know the secret cause which makes me seem that way to you and I would have ended my life — it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had brought forth all that I felt was within me.” Art. Contributing. Creating.

Gustav Klimt. A painter, raised in poverty. Scandalous at his time, a lifelong bachelor with countless affairs. It is said that he fathered 14 children along his way. What made him happy?

I think his most famous quote might hide an answer to this question: “Whoever wants to know something about me—as an artist, the only notable thing—ought to look carefully at my pictures and try to see in them what I am and what I want to do.”

Beethoven Frieze: a starting point for these three perfumes, a monumental work of art. Thirty-four meters wide and two meters high, currently under restoration. A masterpiece of art. Let’s see how each perfume relates to it, the way I see it:

NUDA VERISTAS: The naked truth. This is the beginning on the quest for happiness. She is pure, arms streched out, the floating female Genii. Her eyes are closed as she reaches out to the world, to embrace it, to be embraced.

It opens up with gentle citruses, bright and optimistic. You can almost feel the softness of flower petals touching your skin, cooling it down. I don’t know why but my first thought was: I wish I wore this perfume on my wedding day! What a perfect bridal!

This optimistic, bright opening very smoothly transitions to reveal a bouquet of flowers, dainty white jasmine flowers like tulle of my wedding dress.

Later on, musks and patchouli give a golden touch to all this whiteness, never too heavy, just adding it spice and an aura of glowing skin.

It lasts above average, I would say ten hours on my skin and it retains this optimistic, fresh and translucent glow.

Optimism in a bottle, for sure.
A bright, sunny morning, full of promises: I hear myself singing „What a difference a day made…24 little hours…“
Notes:
Top: Bergamot, Orange flower petals
Heart: Jasmine sambac, Chinese jasmine absolute, Osmanthus absolute, Tiare flower
Base: Patchouli, Tagete absolute, Ambroxan, Musk, Oakmoss

CRÉPUSCULE DES ÂMES: Twilight of the souls. Enter Sickness, Madness and Death! All the „Dark Side“ elements inside us and the Frieze shows images representing our sins and passions which we have to overcome in order to achieve happiness and joy. On the Frieze you can see figures of Lasciviousness, Wantonness and Intemperance (with a large belly).

This twilight can easily seduce you, this is where you can get lost…if suffer I must, may it be from this fine perfume!

Twilight it truly is. What a change of mood, comparing to Nuda Veritas! Yes, a citrusy note is present here as well but this time it is ripe, succulent, seductive.

I feel spices adding depth to it, developing subtly like in all the Atelier des Ors perfumes. There is no abrupt movement here, yet this perfume is strong and dark at its core.

I see the color of deep, dark blue night skies and a full moon, somehow blurred with clouds of hyraceum – giving it almost animalistic masque.

It encompasses me when I wear it, moves and glides on my skin like a heavy dress made of purple silk, giving me that dark womanly feeling although it is the most masculine one in this collection. Bare skin, desire, and hidden strength: temptation and seduction in a most alluring form, drawing you in deeper and deeper.

Notes:
Top: Mandarin, Cardamom, Clary sage
Heart: Hysope, Incense, Pimento berry
Base: Hyraceum infusion, Patchouly

CHOEUR DES ANGES: Choir of Angels. Humanity’s yearning for happiness is fulfilled by arts, thus giving a kiss to the whole world, this is a moment when we all become brothers, as Schiller wrote. A kiss that feels like angels are singing…a dramatic climax of the Frieze!

It simply made me happy, on the first sniff, back there in Milan.

Just like that, simple, childish, carefree happiness – that was my first thought, without analyzing notes or thinking about its structure. I felt like embraced by it, physically embraced, I felt beloved and somehow…safe.

The simple joy of living in a bottle, soothing ambrosia, nectar of gods…Like radiant rays of sunshine, touching my skin with a golden film of honey, making me glow from inside out.

It makes me smile every time I wear it, that kind of smile that generates from my deepest inner self, a perfect smile.

When you first inhale Choeur des Anges, it’s like inhaling a breath of some divine being: orange pulp offering your nose sweet and ripe pears on a golden platter. Honey too, the divine nectar of Gods is served: yet carrot seeds provide it a vegetal touch, making that connection between Heaven and Earth.

Hours after applying it subdued into ambery shades of warmth, still touched by the brightness of mandarines. I enjoyed drydown enormously because it did draw out ambery tones with a fine dose of dry spices.

Should I call it a citrusy gourmand? Fruity floral? Whatever. It certainly is a quite sophisticated and finely crafted perfume.

Happiness in a bottle, this is what I will call it. This perfume is the one that made me hear the melody and words of Ode to Joy when I looked upon the walls inside Secession Building, a perfect match on that day and occasion. Angels were singing: „Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium…“!

I was wearing this beautiful perfume, looking at Klimt’s masterpiece, singing Ode to Joy…I felt the sheer joy of living and gratefulness for everything that made me feel happy on that day.

Notes:
Top: Blood orange, Blackcurrant, Pear
Heart: Orange flower absolute, Carrot seeds absolute, Osmanthus
Base: Cedarwood, Amber, Provencal Honey.

These perfumes made me think: what makes us happy? What gives us the joy of living?

Researches have been made: the most famous and quoted one is the 75 years long Grant and Glueck/Harvard study with two key conclusions: happiness is a feeling of love! Good relations keep us happier and healthier. Simple as that.

You can also take a look at TED Talk „What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness“ by Robert Waldinger here.

The study also shows that everyone is motivated and therefore happier by a blend of:
1. Doing good for others: contributing, 2. Doing things they are good at: self actualisation, 3. Doing good for yourself: physically, financially and emotionally.

Contributing is a great source of joy: artists such as Klimt, Beethoven or Schiller felt the ultimate joy in creating works of art, that was also what they were best at.
Bottom line: happiness is a choice!

As for me, I know one thing: fine perfumes bring me joy and bliss of happiness.

Sharing what I feel, the experiences I have with different perfumes, thoughts, and emotions – makes me even happier…

I hope you will find your daily dose of bottled joy among perfumes from Atelier des Ors Black (read my review here) or new, White Collection.

Follow me for more reviews to come!

The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Atelier des Ors Press Material. The modern interpretation of Klimt by street artist Dcypher.
Samples provided by Atelier des Ors
Opinions are my own. Disclaimer

Do you remember your first „grown-up“ kiss?

I do. Not the kiss itself but the very moment when I wanted it to happen, desired to be kissed right there and then and the twinkle in the eyes of the man standing in front of me. Whiskey on his lips.

One perfume is the reason why I remembered this split of a second moment from the past, it brought it back crisp and clear, dug it out of my memory lane, shaking off all those dusty layers of many years gone by.

„Born from a passion for French Haute Parfumerie, Atelier des Ors presents a capsule collection of exquisite fragrances. Dedicated to using only the most precious essences and exclusive raw materials, each eau de parfum presented by this unique boutique brand is an imaginative interpretation of traditional perfumery. Inspired also by the art of gold gilding, each bottle features a breathtaking design glittering with a burst of gold.“

Atelier des Ors is a French niche house, present since 2015. with a debut of five eau de parfums, adding later on two more, six of which I proudly present to you.

Atelier des Ors founder is Jean-Philippe Clermont who is also the artistic director for the brand. The „Nose“ behind the perfumes is Marie Salamagne. These fine perfumes come in glass bottles cut in an Art Deco design and filled with 24k gold flakes.

Ladies and gentlemen, here they are, as presented on my Instagram account, short, emotional reviews as follows:


Day 1: Rose Omeyyade

Just as a lush rose in full bloom needs to breathe in the fresh air, this rose needs your skin. As I sprayed it on a paper strip, pink pepper was present at first whiff, smudged over raspberry in traces. Then rose arose and swooned me away!

Immediately, impatiently, I offered it my skin. On a cold winter day, it made me daydream about a very specific place I’ve traveled to, feeling the soft blow of the Levant wind in my hair and golden rays of sunshine touching my face. (the Levant is specific for the Mediterranean, once you’ve felt it blow, you will know exactly what I’m talking about…

Usually gentle and damp, the Levant frequently brings clouds and rain, you can literally smell the rain coming). Destination: Port of Haifa, Israel…

Gold and a desert rose (I managed to find the one I dug up in desert), this is my visual presentation of Rose Omeyyade!

This rose is plump, ripe, ambered, dusky and sprinkled with caramel thick brown sugar. I would say quite unisex too, it has that darkish woody-oudy touch, sensual sugar&spice/I smell so nice vibe in the drydown.

I definitely suggest that you try it on your skin and let it play its music, please don’t rush this perfume!

Day 2: Iris Fauve

Not the iris you might expect, Aphrodite-like, sensual soft and curvy Iris…
This fine perfume opens with fluffy flowers with a gentle touch of warm spices. I feel Iris but it stirs and sways and mingles ever so gently. It is also much darker, muskier and more complex then I expected it to be. There’s plenty of woodiness and it’s just resinous enough as not to become overly sweet. Like I’m floating on a soft cloud, puffy cotton cloud!

If you are not usually iris-attracted, I suggest you try the Iris Fauve by Atelier des Ors. On your skin, of course. This is not an overly complicated perfume but it is finely blended and quite elegant. And yes, it is definitely unisex!

Did you know that Iris is the national flower of Croatia? On the island of Brac I enjoy watching the wild Irises bloom in May…

Day 3: Cuir Sacre

Destination: Andalusia. I managed to find my souvenir from Sevilla: castanets, palillos, preparing to give my full attention to this perfume.

I tested it on my skin. Green at the first whiff, resembling oleander leaves, dry and sharp, very herbal. I let it breathe for fifteen minutes and soon enough warmth moves in, a creamy vetiver takes over. This is not a Russian leather perfume by no means if we are talking leather – this is suede, well dried and carefully crafted, like a pair of soft cream-colored, goatskin suede gloves I had. It shifts subtly, moves in shadows. Half an hour later, I feel vetiver being touched by smoke, like incense burning somewhere far away from me and the wind carried the traces of incense smoke closer to me. It feels even quite woody, not forest-like, but rather like pieces of shaved wood scattered over the floor you are walking on. Other spices emerge too, not overly prominent, appearing and disappearing into this soft suede envelope. The vetiver I feel is warm, like sunshine on my skin on a late May afternoon… Did I just feel cardamom dance in? Or is it tonka? Or both? Hmmm…Interesting.

This is a close to skin perfume, elegant and not flashy – regarding the projection. Unisex, definitely, I will wear it for a business meeting tomorrow.

I think I will enjoy it most sometime later in May, after sundown, sitting somewhere outside… I don’t know why but I just thought that I’d probably be drinking a glass of dry white wine to go along with it.

Day 4: Lune Feline

Moon inspired, they say…If so, this Moon is completely illuminated by Sun, taking on different shades of red, orange or gold, like the Moon we see during a total lunar eclipse: it opens with a great wave of spices, then splashes of vanilla, cinnamon and cardamon sail in.

Dark, dry woods are in the background of this spicy gourmand fragrance. I don’t know why, but the painting “Red Vineyard at Arles” by Van Gogh is what I visualized. Destination: Amsterdam!

Its breath is warm and furry, like the breath of a large cat resting at sundown…I feel vanilla and amber from start to finish and yes! Just a hint of smoke is present…Three sprays and it remained very close to my skin for hours, tempting me to bury my nose in my wrist every now and then, just to feel that hugging, the golden aura of seductive warmth. Something to wear during Winter definitely!

Day 5: Aube Rubis

Like the dawn of a new summer day, it opens with rays of the light green, fizzy smell of grapefruit, cool and fresh. Then pink and orange colors paint the sky as it gets warmer and I feel smooth patchouli rising, iris and violets adding a refined, luxurious touch.

Light of a new day spreads across horizon, calmly bringing a very gentle touch of saffron. There’s just enough woodiness present to remind you of this note in all Atelier des Ors perfumes. An intriguing dance of sage and vetiver is what catches my attention, sage and vetiver and sporadic puffs of patchouli!

The dry down is a bit quieter, softer although what surprises me is that even after a couple of hours occasional whiffs of grapefruit emerged again, unexpected but very welcome in their outfit made of fruit and berries. An intriguing fragrance, writing its own story on your skin…It reminded me of September mornings in California…

Day 6: Larmes du Desert

Intentionally left to be the last to sample, postponed for days. Expectations were high, I admit. If you know me by now, you also know that I am a desert lover, traveled to many and plan to visit many more. This is why I was looking forward to it. I was a bit selfish, I admit. One day was not enough: I enjoyed it for a couple of days before sharing this.

Larmes du Desert. Tears of the desert…is this what it sounds like when myrrh trees cry? If a desert, then this desert is not scorching, hostile and dusty environment we usually associate with deserts. When I took in deeper breaths, it felt so familiar, like a deja vue. As I recalled all the deserts I’ve been to, a memory surfaced. The perfume took me back down the memory lane, images resurfacing, vivid and colorful. Gold, myrrh and frankincense! Gifts of the Three Kings.

The exact spot? After taking a quite long bus ride on a dusty desert road inside Sinai, a fortification appears upon the hill: the Saint Catharine’s Monastery, Mount of Sinai looking at adjacent Jebal Musa (Mount Moses). I remember it well. I feel resinous notes, a touch of olibanum, dark and seductive amber shot with a whiff of cinnamon. In the Monestery’s shades, a mix of dark sweetness, dry but layered upon forest woods, cedar toned. Sparkles of greenery, a trace of smoke: I remember looking at the „burning bush“ – a bramble (Rubus Sanctus), covering one wall with its lush greenery. The bush that was on fire but not consumed by flames…Rare and scattered Joshua trees can be seen in the distance.

Embracing softness of frankincense rises, dragging me deeper down into clouds of earthy balsamic and spicy tones, soothing as I take off my flip-flops and walk upon this ground with bare feet (anyone entering the chapel is required to remove their shoes…), feeling a warm breeze coming from the mountain and scattered rays of sunshine touching the skin on my arms and feet, adding it a very subtle golden glow…my skin breathes patchouly.

This is why it took me days to get over it, I cherished this memory. There are perfumes that make me cry, and Larmes du Desert is one of them.

As for this photo, I found my silver Hamsa hand pendant: it can be traced back to the people of Phoenicia, some say that it was present even before, in ancient Egypt. An ancient symbol of protection, bringing happiness…so I share it with you, together with my impression of this wonderful perfume!

Thank you, Atelier des Ors!

P.S. See you in Milan next month – Esxence is a place to be! Please email me for appointments as my schedule is quite busy there 🌹

The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl Archives, Atelier des Ors
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