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„According to the legend, Venus lost her necklace during a sea bath and the pearls scattered in the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. It created a beautiful string of islands with Elba as the most beautiful of its jewels.”

This August I visited the island of Elba, during our summer road trip to Tuscany.

Here we go again, my son said in Piombino when we boarded a ferry: “Here we go again, a ferry&an island”. Because we have a summer cottage on the island of Brac, Croatia and his all childhood memories of summer vacations are tied mostly to that island, which he loves deeply. There are many similarities between the two! I felt at home. Yes, I am in love with seas, yes, my soul anchors in seas and yes! I need a vitamin sea often!

During the ride, I mostly enjoyed the scent of the Tyrrhenian sea. On your way you pass the island Palmaiola:


Upon arrival in Portoferraio, we started to explore the island, ancient and rich in history.

The legend says that Argonauts rested here, pirates invaded it now and then, it has had many rulers throughout its history. Napoleon was exiled to Elba in 1814. He fell in love with it and carried many reforms to improve the quality of life on the island. He did escape after 300 days spent there…This is a view from the outer wall of the garden of his former residence:



Of course, Napoleon is still present here 🙂 Take a look:


Every island is predetermined by the sea that surrounds it. The scent of the sea is ever-present and changing, it is not the same in the mornings, evenings or nights, it is not the same in January or August, it is not the same depending on from which direction wind blows. The scent of the sea mingles with flora on the island, fragrances of sunbathed low plants in the noon, fig-trees respiring in hot summer evenings, eucalyptus trees murmuring in the wind, citruses protruding every here and there…


When I walked the streets of Portoferraio after an afternoon spent on the beach, I searched for Acqua dell’Elba stores, knowing these perfumes are the only possible souvenirs I will take home with me:


Not only did I enjoy these perfumes in situ, I also bring you a short interview with one of the owners. I was so fascinated with their effort that I just had to find out more!

The heart of Acqua dell’Elba is in the laboratory in Marciana Marina, where the owners, Chiara, Fabio, and Marco have worked since 2000. Together with master craftsmen who gave life to their perfumes. It was also here that the first Acqua dell’ Elba shop was born. The story of how the company has been born is interesting as well: the three owners went sailing in their boat. They reached Paolina’s cliff, where an ancient ivory statue kept the secret of the essence in its top. So they decided to recreate that fragrance, the scent of the sea surrounding Elba…you can find more details on their web page, but this is what they told me, Q and A’s.


Q: Is there a difference between Italian and French perfumery?

A: The only difference in our sector is between mass and niche products. Even if we’re trying to expand our markets and enlarge the number of people how know and appreciate Acqua dell’Elba, we are a still small company, operating in a niche, who share with other niche companies the same values: authenticity, passions, uniqueness.

Q: How would you describe the style of your creations?

A: Acqua dell’Elba is the Essence of the Sea. Its uniqueness lies in the creation of artisan fragrances inspired by the sea in one of the most beautiful island of the Mediterranean Sea. Each product is created by expert Tuscan craftsmen using natural raw materials of the highest quality.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge in perfume production today?

A: Being authentic, meaning by that the capacity to maintain a link with your roots, your territory, and your background. As for the wine sector, the perfumery industry should work much more on the concept of “terroir”.

Q: Which one is your favorite in the collection?

A: As a man who likes nature and a wooden tone, my favorite is Arcipelago Uomo. (An aromatic and flowery fragrance for him with notes of -Spices: sage, pepper, and rosemary -Flowers: lily-of-the-valley and jasmine -Woods: Mediterranean shrubs, cedarwood, and cypress)

Q: Which one would you say represents the very soul of Elba?

A: All Acqua dell’Elba’s products bring to people a piece of Elba: The elegance of the landscapes with Classica; the adventure of the nature with Arcipelago; the deep of the sea with Blu; the energy of the wind with Sport; the essence of an island with Acqua, Smeraldo, and Altrove.

Q: I recently purchased three different Acqua dell’Elba perfumes. While visiting Elba I went for a swim on Portoferraio city beach and after that, sea salt still in my hair, I walked into one of your shops. Smeraldo was my first choice because my afternoon smelled just like that. Which one is for you is the scent of a romantic evening on Elba?

A: Acqua, the perfume for the couple, the perfume of love… (A fragrance for ladies and gentlemen with notes of – Fruits and Spices: citrus fruits, myrtle berries, and sea salt -Flowers: marine algae, sea moss, myrtle, and jasmine – Woods: cedarwood)

The perfume of love. For the sea…A sea lover I am and I find that simply beautiful. Now I have a dream: I would love to work on the creation of a perfume speaking in olfactory language about the island of Brac as well!

The Plum Girl

Photos: ThePlumGirl private collection and Acqua dell’ Elba 

Perfume notes: as stated by Acqua dell’Elba


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WARSZAWA.

The way your lips move when you pronounce its name…
Quite a mouthful sounds so grand, happy and sad at the same time.

I received a beautiful package.
Puredistance Warszawa, a fragrance honoring this city. It was carefully crafted and released in 2016. but one-year exclusivity was granted to Missala family, owners of Perfumeria Quality in Warsaw. This November it will be available worldwide. The nose behind it is Antoine Lie.

The message of the package in which it had arrived is clear: a silver frame for a masterpiece, green velvet, aiming to make you feel special and lavish. It did:

I approached it with respect, ignoring all the information I have gathered before receiving it. Notes, structure, the way others experienced its breath or written about it. The green ribbon is off, I hold in my hands a small vial of promises! A 25% pure Perfume Extract, to be exact.

I thought about it for days. At the same time, just as I was ready to finally test it on my skin, a friend visited the city and sent me these fresh photos of Warsaw last week:

Since there was no ball I had to go to, I dressed up – for the perfume, feeling silly. Velvet and lace, corset and perfume. Felt just right.

My first breath was deep. Eyes closed, I felt the sweetish floral kiss of violets on a bed of white flowers, grand and quite ladylike. Velvet and lace. Feminine, classy feminine. Just a bit powdery but not overly sweet, which was never my game anyway. The first association that came to my mind were paintings of Stanisław Wyspiański, multifaceted Polish artist:


Warszawa recalls the era of Fryderyk Chopin, one of the most famous Warsawians. He learned to play the piano there and gave his first concert when he was eight years old, performing in the salons of the Warsaw aristocracy, capturing the sound of his melodic lines of dreamy romanticism. Velvet and lace, a lot of grace. I bet those salons smelled just like this. As the story goes, Jan Ewoud Vos was inspired by Chopin’s Nocturne No.20: a short piece of music with a rich array of depth and emotion for both the pianist and listener. If you listen to it, you might understand this perfume better.

As the first impression of grandeur fades away, I find the heart of it providing a very sensual sensation of jasmine in a slow and sensual dance with vetiver. Spanish like, just like the middle notes of Nocturne No.20 in C sharp minor.

It sublimes slowly into David Bowie’s Warsaw. I feel styrax, resin-like and down to earth. Bowie dedicated a song to the city he stopped in during 70’ – because he was afraid to fly and traveled by train. That kind of situation, when you travel and stop by accident somewhere and suddenly realize that all things happen for a reason…and you find yourself in a world you don’t belong to but somehow feel at home.

You should know that Warsaw was quite different in the 70’ than it is now. I know the difference, coming from a country that was similarly “different” and I can just imagine how Bowie felt when he got off that train on Gdanska station.

A legal alien. Inhaling the scent of a city before him.

The finale, if you might call it that since it lasts and lasts, is somewhat quieter, in the lower register of tones but playful, refined like partiture of a great classic music theme, twisting the scents in a rather a melancholy filled way. Happy and sad at the same time. Timeless elegance. It requires self-confidence…

Wear it to seduce yourself, to feel good in your skin. With a hint of Slavic melancholy in your eyes…

Dzien dobry, Warszawa!


Notes: Galbanum, Grapefruit, Violet Leaf, Jasmin Absolute, Broom Absolute, Orris butter, Patchouli, Vetiver, and Styrax.


The Plum Girl
Photos by: The Plum Girl & beloved friends
Sample provided by Puredistance
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If your visit to Belgrade starts at the main bus station as I did, just remember that it’s not a great place to start your olfactory journey…it is rarely anywhere, so just endure.

The whole city is a busy construction site. We could hardly find a taxi driver willing to wrestle cracked and demolished Slavija Square on the way to our apartment but that’s where famous Serbian hospitality kicks in. We could have walked but my high heels said no, no…

Belgrade On the Water, on the banks of river Sava, a bit farther away, is a huge project as well and it seemed to me that the scent of dust and fresh asphalt lingers in the air above the city.

Once finished, I bet Slavija will be a point of pride. Fountains and lights and all that jazz.

The new Museum of Contemporary Art just had its grand opening night when I arrived and it is very impressive.

One construction site less, yey!

Yes, the city is worn and rugged with history but it is certainly getting a facelift. Note: just be patient. Eventually, everything will work out, no need to get all worked up and again: yes, the people here are very helpful.

As you walk down the main street and shopping strip – Knjaza Milosa in the center, many bistros will catch your eye. Nose as well. Various barbecue scents vibrate as you stroll along this wide street. I was really impressed with some chosen restaurants we visited. The prices are affordable, the food is great and the waiters were really nice.


When you walk that straight line, all the way from Slavija to Kalemegdan, the greenery you finally reach will refresh your nose.


As I climbed up on the fortress side, I faced the confluence of Danube and Sava river! The great Danube gave an undertone of moisture, misty river smell which rolled in as Sun was setting.


Belgrade is very walkable and very close to Kalemegdan is the King Peter’s Street, very fashionable with a brand-new shopping center not far away from its crossing with Knjaza Milosa. A few steps further was my point of interest: the first niche perfumery in Belgrade – Metropoliten. I walked in thirsty for fine scents. Enter a curious nose!


That’s where my heart was at peace as soon as I entered: familiar scents, bottles, and candles carefully arranged in a quite chick interior. With a swing!


The Metropoliten perfumery offer of the month is Clive Christian:

Kurkdjian’s Baccarat Rouge 540 also has its special place.
Carner Barcelona is available as well as Roja, Eight and Bob, KilianPenthaglion’s, Byredo, Nasomatto, Zenology, Profumum Roma, L’Artisan Perfumeur, Clive Trudon candles, and fine cosmetics…



When in Belgrade, you need not look any further. The prices are also very reasonable so it just might be worth your while to shop here. Very mainstream niche, I hope they will tend to surprise a little bit in the future.

After a long day, we planned a dinner at the famous restaurant “Reka” (make your reservation on time, it’s quite crowded on Saturday evenings) and headed towards the riverbank in Zemun.

There, at the banks of Danube, are the best place to party in Belgrade. You will see many floating clubs (barges) and Belgrade is a quite famous party town, I guess it ranks just as Ibiza! Also, what happens in “Kafana” stays there: it is a stress-free, relax zone and you can dance (and eat, over and over and again!) until the morning.

I was wearing Ramon Montale Black Musk that night and it lasted throughout the night…in the city that never sleeps.

The Plum Girl

Elena Cvjetkovic

Photos by The Plum Girl

I look at all the fabulous photos my friends posted on Instagram and Facebook on the first day of Advent: creative, fun, colorful or minimalist, candles and decorations. So, what is missing? The scent, of course. I wonder…how these homes – smell? Is the scent complementing the visual effect? Does it conjure the atmosphere and enhance the occasion? I wonder…

Here comes Advent, the first candle is lit, Hope. My choice: Francis Kurkdjian – Aqua Universalis scented candle. Simply fresh and light, this perfume is unisex, for any occasion, anytime, anywhere. A perfect choice for any newbie in niche perfumes’ world with Bergamot from Calabria, Lemon from Sicily, White Bouquet (Lily of the valley and sweet Mock-Orange) and Light and musky woods.

Three to follow? Well, those are my personal choice, my own olfactory secret impressions of Peace, Joy, and Love. I strongly encourage you to play with scents, express yourself! I love to indulge in Christmas scents and fragrances!

Now stop. Imagine Christmas. Imagine what it means to you, what are your memories of it, what would you like to share? Great. Now try to imagine Christmas without all the wonderful scents it comes with! It’s the time of year to radiate comfort and warmth, festive atmosphere, nostalgia, tradition, family gatherings, core values and – emotions. Trust me, your scent memory is the best guide. The fragrance is deeply personal, we stock olfactory information and create a library of memories and associations – and the scent you choose just releases all those “saved on your personal hard disk” effects.

You might choose a simple scanted candle vanilla flavored or something like apples&cinnemon: fine, if that matches the memory that makes you happy and you want to recreate a special moment, or share it with your family and guests. A scent can also complement your decor: I am sure you wouldn’t choose the same for minimalistic white and silver color choice or abundant greens and reds, right? But there are so many, you might say. Yes, there are soooo many, even in the niche scented candles world. Which ones do you recommend, you might ask as well. Well, I am certain that your nose will tell you which one is right for you: just close your eyes and FEEL the fragrance. Maybe you’ll want to create a completely different atmosphere, something that belongs just to you: niche scented candles really can work a miracle here! Benefits? They do provide longer burning time, up to 60 hours per candle. Scent? Given the larger percentage of perfume, they do smell stronger (not like those vanilla scented candles you buy at a store and by the time you get home you wonder where did the scent disappear).
Want your home to smell like fresh snow? Check, niche has got that. Like that fresh laundry scent? Check. Something rare, special, unusual? Oud is very popular recently. Not only to smell “nice”, but to make that fine crackling sound just like an open fire in a fireplace? Check, take a look at my previous post. Maybe you would like a candle to match the niche perfume you are wearing? Check, ditto.

What I’d like to share with you (or remind you of) is a story. You know just how much I love great stories about fragrances, and this one reaches back to – 1643. Maison Cire Trudon is the oldest wax-producing factory worldwide. Rolls Royce of candles, they call it. It was the provider of the royal court of Louis XVI and most of the great churches of France, and is, even today. It all started with a witty merchant, Claude Trudon who moved to Paris in 1643, married well and invested the capital so earned to open a small store on Rue St. Honore. Others made candles as well, but Claude’s candles smelled well and burned clear. His sales rocketed. He saw potential in that and decided to make and sell – fine candles. Witty as he was, even back then he was aware that marketing matters. He searched for the best wax, finest ingredients and started supplying many churches. Soon the court of the Sun King gave him exclusivity and voila – his candles were all over Versailles. Of course, during years to come, there were twists and turns, but the production kept going. It is said that Napoleon’s first gift to his newborn son was a Trudon candle and that the last thing he wanted to smell before dying in exile was his beloved – Trudon candle.
They survived revolutions, electricity and mass production, were pushed in a niche corner and remained provider of churches and a few connoisseurs. But as all good things tend to last, so did the Cire Turdon brand. Revived, sophisticated and classy, Trudon really links experiences with scents, it conveys wit and sophistication upon the user. I love their glass cloches (my preciousssssssss uf!) The making of these candles is fascinating as well. The candles are hand made in Normandy, using pure cotton wicks and are 100% natural and biodegradable. Labels are produced by the oldest champagne label maker in France and glasses are mouth-blown and made by artisans in Vincy, Italy. Yes, these candles are as finest as they come.

My recommendation for Christmas season: Maison Cire Trudon
Bethleem –Spicy Amber
Fragrance pyramid:
Head Notes: Cardamom, Pepper, Saffron.
Heart Notes: Musk, Tonka Beans, White Flowers.
Base Notes: Amber, Cedarwood, Sandalwood.

imageUnbelievable! The first sniff I took and whoaaa! I WAS in Bethlehem once again, and it was Christmas Eve and the night was warm and filled with the murmur of prayer…Its soft light reminded me of thin wax candles lit all over churches we visited, I almost felt the cold stone inside The Church of the Nativity, bending over to pass the Door of Humility, climbing down to reach and touch the silver star on the floor. Ultimate Christmas candle for me.

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You might also love these:
Gabriel – Gourmand Chimney Fire

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Gaspard – Woody Mandarin

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Abd El Kader – Christmas – Moroccan Mint Tea

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Ernesto – Christmas – Leather and Tobacco

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Olfactory marketing is becoming a huge business, remember that when you think about your home/office candle. If you want your home or office to smell “nice” – spray away, common deodorant will do. But if you want to make an impression, create an olfactory memory and match the scent with your personality – I believe this is worth an effort. And hey, didn’t I tell you that any scent you encounter for the first time stays in your memory for a minimum ten years? Connected with the impression you left? Big brands use fragrance as part of their brand strategies, why wouldn’t you? A suggestion: please use one at a time. Lightning a different one in every room is really – an overkill. Need some advice? Feel free to contact me 😀

The Plum Girl
Photos: Maison Cire Trudon, The Plum Girl
Products mentioned available at Maison Cire Trudon, Parfumerija Top
Olfactory testing performed at Parfumerija Top
Disclaimer

I am drawn to candlelight, candlelight during every season of the year. That flicker of the fire contained is fascinating (yes, there is a little pyromaniac in all of us), soothing, meditative and very emotional. I could just stare at candlelight for hours, thoughts swirling like candlelight on the wind, feeling…well, it certainly makes me feel safe somehow. Reflective. Attractive. An atavism, I know it is, dating back to times when controlled fire meant life. It made me think about occasions and emotions lightning some has stirred, just this month: I lighted birthday candles for dear people, to celebrate life. Commemorative candles, for ones who passed away. Candles symbolizing hope. Spiritual ones, like a prayer. Scented candles, at home, to calm and relax, tune senses, create a certain atmosphere…

Don’t you love candles? A soft, moving light to delight and captivate, excite…candles are a part of the illusion, the fantasy. Their light creates the magical glow so different from the aggressive illumination of the contemporary world we are exposed to. One single candle can transform a room into a mystique place, make it promising or its scent can take you on a journey, transport you to a different place or time, evoking memories. There is a nostalgia involved, as well as the promise of the future.
One sniff at a scented candle, and it’s like pixie magic! Yes, aromatherapy as well. But what really matters is the power of our olfactory memories. Some researches done say that each and every scent we encounter stays engraved in our memory for ten years. Ten years!

The scent is one of the strongest senses linked to our memories, feelings, things, and people you long for. A candle can represent the ambiance you wish to create or make people associate the scent with your presence. Your mood can change based on scent, too. Furthermore, choosing the right candle says a lot about who you are, and back to the above written, just how people will remember you for the next ten years. You or your home, the person you are or the atmosphere they will associate with you. I strongly believe that it is worth the effort!

So, how do you wish to be remembered? Many niche perfume brands make fine, scented candles as well. Depending on your perfume of choice, mood or atmosphere you wish to (re)create, it might be quite demanding to narrow your choice. One is just not enough!

This is my newest list of must-have’s:

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Aedes De Venustas: with deep, powerful green and dark notes imbued with incense and ganja. For me it is fresh and dark at the same time, green like spring grass and mystical as dark hidden places you are afraid to enter, yummy like rhubarb and fascinating like a fine incense. As I said, a strange fragrance…good kind of strange, sexy strange… I liked it. Definitely different. A bit crazy.

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Honour Woman, Amouage – my choice of the day, or better yet, of the night: a white floral fragrance inspired by the tragic predicament of Madame Butterfly. “The white floral is used to signify the discourse of Madame Butterfly’s love. Tuberose is used to represent danger. Jasmine means attachment. Gardenia is secret love. Lily of the Valley is the purity of the heart. White carnation is innocence and faithfulness. On another level, the white floral represents a tragic love in which honor, fidelity, and innocence have been betrayed. A resin base of frankincense, amber, and opoponax is used to represent the tragic end of Madame’s Butterfly “To Die With Honor”. Amouage has a fine offer of scented candles, it breaks my heart to have to choose just one for this blog.

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Extravagance Russe, Diana Vreeland: Now there’s a perfume with a great story and a candle to go along with it. Dedicated to Mrs. Diana Vreeland, who once said: “Fragrances fill the senses with the mysterious.” Maybe her name won’t ring a bell to you, but she ruled the fashion world for decades. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, among other fashion-significant engagements that lasted for more than 20years. This is the official description: “Extravagance Russe by Clement Gavarry was created as an homage to Mrs. Vreeland’s love of Orientalism. Capturing the essence of amber’s sacred and mystical note in perfumery, the fragrance goes deep into the collective olfactory memory. It maintains the original codes of amber within a contemporary structure. The scent harmoniously wraps luxurious resins and balsams with precious vanilla bourbon and musk for an enhanced impression of skin like and captivating sensuality.“ Extravagant, luxurious and slightly mysterious – definitely to be remembered by. Planning a romantic dinner? Well, I would ignite this one. For just the two of us…imageLorenzo Villoresi: Available in 7 fragrances, to suit a variety of occasions and create different atmospheres: “Alamut: warm and sensual, a voyage in the Orient: the flowers of One Thousand and One Nights, the Amber, the Musk and the precious woods. Diamante: crisp and lively, with notes of Citrus, Tea, and Lavender. Enriched by green and spicy nuances. Iperborea: Sparkling green top note of fresh flowers, with citrus notes and light fruity hints, with a radiant heart of lily of the valley and magnolia, mimosa and cyclamen. Piper Nigrum: Oriental and North African markets. Aromatic and peppery. Spring Blossoms: Soft and gentle fragrance based on spring flowers. Teint de Neige: The gentle scent of talcum powders, a soft, embracing fragrance, yet intense and persistent. Yerbamate: A boundless green land touching the sky. The scent of grass, of the new-mown hay, of countless herbs and flowers scattered in the fields.“
Choosing just one? Awwww! Hard choice, yap, I know…that depends on the olfactory message you are about to send.

imageTeint de Neige is the one I find exquisite for this time of year, a perfect winter scent. It’s warm, cozy but fresh, a bit powdery: reminds me of laying in bed under a huge fluffy duvet, looking out of the window on heaps of fresh snow on a sunny Winter morning…very old school, classy and feminine. Definitely a“happy winter day“ scent.

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Eight&Bob – check out my story here. It’s more than a “business office“ candle, really: makes you feel…well, powerful is the first word that comes to my mind. In all the meanings that just crossed your mind. Ha. On the other hand, Egypt really takes me back to – Egypt, that’s it!

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Byredo – if you are a book lover, try Bibliotheque. For sheer happiness, ignite Carousel. Yummy figs and Mediterranean breeze lover? Take home your Figue Glacee. Love that fresh smell of clean laundry in your bedroom? That’s what Cotton Poplin provides. These and other fine Byredo candles are made for unisex olfactory pleasure.

There are so many more, a whole fascinating world of niche fragrance candles! If you wish to recreate a certain ambiance at your home or office, feel free to contact me for detailed recommendations.

You might say that candles I write about are “expensive“. Just calculate how much money you have spent in the last couple of years on various scented candles that made you wonder why anyone labeled them “scented“ in the first place? Were you amazed by those? Did they burn for at least 40 hours? Secondly, these fine candles provide up to 60 hours of burning time. Last but not least – they do emit fragrance, due to a higher percentage of perfume concentrate.  I’d rather spend some money on an excellent candle than on an unmemorable night out including mediocre dinner and drinks. It’s just like the wine: you get what you pay for…and in the term of scents, even more: a lasting memory. Ten years minimum, remember?

In my next blog I will focus on Advent and Xmas candles: stay tuned and scent-happy! :-*

The Plum Girl
Photos/candles: Parfumerija Lana, Parfumerija Top

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