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Elena Cvjetkovic

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“We walked in the cold air
Freezing breath on the window pane…”
Cold wind blowing over Danube, this means nothing to me.

Oh! Vienna!

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Then the other song echoes in my head as soon as I see the City – Junge Roemer. I hear Falco, the wind carrying his voice over vast squares, Imperial yellow facades echoing it…Auditory and olfactory experiences and memories of Vienna.

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I walk the empty streets in 2. Bezirk, because it is Sunday. Mind that if you plan to visit this great city, as it is so in Austria – Sunday is a day off. Warmth glows from within Tachles – das Kulturcafė we stumbled upon and it smells like books and bier, candles and relaxed people quietly chatting, some sitting quietly and reading books. Feels so easygoing and I just melt in. We forget to say “Aufwiederschauen” instead of “Aufwiedersehen”, but “Gruess Gott” is ever present. My closest friends accompany me and we fill the dark street (thanks to lights pollution prevention) near Karmelitierplatz with laughter. Life is good, thank you very much, Vienna.

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What does Vienna smell like to me? I’ve visited the city on many occasions and I always felt at home there. It smells warm, of old dust and moist air, dark chocolate hand-written triangle on Sacher cake, horse dung and pumpkin stew in early November.

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It is connected with Nature like Sissy and hardworking like Franz Joseph, the Kaiser who was a workaholic.

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It smells of decadent and amazing past, cruel and glorious as all empires are but it also carries a frisk scent of future.

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Vienna is famous for it’s lust for perfumes as well. Don’t forget the tradition of the Habsburg monarchy and imperial suppliers, such as Nägele&Strubell, since 1880. Many of the historic fragrances, if you are a fan, can be obtained today. These are created by the Wiener Blut, a company specializing in reinterpretation of imperial perfumes. Where emperors ruled – there were perfumes, simple as that. The Habsburgs ruled from 1526-1804, giving plenty of time and resources for fine perfumes refinement. It is old, it is new, it is modest and luxurious, busy and relaxed, never to be taken for granted.

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My curious nose took me to “Le Parfum“. What a wonderful location it has! Very close to St.Stephans Cathedral, just next to St. Peter’s church, at Petersplatz 3.

 

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Graben is right behind the corner, if shopping is what you are looking for. Need a handkerchief? Trust me, not just any handkerchief? Check out Zur Schwabische Jungfrau 🙂 The oldest boutique in Vienna, an institution, dating from 1720. The snowball is definitely not the only souvenir this city can offer!

 

imageWhy “Le Parfum“? It’s back to basics but also a step forward for the Oelschlaegel family, owners of the exclusive “Nägele & Strubell” stores. In the time of mass market perfumes they pondered the quintessence of the perfumery, creating “Le Parfum”: a place of reflection, olfactory heaven, reserved for exquisite and selected perfumes. Refined noses are very welcome!

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So, here we are: at Vienna’s prime! “Le Parfum” carries a fine choice of niche perfumes, check their list here. The staff? Simply brilliant, as it goes with exclusive niche stores. Interior is urban-cool roccoco, the obligatory “rest and relax while enjoying” corner ever present.

This is what I’ve hunted down for you; I am happy to present the following pearls. This is just a brief preview. Detailed reviews will follow in weeks to come.

 

imageTeresa Helbig – Teresa, A bulldog in the Atelier, Tangier Memories – there they go, taking me back to Morroco again! Each one with a story, each one to savor.

imageCarner Barcelona “Black Collection” – Smells of Catalonia (I really do miss Barcelona very very much…). It’s all about memories, feelings, olfactory impressions. I agree and present the “Rose&Dragon” (Once upon a time, a Princess was enslaved by a Dragon…St. George killed the beast to save the Princess. It’s blood drenched the soil and from the Dragon’s blood a Rose grew…and this perfume captures it’s fragrance).

imageSanti Burgas White Collection – Unplanned Perfumes: unplanned? Hmmmm. Just as Nature is unplanned…fascinating world of associations in insect decorated bottles!

imageNot a Perfume- Juliette has a gun – and a bullet that goes straight through your heart. Oh, Romeo, beware thee!

imageHistories de Perfumes- 1889 and 1804. – male, female or vice versa. The spirit in the bottle. Classics and what’s new is “This Is Not a Blue Bottle”, I’m expecting to meet it soon as well!

imageByredo – Newest from Stockholm – Cedar is also available, but I really find Blanche quite interesting.

imageHello Mr. Guerlain, bonjour Santale Royal. Le Parfum proudly displays and presents Les Exclusives in Austria.

And  Serge Lutens Collection, Killian, Amouage, Maison Margiela, Roja, Federic Malle and candles,  presents in boxes, enough to feel completely dizzy! I will see where these will take me, as soon as I carefully dip my nose in every little vial I have chosen to take with me.

imageI’ll be back, no doubt about it.
Oh! Vienna!

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The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Le Parfume
Testing&Samples: curtesy of Le Perfume, Vienna
Disclaimer

In the complex and fascinating world of artisan perfumery niche brands, shops are places of olfactory hedonism, a gateway to a different Universe. Just recently, on a rainy day, I found myself in one, soothed by soft lights, meticulously displayed perfume bottles and obligatory “rest and enjoy” corner.

Curious about new fragrances’ arrival, knowing I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy more than three perfumes at one visit – that’s where helpful personnel comes in, with samples to take home and enjoy. Here, in Lana, they are superb. Give yourself time to test something new, allowing the fragrances to develop, to breathe, to unfold on your skin. Think of it as an Oasis. A sanctuary. Liberate your mind. Explore the scents. There’s no rush here and I took my time to check out for you what’s new and interesting:

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Sheiduna by Puredistance – check out my recommendation here. If you have previous Puredistance favorites you can also choose between other master perfumes as Black, White, I, M…They launch a new perfume every one to two years, they are beloved by true perfume lovers and are available only as Pure Perfume Extrait in concentration between 25-32%. Names behind these wonders are Annie Buzantian, Antoine Lie, Roja Dove, and Cecile Zarokian. Remember this name. Sheiduna. It will become a classic.

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Il Profvmo perfumes – Caramella dAmore, Othello, Pioggia Salata. Othello was launched in 2016, for men, but it really worked just fine on my skin, came out as my favorite among these three. Il Profvmo, Italian art perfumes is Silvana Casoli’s universe of gifts created by her unique gift to respond to the socio-olfactory needs of her customers. She pays tribute to Nature. Another desert lover, just like me 🙂

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Amouage: Myths just came in, m/w, although, again, I regard them as unisex and liked M better…still thinking about that perfume, still waiting for impressions to settle down. It definitely deserves a more detailed review. Strange…different. Exquisite.Hat down, Your Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said! Love the great Arabian art of perfumery here and now.

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Aedes de Venustas – OMG! It still lingers in my nose. Brain deep. Memories are deep. This perfume is so different, so addictive, so…multifaceted…so intriguing. I kept the testing paper to remind me of my first encounter with it…Definitely my favorite.

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Majda Bekkal: Tendre est la nuit – Sculptures Olfactives. Just look at that bottle – here comes immortelle again, but yet a different one. It is not only the bottle that is a piece of art…what it contains is precious.

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Ormond Jayne – Four Corners of Earth Collection. What a story told by fragrances! Quality, luxury, the pursuit of beauty and elegance…I am deeply impressed. Linda’s life and success story are inspirational. Her perfumes are breathtaking. Give them time to develop fully, enjoy every olfactory shade these provide. You won’t regret it.

When you are in Zagreb, Croatia, be sure that it also offers a fine choice of niche perfumes. As for me, quite a few new recommendations/perfume stories/olfactory memories are coming up as well as my Xmas presents suggestions.
May your Nose be always curious!

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The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl
Disclaimer

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Sheiduna. Sheitan’s bride? A she-dune? Seduction? Is that how they named you, I asked the perfume. Why?

It is all of this and more, yet with utmost elegance.

Here it was, right under my nose, the new perfume Sheiduna by Puredistance – Master Perfumes. An intriguing one, packed in an elegant bottle, smooth and heavy in my hand, with wow-baam! perfume percentage – where will it take me, I wondered. The niche house of Puredistance always seemed promising to me (feel free to click and learn more).

Press materials provided by Puredistance describe this novelty (created by CécileZarokian, ISIPCA graduate, she was trained for four years in Robertet, at first in Grasse, then in Paris. She was still a trainee when she created her first fragrance, Amouage Epic Woman. The name is invented by Jan Ewoud Vos, Puredistance founder), like this:

SHEIDUNA is a rich and intense Perfume inspired by the panoramic views and feel of golden sand dunes in the desert during sunset – soft, female curves changing from deep gold to warm, orangey-red – embodying a promise of sensual comfort and silent seduction. Wearing SHEIDUNA, one waft’s sensuality and intense color waves of Persian rugs touch the senses. The perfect marriage between Sensuality and Style.

Ingredients: lemon, tangerine, blackcurrant, aldehydes, Bulgarian rose essence, geranium, clove, vetyver, patchouly, amber woody, incense, benzoin, myrrh, tonka bean, vanilla pods, and musks.”

There you are, ingredients and all: yet, beware. This perfume doesn’t have the classical pyramid structure, nor will you be able to sum it up at once. You might love it or hate it, or hate it at first and then realize a couple of hours later that you want it as your signature perfume. It’s tricky, it’s strong and it’s pricey.

You’ve got to meet her in silence. She might seem orientally mystic but cold and distant, yet you can sense there is so much more under that self-contained first impression. When I took the second breath images and scents swirled around my head, extracting bits and pieces connected to my olfactory memories…desert! I wondered which one was it…was it Israel? No. Sahara? Not this time, but close enough. Suddenly I was again in the dusty bus, on my way to the Valley of Kings, taking a right turn, passing the path made of ancient stones and climbing the stairs of the magnificent temple of Hatshepsut.

My first impression of Sheiduna was oops, there we go powerful oriental again. Nah. But then came tangerines (I must have summoned them in the previous post “Tangerine Trees and Marmelade Skies) and lemon, gently unveiling Bulgarian rose. Subtle, seductive rose. It lasts and it lasts, leaving me with soft amber, near skin seductive fragrance. Soft as desert sands in the late afternoon, where all the scents of this world are gone and you can actually smell the sunbathed sand, the rocks, the sky, the Sun, your own skin and wind. I don’t know why but I thought this is how she might have smelled, the woman who became the King.

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The story about Hatshepsut is fascinating. What is also fascinating is that the ancient Egyptians were adept at chemistry, their formulas are the basis for the production of modern perfumes and cosmetics. Experts from L’Oreal and the Center for Research of the Museums of France tested materials from ancient perfume bottles and jars kept in Louvre: the percentages of ingredients used are roughly the same used in eye makeup today. And perfumes? They were masters of the art.

Born in the 15th century BC, Hatshepsut, daughter of Tuthmose I and Aahmes, was the favorite of their three children. When her two brothers died, she was in a unique position to gain the throne upon the death of her father. To have a female pharaoh was unprecedented, and probably most definitely unheard of as well. She did not become a queen. She was crowned the King of all Egypt, pharaoh, wore male clothes and a beard and accomplished what no woman had before her. She ruled the most powerful, advanced civilization in the world for twenty years. Bringing peace and prosperity, trading with, among other things – myrrh…which you can find in this perfume. When she died, her successors tried to eradicate every trace of her, including the most sacred form of her very presence on this world and the one to come – her name carved into stones of temples, amid names of other pharaohs. Her temple stands up to this day, she looks upon you as you enter it, and she lives. Her name is not forgotten.

I can imagine her watching down those stairs of Djeser-Djeseru, wearing her perfume scented robes, waiting for the sun to set behind the orange-colored horizon. Eager to retreat to her chambers, to be – just a woman. A seductive, noble and classy queen, sophisticated and elegant – hot and cold, sensual and down to earth – you might love her or hate her but she rules her world. Thanks, Sheiduna. Where will it take you?

The Plum Girl

Photo: The Plum Girl
Testing Location: Parfumerija Lana
Disclaimer

What a difference a small fruit made!

Yesterday, on a rainy Autumn Saturday, I went briefly to the nearest open market, desperately in need of Vitamin C. The past week was hectic, and while I tremendously enjoy workout and dancing, the last training I had with lengthy series of side abs obliques workout left me feeling my each and every rib, my whole rib cage sore with muscle pain.
As I walked in the market and lifted my umbrella, a sudden rush of orange color was all around me. It is the season of mandarins, fresh, bright orange, citrus’n’honey smelling, little balls of sunshine and sweetness! The benches in the open air market were filled with them, big heaps of mandarines, some still with leaves and branches, just picked, brightening up the day.
On my way home I peeled one and left the peels in the open bag: that sweet smell in the car already made me feel better. It took me away, bringing back an olfactory memory…

Morroco. Tangerines. Sahara.
Smells of kasbah, souks and lack of any scent at all, deep in the landscape of fine orange sands in Sahara. Some years ago I was on a trip to Morocco, from Casablanca to Marrakesh, from Fes to Chefchaouen: the ever-shifting landscape of Morocco provided plenty of distractions as we watched the scenery change from lush, palm-lined oases to surreal, barren stretches of otherworldly rock formations. There were ocher colored vast hills; verdant valleys with crystalline lakes, just planted young olive trees and snow-blanketed peaks of the impressive Atlas Mountains.
I also made stops at artisan workshops, buying rose and argan oils for which Morocco is famous.
I picked a fresh and ripe Tangerine from a tree on the outskirts of Medina, on my way to El-Attarine (perfume and spice) Souk in Marrakesh, its taste and smell forever to remind me of that exact location.

Mandarines, tangerines: pretty much alike, not the same. Moroccan Tangerines are somewhat larger, sweeter, the scent stronger and very present in the perfumes’ production. What I needed was a balm, and there was the Azena’s Green Tangerine sample waiting for me.

Why Azena? It is 100% natural. It is a family owned small business, run by the third generation heirs. They have a great story going back to the Grandpa who was famous for his Comfrey creams, herbs and healing teas. Now they feature Eco friendly packaging, continuing their tradition of 100% natural, handmade cosmetics. Azena Green Tangerine’s ingredients are tangerine oil and Marigold flowers essence. It also contains Comfrey root extract, renown for healing muscle pain and used for its medicinal benefits for over 2.000 years. It seemed that timing was right for me to try it out!

The (100ml) body balm is greenish yellow, mousse like but quite oily, best to use after showering on damp skin. It has tingling fresh effect, leaving your skin silky. Happy skin. The fragrance is green Tangerine skins at first very sparkly, uplifting and fresh. Then, as you rub it in, the warmth of skin turns it in earthy, rich, hay-like and musty Marigold hue.

My olfactory impression: short lasting but uplifting Tangerine scent, vision of a tangerine cut in slices for cocktails. Fades fast, fresh and greenish citrus vitamin C kick transforming into warmer hay and honey scent, which I find great since I am not a fan of Fanta-like orange-sticky sweet mandarine scent.
Where to buy: Azena, Origin – Croatian Cosmetics
Samples provided by: Origin – Croatian Cosmetics
Disclaimer

Tangerine Perfume Recommendations:

New! scent of Ben Gotham‘s Swedish perfume house Byredo, which has released its first-ever retailer exclusive, a unisex fragrance Belle de Tanger, exclusively sold at Neiman Marcus. I haven’t had a chance to sniff it yet but as soon as I do, will let you know precisely.
You may also like Tangerine – Demeter Fragrance, Agrumi da Sicilia – Monotheme Fine Fragrances Venice and Fraiche Badiane, Les Aromatiques (the nose behind this fragrance is Jean-Paul Millet Lage).

Mass Market suggestions: 6902 Hollywood Boulevard Los Angeles by Zara, Trendy by Avon 2015.

The Plum Girl

Photos: The Plum Girl, Azena web page.
“Tangerine Trees and Marmalade Skies” is a verse from “Lucy In The Sky a With Diamonds”.

It kind of surprised me, again. I do live in a moderate continental climate, four seasons and all, but still! Dusky, chilly mornings when you draw in a breath of the crispy smell of Autumn, the olfactory vision of wet ground, cinemonn colored leaves, rays of sunshine weaving through the clouds, earthy and woody scents soothing your nose: just recently I was reminiscent of Summer, clinging to fresh notes, desperately in need of “Vitamin Sea”. And here comes the rain again, falling on my head like memory, falling on my head like a new emotion…

Autumn poured over me, seducing me with its abundance of colors, harvested crops and fruits, spices and that damp smell of rain in the air just before it starts falling. It is rich, mysterious and textured, like a curve of a woman’s hip, soothing like that spot in the triangle shoulder-neck-collarbone of your lover.

If you are a signature perfume ’round the year type, good for you, but look around you: as the Nature changes it tones and hues, so do the scents change. The fragrant whiffs of flowers blooming, freshly cut grass, salty sea air or freshly cut slice of watermelon are now replaced by notes of wet leaves on the ground, earth smells like mushrooms, first smoke coming from chimneys, apples and pumpkins, grapes, woolen sweaters and leather booths: you might want to replace those light’n’breezy, fresh perfume notes with more cosy, earthy or, as Danish would say, hygge scents. Hygge, roughly translated as cosy, means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. Hygge for me is my Autumn perfume, my warm white blanket on the sofa, a book and a cup of Yellow tea.

I tend to associate spicy fragrances with Autumn, brunette vs. blonde, outdoors, but warm on the inside. Depending on your olfactory impression of this season and how it makes you feel, you might want to try out one of these:

Grain de Soleil by Fragonard: an Oriental fragrance, features iris, orange blossom, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, cinnamon, vanilla, jasmine, incense, heliotrope and rose. I do have a love and hate relation with jasmine, but this one is very comfortable yet sexy, relaxed sexy kind of a way. Later on it turns powdery vanilla, cuddly baby-like. I’d say a fine one for not a killer price.

M. Micallef Automne is a blend of red fruits, rare spices and woody notes. It opens with bergamot and red berries, cumin heart warmly beats with saffron and the base is patchouli, vanilla and sandalwood. The nose behind this fragrance is Jean-Claude Astier. Oldie but goodie, part of their 4Seasons series. It does start fruity and sweet, but then it transforms into almost Goth-like dark, sensual and fatal feminine. Smells like a close and a tight hug, when you feel your own body warmth, your partners body, and there’s no hurry, just simple pleasure of belonging.

CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves Absolute Perfume The name says it all. I rest my case. You can purchase trial vials at CB, which I strongly recommend. “Not everyone has your passion for dead leaves”, as Jane Austen wrote in Sense&Sensibility. The nose behind this fragrance is Christopher Brosius. I’d say it is controversial, you’ll eather love it or hate it, but it is certainly different.

Mainstream suggestions: Lancôme Poeme, CK Secret Obsession, YSL Cinema, Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka , Bois Des Iles by Chanel.  

So dig in your scents&emotions impression of October and pamper yourself with the matching perfume. Feel hygge and enjoy!

The Plum Girl

Photo: © Scvoart, Dreamstime