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There’s a short, little cobblestone paved street in the center of Zagreb, Croatia. At its end, there is a funicular. The shortest cable car route in the world, having only 66 meters in length, connecting Tomiceva Street with Upper Town’s Tower Lotrscak. The latter is a very special place, as it is a home of renowned Zagreb cannon. Every day, precisely at noon, it fires a blank shot which is heard to farthest reaches of the city, signalizing the middle of the day.

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There is yet another special place at the foot of this funicular: Niche Perfumery “Top” (The Cannon). Filled with precious fragrances, an oasis for all the curious noses.

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As I walk towards it, expectations of olfactory plentitude reminds me of a book: “The Name of the Rose”. As the protagonists of this masterpiece explore a labyrinth in the medieval library, discussing the subversive power of laughter, I feel like entering scriptorium of fragrances, discussing the subversive power of – perfumes.

That novel has the power to change our minds, replace our reality with its own. Many niche perfumes have that effect on me. We live in a new world after we’ve read “The Name of the Rose”. I live in a new world each and every time a certain perfume overpowers me, seduces me, catapults me into olfactory heaven (or hell). Mystery? It is very present, as are the stories these wonderful bottles of perfume contain. The heresy? The power of scents.

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This is where my curious nose suffered from a thorough perfume overdose. The owner, a perfume connoisseur, revealed all the splendor of brands they feature. Of course, after sniffing the third perfume I was pretty much on my knees. Nose running, eyes watering, breathing with difficulty: I didn’t stop. The last one I tried was like a cannonball!

When I asked what has he done to me, the owner smiled and replied briskly: “If suffer you must, then isn’t it divine to endure sweet torture of the finest perfumes?” To this place of “torture” I will most certainly – return.

This is what I have found for you:

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Nasomatto is a unique, creative, contemporary brand from Holland. Founded by Alessandro Gualtieri, a man who has acquired a renegade reputation within the world of fragrance, Nasomatto refuses to publish ingredient lists. Instead, they describe perfumes by their inspirations. The project is dedicated to people who have a strong interest in a distinguished perfume choice. Alessandro believes that our senses are the primary instruments that generate our instinctive reactions and drive our process of judging and choosing. He is original, just a bit crazy, radical, fun or simply – different. All I can say, expect the unexpected!

All the precious little bottles are neatly arranged here, their line a story of its own: start on the right side with opiates, narcotic dreams of Black Afgano (temporary bliss!), China White, Narcotic (experience the addictive intensity of female sexual power), Hindu Grass. Move on with your nose to Absinth (“aimed to evoke degrees of hysteria”). The apocalypse continues with Duro (scent of inner thighs of a strong and wild male) and when you’ve sinned say – Pardon. Or use Blamage first and then say Pardon…or just ignore everything and be your own superhero with Silver Musk (the result of a quest for mercurial liquid love sensation). Or love them all, each one is so precious, my precioussssss (by now I turn into Gollum, happy in his cave).

What got me on my knees after sniffing all of these is the newest one, kind of magical.
Baraonda!

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The name means “chaos” or “uproar” in Italian. Nasomotto describes it as “an unwise and unfortunate creation caused by bad judgment”. Baraonda is really strange. Strange as good strange…peculiarly addictive strange, very sexy kind of strange. It really evokes the powerful and mighty whisper of an olfactory stirring, that’s for sure! Beware! Nasomatto uses only extraits of perfume, a light dab does the hard day’s work.
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The final cannon shot? Brilliant Frederic Malle piece did it to me again: I couldn’t resist the temptation of The Night by Dominique Ropion. I finished my visit with a scent of Lipizzan horses stable, Turkish rose, amber and oud, maximum oud there is…and it lasted forever, now engraved in my olfactory memory.

The adventures of a curious Nose will continue: feel free to subscribe to my blog and be the first to read the new story coming up: I will research very special Advent & Christmas candles for you!

The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Nasomatto
Disclaimer

It’s funny how my mind works. Keeps surprising me. US Election day is just around the corner, a friend arrived in Washington DC recently and sent me a photo of the White House yesterday and there I was – thinking about perfume. The one I enjoyed just a week ago.

The story behind this perfume revived images of Antibes from my 2016. summer trip to Côte d’Azur. It was a hot sunny August day. I just took a right turn off the A8, driving towards San Juan Les Pins. Roof down, fresh air coming from the park of nature and golf terrains, fresh Mediterranean Sea breeze playing with my hair. I thought, yeah, he might have felt just the same and why am I thinking in black&white right now? Well, because it was 1937.

imageAnd the perfume? Well, it brought back memories of my early corporate days. Being a young woman at the beginning of my career, struggling to be taken seriously in spite of her youth, I might have used this very perfume on a daily basis.

The perfume is Eight&Bob 100ml EDT Spray.

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The Eight&Bob story goes like this:
In 1937. a young college student from a wealthy family, aged 21, toured Europe with his friend, driving a Ford. His summer vacation included a stay on the French Riviera, Antibes, to be precise.
While wandering around the popular resort, openly and straightforward as any young American would have done, he started a conversation with a Frenchman about the fragrance he was wearing. The young American’s name was JFK.

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The man he was talking to was Albert Fouquet, who liked to experiment in perfume-making. As the story goes, Fouquet left a fragrance sample at JFK’s hotel with a note that said, “In this jar, you will find the dash of French glamour that your American personality lacks.” (I can imagine that text to be true 😎).
When Kennedy got back to the States, he sent Fouquet a letter saying that all his friends back home loved the fragrance, and asked the perfumer to send eight samples and “if your production allows, another one for Bob.” (Robert Kennedy.) Fouquet complied, and labeled the samples “Eight & Bob,” and a brand was born. In 1939, Fouquet died in a car accident. However, Philippe, the Fouquet family butler, had often assisted Fouquet in his perfume-making, so he took over the orders. When World War II started, Philippe hid the bottles inside books that he cut by hand so that the Nazis wouldn’t seize it.
After the war, Philippe never made the perfume again. The formula remained a well-kept secret. Eight&Bob recovered the formula and production process sixty years later and here it is, in cut out book packaging again. You can read their full story here.

50 years after his assassination, four different perfumers — Jockey Club, Creed Vetiver, the German cologne 4711 and the reissued fragrance Eight & Bob — all claim to have touched JFK’s skin. It’s a great story, but skeptics take note: The only hard evidence is that Kennedy really did visit France in 1937. Later on, there’s probably more proof that his collar occasionally held the scent of Chanel No. 5 (no further explanation needed, right?) than to any and all of the perfumes he might have used.

How did this perfume make me feel? It is a unisex perfume, to start with, make no mistake.
I would say is a fine “business day in an office perfume”, the one you would want to wear on executive board meetings. It could make you feel powerful, classy and ummmm…rich.
There have been many reviews written about it. Some say that it’s nothing special, some say that it reminds them of Fahrenheit32 and some call it a masterpiece.

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I would say it’s a winter/early spring perfume, a balanced and a fresh fragrance. It could make a great signature scent. It lasts and it lasts, for almost 12 hours. Does it smell “good”? Yes, with a citrus and spice opening, developing on my skin into an accord that feels like a cross between violet and iris (is that the famous Andrea ingredient?). Woods embrace this accord as cedar, sandalwood, and guaiac add depth. Eight & Bob stays refined with not overly sweet vanilla adding the final, classy touch. The packaging is superb! Yet again, as my thoughts rush, this one puts the new Eight & Bob perfume Cap d’ Antibes on my wish list.

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The story behind Eight&Bob might be true or false, whatever – just enjoy the perfume, write your own story! Now I wonder what fragrance shall be present in the Oval Office for the next four years? Soon we will know: enter “Empire” by DT or Thierry Mugler’s Angel? (Update: DT it is…)

The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Eight&Bob
Samples of Eight&Bob perfume provided by Parfumerija Lana
Disclaimer

 

“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”.