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“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

„Painting is the most beautiful of lies“ – Kees Van Dongen

If painting is the most beautiful of arts and if a fine perfume is a work of art, then…?

If a perfume is a work of art…

I do think that in numerous cases it definitely is, although the idea of defining art is still being discussed: there is no single definition of art that’s universally tenable. The definitions of art are still under constant challenge, always were. I support the thesis that art has more to do with intellectual responses. A lie? Rather: an illusion. Distorted echo of the actual. We do need illusions, after all. Sometimes the actual is too painful, too harsh, too destructive. Art does have the power to take us to a higher level of being, the power of – love. So does perfume…

Here I am, wearing Opardu by Puredistance (again, and enjoying it…), musing about art, truth, beauty, and love. Things perfume can make me think about! Providing not only olfactory but intellectual pleasure a well. An ode to Springtime! This feels so appropriate now, as Spring has already given its best, moving majestically towards its grand finale when rose flowers shed their darkened petals and pave the way for Summer to enter. A perfect floral illusion of opulent Spring as the most glamorous moment of Nature.

Opardu is a „painting“ made by perfumer Annie Buzantin from New York. It all started when Jan Ewoud Vos of Puredistance, in his quest for a new perfume, showed her an illustration for the book „Parfums“ by Paul Valery to illustrate a word he made up – Opardu. A opulent and lush bouquet of flowers, drawn by Dutch-French painter Kees Van Dongen. It is a Fauvistic illustration, with vibrant colors and strong strokes, pure energy in motion, emotions and passion visibly expressed.

Kees Van Dongen is famous for his paintings of flowers, but he also painted portraits of prostitutes first and later on graduated to painting society ladies: elongating their bodies, making them look a bit dangerous. Often nude. Somewhat feline. He did not paint what he saw: his compositions reflect what he felt (He did challenge some social norms at his time! What an interesting read this was!).

These women are femme fatales, yet somehow living in the world of their own: modern in their sensuality, touched by decadence, beautiful in their self-confident glamour. Recalling dreams yet strongly living reality. Timeless. Yet, there is something in their eyes. Van Dongen painted their almond-shaped huge eyes overly made up, dark and mysterious.

Now that we know the story behind the creation of Opardu, let’s see the mis-en-scene: Puredistance places it in Paris, 1930-ties: „..romantic memories of vintage Paris…“.

Well, I can try really hard to relate to Paris in ’30-ties but I will tell you where Opardu took me and how I experienced it!

At first, as I sprayed it gently on, all I could think of is purple lilacs, lilacs everywhere. Me as a kid, lying on the grass underneath a big lilac tree in my grandmothers’ backyard – before she calls me to have lunch, imagining that one day I would have a bed of purple lilacs made just for me.

I was not allowed to climb that tree, that was forbidden: my grandma knew that the branches are hollow. She would reluctantly break off a few, to keep lilacs in a vase just for me. Lilacs for me were a symbol of Spring, warmer days coming, end of the school year nearing, days becoming longer and nights warmer. I always wished they would bloom longer!

There’s nothing childish about this perfume: as I inhaled it deeper and it started to develop on my skin, the first thing that came to my mind was – silk stockings. Black silk stockings, an elegantly dressed woman with gloves and a hat…contained elegance.

I remembered how my grandmother told me stories about fashion and what she wore when she was a young woman, before the WWII. She told me that she wore silk stockings. Black or grayish silk stockings, the ones with seams behind, or „nat“ as Nana called it. Expensive ones, too, the kind you had to take for a mending if you accidentally tore them. They were hold-ups, held by garters (she showed me how that worked out) at mid-calf length. Skirts were longer then, too.

She also told me that when the War had begun, there was a shortage of everything – stockings included. She had moved to the countryside in order to survive, alone with her only son, working and farming on the land of her ancestors. Her legs were tanned (which wasn’t popular at all back then), and when she needed to go to the nearby town, she insisted on wearing – stockings. Imaginary stockings. She painted the line on her sun-tanned legs, replicating a seam because a lady didn’t walk around bare legged. She also taught me how to make my own lipstick, soap, peeling cream, almond oil and shown me how to collect and use basic herbs for skincare. And a thing or two about men…

She said: „You never know what will happen, Eli. You can never know for sure, but know one thing: Nature provides everything we need and land will always feed you. You can survive, but never ever give up on being a lady.“ I was maybe seven or eight years old and little did I know that so many things she had taught me would be so practical later on in my life. I remember her eyes so well: there was always a soft glow of saudade about her, that inexplicable feeling only Portuguese understand perfectly: profound melancholy and love that remains after losing something or letting it go…Something in her eyes.

Maybe I was too overwhelmed with lilacs to feel carnations properly at first, but when I closed my eyes to escape clouds of purple – I felt white flowers emerge, forming a bouquet around lilacs, adding some sweetness. That purity of light purple tones became tainted with not so innocent tones of surrounding flowers: I feel gardenias swaying in wind, jasmine petals falling, turning this perfume into a creamy and seductive cocoon. Tuberose is present too, but what magnificent tuberose!!! Later on, I did feel carnations, just adding a tinge of spiciness in the heart. This fragrance is an opulent, refined, womanly floral. Even woody-musky at the drydown, turning it into a smoother version of the initial opening. The more I wear it, the more I fall in love with it.

The combination of eroticism, elegance, saudade and vibrant colors is a key to understanding Opardu: it makes me think about first stolen kisses, Spring Flings of youth, careless falling in love and fresh green grass under frail lilac trees.

Listed Notes: Tuberose Absolute, Gardenia, Bulgarian Rose, Purple Lilac, Carnation, Jasmine Absolute, Heliothrope and Cedarwood.
Opardu is available in three different sizes: 17,5 ml, 60 ml and 100 ml of pure Perfume Extrait (32%)

Worldwide Giveaway
I’m so excited! This is my first giveaway!

In order to celebrate being nominated for The Fragrance Foundation Awards (New York) – Top 10 2018.– in category: Editorial Excellence Online (with my review of Puredistance Warszawa– The Scent of Slavic Melancholy), I would like to share the experience of Puredistance Master Perfumes with you!

You can win a 2ml perfume spray sample of Opardu and discover this fine perfume for yourself. To enter you need to like and follow The Plum Girl and Puredistance on Facebook (click the link!) and comment on The Plum Girl Facebook page post about Opardu what could this perfume mean to you!

The winner will be selected on 04.06.2018. (I do moderate comments, in case you notice a delay) and announced on The Plum Girl FB page the following day. I will contact the winner personally and your prize will be shipped to you soon afterwards. This is a worldwide giveaway: have fun and good luck!

The Plum Girl
Photos: The Plum Girl, Puredistance brochure and materials, photos of paintings are royalty-free.
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