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I had a dream, not long ago.

I found myself in the wood of dark and tall oak trees, cold and leafless, and the air smelled of damp wood, wet leaves, moss, and rain. At first, this place felt threatening, no path was visible in the fog surrounding me. Yet, as I walked on, carefully placing one foot in front of the other, I faced a clearing in this forest and begun to hear birds chirping in the trees, and felt a ray of sunshine touching my face. I felt relief and determination to find my way out. When I continued to walk my own way, not feeling lost anymore, I suddenly and unexpectedly came upon a clearance.

There was a field amidst high trees before me. The trees were dark and gloomy but the field I saw was a field of spring flowers! Colors of yellow and white and lilac, Crocus, Hyacinth, Primrose, and Snowdrops protruding from the fresh green grass, what a sight! I was happy. I woke up smiling.

Now, Mr. Freud surely would have analyzed this, asking me more questions about this dream, and what my feelings were while experiencing all events and images described.

At the turn of the last century, Sigmund Freud published his book, The Interpretation of Dreams, arguing that our dreams are nothing more than wishes that we are looking to fulfill in our waking lives. Born in Freiberg, when he was four years old, Freud’s family moved to Vienna, where he lived and worked until he fled Austria in 1938.

My line of thought that morning: ok, I am spending a vacation in Vienna, I should do some planning in advance. While I’m there I will visit the Freud Museum because I never managed to do so on previous visits. And I will explore perfumes, of course.

This led me to reading everything I could find about WienerBlut perfumes and ta-naaa! There it was. The perfume Freudian Wood! Bingo. And yes, this blog falls under my caterogoryWhat’s Up In Da City- Vienna.

„The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.“ – Sigmund Freud

Let me paraphrase you, Mr. Freud: I would say that scents are the royal road to our olfactory memories, conscious and unconscious! Also, nowadays we have aromachology, the psychology of understanding how we react to certain smells.

Yes, the fragrance designers are well aware of the power of scents, or as Proust put it, little Madeleine cookies planted in our memory. Scents have evocative powers. By stimulating the olfactory pathways to the brain’s limbic system (which processes smell, mediates mood and stores memory) a fragrance CAN bring back or forth a sense of energy, sensuality, confidence or exhilaration!

Wien, Vienna, Beč, the city I love to return to. What are the scents that define Vienna to me? As I walked the streets surrounding Stephansdome, it was a mixture of humidity in the air coming from Danube, Christmas Market hot Gluehwein and punch at the corner of Kaertnerstrasse, the scent of warm plums served with Kaiserschmarn coming from a restaurant I passed by, the smell of the carriage horses strolling around in slow pace and fresh-baked Sachertorte at Demel‘s.

Olfactory impressions aside, I did visit to experience specific scents from Vienna, focusing this time on WienerBlut collection, one fragrance in particular: Freudian Wood.

The term WienerBlut was coined in 1873 and describes the unique blend of archness and hedonism attributed to the Viennese. It implies never-ending nostalgia, the longing for turn-of-the-century Vienna and its unique atmosphere. It’s the essence of Vienna, lifestyle and spirit of the city, although you might know the term because of the waltz or operetta by Johann Strauss II, an album by Falco, a song by the Austrian metal band Stahlhammer or a song from Rammstein. I will remain by these positive interpretations of this term, sticking mostly to the one which translates it as Viennese Spirit.

Perfume making has a long tradition in Vienna, blooming in the times of the Habsburg monarchy. Lavender water variations, Kniže as an Imperial Court supplier, even today a timeless classic. WienerBlut was founded in 2009. by Alexander Lauber and creates fragrances based on original formulas and frags of 19th century Vienna, bringing back these imperial period scents but with a modern twist.

It is a small company, niche-oriented, featuring an Austrian perfumer, Yogesh Kumar. The first fragrance line was introduced in 2009., some perfumes were discontinued, but the new lineup is truly worth a sniff.

They are niche by every possible definition, being authentic and minding the quality of the ingredients, sporting a Nose and a certain degree of sustainability.

The packaging concept is simple, the bottle does not take attention away from the perfume and overall packaging is more about the content and less about the frills. My cup of tea.

As I wrote to Alexander, he recommended that I visit KussMund, located in the center of the city. So I did, and a wonderful place it is, check the link. With a very helpful and perfume storytelling SA. Here you can find the whole WienerBlut collection:

Allow me to focus on the perfume Freudian Wood- created by Mark Buxton. This is what I came for, right? This is the official description by WienerBlut:

In the world of Freud, wood stands for
sexual desire in general and the female
bosom in particular. A milky fragrance
that captures intimate skin feeling –
with animalic and lactonic notes
vibrating around a luscious woody core.
Notes: Ambrette Seeds, Cypress, Milk,
Cumin, Costus, Mimosa, Sandalwood,
Ambergris, Labdanum“

My olfactory impression: This perfume is composed of intriguing notes, playful and powdery at the same time, with a very sensual woody aftertaste. It is seductive in a refined and elegant way. The first note that strikes me is Mimosa but it is layered upon Cypress, which is rather surprising in a good way. Then milk rises, almost buttery milk, warm, combined with Cumin making it creamy and caressing, soft and gentle as the skin on skin. Ambergris plays softly but quite strong and sandalwood is present but not loud. It is like a dream after which you wake up smiling: sensual, warm, encompassing but providing joy of life feeling and making you feel good in your own skin. Longevity is very good and sillage noticeable. I feel I could wear it all year round, morning to evening. It works very well on me in cold weather, and I can’t wait to test it on a warm Spring day.

What can I say? It was worth my trip. To Vienna and to WienerBlut I shall return…Oh, wait! Did I tell you about Sale Marino?

There I go again: unable to determine which one I like the most! Have fun exploring these fine perfumes!

The Plum Girl

Photos: The Plum Girl, installation photographed at the Sigmund Freud Museum by Austrian multimedia artist Peter Kogler

Samples provided by KissMund Wien

Disclaimer

This will be probably the shortest perfumes travelogue ever written in my blog series: what’s up in Paris?

Everything!

I wanted to write just that and post some photos, but couldn’t resist, so here it goes…

Call me a Francophile if you wish: for me, Paris is the capital of the World. Fine perfumes world, too.

What can a perfume geek like me do&see&visit in Paris?

Now, here we have a problem: that depends on how much time you’ve got. A day or two will drive you crazy, a week wasn’t enough for me.

If you have a one day stay in Paris, I suggest making a quick tour of grands magazines: GalleriesLafayette, BonMarché and Colette.

Or Nose, 20 rue Bachaumont. Here you can find some well-known perfumes, all in one place, a fine selection. Running around from one to the other will be a race with time, so dress properly and get those metro tickets ready!

If you find the time, visit Le Grand Musée duParfum, I find it really fascinating!

For a bit longer stay, let’s say a couple of days, I suggest a visit to some major flagship stores, like the famous Guerlain shop on Champs Elysees.

Run quickly to see Serge Luton at Palais Royal. Do drop by AnnickGoutal’s at 14 rue de Castiglione, for some real chic Parisien, lingerie included (both in 1st arrondissement). I skipped Fragonard simply because I’ve spent days researching it in Grasse, but as long as you are running around the 1st, have a go. Oh, while you are there, drop in at Maitre Perfuemur et Gantier, yet another famous Parisian perfumer.

The man I adore, Francis Kurkdjian resides nearby as well:5 rue d’Alger was the one I rushed into. Then move over to Saint-Germain-des-Pres district, there you’ll find the flagship boutique of one of France’s most beloved modern noses, Frédéric Malle. My beloved as well… Don’t forget Parles Moi de Parfum, run by Benjamin and Romain Almairac. Their fine boutique has a selection of over 200 raw materials, which serve as a basis to create their niche perfumes.

If you are planning to devote a whole week to this kind of sightseeing, there are ooh! So many! Niche houses! I can’t really name them all here, but I know the next time I visit Paris I will certainly find time to go to Le Jardin Retrouve Salon…

Is that all? Not in your dreams. There’s more. And more. So much more. I already have a very long list of “must do’s”!

One thing is certain, though: I’ll be back…over and over again. Feeling like Alice in Wonderland…

The Plum Girl

Photos: The Plum Girl private collection

Update: February 2018.

Short, business visit: this city gives me more and more each time I visit! Ok, Seine has flooded terribly but the spirit is high.

Since I didn’t have much time I planned a visit to Le Jardin Retrouve showroom. Apart from meeting Clara in person (finally!), she showed me everything: the history tree, concept, novelties, plans for new products and the lab!

Next time I will definitely save some time for JAR experience, which is on my bucket list as well. Enjoy the pics!

And, of course, some Guerlain classics at Guerlain flagship store, including the monster bottle spotted at Sephora, 68 Champs Elysees, just next door to Guerlain:

Love this city! ❤️💙❤️

 

Elena Cvjetkovic

The Plum Girl

Photos: The Plum Girl

„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


Disclaimer

 

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
Disclaimer

 

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

Ljubljana, Laibach, Lubliana/Slovenia: during my recent, brief stay I simply had to walk over The Triple Bridge. It is a must see in Ljubljana, I just love the inner city! Advent decorations added a new dimension to the river Ljubljanica, people filling squares and cobble paved streets: what is different this year (they were proud to explain) is that culinary providers at the Advent fair are using environmentally friendly packaging instead of plastic!

 

Niche perfumes offer in Ljubljana practically didn’t exist for a quite long time. I guess nearby Austria or Italy covered the demand and some shops shyly introduced limited range of perfumes in the past years. My curious nose took me to Ikona, relatively new shopping destination:

Perfumery is located on the ground floor, exhibiting what Ikona has to offer:

Young lady that greeted me warmly was very helpful, although not quite into perfumes. As I noticed later on, this is not the only department she covered, so it seems that sales personnel is covering all the bases. The rest-and-enjoy corner is neat and comfy:

I didn’t find any novelties: the offer is basic, a very limited safe-play. You will find a selection of Amouage, Carthousia, Juliette Has a Gun (no Into The Void, though), Nasomatto basics and Comme des Garçons range (as photos show). Alas, they had just run out of Nasomatto completely, not a drop left in testers, not a single bottle available. No samples at all, nada, zip, zero. Ok, it was Sunday, just before closing time, maybe they had run out of everything. Maybe. I tried to contact them via mail prior to arrival but nobody bothered to answer.

Carthusia – I Profumi di Capri was nice to see, haven’t seen Carthusia since my visit to Italy. Classic: Numero Uno (for men) was released in 2007. and Via Camerelle (citrus centered, for women) in 2006. Carthusia is said to originate from a bouquet of wildflowers picked by a monk in 1380 on the Island of Capri. The current collection of Carthusia perfume is a revival of these ancient scents, rooted in the history of the island. With every stage carried out by hand, the limited production means being able to use the same methods as the Carthusian monks. A fine choice, without any doubt, but I personally consider these as more “summertime” perfumes.

Did some shopping and I must repeat that all the personnel is very nice&friendly, covering all three floors and different brands. We did receive a goodbye goodie: a bottle of Ikona water:

I really enjoy being in Ljubljana and will write an update next time I visit. I’ll be back! 😀

Update, September 2017: a very good range of niche, getting better and better! Wider choice, more newies, very good SA. When in Ljubljana, this is the place I will return to…

The Plum Girl

Photos: The Plum Girl