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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disclaimer


 

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
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