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Wien

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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

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

“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