Citrus List

Citrus List

Citrus are universally liked, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who does not find citrus notes appealing to at least some degree or another. Despite the fact that citrus trees are rather picky about growing conditions, their protective peel makes them easily transportable and therefore most people in the world, even in sub-polar climates are usually familiar with them. Growing up with a family citrus orchard, I've known many citrus varieties quite intimately, from twig to flower to fruit. Also, I've got plenty of fond memories from citrus-scented herbs that we'd grow in our herb garden and brew as relaxing and delicious tisanes: lemongrass and melissa (lemon balm) and lemon verbena (aloysia citriodora). The latter is perhaps one of my favourite smells from a very young age.

With all that being said - the words "interesting" and "citrus" do not generally go together in my world. Citrus are the one fragrance family that I don't care for - they are short-lived, lack depth and complexity, and generally leave me unimpressed. On days when I choose to wear citrus in the morning, I know that it will be covered with something else by lunchtime or at least early afternoon. They are fleeting, noncommittal, and therefore wearing them should be easy and fun.

Most citrus fragrances are like the fragrance equivalent of ADHD kid in the classroom in the perfume world. They may get your attention quickly with their opening burst of freshness, and may even have a bit of an intrigue from the start; but this will quickly fade away, and give in to a yawn-inducing phase of the fixatives that were used (generally without much success) to make the scent last long(er). These tend to be along the lines of sandalwood, orris, benzoin tonka bean, musk, vetiver and sometimes a bit of deeper notes such as oakmoss or even patchouli. And it is often apparent that this phase was not very well thought through.

Disappointment from the cologne and citrus family can come in many forms, for example - trying to "upgrade" what needs to remain a very simple and humble. The delight of citrus is precisely in their simplicity and utilitarian origins. For example - in my humble opinion, Chanel's Eau de Cologne, which has a very balsamic heart, and a very woody, almost acrid dry down that tries to make it smell "expensive" and fit with the rest of the collection. I don't think this does much to the genre - not really creating anything new (it makes it very clear from the start that it wants you to think of it as an Eau de Cologne - yet pay an arm and a leg for it). Then, of course, there is the horrid modernized approach, loaded with Iso-E Super (Mugler's Cologne took that to the extreme, but it would be a lie to say it's the only one that tries to turn the natural cleanliness of citrus into a chemical treatment). And of course there are the faux high-class colognes, such as Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino, which is exactly how I'd imagined the WWII hookers in Catch-22 to smell like - a cheap cocktail of linalyl acetate and bleached musk, bottled in an icy looking clear blue bottle that makes it look there is more to it.

Last but not least: many modern citrus and colognes are fathomed after the "tea" fantasy accord, and vice verse - many of the so-called "tea" perfumes are more like a different interpretation for the bergamot-linalyl acetate accord that is central to eaux de colognes, only with ionones added to the mix to create that ephemeral tea connotation. This genre gets me less annoyed than others, because there is something elusive about them, and they are so difficult to smell (I must be partly anosmiac to ionones) - and how can you get angry with something you can barely smell?

The following roundup is more than just a citrus list, but generally summarizes ten citrus treatments that work, and themes that I actually find interesting - or at least fun and enjoyable.

1. Orange Blossom Replacing Neroli:
The main challenge I have with eau de colognes is that they are dominated by neroli and petitgrain, two notes that simply don't smell too great on my skin - smelling sharp and overbearing even though they could be quite wonderful when not so dominant. I find that when orange blossom is used instead of neroli, this problem disappears and I can enjoy the citrus more. Also, more depth to the base notes also helps a great deal. Case in point is Jo Malone's Orange Blossom Cologne, which is lovely, and Eau d'Orange Verte with which I fell in love when waiting in Heathrow between flights many moons ago. It remains my favourite citrus, and probably the only one I actually own.

Eau d'Orange Verte is undoubtedly one of the best citrus ever created, and never disappoints. Oh, wait, except that is was reformulated by Jean-Claude Elena to smell nothing like the glorious green bitter orange zest, neroli and oakmoss and cedarwood elegance that it used to be - replacing all this goodness with something flat, synthetic shadow of itself, whose only sorta-redeeming point is some green mango accord, which makes it a bit more interesting. But it is still disappointing nevertheless. Stick to the original!

2. Classic (Read: Old World) Eaux de Colognes: 
As much as I try to love 4711, it just always smells too sharp, too linen-like on me. But guess what? It is not the only classic eau de cologne that deserves our love and attention, and not all of them are as sharp an dominated by neroli.
Eau de Guerlain is a prime example. It begins very fresh, classic eau de cologne accord with hint of mint. But it has more facets to it than what meets the eye at first. There are some florals in its midst, and the dry down is the famous guerlinade - tonka bean, orris, vanilla and even a tad of patchouli and oakmoss. There is a floral richness to it so if you want a "deep" eau de cologne fragrance, this is it. It lasts for a long time as a result, and also has different stages and evolves on the skin, inviting the wearer for wrist-re-sniffing rather than reapplying. At some stage the tonka bean is more apparent, and at a later stage the orange blossom surprisingly shines through. 
I also fondly remember Eau de Clogne de Coq and Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat - but it's been many years since I've had access to either, so I can't pinpoint now what I liked about them. All I can say is Guerlain sure knows how to make citrus well (and more about that in a bit). 

3. Spicy Citrus:
Citrus and spice are as old as potpourri. But this is not the only way to utilize this bacteria-busting combination.
Florida Water is a modern-ish play on the eau de cologne theme, using New World aromas such as Mexican lime and a healthy dose of cloves and cinnamon to create a mouthwatering, refreshingly disinfectant concoction for the tropics. Florida Water have become also an interesting part of Shamanism practices on North America, and are used for cleansing and multiple other purposes. This past couple of years I've been honoured to work with a Angela Prider, local healer and shamanic teacher and practitioner, and have created an all-natural Florida Water type of fragrance for her, and customizing it for her particular energy work, which is greatly inspired by feminine archetypes from New Mexico, Ireland and Australia. I can't wait to share more with you - but I must wait till her website is up.

4. Citrus Fantasy: 
Whenever I meet a citrus I actually love, I usually discover it really belongs to the "Citrus Fantasy" sub-family. Which also proves that my citrus "problem" These truly are Chypre citrus compositions and can be very different from one another. They all have a prominent citrus top note, of course, but there is also something intriguing in the heart (more floral notes, for example) and of course there's got to be some oakmoss in the base as well (which ultimately contributes to their longevity. Innovative perfumes such as Eau Sauvage and Ô de Lancôme, Le Parfum de Thérèse and Diorella belong to this category.

Eau Sauvage perhaps does not only belong here, because it also can be categorized as a Chypre Fresh. It has plenty of depth and longevity - so all the things that I like to complain about citrus don't apply here. But honestly, I like anything with basil, really (so no surprise that I also like Lime, Basil & Mandarin Cologne by Jo Malone and Aqua Allegoria Mandarin Basilic, and have created ArbitRary with a very similar core of basil, citrus, oakmoss and jasmine). What makes Eau Sauvage so exceptional (before they messed up with the formula and removed all the oakmoss) is the play on hedione (a jasmine-inspired synthetic molecule), which makes up no less than 40% of the formula. It gives the heavy oakmoss, vetiver, hay and patchouli a "lift" and opens them up to receive the airy, fleeting citrus. To this day I find Eau Sauvage jaw-dropping gorgeous, a very similar reaction if your man walked out of a shower with a towel like the illustrations that made it so famous. Other fantastic citrus fragrances of that genre include Ô de Lancôme - but it does not work on my skin quite as well.

5. Citrus Tisane: 
Herba Fresca, from the Aqua Allegoria line, is another proof that Jean-Paul Guerlain really knows how to make citrus and is not afraid of adding depth and complexity to this shallow family, without taking away from their cheerful glee. Herba Fresca always reminded me of the herb garden of my childhood I've mentioned before. It's dewy and green and citrusy all at once. My only problem I have with it is its sharpness. It has a powdery-green-musky element that is just too piercing to my nose - creates an effect that is almost like screeching chalk on the blackboard. So after using it more as a room spray for a while - I had to give it away to my citrus-loving brother. Curiously, he also used it in the same way.

6. Citrus & Greens: 
Another winning combination that makes citrus more interesting is adding green galbanum note to it. It simply makes the citrus smell more alive. One of my favourites from this genre is Artemisia's Yuzu Citrus. It's also in Cristalle by Chanel (which is more complex and floral than your typical citrus - it belongs to the Citrus Fantasy/Chypre Fresh families. And recently I played with this theme in Lost Lagoon (which FYI is more on the Chypre and Floral Green spectrum rather than citrus per se).

7. Citrus Woods
The combination of citrus and conifers is nothing surprising, but it simply works. There is a certain elegance and harmony to it that can't be denied. Limonene is a common molecule and they seem to work well together., effortlessly. But what if the part of the conifer used was the heartwood, rather than the needles? There are several fragrances that rely on this marriage of woodsy notes and citrus, and often (but not always). there is cedar involved.
Citron Citron  (Miller Harris) with its elegant underscore of dry Virginian cedar, and piquancy from cardamom and pepper is a citrus that I find thoroughly enjoyable; and Sweet Lime & Cedar (Jo Malone) breaks free from the classic eau de cologne by using not only a lot of musk, but also petitgrain combava (AKA kaffir lime leaf) and sweet notes of Atlas cedar.
Last but not least, Eau d'Hadrien (Annick Goutal) uses cypress note, which although it is actually distilled from the leaves and twigs - but possesses a very woodsy, dry character that smells like a tree, rather than straight-up coniferous. It is an elegant, clean citrus with a very Mediterranean character. 

8. Sulfur, Yesss!
Pamplelune has always been a controversial fragrance even amongst Guerlain's fans. The reason being that the sulphur is really obvious here, even more than with actual grapefruit oil. The grapefruit is lusciously fruity,  robust and almost velvety; and its floral character is accentuated by ylang ylang and underscored by patchouli - both of which give it a dirty, sultry persona. Other treatments of grapefruit I find to be too masculine and untrue to this delightful zesty note (Jo Malone's Grapefruit Cologne); or too mineral and pretentiously "minimalist" (Hermes' Eau Pamplemousse Rose, which is really a replay of the flinty qualities of Terre d'Hermès). However, when I do crave that mineral type of grapefruit quality, I prefer Pure Turquoise (not technically a citrus either - and categorized as a modern "Chypre") -  which really takes this idea to the extreme with its dryness.

9. Citrus Candy:
When I created Fetish I wanted to create a citrus that isn't boring, lasts a bit longer than average, yet at the same time remains true to the playful and fun attitude of the family. I did that by using lemony heart notes (lemongrass and litsea cubeba) and echoing that citrus quality with fir absolute at the base, which gives the vanilla extra sweetness but also balances it a bit. Later on I also "met" Sugar by Fresh which has a very similar attitude, only with an abundance of musk at the base that gives it more of a  cotton-candy feel.

10. Yuzu & Etrog Mysteries:
The novelty of new scents from faraway lands never fails to surprise and excite, and yuzu is case in point. This Japanese citron is rarely found fresh outside of Japan, and smells like a delightful mix between grapefruit and Meyer lemon, but with much more pizzazz and oomph than either.

Oyédo by Diptyque is dominated by this note, and has an unusual composition with similar structure to traditional eaux de cologne, yet makes a bold, intense statement. Its vibrancy and originality is always nose-catching and enjoyable. What it does is take all the usual eau de cologne elements - wood, citrus and herbs - and amplify them ten-fold. Yuzu is a dominant, unmistakable note to begin with, with a sulphuric pungency not unlike grapefruit's, along with the orange-blossom like floralcy of yellow mandarin; and instead of sticking only to the typically sporty mint - the perfumer also added thyme, which has an unusual bitter and almost pungent bite to it. The base is that of the wonderfully elegant and mysterious Japanese wood, hinoki and has a slightly fruity musk at the base as well.

There are only two fragrances I'm aware of that use the elusive citron fruit: L'Etrog by Arquiste, and my very own  Etrog Oy de Cologne. If I could have my way, there will plenty more of them. Both have more depth and layers than the average citrus - in l'Arquiste's, this comes from a balsamic date-like note, and a woodsy-musky vetiver base.

P.s. Please note that although typically tutored as "summery" scents, citrus oils are highly phytotoxic and should not be worn on areas of the skin that are going to be exposed to direct sunlight.

Summer Sentiments


Summer is time of lightness: we wear less layers, we worry less (or at least we try), we spend more time outdoors and generally feel more carefree and relaxed. But it is also a time when exciting things can take place - trying new things, going on adventures, traveling, meeting new people, or making big changes in our lives before things supposedly turn back to "normal" in the fall.

It's been a few years since I've made a summer scent list. This summer I'm feeling particularly sentimental, as it's the last one of my daughter's childhood, and our last summer spent in Vancouver. So consider yourself warned: the following post contains an extra dose of nostalgia that will permeate my selection.

Berry Picking:
Whether in the forest or in U-pick field, berry picking is something unique to the northern hemisphere. And in Canada we are blessed with some many wonderful berries. I will never forget my first time picking wild strawberries in Bic (Quebec) and the bushes of bright red raspberries that grew in my dad's garden at his country house (my stepmom was complaining about how much she dislikes them, and I was amused that anyone could hate such an exotic thing as berries). Wild strawberries are seem nowhere to be found ever since I moved to British Columbia, except maybe I recall seeing something similar near Alice Lake in my first year here. But we have the bright orange (and mostly flavourless) salmon berries which appear in late spring; the tiny red huckleberries which were my first local berry love. They pop in your mouth with bursts of tart red juice, and bigger purple ones too. We have native blackberries, that taste like bubble gum (and I mean it in the best possible way), and the less known thimbleberries, which look like a red velvety cap and taste like apricot compote - tart and smooth and full of flavour. Then there are the invasive blackberries from the Himalayas, which grow in every possible corner including along the beaches, and taste musky at best, or watery, or in the worst cases - are full of tiny invisible black bugs that give them an unmistakably disgusting aftertaste. But they do make amazing jams and syrups (I cook them with maple syrup to make a sugar-free topping for pancake and ice cream), and are especially good when paired with sage. Either way, no walk in the forest is complete without them in the summertime.
Is there any perfume I love with berry notes? Not really. Mure et Musc and Angel are not my type, and Hanae Mori Butterfly, although doused with every possible berry (wild strawberries, blackcurrants and bilberries) - it is just too sweet to my taste. I'm curious to find something that is interesting and not overly girly that incorporates strawberry as a noticeable note, but is not so sweet and gourmand.

Toad's Stool

Summery Forest Strolls:
No matter how hot it could get here (which is not very hot, but never mind), there is always the forest to escape to. Strolling under the shady trees is both protective and refreshing; and when it's warm there is always a different scent to the forest - sun warmed coniferous needles and a more dry-earthy note although some dampness is normally still there as well, and you can spot (and smell!) mushrooms in the rainforest pretty much year-around. One of my favourite places to visit during the summer is Golden Ears Park, which also has plenty of refreshing water to enjoy: Gold Creek and Alouette Lake.
Perfume to match: KomorebiForest Walk by Sonoma Scent Studio.

Gold Creek

In the summertime I wear some of my scents more as ancillary products than anything else. And when it comes to beach time, they also have to match and complement the Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen that I love (it smells like a combination of mango, guava, pineapple and coconut and just a hint of plumeria and gardenia - I will have to stock up on that before I leave, because nothing comes close to this...).  Some of the best matches for this tropical goodness are many of the Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille series, in particular Vanilla Pineapple and Vanilla Banane, which smells like "shoko-banana" ice cream bars. Which reminds me of the awesome peelin' banana that they stopped selling for some ridiculous reason - a modern take on banana flavour which me and my daughter also adored. And admittedly, a summer is not complete without at least wearing Azuree de Soleil/Bronze Goddess Body Oil a handful of times.

Beach Cherry Picnic

Picnics & Iced Tea: 
One of the things we look forward to the most in summer is picnic - by the beach, lake or forest. The weather doesn't have to be that great for that - just as long as it doesn't rain. The classic picnic affair include cold cooked and marinated salads of all sorts, cherries for desserts, and either kombucha, homemade soda, elderflower cordial or iced tea for sipping. Few tea-scented perfumes actually capture my attention more than a fleeting moment (which is shortly they stick around), but summer is exactly the time of the year when all of this don't matter much. That's when I enjoy lavishing myself with the barely-there Osmanthe Yunnan (which is cool and restrained as iced osmanthus-scented tea with a sprinkle of pepper on top), and also can make peace with the fact that Earl Grey & Cucumber Cologne has its character maintained for about fifteen minutes before it turns into a musky nondescript mess. In summertime it somehow seems less of a missed opportunity - rather an invitation for noncommittal olfactory flirting.

Skunk Xing
Come spring, all the skunks come out of hibernation. As they roam the neighbourhood freely they also often get spooked by the colourful population of the neighbourhood that must be foreign to their black-and-white universe, and release their underrated elixir of potent strengths. It's not so much that the scent is all that unpleasant, but it's so pungent and intense that it makes one recoil and want to cross to the other side of the street (or close all the windows - it just depends when that happens). The West End is home to countless skunks, and also to skunky smells of other neighbourhood (and alley) favourites that try to compete with it: freshly ground coffee beans, which never manage to surpass the odour of the striped creature; and cannabis, which almost succeeds to do so). No scent that I know of uses skunk as a note, but some try to emulate cannabis, without much success; and the ones that include coffee so so in such a non-intrusive way that I'm just going to leave this category blank.


Although native to the Mediterranean region - and not at all unique to Vancouver - I now associate honeysuckles with summertime and Sunset Beach - a favourite place that has several botanical treasures around it, for those with a keen nose. There is a big cluster of honeysuckles that grow right there by the pipe crossing along with clematis (probably to mask the nasty whiff of sewage). Come midsummer, and their scent stops me on my tracks overtime I go by on the seawall: their long eyelashes tickle my nose as I take in their aldehydic, sexy floral scent reminiscent of human skin, peaches and just the tiniest underscore of indole - yet somehow also smells very clean and elegant, a tad citrusy even. My favourite honeysuckle fragrance of all is vintage Diorella, of which I've stocked up for a lifetime with a 200mL splash vintage bottle I scored on eBay. Diorella is the essence of summer personified - it is carefree, effervescent, bright and clean with notes of melon, basil and vetiver; yet also very soft, rich, expansive and sophisticated with all that hedione, honeysuckle, peachy aldehydes and powdery orris and violets.

Crisp Cantaloupe

The Farmers Market & Summer Fruits:
When the West End Farmers Market opens, it's a sure sign that summer is around the corner. And this has been an important part of our lives here for many years. It's that rare place where you really feel the community comes together and a place where my daughter can safely shop around for her own weekly treat and practice her money handling skills and make new friends among the generous and friendly vendors. These markets take place right next to the Nelson Park Community Gardens, which are filled with fragrant herbs and flowers (anything from marigold and melissa, lemon thyme and fennel to heirloom roses, sweet peas, iris and peonies). The market itself is full to the brim with fragrant, freshly picked berries of all sorts, apricots, white champagne peaches, fresh basil leaves and vine-ripened tomatoes, pungent garlic that hasn't even cured yet, smoked Sockeye salmon, coronation grapes, corn on the cob (and that incredible corn husk smell!) - and of course pastries galore which don't tend to have that much connection with seasons. Sometimes you'll even smell Tire sur la neige (maple taffy that is cooled down on ice instead of it native Quebecois snow). And if you're really lucky, you may find fragrant flowers such as white peonies and sweetpeas to take home and enjoy for a week. All this goodness is reflective of what's unique to this place and its abundance, and it's always touching that farmers go from so far away to connect with us city dwellers and bring  this richness to our lives. Even though farmers markets are everywhere now (a growing trend, thankfully) - I will terribly miss all the farmers and vendors that have been an important part of our weekend routine; and all those little details, the specifics that make this market so fun even though it's very small.

For celebrating summer fruits, here are my few favourite recommendations:
Cantaloupe: Un Jardin Apres La Mousson (Hermes) is juicy and sweet yet refreshing and no boring, due to the balance of spices and vetiver that go with it. It's effect reminds me of the feeling of creek-soaked gauzy white shirt on the skin and getting the dry desert breeze cool it off as it's drying the fabric.
Fig: Philosykos (Diptyque) and Premier Figuer would also do, in a pinch, as would Fig Leaf & Sage.
Apricot: Vanille Abricot (Comptoir Sud Pacifique) and Saveur de l'Abricot (Artemisia Perfume)
Melon: Le Parfum de Thérèse (Edmond Roudnitska's creation that was "published" by Editions de Parfums).

Summer Camps & Corn Maze: 
You know that smell your child has when they come back home after a day spent outdoors chasing butterflies with their friends, or wondering inside a corn maze? The sweet, sweaty child smell, which perfectly matches the exuberant expression on their face after they've truly enjoyed themselves and will pretty much agree to anything after a long day of activities. And by "anything" I usually mean: doing nothing at all, which is usually best achieved on a  picnic blanket by the beach, listening to the water and knowing that the day is complete.

Poolside and the Water Park:
Since moving to Vancouver, I only go to the pool when it rains. Outdoor pools are not my favourite thing in the summer here, as I prefer outdoor swimming in the ocean, lakes and creeks. Besides, the neighbourhood's only public outdoor pool is situated in a very windy corner at 2nd Beach, and I haven't paid a visit there for so many years I can't even count... But every summer my daughter goes to camp and gets to do things I always only dreamed of doing as a child, such as going to Splashdown (an adventurous waterpark full of slides and the like). And I'm happy that she gets to experience it. As for me - I will always associate the smell of chlorine with that freeing feeling of the beginning of summer, and skipping down the hill in the kibbutz to the pool for the first P.E. class that took place there as soon as the pool opened. This event always meant that the "big vacation" of summer was just around the corner... And I also have earlier fond swimming pool memories from the long vacations I spent at my aunt's in Be'er Sheva (in the southern Negev desert, which was very far from where I grew up - in the north of the country). Some scents simply remind of the pool's wonderful chlorine smell, which comes from a combination of synthetic musks, which smell like scrubbed-clean tiles, and aquatic-smelling synthetics such as calone. l'Eau d'Issey is one such fragrance, and for the boys reading this blog I recommend a scent I only recently paid any attention to - Eternity for Men, which is actually a very well-done aquatic Fougère that has a very distinctive oakmoss and vetiver dry down.

Aquatic Garden

The Flower Gardens:
Summer at its peak here means many fragrant flowers and impressive gardens, and all the roses blooming all at once. I don't know that there is anywhere a better climate than this temperate, British-like Pacific Northwest. Although the botanical gardens are the famous ones, as is Stanley Park's rose garden - there are many "unofficial" gardens as well, such as the many community gardens (Nelson Park's is a favourite which I visit daily), and the aquatic garden that pops up every summer at Beaver Lake, full of invasive irises and waterlilies (pictured above).  There is no scent that gives any of those visual and olfactory experiences justice, so I'm just going to mention here Anaïs Anaïs, which I've re-discovered this summer, and brings me memories of my grandmother and her love for botanical gardens. I will always cherish our joint visit to those in Montreal, which have beautiful garden of lilies, and at the heart of Anaïs Anaïs  are lush Madonna lilies and greenery.

Linden Blossom

Linden Blossoms on the Robson Street:
Another one of those natural scents that simply does not receive justice when perfumers try to bottle it. Although the note appears in several fragrances, non of them truly satisfies the tillia lover's desire to be surrounded by the airy smell of honeyed skies and treetop greenery. That is the kind of scent you just have to get out of your house to catch as you stroll down Robson street, Stanley Park's Pitch & Putt or Main Street (to name just a few areas that really get properly lindened every June).

Previous summer lists of interest:
Ultimate Summer Wardrobe - Scents for Every Occasion (2009)
Barbershop Scents (2015)
Super Summer Scents 2013 
To The Ends of the Earth: Ten Fragrances That Will Transport (2013)
What Summer? (2012)

Reflections on a Year Gone By

It's the last day of the year, which means that it's legitimate to look back and reflect on yet another year that has gone by. On a personal level, it was a great year (considering 2013 was a year from hell,  even though I didn't quite put it that way publicly - this is not exactly surprising).
On a global level, however, in 2014 it seems like all hell has broken loose and the only reason we don't think of ourselves as in the midst of a 3rd world war is probably because no one is brave enough to call it what it is. But I digress. You're not visiting this blog to be reminded of what kind of an awful world we live in. You are more likely here searching for refuge from all those realistic nightmares.

Well, a lot of good things happened in the world of scent; most of them I was too oblivious to notice or pay attention to so you won't be finding too many surprises in my "list" for the fragrant highlights of 2014.

This year I was absorbed in recovery from the awful year prior, and with a renewed boost of energy, I've been tackling all fronts of my business - trying to reach out and teach classes and courses in more places, re-doing a website, narrowing my collection, writing a book, and teaching a lot. All those things, which in the year prior seemed to have a big question mark hovering over them, have found a new meaning in my life and a new sense of excitement and purpose which in the year prior I was really worried will never return to me. But I've been also integrating a lot of my passions and knowledge and experience (both gruesome and positive) leading to a new direction that I feel serves a higher purpose. It will all unfold and make sense as I progress in my studies, art and life experiences. One big thing that occupied me personally and was part of what some like to call "personal growth" has been learning to become a Pilates instructor. I know this seems completely unrelated to perfumery for an outside observer. But to me all those things - working with breath, body, awareness and within the flow and rhythm of life - are all part of the same thing for me. And I don't believe I was born to do just one thing. With that being said, I'm now able to be much more focused, with a much clearer sense of priorities and

Year of the Book: 
This year was dedicated to completing my book, which was in the works (AKA planning and procrastinating, and dreading the intense process that writing a book involves). Somehow, despite the fact that I lost nearly 2 months of work due to the teacher's strike, not to mention many nights of sleep of the yet-another-unnecessary war in Israel and Palestine - I was able to finish it. And I want to thank once again all the people who were involved in the process: Terry Sunderland, graphic designer extraordinaire, Shauna Rudd, superb copy editor and proofreader, Schuyler Corry, proofreader and contributor of some of the chemistry terms in the glossary; and David Shumaker for proofreading some 3 years ago when I started working on this 3rd edition of the book; and last but not least to the Taly and Yitzhak Ginsberg, who thanks to them I actually went ahead with being self-published as well as for pointing me to the right direction to turn my manuscript into a eBook (you'll hear about that soon enough).
Thank you so much for helping me make my dream come true and become a published author!

And - More Books:
This has been a great year for perfume related books. I've mentioned two of them here, the anthology of scented poems The Book of Scented Things, edited by Jehanne Dubrow and Lindsay Lusby; and Mandy Aftel's new book Fragrant. There is always more to learn, and it's wonderful to see more books published that pertain to the world of scent. It's all part of keeping this rare art alive!

New Perfume Love: 
Au Delà - Narcisse des Montagnes by Bruno Fazzolari.
This limited edition "flanker" of sorts to the perfume Au Delà is even more beautiful than the original. I will write about it in more depth in the coming week - a beautiful ambery floral with Chypre nuances, that was accompanied by a breathtaking screen print, signed by the artist.

Mainstream Surprise: 
Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez
While I can't say I thoroughly tested even a fraction of the many mainstream perfumes released this year to justifiably crown this the "best" of the year - I did purchase a bottle, and it did not feel like it was a whim at the time. This perfume is full of surprises, much more than the original scent from this brand. In all aspects of design (including packaging) there is elegant simplicity in this release, yet intrigue and originality. It's been a while since I was able to say that about any department store fragrance.

Vintage Discovery: 
Diorella. What a delight to have found a 220 mL (!) of the original, vintage Diorella on a certain auction site. I've been splashing it lavishly in the summer, and looking forward to much more of the same as soon as the spring bulbs and buds begin to open again.

The 180: 
Aromatics Elixir
If you haven't seen much new perfume reviews on my blog, it's because I've been dousing myself quite regularly with this (previously under appreciated by me) bombshell. I used to think of it as way too strong. It wasn't until I blind-purchased a bottle of the Perfumer's Reserve (also via the above mentioned auction site), and discovered to my horror that there's far too much white musk in it; that I just HAD to re-examine the original. I only purchased a tiny spray bottle of it, but a little is all you need, and goes a looong way. There is something about that

Thank You Hermes For Not Disappointing: 
First of all, Epice Marine FINALLY arrived in the Vancouver boutique many months after it should have. And I did enjoy it quite a bit (yet not quite enough yet to purchase a bottle). Cuir d'Ange, on the other hand, arrived in time (or maybe it didn't, but I didn't really expect it), and turns to be a very interesting sheer leather. Samples are still unavailable which is why I haven't written a review yet. It's not earth shattering, but I'm always happy to welcome a new leather kid into my world.

Natural Intrigue: 
Palimpset by Aftelier. There are many offerings in the natural world that I am yet to try. But I was immediately smitten with both Cuir Gardenia and Palimpset, the two new creations of this year by Mandy Aftel. While I'm more likely to wear Cuir Gardenia frequently - Palimpset is the more original, intriguing and unusual. Built around the rare, unusual and difficult to work with Fire Tree oil from Australia - it has an outstanding longevity (I believe the sample I received from Aftelier is the parfum concentration in alcohol base). The opening is very effervescent and citrusy, almost like wild orange, sweetly fruity but not overtly so - then continues to develop into an utterly floral yet woody perfume, with the Fire Tree note weaves in and out while being supported. It's exotic and wonderful. I just received it yesterday, and am planning to post full review of this (and Cuir Gardenia) in the upcoming days.

The new incense cones by Persephenie.
They come in several fragrances, and all burn fantastically well, without leaving any "off note". Original blends, yet with a very strong connection to spiritual rituals from around the world. They are beautifully hand-shaped, and rolled in an outer coating of herbs that adds a visual element to the experience, rich in both colour and texture.

Those who know me well, are concerned about my ever-expanding collections of teas, spices, perfumes, cookbooks, and of course raw materials. Well, this year I have been pretty good about finishing up a lot of the teas I have and narrowing down my favourites to a more workable and manageable scenario (for the sake of my kitchen counter and shelves). Although I won't pretend I don't have excess of teas still, and need to run out of a lot before purchasing anything new; I am quite proud to say I know which teas I love and I am happy to just keep drinking a handful of them and stop feeling the urge to collect them. Some things lend themselves very badly to collecting, and tea is one of them. They just lose flavour after a while... I'm proud to announce, that as long as I have one good black tea (darjeeling, Assam or a cask-aged Ghorka, for instance - for versatile use anywhere from plain black tea, to that adorned with fresh sprigs of mint, or ensembles into a chai), Cream Earl Grey, and either a robust rooibos or a Thai Tea for its almost coconutty aroma, some kind of a good quality green tea (i.e. matcha powder or jasmine) and a Milky Oolong - I'm pretty happy. That's not a lot, right? Of course I also have a kid with her own favourites, usually flavoured teas or a green tea. But that's just extra fun. With a little help from our friends,  I think we're going to have a pretty clear tea shelf by the end of 2015. But in all honesty, what we've been drinking almost every other morning has been chai in a base of almond milk. We make it very simple, because there is no time in the morning to blend too many spices - just some black tea, some cardamom and cinnamon, freshly diced ginger and honey. Blame it on my daughter. It's her idea.

Sweet Tooth:
Persephenie's Salty Jasmine Candies, and my own Oud Truffles, if I may say so myself.

Skincare Product:
It's a well known "secret" that I'm a sucker for anything rosy smelling on my face. My skincare regime is as simple as could be, and includes only two products: floral hydrosol (usually rose, or orange blossom) spritzed on the face, followed by a moisturizer - usually just my own facial elixir. Everyone once in a while I make an exception - but it has to be for something exceptional. Usually it's Persephenie's excellent Rose Pakka. This year I was ogling her new offering for the face - Saffron Rose Face Oil, which is a pure and nourishing facial serum. The makeup of oils shares some common elements with my Elixir (tea seed oil, sea buckthorn oil, carrot seed and rose oils) and the rest is all sheer goodness, as always with Persephenie's creations. I've received it in the mail today and it did not disappoint. It's practically the facial version of my Song of Songs anointing body oil. I'm in a facial New Year's heaven!

Body Product:
Bedouin dry oil by Persephenie. All of Persephenie's body products are top-notch. Bedouin was my favourite scent by Persephenie, but is no longer in production. That's why it was particularly delightful to find out that it is now available as a dry oil - a very lightweight, sheer oil that can be sprayed on either body or hair. Roses and cardamom. Mmm...

Discovery of the Year:
Dabney Rose's extraits and pommades are nothing short of magic. I've experienced her hyacinth extrait, tuberose pommade and ginger lily pommade (the latter are made in a coconut oil base) - all grown in her own garden and hothouse. These beautifully and lovingly crafted pure single note essences are made in the old technique of enfleruage, modernized by an innovative vegan base. Dabney's work is akin to capturing butterflies inside hot resin and keeping them alive and intact even after they've exhaled their last breath... It may sound too good to be true... But it is the most truthful portrait of the living flower if there ever was one.  In other words: alchemy at its best.

Raw Material of the Year: 
Narcissus Absolute. I've been obsessing over it while creating Narkiss, and (great minds think alike!) in Bruno Fazzolari's newest perfume.
Need I say more?

Sweet Note to End the Year

Being on holiday mode these days, and recovering from a major computer crash - I'm a bit late in the game to discover this evening that Musk Malabi has been chosen as Best of 2014 in the lists of several esteemed fragrance blogs:

Perfume Shrine
"A natural composed "musk fragrance" that conveys the note and its feel without using musk from the deer. A tinge of delicious succulence, a milky hint of dessert and rose and you're there. Very pretty!"

"It’s a perfume inspired by one of my favorite desserts. It’s a luxurious blend of rose, neroli and botanical musk. If you don’t think natural perfumes are luxurious, then you haven’t sniffed Musk Malabi."

Now Smell This
Providence Perfume Co's Samarinda was the winner. Honourable mention to Musk Malabi alongside Aftelier's Palimpset and Hiram Green's Shangri La. Glad to be in such good company!

It was already released a year ago, so the fact that anyone still remembers it means quite a lot in today's overcrowded fragrance scene. My perfume Narkiss, on the other hand, although just released, and in my humble opinion is a lot more original than Musk Malabi -  hasn't been discovered yet.
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