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SmellyBlog

Intimate


There is a box of decants that I kept from the days when perfume trading was fun and exciting, and collecting more vials than I will ever need in my lifetime didn't feel burdensome. There was the thrill of the hunt, and the wonderful feeling of being taken care of when someone you only knew by their screen name and fragrance wardrobe sent you a surprise in the mail with vintage perfumes that smelled like nothing you ever smelled before... That was of course, before I smelled too many perfumes, before each year offered over 500 new releases, and I became too jaded and selective about what I put under my nose.

In a moment of olfactory boredom last night, I unearthed a roll-on with vintage Intimate in its vintage form (Revlon, 1955). The concentration is not specified, but judging from it lasting well into the next morning, I imagine it's at least an eau de toilette.

Intimate is a softly-spoken echo Miss Dior's green-floral-animalic-Chypre; a hazy mirror image of its New Look glam. There are green aldehydes at the top, but they've lost their sharp edge (possibly through aging and mellowing, but even still, comparing to the vintage Miss Dior I have they are less intense).

Intimate is definitely from the same genre (Chypre Floral Animalic, and sporting some definitive green notes), yet has a softer, powderier character right from the the start (a trait that is only evident in Miss Dior if you really pay close attention somewhere around the second act). It has edgy, woody-herbaceous notes peeking underneath, making the greenery less obvious. There is an aldehdic wisp at the opening as well. Mingled with the orris this creates a blending illusion, like smudging and blending pastel crayons that obscures the shapes of jasmine and rose that were just drawn moments ago. One can't quite tell when the jasmine and rose end and the oakmoss, sandalwood and cedarwood begin. The woods create a dry feel, a sort of temporary cleanliness. An animalic power roars from underneath, with the carcass of castoreum and the concentrated piss of civet create a dark, musky-sweet epilogue.

This phase dissipates faster than I would have liked it to, turning into a vintage Revlon lipstick scent, like the ones I would try on from my grandmother's dresser. My grandma always dressed elegantly, so lipstick was the only way to tell she's going somewhere importatn (work included, and she worked well into her 70s, and continued freelancing even after she officially retired). And if it was somewhere social, there will also be a dap of perfume or some Eau de Cologne splashing.

The drytdown (as observed the next morning) has a sweet and smooth amber and a musk compound that bears some fruity, berry-like qualities. Oakmoss is still there as well as a hint of greenery. Overall, there is a soft, close-to-the-skin feeling that's exactly what I would like in a perfume from the night before: a sweet reminder that something wonderful happened last night, but without having all your clothes reeking of it or making you want to wash it off. You could easily apply something else on top, or go for a second round.

Intimate is beautifully constructed and elegant, and smells sexy in a down-to-earth kind of way. If I didn't know who made it I would think it is a French perfume - it skips the loud statements that American fragrances so often have (both in sillage and tenacity) and instead offers a more nuanced perfume that even if it isn't a groundbreaker for its time, it is very well done and wonderfully enjoyable. The bottle in the ad shown perfectly conveys its style and class, which will be evident even if you are blindfolded and can't see it.

Top notes: Green Aldehydes, Bergamot
Heart notes: Jasmine, Rose, Orris, Cedarwood, Sandalwood
Base notes: Oakmoss, Civet, Castoerum, Musk, Amber

Approaching Coal Harbour

Buoys

This week I've finally created a batch of Coal Harbour, which I intend to close the Perfume4aPlace series dedicated to my favourite spots in Vancouver. However, the concept of Coal Harbour perfume predated all the other scents. In fact, it was in one of those morning walks about five years ago in Coal Harbour that I knew I would soon have to leave the city. Walking there and watching the aquaplanes take off and land on water I felt a pang of melancholy, knowing how much I love the marine aspect of the city. And so I promised myself to make a Coal Harbour perfume before I leave, as a goodbye present to the place I've called home for nearly 18 years.

This idea of course was the seed of the entire collection. And as the time to leave approached, I began rolling out the scents. I felt reluctant to launch Coal Harbour, because deep inside I knew that would mean the last farewell. So I did this gradually, with one perfume in each season... Komorebi in the fall of 2015, Sunset Beach in the winter of 2016, Lost Lagoon in the spring, and finally Coal Harbour for summer.

The scent is now maturing in the vat - a concoction that echoes the juxtaposition of natural aromas in their urban surrounding, contrasting marine notes, fresh cut grass and linden blossoms with the penetrating aroma of jet fuel.

The perfume is still in the maturing phase, but you can pre-order a sample (or, if you know you like marine-leathery-green scents, an entire bottle in your choice of eau de parfum application - mini splash bottle, roll-on and larger spray bottle.

New Perfume: Lost Lagoon

 Inspired by a hidden garden of azaleas

Lost Lagoon

Happy May Day!
I'm excited to share with you my new perfume for spring and summer: Lost Lagoon.

Every spring, the rhododendrons awaken - first slowly, building anticipation. By early May, they simply burst with colour and aroma, some of the bushes so dense with flowers that you can't even see their leaves and branches...

These fragrant azaleas paint the edges of Lost Lagoon with myriads of flowers of tropical colours and exotic scents as versatile as the number of hybrids planted there: some are reminiscent of lily, others are like ylang ylang and some smell like cool suntan lotion. Bluebells, violets and other bulb flowers and annuals are planted among them; and magnolia, lilac and syringa contribute their luscious perfume to the already fragrant air. Freshly cut grass from the Pitch & Putt is the only reminder you're still in the Northern Hemisphere and not in the tropics...

Lost Lagoon

In case you can't experience this extravagant botanical explosion in person - don't be sad: I've bottled that scent especially for you!

Lost Lagoon is the third installation in "Perfume For A Place" series, which is inspired by my favourite places in Vancouver. This perfume will transport you to a secret lagoon surrounded by tropical flowers. Lost Lagoon is a refreshing Chypre with exotic floral notes of magnolia and ylang ylang and loaded with bergamot and green notes of rhododendron buds, violet leaf and galbanum.



Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Galbanum, Violet
Heart Notes: Rhododendron, Magnolia, Ylang Ylang
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Amber, Iris


Jasmine and Pine

Image from page 100 of "The Illustrated annual register of rural affairs and cultivator almanac for the year .." (1855)

Another gem from the stash of decants I received from Joanna is vintage Devin cologne by Bernard Chant for Aramis (1978). It was a FiFi Award winner that year, which was well deserved. I've never even heard of it, and wasn't really drawn to even trying it before I got on this roll of trying out masculine scents. But when I finally did, I was in for a most pleasurable ride, and a long-lasting at that as well.

Devin is that fabulous meeting point between resinous and green. It may seem familiar to us residents of the 21st Century; but back in the day when green icy florals and soapy Chypres reigned supreme (No. 19, Ivoire, Private Collection) this must have been an original.

Whenever I got out of the rustic village and visited my grandparents in their modern Tel Aviv apartment, I would be treated with the most luxurious bath in my grandmother's best tradition: foam bath in her blue bathtub. Into the warm running water (ours had to be boiled stove-top in a kettle!) into which my grandmother would drizzle generous amount of an acid-green fragrant liquid from an emerald-coloured plastic bottle to create rich lather the consistency of meringue. I would build mountains of this cream on top of my head and pretend to lick it off like ice cream. Naturally, it smelled of pine needles in the most heavenly way. And that fresh-yet-sweet, resinous scent is what the opening of Devin smells like to me.

Its body reveals sweet galbanum resin, which while still green smells unquestionably sweet, and more like a confection than something you would put in your salad (FYI: galbanum oil smells like parsley on steroids), and there is pine-y yet balsamic frankincense that extends the evergreen notes and melds them seamlessly into the obvious undercurrent of amber that's flowing underneath. If you pay close attention you'll also notice there is quite a bit of jasmine hidden in the heart, harmonizing these seemingly unrelated elements of evergreen forest and frankincense and sticky amber. Later on, spicy notes of cinnamon and cloves emerge as well, but they are not obvious at all - they just add warmth, and also an aldehydic lift to the composition. They are rather light in both dosage and character.

While the sweetness places Devin in a rather feminine territory of amber orientals, there are also other elements that make it also masculine, besides the lovely pine. There is a dry leathery base note, hint of dry, acrid oakmoss, dry cedarwood and phenolic herbs (thyme, artemisia). Compare that with Obsession though (armoise, tagetes), and you'll notice that the two are alarmingly similar not just in smell but also in their notes. The ending note is a smooth, natural vanilla-amber, a surprise for a masculine, and even more so surprising is how un-boring it is. Ambers can easily become flat and redundant. But when true vanilla absolute is used, and some contrasting elements such as dark patchouli (even if in the tiniest amount), this can't be farther from the truth.

Devin is one of those rare things: a masculine fragrance with absolutely nothing about it I do not like.   With so many of them there is a phase I wish I could fast-forward through or skip altogether (the top notes in Polo green, for example, are a bit much and I wish I could lower the volume a bit until the dry down begins to kick in). Each phase in its progression is delectable, yet calling it a crowd pleaser would do it injustice. It's unique and to me seems ahead of its time, a precursor for Obsession (1985) and predicting modern, unusual fragrances that choose to treat the note of galbanum as a rich, incensy or even foody manner rather than the bracing cut-grass and soap that Yohji (1996) and Incensi by Lorenzo Villoresi (1997). Serge Lutens' much later Fille en Aiguilles (2009) has a similar structure, only here galbanum resin is replaced by the jam-like, resinous-sweet fir absolute.

Top notes: Bergamot, Pine, Artemisia, Lemon
Heart notes: Jasmine, Carnation, Thyme, Cinnamon
Base notes: Galbanum Resin, Frankincense, Amber, Leather, Cedarwood, Patchouli 


Coriandre



What can one expect from a scent with a name so unassuming as Coriandre? Would it be green? Rustic? Funny? Refreshing? There is nothing particularly intriguing, mysterious or fashionable about that. You just have to try it on your skin to find out.

Coriandre is a great perfume, which I have overlooked for years. Despite the many good things I've heard of it, it did not appeal to me when I tried it for the first time. It simply didn't register. Years later, I came across it on the forgotten shelves of the neighbourhood parfumerie; and noticed that they had some stray old bottles pre-IFRA reformulation frenzy. Which is always a good news for a scent that is very likely to rely on oakmoss for its appeal, being green and all.

Well, as it turns out - IFRA or no IFRA - it would have probably not made much of a difference. Unless what Robin is saying is true, and this is already been reformulated beyond recognition by the early 90s.

Coriandre is not really a Chypre in the classical sense of the word. I don't even think I would classify it as a Chypre at all. Nor would I classify it as green, either. To me, Coriandre is a big, dirty, dusty rose. Maybe not that big either. And if it smells like any colour at all, it would be brown, not green. It is brown. And bitter.

Unbeknown to it, it is the mother of all of those godless, oakmossless modern "Chypres" - Agent Provocateur, Narciso Rodriguez, SJP Lovely and Chloe. A Chypre that relies on musk, patchouli and vetiver to tell its dry, bitter jokes and poke fun at rosy-cheeked naïveté, all the while being doused in rose itself. If you're into herbaceous, earthy floral perfumes, such as Aromatics Elixir- Coriandre is a very good (and affordable) substitute. It can be had for $38 for a 30ml bottle (and that's probably a rip-off, actually, comparing to how cheap you can get it elsewhere).

Top notes: Coriander seed, Angelica Heart notes: Rose, Jasmine, Orange Blossom
Base notes: Musk, Patchouli, Vetiver, Sandalwood
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