Byzance (Rochas)

Byzance opens soapy, aldehydic and with a big perfumey blast that characterizes olfactory decade of the 80’s with an obvious wink towards the floral aldehydes of the 20’s. A big tuberose comes through right away with a heady bitter-sweetness and a touch of greens. Underlining base notes of musk and amber make themselves immediately apparent as well. And a spicy yet balsamic warmth of cardamom makes for a slightly exotic opening. It settles into a green yet sweet tuberose for quite some time. The dry down reveals more of the woods as well as vanilla, and sweet berry-like undertones which reminds me of the final dryout of Ivoire. And there is always a sense of sweetness about it – although not as overbearing as the first few moments.

Byzance interestingly has some characteristics of a chypre (perhaps the juxtaposition of potent florals with greens creates that illusion), but it is not. It is a flamboyant, outgoing floriental.

I am still trying ot figure out what is the connection to the name though. It does not smell particularly typical of the region or the religious connotations of the Eastern Church. The bottle design is the only point of reference I can see (the circle being reminiscent of that found inside the basilicas in Turkey) - see image below. It also reminds me of the bottle design of Soir de Paris.

Fresco, Kariye Camii, originally uploaded by Feuillu.

Byzance also happens to be the perfume that Fiona from Urban Rush was not able to find. It is, however, still on display at Shifeon in Vancouver (though I’m not sure they have any left in stock), so you can try it there. And it’s also still available on various online outlets. I am not sure if it is officially discontinued or just hard to find.

Although no one guessed the perfume correctly, I will be giving the Magnolia Petal bottle to Mark, who had the right brand (Rochas). Congratulations, Mark!

A more through search for the notes leads to the Perfume Addicts Database:

Top notes: Citrus, cardamon, spices, greens, mandarin, aldehydes, basil
Heart notes: Jasmine, tuberose, Turkish rose, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang
Base notes: Sandalwood, vanilla, musk, heliotrope, amber

Surprising Seaweed and a Lost Perfume (Contest)

Seaweed, originally uploaded by Ed Wenn.

My brief yet effective encounter with Shaw TV's Urban Rush hosts Mike and Fiona is an example for how different creating custom perfume for different people can be. Among custom-perfume seekers, I think there are two main kinds of people: There is the fragrance connoisseur (knowingly or unknowingly) that indulges in every moment of the process without necessarily knowing what they want the perfume to smell in the end; and than there is the very determined, goal-oriented person who know exactly what they want to achieve by the end of the process.

Fiona knew exactly what she wanted: a perfume to replace her favourite of 11 years, now sadly discontinued. She researched the notes, and came up with top notes of citron, rosewood and cardamom, heart notes of jasmine and lily of the valley, and a base of musk, vanilla and amber. And sure enough, a fan containing these notes (except for the lily of the valley, which does not yield its scent successfully to any form of distillation) brought back some of the spicy floriental characteristics of her signature scent. Sweet yet spicy and bold and delicious.

Mike, on the other hand, always goes au naturelle and seemed to be generally unaware of having any particular interest in fragrance (unless someone else is wearing it). From lack of a better word, he guessed he likes “musky” scents. But we quickly found out that he really “clicked” with my archetypal masculine scents ArbitRary and l’Herbe Rouge, and fell in love instantly with juniper, key lime, Seville and Kashmir lavender and liatrix. Even though there was hay and oakmoss and patchouli in both ArbitRary and l’Herbe Rouge he did not enjoy the notes on their own. Just before we run out of time, I decided to pull out a little unusual note - seaweed essential oil. To everyone’s surprise, this was an immediate love, and added an incredible lightness of sea breeze to the other herbaceous and woody notes.

There is never a right way or a wrong way in making your own custom scent. But each way is different, and walking a different path or following a different approach will definitely create a completely different scent in the end. The result depends on the person's sense of adventure and willingness to take olfactory risks; and ultimately - on the perfumer's listening abilities and attention to detail as well as intuition. I'm very curious to see how these two perfumes might turn out!

Now to the “contest”: Guess Fiona’s lost perfume correctly and you’ll be entered to win a bottle of hand-painted Magnolia Petal 30ml spray bottle.

* Enter the contest simply by adding a comment to this post. Contest closes March 21st.

Urban Rush Appearance

I spent the day at the Shaw Tower filming for Urban Rush. You can watch it tonight at 11pm (two shows already aired at 5pm and 7pm) or tomorrow at noon. It's on Channel 4 and I believe plays in both British Columbia and Alberta.

No other blogging for me today - the heavy TV make up is very tiring ;) Otherwise it was a very fun day being inside the television (first time for me - all my other TV appearances were filmed at the comfort of my own studio).
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