Opardu, the fake reality.

When the rivers flow towards all possible directions and you don’t know where’s right and where’s left anymore; when every morning you walk into a soft fog and you observe yourself as it from aside; when you think and dream in another language, – everything becomes half real. Just another moment and you’ll wake up. Just another moment and all snowy mountain peaks will collapse and the blue sea will turn dark. Missing being there and missing here while there.

And then you don’t know your name anymore and you don’t know the people in your nightmares anymore and you don’t know who will tidy up the chaos in your head.

Puredistance Opardu, which sounds like the French I have lost, is just like another movie scene in the middle of fake reality. It brings the atmosphere of the last century with fabric wall tapestries, people with straight backs and women with a secret. Opardu is too beautiful to be true. It’s so rich yet extremely fragile, that you want to sit aside and admire it from a distance. Slowly.

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Opardu opens with amazing lilac and white flowers. A whiff of freshness with a smooth and hardly noticeable candy note. Creamy gardenia, milky tuberose and not overwhelming yet consistent jasmine also carry a huge musky cloud. Indeed, during the first half an hour you can clearly perceive white soapiness which reminds me a lot of the great discontinued Sicily by Dolce&Gabbana. However, the scent doesn’t get banal and doesn’t only smell of clean linen. The flowers bring a lot of sensuality and a soft butter-like feeling. In fact, the perfume is so thick it seems you can almost touch it like a bath full of milk or like a handful of a luscious body butter to melt on your chest.

Opardu is calm and mature. It makes me think of serious people who seriously talk about outer space without getting their head spinning.

Opardu has an incredible quality and lasts for ages. The flowers in it never show their angles and no, they never remind of an air freshener. On warm skin they rather turn into a soft white fog. And then it lingers almost as if it was a reproach for the lost beauty or for you ceasing looking for it along with soft voice and decent manners.

It’s like a prayer to something you have lost or you would have liked to know. Or simply to something that never really existed.

 

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Promenade a Versailles Pour Elle: Versailles and popcorn.

Sofia Coppola’s movie on Marie Antoinette has been praised by teenagers as much as Amélie when it was launched years ago. Very girlish, very soft, very crisp, very innocent. The movie has immediately provoked the oh-so-so fashionable macaron wave. Everybody’s buying, dying and taking pictures of them because Paris is fashion – I love Paris – I am fashionable. Be that as it may, the movie is really worth watching for its impeccable aesthetics.

Parfums du Château de Versailles claim to have restored perfume compositions of Versailles from real old recipes of the royal family. With some synthetics they’ve brought back to life fragrances which surrounded the kings and the queens of France during the 17th and the 18th centuries. Don’t think macaron is enough to perceive Marie Antoinette’s reality. She probably smelled like Promenade a Versailles Pour Elle. Even if I doubt if popcorn and pineapple listed among the notes were taken directly from the Versaille’s archive; if the latter ingredients help it reveal the atmosphere or if they are perfect substitutes of some other plants or concoctions, one could only applaude for such creativity.

Promenade a Versailles Pour Elle is truly a joie de vivre perfume. The very first notes come out with a blast of juicy cherries, tangerines and pineapples. The beginning is sour, fresh and already mouth watering. Then everything is covered with sparkling champagne bubbles and the fragrance obtains its fruity-chypre character. After a few minutes the sourness gets softer and reveals a more subtle and balanced floral side. Nonetheless, no single fruit and no single flower stands out by itself; it’s rather huge bouquets and baskets of flowers, it’s vases of pears and oranges. It’s incredibly rich yet doesn’t get heavy and oversweet. Finally, the heart of the perfume unveils musky rose with a warm note of… popcorn.

Surprisingly, all that popcorn fuss isn’t fake. When you sniff carefully you can clearly identify the toasted and pleasant smell of a movie theatre. Popcorn and patchouli make an unusual base for a fruity-floral fragrance, yet never break its classic image. It’s a bit tipsy and flirty; it’s succulent, sparkling, shimmering and it smiles with its eyes closed. Being fresh and girlish, it is never cheap.
A perfume for a sunny day when the only thing you care about is which cheek to choose for your beauty mark today.

MdO Tubéreuse: the reason to wear tuberose.

It’s a nice habit to connect perfumes with cities. It makes you instantly remember the squares you’ve seen, the language people were speaking and the ice-cream you were eating on a bench every single time you smell that perfume. Undoubtedly, it’s quite an expensive tradition to buy a new perfume for every trip abroad. However, a similar result can be obtained by simply entering a random perfume store and trying a scent you don’t know yet. Even if you won’t buy it immediately, it will be enough to take you back to the holidays each time you’ll smell it by chance. I experienced the same feeling in Milan when I was a teenager and blindly bought Après l’Ondée; and every time I go to Rome I find it in Mona di Orio Tubéreuse.

Rome greets you with a unique smell you can find only there, no matter what season it is. I usually start my tour in Piazza di Spagna with horses waiting for curious tourists who want to take a carriage ride. The famous Spanish Steps are always covered by bright fuchsia flowers; the air is full of cold travertina and fountain water scents; you can easily catch a whiff of coffee in the mornings and a steam of roasted chestnuts in the evenings; you sniff freshly shaved and elegant men, high quality leather and ironed crispy shirts.

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Mona di Orio Tubéreuse is probably the most wearable tuberose for those who are normally afraid of this extravagant flower. Usually it’s unbearably intoxicating and sometimes can even lead to a headache. That’s why few people choose tuberose for everyday use and often leave it only for special evening occasions or at least sniff it from the bottle never daring to spray it on themselves (because strong and excessive perfumes could and should be appreciated and loved even if you don’t use them as you’re supposed to).

Mona di Orio’s tuberose has become love at first sniff and it at once reminded me of something I can never figure out. Sugar and lemon? Lemon with sugar? Indeed, the top notes smell of citrus and something bitter, officially listed as bergamot and pink pepper. I can feel a slightly bitter and sour peel of a juicy lime, floating in a frozen Martini Bianco glass. The scent is fresh, crisp and green, but not too much. It seems as if there was some vegetable note, then I see an airy coconut. It soon starts to change and reveals marvelous benzoin and heliotrope, emphasizing the milkiness. Being beautifully milky and smooth, it doesn’t drown the green tuberose, which never gets intense and sweet, but rather remains raw and transparent. The scent is really more about the leaves of the tuberose and wet soil (though with no mushroomy patchouli!)
A graceful tuberose after rain, very lightweight and floating, yet never simple and bathroom-fresh. The base notes are creamy and musky, however Tubéreuse is quite a linear fragrance. Extremely lively and shimmering but intimate and caressing at the same time. Like Rome.

A wonderful unisex, which stunningly works on men and literally makes you go crazy no matter who you are. Unfortunately, it lasts just a few hours on skin, but then again – for a moment of euphoria you could forgive everything to The Eternal City.

Habanita EdP: to understand the cello.

When the notes of a perfume and a musical composition blend together and you can’t tell what belongs to each of them anymore – the perfumery turns into emotion and poetry and therefore expands our range of perceptions. Moreover, we often talk about music in the same way we talk about perfumes. In fact, we say that fragrances are well-toned, quiet, graceful, smooth, that they develop expressively, gently, or there’s an outsider note which wasn’t supposed to be there. Some fragrances are angelic and remind of running water like harps, some think outside the box like a modern jazz improvisation. Some again – especially the chypres – are energetic and hard symphonies. Always scrupulous, always structured, always euphoric.

Then there are wistful and yearning string instruments. There are low voice cellos. And then there is Molinard Habanita.

Habanita, which was created in 1921, already sounds like an opera. It was released in The Roaring Twenties right in the middle of the strong oriental perfume boom and wasn’t supposed to be a fragrance for people, but a liquid to flavour the cigarettes. Only three years later it was re-launched as a perfume we know it now.

The first notes reveal amazing juicy fruits, could it be plums or peaches mixed with vetiver. It immediately reminds me of Mitsouko. Just a minute and they fade away, and one can feel vanilla powderness, in a way similar to L’Heure Bleue yet without the almondy bitterness. Habanita‘s vanilla isn’t simply innocent baby powder vanilla, even if there’s a hint of a good quality pressed French powder. It’s rather a thick cloud of vanilla and sweet tobacco smoke with a lady behind it observing the bar through her heavy eyelids. There’s also some smooth leather giving the perfume a vibrating animalic feeling. It’s similar to Shalimar, to Chanel No 5, to Serges Lutens Chergui and to none of them. A warming composition of nutmeg, sandalwood, ylang-ylang and musk make the  fragrance sleek, creamy and deep and make you close your eyes and screw the world for a moment. It’s like being slightly drunk in a way.

On one hand, Molinard Habanita is extremely complex and intense. On the other hand, it’s pretty simple, only its notes are low. They’re purring, moaning and velvety, a little painful yet very proud. They blend perfectly into a freezing winter evening with steam coming out from mouth, condensation on windows and passing hours trying to play the same bar with already black fingers.

Rose Oud, mind blower.

Released in 2013, Parfums de Nicolaï Rose Oud would seem appealing to those who can’t stand medicinal and tickling oud and who aren’t afraid to experiment with different types of rose. Here neither Rose nor Oud are as we are used to smell them, – that’s why it took me a while to understand it. Or rather to try to understand, because even now it’s still difficult to find the right adjective to describe such a fashionable rose&oud couple, composed by Patricia de Nicolai.

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The first seconds bring a wide blast of classic fruity rose which immediately gets dirtier and carnal. The rose almost instantly disappears and makes way for musk and animalistic notes. The scent becomes saltier and more sour. There’s the soft presence of oud, amber and wood, however they don’t get too heavy due to the still sparkling rose. It seems that in the heart Rose Oud gets more relaxed and leans back in its chair, becoming more and more black, smooth and leathery. Unfortunately, such feeling doesn’t last until the base, which remains only with a simple (even if elegant) musky rose. It lacks depth and imagination; it would be much nicer to see the dirtiness and wildness of it come to a more dramatic end, instead of simply vanishing on its way without daring to step out. On the other hand, maybe it suits those who are beautiful and flawless, yet want to show a part of their wild side… but then stop and put their mask back, because they’d better not. You might be dying to take its clothes off but time’s up and everything comes back to normal.

Pitti Fragranze 2014: news and impressions.

Florence, which is always so full of Americans, is the most beautiful in September when the famous fair-event for all perfume lovers Pitti Fragranze takes place. However, as we know, all good things come to an end, and naturally Pitti wasn’t an exception. Three days (with only Saturday open to the public) this year could count more than 200 brands which presented perfumes, skincare products and selective accessories. A great variety of new launches, bags of samples and, most importantly, the possibility to chat with the noses have been a priceless experience, enough to fill the weekend with sun and happiness.

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Even if the brand has been known since 2011, I discovered it only last Sunday (better late than never). Ys-Uzac is a Switzerland based company, especially (as they told me) loved by Russians. Their complex compositions contain black currant, angelica root, mint, mushroom, smoke and hay notes, which is also what a typical Lithuanian childhood is made of. Each fragrance has a story behind it represented by the name. The design is solid and attractive, the scents are intriguing, the overall impression is more than positive. The newest Ys-Uzac release is this gorgeous Sacre du Printemps. Shortly I’m going to write a more explicit review on all seven fragrances (+Dragon Tatoo).

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Histoires de Parfums presented their new Opéra collection. Carmen is saffron, white flowers, incense and wood. La Dame de Pique is loaded with dark spices, amber, patchouli and leather.

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Turandot is basically about jasmine, orange blossom and patchouli. Norma – aldehydes, ylang-ylang and smooth resins. Lastly, Madame Butterfly expresses its Japanese nature through mandarin, iris and musk. Such an interesting metaphor comparing art with jewels inevitably raises curiosity and encourages to re-study the famous opera pieces to compare the fragrance with the characters. Art inside art. Maybe it could change the angle we used to look from to classics?

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Amouage and their new Journey: the feminine version is fresh and apricoty, revealing warm notes of honey and spices. Extremely feminine, deep, comfortable. Journey for men is more classic, harder, more peppery, has more citrus and wood. The heart opens with tobacco leaves, juniper berries and finally tonka bean turns everything into a divine balsam.

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My beloved Etat Libre d’Orange with Rien Intense Incense must have shocked the sensitive souls. Even the leaflet warns you to apply the product with caution, and there’s a reason for that. The black bomb is loaded with incense, hard leather, spices, amber and patchouli. Oakmoss and musk lift the whole compositon in the air and iris softens it up. Dark as tar, strong as black magic, crawling in circles like a witche’s cat. But suddenly pssss… and everything turns into smoke.  

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Heeley and 100% natural Vetiver Veritas. Slightly bitter, green and smelling of mate.

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Tauer Perfumes with the marvelous gardenia – Sotto La Luna Gardenia. The extremely interesting content smells both of mushrooms and cookies. Somewhat gourmand. The base leaves a warm tonka bean cloud. Andy Tauer announced that next year he’s going to present a perfume dedicated to hyacinth, and in 2016 we should expect tuberose. Can’t wait.

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Another gardenia was launched by the deadly Parisian Robert Piguet. Their Gardenia is a real touch of class and elegance. Ylang-ylang makes it smooth and leather with wood give it that royal quality all Piguet fragrances are famous for.

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“Our perfumes are round”, – says Mona di Orio and changes the famous cube with a champagne cap into smooth oval bottles. At the same time they release the masculine (and Mona’s favourite) Lux and the feminine Nuit Noire. New launches are Orris Fontana and Myrrh Casati. Having sampled both, I remain loyal to my favourite ones – the lemon-and-sugar tuberose and Violette Fumée.

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Miller Harris presents La Fumée Collection, decorated with real gold. Four new fragrances are Arabie, Classic, Ottoman and Maroc. The latter is extremely nice: what would be better for the cool autumn days than a warming scent of dried fruits, honey and incense?

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Penhaligon’s with Trade Routes Collection, dedicated to London, represents the rarest treasures in dizzying abundance; London was the Warehouse of the World. Innocent and naive as an English girl Empressa, spicy Levantium and classic fougère Lothair.

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Grossmith and Sylvan Song, which will be sold only at Fortnum&Mason in London. It smells of extremely graceful incense and flowers, decorated china and the elegance of Lady Violet.

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The black lady Diane Pernet has finally released her perfume line, even blacker and with more spiders. Heavy compositions of patchouli and wild strawberries are quite macabre and exaggerated. However, with such an extravagant creator one simply couldn’t expect something modest. To Be Honest is worth a second try.

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Byredo and their pleasant dusty fruits in Mojave Ghost.

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Jardins d’Ecrivains’ divine candle Memento Mori. A must have.

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Other discoveries to be reviewed separately: perfume through pharmacy in Peccato Originale, Southern Italy in Gabriella Chieffo‘s creations, the elegant French company Paul Emilien and Antonio Alessandria‘s Hommage à la lune mysterious trilogy. Other interesting releases are Lalique, Inspiritv and Carrière Frères candles, pampering La Sultane de Saba body scrubs and Eau d’Italie body and home line. Moreover, Pitti Fragranze every year comes up with a special installation. This time we saw Verba Olent – a hanging exhibition of many different books and excerpts talking about scents and perfumes.

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Chandler Burr made a speech on Aedes de Venustas and had a discussion with the Italian journalist Giovanna Zucconi on her freshly launched home fragrances and perfumes as a form of memory.

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Pitti Fragranze 2014 has been a wonderful event with an unusually strong rise of international visitors. It’s only good news if high quality niche fragrances are expanding not only onto the shelves of selective stores but also in our (dark!) wardrobes/drawers/or wherever we keep our small pleasures. There’s a wide variety of choices to meet the cold 2014 season decently. Don’t get caught unprepared. There’s nothing better than to smell good.

Images – Fragrantica, Style, Pitti Immagine

Santal Blanc: Blue Jasmine madness.

A blind buy from the same old man from the narrow Bologna street turned out to be completely opposite to expectations. Frankly, Serge Lutens Santal Blanc didn’t seem to be the love at first sniff. What I expected was warm and milky sandalwood. What I got was fruity chypre with a sour champagne (or better a peachy Bellini) note. All for the better.

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The first impression is quite scary. Even if Santal Blanc is considered one of the most friendly white Lutens, the initial bouquet is rich and confusing. Pepper, fruit, musk, rose, sandalwood, spices, the Feminite du Bois sourness… There’s plenty of everything, however the overall picture isn’t heavy. It’s cool and sparkling on top, but it takes a few minutes for it to get warmer. The heart is very deep: you can smell powderness and the scent becomes highly clean and innocent. It’s light as crispy white clothes and rough linen bed sheets. You smell dry wood and a room filled with sun. It’s pure but not too sweet.

On the other hand, Santal Blanc is very carnal. It’s yeast and biscuits, even if not as strong as in Jeux de Peau. My nose finds nut shells, rose water, oily and resinous logs, dusty spice sacks, something buttery and humid. The opposite notes Christopher Sheldrake has put together reveal a superb whole new fragrance which embraces like a soft shawl and sticks to the skin.

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Extremely reserved and unpretentious, very deep and well-read. It uses soft voice and runs from vulgarity, yet it has its own abyss.

Santal Blanc is an astonishing scent of light, space and well-being. Dry and mature, white as a golf ball and a padded cell.

Hermessence Poivre Samarcande, oak and pepper.

Few perfume houses do communicate luxury and good taste as efficiently as Hermès Hermessence. I already wrote a review on the poetic Vanille Galante. This time my attention was drawn by another Hermessence fragrance Poivre Samarcande with a totally different yet not less exceptional character.

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Oak, pepper, caraway and paprika. Jean-Claude Ellena has maintained his unmistakable clean, smooth and neat style where the scent lingers somewhere between the body and the sky and melts into air, especially if it’s humid. Most of Hermès fragrances are at their very best before/during/after rain or in a pre-thunderstorm thickness. Thus, the weird, soft and well-composed Poivre Samarcande isn’t an exception.

The first notes reveal noisy and biting pepper and dry caraway in an old kitchen with wooden dish dressers. There’s a solid presence of oak which gets warmer and more resinous when combined with spices. The scent softens quickly. On one hand, it gets slightly soapy and even watery (watermelony?) with paprika flavour chips. On the other hand, it always keeps the stable wooden note at its place.

Very comfortable and respectable. It reminds me of The Adolescent by Dostoevsky and the main character, determined to ask the prince his salary of 50 rubles today. Well-mannered as he wanted to seem, the adolescent starts the conversation with irrelevant topics and wants to postpone the important question to the very end. However, the original determination quickly vanishes and, instead of a natural “…by the way” he shouts his prepared speech, then he blushes and feels ashamed. Then he reflects on what has just happened and decides the other people sitting in the room are trying to insult him with their glances; so he stands up, says good-bye to the prince and leaves.

Poivre Samarcande is like this. Very odd yet extremely intimate and familiar. Noble, dignified and with burning cheeks. Full of doubts, very genuine and fading away soon, 185 euros for not being taken for granted.

Alexander Sumenkov: the first Russian perfumer.

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Not only has this year’s Esxence brought me a new interesting person to talk with, but he also turned out to be the nose of a new upcoming line of Alexander Sumenkov perfumeur russe perfumes. How come? I just randomly (and luckily) started to talk to the blogger of a well-known blog in Russia Petit Parfum and found out there was a whole story of big future plans. Alexander’s goal is to become the first real Russian perfumer, because – let’s be honest – The Vagabond Prince with its kitschy blackcurrants doesn’t really count.

I was honoured to be one of the first ones to try the (hopefully) final samples of four future fragrances. So far, all I can say is it’s something new. Unique style, purified, wide and somehow rhetorical compositions don’t seem to limit themselves but rather ask a question. Be patient: it’s just a matter of time before you could check it out.

Cologne – cold as ice and hard as glass. It instantly reminds me of something: could it be the steamy sauna of my childhood and eucalyptus drops on hot stones; could it be a metal box with bandages and cooling minty ointments; could it be tall thujas in a small cemetery. The smell is extremely cold and freezing, yet it takes a couple of minutes to get warmer and softer. Then the classic eau de cologne structure appears and bitter tones become clearer. There’s a hint of my father’s fresh aftershave which fortunately doesn’t get sweeter and cheaper but remains slightly angry and violent. Cologne isn’t heavy: on the contrary, it hangs and lingers in the air and gets somewhat balmier in the heart without losing its angles. Bitter herbs seem to disappear in liquid nitrogen and a creaking sound of snow under your feet. Lightweight and airy, very masculine, quite sad.
* Notes: geranium, vetiver, jasmin, tonka bean.

Salt Vetivér was one of the biggest impressions of all four due to an unexpected interpretation of vetiver. Once again chilly, with a lot of air and wind, which tears off vetiver lying on the ground and lifts it up to the sky. Intense salty fragrances have never been my cup of tea, however here the saltiness is so right you can’t stop sniffing the wrist. The result? Amazing vetiver mixed with salty breeze. Smooth yet simultaneously tickling like butterflies in your stomach and the feeling of excitement about something you don’t dare to dream about. The scent is clean and tidy, pretty linear, nice on paper, marvelous on skin.
* Notes: lemon, vetiver, musk, muquet.

Rum Rosé. Another fragrance of my wish-list is dedicated to a boozy rose. It’s warm alcoholic, yet so luminous it has nothing to do with vulgarity. Rum is clearly perceived in the top notes: the combination of the lush intense liquid and fresh crispy rose makes your head spin so much you start to doubt if it’s really a rose or just a lie. Rum Rosé is sharp and quite sweet, it’s soft and creamy (not oily!)
It doesn’t flirt or provoke, yet it’s so deeply feminine and full of beauty that you simply can’t pretend you are not falling in love. Very lively, sparkling and followed by boozy sighs and buttery petals, it slowly comes to more quiet woody base notes. A great unisex. It’s opposite to vulgar flirty glances and loud chats. It’s somewhat mature and sophisticated, very classic and yet very modern.
* Notes: rose, pink peppercorn, iris, muquet, sandalwood.

White Candle. An anthem to warmth with the first notes of light soft spices. Cardamom? White pepper? Milky sandalwood? For a minute it reminds me of Serge Lutens Santal Blanc, but then it twists to a thicker and more solid side. I perceive a light medicinal tone of almonds. Is it plum? Heliotrope? Tonka bean? Even if there are moments when it gets cooler, generally the scent is round, warm and embracing. It’s dripping like melting wax and it’s intimate like soft yellowish street lights during a snowstorm. It’s cozy like tea in a fancy china cup and a rose embroidered shawl on your shoulders. Beautiful, cashmere, a little gourmand, a little sad-eyed, a little serious and having thousands of thoughts in its head.
* Notes: sandalwood, burn wood, white flowers, angelica root.

Alexander Sumenkov perfumeur russe perfumes are strangely wide, airy and laconic yet so full of everything they have a story to tell. They are thoughtful and nostalgic for something that probably has never existed. They are fragile and graceful, silent and beautiful from the inside out. They are poetic and similar to books with characters who get blown away by the wind and those you keep thinking about. They are cold ant getting warmer; they leave room for thoughts you don’t have yet.
But you never know.

Orto Parisi: body odour and perfume.

The new brand Orto Parisi was introduced this year at Esxence, however the real presentation took place at Smell Festival 2014 in Bologna, an annual event dedicated to perfume lovers. The word orto, meaning garden, is the first clue to the brand philosophy. Indeed, the perfume line consists of five fragrances, created to celebrate nature and the organic side of life. Meanwhile, Parisi is the grandfather Vincenzo, who used to fertilize his garden with his own needs collected in a bucket. Therefore, Orto Parisi was born in memory of Vincenzo, whose garden hovered an air of infinite.

“Put away desinfectant wipes, air fresheners, antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, fabric softeners and linen sprays. If a child puts his hands into a still hot cow dung, let him do it. It will dry. He’ll wash it away with water. There’s nothing more natural.” This is how François Dahdah’s presentation on the ambigous project of Alessandro Gualtieri starts. Could the founder of Nasomatto create a provocation with no content? I don’t think so. That’s why I decided to leave sighs and sceptical glances to the end of the presentation, having sampled all five fragrances.

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Perfume bottles are positioned on dry pressed manure, framed with solid golden metal. Ironic, straightforward, smart. Trying to ignore giggling and snorting of the public. No, the manure doesn’t smell.

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The first Orto Parisi fragrance Bergamask is dedicated to two ingredients: bergamot and musk. Nothing too extreme, i.e. no smell of feces. It’s presented as a sour, fresh and crisp scent of killing. The smell of a crushed mosquito on a sweaty thigh. Bergamot is clean and bright, musk gives a slight feeling of sweat. The scent gets heavier, warmer and more intense until it becomes a nice classic cologne. Very interesting.

By the way, all Orto Parisi fragrances are sampled on cotton discs: Alessandro Gualtieri claims it’s the best way to perceive their complexity and maturity.

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The second fragrance Viride is a devotion to green grass and fields. It opens with very vivid vetiver and some dry patchouli to create an impression of earthy fields, muddy roots, dirty feet and burning sun over your head. It changes beautifully and becomes dry hay. A genuine and mature scent which immediately makes many summers at grandma’s house come back.

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Brutus – a truly masculine scent for a man. Quite aggressive and frowning eyebrows, yet freshly shaved and wearing clean shoes. Bergamot and mandarin play with patchouli and create a picture of a gloomy bar with a warm scent of rum in the air. The base is filled with dusty wooden notes. It feels as if it was trying to tell a story about antique wardrobes and drawers, chalky suitcases, stopped watches and yellowed notebooks. Nostalgic and attractive. If I were a man, I’d use it.

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Boccanera – black mouth – is one of the most provocative fragrances of the line. It refers to chocolate, chili pepper, a fleshy mouth of a black woman and even the smell of anus. I expected the worst, but I actually included it to my wishlist. Boccanera opens with dry and bitter cocoa powder tones with ginger and pepper; it’s powerful, almost animalistic, smoky and resinous, yet very gourmand, warm and spicy. A nice choice for a freezing winter day with crackling logs in fireplace and wet shoes outside.

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Last but not least, the fifth perfume Stercus (meaning manure) came out to be a warming and wooden smell of stalls. It contains an unexplainable sour fruity note. Slightly sweet. Warm. Protective.

Never judge a book by its cover. Never judge a perfume by its name.

One of the most interesting discoveries of the year, which is so controversial it can’t avoid scepticism and prejudices. However, Alessandro Gualtieri once again has proven his talent and extreme sensibility to turn a scent into an emotion.

His creations are mature and complete, yet incredibly simple and secure. So simple only your grandpa and his horses could be so simple. Something that really lasts and matters.

Tardes, gone with the wind.

Leaving the city and moving near the sea is like burning diaries, cutting hair and changing perfume. Now, with all green grass and white mountains, big silence and a lot of room around, previous aggressive urbanistic scents, which used to smell so good in flue gas and metallic noise of scooters, suddenly become unrecognizable. They seem dehydrated and tough, too sentimental and dying for tenderness. Exaggerated.

Time passes more slowly here. Nobody roars under your window and you don’t run into vomit or empty beer bottles on Saturday morning anymore. You don’t smell urine when taking a walk. You don’t have to listen to the always young women with bad manners and their rich friends shouting. Lastly, the most important thing is you don’t have to suffocate in a crowd ant be touched by the strangers anymore.

Clearly, close-mindedness and curious grannies can be found everywhere. But the possibility to close your eyes and breathe is priceless.

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Such space and air loaded with iodine inevitably cover traditional Mediterranean smells: rosemary, lavender, lemon and almonds. Cherries bloom in white, almonds in soft pink, sour oranges hang heavily on the trees spreading light and spring freshness. Everything swirls into wet bed sheets drying outside. This is Carner Barcelona Tardes: lazy and carried by the wind.

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Wonderfully heliotropic and almondy Tardes opens with a fresh and mature fruit note. The description lists plum and celery, which immediately  reminds me of something familiar. L’Heure Bleue? Slightly medicinal almond also recalls fresh and tiny patisserie mignon. Beautiful apricoty heliotrope joins the plum and becomes extremely juicy and dripping. However, Tardes isn’t bulky and syrupy. It gets airy and floating due to the almost invisible pharmaceutical accent. It suggests amaretto and almond meringue, apricot jam and clean laundry still smelling of detergent powder. It’s creamy and buttery yet drifting and hypnotic like a cup of coffee after a long dinner.

Especially suited for sleepy summer afternoons outside or to be sprayed on the pillow to restore mental and emotional stability.

 

Esxence 2014: news and impressions.

There is no doubt that Esxence must be known for everyone who is interested in perfumes. The annual event takes place in Milan and lasts 4 days: the first two are reserved for people who work in the sector and negotiate about purchase and distribution. The last two days are open for all other ordinary mortals – how could one miss such a great opportunity? Even if, in my opinion, the snobbish Esxence atmosphere has nothing to do with lovely and welcoming Pitti Fragranze in Florence, who cares about the atmosphere when there are thousands of perfume bottles waiting for you, each containing a different story to tell?

It is physically impossible to smell everything and even to stop by each exhibitor. It takes just a moment to make your head spin and even perfumes you seemed to know well appear unrecognizable. Enormous effort is put by every brand to present their products in the most appealing manner. Mouilliettes have gone out of fashion: now perfumes are sprayed in Martini glasses, graceful goblets, decanters, ceramic roses, feathers, plastic masks, ties and cloth strips. Not only do such inventions help to save time and (why not?) perfume, but also it is the best way to present the very heart of the perfume skipping (sometimes misleading) head notes.

Now briefly about the most impressive news.

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The always wonderful Etat Libre d’Orange team presented its first cologne. Fresh herbal citrus scent comes in as a breath of fresh air you have been waiting for so long. Where does the trick hide? – my question seemed logical considering what Etat Libre d’Orange are known for. I expected an evil ingredient messing up with the innocent composition.  The irony is that… nothing changes. This cologne is fresh and juicy not only at the beginning. It does not fade away in an hour but stays on skin unchanged always. A nice scent, they say. I agree and include it in my wish list.

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Another fresh perfume for hot summer days is Eau d’Italie Graine de Joie. A good looking red bottle contains redcurrant and pomegranate inside. Musky freesia creates an impression of something clean and crisp, whilst sour berries cheer you up and bring you energy. An nice scent which will definitely be appreciated by many customers, yet a little banal and monotonous. Like red berry Fanta.

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Hudson Yards by Bond No. 9 will reach the shelves in April. I am not a big fan of their so called fresh perfumes, since I would prefer to use them as air fresheners. The latest release is not much different from others: lily of the valley, peppercorn, musky litchi-apples. Not very convincing. However, I once again applaud their wonderful Chinatown and Manhattan.

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Montale has prepared two new releases – Aoud Orange and Aoud Melody. What is wrong with all those neverending oud versions everywhere? Aoud Orange tells everything with its name: it is saffron chypre orange with dry white mouldy patchouli right behind it. Aoud Melody is warmer, spicy with strong sandalwood. The latter is more appealing and acceptable, though I still cannot understand all the buzz about Montale, except the ladies in love with tiny dogs, botox, Chocolate Greedy and Intense Tiare. I still want their Intense Cafe though for next autumn.

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The Different Company new release Une Nuit Magnetique caresses both the nose and the soul. Clear blueberries, plums and fresh ginger with jasmine, rose and tuberose in the heart.  Slow and melancholy, a little stiff and magical – like a navy summer night with chirping cicadas and fern flowers.

 

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The Vagabond Prince with Enchanted Forest. Blackcurrant, basil, vetiver, resins. Russian pancakes with jam and kitschy yet somehow appealing image. The other two – Swan Princess and Land of Warriors had loads of sweet powdery iris (the latter being more interesting thanks to oregano and rhubarb). The fragrances are strong and synthetic, almost brassy. I would gladly take the red one though. For the bottle.

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Orto Parisi perfumes have the nose of Nasomatto founder Alessandro Gualtieri put in them. Allusions to the body odors and fluids are shocking yet interesting. Example – Boccanera with dark chocolate notes and associations with a black fleshy mouth or… anus. “This line is liberation from the chains of civilization and return to our body gardens. ” Try it yourself.

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Carner Barcelona El Born. Chocolate, lollipops, fresh figs. A Spanish smell of contrasts. Sweet and caramelly at the beginning, it soon gets inedible and becomes an idea. Very tempting. I cannot wait to test it again once it is launched, since all Carner perfumes are definitely worth trying. A new discovered love and must have –Tardes.

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Parfums du Château de Versailles with Promenade a Versailles for him and for her. A time machine towards powdered wigs and white socks. To be reviewed soon.

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Other impressive discoveries (better late than never).

Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Homme.

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Odin 02 Owari

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Parfums de Nicolaï Musc Intense, Maharanih Intense, L’Eau Chic, Week End

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Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Vitae

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Histoires de Parfums 1725 Casanova

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Caron Parfum Sacré

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Robert Piguet Cravache

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Chanel Bois des Iles

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One of the biggest disappointments – Keiko Mecheri all three Loukhoum versions and her new Bois Satin.

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Some Esxence moments:

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Photos @Esxence @Extrait @Fragrantica

Maroussia, sad Russia.

Last news about Ukraine and a new war being just a few steps away bring to mind a perfume associated with Russia – Slava Zaitsev Maroussia. 

Fragrantica promised a strong cool scent with an atmosphere close to the great Samsara. Unfortunately, there is nothing similar to SamsaraMaroussia is somehow closer to Chergui.

Ridiculously cheap Maroussia is a weird and always recognizable beast which is so deadly and tasteless that it becomes an idea. It’s so crowded and loaded that it denies itself and becomes a great perfume. It’s so bad it’s good.

 

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Maroussia slaps with strong aldehydes, musk and powdery notes. A little bit of fresh bergamot and peach, and… the scent grows and gets more intense, revealing a massive bouquet of carnation, jasmine, rose, tuberose and iris, floating in an immense still lake of aldehydes and santalwood.

The first impression somehow made me think about Jean Paul Gaultier Classique. However, contrary to Classique, Maroussia isn’t flat. It seems that it gets warmer and colder at the same time; that it doesn’t want to open its heart yet it’s so extravagant you must look inside. Patience.

I smell clear soapy musk, banana-like ylang-ylang and loads of agressive animalistic synthetic civet. Cold vanilla and a frozen incense smoke are not sour but rather balsamic, buoyant and drifting.

On one hand, Maroussia appears like cheap Soviet aluminum bowls for child bathing. Cheap and screaming like an always angry and rude Russian or other Eastern European lady who never greets noone and stares at people. Vulgar like blue eyeshadows and unnatural lipstick; like thick flesh tone tights, Polish deodorants, sticky fringe, synthetic blouses with flowers and sweat under them, like a plastic tablecloth and drinking tea with a teaspoon in the cup. Like a strange life when your husband is an alcoholic but you still take off his shoes and his coat, then you sigh and don’t say anything.

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Maroussia scares with its weight and aggression, however sharp angles start to slowly melt in the heart notes. You imagine an elegant lady in a long purple velvet dress in Bolshoi Theatre. You smell dust and heavy theatre curtains, white hands and red cheeks. The smell is so beautiful and noble that you want to stick to her neck and hair. It’s smooth, buttery and a little almondy yet always a little gloomy – like sad eyes she cannot hide with heavy makeup and light chatters about weather.

Maroussia is huge and large and it hides thousands of fairytales inside. Nonetheless, it’s always suspicious and ready to defend itself. Kitschy, concentrated and forgetting good manners. An unconfident and hospitable lady; and when she gives – she shows everything she has.

That everything is Maroussia: a misunderstood and tragic being of a woman.

*Best when it is freezing outside.

Histoires de Parfums 1969 and sexual revolution.

What perfume should one use for parties and relaxing talks followed by one or two cocktails? Something not heavy and not suffocating, not too subtle and not sad. Leave L’Heure Bleue for gloomy days and feminine raincoats. Forget the candied La Vie est Belle and beloved classics: choose something stunning and unexpected but not necessarily plain.  Such an original and intriguing fragrance with no teenage candyfloss is Histoires de Parfums 1969, inspired by the sexual revolution with Woodstock, hippies and love.

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What is it about? What revolution? What does revolution smell like? Gunpowder, sweat, dust? Or maybe like peaches, coffee and cocoa powder? Maybe like cardamom, rose and patchouli? The first notes of 1969 bring a fruity boozy blast. I immediately imagine dried pineapples and apricots dusted in sweet white powder. What is next? Pure and clear rum. Coffee steam. Then comes patchouli which is why the fragrance gets so peculiar. Dry cocoa patchouli does not care about others and covers the initial peaches and pineapples. If there was just a drop of patchouli too many, the whole 1969 composition would immediately turn into a nauseous rotten fruit in a sticky plastic bag. Fortunately, the amount of patchouli here is just right and instead of ruining everything it reduces its power and helps the fruity side bloom.

The scent becomes undefinable. It seems as if there were two perfumes at once and they do not know what they are doing together. On the other hand, there is a strange idea of integrity and the feeling that nothing exists for no reason. After the head notes fade away, a new sensation of something sour takes place: it must be hibiscus tea, better known as karkadé.

An intensely red and fresh impression gets softer and more subtle on skin rather than on paper. There is also a little bit of rose, clove, cardamom, musk and bitter cocoa – everything dressed up in a boozy peachy fog.

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1969 is a new experience for tired and disappointed noses. Yes, it is rather sweet – can be too sweet for every day use. A nice and smooth base of musk and not-too-much patchouli remains very rounded and appealing. It is sweet but not candied. It might seem rather primitive, however it turns up to be much more complicated. It is sour yet very feminine. It loves itself and can be happy for others. It is different. Relaxed and with no thick skin.

Especially suitable for a night out and for an open back dress. Let the revolution begin in the head.