Saturday, 10 December 2011

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Nov 2011: Exclusive Interview with Vero Kern

Strolling the streets of Zurich well before breakfast on any given day, you might just be fortunate enough to find perfumer Vero Kern walking her adorable jet-black Petit Brabancon Isidor whilst taking in the morning. And if you were to strike up a conversation with her, you would find her warm and obliging. One of four children from a cultured bourgeois family, Vero's parents were very close to nature and instilled in their children a strong "consciousness of being"... a feeling that is intensified whilst she meanders the empty laneways as many still lie in their beds.

For one who might be invited to visit her modest two-room apartment, they would find a space which carries Vero's distinctive fingerprint: a sanctum which communicates her love of interior design, her appreciation of Art Deco objects and furniture, and her eye for the quirky and avant-garde. The walls and ceilings of her abode she has meticulously painted by hand... a shining starscape of Arabic letterforms adorn the ceiling of her corridor, and a dreamy pool of Japanese lotus flowers the ceiling above her bed; one that she can "dive into when I wake up and open my eyes in the morning".
A second room blooms with Rosa Centifolia motifs - a design she applied after completing her studies in Paris and started her life as a parfumeur-créateur.

Whilst a basement room is used chiefly as a showroom, Vero's kitchen serves as the creative epicentre of her work; her kitchen table peppered with aromatic materials and instruments which serve as the building blocks of her craft.
"Creating perfume - the use of aromatic material - to me is similar to cooking".
I ponder for a moment, recognising the kitchen as the heart of the home, and Vero as a master chef. I resolutely believe she has put her heart into every bottle she has blended and manufactured by hand.

Vero's long strawberry-blonde tresses have more recently been cropped into a tidy short do, and she cuts a striking figure in clothes which she hand picks for their eccentricity and/or conventionality.
"I love fashion and especially designers like Martin Margiela, Dries Van Noten and Rick Owen. I also find my dresses in second hand shops and at flea markets".
Her love of travel, reading, cinema and music serve as inspiration for the way she approaches her scents. I pose the following questions to her...

First of all, tell us about the name Vero Profumo.

Vero Profumo is a play on my name, and the Italian word "vero" which means "real / authentic / pure". I was originally inspired by a movie by Dino Risi in the 1970's; the name was "Profumo di Donna" or "Scent of a Woman". The idea that every woman with her individual skin, her sensuality and eroticism, has her own smell fascinated me, and so it all started - to dive deeper into olfactive sensations, to know about perfumes and then finally the decision to become a perfumer and make my own erotic scents.

Is there an underlying philosophy that pervades your work?

I try to create high quality fragrances both artistically and aesthetically speaking, which have to satisfy my high standards as well as those of my clients. I try to go my own way 100% and do not follow any trends. I'm looking for originality, opulence and eroticism in scents. They have to surprise and touch me. I'm not interested in 'clean' scents - I need scents with character both in my creations, and on the wearer. Besides this, I love everything that reminds me of the smell of skin.

How do you challenge yourself when it comes to conceiving and producing a new perfume?

For me, creating is like a drug, a complete passion. So ideas for new creations can arise at any time, and anywhere. I do constantly write down what is inspiring me and later use this as an important creative resource. I am very inspired by most unique raw materials that I discover. Because the extraction of fragrances always become more careful and more efficient, there are more and more wonderful raw materials to be found. Unfortunately however, these are often very expensive and thus remain just something to dream about.

Perhaps your unique selling point are your stunning extraits. Some might consider it a risky decision to debut with a series of pure parfums, but you have been amongst the very first to do so and succeed. What was the thought process behind this? Why extraits over the perhaps more conventional EDT or EDP?

The main reason for this decision was my longing to compose high-quality scents in a classical style, but also to find an exclusive niche. The extraits - which at this time are very rarely manufactured - was, and still are, my niche. They are a relic of classical Haute Parfumerie. For me, it means the most sensual way to be perfumed and I am still fully convinced about this. Another reason was that the extraits allowed me to produce all myself in small amounts in-house. Later, for the eaux de parfum production, this was no longer manageable - neither in quantity nor logistically.

Speaking of the Eaux de parfums, with their release also came a new packaging solution for all your perfumes. What was the reason for this? Where are your beautiful new EDP bottles produced?

The new packaging across the line was necessary for the production of the Eaux de Parfums. The new EDP line is a direct result of multiple requests from different clients of mine. The cultural differences with regard to scenting oneself are numerous. Perfume application by dabbing as I offer it with the extraits, is not something very known in certain countries. A further reason for the EDP production was also the high price for the extraits.
The eaux de parfums are also well crafted, and the selected raw materials and special packaging make the final product no less expensive. Unlike commercial mass production, the costs of the eaux are very high and therefore also as a final product are found in a high price segment. For my bottles I was searching for a long time. Usually there are only a number of large 'mega companies', offering standard bottles in thousands of units. Boring and not affordable. After a long search in 2006, I finally found a small company in French Normandy. Still in the hands of same family for almost a century, they manufacture flacons using ancient styles and methods, in reasonable quantities (from 1000 units), and importantly for me - also in coloured glass. Entirely coloured throughout with pigment - not simply sprayed onto the bottle with paint. I always wanted coloured bottles... they protect better against light and preserve perfectly the fragrance also. To have coloured bottles was also an aesthetic choice. Both bottles - extrait and eaux - come out of the same range and have quite their price. The mould I have chosen is from the 1940s. The way they work with glass, as they have done for almost 100 years seemed to me to be pure alchemy - powerful and archaic.

When you set out to create a new scent, do you think of it in terms of "creating a perfume for evening" or "for winter"? Do you feel fragrances are seasonal or specific to a certain time of day?

I never think in these terms. I understand wearing fragrance as a personal extension of the wearer. My term would be: 'reasonably compatible with one's own body and skin chemistry'.
This can now vary seasonally, for example, by sweating more in summer or by eating different food in winter - it can thus change our skin chemistry. However, olfactory perception is completely subjective and individual and this includes the choice of a fragrance that I can't influence with "seasonal" creations. I can understand that you can have different smell 'likes' and from time to time these can change. This being said, I never did understand why one might change their fragrance three times in one day. For me, it is the absolute highlight of olfactory sensation if the chosen scent connects completely with the person's character and style - like a single form of identity.

On a previous occasion you once divulged to me that you visited L'Osmotheque in Versailles on numerous occasions to study vintage perfumes and reveal their secrets. What have you learned from the classic perfumes you've studied, and how has it influenced the way in which you created your own?

The visit to the Osmotheque for me is a journey through time and the past; a revelation, a highly artistic and unique olfactory dream inspiration. Classical compositions usually contain a relatively high proportion of natural raw materials which together with the synthetic components build up a high degree of complexity and unique erotic aesthetics which I find contemporary perfumery mostly lacks. I try to bring back this idea, this kind of aesthetic in my own creations. Not only do I share a great love for the classic scents, it is also true that I have limited or zero access to some modern materials. At the Osmotheque, I studied the works of Francois Coty, Ernest Beaux, Germaine Cellier, Jean Carles and Jacques Guerlain. I admire all of them for the beauty and unique originality of their compositions.

From your own line, which perfumes speak to you the most on a personal / emotional level? Besides your own, what are some of your favourite scents (either found in nature or commercially produced)?

I love all three of my compositions. Each of the scents is a part of me and for this reason, there aren't any favourites. Because there is a permanent smell in my immediate environment, I do not get very often perfumed. However, if I do, when walking the streets I feel sexy and I float like Sugar Kane in the movie "Some Like it Hot" - 50cm above the ground - missing only the ukulele!
I love fragrance compositions that touch me in some way. Fragrances that bare a secret and affect me erotically. I also like scents with animal notes like honey, castoreum, civet, ambergris, opulent floral scents, rose, tuberose and jasmine.

How has Vero Profumo been received in the international marketplace?

The brand is developing very well and I am happy and grateful for this. Sometimes I think I am dreaming. I never thought I would be, within three or four years, just as far as I am now. Success doesn't usually come overnight. It not only needs good ideas, but also a lot of patience, perseverance and good luck to be able to participate in an international market which is known to be fully saturated.

How important are industry events such as Exsence to you and your business?

The Exsence expo sees itself as a platform for niche products. Here, new brands find potential buyers which will be nicely presented and communicated accordingly to an interested audience. In addition there is a program with themed presentations (for example, about the future development of perfumery and cosmetics) for an interested audience. The press, in turn, are also interested in the presence of perfumers, and particularly with personal presentations and interviews. Their press reviews are creating the needed attention to the product, which is highly appreciated by the distributors of the relevant brand... in my case this is Campomarzio70 in Rome. But I feel that my presence at these events is not always necessary. When I am in attendance, I do give great importance and attention to personal presentations in those stories selling my products.

In terms of marketing your business, have modern technologies (social networking, blogs etc) played a pivotal role?

The blogs were of great help to get my brand known. I was and still am very grateful to their interest and writing about my products. For me, it would have been absolutely impossible to start big advertising campaigns - I simply cannot afford them. The regular press is usually only willing to write editorials in simultaneous large advertisement orders.
In 2007, when I started with my brand, there were just a few blogs - mainly in the USA - who shared this 'passion'. Meanwhile, the number of writing perfume lovers has grown tremendously.

In light of the global economic downturn, have you felt it directly impact your business? If yes, in which ways? What do you feel will be the long-term effect of this crisis on the luxury perfume market?

In the beginning of the economic crisis, my sales broke abruptly. Mainly the online sales to America. Later, the situation recovered again but never went back to the old days. There are countries more affected by the crisis than others. But I think a certain luxury market will always exist. I even think that the top luxury segment could grow even more in the coming years. Sales fluctuate pretty much in the middle segment.

Can you please tell me what is on the cards for the next 12-18 months? Are there any new creations planned?

I'm working on a new creation. A green scent. I got the inspiration from the wonderful garden of the Villa d'Este in Tivoli, Italy, where I spent a holiday in 2009. For me, its a magic place that charmed me completely and ever since I visited, I've had this almost hurting longing to create some green scents. But being a perfectionist it will take some time until I'll be satisfied with the result. The scent should be launched sometime next year though. There are other interesting projects on the table, but at the moment it's still too early to talk about. In addition I am working on special presentation concepts to be announced at a later date.

I feel both humbled and gratified that Vero has taken the time to address my questions about her perfume artistry. Many know that her creations are amongst the very few that I hold truly dear - ones that speak to me on some higher state of cognisance. With a new perfume in development, 2012 proves to be an exciting year for Vero Profumo and lovers of her work. One can only anticipate olfactory influences gleaned from the pillars of classical perfumery, and a deft consciousness of luxuriousness and sensuality. I, for one, cannot wait.

All Vero Profumo creations can be found via the Vero Profumo website, or via Campomarzio70 in Rome.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Sisley - Eau d'Ikar

Perfumes inspired by mythological themes have always had some appeal to me. Most probably, in part, because of the enduring legacy the legend itself has enjoyed. But when one hears of a scent named after a god or a titan, one can only imagine a perfume both monumental and vast. Chanel's Antaeus, Paloma Picasso's Minotaure and Coty's Styx each communicate a somewhat accurate sense of these figures in folklore. Now, French perfumers / phytocosmetologists Sisley are memorialising the iconic Icarus, as they launch their first-ever men's fragrance: Eau d'Ikar.

Jeff Barson, Utah

Eau d'Ikar is beautifully bottled in a thick glass flacon designed by Polish sculptor Bronislaw Krzysztof with a man's torso and wingtips deeply etched in reverse relief. The juice is a sparkling sunshine yellow, in keeping with the legend of the character in Greek mythology who flew too close to the sun. Conceptually, according to the press release, "Ikar - (is) a name that embodies our poetic ambition, the deep desire in man to fly - not in defiance of the heavens, but rather to rise above the ground, for lightness, intensity, freedom".
Whilst some marketing prose can occasionally border on the absurd, something can indeed be said for Eau d'Ikar's capacity to feel light, sun-speckled and resolutely Mediterranean in style.

This eau de toilette uses mastic as its feature component - a tree resin collected from evergreen shrubs of the pistachio family that are native to the island of Corsica, parts of Greece and Asia Minor. Mastic has been used for millennia by ancient cultures for its medicinal benefits and is still used today to flavour dental products, food and beverages. It has a unique minty / lemony / resinous olfactory profile; one that is very pleasant, and not easily forgotten. Eau d'Ikar uses mastic in all three facets of the olfactory pyramid - with sparkling citruses in the topnotes, warmer, denser florals in the middle notes, and with cistus, vetiver and sandalwood in the base.

This fragrance opens with a mastic/citrus blend that is almost dry in texture... it is slightly bitter and has a hint of green earthiness, thanks in part, to a carrot seed accord. With the opening spritz, one imagines walking along a grassy/sandy path through the pines by the sea. A heart of jasmine and iris sends a huff of light florals spinning on the air, which feel almost feathery in texture. More mastic and orange pekoe tea lend a grounding earthiness that diminishes the impact of the florals and provides complexity. These accords rest over a velvety green cistus/vetiver/mastic base and trail off well into the drydown.

Keeping with Sisley's tradition of crafting exceptionally fine scents, Eau d'Ikar evokes an idea of vast Mediterranean landscapes and sultry summer heat. In terms of its style and its tenacity, it is no Antaeus, nor Minotaure - one must be mindful that it is, in fact an 'eau'.
This being said, I feel Sisley have done themselves proud in capturing the scent profile of a much-loved part of the world.

This will be my go-to scent, as summer soon reaches us here in the southern hemisphere.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Penhaligon's sample winners

Our sincere congratulations to:

Mimi Gardenia, and

...for winning a carded sample each of Penhaligon's Juniper Sling!
Sorcery of Scent will be contacting you in the following days to retrieve your information so that your samples may be sent!
Thanks to all members who left comments, and stay tuned for more reviews & giveaways.

Have a wonderful weekend,

Friday, 7 October 2011

One Seed - Courage and Beauty in Botany

As a student of natural botanical perfumery, I recognise how difficult it is sometimes to work with natural components. Many perfumers swear by the inclusion of synthetics in their formulas to lend stability and pizzazz, but Australian Handcrafted Botanical Perfume outfit One Seed have triumphed in creating exceptional scents without a scrap of synthetic interference.

One Seed pride themselves on their use of 100% natural ingredients, and in doing so, are planting a seed for change. Their philosophy is to focus on releasing small handcrafted batches with a cognisance of remaining wholly organic, sustainable and against animal cruelty. Armchair perfumistas might scoff at such a scenario, however One Seed have proven with their unique and compelling lineup of eaux de parfums, that olfactory excellence is not compromised by "being green".

Five fragrances currently reside in their permanent perfume portfolio: Courage, Devotion, Freedom, Hope and Grace, and only yesterday I came across them in a charming boutique here in Western Australia. Whilst there is much to explore in the line, I was won over instantly by Courage: a rich, resolutely unisex floral oriental.

Seldom am I 'wowed' from the get-go. And I mean "wowed". Courage has an abstract opening that lends itself more to lush, complex perfumes of yesteryear... there is an olfactory 'temperature' that places it amongst other gems like vintage Miss Dior, or Vero Profumo's Onda. Moments out of the bottle, you could almost swear there is a soft leather note evoking a napped suede texture, but the top notes comprise of sweet orange and magnolia. A dense muskiness swells from below... ylang ylang and opulent indolic jasmine huddle at its heart, furnishing this perfume with a glimpse of times gone by. These stirring blossoms are masterfully blended; so much so that they feel cashmere-soft in hushed hues of peach and nude, where a carnal presence simmers just beneath the surface.

Some time after it first dances on skin, a delicious Shalimar-esque oriental facet emerges... one composed of vanilla and honey-like amber. These lip-smacking qualities linger well into the drydown and leave a lingering impression. Courage is a rare find in this age of cookie-cutter synthetics and head-space creations.

One Seed products have very select distributorship in Australia. Australian perfumistas can visit their website for store locations and to purchase samples with free shipping.
West Australians looking for a memorable excursion can find One Seed products at Storia in Guildford - a charming emporium of unique and inspiring hand-selected wares (tel. 9379 9370).

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Penhaligon's - Juniper Sling Review + Giveaway!

With all things Art Deco proving terribly de rigeur right now, September 2011 marks the introduction of a new fragrance to the Penhaligon's perfume portfolio: "Juniper Sling" - a scent inspired by the widely revered spirit London Dry Gin, and one that pays hommage to the Art Deco age.

Responsible for such iconic perfumes as Thierry Mugler's Angel and Christian Dior's Dune, Olivier Cresp is the nose behind this creation. When approaching Juniper Sling, Cresp has drawn upon his vast history and knowledge to create a scent which not only tips its hat to a celebrated cocktail, but also embodies an entire era - the colourful roaring 20's.

Juniper Sling is a startlingly smooth blend which opens with a bit of 'razzle-dazzle'... a shot of crisp gin, sappy juniper and a scattering of black pepper fire up the senses, whilst soft leather, cinnamon and dusty iris give the scent a tranquil, narcotising quality. There is no doubt that this perfume smells like an exceptionally good cocktail... it is somehow diaphanous, yet complex. I find its biting orange brandy note and huff of angelica make it delectably fragrant, whilst a hint of black cherry and brown sugar in the base lend themselves to a lip-smacking drydown. Despite these food-like accords, Juniper Sling veers away from the gourmand and maintains its vibe more as a delicately-refined tipple. Vetiver and ambergris (Ambrox) in the base also lend a sense of clean, green transparency.
Decidedly unisex in style, this is a cocktail I'd like to swallow whole and then come back for more. If applied liberally on the skin (as it tends to be a little fleeting), Juniper Sling will have you love-drunk before the night is over.

Below, the playful marketing video in support of the launch.


Three lucky Sorcery of Scent readers will win each a carded sample of Juniper Sling (pictured below). To enter the draw, simply leave a message in the comments field below, explaining why you'd like to try Juniper Sling. Please ensure you include an email address in your answer or on your linked profile so that you can be contacted if you're a winner. Winners names will be drawn at random and posted on the website next week.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

L'Abeille de Guerlain - the fragrance world abuzz with jewels.

Perhaps you're wondering what to ask your significant other to buy you for Christmas this year?
Here is a sneak peek at Guerlain's stunning new bijoux fashioned on the L'Abeille de Guerlain flacon. The piece comes as a pendant and it is made exclusively to order with your favourite perfume.

Information is still rather scant, but Luxury Launches reported in May this year that this meticulously-crafted object of desire is composed of pavé set diamonds and polished rock crystal in a solid platinum setting. This project represents a marriage of three artisans: the jeweller, of course the perfumer, and a watchmaker... the latter of which has designed a clever mechanism to pop open the wings to reveal an ornately-decorated body. The jewellery will release your preferred scent for approximately 6 months whilst you wear it.

Apparently, 500 hours of craftsmanship has gone into each piece, making this Guerlain's most exclusive (and undoubtedly expensive) treasure yet.

Kinda makes the Christmas ham taste like cardboard, right?

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Olivier Durbano: Citrine

For almost 5 years, I have had the pleasure of watching French jeweller/perfumer Olivier Durbano's tireless efforts in creating his Parfum de Pierres Poèmes - a series of olfactory interpretations derived from semi-precious gems. As a devout Durbano perfume loyalist, he has managed to capture my heart, my imagination (and my nose!) with his unexpected and inventive perfume renderings, each of which demonstrate his astute understanding of his gemstones both physically and symbolically. Now, upon the release of his seventh (and final) stone poem Citrine, I find myself at a crossroads: brimming with excitement, yet bemoaning the end of an era.

Citrine is a quartz variety that varies from pale lemon yellow to a deep smokey amber, and metaphysically, is believed to purify and dissipate negative energy. It's golden hue evokes a feeling of celestial warmth, inner fire and and opulent radiance... characteristics which I feel Monsieur Durbano has sought to capture in the bottle.
Citrine (the perfume) - as the name might suggest - opens with a spark of wild orange and sicilian lemon, but in trademark Durbano style, veers off into something unexpected and unique only moments after it dances on skin. A burnt-sienna note of elemi resin and carrot seed bring a richness and depth to the topnotes, dispersing the citrus components and turning what might have been anticipated into the unforseen. Warm mimosa, beeswax and fragrant woods imbue the heart with a blonde solar radiance, whilst a huff of myrrh and ambergris furnishes the perfume with its signature mineralic feel. There is definitely a feeling of antiquity here... one can imagine priceless Incan gold struck from the brown earth, refracting sunlight for the first time in millennia.

Citrine is classified as an amber woody spicy fragrance, and I feel this classification is right on the money. Citrus notes only play a supporting role in this extraordinary creation... one that I feel is the most thought-provoking in the series, and certainly amongst Durbano's best.

So, here we stand at number seven... sadly the last perfume in Olivier Durbano's series. As with all of his creations, Durbano's approach to his art is always carefully considered... number seven is a figure with spiritual and ancient importance, symbolising (to the ancient Egyptians at least) Eternal Life.
I like to think in some way, that Olivier's 7 stone studies have come full-circle, creating a never-ending wheel or seven-pointed star; one whose uniqueness and innovation will shine like a faceted gem and endure all the ages.

Available soon through select retailers in 100ml size.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Fruitful Fleamarket Pickings

I am often asked where one can best source vintage perfumes for very little money. When buying online, there is always the chance that a scent has spoiled, which makes online vintage purchases from sites such as ebay a rather risky (and costly) affair.

This week I returned from vacation with my cases stuffed with vintage bottles and scents... all of which have been sourced from flea markets and junk shops during my travels. The beauty about picking through nic-nacs and junk is that occasionally you stumble upon some staggering finds for just one or two euros. The photo above reflects my vintage perfume finds, including many rare and discontinued extraits, and flacons designed and manufactured by Lalique, Baccarat and Viard.

So, next time you have a hankering for all things vintage, don't hit the 'bay and pay through the nose: have a look in your local a secondhand store, antique shop or street market, and be prepared to bargain a little. Chances are, lady luck might just smile upon you.

Monday, 15 August 2011

En Vacances

The 1920's and 1930's saw a marked shift in the global psyche. In a time of renewed social consciousness and artistic expression after the horrors of World War I, travel became popular once again as people took to the seas and the skies. The vessels which had just a few years earlier become the tools of untold destruction - were now being used for pleasurable excursions.

This movement is reflected in the Art Deco era of perfume advertising where well-known houses encouraged their audience to travel to new horizons... be it physically or through fragrance. Some of these images are amongst my favourites from this age.

Sorcery of Scent is on a short hiatus for vacation, and will return with more news, reviews and thought-provoking commentary soon.

Bonnes vacances!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Calé Sample Winner!

Congratulations to Alessio - our winner picked at random to receive carded samples of both Fulgor and Roboris!

Alessio, please contact me from the email address you supplied with your entry using the email associated with my blogger account, and I will send you details on how to claim your prize!

Many thanks to all readers who participated.
Stay tuned for more giveaways and reviews to come!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Molton Brown - Navigations Through Scent - 5 Reviews

British toiletry giants Molton Brown have stepped up to the mark in 2011 and produced 5 brand new fragrances in a compelling "Navigations Through Scent" line. This series marks a natural evolution towards catering to the fine fragrance market for the first time in the company's 40 year history.

"Navigations Through Scent" celebrates the origins and history of perfume and the importance of the rare ingredients used. Following some of the ancient and modern trade routes, Molton Brown's perfumer Jennifer Jambon spent over a year exploring each site, identifying the raw materials that best represent each location on the map. Egypt, China, Indonesia, England and Canada have all been referenced, with their longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates marked out cleverly on the bottle and box.

Sorcery of Scent is pleased to briefly review each new fragrance from the line.


Inspired by Egypt, Iunu is a voluptuous perfume which unifies bewitching oriental facets and enchanting spices. A dancing heart of Egyptian jasmine absolute and ylang ylang is afire with piquant black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove... the result an interesting play between pure innocence and unashamed carnality. A wonderful ribbon of incense and myrrh lends a weightless esoteric quality, whilst sandalwood and patchouli anchor it to the earth again. A perfume which is constantly evolving - twirling like a naked dancer - Iunu is an intricate scent of empowerment and carnal collusion.


A Chinese love story told in hushed whispers, from behind cupped hands. Lijiang is a beautiful, diaphanous perfume that's as sheer and delicate as a fine paper lantern and has the stunning tactile quality of shot silk. Crisp white tea and Chinese osmanthus feature in this scent, which have been masterfully blended with shimmering bergamot and transparent white musk. Pink berries also provide a soft vermillion blush across Lijiang's milky white cheeks. Luminous, ceremonious and unostentatious, this perfume is as good as osmanthus and white tea gets! A true beauty.


Indonesian patchouli is the protagonist of this perfume; a recital of olfactory chiaroscuro where the tropics are speckled with sun and shadows. Singosari is dewy - like a rain-soaked landscape drying swiftly under the equatorial sun. There is a slightly cool, 'minty' quality to the perfume furnished by the patchouli, and this is played off against a clean vetiver background. This perfume doesn't feel too far removed from Tom Ford's White Patchouli in its approach, but a faint huff of spice and incense takes it to another territory, adding a slightly darker layer.
Singosari feels harmonious, sensual and warm.


Fancy a tipple? Apuldre won't disappoint with its armoury of accords from gin juniper, to fermented grapes to absynthe! Perhaps it's no coincidence that Apuldre means 'Appletree' in old Saxon english, because Apuldre's striking green opening notes capture the feeling of rolling hills and open English countryside... it is grassy and sappy, but also boasts a floral / aromatic huff of lavender. In a sense, Apuldre feels both traditional and resolutely contemporary at the same time. A slight hint of cedar wood conjures images and impressions of a damp forest floor.


A scent of contradictions, Rogart is both austere and embracing, frigid yet comforting. Taking its inspiration from Canada, Rogart has a lip-smacking maple syrup note at its core, evoking feelings of warmth and comfort. Obversely, elemi, coriander and juniper lend a chilled, "crisp-air" association, and the two qualities lock horns like a pair of mountain stags. The contrast is profound. Fir balsam and a whisper of smoke lends a feeling of familiarity and having "just stepped in from the cold" to a raging fire in the range. Rogart is a unique paradox between opposites with woody, slightly gourmand qualities.

Interestingly, Molton Brown have chosen not to use a rigid perfume classification (EDC, EDT, EDP), for these scents, asserting instead that across this range their perfumes contain an average of 11.6% perfume concentrates. (Personally, I, the author, find most of these on par with a standard EDT or EDP).

The Navigations Through Scent series launches in Harrods this month and widely in the UK from September.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Calé introduce Roboris & Fulgor + Giveaway

Authors of the Calé Fragranze d'Autore range of eaux de toilettes, Italian perfumers Calé are soon set to release a new duo of perfumes in the line. These will not only compliment Calé's existing portfolio of perfumes, but also usher in a new dilution for the line: Les Concentrés.

Roboris and Fulgor are fragrances with a particularly high perfume concentration... greater than that of eau de parfum. Both were inspired by Director Silvio Levi's experience in the blistering heat in Death Valley, when from out of nowhere, a sudden thunderstorm struck and raging flashflood appeared. The experience left a two-fold mark on his soul: the first immediate, violent and wild, and the other; thoughtful, harmonic and embracing.

Fulgor, created by Maurizio Cerizza & Silvio Levi, channels a sensation of imminent, grandiose unstoppable power ready to burst forth... a violent manifestation of nature in all its bone-chilling glory. Fulgor embodies the relentless desert heat, but the air is also charged with electricity. Deep blue-grey clouds are heavy with rain and a zephyr picks up... a precursor to the impending deluge. Opening notes of fig and green tangerine rush over a warm heart of saffron, magnolia and narcissus - these components lend a 'can't-catch-your-breath' feeling of oppressive heat. Patchouli and incense bring an earthiness to the perfume, whilst two very unique 'graphite' and 'pyrite' accords suggest a sense of dryness, like porous desert stone and sand. If struck together, one would expect sparks to appear and a wink of light.
There are opposing elements at play here... contrasts in humidity and temperature which make Fulgor a very unique and compelling perfume.

For Roboris, Levi teamed up with perfumer Mark Buxton to explore a different aspect of the desert thundershower... a interpretation as much spiritual as it is physical. Levi's narrative details a Native American Indian in a desert highland, giving thanks for the imminent rains... the life source that will ensure renewed growth and prosperity for his family. Roboris is a scent which unifies delicate florals such as jasmin, violet and wisteria with cactus flower, vetiver, sandalwood, tonka and ambergris. It feels much greener in its approach, however a sense of the parched, thirsty land lying underfoot is also very vivid. It is a fragrance which is etherial, in celebration of the Great Mother and all her gifts; but it also remains earthbound. This is a perfume that expresses positive strength and gratitude.

In addition to this brand new fragrance duo, Calé continue to explore concentrated dilutions with the re-release of several of their eaux de toilettes, now in concentrated form. These include: Allegro con Brio, Ozio, Assolo and Brezza di Seta.

Sorcery of Scent is giving one reader the opportunity to win 2 carded samples of Roboris and Fulgor.
To enter the draw, please leave a comment on this article about which of the two scents appeals to you the most, and also which of the other perfumes in the vast Calé Fragranze d'Autore portfolio that you enjoy or would most like to try.
Please ensure you include an email address on your response or blogger profile as a means to contact you if you're a winner. One winner will be drawn at random and published next week. Good luck!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Andy Tauer - Pentachords

This year, Swiss Perfumer Andy Tauer has been busy creating a brand new library of scents - scents which urge one to ponder "How many ingredients do you need to use to create a beautiful and distinctive perfume"?

Andy's answer: Five.

His Pentachords perfumes strip away everything that is nonessential, and rely wholly on only 5 components of exceptional quality in each. They are a celebration of minimalism, without compromising beauty and enchantment.

Chords: Violet blossom, Orris root, Bourbon vanilla, Ambergris, Warm wood.

White is a thought-provoking marriage of notes, the sum of which are remarkably true to the perfume's name. Opening with very dry iris and bourbon vanilla at the fore White communicates an interesting contradiction: a clever play between a thirsty, parched orris root, and juicy, lip-smacking vanilla. A very serene violet note sits in contemplation, furnishing the perfume with the idea of a sunny corner of a garden on a crisp fall morning. There is a blanched, almost sun-bleached quality to this scent, thanks in part to its orris and warm rosewood base. For all intents and purposes, White is not a sweet perfume as one might expect - in fact a hint of ambergris lends a slight saltiness to the composition, as well as an overall solar radiance.
Pentachord White is distinctly gender-neutral and an absolute favourite of the author.

Chords: Citrus blossom, Warm cinnamon, Fruity tobacco, Dry amber, Creamy sandalwood.

Auburn opens with a bright orange blossom note which is infused with rich amber and sprinkles of powdered cinnamon. There is a delectable warmth present - a whisper of tempting cinnamon scrolls and honeyed fruitcake. A slight puff of tobacco and the creamy sandalwood base breathes more depth and a sense of coziness to the perfume.
Readers familiar with Gaultier's Gaultier2 may draw parallels between the amber facet in Auburn and the radiant bubblegum/amber quality in Gaultier's 2; which is not necessarily a negative. A scent for both men and women, Pentachord Auburn feels like a stirring autumnal overture.

Chords: Dewy leaves, Suave leather, Brown tobacco, Sweet earth, Vibrant amber.

Every bit as green as the name suggests, Verdant is an olfactory Eden of lush emerald. Its 'dewy leaves' note feels both minty and moderately bitter; this facet dominates the composition right through until the drydown. One can sense an earthiness at hand, as one would if working damp dirt with a trowel in an overgrown green garden. A feeling of warmth permeates through the dewiness, furnished, in part, by the dry brown tobacco and subtle amber notes.
Also suitable for both sexes, Pentachord Verdant is not a 'green' fragrance comparable to "reference" green scents like Chanel's No.19 or Sisley's Eau de Campagne... instead it treads an uncommon path featuring moist, dripping wet greens.

Andy Tauer's Pentachords are available exclusively until September 2011 through Campomarzio in Italy, after which they will be introduced worldwide.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Comme des Garçons + Artek: Standard

Have your ears ever been flooded with the sound of nothingness? The ear-splitting hum and jet-engine buzz of silence? Indulge me and imagine, if you will, a vast wintery landscape in northern Finland... a place still unspoiled by the invasive tendrils of man, where the sky is fathomless, and the point at which it meets the horizon, vitreous. Nature, in its purest, most undiluted form, has a drone of its own... one you're never truly conscious of until you train your ears to it. It's like the thrum of the refrigerator in the next room. Resolute, cold and unabating. It is in this particular environment that the Nordic nations have flourished for millennia, and indeed one that has influenced their culture, lifestyle and design vernacular.

Artek is a Finnish furniture company that has existed for over 75 years, and one which prides itself on the preservation of conceptual design sensibilities and technical expertise in production. Doing away with frivolous ornamentation, their aesthetic embraces the pure and simplest forms and materials found in nature. In 2009, Artek collaborated with designers/perfumers Comme des Garçons to create Standard; a fragrance whose intent was to remain analogous with Artek's design ideology.

Standard is a unisex scent, packaged in a stone-grey matte glass flacon, which is surprisingly cold to the touch. Although at first glance the bottle perhaps resembles an uninteresting basic building block, it is distinctly Scandinavian in style: straightforward, stark and unadorned. The scent itself is equally as austere, and I think therein lies its beauty. Comme des Garçons are masters of their craft... here they've created a scent that captures the bleak cold of a Scandinavian night; frigid, unpolluted and unrelenting. There are fascinating synthetic accords of metal and corrosion present that speak of Artek's architectural / manufacturing heritage, which are cleverly juxtaposed against components from the natural world. There are crisp lemony / green nuances that are played off against tea leaves, blonde woods and saffron. I feel if there were ever such a thing as 'green frankincense', then it would smell like this.

Standard, though flinty and somewhat unemotional, is a triumph in that it represents the clever marriage of conceptual ideas from both celebrated houses. It embraces the avant garde for which Comme des Garçons are renowned, but also pays hommage to the landscape and aesthetic enjoyed by the Finnish.

Standard lasts approximately 8 hours on my skin, even if applied sparingly. One to be tried.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Olivier Durbano: 2 New Launches for 2011

Ambassador of eye-popping bijox and otherworldly perfume, Olivier Durbano is set to launch his final scent in a series of seven olfactory "stone poems" inspired by his gemstones.

This September, Durbano will release Citrine, an eau de parfum based on this quartz variety that ranges in colour from pale yellow to deep amber brown. A stone of success and abundance, Citrine promises to follow Olivier Durbano's tradition of creating unique perfumes of uncompromising quality. Whilst one might anticipate a scent based on citrus accords, Mnsr Durbano's ability to delight and surprise will simply keep perfumistas guessing until the end of the European summer.

In the meantime, for those among us who can't wait that long, up for August release is Durbano's very first extrait de parfum. Olivier rectraces his steps and brings the Midas touch to the very first scent in his series, Rock Crystal. Boasting a very generous 40% concentration, Rock Crystal extrait de parfum will be presented in a luxury box and will be released in 30ml size.

Olivier Durbano's six Stone Poems to date comprise of: Rock Crystal, Amethyst, Black Tourmaline, Jade, Turquoise and Pink Quartz.

Friday, 20 May 2011

New Mona di Orio "Les Nombres d'Or": Vétyver, Vanille, Tubéreuse and Oud

The perfumes launched under the Mona di Orio name are arguably amongst the finest you will ever find. After all, the French perfumer after whom the brand is named was the protégée of master perfumer Edmond Roudnitska. With a stunning portfolio of perfumes already to her credit and an insight into the art of perfume-making that few will ever attain, Mona di Orio is now set to add four new fragrances to her "Les Nombres d'Or" range.

Based on the principle of "the golden ratio"- a precise mathematical formula used by artists for centuries - "Les Nombres d'Or" is a line of perfumes that interpret a single scent, but in a most unconventional way. Cuir, Ambre, and Musc were welcomed to the world stage in 2010; each of them a unique study of raw components used traditionally in perfume. This year, Mona introduces four new scents to the "Les Nombres d'Or" library: Vétyver, Vanille, Tubéreuse and Oud.

Vétyver is a verdantly green scent with zesty ginger and grapefruit in the opening which immediately suggests a vetiver fragrance with solar radiance. It has a lightly aromatic/spiced heart of nutmeg and sage, though these exist chiefly to play off the dustiness of the vetiver and intensify its lovely leafiness. A light musk component brings this perfume a fresh, semi-diaphanous crispness that I find irresistible.
Notes include: Ginger, Grapefruit, Nutmeg, Vetiver Bourbon, Labdanum, Musk, Patchouli, Sage.

Vanille is a very atypical portrayal of a traditional perfume theme. Much like mint, vanilla can prove to be a tricky component to work into a formula without it taking over. Here, Mona di Orio has created a striking blend which paints an exciting abstract portrait of vanilla. It has a delicate composition, opening with bitter orange and petitgrain but with a pale chocolate-brown ribbon of guaiac wood, rum absolute, sandalwood, rooty vetiver, clove and leather meandering beneath. A delectable creaminess comes through with sandalwood, tonka, and the vanilla from Madagascar, but surprisingly, Vanille is not very gourmand in nature. It is elegant and sophisticated. This is unorthodox in style, and an extremely compelling blend.
Notes include: Bitter orange, Rum, Petitgrain, Clove, Vanilla, Guaiac Wood, Vetiver, Sandalwood, Ylang-Ylang, Tonka, Leather, Musk, Amber.

Tubéreuse is a soliflore interpretation which has been done with a great degree of sensitivity. Often known for its polarising effect in perfume, Mona has created this perfume around a tuberose absolute from India. Joyful and well-behaved, this tuberose is blended with spicy pink pepper and sunny bergamot which bring a spirited 'spring-time' vibe to the fragrance. It feels just like the blossoms are turning to face the morning sun as it climbs in the sky. Not a hint of headiness or dirt... but a very fetching floral.
Notes include: Pink pepper, Bergamot, Tuberose absolute, Benzoin, Heliotrope, Cashmeran.

All of these scents are beautiful renderings in perfume, but I am admittedly wholly and completely taken by Oud.

For perfumistas who have never smelled true oud, you're in for both a treat and an education. Forget the M7, the Montales and the tasteless Bond No9's... Mona di Orio's Oud is set to become the yardstick against which all other mainstream and niche 'oud' releases in the western world ought to be measured. Mona dared introduce pure oud to a western perfume, and it is an absolute triumph!

Oud is a beautiful and mysterious fragrance which opens with a brief note of mandarin before the oud is unveiled... it reveals itself much like a rare Arabian treasure might from beneath an ancient magician's blanket. It has an infinitely unique odour profile - one which is both woody and animalic, with deeply earthy, balsamic qualities. Contrary to many perfumes inspired by the middle east (and in particular those using oud), there is surprisingly no rose used in Mona's mix... instead, her oud is flanked by jasmin and osmanthus, all of which diffuse through a deeply resinous opoponax core. The composition is spiritually intoxicating, and one finds themselves drawn into an imagined landscape of full rising desert moons, flickering fires and colourful twirling Dervishes. An ambery, mossy base provides a rich, enduring backbone to the perfume, and ensures well-above average longevity on your skin.

Oud was a perfume Mona di Orio was not entirely enthusiastic about making - I assume in part because of the prolific number of oud releases in recent years. However, her middle-eastern clientele demanded it, and I for one am thrilled that she relented. Mona's sensitive approach to her craft and her unique intuition have once again resulted in a perfume that can easily be measured against the masters.