The winners of the Neela Vermeire Creations Giveaway Contest!

winner

We’ve found two winners of my Neela Vermeire Creations giveaway contest!

The winner of the Discover Your India set of 3 x 10 ml of Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling is … DKChocoman!

The winner of the Try Your India set of 3 x 2 ml spray samples is … Gail!

Please email your shipping address to thealembicatedgenie(at)gmail(dot)com by midnight Wednesday, February 27th, CET, so I can pass it on to Neela Vermeire.

Thanks to absolutely everyone who entered! That was so much fun, we really should do that again…;)

Stay tuned this coming week for two great new discoveries and a Hotly Anticipated Item…

 

 

 

How To Wear Perfume

perfumeaddict

 – The Genie’s Guide To Sillage

Do you ever have the feeling that one day, a day like any other day, something will happen to shock you so profoundly, you will henceforth crash through any brand of bs and nothing can ever shock you again?

Well, today was one of those days for me, and wouldn’t you know – it’s perfume-related. Going through my Twitter feed, I came across a link to an article on the Australian Bella Sugar on the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to wear perfume, clicked it, read it, and then proceeded to howl…with laughter.

I haven’t laughed so hard since an Estée Lauder sales assistant told me imperiously that she didn’t hand out samples, since that was ‘bad for business’. (Tell that to the wonderful people at Barneys, Saks, Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman and every single niche/indie perfume store I’ve ever heard of in my life…)

So what, according to the perspicacious sages at Bella Sugar is the ‘right’ way to wear perfume?

  1. Don’t put perfume over scented lotion or oil. Not all scents play nicely together.
  2. Rubbing your wrists together causes uneven development, poor wear and the wrong proportion of notes. (sic!)
  3. Don’t use more than a single spritz if you’re wearing an eau de parfum from an atomizer. Your typical perfume is meant to be worn sparingly.

Naturally, I couldn’t take this lying down, or even sitting up. I’m a local Sillage Monster – mainly because the majority of perfumes I smell in the ‘wild’ are so horrible, I feel I have a moral obligation to recalibrate the noses I happen to walk by. You’d do it too, if you were gassed out of existence daily by Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, the ubiquitous Dior J’Adore and Juicy Couture.

As the seed of an idea began to sprout, I thought about all the common assumptions about perfume and perfume wearing that so many people take for granted. So here you have my own ideas…and a few popped balloons in the process, too!

What Bella Sugar Got Wrong

1) Not a few seriously great perfumes also come with all manner of matching pampering potions. For years, I swore by the ultraluxe Chanel no. 19 body crème, which was the last word in luxury – and layering. I say..go for it! Just use a little judgment here – if your perfume leans toward, say, orange blossom and you have an orange blossom body lotion/butter etc – I see no problem. I have for instance happily layered Aftelier’s delicious Lavender & Ginger body oil with vero profumo’s equally delicious Kiki extrait. Just don’t do what a former colleague of mine once did in the Bad Old Eighties, when he wore every permutation of YSL’s Kouros known to man – all at once.

On the other hand…sometimes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. I have a skin condition known as atopic dermatitis, which means I’m a walking Sahara desert hide without the dates. For this – since I pay if I don’t – I usually use a non-scented medical grade thick body lotion straight out of the shower. This does two things at once, both wonderful. It takes care of the crocodile hide and keeps it at bay, and it makes any perfumes I wear last longer. In some cases, much longer.

2) The wrong proportion of notes? WTF? This little maxim comes in other variations, too – such as…it breaks down the molecules in the perfumes. (That would take the term body chemistry to a whole new level of complexity if it were true). The ‘uneven development’ is not entirely untrue, since friction heats up the scent, which blooms evolves faster, and that means – less wear. The better a perfume is constructed, the less it will matter. But if you press one wrist over the other when wet – as I’ve been known to do when I don’t want to wear too much – it’s not going to ruin anything, and certainly not the perfume or your experience of it.

3) ‘When spraying from an atomizer’…Excuse me. But most eaux de parfums these days are in atomizers, and therefore, meant to be sprayed, and not ‘worn sparingly’. To be fair…an eau de parfum will often project more – that is, create an ‘aura’ around you – than an extrait, which is a stronger concentration but often wears closer to the skin. As for ‘a single spritz’…when was the last time that happened with a perfume you loved? Anyone?

The Sillage Monster’s Antidote

Where

Coco Chanel once famously said one should wear perfume wherever one wants to be kissed. It’s a great quote, but it’s dead wrong. For one thing, no matter how edible you smell, perfume tastes terrible. I have it on strict authority and very long experience.

Instead, look for your pulse points – anywhere you can feel your heartbeat. With two exceptions, but I’ll be getting back to those.

Perfume tends to project upwards – that is to say, waft upward with your body heat. For the full-on Sillage Monster experience, this means the following locations: The backs of your knees, the folds of your elbows and your wrists. I’ve sometimes sprayed right above my navel, but I had ulterior motives at the time.

For whatever reason, hordes of people apply perfume behind their ears. As I said – perfume tastes terrible. Which makes that a rotten idea if you like to have your neck kissed. (I do.) Instead, spray lightly at the base of your neck right below the hairline. Not only will your hair hold the scent in wondrous ways, you’ll spread the joy every time you toss your gleaming mane. Which of course is the whole idea. There’s also the ancient trick of spraying the air before you and walking into the cloud, but I don’t recommend it except for very volatile perfumes that wear close to the skin.

When

We live in perilous, scent-phobic times. In perfumista terms, this means…pick your battles wisely. Slaying your colleagues in the aisles at work is not a great career move, nor is wearing so much perfume on a dinner date that the entire restaurant can literally eat your Poison. In situations like these, stop to consider the consequences. You may not be old enough to remember when Giorgio!, Opium or Poison was banned by restaurants and some theaters (true story), but some of us are, and we’ve loathed them ever since. This is why. At work, people want to show their professional competence, not sit marooned in an interminable meeting distracted to pieces by inordinate amounts of a perfume you love but everyone around you hates. Show a little respect. Also – consider the space. Open-plan offices are more forgiving than if you work in a walk-in closet.

That said, if you go out for a night on the tiles, it will usually be hot and crowded. So you can wear a little more. Just don’t do what I did at a rock concert last year in the middle of an epic cold snap. I left my sister’s house in a nebulous fog of Amouage Epic Woman. Twelve sprays to be exact, not counting my coat and a silk velvet shirt. They must have smelled me in Stockholm. And Oslo. And Hamburg. And possibly London, too. It later took five soaks in baking soda, seven delicate cycle washes and a dry clean to get it out of that shirt. And six months for my sister to forgive me. To this day, she hates Epic. I didn’t care. The rock star gave me a hug for goodbye. I was happy.

What

If you read that little Bella Sugar article a certain way, you could get the impression that all eaux de parfums are created equal. This is so utterly ridiculous, I can either clutch my hair in despair over such inanity, or clutch my sides in utter hysterics. Well, darlings – you might know this, but if you don’t, here’s a punch line for you.

It’s not true.

I have personally experienced one notorious eau de parfum that lasted one hour before it was gone with the wind without so much as a ‘See you later, Scarlett.’. And others that lingered well past the eight-hour mark to the point where I began to feel a bit…peeved. A bit like a date that just won’t leave when you’ve said goodbye two hours ago.

You see, there really is such a thing as Bang For Your Buck. Generally speaking, certain brands are very long-lived, and others less than perfect in that respect. If you’re a perfume commitment-phobic, stay well away from brands such as Andy Tauer, Amouage and certain Serge Lutens. They want to propose on the first date and set up house by the third. Some might find that charming. That being the case, these are also the ones you’d want to apply with a lighter hand, since you can expect anywhere from 8-12 hours out of them, and sometimes more. (A month, in the case of that silk velvet shirt.)

Certain fragrance families – Orientals, ambers, some chypres, and those wonderful creatures called ‘florientals’ will last longer than citruses, fougères or green florals, or at least that’s been my experience. Likewise, perfumes containing large quantities of jasmine, rose, orange blossom absolute or – you guessed it – tuberose tend to love you most sincerely – and for not a few hours.

Natural perfumes without synthetic fixatives will not last quite so long – anywhere from 2-6 hours. This can either – say you’re in an environment where you can wear with wild abandon – be a blessing or a bane. A blessing – you get to reapply or apply something else – or a bane, darn it, why couldn’t it stick around? One of my fellow bloggers suggested applying a little argan oil before your perfume – and I’m thrilled to say it works.

Alas and alack – not a few so-called ‘niche’ brands with über-niche prices have the half-life of a dying fruit fly. I’ve been sorely disappointed by more than one dead-exclusive niche perfume that was heaven on Earth – for maybe half an hour. Before it all vanished down the black hole of time and left not even a memory behind.

Longevity also comes down to things like skin chemistry, diet and weather, believe it or not. Heat makes a perfume evolve faster, therefore, it will have more sillage in summer than in winter.

The bottom line is this: There are no hard and fast rules. Your mileage may vary. Wear what you love. Wear as much as you like when it’s appropriate for your day and the physical space you’ll take up. If you have a lot of hands-on contact with many people, show some consideration for their personal space, too. And if it’s just you and two cats – that would be me this minute, for instance – go ahead and marinate yourself. I’ve been known to perfume my person, my bed before sleep and my Tibetan prayer flag too for good measure. It makes me happy, so how can it be bad?

If you have ulterior motives, remember that trick about the back of the neck. Trust me on that one.

Because after all, as one very, very famous perfumer once said (about women, but it applies in any direction)

What is left, after a woman removes her clothes and her jewels? Her skin…and her perfume.

Wear it well – and with love. You’re worth at least that much!

A Ticket To India Contest!

Lord Shiva as Dakshinamurthy

Or…what happens when the Genie is felled by a cold…

Ladies and gentlemen, I had so many plans – and so many posts to write. New, unknown wonders to discover, other wonders to find the words for, a hotly anticipated release to review… And then.

And then, a rhinovirus had other ideas and zapped me with the common cold. In spite of ginger/lemon/honey infusions, steam baths with thyme oil and massive quantities of thermonuclear chiles, it stands resolute and makes sure that nightmare of all perfumoholics everywhere is all too real:

I. Can’t Smell. A. Thing. My voice is gone, too. I sound like a lovesick frog. It’s one way to shut me up! 😉

But that’s no excuse for not having a little fun for my readers while I can, is it? Thanks to the generosity of Neela Vermeire Creations, I have a little giveaway contest. Two lucky and sagacious readers can win:

One Discover Your India set; 10 ml of all three of Neela Vermeire Creations; Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling in spray atomizers.

One Try Your India sample set of 3 x 2 ml of Trayee, Mohur and Bombay Bling.

If you haven’t had a chance yet to try this trinity for yourself and find out what all the fuss is about (trust me, it’s there for a reason!), these three celebrated perfumes created by Neela Vermeire with Bertrand Duchaufour might be just what you need to banish the winter (or summer!) blahs.

The Fine Print:

The contest is open to readers and/or followers anywhere in the world with the exception of Italy and Russia. The contest closes Sunday, February 24th, at midnight CET, and a winner will be announced on The Alembicated Genie Monday, February 25th. Participants must provide a valid email address and contact me here with their shipping address within 48 hours after closing, so I can forward them on to Neela Vermeire, who will then ship the prizes from Paris.

The Contest!

Trayee, Mohur & Bombay Bling were all inspired by different periods of India’s history and heritage. To participate, answer the three questions in a comment, and all correct answers will be entered into a draw at random.org.

temple

1. Trayee is a fragrant ode to the sanctity of India’s distant Vedic past. Which of the three principal gods mentioned in the Rig Veda acts as a messenger between the gods and humanity?

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2.  Mohur was partly inspired by Moghul Empress Nur Jahan, who retired in luxury after a coup d’etat following the death of her husband, the Emperor Jahangir. When she retired, she devoted her time to poetry, her gardens and manufacturing perfumes. What famous building immortalized her niece? 

Lagaan

3. Bombay Bling is a liquid poem to both the modern, dynamic India of today and the exuberance of Bollywood. One Bollywood movie, 2001’s Lagaan was an international success and nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Film of 2002. (If you haven’t seen it yet – do! I promise – you won’t regret it!) Did it win the Oscar?

Write the correct answers to these three questions in a comment below and who knows – maybe it will be your lucky day?

Good luck!

As for me, I’ll be back with more wonders as soon as this cold is gone, no worries!

Find out more about Neela Vermeire Creations on her website, Facebook page and follow her on Twitter as @NeelaVermeire.

With many thanks to Neela Vermeire for the giveaway, and with gratitude for whoever invented Kleenex.

The giveaway contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered. 

Babalon Rising

THE DEVILSCENT PROJECT XII

Black_WidowbyDeanBradshaw

– a review of Opus Oils’ Babylon Noir for the Devilscent Project

It doesn’t happen every night that I’m awakened by a ghost. Yet this night, in that dread, dark hour when humanity exists at its lowest ebb and in dreams, a very particular ghost came to call.

What woke me was not her presence, but her perfume. Wandering in that twilit space of fragile memory and lacy emotion on the bridge between surreal and real, suddenly, a waft of strange, poisoned fruit reached out towards me like a vine, and as happens in dreams, the vine itself grew into a monstrous, sentient thing, unfurling its thorny grasp as it moved toward my neck, twining its way in a satin black ribbon up my leg, and surely it would wind around my neck if I didn’t…

“Been having any good nightmares lately, darling?”

It was a voice I knew well, an alto, sultry voice much like my own, but with a clipped, razor-precise and deathly intimidating British accent, and in an instant, the sticky cobweb remnants of nightmare fled screaming to the shadows.

I opened my eyes.

Perched on the pale pink cushion of my black IKEA desk chair sat Lilith, Queen of the Succubi, a vision in a black Valenciennes lace suit with leather accents cut with a precision only found in couture, her habitual patent leather six-inch stilettos on her elegant feet, gold-blonde hair gleaming in the light of a passing car on the street below. Flawlessly exquisite in that 21st-century porn-star way that left no room for either imperfections or doubts. And here was I, resident slob, resplendently barefaced in anti-aging night cream, leopard print pjs and spectacular bed hair.

Why, oh, why do these things always happen to me?

The next moment, my feline teddy bear Hairy Krishna hissed, spat and fled the room. That, too, was unusual.

“You!” I finally managed to say. “I could have sworn I killed you off in show-stopping style in Chapter 51.”

“Yes, well, be that as it may, I was given…dispensation, you could say. If I let that horrible man thing have the last word, my reputation would never recover. This will never do. And besides, darling…” Lilith leaned closer , and I was caught like a deer in the headlights of that deathly seductive scent, “as surely you know by now, villains have a way of returning when you least expect them, isn’t that so?”

This perfume was so thick with fruit, you could almost feel the juices running down your chin. It must have been peach, a peach on that heady verge of overripe, and another, even more fragrant fruit, what was it? This, I thought to myself in my panicked state, was how sin not only smelled, but tasted. Not just your everyday, quotidian, all-too-human sin. This was epic sin. The kind of sin lesser transgressions aspired to when they grew debauched enough.

“True. You had one final ace up your sleeve, as I recall. I’m writing that into the sequel. I also seem to recall I never invited you into my story.” I rubbed cobwebs from my eyes. Hairy Krishna sat at the door eyeing Lilith with a dispassionate eye, still as a statue, orange tail curled tightly around him, the tip twitching softly on the floor.

“Well, think about it. All good parties –all good stories, even – need a gatecrasher. It makes things ever so much more… interesting. Think about it. Without me, you’d be churning out  Harlequin romances.” She said it with such a subtle sneer of derision, I felt chill pearls of condescension forming in my ears.

This was emphatically not the kind of conversation I was used to at 4 AM. This was not the perfume I was used to sniffing at 4 AM, either. That luscious, lethally poisonous peach cocktail was slowly but surely morphing into something still more fatale.

Tuberose. It had to be. A tuberose run through a polarized filter of inky midnight madness. So black, it made a laughing stock of anything called ‘noir’. This tuberose – this perfume even – was not called ‘noir’. It was ‘NOIR’. The quintessence of ‘NOIR’. The kind of ‘Noir’ other perfumes wanted to be if only they owned the right sort of gonads in an appropriate size and with the exact right kind of fragrant flogger. With intricately knotted falls, to be used when wet, with aplomb and just the right twist of wrist and shoulder…

This perfume made my own beloved vintage ‘Narcisse Noir’ seem like a wan, ingénue, milquetoast debutante who grew up in a convent.

“Lilith, why are you here? You’re dead. There is no way in Hell or anywhere else you can possibly come back. I made sure of it. This world is already evil enough without you. Besides, I’m quite intimidated enough.”

I was, too. I felt like the dumpy, naïve secretary in a Forties noir movie who loses out to the fatal charms of Barbara Stanwyck, and who could compete with that?

Ah yes. I could breathe it in now, that flagrant, fragrant flogger made from the hide of a mythical panther, the very last of its kind, exuding all its midnight black, exquisitely tanned, feral pains – and pleasures.

“I told you. I simply couldn’t allow it. Killing me off in such a tawdry, Hollywood fashion. So tacky, darling. I thought you had better taste. Then again, you did take my husband. Why is completely beyond me. He’s a moody egomaniac recluse with a very short fuse. Trust me. After four thousand years, I know these things. Perhaps your taste isn’t nearly so good as you like to think?”

The more things change, I thought. “I did no such thing. I just wrote it. Why, I can’t tell you. I knew I shouldn’t have bought all those CDs. Or looked at their covers.”

“Ah, but you did! How can you write it, if you never experienced it? Besides,” she sniffed and glanced down at the ten gleaming talons on her hands, secure in her own peerlessly wanton perfection, “nothing has ever come of it, actually. I mean, you’re not precisely tearing up the bestseller lists yet, are you? Face it, darling, you’re just going to fade away into obscurity, back into that nameless gutter where you belong with your so-called ‘writing.’ It will never happen. No one wants to know about any of your stories. No one wants to read them. No one cares. They never will.

She sat back in triumph, crossed one long, elegant leg over the other, and smiled sweetly. Her eyes glittered in the glow from the streetlight, not with tears but with malice.

Four AM, and there I was…gutted in leopard print pyjamas. Barefaced. With bed hair. Breathing in all the dangers of a most perilous perfume, with its tainted fruity possibilities and its opulent, Da-Go tuberose, all its heady, animal, feline leathery growls and seductive, pernicious civet moan, all of it borne in the one dream I had left to manifest with a little mischievous help. I was so upset, I jumped out of bed. But the minute I drew breath to protest, to say something, anything, to howl my denial at the black of the moon, another voice I knew too well made itself heard.

“Bullshit.”

Dev came through the door to the other room, and Hairy Krishna suddenly came to life, mewled a sleepy mewl and wound himself around his feet with a loud purr. He knelt down and said hello, before he leaned against the doorjamb, arms crossed over his chest.

“Lilith, face it. You’re dead. For a very good reason. You may have been given compensation for today – I’ll have a few words with God about that one, can’t let that happen again – but it’s time for you to go.”

“You!” Even in the low light, I could almost feel the heat that suddenly radiated off her in her rage, heat that made her perfume seem to fill the room, the apartment, the entire world…all that strange and tainted fruit, all the tuberose, every aspect of some pantherine beast of half-remembered legend…She stood a little unsteady on her six-inch spikes, and glared her non-beloved ex in the face.

“And what makes you think you can get rid of me so easily? Or try to erase the truth? That your tawdry, tacky, nothing little writer will never be anything more than a pint-sized literary failure! I’m just saying what everyone knows…”

“No.” Dev walked over and opened the door. “You’re saying what you want to believe. That’s a very different thing. Get out.”

Lilith tossed her gleaming hair out of her eyes and turned at the door of my apartment. “So long as you don’t think…” she pointed at me, “That I’m anywhere near finished with you!”

The door slammed behind her with a bang they saw on a seismograph in San Diego.

He locked and bolted the door.“I should have seen that coming. I’m sorry.”

“Done is done.” I shrugged. Who cared? She was gone. Thank all the gods who ever lived.

“So what do we do now?” I felt him burning against me, shoulder to shoulder. There was a fiery gleam in his eyes and a grin on his face, a gleam I had seen not a few times before.

He took a deep, deep breath. Lilith’s perfume filled the room, but now, there was a sweeter, softer edge it somehow never showed on her skin.

“I’ve got a great idea, baby. Let’s misbehave!”

And in a scarlet cabinet glowed Lilith in a lace-wrapped bottle, biding her time…until the next time.

babylonnoir

Opus Oils’ ‘Babylon Noirwill be launched at The Three Muses Salon in Hollywood tomorrow; February 14th. With my abject, undying gratitude to Kedra Hart.

Image: © Dean Bradshaw, ‘Black Widow’ (2012). All rights reserved. Used by permission. Photo of ‘Babylon Noir’ bottle, my iPhone.

Primordial Elements

sowingrealitydigitalweb2

– an introduction to the Primordial Scents Project

Long, long ago, the world and all it contains were made rather differently and metaphorically than this physical soup of amino acids, atoms and quarks that now defines us. Ancient wisdom had no use for deterministic explanations, but chose instead to identify their world through metaphor and allegory, and in so doing transformed it into something richer, deeper and more meaningful than that eternal, quotidian struggle to survive and hopefully, to thrive.

So they categorized the world according to the elements they saw and felt and the allegories to fit them – fire, earth, air and water. To each of these they attributed qualities, characteristics and even the temperaments to express them; choleric, phlegmatic, sanguine and melancholy.

All of these elements combined created in turn a new element of the immaterial, and this was called spirit, which stands for balance, space, faith and sanctity.

This is the premise behind the Primordial Scents Project by Monica Miller of Perfume Pharmer. Inspired by Starhawk’s book, The Fifth Sacred Thing, Monica decided to explore the elements through that most immaterial art form of all – perfume, taking each element back to its beginning, primal state.

If all matter is energy, as science has it, then what can we achieve by channeling and using those elements in our own lives and the lives of others?

Many indie perfumers chose to interpret the elements through absolute and essence, and many bloggers sought and still seek to define them through their words and thoughts on the perfumes themselves.

I was recruited for the Primordial Scents project an embarrassing long time ago, received three of the five elemental packages and then… life got in the way. Although I’m woefully late in adding my own perspective on these perfumes and the elements they represent, I very much look forward to discovering what arcane secrets may be hidden in those elements and what truths I may learn and what growth may sprout from these little perfume vials.

Primordialfire

Fire is the element of inspiration, creativity, love, passion, vision and transmutation. It heats up and illuminates all it touches, or it burns it to cinders and transforms it, ashes to ashes, earth to…

primordialearth

Earth is the element of endurance, strength, manifestation, reality, stability, prosperity and sustenance. Earth is what grounds us and pushes us to sow, to plow and to reap, the element from which we come and to which we shall return, unless a breath of air shall blow us away?

primordialair

Air is the element of the intangible – of communication, intelligence and mind. Air is that heady, weightless realm of sky castles and lofty ideals, where all is as perfect and as limitless as the skies above our heads or own imaginations, conjuring possibilities in the clouds and probabilities in thin air, unless they’re washed down by

primordialwater

Water, that most adaptable element of all, the element of intuition, emotion and connection to those other elements, transmuting itself through fire into air, nourishing earth and all that grows, or else drowning and destroying all of them, unless it somehow remembers that the ultimate sustainer is that fifth element…

primordialspirit

Spirit, where all other elements combine and cease to be material, instead becoming balance, space, that inner space where we can believe and reconnect with all our disparate selves and with the infinite.

How could we each use and draw what we need to balance ourselves in our lives through these perfumes? Would a Fire perfume provide us with the inspiration we need? Would a perfume of air give us that breath of limitless ideas?

Each of these elements and the perfumes that define them will be explored in separate posts in the weeks ahead, beginning with an element very dear to my heart – the element of fire.

Find out more about the Primordial Scents Project here.

The participating perfumers are:

Amanda Feeley (Esscentual Alchemy) – AIR & EARTH

Ane Walsh (Ane Walsh) – BEACH/WATER

Anita Kalnay (Flying Colors Natural Perfumes) – SPACE/ ETHER

Anu Prestonia (Anu Essentials)- WATER

Bruce Bolmes (SMK Fragrances – website comings soon) – METAL

Dabney Rose (Dabney Rose) – FIRE

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (Perfums des Beaux Arts / Essence Studio)- ETHER/SPACE

Emma Leah (Fleurage Perfume Atelier)  – METAL

Jane Cate (A Wing & A Prayer) – FIRE

Juan M. Perez (Exotic Island Aromatics)- FIRE & EARTH

Justine Crane (The Scented Djinn) – EARTH

Katlyn Breene (Mermade Magickal Arts) –FIRE

Kedra Hart (Opus Oils) – EARTH

Kirsten Schilling (Arabesque Aromas) – ETHER/ Space

Laurie Stern (Velvet and Sweet Pea) – AIR

Lisa Abdul-Quddus (Blossoming Tree Bodycare) – METAL

Lyn Ayre (Coeur d’Esprit Natural Perfumes ) – ETHER

Mandy Aftel (Aftelier Perfumes) – WATER

Maria Mcelroy (Aroma M) and Alexis Karl – FIRE

Marian Del Vecchio – FIRE

Michael Storer (Michael Storer Perfumes)- AIR & EARTH

Neil Morris (Neil Morris Fragrances) – AIR

Shelley Waddington (EnVoyage Perfumes) – ETHER, FIRE & WATER

Suzy Larsen (Naked Leaf Perfumes) – AIR

Tanja Bochnig (April Aromatics) – AIR, EARTH, ETHER

Participating bloggers:

Primordial Scents 2012

Primordial Scents explained on This Blog really Stinks

Primordial ScentsMission Statement on Perfume Pharmer

Book Review The Fifth Sacred Thing


Individiual Perfumer’s Primordial Scents Facebook Pages

Lyn Ayre, Couer d’Esprit “Ele-Metal Alchemy” ALL ELEMENTS

Juan Perez, The Exotic Island Perfumer, Flor Azteca and Oudh Nawab, FIRE and EARTH

Kirsten Schilling, Arabasque Aromas, Drann, EARTH to SPIRIT

Laurie Stern, Velvet and Sweet Pea Purrfumery, Honey, AIR

Suzy Larsen, Naked Leaf Perfumes, First Breath, AIR

Dabney Rose, Dabney Rose, Afternoon Slant, FIRE

Lisa Abdul-Quddus, Aegis of Neith, Blossoming Tree Bodycare, METAL

Anu Prestonia, Anu Essentials, Seascape, WATER

Anita Kalnay, Genie In A Bottle, Sweet Naam, SPIRIT

Bruce Bolmes, SMK Fragrance, Cyprium, METAL

Ane Walsh, Essaouira WATER meets EARTH

Amanda Feeley, Esscentual Alchemy, Moon Valley, Primordial Forest ,AIR and EARTH

 

Shelley Waddington, EnVoyage Perfumes, Chang Chang , A study in WATER and Durango. FIRE, WATER & EARTH

Justine Crane, The Scented Djinn, Lylli Bleu, WATER

Kedra Hart , Opus Oils, Mother, EARTH

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, DSH Perfumes, Chrysalis, SPIRIT

Tanja Bochnig, April Aromatics, Calling All Angels EARTH to Spirit

Mandy Aftel, Aftelier Perfumes, RAIN, WATER

Maria Mcelroy/ Alexis Karl, Cherry Bomb Perfumes, KISS of Agnayi, FIRE

Neil Morris, Neil Morris Fragrances, Spirit of AIR, AIR

Michael Storer, Michael Storer Fine Fragrances, Djin and Incubus, AIR and EARTH

Jane Cate, A Wing and a Prayer Perfumes, Caliente, FIRE

Primordial Scents 2012 Blog Posts

Fragrantica Primordial Scents Press Release

Fragrantica WATER Perfumes

Fragrantica FIRE Perfumes

WATER Scents on EAU MG

Sherapop, Primordial Scents 2012 

Donna Hathaway “Dancing Into The FIRE”

Ambrosia Jones The Traveling Perfume

The Meaning of the ELEMENTS in Tarot….. for Primordial Scents 2012 by James Wells

AIR Scents post by Marlen Elliot Harrison

FIRE Scents post by Marlen Elliot Harrison

AIR Scents post by John Reasinger

Indieperfumes AIR post, Lucy Raubertas

Flor Azteca and Oudh Nawab by Juan Perez on Indieperfumes

Perfume Smellin’ Things, Floating On AIR by Donna Hathaway

WATER post, The Perfume Critic, Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

My Body of WATER, Perfume Pharmer

FIRE Scents John Reasinger

Calling All Angels, Perfume Pharmer

Sweet Naam, Perfume Pharmer

Scentual Soundtracks WATER

First Breath, A Fragrance to Evoke the ELEMENT AIR by Suzy Larsen, Naked Leaf Perfumes

Carried Away on Scented AIR by Donna Hathaway

Hyacinth Skywater by Jeanne Rose

Justine Crane ~ Current State of Water

Ele-Metal Alchemy by Lyn Ayre

Sea Scape Perfume Anu Prestonia

Dabney Rose Prepares her FIRE scent

 

Bruce Bolmes METAL perfume CYPRIUM on Perfume Pharmer

Lisa Abdul-Quddus MEATL perfume Aegis of Neith

Feminine Things A Study In Water by EnVoyage Perfumes

Feminine Things RAIN by Aftelier

Feminine Things Spirit of AIR by Neil Morris

Feminine Things Djinn by Michael Storer

Feminine Things Honey by Laurie Stern

Feminine Things Moon Valley by Esscentual Alchemy

Feminine Things First Breath by Naked Leaf Perfumes

Scentual Soundtracks Interview with Monica Miller, Primordial Scents

Feminine Things Lylli Bleu by Justine Crane The Scented Djinn

Feminine Things Sea Scape by Anu Essentials Anu Prestonia

Feminine Things Essaouira by Ane Walsh

Twinkle, Twinkle…

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– a review of Les Exclusifs de Chanel 1932

Like all the grandest love affairs, everything began so beautifully. One June day in the early Eighties, a nineteen-year-old disillusioned punk walked into a department store, thirsting for beauty to wear. She had emphatically had it with ‘ethical’ scents and cheap patchouli oils, or far worse, the many manifestations of musk human and otherwise that passed for ‘scent’ in those days. She might have been a punk, her clothing in meticulously delineated degrees of disintegration only truly dedicated thrift store hunts could provide and her makeup of black, orange and electric violet an artistic statement all its own, but by golly, underneath all those tattered shades of black beat the heart of what was surely the world’s cleanest anarchist. Therefore, so she thought at the time, what better way to make a statement than with a perfume that exuded all the class and elegance the world had somehow denied her?

She walked out some hours later carrying a precious and costly bottle of Chanel no. 19 eau de toilette, and while the other punk girls in her circle chided her for her wanton extravagance (among other things), the boys, on the other hand, came closer, compelled by the contradiction of funereal rags, sooty eyes and a chilly, intellectual aura that was everything she had ever hoped for.

A cerebral class act in a bottle.

So began my love affair with Chanel perfume. Forget no. 5 – it never worked on my skin, never seemed to evolve beyond ashy soap and cinders, Allure, Chance – those were not for me. I loved Coco (as it was), Cristalle (ditto) and I loved no. 19 in every permutation, and there was the sum and gist of it until Eau Première came out and I found that maybe I could wear no. 5 – or at least this one?

Down through time, that trinity followed in my wake. No. 19 landed me jobs, boyfriends, dates, Cristalle fortified me through summer picnics and steamy days and fireworks, Coco led to other, dangerous PM temptations. Sometimes when I felt subversive, I’d hit up a Chanel counter and sneak a spray or five of Pour Homme or Egoïste, just to… recalibrate the scales a little.

Then came that fatal day when the hotly anticipated no. 19 Poudré was released in this perfume empty quarter, and I burned rubber overtime to try it. Would this be the Eau Seconde of my beloved no. 19? Would I faint in a transported swoon?

Errr…no.

My first thought: ‘It’s been fileted! They’ve taken no. 19 off the bone, hammered it paperthin, and are now trying to sell us escalopes de parfum!’

My second thought: ‘Honey, let’s face it. You’re too old for this. This is meant for a wan, pale late teenager who’s terrified to offend and mortified to exist.’

With all my personal history of all things prestige, Parisian and Chanel, I felt personally betrayed. Where were those plush Persian carpeted roses and orris butter, where was that verdant vetiver drydown, that aura of feminine invincibility?

Gone in sixty minutes. As in…forgotten. Vanished. With not so much as a happy memory left behind. And this from the house of a woman who once famously said:

Perfume is not just an accessory, it’s the only accessory that matters

Alas, poor Coco. I knew her well…

Coco Greige, whoops, Coco Noir came out, and was neither Noir, Coco, here nor there.

I gave up on Chanel.

So a perfume fairy relented and sent me a little vial of Les Exclusifs de Chanel 1932, and out on the far horizon, I eye a smidge of redemption in store for Jacques Polge. A smidge, mind you, as I still have an edge on my battleaxe for 28 La Pausa, which is gone in sixty seconds.

But 1932…I feel giddy just typing it. Named for the year Coco Chanel debuted her jewelry line, it is created as an olfactory tribute to that first collection, to diamonds to blind the eyes and mortgage several small countries, and if ever a perfume embodied diamonds, comets, shooting stars and all things razzle-dazzle, all that encompasses the fragrant heritage so many Chanel diehards loved and adored, this one does.

That first day I tried it, I was prepared to hate it on principle. It took not even ten seconds to fall in love.

1932 is as exuberant, as luxurious and as bright as a double-D flawless 10-karat diamond right from the start, with a burst of aldehydes all dressed up and prancing to go on a chartreuse-colored springtime romp of neroli and bergamot.

Oh, yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s party time! Let’s dance this dazzling starlit night away on champagne-colored moonbeams and effortless grace when those flowery showgirls arrive. Make a wish on a sweetly smiling jasmine if you can before her sisters rose, carnation and ylang ylang dance their spice and sass away under the stars and call that classy, haughty, chic iris forth to make you breathless with her beauty and your anticipation. Surely, the two of you have met before?

But of course you have, under many crescent moons and shooting stars and wishes that burned as fervent as any sparkling diamond dreams of all that meant life, and luxe and other four-letter words that can be whispered only under starry skies. You will have to wait for that midnight glow to see if she delivers on her promise, and she does. Iris fades like fireworks to a dark, sweet, ethereal vetiver, bopping off towards the horizon on a hop, a skip and a verdant laugh, until the next time, and trust me, there will be a next time when these times are this good, this happy, this bubbly.

It’s almost as if someone had taken the original versions of no. 19 and Cristalle, added a dash of no. 5 with those champagne bubble aldehydes, poured in a healthy shot of 28 La Pausa with its perfect iris and persuaded it to stay, added a flirty, light-hearted jasmine (nary an indole in sight) and a sparkling soupçon of emerald green Bel Respiro, and wrapped them up in grand intentions, a ten-karat diamond in all its refractive hues and tied a bow on all our wishes. It showcases the very best of all that made Chanel so grand, so classic and so great, and more than makes up for those two epic disappointments I won’t deign to mention.

Twinkle, twinkle, all you stars…how I marvel that you are!  

Notes for Les Exclusifs de Chanel 1932: Aldehydes, neroli, bergamot, jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, carnation, vetiver, orris, opoponax, sandalwood, incense, musk, ambrette, vanilla, coumarin. Available as a (tenacious) eau de toilette in 75 and 200 ml everywhere Les Exclusifs are sold.

Image: From the Chanel 1932 jewelry collection, via fashioninquiry.com.

With grateful thanks to the perfume fairy who made this review (and not a few more!) possible!

Stupid Cupid

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 – or…the Genie’s antidote to Valentine’s Day Disease

Close your eyes and imagine, say, Fifth Avenue in New York in mid-February. Imagine that today of all days, there’s no insane traffic, only a frenzied crowd awaiting the arrival of countless city dignitaries, Mayor Bloomberg and likely moguls such as The Donald himself, running bare as babies or in goatskin loincloths down Fifth Avenue in a haze of ticker-tape and confetti with whips in their hands. Women and girls rush forward with their hands held out for a lash or two to assure they’ll never need fertility clinics, hormone treatments or anesthetics during childbirth ever again.

Romance? What romance?

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Lupercalia, arguably the origins of Valentine’s Day, although that is still a matter of some debate in academic circles. Replace Fifth Avenue with the Palatine Hill of first-century Rome, if that makes you feel better.

Of all the hyper-commercialized holidays on Planet Earth – never mind Planet Perfume – Valentine’s Day is the one I detest the most, and not just because a) I’m single b) will get nary one Valentine, box of chocolates or red silk teddy never mind c) an actual date because d) I’m a post-punk diehard cynic of a certain age wondering if Restylane will somehow galvanize romance back in my life. (Doubtful).

No, the reason I take such umbrage with this whoopee cushion-shaped holiday is the underlying assumption that romance is or should be dead the other 364 days of the year.

If that’s the philosophy of anyone who wants to survive a first date with yours truly, we’ll never get past that first cup of coffee before I invent a fictional friend’s domestic disaster that requires my immediate assistance and PDQ out the door, never to return.

You see, I’m such a hapless romantic, I believe in romance every day of every year. (I’m a former Goth, surely you expected no less?) I believe that if you truly have a heart’s desire, let it all out in every way you can, say it in every way you can, and say it on any other day but that wretched February 14th that comes built in with all sorts of fraught emotion and expectations. That’s just me.

Yet you, dear reader, have other and more delicate sensibilities, since you are only too aware that if you don’t do something, have something planned for that date, you are so dead. You are so dead, you’d make mummies look animated. You need help. You need a suggestion, a roadmap, anything at all…

You need a perfume that spells romance with a capital R, or caring with a capital C, or even, dare I write it, the infamous four-letter L word. Your choice as to whether it ends in an ‘e’ or a ‘t’…

But where to start? What to do? And that biggest heartbreak of them all…what to wear?

No worries, darling. The Genie goes where even Cupid fears to tread, and in no time at all, you’ll actually be looking forward…to red velvet whoopee cushions, cheesy greeting cards, chocolate covered cherries and champagne.

First of all, contrary to whatever La Perla might have you believe…

1) Don’t buy lingerie for Valentine’s Day. If you get the size wrong, you’re so doomed, and not the way you hoped for, either. Save that for some humdrum Wednesday, when your darling least expects it (and you know what size to get), where it might have better consequences than even you could imagine.

2) Chocolate is always, always good, unless you have one of those rare creatures who don’t care for it, in which case, you likely don’t read this blog. Buy the very best you can obtain. Handmade, Belgian (or handmade Belgian)…truffles, what-have-you. Make sure to have it beautifully wrapped (presentation IS half the battle) and kept cool.

3) Roses…OK, I’m not about to argue with the appeal of a dozen long-stemmed, red roses (hopefully, the fragrant kind), but be a little original here. Six tiny, adorable baby cacti might be just as effective. Three perfect red cattleya orchids, one for each heartfelt word? Two dozen adorable violets? The flawless Casablanca Lily that ate Manhattan? Thirteen tuberose blooms? Just be sure to get them from a proper florist, and not from the checkout line at your local supermarket. As I said – presentation is half the battle.

4) If your own pathetic attempts at poetry fail you and Hallmark fails you, too – buy a plain, cream-colored card with an envelope at a stationery store, ally yourself with the Web, and go hunt for the words of Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Rainer Maria Rilke, Paul Verlaine or even Lord Byron, if you’re that way inclined. If she/he’s a diehard cynic, you can’t possibly go wrong with Baudelaire. Ever. And if you do, then you deserve better.

5) Unless you have an idea of what your Valentine likes/loves – and that might not always be the case – don’t buy perfume. Honest. Just don’t. I have formerly been the owner of a few perfumes bought by well-meaning sweethearts I later came to dislike. But say…you do want to make that particular gesture of appreciation, only you don’t know where to start. You just want your Valentine to be the sexiest-smelling s/he can be. May I recommend the stellar Discovery Set from Ormonde Jayne. Whether a woman of mystery or a L’Homme Fatal, there’s sure to be a fragrant treasure for every taste, and it’s exquisitely presented. Perhaps s/he is a true cosmopolitan with a taste for sublime, fragrant adventure? Neela Vermeire Creations’ Discover Your India Set is a likewise beautifully presented passage to India in all its most opulent glory.

6) If your human whoopee cushion is artistic, I hereby point you to Jardins d’Écrivains, a French company who took famous writers as their inspiration for scented candles to write/create by. Tickle their inner Colette, tease out the closet Kipling or bring along the Baroness Blixen and write up a Serengeti lion hunt of your own…

Which brings us back to you and that agony of indecision. What, oh what to wear?

I’ll go on a few blanket assumptions here and say that Valentine’s dates tend to fall in one of four categories. Great Expectations, Twenty Tones of Torrid, Folie-à-deux and Surely, You Jest? Therefore, from the top…

Great Expectations

The worst thing you can do at this particular stage of affaires is to try too hard. But, oh! The possibilities! The butterflies! The 1001 Sighs of What-if! Which is not to say you can’t waft fabulosity and romance at one and the same time. And romance to many people means red as in…rose. Swipe that sweetheart off the floor in a rosy swoon with Aftelier’s Wild Roses, DSH Perfumes’ American Beauty, Olympic Orchids’ Ballets Rouges, Etat Libre d’Orange’s Eau de Protection, Amouage Lyric (M/W) or Neela Vermeire’s Mohur.

Twenty Tones of Torrid

With any luck, we know this one. At this stage it matters less what you wear than how quickly you can take it off. The beauty of perfume is…it stays! 😉 This is when those super-sexy scents have their moments. Take them by surprise with the magnificent Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens, Opus Oils’ Dirty Sexy Wilde, Aftelier’s Secret Garden, Histoires de Parfum’s 1740, Amouage Memoir (M/W), Aroma M’s Geisha Noire, House of Cherry Bomb’s Immortal Mine (bottled sin!), Francis Kurkdjian’s Absolue Pour le Soir (ditto) or if you prefer a tumble on the wilder sides after midnight, Olympic Orchids’ Dev no. 2.

Folie-á-Deux

So you’ve made it this far, and have slightly less to prove. Does that mean an end to the rolling r of romance? Of course not! Now, you can cuddle up in blissful, mutual appreciation by taking it to the next level of l-o-v-e…with the incredible, edible Spiritueuse Double Vanille or Tonka Imperiale by Guerlain, Amouage Beloved, Esscentual Alchemy’s Moon Valley or Serge Lutens’ Santal Majuscule, and have an evening to remember as perfect as the two of you together surely are.

Surely, You Jest?

Oh, dear. Familiarity has set in. Or romantic rot. Or something. Therefore, it’s the perfect time to galvanize that human sofa pillow (or whoopee cushion) back to life and other four-letter L-words. This day of all days is not the time to be too edgy, unless that’s what it will take. If that means wrapping yourself in bacon in front of ESPN or finding alternative uses for Nutella, then who am I to argue? On the other hand, attitude is very much in the ambience you create. If you feel sexy, chances are, you act that way, too. So go ahead. You can’t go wrong with the classics. Dig out that half-hidden bottle of Piguet’s Bandit you were saving for a rainy day. That day has arrived n-o-w. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Get out of that sofa pillow rut and into another kind with Skye Botanical’s ‘Strawberry Passion’, or break out your inner rock star with Opus Oils’ M’Eau Joe no. 3 and prove that romance – rock’n’roll and otherwise – isn’t dead, and Stupid Cupid has nothing at all on you!

As for me, I’ve given up on Valentine’s Day. Whoopie cushions, cheesy cards, wilted roses and all. But I’ll never give up…on romance!