Thursday, October 15, 2020

Der Duft Grasse


I picked the Monet painting above to illustrate my review of Der Duft's  fragrance Grasse, because it reminds me of the charming small hotel where my husband and I stayed on the outskirts of the city of Grasse. There was a small patio where one took breakfast and dinner, or just sat with wine to enjoy the view and take in the air perfumed by flower fields, as well as perfume factories scenting the air with their production. This perfume was created by the Der Duft founder, Anselm Skogstad, to capture the essence of the time he spent in Grasse, training to be a perfumer.

Der Duft is a new fragrance brand based in Munich, and Skogstad made the very brave decision to launch this year into the gathering storm of a worldwide pandemic. Der Duft translates in english to "the scent", and the choice of such a non-descriptor name was purposeful. So many brands today have a theme or romantic story line to draw the consumer's interest. Skogstad took a different approach and reveals as little as possible about his scents. He wants the wearer to consider the scent on their own terms and to allow their personal memories to find a connection to the fragrance. 

On his website he states, "I wanted to create a perfume house with a brand name that conveys a simple message and intention to anyone interested in scents. I wanted there to be no need for further explanations or complex stories. The intention is that each perfume, each scent will create their own story and association for the person wearing it."

Upon spraying Grasse I am reminded of the opulence of traditional French perfumery. There is a light rush of aldehydes that lend an air of formality and elegance to the scent. As the frisson of the aldehydes slowly dissipate I am aware of gorgeous blooming florals. In the manner of well constructed French perfumes, no one element overpowers the others. Instead there is a melody composed of rose, iris, lotus, magnolia, and jasmine. All of these are beautiful scents individually, but when melded together into one bouquet, the whole becomes more beautiful than the individual notes.

As the florals unfold, I smell a very distinct bitter note, which to me smells green. I love it, because amidst all the charm and loveliness of the sweet florals lies a slight note of discord, something unexpected, that elevates the perfume to another level and makes it even more interesting. The green note is very fetching, and during the time it is the dominate note on my skin, I can't stop sniffing my wrist.

Later the scent changes again, the florals becoming muted and a very slight powder note emerges. Everything becomes softer, more faded, and there is an undercurrent of mild earthiness from patchouli. At this point I have had Grasse on all day when the most lovely and extraordinary thing happens. Just as I am approaching the end of my day and preparing for bed, a soft lavender note becomes evident as if sniffing a slight trail of scent carried to you by the wind. This is a perfect ending for a perfect scent day.

The perfumer wants the wearer to translate each scent personally so I will do that here. Even though I have been to Grasse, this perfume stirs another memory for me. This year because of covid I found myself in my husband's home town of Adelaide for several months, rather than the three months of summer we typically visit. In thirty years of marriage I had never experienced an Australian spring. Our neighborhood is full of beautiful English-style gardens, heavy on flowering bushes and trailing vines, but dotted with native flora such as wattle trees. If I timed my daily walks for late afternoon the air was an adventure park for a scent lover such as myself. Every few steps the scent would change: cherry blossom, rose, pink jasmine, lily (to name a few). It was a gorgeous olfactory experience being able to sense so many different smells at once. This is what Grasse reminds me of, bringing all sorts of distinctive florals into a cohesive whole, uplifting and joyful. 

Der Duft currently shows five scents on the website and some of these Skogstad has done in collaboration with Miguel Matos. 

If you are interested in reading more about the city of Grasse itself, you can follow my visit here.

Top Photo: The Luncheon: Monet's Garden, Claude Monet. 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Australian Brand Mihan Aromatics -- Inspired By Nature


The idea for Mihan Aromatics came to Julia Brown and Josh Mihan, natives of Melbourne, Australia, when they were living in London for a time. Missing the nostalgic and natural smell of home, they began a conversation with a perfumer friend about recreating these fond memories into fragrances. The idea germinated into a business and they began with three scents and have since added two more, with another due later this year.

When I married my Australian husband over thirty years ago and I came to his home in Adelaide for the first time, we stepped out of the international airport into an early morning mist. It had recently rained and I stopped in my tracks to experience the scent of eucalyptus trees. The rain touching the leaves releases the distinct mentholated, herbal, peppery scent. Perhaps people from California are familiar with this smell, but coming from Texas, it was new to me. Since that initial visit, I've always been intrigued by the unusual flora and fauna of Australia. Mihan Aromatics has done an excellent job of capturing the essence of some of these scents of nature, but turning them into wearable perfumes. 

I found Mihan Aromatics to be aptly named. I'm not sure why it was "Mihan Aromatics" rather than "Mihan Perfumes" but it totally fits the brand. The scents, which have a hefty 25 percent of fragrance oils, don't have the traditional smell of what I think of as French perfume. They smell natural and of nature, but amplified—fragrantly aromatic. Each of these scents is very gender neutral. I will give a description of each, but there is a larger focus on my two favorites from the line, which are the first two up. Enjoy the Australian artists and photographers below. 

Standly Chasm, 1945, by Watercolor Artist Albert Namatjira.

Guilty Story

This is the most lush, sexy fragrance from the house. It starts out with a rich boozy sweetness that makes me think of sipping a brandy while sinking into a tapestry chair in front of a roaring fire. The walls are lined with wooden shelves laden with books, their decorative spines enticing the reader to explore. A weather-beaten patterned rug that looks as if it was stolen from a Bedouin's tent is underfoot. You can sink into this scent as it envelopes you in a cozy cocoon of comfort.

Mihan Aromatics describes this as a soft oriental scent, which is accurate, and this would be equally appealing on men or women. Mihan likes to describe their scents with tactile and emotive labels, and for Guilty Story the words they chose are: irresponsible, gregarious, leading, lustful.

The top notes are lime and bergamot which give just a little bit of light, and the middle notes are saffron and guaiac wood. The saffron adds subtle spice and can also provide woody and hay aromas. Guaiac wood can add sweetness, as well as a tar or rubbery smell, and sometimes a hint of tobacco. I believe it is this, blending with the vanilla and amber in the base, that give that giddy booziness. There is also musk, Australian sandalwood, and cedar wood in the base. I love woody notes in perfume when they are done well, and here they shine. If I had to add other descriptors to the words Mihan has provided, I would say this perfume makes me feel confident and comforted. This is one of my two favorites from the line. 

Aboriginal Art--Mona Mitakiki Shephard and Tjimpaji Preseley

Mikado Bark

I'm a Virgo, an Earth sign, and Mikado Bark grabs me on a totally elemental level, as if it was made just for me. I read that it is based on Josh and Jules visits to the parks near their home in Melbourne, and I get that sense. If you aren't from Australia you may not know how parks are such an important element in the cities, bringing a bit of the wild into suburban settings. Adelaide is a city of parks, with the native trees so stately and majestic, and the smells they emit are subtle but beautiful. This scent is an intensified version of that experience. 

Mikado Bark is classified as woody, which you could guess by the name, but on my skin the resins and spices come through clearly which make it feel like a light oriental style scent. Opening notes are green pepper, rosemary, and basil. I don't pick those out individually, rather, it smells bright and alive and quivering with life. The middle notes are dry cinnamon, oud, and earth, and the cinnamon comes on quickly for me, spicy and bright. Base notes are autumn dew, Australian sandalwood, and wet cedar. Okay, autumn dew is a rather esoteric description, but it is accurate. When wearing Mikado Bark for the first time I thought what a great autumn scent it would be. Having said that, though, it is transparent enough to wear in hot weather when you're craving those warming notes. 

Mikado Bark is constantly morphing and changing on my skin. It reminds me of Guilty Secret, with some of the similar resin and spice notes, but it is lighter and airier. It goes through a phase where it smells of amber powder and it's very comforting. I can't stop sniffing my wrist and I find Mikardo Bark deeply grounding. If I knew that I was going to have the worst, most stressful day ever I'd wear this, because it would make me feel better and safer, like a protective shield. That's what happens when you find a scent that really feels like you! I know that any scent can be worn by man or woman, according to their taste, but all these scents are so unisex, and I think it is their connection to the fragrances of nature that makes this so. 

Uluru by Peter Taylor Tjutjatja, Alice Springs.

Petrichor Plains

The word "petrichor" explains the earthy scent produced when rain touches dry soil. Most scent lovers are familiar with the word but what I didn't know was that it was coined by two scientists in 1964, and coincidentally they were from Melbourne, which is Jules and Josh's home base. Petrichor Plains starts with a watery smell like rain, then moves into a dusty, dried earth phase. These notes come and go, and when I smell the watery note I can almost sense the cool rain hitting the hot baked soil with a sizzle. 

Petrichor Plains carries on with that airy mixture of dry earth and refreshing rain. It feels descriptive of the cracked dirt yet at the same time there is an airy translucence. I have smelled several scents based on the idea of petrichor, including the mitti attars in India, and this scent really nails this effect.

The notes are interesting with opening elements are rain, cardomom, salt, and bergamot. Rain is the only one that totally stands out and I don't know how that effect is achieved, but well done! Heart notes are iris, violet, and rosemary, with base notes of buddawood and sandalwood. It is classified on the Mihan Aromatics website as fresh and woody, but it retains that floaty airy feeling throughout its wear, so to me it is more on the "fresh" side.

Bondi Beach, Sydney. Google image.

Sienna Brume

Sienna Brume is the scent for those who love that summer at the beach feeling, although I remember reading somewhere that Josh's favorite pools in Melbourne also served as inspiration. It is that feeling of sunlight and a carefree summer day to enjoy stretching before you. The opening has notes of sea air, juniper berry, and cucumber. Anyone for a gin and tonic? The heart notes are soft coconut and palm, and this is indeed a softer and more nuanced coconut than what  you find in many beach scents. Base notes are greenwood, cedar, and timbersilk. I had no idea what timbersilk was, but it is another form of Iso E Super. I would have guessed there was sandalwood in the fragrance because Sienna Brume feels very creamy in the dry down, but it's not listed.

Australia beaches are different from tropical sand destinations around the world. Often there are craggy rocks, and if you're in the south the water can be icy cold as it drifts up from Antarctica. They feel more naturally wild and elemental to me, than the warm sandy beaches I grew accustomed to while living in Asia. Even in the North where the land and waters are warmer, beware because there are deadly jellyfish you don't want to tangle with and sharks cruising by looking for their next meal! Sienna Brume is more reminiscent of these beaches of natural beauty, and has less in common with the idea of Coppertone and pina coladas. For those who love scents that remind them of relaxed days at the beach, or swanning around a sparkly pool, this could be a worthy and interesting addition to a beach scent collection. It feels more natural and polished than many.

My favorite part of Sienna Brume is the long slow dry down. It settles to a quiet, creamy and woody scent, provoking that relaxed and happily exhausted feeling after a day filled with sunlight and water.

Convict artist Joseph Lycett recorded Aboriginal life in the early days of British occupation. A campfire glows in the distance.

Munluck Ash

I heard in one of the interviews* with the founders of Mihan Aromatics that this is Josh's most worn scent. It is a smoky forest scent, and on my skin the definite emphasis is on the smoke. The first time I smelled it I thought that Ash was a good descriptor, although I really don't know the intended meaning of the name. The smoke has that smell of a campfire the morning after, when the scent lingers in the air reminding you of it's warmth and the great time you had while gathered around it last night. The smoke is present, but it is not the full-on experience of  smoke blowing in your face from a raging fire.

Notes are bergamot, black pepper, incense, and fir. Then as it mellows down you get blue cypress, cedar, musk, amber, and vetiver. I get the feel of being in a wood or forest, but without any sharp notes. Everything is muddled and blended, and after some time the smokiness dissapates and soft woods remain.

I loved this shot of the kangaroos on a beach in Coffin Bay National Park, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. The photographer kindly let me use it. Follow him @richard.kozuszko


This is the newest scent that will be released from Mihan Aromatics in the near future. They are including it in their discovery kit so I am assuming it must be in a fairly polished version. On one of the interviews* I saw, I remember Julia (Jules) saying this scent had something to do with the surf lifestyle that is so big in Australia. I don't know any of the notes so I'll just give you my impressions. It starts off with a rather plastic/rubber note that may mean something to surfers but it is not a smell I love. However that was very short lived and then I get more beach references. It is different from Sienna Brume which is fresher and brighter on my skin. This one has that sun and surf vibe, but I thought I got a few whiffs of smoke too, and maybe a touch of vanilla. We'll see when they release the perfume and give the notes. I'm probably way off! Out of all the scents this one resonates the least with me. I'm more into my woods and resins, personally, but your experience will of course be totally different, depending on your likes.

I am glad to have discovered this line and would like to add a bottle of both Guilty Story and Mikado Bark to my collection!

* I watched interviews with Josh and Jules, in part, on two different Instagram platforms. @mrcologne76 and @aroundtheunknown. I may have gleaned some of the information presented here from those interviews, but I don't have any way of going back to check, so I just want to give them credit.

Top photo is my own. All other photos are from Google except for the kangaroos at the beach which is from @richard.kozuszko. I paid for my Mihan Aromatics discover kit. All opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Salvatore Ferragamo Terra Rossa Perfume And Exploring The Coonawarra


Sometimes it's hard to decide what perfume to take on a trip, but on a recent weekend visit to the Coonawarra region of South Australia, a destination renowned in the wine world for its swath of terra rossa soil, the decision was easy, Salvatore Ferragamo Terra Rossa. Cabernet is king in the Coonawarra as the cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers provide grapes that produce stellar reds. It's winter now, so the perfect time to taste red wines while huddling around a fire, and I was curious how the perfumer, Domitille Bertier, would interpret terra rossa. This fertile red soil sits atop a bed of limestone which provides exceptional drainage to crops and intensifies the flavor of the grapes. Would she look to represent the soil itself with the scent, the wine grown there, or the actual ruddy pigment color?

Ferragamo's Tuscan Creations are, in the brand's own words, "The collection of luxury artistic fragrances to tell the essence of Salvatore Ferragamo and Tuscany, the land that made it great. The all Italian names of each eau de parfum in the collection introduce stories giving off the essence of a land blessed by art and nature." So recognized is the terra rossa soil in Italy, there is an oil paint color named after the brownish red dirt. 

Photo from

The perfumer, Ms. Bertier had several possible inspirations, and to me the experience of the fragrance is a blend of the elements of rich soil, the reddish color, and juicy, jewel-toned wine. The patchouli is the obvious connection to the earth, but the addition of amber and labdanum elevate it to another level. These notes give it a fruity, resinous richness that describe the verdancy of this soil and how it is prized by viticulturists.

The perfume's opening is expansive and I am immediately enveloped in a luxuriant cloud made up of the perfume's heart notes of patchouli, amber, and labdanum. The scent gives a warm and cozy vibe, perfect for snuggling up near a blazing fire and sampling wines the colors of burgundy, garnet, and plum. Citrus is supposed to be in the top notes, and I do get just a hint, a sliver of brightness amongst the warmth and earthiness of the scent. The citrus here is bergamot and bitter orange. As the perfume settles into my skin I get notes of tonka, rose, and cedar. Happily the tonka is light on my skin, as it's not a note I favor. The rose is almost hidden and adds a subtle floral and fruity note, but it is swathed in the patchouli, which is definitely the star here, along with amber. The labdanum gives an opulence and balsamic aspect to the scent. It is spicy and warm, although not so heavy that I would hesitate to wear it in warmer weather.

Salvatore Ferragamo did have two lines in the exclusive Tuscan range, Tuscan Scents and Tuscan Soul. In 2018 the scents were reformulated and brought under one umbrella called Tuscan Creations. Any scents that were EDT formulas were changed to EDP. There are fourteen scents in this premier line and I enjoyed Terra Rossa so much I now want to try others in the collection. Look how beautiful the bottles look, lined up together!

Coonawarra Travel Guide

If all this talk about wine grown in terra rossa soil makes you want to visit this region of Australia, here are a few of my favorite spots. Coonawarra is an Aboriginal word meaning honeysuckle. It is only 15 km by 2 km and all the wineries are either side of a straight as an arrow road. I guess when your soil is so valuable, you don't want to waste real estate paving over it. It is almost equidistant between Adelaide and Melbourne. Because it is remote it doesn't get as many visitors as the wine regions directly surrounding Adelaide, and thus it retains a lot of rural, home-spun charm. 

Our Favorite Meal

Ottelia + Fodder is the restaurant which serves beautiful lunches and features the Ottelia wines. My husband and I enjoyed a meal similar to the one pictured below which was heavenly, and we were able to do a wine tasting at the table. We ended up buying a dazzling shiraz, but were equally impressed by a reisling that had evidently been influenced by the limestone bed it grew on. It tasted like sipping a white wine over mineral limestone chips.

Where To Glamp

There are several motels and cute cottages but for a real adventure go to Bellwether Wines and camp in a bell tent under a splendid sky of stars. Then treat yourself to a tasting in this 1868 old sheep shearing shed which has been repurposed into a quaint tasting environment.


There are over thirty wineries in the Coonawarra. We probably visited close to half and they were all very good. Probably the most recognizable of these is Wynns Coonawarra Estate. It is one of the older and most widely distributed from the area with this familiar label. 

The Wynn cellar door has a small museum highlighting the area, and specifically the terra rossa soil. I took a photo of this slice of earth, illustrating the limestone bed and the shallow red dirt above.

Pick any of these wineries for a warm welcome, and in winter many have fires to help you stay warm while you sample. In better weather, the wineries are so close that it's feasible to walk between a few or bike. 

I hope you enjoyed reading about Terra Rossa and this brief tour of the Coonawarra, built atop terra rossa soil!

Top photo from Other photos My sample of Terra Rossa was from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Olibere Les Insoumines Collection: Le Jardin de Mistinguett

This is the fourth and last perfume from Olibere's Les Insoumines collection that I have reviewed. The collection is Marjorie Olibere's tribute to some famous leading ladies in the cinema, and this last perfume is slightly different in that regard. It is named for the Moulin Rouge performer Mistinguett, who was in the early 1900s one of the highest paid female entertainers in the world, and who became famous for insuring her legs for 500,000 francs in 1919!

As for the perfume, I'm not sure what the connection is to the entertainer other than France is celebrated for its mimosa blooming season, but it is literally spring in a bottle! Here are the notes:
Top: Bergamot, lemon, watermelon
Heart: Lily of the Valley, jasmine, mimosa
Base: Cedar wood, amber, tonka bean, musk

But forget all that. What I get is one hundred percent mimosa. It is soft, fuzzy, and slightly powdery. Mistinguett feels sweet and innocent and will make you want to throw a flowered blanket on a spring meadow of wildflowers and have a picnic in the sun. There are moments in the perfume when I do get a breath of the watermelon, which smells more like cucumber to me, watery and fresh. This scent brings to mind bumble bees, somnambulant from sweet nectar, like this one falling asleep with its pollen-dusted butt peeping out from the cupped flower.

Photo @rabbitholeza

The perfumer for Mintinguett as well as the other three perfumes is Luca Maffei. If you would like to read about the other perfumes in the Les Insoumines collection, go to Le Jardin de Madame Chan here, Le Jardin de Amélie here, and Le Jardin De La Reine here. There are very reasonably priced sample kits at the Olibere website.

Google image on top. I bought the perfume samples from the Olibere website.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Olibere Les Insoumines Collection: Le Jardin De La Reine

Paris perfume house Olibere introduced four perfumes in 2018 entitled the Les Insoumises Collection, all of which pay homage to some of the cinema's greatest leading ladies. Brand founder Marjorie Olibere and Perfumer Luca Maffei are the creators behind all four scents. Le Jardin De La Reine is the third of the four I have reviewed, and in the course of testing it went from being my least favorite to my most favorite!

This would probably be the most devisive of the four perfumes in popularity, as it is of a certain style. It has what I think  of as that French perfume essence which I love, but to those used to the fruity florals of the last decade it might smell decidedly different than what they are accustomed to wearing. Both the Olibere website and Fragrantica call this a fresh floral, but for me it is what I call a modern chypre. It is a lighter and younger interpretation of this genre, but it gives that warm rush of scent, laced with a slight bitterness, that identify a chypre. A classic chypre opens with citrus, moves on to a mossy/oakmoss element, then closes with patchouli or labdanum. Le Jardin De La Reine has two of these elements, bergamot in the opening and patchouli in the base. This perfume was created to represent Marie Antoinette as played by Kirsten Dunst in the namesake 2006 movie, Marie Antoinette. The film is a kaleidoscope of fantastic sets and costumes, all done in a gorgeous pastel palette, rich and opulent. The more formal feel to this perfume and its strong reference to historical French perfumery is a good reflection of the ill-fated Queen.

Le Jardin De La Reine contains a litchi note in the opening, as well as the bergamot. The litchi gives a bit of sourness and a bitter twist to the florals which are in the heart of the perfume: lily of the valley, peony, and jasmine. Like a true French perfume these florals are blended into a whole so that not one distinctly stands out. But the litchi keeps the florals from becoming too sweet or romantic. Chypre-esque perfumes always have a certain stateliness. Base notes are patchouli, amber, and musk but it is definitely the patchouli which has the biggest influence on the scent. I can smell it throughout most of the life of the perfume. I love patchouli so for me this is a good thing.

If you are a fan of French-style perfumes but in a lighter and easily wearable style, then you may enjoy Le Jardin De La Reine. I definitely appreciated its formal, yet fun, appeal.

My sample is labeled Le Jardin De Marie-Antoinette, so I don't know if there was a later name change or if this is in error.

You can read about Le Jardin De Madame Chan here and Le Jardin D'Amélie here

Photos are from an Annie Leibovitz photo shoot for Vogue at the time of the movie release. I purchased the sample from Olibere website.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Olibere Paris Les Insoumises Le Jardin D'Amélie

 Le Jardin D'Amélie is the second of the four perfumes in the Les Insoumises collection by Olibere Paris that I am reviewing. I picked this photo from the Olibere Instagram site because it perfectly encapsulates the opening of the perfume, a berry-wine scent. I recently wrote a post on perfumes that smell like rosé wine, and it is a shame I had not already sampled this perfume as it is a perfect fit for the story. 

This series of Olibere perfumes is based on heroines from iconic movies, as picked by brand founder Marjorie Olibere, who has a passion for cinema as well as perfume. Le Jardin D'Amélie is based on the 2001 movie Amélie, or as it was known in France, Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain. The plot is about a shy waitress who does a good deed, and is so inspired by the positive results that she begins to look for ways to change the lives of those who surround her for the better. The film is quirky and uplifting, and was an unexpected worldwide success that made French film more accessible to non-French speakers. It also helped make famous the Montmartre area of France where the film takes place. 

France is celebrated for its cuisine, and in Amélie the food is an integral part of the story. When my husband and I traveled through France a couple of years ago, one of the greatest pleasures was the daily ritual of lunch. In France sitting down to dine is a ceremony of sorts, not to be rushed but to be savored and appreciated. In the movie, food is used as a means to bring some of the lonely characters together. Amélie's zest for life is illustrated in her enjoyment of food, such as breaking the glassy crust atop the crème brûlée or eating the raspberries, as seen below.

Zesty, fruity berries are the entrance to Le Jardin D'Amélie, but the berries continue throughout the wear of the perfume. This makes the fragrance feel young and carefree, and if you are influenced by seasons as I am, this certainly speaks of spring and summer. Heart notes are rose, honeysuckle, and violet. I believe it is the rose that makes me think of wine, as it gives the perfume that vino feel. Honeysuckle is such a carefree and sweet note, just like our heroine Amélie, and it gives the fragrance lift and frivolity, referencing the sweetness of jasmine without the indoles. Base notes are woods, amber, and musk but for me the rose and berry note was very prevalent until it started fading away. This is a pretty and feminine scent to me, but anyone who likes the scent of raspberry may enjoy it. This was a light, uplifting, and cheerful fragrance to wear, just like the movie that inspired it.

If you would like to read about another Les Insoumises fragrance by Olibere Paris, go here to read about Le Jardin De Madame Chan

Top photo from website. Other photos Google images and YouTube images. I purchased my sample. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Olibere Les Insoumises Collection: Le Jardin De Madame Chan

The house of Olibere Paris introduced the Les Insoumises Collection in 2018, four eau de parfums based on iconic movie heroines. It was the lovely graphics on the box and bottle that first attracted me to these scents. Yes, I am one of those people swayed by the label on the wine bottle. Today I am  reviewing  Le Jardin De Madame Chan, and it references, of course, the movie In The Mood For Love from the year 2000. This was a much lauded film, and not since the scene in The Age of Innocence where Daniel Day-Lewis unbuttons Countess Olenska's glove (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) and kisses the pale sliver of revealed skin, have we seen such furtive glances, accidental touches, and restrained longing.

Marjorie Olibere is the brand founder and she is inspired by films, be it their fantastic locations, iconic heroines, or revered movies. "Cinema and perfume feed my life with equal passion," she states on the Olibere website. Luca Maffei is the perfumer for all the fragrances in this collection. 

Photo, Les Insoumises Collection

In The Mood For Love is based in 1960s Hong Kong. Two couples, the Chows and the Chans, move into a crowded boarding house. Mr. Chow and Madame Chan become friends as their spouses are often away, and in their loneliness they turn to each other. They discover their spouses betrayal but vow to fight their growing attraction, as they don't want to be like their unfaithful mates. Madame Chan is played by Maggie Cheung, and an unattributed star of the movie are the gorgeous cheongsams she wears throughout the film. I lived in Singapore for over a decade and would see these dresses hanging in designer shops, where they would be carefully fitted to hug the wearer's figure, which had better be good because cheongsams are not forgiving! I longed to buy one, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that a blonde firangi is never going to look as beautifully at home in this outfit as our Asian sisters. They are made for swan like necks, willowy-boned bodies, and dark hair to contrast with the beautiful floral patterns. 
Maggie Cheung in In the Mood for Love, Google image.

The opening notes of Le Jardin De Madame Chan are bergamot, coriander, and geranium. I smell the sharp bergamot and the dry geranium briefly, but the ylang ylang comes in quickly on my skin. The heart notes are ylang ylang, rose, and jasmine. Here the ylang ylang with its exotic and sligtly fruity scent is the star. On my skin its most overwhelming characteristic is a powder note. I always find ylang ylang to be powdery, but it is not the scent of baby powder or makeup-like rice powder. It is more akin to the powder aspects of a carnation but without the scent of carnation itself, although I do find the clove note often found in carnation-based perfumes to be present. It is heady and slightly sweet and blends well with a very subdued jasmine note. The rose note is very light and drifts in and out during the wear of the perfume, as if on a breeze. It adds a lilt and delicacy.

Base notes are patchouli, peru balsam, sandalwood, vanilla, and musk. The powdery ylang ylang is the most prominent note on me, and then eventually light vanilla, balsam, and musk. Le Jardin De Madame Chan is lighter than I first expected, but after wearing it a couple of times and thinking about the character of Madame Chan, I think it is a good representation. 

In The Mood For Love, Google image.

This is not a big perfume on me; it is muted and plays out in soft sepia tones. This fits the reflective and soft spirit of Madame Chan and the gentle yet passionate nature of this love story as it plays out. In this pandemic era I have discovered a new found appreciation for softer, non-demanding scents that surround me with lovely gentle fragrance but don't command too much attention. Olibere states it as a mission to represent French perfumery traditions and this fragrance is an example of that attitude. I enjoyed wearing Le Jardin De Madame Chan, and as an added bonus I found that when it came time to go to sleep, the powder-soft florals and fuzzy musk were the perfect accompaniment to my rest.

I will look at the rest of the perfumes from this line in the next few days.


In the spirit of acknowledging the cinematic origins and inspirations of Olibere's Les Insoumises Collection, I am providing a couple of links that I found interesting in regard to dissecting In The Mood For Love from a film critic's aspect. It appealed to the inner nerd in me who took film appreciation courses at university.

Here is "frames within frames". 

And here is a study of all the beautiful cheonsams that Madame Chan wears in the film.

Top photo from Olibere website. Thanks to for videos. I purchased the sample myself from Olibere Paris.