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 Olibere.com 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 wwwOlibere.com, 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.

NOT PERFUME RELATED

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 youtube.com for videos. I purchased the sample myself from Olibere Paris.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Happy Rosé Wine Day! Perfumes To Put You In The Mood


I envy those of you in the Northern Hemisphere entering summer because rosé wine is in season! Here in the Southern Hemisphere, I'm shivering, and it's red wine time, but when the sun is warm, there is nothing better than a glass of pink.  Rosé is the perfect balance between white and red; when the former is to light or tart and the latter is too heavy, rosé is just right! The fact that is comes in multi-shades of pink like a rosy stained glass window only adds to the perfection. The second Saturday of June is Rosé Day, so I decided to do a short post on perfumes that remind me of the wine.

The obvious choice would be rose perfumes, and wouldn't it be perfection if every time you tilted the glass toward your mouth you got a whiff of roses? Alas, this is not the case but there are aspects of rose to be found in the wine's scent. The most rose-centered scent I am putting forward that reminds me of the pink wine is:

Rose de Siwa by MDCI Parfums

Francis Kurkdijian created this beautiful rose perfume for MDCI and it is the sparkling litchi opening that gives it a wine-like feel to me. It opens with a slightly tart radiance, a little like the taste of grapes, and then rose and peony. The rose here is dewy fresh and remains fruity for quite some time. The overall feel of this scent is the euphoric serenity that rose can impose if you are susceptible and welcoming to the aromatherapy effects of rose scent, as I am. 

www.Parade.com


Chloé Le Eau Eau de Toilette by Chloé 

Let's talk about Chloé perfume. I was a fan of the original Chloé; it was my signature perfume in college. It was a big tuberose bomb but this was in the era of Opium, Poison, Georgio, etc. so it actually was considered pretty tame and ladylike. So the first time I smelled the ravamped  Chloé many years later, I almost threw the bottle across the room, I was so shocked and not in a good way. And I know they still sell a version of Chloé which they cunningly call "The Original" but it is not. Did you see that Angelina Jolie movie about ten years ago called The Changeling? Her son has been kidnapped and disappears for a couple of years, when the local lawmen present her with a boy they've found and claim it is her missing son. She doesn't believe it and keeps telling everyone who will listen, "This is not my son!!!", and that is how I feel. "This is not my Chloe!"

However, we are not talking about the original, or the remake, which I still don't like. But the lighter, watered down version from last year, the Le Eau flanker, from a long line of flankers is one I can handle. It opens with rose, grapefruit, and litchi which give it a sour rose scent. Again, these sour fruits remind me of the pucker you can get from the grapes in wine. The rose is not too pronounced in this version. I get very watered down rose and magnolia, the tartness ever present, and eventually cedar and musk take over. I find this light and easy to wear, and I have to admit the bottles with their little ribbons and pleated glass, are cute.

www.WineFolly.com


My Buberry Blush 2017, Burberry Her 2018, Burberry Her Blossom 2019

All three of these are by Francis Kurkdijian, like the first one on my list. Does he possibly drink rosé? These are all somewhat similar in style, but emphasize different aspects of the fruits and rose notes.

My Burberry Blush is the most tart of the three, and if sour notes bother you, avoid. I find it a little weird, yet I also kind of like it. It does very much have the sour tartness which I find in wine. Lemon, pomegranate, and green apple are the fruity notes, along with rose, wisteria, jasmine, and geranium. Green apple is a strange note on my skin, so I think it's that note that keeps me unsure whether I like this. And although the juice is a pretty pink, the geranium gives it a very unisex edge.

My glass of rosé at Adelaide beach.

Burberry Her was introduced in 2018 to appeal to the youth market with Cara Delavigne as its face. I would like to think that Kurkdijian, being a class act, contained the fruity floral formula to a not too sugary format. Burberry Her is not earthshaking but it is pretty and easily likable. It has a nice strawberry note on the opening, but it also has raspberry, blackberry, cherry, and grape. Oh my gosh, it sounds hideous when I type the notes! But trust me, it's fine! The florals are subdued; it is the musks, cashmeran, vanilla, and amber that soften the fruitiness. This very much has the easy nonchalance of a glass of rosé.

Burberry Her Blossom is probably my favorite of these three, and on my skin has a sparkly, bubbly opening. The notes are quiet different from the original Her, less fruit and more flowers. The  mandarin is accompanied by peony and plum blossom. It lacks the tartness of My Burberry Blush, and the slight sweetness of Burberry Her which remind me of the wine, but it does have a slight effervescence. I wish I got more longevity.

www.TheSistersWine.Co.NZ

Kelly + Jones Reserve, Notes of Rosé 

Kelly + Jones have a line of perfumes based on wine and spirits. I have a sample of the original Notes of Rosé, a light scent with rose, green herbs, blackcurrant, and suede. But when I went to their website I see that just like with wine, there is a new vintage of Notes of Rosé from 2019, and the notes have changed, not slightly, but completely. Now it features mimosa, pink jasmine, marine notes, cardamom, and tonka. It sounds like a totally different perfume, so I'll update when I get to try it.

Lust In Paradis by Ex Nihilo

This one has similar notes to the ones above: peony, litchi, musks, amber, cedar, and I feel like I smell a slight rose note, which is not listed. Well I'm no Scooby Doo, but there is an obvious trend going here. Evidently, to my nose, litchi=rosé wine. Lust In Paradise is not what I expected. With lust I thought it would be erotic white flowers, or in paradise, I expected beach, water, sand. In fact, Lust In Paradise fits in very neatly with the perfumes listed above. It has a soft peony rosy note with the sourness of litchi that fit my rosé profile. I find it very pretty, but again, I wish it lasted longer.

www.shopcelebrated.com

These are just a few rosé-leaning perfume selections. What are your favorites?


Top photo: www.MonikaHibbs.com. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Teone Reinthal Natural Perfume's Francois


I spend part of each year in Australia and I've been meaning to try some of Teone Reinthal's fragrances, but it was the glowing reviews that Christi Long of  Eau My Soul posted on her Facebook forum that finally inspired me to act. I have now been in Australia for five months on what was originally supposed to be a three month trip, separated from my embarrassingly large collection of perfumes and relying on the few samples and decants I bought with me. It was hard to pick as Australian-based Teone Reinthal knows how to spin a story around her scents and each one sounded like something I just had to try. Francois was a last minute addition to my sample pack selection but it has turned out to be my favorite from the collection.

It wasn't just the description of Francois, an orange blossom chypre, that drew me in, but also the notes: orange blossom, Calabrian bergamot, French rose geranium, Portuguese labdanum, Oakmoss, Sumatran patchouli, and Indian vetiver. The perfume is a veritable shipload of splendid ingredients from exotic ports of call.

I love to put on a fragrance and then have it immediately give that feeling of deju vu, we've been down this road before, and that is what happened when I put on Francois. Maybe it is because I am old enough to have a full lifetime of experiences to draw on that this reaction seems to happen to me more often these days. The path between our olfactory nerves and our brain is a short one and it has been proven that even those suffering from dementia can be stimulated by the reminder of a distant scent memory. In any case, when it happens it is always a joyful thing. Although the name, Francois, sounds very French, at first sniff I am transported to the Southern country roads of my childhood.

Visiting my Grandparent's small farm and its cozy house with a footprint no bigger than a three-car garage. Fields of green, the verdant earth, my Grandfather's tobacco spittoon; these scents are quiet background noise. Playing moonlit tag with a tangle of cousins, fireflies flickering in the inky sky studded with far away points of light. The adults gathered around a table playing card games and laughing. Magic nights built around a place one rung above poverty but bursting with life and magic.

The tobacco spittoon, a fancy name for what was usually an empty tin can with a picture of a red tomato on the paper wrapper or maybe niblets of corn, repurposed to catch my Grandfather's tobacco chew as he spit, was the most vivid memory that hit me when I first experienced Francois, and that is of interest because there isn't any tobacco note in the scent. What it does have is a beautiful note of patchouli, and I did a little digging. Patchouli is used to scent high-end tobacco products so maybe that's where I got this impression, or maybe it is just that it is a fresh green earthy scent, reminiscent of dirt and tobacco leaves. In any case, like magic this memory appears.



When I first spray Francois I smell the fresh bergamot. At the moment I have a lemon tree in my garden laden with fruit, and when I pluck the lemons from the tree the stems release a smell similar to bergamot,  fresh green, slightly bitter citrus. Then I got beautiful wafts of pungent patchouli along with a mossy green warmness. Just as you can't make Southern biscuits without a dollop of baking powder, labdanum is necessary for a good chypre perfume. The labdanum can throw off many nuances besides the expected amber and resins. It can give hints of leather, tar, spice, and light tobacco. The patchouli here is gorgeous. It is very green, and verdant with the scent of rich humus, and I even pick up fruity aspects.

Francois hums along for some time, but after about three hours it's intensity gathers steam. The scent becomes more lush, and the labdanum is spicy and throws a warm glow. This brought to mind the analogy of a party. When you first enter the vibes are good and you know it's going to be a good night, but it starts off fairly quiet, scattered laughter here and there. A few hours in the place is hopping, with the din of conversation, bursts of laughter, and good humor radiating through the space. Francois never become too big or overbearing on my skin, but it does seem to build up to a grand finale before eventually beginning a slow fade to dark.



In addition to the memories that Francois conjured, it also made this song pop into my head. It's an old one from the 80s or 90s, and it's indicative of the music I grew up with in Texas; a mixture of Southern twang, Texas country, and rock. For whatever reason this song and the singer's gravely voice captures the mood that this fragrance imparts to me. Ms. Reinthal, the perfumer, may have pictured Francois as a more sophisticated character than I've painted here, but I hope she doesn't mind that Francois led me to revisit some old county roads.

Toene Reinthal's website is here and she ships worldwide.

NOT PERFUME RELATED:

In light of recent events I think most of us are being careful to ensure we don't say the wrong thing and are sensitive to  others. Normally I would have posted this song without a second thought, but it is that Southern Redneck sound which at times can give the wrong message, so it gave me pause. So I did a little digging and I was delighted to find that Steve Earle, the performer and song writer, is a bit of a renegade in the country music world. He was raised in the South and today his music has the style we called Outlaw Country when I was younger, and in 2015 he put out a song called Mississippi It's Time, calling for the removal of the image of the Confederate flag from the Mississippi state flag. Here are a few of the lyrics:

Mississippi, don't you reckon it's time
That the flag came down, cause the world turned around
And we can't move ahead if we're looking behind.

I know this has nothing to do with the perfume, but it just seemed like such a happy accident that the song that spoke to me at the first whiff of Francois was by a singer who has a message so relevant in light of the events taking place in our nation.

Top photo from www.trnp.com.au website. Road photo: lifestyleoftheunemployed.tumblr.com. I purchased my samples from the TRNP website.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Peace Perfumes, The Seven Virtues: Doing Good While Smelling Good


I have been interested in The 7 Virtues Peace Perfume line since I first heard the story of its origination, when Barbara Stegemann went on Dragon's Den (British counterpart of US Shark Tank) to pitch her idea around 2010. The seed was planted when Barb's best friend, who had volunteered with Canadian forces to teach Afghani civilians how to source clean water, was wounded in an attack. Barb vowed to try in some way to help bring peace in whatever way she could to Afghanistan. She believed women could use their buying power for influence, and came up with the idea of empowering farmers who were growing orange flowers to harvest the oil, rather than the more common and lucrative crop of poppy flowers grown for the opium trade. Barb believed that by paying the farmers market value for their oils, which was more than they could make from the poppy crops, she could do her bit to help. Here is a link to Barb's initial pitch, which is both passionate and compelling.



Barb got her financial backing and was able to extend her business model of paying a fair market price to farmers in other war torn countries or countries hit by catastrophe and poverty, enabling them to earn a living and provide local jobs. She maintains that the quality of oils she is able to source in this way are high quality and the fragrances meet clean brand standards, as well as being organic and free of many known irritants.

In 2017 Barb got additional help when she was one of just ten women out of a field of 1800 applicants to be accepted into Sephora's new Accelerate program which mentored female entrepreneurs interested in the beauty business. The 7 Virtues line was rebranded, the perfumes reformulated and given brighter, jazzier labels to appeal to Sephora's younger consumer base. The brand also appeals to socially active consumers who want to use their dollars to help improve lives of those less privileged in other countries.

I don't fit their younger profile, but I appreciate that these oils were sourced by Barb working directly with the farmers in these disadvantaged countries. In addition to the orange blossom for Afghanistan, here are others:
-- Vetiver sustains farmlands devastated in Haiti's 2010 earthquake.
-- Patchouli provides Rwanda survivors of the 1994 genocide with wages higher than from growing coffee, thus providing money for shelter and education
-- Rose production frees Afghani families from the illegal opium trade.
There are more but you get the idea.

But how do they smell? I'll be honest. Even though I'm convinced of their mission, I won't buy something I don't like. I started with the Peace Blend Box, which has a small spray of the first seven fragrances. Another fragrance has been added that I haven't tried, Blackberry Lily which is a gourmand and I believe is exclusive to Sephora. I will also admit I can be a little bit of a niche snob, and if it is inventive and impossibly hard to obtain it earns my respect. But there are a lot of days I just want to spray a perfume that smells good and that I don't have to think about if I in the mood for it today.



These aren't complex scents but the oils seem of good quality, something the nose just seems to discern, and some of the scents definitely have that "mood lifting" feeling. I enjoyed wearing them and I will give short impressions of each perfume, and if anyone is interested, I have listed them in descending order, starting with my favorites.

Jasmine Neroli

Jasmine Neroli surprised me with its opening. I love the scent of jasmine and find its fragrance very uplifting. I have both fragile and heavy-hitting jasmine perfumes in my collection, but this perfume manages to differentiate itself. I smell a soft amber in the opening; it smells soft and plush, like jasmine sprigs buried inside a cashmere shawl. Anyone who finds jasmine too "in your face" should try this version. The amber almost has a powdery musk smell and it comes across very gently. The neroli brightens the scent but is certainly not a big player on my skin. Texturally the scent feels puffy, like falling into jasmine scented cotton balls. Other notes include honeysuckle and labdanum. The labdanum adds a bit of sweetness and accentuates the amber smell. This is like a holistic anti-anxiety medicine. It says, "Chill, come lay in my scented cocoon!"

Patchouli Citrus

Now we go to the other end of the scented spectrum. Patchouli Citrus could be called "Patchouli for Dummies", like those "how to" books for Dummies that were so ubiquitous a few years ago. But that would be a misnomer because you would be anything but dumb for wearing this scent. Patchouli Citrus could be thought of as a patchouli for beginners as it is light and very non-threatening to those who have been afraid to dip their toe in the Patchouli pool. But I love patchouli and I find this a great representation of this note. The citrus is a nice touch, brightening up what can be a darker scent. At first spray I get the black pepper, the citrus notes, and a touch of floral in the form of geranium. The patchouli is green, aromatic, and a little sweet. When it goes into the base notes, the cedar and moss are what I smell most, along with the patchouli. This would be a great "blue jeans" scent, and by that I mean casual and easy to wear. 

Vetiver Elemi 

Vetiver Elemi is a pleasant and relaxing aromatic that I really enjoyed wearing. Vetiver is usually a side player in perfumes and many don't appreciate when it's the main performer in the perfume. It can come across as too strong or stringent but here it is gentle, and the mood it projects to me is clean and pressed. Vetiver Elemi imparts that fresh sterile clean feel I sometimes get with lavender, although its smell is very different. The bergamot and grapefruit give a tart opening, the the elemi emphasizes with a citrus and slight pine note. The vetiver feels green and not quite as dry as it normally appears. The scent is not big and sits close to the skin, but it makes me feel more "put together", as if I've given my hair a brush and ironed my shirt, rather than just spraying a perfume.

Orange Blossom

This was the scent that launched the brand, although it may have been reformulated for the Sephora rebranding. It opens with a lot of citrus, as if you've dug your fingernails into the skin of the fruit as you try to peel it open. The orange blossom flower comes in and smells very natural. I have a lemon tree in my backyard so I know the natural scent when it blooms, and this is very similar. The scent stays pretty true to this model during its wear on my skin. It is lovely while it lasts, but it doesn't last as long as the previous scents I've listed. Don't expect an Elie Saab or similar big orange blossom perfume. This is all about the nature scent of the orange blossom.

Vanilla Woods

This is a very nice vanilla, slightly sweetened with pear and caramel, warmed with amber, then grounded with a little wood scent. It smells comforting and warm, as I tested it on a cool rainy night. My favorite part of this scent is after it has been on the skin for some time and the sweet gourmand notes fades as the vanilla becomes more floral and soft. 

Rose Amber

This was another scent that surprised me. Because of the freshness and naturalness of the other scents, I expected the rose to be a fresh and realistic one. It is realistic and the rose note is beautiful, but this is a deep red rose, dark and mysterious. The amber gives the rose an opulent depth with wine and jam-like aspects. 

Grapefruit Lime

This is beautiful, bright, but fleeting on my skin. In their copy for the scents, it is suggested that you combine the fragrances, a la Jo Malone style. But I am not the least bit interested in combining scents, which is for what I think this one would be particularly useful.

There was not one of these scents that I didn't like. Again, they aren't trying to compete with niche scents and their price point reflects that. Longevity is average with the exception of Grapefruit Lime, which I've noted. Right now Sephora is having their twice yearly sale with the code SPRINGSAVE but you have to be in their Insider program and it is almost over.

If you are intrigued by this project you can get more information at The 7 Virtues website. You can also buy the perfumes at Sephora's website.

I purchased my own Custom Box of samples. Photos are from The 7 Virtues website.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Scented Journeys: Castle Fragrances In Prague


Are you like me, missing the ability to travel and wondering if the easy flow of visitors between continents will ever return? I know there are bigger concerns in the corona virus reality world we now live in, but it was something we took for granted — that if we could find the means, there would always be a way to get us where we wanted to go. I am taking a little pleasure in revisiting some of my trips of the past that I haven't yet written about. One of these scented journeys was to Castle Fragrances, or Zámecká parfumerie in Prague, Czech Republic.

Prague is a fairy tale city to visit, with its well preserved town square lined with beautiful old buildings, winding Medieval cobbled streets to explore and get lost in, gorgeously ornate old churches where one can listen to classical musical performances, and a plethora of quaint cafes and beer gardens. One journey that almost every tourist will take is to visit Prague castle, which is beautifully illuminated at night perched high above the city. The journey begins from Old Town by crossing the Vltava river, probably on the Charles Bridge lined with Baroque statues. The castle beckons from far atop the hill and visitors  must reach it by climbing what seems like a thousand steps.


About half way up, I was happy to take a break when I unexpectedly came across a sign for Castle Fragrances (pictured top) which was literally built into the wall of the castle. I entered into a small fragrant lair, welcomed by the proprietor, Franz Drozdk, as he motioned me toward a shelf lined with large glass decanters filled with pale golden perfumed liquid.


One can simply purchase one of the pre-bottled fragrances, which will then be decanted into a smaller spray, or Mr. Drozdk will help you choose your own blend by zeroing in on what fragrances you are attracted to. I had to, of course, smell each and every bottle, and eventually narrowed down my choices, but the proportions of the blend were handled by the perfumer. Below are the fragrances I eventually picked for my perfume.


Lambada was a spicy blend which includes lemon balm rosemary, sage, and lemon grass, and is described as a scent of sweet green herbs. Tulipian is a mixture of tulip, violet, and fresh apple, and Mr. Drozdk said that many women purchase this to wear as a spring scent. Last was a touch of Konavalinka, or lily of the Valley and some jasmine. The mixture went into a very reasonably priced spray bottle and I was advised not to use it for a couple of weeks, but to let the different scents macerate together. I sprayed it while still on the trip and thought it was nice, but when I got home it joined my perfume collection and I promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward almost two years. I sprayed the perfume, which is now fully marinated! It starts out a bit spicy and invigorating with citrus and herbal nuances. It is a couple of hours later before the floral notes really start to appear and they are full, rounded, and rich in their opulent bouquet. At this point I had not reread my notes, so I had no idea what notes I was smelling, and boy, would I have guessed wrong, as I didn't expect lighter florals such as the tulip, violet, and lily of the valley. I might have guessed rose or carnation was in the blend. The point is that setting aside the perfume like a bottle of wine allowed it to age, deepen, and become a far richer perfume than initially was apparent. I could still smell this on my skin a full four days later!

A concert at St. Nicholas church in Prague Old Town Square.

Prague offers so much to the curious wanderer. In normal times I would advise to go off-season as it is a very popular destination, but who knows when normal times will return. If you do get to Prague I would advise a visit to Castle Fragrances to make a personal memento of your trip.

Photos are my own.