Show Time – Review: Histoires de Parfums Olympia, Music Hall

By Tara

L’Olympia Music Hall in Paris was founded in 1888 by the same gentleman – Joseph Oller – who created the Moulin Rouge (which also inspired a fragrance by Histoires de Parfums reviewed here). The legendary theatre put on a varied array of entertainment including music, circuses, ballets and operettas.


After it re-launched in 1954, Edith Piaf gave a series of recitals there and it hosted many international acts, including Judy Garland and Josephine Baker. It’s still used as a music venue today.

The nose behind the fragrance inspired by the theatre is Gerald Ghislain. Olympia, Music Hall was released in 2012 and notes include orange, bergamot, lemon, mandarin, pink berries, black pepper, saffron, rose, freesia, lilac, peony, blond wood, patchouli, frankincense, styrax, suede, vanilla,chocolate, licorice and white musk.


On spraying, the fruit in the top is juicy, ripe and generously dusted with black pepper and a good amount of saffron. There is a gauzy veil of musk covering the whole thing and its constant presence is a main feature of the fragrance.

The overall effect is powdery and personal, mimicking the aroma of performers getting ready in the dressing rooms backstage. The smell of lipstick and face powder fills the air, mingling with talc and body heat as everyone rushes to get dressed in time for curtain-up.

The flowers in the heart are pretty and sweet, once again overlaid by musk but now it’s stronger and more heady. The effect this time makes me think of vintage fur coats and well worn suede which have taken on the odour of the wearer’s make-up and floral perfume.

The base surprises me by being rather low-key by comparison. I was expecting bold patchouli and incense but I get a lightly resinous, softly musky, skin scent.

Everyone has left the theatre for the night and the aroma left hanging in the air is all that remains to tell the story of the evening’s spectacle.

Olympia is not a chuck-it-on-and-forget-about-it fragrance. It’s a sexy statement perfume with a striking character. Once it takes to the stage it makes you sit up and take notice. Like Josephine Baker herself, it’s attention grabbing and flirtatious.


It’s an interesting, abstract composition that’s not easily categorised. I really like the powdery, vintage feel and the way it’s a little bit seedy. Flowers, fruit and fur rub up against spice, suede and skin in a hot, enclosed space.

This style reminds me of Penhaligon’s recent Tralala. They don’t smell alike but they both have that eclectic, retro vibe. I’m sure different people will perceive it differently, depending on which of its facets they pick up on.

Maybe those with better tolerance would be fine but eventually the unrelenting musk just pushes it over the edge for me. It’s a shame because I like its playfully seductive personality a lot.

Olympia has gone to the trouble of applying full make-up and dressing up for the night in furs and feathers, determined to have a raucously good time.

If you’ve tried Olympia, Music Hall I’d love to hear how you found it.

I’d also be interested to know what your tolerance for musk is like. Please let me know in the comments.

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Posted in By Tara, Fragrance Reviews, Histoires de Parfums, Musk | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

A Perfume Apart – Review: Amouage Memoir Man

By Michael

I’m not really sure how I ended up purchasing Memoir Man.

I’d never tried it and I’m not a big fan of either green notes, lavender or fougères.

Yet there I found myself late one night adding it to my shopping cart along with a small bottle of Givenchy Insense Ultramarine.

The Givenchy is a dismal fragrance and was a very poor choice. Luckily though Memoir Man wasn’t, in fact it turned out I love it.

MBottle Front

Memoir Man is a fragrance created by Karine Vinchon-Spehner for Amouage in 2010.

According to Amouage, Memoir Man

is a woody and leather fougère inspired by the sombre mood of an existential journey. Both alluring and philosophical, it defies conventions and moves beyond sense and reason.Top notes: Absinth, Wormwood, Basil, Mint.


Um, okay…

Heart notes: Rose, Frankincense, Lavender Absolute.
Base notes: Sandalwood, Vetiver, Guaiac Wood, Amber, Vanilla, Musk, Oakmoss, Leather, Tobacco.

Wow! The opening of Memoir is amazing and so very addictive.
It throws a distinct combination of lightly camphorous minty green notes and incense all laying on fine woods and lavender.

The incense in Memoir Man brings to mind soft smoke trails of frankincense and is never resinous or sour.


The lightest dusting of fin sugar keeps Memoir Man from being too dry and austere although it still leans in that direction.

Wispy smoke trails flow seamlessly into a base of soft woods.

Later, the camphorous minty notes and smoke lead into a forest scattered with powdered fir and pine. In fact, I get quite a lot of soft fir and pine through to the drydown which thrums satisfyingly of powdered incense and woods.


Despite the black glass bottle and the marketing that accompanied Memoir Man it never feels particularly dark to me.

Nor do I get the leather. If I try really very hard I can make out the slightest suggestions of leather but I’m not sure I would have noticed without the power of suggestion.

In the end, Memoir Man is a fragrance apart from other Amouages.

It is soft, versatile and easy to wear and yet not at all boring.

I enjoy my days in Memoir very much.

Here is Olfactoria’s review of Memoir Woman.

Posted in Amouage, Fougère, Fragrance Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Sunday, Foodie Sunday (Yes, On A Tuesday!) – The Humble Brownie

By Val, The Cookie Queen

Brownies are named for their rich, dark, chocolatey colour. Although chocolate has been paired with sugar in sweet pastries for about 400 years (it was introduced to Europe from America in the early 16th century) brownies have only really been around since the late 1890s.


It would be fair to say that they really are an American speciality. Brownies are divided into cakelike and fudgelike categories. I don’t care for the cake like variety myself and will stick with the fudgy ones.

It has been such a long time since I have featured a Foodie Sunday here, that as way of an apology I would like to share over the next 4 posts, four of my favorite brownie recipes. As well as today’s, we will do vegan brownies, gluten-free brownies and brownies sweetened with date purée.

These are the recipes that I use in my business.
Exactly as I do them. The only thing that I have that you probably don’t have is my brownie pan! It is from 1962, beaten up, belonged to my mother, and yields perfect brownies every time. You may need to experiment a little to find your perfect pan.

I know my past couple of posts have featured recipes or ideas that don’t need weighing, but the brownie recipes do need a little more care.

In most cases the ideal brownie pan is 8 inch x 8 inch. (20cm x 20cm). 9 inch x 9 inch (23 x 23cm) will do at a pinch but it will give a slightly different result.
You can also use a rectangular brownie pan.

A fudgy brownie is done when you put a toothpick in the middle and it comes out with crumbs clinging to it. If it comes out clean they are overcooked.
That doesn’t mean you can’t eat them of course, but you will have to try again!!

I use a mixture of ounces, grammes and American cup measurements
and hope that it works for you as well as it does for me.

Let’s bake.


photo 1 (17)


4 ounces butter (112g) softened

1 cup of brown sugar (the soft moist kind) otherwise use white sugar (half brown and half white works too)

100 grams unsweetened chocolate MELTED (You need about 90 grams, but I allow 100 in case you have to taste it!)

1 or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup of flour

1/4 tsp salt (added to the flour of course)

About 170 grams of chopped chocolate. I use about 2/3 milk and 1/3 white, use what you want!
(You can also add about half a cup of chopped pecans – I personally just don’t like nuts in brownies.)

As ever, please use the best quality chocolate you can – baking does not turn bad chocolate into good chocolate.

Line your brownie pan with greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 350°f or 170°c.


photo 2 (18)

Finished batter, before adding chocolate chunks


Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric hand mixer, Kitchen Aid or similar. Add the melted chocolate. Add the vanilla.

(I always melt my chocolate in the microwave, despite being told not too. Just melt it slowly and on a low wattage. Make sure the bowl that you use is totally clean, and absolutely dry before adding the chopped chocolate. Open the microwave door every 30
seconds and stir it)

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add the flour and salt. Keep scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Fold the chopped chocolate chunks in by hand. Turn the batter into the lined pan and level the surface.

photo 3 (13)

Batter in pan with added chocolate chunks

Bake for about 25 minutes, it depends on your oven. The top should be kind of shiny and dry. It may crack a little when you test it with a toothpick. that is no problem. Let them cool for about half and hour before cutting them into squares.

photo 4 (5)

Finished brownies cut into squares

If there are any left over, store them in an airtight container. I put mine in the fridge but you don’t have to.

Let me know how you get on!

Posted in Food | Tagged , , | 21 Comments

Monday Question – What Is Your Favorite Cosy Stay-In Perfume?

Nights are getting colder and longer and cocooning at home in front of a fire with a good book and a cashmere blanket seems incredibly attractive and preferable to braving wind and rain outside.

Which perfumes are your best companions for stay-at-home cosiness?

What perfume completes this scenario for you?


My Answer:

I love cuddling up with a soft blanket, a book, a cup of tea (yes, and chocolate) and a warming perfume.
My favorites this time of the year are Nabucco Amytis, JHAG Calamity Jane, Guerlain Tonka Imperiale and Mon Precieux Nectar and of course my beloved L’Ambre des Merveilles.

What can you recommend as the ideal cosy perfume?

Posted in Amber, Monday Question | Tagged , , , | 59 Comments

Intimate Decadence – Review: Laboratorio Olfattivo Daimiris

By Tara

Created by the prolific perfumer Pierre Guillaume, Daimiris was one of the four fragrances in Laboratorio Olfattivo’s first collection launched in 2009. It contains top notes of saffron and cardamom, heart notes of rum, iris and daim (suede) candy accord and base notes of amber and musk.


From the name and list of notes I expected Daimiris to be an iris suede, however that would have made it too similar to its stable-mate, Nirmal. What I actually get is a sensuous, spicy amber.

This extract from Laboratorio Olfattivo’s story behind the scent explains it:

“This fragrance is a tribute to a female divinity, enchanting and enchanted at the same time. It whispers forth notes of amber and spice and suggests delicate and harmonious movements.”

On spraying, the saffron is jewel-like and combined with the soft spice of cardamom it makes for a luxurious opening. The boozy rum is listed as a heart note but is almost immediately evident. It doesn’t belch alcohol fumes but instead adds a dizzying feeling of loucheness.

The alcohol burns off before the main course arrives, which is a spice speckled amber with a slightly powdery texture. The sublimated iris is a smear of orris butter on fine suede. Daimiris also has some saltiness which makes me think of skin and gives it that sensual touch.

The amber stays on in the base but it loses a little of the spice and gains a chocolatey nuance. It’s full of nuzzle-your-nose-into-your-skin goodness.

Daimiris is not a fragrance of that feels like pale hued chiffon, it swaths you in rich velvets of claret and gold. This is in direct contrast to the brand’s laboratory aesthetic with its functional looking bottles and talk of perfume “experiments”.

It doesn’t feel at all streamlined or avant-garde. It feels baroque and voluptuous. However, it’s a lot quieter than it sounds, embodying decadence of an intimate kind rather than a conspicuous show of wealth and status.

Daimiris whisks me off to the interior of a lavish suite in a Venetian palazzo with sumptuous fabrics, frescoed ceilings and ornate furnishings. Here, my beloved and I spend our days as well as nights lounging in bed, consuming the finest chocolate and sipping the rarest vintages.

Pierre Guillaume does sensuality so well. Whether it’s the knee trembling come-hither of L’Ombre Fauve or the private story told here, for me he sets the tone just right. Never too obvious or overpowering (although I know that style has its fans too).

It’s a rich composition but nowhere near Serge Lutens bold. It feels comfortable, relaxed and easy to wear. Daimiris would make a quietly intoxicating amber for autumn and winter with its boozy opening, exotic spice and warm skin feel.

Bedroom-from-the-Palazzo-Sagredo-1 (1)

Over the course of a day’s wear, I get soft sillage and decent longevity.

Plush ambers may be more Olfactoria’s thing than mine, but Daimiris is very inviting.

Are you a fan of amber fragrances? Any favourites?

Posted in Amber, By Tara, Fragrance Reviews, Laboratorio Olfattivo | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments

Life Is Good When You Smell Fabulous! – Review: Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur

Hello Olfactoria’s Travelers,

Portia from Australian Perfume Junkies and Perfume Posse thrilled to be with you all today. I hope life is treating you all well.

Mohur has been a constant in my fragrance wardrobe since first discovering it. It has been the subject of full posts and often wins in my Top 10 lists for seasons, desert islands and all other lists (we perfumistas love a list) because I find it so easy to wear as a spritz and go, but I also love to spritz lavishly when there are a couple of spare hours and totally immerse myself in it luxury and intricacies. Today I am re-reading Chandler Burr’s The Perfect Scent and spending a lazy day before getting ready for work and I have spritzed for my own selfish pleasure. Why don’t you enjoy my lovely lazy morning with me.

Mohur was created by Bertrand Duchaufour for Neela Vermeire Creations in 2011.

Mohur Neela Vermeire Creations FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica, LuckyScent and Neela Vermeire Creations give these notes and accords, each site is slightly different so I have melded them all:

Top: Cardamom, coriander, ambrette (musk mallow), carrot seeds, black pepper, elemi oil
Heart: Turkish rose oil, Moroccan Rose Absolute (rose accords around 11%), jasmine, iris/orris, aubepin (midland hawthorn), almond milk accord, leather, violet
Base: Sandalwood, amber, patchouli, oudh Palao from Laos, benzoin, vanilla, tonka bean

Freaking hell, even looking at the note list makes me sleepy. This is kitchen sink perfumery in theory but something that Mohur does do every time is give me a new and different ride. While the main player rose is a constant, on some days it will be incredibly vanilla heavy, another day I will really notice the herbaceousness and on others it will feel like an iris, pepper, patchouli, sandalwood or almond fragrance. Though rose is the constant even its facets will be slightly different, boozy, citric, fruity or tea-ish depending on the day.

mohurPhoto Stolen Neela Vermeire Creations

I think Neela & Bertrand have used a large amount of naturals in with the synthetics and that gives everything a real chance to interact with your chemistry, what you bathed or moisturised with, even down to your exercise and eating habits at the time. That on top of your environment, which can change how the fragrance lives, makes Mohur a real chameleon.

How was my ride today on this lovely 19C spring day? Gorgeous as ever. So yes, I get loads of the notes but to be perfectly honest today I just lay reading and enjoying how freaking amazing I smelled. ALL DAY! A big fat spicy rose and resinous woods, ALL DAY LONG! Life is good when you smell this freaking fabulous…

Part of the fun can be parsing the notes while wearing, and I do try to keep my nose in gear, but sometimes it’s nice to just let the fragrance wash over you as a whole creation. As the perfumer and curator have intended, as a finished and wonderful fragrance. Mohur is particularly good for this because it is such a tapestry, a beautiful Kashmiri carpet all woven tegether of fragrant strands and it is thick, rich and luscious enough to float you away to other more exotic places.

Neela Vermeire Creations sends to Europe and has an excellent set of 8ml samples of the whole range
LuckyScent has EdP $250/60ml and Extrait $465/50ml and sends to the world Surrender To Chance has $7/.5ml

What do you wear when you want to drift away on an exotic miasma?
Portia xx

Posted in By Portia, Fragrance Reviews, Neela Vermeire Creations, Rose | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

Monday Question – Let’s Talk Make-Up!

Last week it was fun to talk about skincare. Your responses were so interesting and I think we all enjoyed a peek into each others bathroom cabinets.

So to stay a bit sideways of the perfume topic once more, I’d like to take a peek into your make up bags today.

Do you wear makeup?

If yes, everyday or just on special occasions?

What are your favorite products?


My Answer:

I love makeup. I wear it every day. My surgeon commented on my flawless look on the way to the OR when I had my children (via C-Section). So it is a rare and usually not a great day when I am without it.

But makeup for me is about enhancement not transformation.

I am of the nude look/natural makeup school of thought, coloured eyeshadows and bright red lips are not for me.

My favorite product is definitely concealer – a good concealer is a life-saver (Clé de Peau is amazing!!!). Foundation and mascara are also important for me and I have never left the house in almost three decades without applying lipgloss.

In my handbag I carry a leather pouch holding concealer, powder, cream blush, lipgloss and of course a perfume decant, at all times.

I love luxury lines like Burberry, Edward Bess, Chanel and Dior, but my workhorse items often come from MAC.

Favorite products: Chanel Glossimer lipglosses, Dolce&Gabbana Powder Foundation, Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick, MAC lipsticks, Chanel Le Volume mascara, Paula’s Choice Resist Anti- Aging foundation, Clé de Peau Concealer.

Makeup was a big no-no when I grew up, my mother hasn’t worn a stitch of makeup in her life, so I think at least part of my use and enjoyment of it came out of rebelling against that prohibition.

What is your relationship with makeup?

Posted in Monday Question | Tagged , , | 74 Comments

Dandified Violet – Review: Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Violette Fumée

By Tara

Before her tragic, untimely death in 2011, Mona created Violette Fumée for her business partner Jeroen Oude Sogtoen. She sought to embody within it his favourite raw materials, passions and memories.

In 2013 he decided to share this personal creation with the rest of us and it joined Les Nombres d’Or.

mdo violette fumée

The new flacon

Notes listed for Violette Fumée are lavender, bergamot, oakmoss, violet flowers, violet leaves, rose, vetiver, clary sage, opoponax, myrrh and cashmeran.

On application the lavender rushes up to greet me, but I don’t want to recoil the way I usually do with this tricky note. It is a little medicinal and rather cold but the spiky edges have been planed off. Bergamot sits just behind the lavender, brightening it up and adding a nice contrast.

Over the course of maybe half an hour, the lavender gradually turns to a rich shade of violet.

The rapidly blooming violet flowers are fresh and leafy at first, then turning smooth to the point of being almost creamy.

The violet sweetness is kept in check by the herbaceous border of violet leaves and oakmoss. To start with, this dark green edging is vegetal and earthy, but it dries out over time.

Who can resist the combination of violet and rose? These two complement each other so well it’s as if they were made for one another. So when a tender pink rose joins the violet, they create a remarkably pretty haze which means Violette Fumée feels far from “Men Only”.

Despite its name, I don’t get any acrid tobacco or noticeable waft of smoke. The overall impression is of a cool and gently powdery profusion of violets with a scattering of rose petals, on a soft carpet of moss and dry leaves.

At around the three hour mark it gets a lot quieter and becomes more of a skin scent. Some may balk at this lack of prolonged sillage but I like the intimacy of it and longevity is very good (it is labelled Eau de Parfum Intense).

I stop short of falling for Violette Fumée because of its chilly nature and the fact that I seem to be sensitive to the kind of musk used. However, I love its sophisticated take on violet and the fantastic mossy base.

Needless to say it would work well on a guy, but any woman who likes the sound of a grown-up (not matronly) violet should definitely check it out.

This chic fragrance feels like a good match with Katharine Hepburn, movie star of the golden-age of Hollywood. With her masculine style and feminine beauty, she appeared self-possessed and self-assured.


Violette Fumée has the aura of a well constructed classical perfume that still feels modern. It manages to pull off the not insignificant feat of straddling both the masculine and the feminine, the old world and the new.

Have you tried Violette Fumée? Do you like violet fragrances?

Posted in By Tara, Fragrance Reviews, Mona di Orio, Violet | Tagged , , , , | 42 Comments

The Goldilocks Rose – Review: Guerlain Rose Nacrée Du Désert

By Michael

I recently caught up with a friend recently who waxed lyrical about Guerlain’s Rose Nacrée.

“Oh yeah? I’ll try it sometime” I said and proceeded merrily to forget it existed.

Then, no more than a two weeks later, a lovely little package arrived from the UK coincidentally containing a little decant of this very fragrance.
Of course I tried it straight away and oh boy was my friend’s recommendation right.

Rose Nacrée du Désert is a fragrance created by Thierry Wasser for the house of Guerlain in 2012.

RN Bottle 1

According to Guerlain, Rose Nacrée du Désert is a Woody Floral fragrance and contains the following:

Top notes: Saffron, Persian rose, Patchouli.
Heart notes: Cardamom, Curcuma (turmeric), Cedar wood, Oud accord.
Base notes: Myrrh, Benzoin.

I will admit that I have difficulty wearing rose fragrances. Please don’t misunderstand, I do love the smell but I often can’t escape my western perception of the note’s femininity.
Despite this I’ve tried many many roses but because of how I perceive the rose note, I do struggle.

Portrait of a Lady? Too pink. Too load.

Voleur des Roses? Too boozy.

Une Rose? Too bombastic. I don’t need my fragrance to shout “ROSES!” from 50 paces.

Rose de Nuit? Almost there, but maybe just a touch too powdery. I do love its animalism.

La Rose de Rosine? Put me in a frilly dress and call me grandma (sorry Rosine fans!!!)

Rose Nacrée du Désert on the other hand is my goldilocks rose – just right.

Rose Nacrée du Désert opens with a dark viscous rose and a smooth mix of spices and woods.
Over time the rose becomes creamier and more and more rounded.
You will find none of the typical Guerlain bergamot sharpness here.

Dark creamy red lipstick or deep glowing red nail polish could easily come to mind.
I prefer to think of dark red luscious almost oily rose petals, slightly warmed in your hands.

As it starts to dry Rose Nacrée du Désert becomes creamier and slightly softer in tone than before.

The smoky and ambery tonalities then begin to appear. The smoke is neither liturgical nor particularly wispy or ethereal. It’s the smoke of the finest toasting wood while the amber is soft and sweet.

The spices slowly become more prominent into the mid phase providing an added dimension to the fragrance rather than an overt spiciness.

Eventually the rose starts to become just a little powdery but on my skin but it is blended so seamlessly with the woody/incensy, smoky and spicy notes that it never smells typical powdery.

Finally the fragrance becomes just a little skanky with the some dirty oud notes settling into a naughty skin scent.

dried roses

Frankly this is the type of fragrance that makes me a Guerlain/Wasser fan. There are countless Rose/Oud/Wood fragrances but I haven’t smelled any this smooth and nuanced.

Rose Nacrée du Désert is creamy, smooth and exceedingly comfortable to wear.

I came to this Middle Eastern Guerlain line with more than a little cynicism but I am now completely convinced. This is a beautiful Middle Eastern rose perfume composed in the quintessentially French style that only Guerlain and Wasser can produce.

Read about the other perfumes in the middle eastern-inspired Guerlain collection here.

Posted in Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Guerlain, Rose | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Monday Question – Which Skincare Product Is Indispensible For You?

A bit (okay, quite) off topic today, I’d like to discuss skincare.
Many of us are on a search for “Holy Grail” products, meaning the best of the best in its category something we want to keep using forever.

So tell me:
What is the one cream, lotion or potion you cannot live without?

Which skincare product gives you what you want?

What product is the one you’ll never want to be without?

My Answer:

I discovered Paula Begoun and her books when I was twenty. Almost twenty years on I am still a fan of her no nonsense, scientific approach to skincare. When she came out with her own line, I was on board and have been using it for over ten years now.

I can’t live without my Skin Recovery Gentle Cleanser and a seasonally varying assortment of her treatments and moisturizers. I am thoroughly Paularized. ;)

What about you?

Posted in Monday Question | Tagged , , | 86 Comments