I’ve never experienced the peace and love vibe of a music festival, but I think I got pretty close to that last Saturday. It was the uplifting feeling of being surrounded by fabulous like-minded people with a shared passion. Portia, Michael and Val the Cookie Queen of Australian Perfume Junkies landed in London and convened at Bloom niche perfumery in Spitalfields with myself and fellow bloggers Joshua (The Smelly Vagabond), Freddie (Smelly Thoughts), Thomas (The Candy Perfume Boy), Nick (Fragrant Reviews) and the lovely Vanessa (Bonkers About Perfume).I’m happy to report that Portia did not disappoint. With a big personality matched by an equally big heart and very cheeky sense of humour, he made the day a blast. Michael is a leather perfume fan and all round gorgeous person, while Val is a complete joy and someone I hope will become a firm friend. Now let the sniffing commence… At Bloom we tried Isparta, the new release from Parfumerie Générale, which we agreed was similar to Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady only a bit sweeter and with less patchouli. We also sampled Rima XI by Carner Barcelona, which Vanessa is fond of and could be described as a rather wispy veil of nuttiness. Val purchased Rubj and Mito by Vero Profumo in Voile d’Extrait formulation. She had sprayed some of the Rubj on skin and it was just divine. I must try the Mito Voile d’Extrait next time. I was curious to try Boutonniere No. 7 by Arquiste because it is currently a hot contender for Thomas’s wedding scent. It’s a luscious and creamy gardenia which I think would be absolutely perfect for the Big Day. I also tested Dzhari by Phaedon, a concoction of Malaga wine and dates, which Freddie (not unfairly) likened to prune juice. I took home a few samples from Arquiste and Phaedon seeing as they’re brands I haven’t tried before and aren’t easy to come by elsewhere. Next we made a pit-stop for lunch at the award winning Poppies fish and chip restaurant next door. Thanks to Val for booking this 1950s-themed gem. The top-notch food managed to convert even those who were not usually big fans of this traditional English staple. After the meal, out came the bottles and samples and we continued sniffing and swapping in earnest. The staff were very accommodating and didn’t bat an eyelid.
Vanessa had brought Zelda by En Voyage Perfumes and was happy to make up a sample on the spot for anyone who wanted one. She generously gave me samples of my current lemming Diptyque’s Volutes in both the EDT and EDP, as well as Puredistance Opardu and a lovely hand-knitted hat. I’m afraid the unloved sample of Puredistance Black I gave her in return was rather paltry in comparison.Thomas brought two of Dita Von Teese’s latest releases – Erotique and Fleur de Teese – and his recent purchase, Byredo’s 1996, which proved very popular. In addition to her delicious peanut butter cookies, Val shared out mini decants from Indult and I was the happy recipient of Tihota and Isvaraya. I had a bag of unwanted samples to give away but Joshua outdid me with an entire tin. Reinvigorated, we headed up west to the Seymour Place branch of Les Senteurs, a couple of roads behind Oxford Street. Here Freddie made a purchase of Mona di Orio’s Eau Absolue which he described as more pollen-like than the listed honey and Thomas picked up a bottle of Portrait of a Lady. I tried Bruno Acampora’s Musc Oil on skin, but on me it was less sexy and more mushroom-y. Oh well. Downstairs in the Scent Salon we could hear bursts of laughter coming from a hen do hosted by Odette Toilette. She came up looking for perfumes that had been requested to smell like Kate Moss’s best friend and Cate Blanchett. Nick suggested Jasmin et Cigarette by Etat Libre d’Orange for the former and Osmanthus Interdite by Parfums d’Empire for Cate. Many of us went home with samples and I plumped for Lyric Woman by Amouage which I’m contemplating a purchase of. Thomas, his fiancé Nigel, and Vanessa sadly left us to get the train home at this point, while the rest of us walked around the corner to Selfridges.
We browsed the Chanel perfume counter and I took Portia to check out the Hermessences which are located within the Hermès concession. He tried the new Epice Marine on skin which surprised me by just how very spicy it was. I must say it suited Portia but unfortunately they didn’t have any samples left. He settled instead for Brin de Réglisse and Santal Massoia. On the way out, the stunning Hermès enamelled bangles caught his eye and I was happy to model a few for him. Finally he checked in with Dior to see if they still had any stock left of the sadly discontinued Mitzah, which they did (for the moment anyway). He and Michael had already each bought a bottle on their travels.So here the sniffing ended and we parted company. Our wonderful organiser in chief, Val, was taken off to Zara, while Freddie went back to Portia and Michael’s hotel to pick up the bottle of Blask by Humiecki & Graef they had purchased for him in Austria.
I have to say it was hard for me to let them go. I hope our overseas friends will come back and join us again very soon. This has to become a regular event.