I Left My Heart In Vienna: A Trip to Austria – 28th February to 5th March 2015

By Tara

After knowing Birgit (Olfactoria) for 4 years now, I was beyond excited to accept her kind invitation to come and stay with her family in Vienna, Austria at the start of this month.

The city was everything I had hoped for and more. I found it strikingly beautiful, incredibly civilised (yet welcoming) and embedded with culture at its very core. From a practical point of view, it is also spotlessly clean and easy to navigate. It’s clearly a great place to live, so I can completely see why it hovers at the top of the list of cities with the highest quality of life in the world.

Having a sight impairment and never flown alone before (plus being a nervous flyer), I was anxious about the journey. However all went well and Birgit, The Husband and their two adorable boys (Niki, 5 and Pauli, 8) were there to meet me at Arrivals.

As anyone with a family will know, you don’t lie-in when young children are around and this worked out well for making the most of each day. Bright and early on Sunday morning we had a superb breakfast cooked by The Husband, which included bacon – of course! – done with maple syrup and a touch of chilli.

Gorg family

The Oeckher family in front of Schönbrunn Palace


Then we were off to Schönbrunn, the former imperial summer residence and the largest palace in Austria. It has a stunning façade as you can see from the pictures. It also has extensive gardens which must be quite something when in full bloom. We looked around the exquisite rooms of the palace but for preservation purposes you’re not allowed to take photos.

T and boys

Tara and the boys


In the afternoon we visited Prater amusement park, with its 212ft tall Ferris wheel built in 1897.

ferris wheel

The Riesenrad (ferris wheel)


We took a ride on the wheel but didn’t realise The Husband was worried about the height until we neared the top. Being the consummate medical professional he is, he was more interested in observing his body’s reaction to his rising sense of panic than actually giving-in to it.

T and M[1]

The Husband smiles bravely despite the height

Monday morning I happily got to meet the lovely Sandra who also writes for OT. An American who has lived in Vienna for 20 years, she was even more warm and generous than I expected she would be. It was a pleasure to get to know her on this trip and to meet her gorgeous son, Sean.

After a good chat over breakfast, Birgit and I set off for Time Travel Vienna.

time travel

A waxwork monk in front of Time Travel Vienna


This entertaining guided tour really was a hoot and a half. It’s down in the cloisters of an old monastery and is a fun way to learn some facts about city and its history.

The highlight was a multi-media cinema experience which had us whooshing through time and landing at various significant points in Vienna’s history. We could feel the wind in our hair, our seats tilt during a carriage ride and even the rats’ tails flicking against the backs of our legs at the time of the bubonic plague.

Later in the day we visited The Hofburg, which used to be the main royal residence and is situated in the centre of the city.

Hofburg T

Tara on Heldenplatz in front of the Hofburg (the part housing the National Library)


This and the Schönbrunn were especially interesting to me because I have started reading a novel about Sisi, Empress Elisabeth of Austria (The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki).

Sisi was a complex and fascinating character who married Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853. It was great to see the famous painting of her in real life and to stand in the room where she sat for 2-3 hours a day having her ankle-length hair coiffured.

On Tuesday I got to see Birgit’s much loved, Kunsthistorisches Museum (The Vienna Art History Museum).

kunsthist interior

Interior of the Kunsthistorisches Museum


The building itself is just as breath-taking as the vast collection of artefacts it holds, accumulated by the House of Habsburg over their reign of around 600 years. It was good to see B’s favourite pieces such as the Fury and Pieter Brueghel the Elder’s Hunters in the Snow, after reading about them here.

B Kunsthist

B on the gallery


Later that day I was very pleased to finally visit St.Stephen’s Cathedral – which is the symbol of Vienna – after catching glimpses of it from afar.

st stephens

St Stephen’s Cathedral


Churches rarely fail to inspire me and Gothic churches such as this feel particularly special. The architecture, both outside and in, is remarkable and the fact that it was bathed in a soft violet light for Lent added to its otherworldly beauty.

Tara st stephens

Tara on Stephansplatz


Wednesday was perfume day! After breakfast, B left me in the capable fumie hands of Sandra and Val the Cookie Queen – who had travelled down especially from her town near Salzburg for the day. It was a real thrill to meet up in her home country for once and to have the opportunity to get to know Sandra better. We hit four niche perfumeries which were all within walking distance of one another.

le dix neuf val

Val at Le Dix Neuf 

First was Le Dix Neuf which is compact in size but has a nicely displayed and curated collection of fragrances. Here they stock Histories de Parfums, Parfumerie Generale, Nasomatto, Byredo, Agonist, SoOud, The Different Company, Mona di Orio, Montale and more.

Sandra and SA at Le Parfum

Sandra and SA at Le Parfum

Next was Le Parfum which I was eager to see because B had mentioned it on the blog a number of times. It was a bright, luxe looking boutique with upscale brands such as By Kilian, Xerjoff and Tom Ford, as well as Penhaligon’s, Serge Lutens, Ramon Monegal and the exclusive Guerlains among others.


Sandra at Kussmund


Kussmund Wien at Habsburgergasse 14 is a brand new store which stocks niche perfume lines such as Etat Libre d’Orange, Phaedon and Frapin, as well as top beauty brands like Lipstick Queen and By Terry. The staff were very helpful and I’m sure they will be a great success. Val tried Rien Intense Incense by ELd’O on skin. The dark, leathery, smoky incense made me think of India and Val liked it a lot.

duft und k

Duft & Kultur


Finally we went to Duft und Kultur which has a quirky selection of toiletries, jewellery, clothing etc. as well as perfumes from companies including Diptyque, L’Artisan Parfumeur and Eau d’Italie. We tested Cuir Cuba Intense, the new fragrance by Parfums de Nicolai. Val pegged the powerful opening spice note as caraway seed. It was a pungent and distinctive beginning but may have smoothed out over time.

At the Hermès boutique I contemplated purchasing Hermessence Cuir d’Ange but was still unable to make up my mind. No perfume purchases this trip.

We met up with B again at the tram station where we said our good-byes – for now.

Peace sign

In front of Le Bol café


I loved Vienna, but more than its many wonderful sights, I loved getting to spend some time living with B and her family.

The Husband is just as witty and multi-talented as you would gather from reading about him here. From surgery and art, to carpentry and cookery (plus a little accessory-making on the side), he seems to be able to turn his hand to just about anything. By all rights he should have an ego the size of Austria, but instead, this Renaissance Man is incredibly down-to-earth with a ready smile and a self-deprecating sense of humour.

As for the boys, I could go on all day about how amazing they are. I didn’t anticipate getting quite as attached to them as I did. Both very different in character but equally kind, bright and extremely loving. Pauli is a thoughtful, polite and quietly confident young man, while Niki is a bundle of energy, fun and pure emotion – with a big appetite! They completely stole my heart.

B sunnies

Getting to see my great friend in her roles as a caring wife and mother also revealed other sides to her I hadn’t seen before.

I’m very grateful to have been accepted so completely into their home. Living in the midst of such a warm and affectionate family was a privilege as well as a joy.

I will be back!

Posted in By Tara, Travels, Vienna | Tagged , | 46 Comments

Oh No, It’s Monday!

Back from London with a stomach bug.

Sorry, I’m out of commission today.

I’ll leave you with this photo taken from my balcony this morning.

I’d like to be on that plane. :)

See you soon….

B x

Posted in Ramblings, Travels, Vienna | Tagged , | 26 Comments

Super H To The Rescue – Hermès Scarf Collection Part 3: Minuit au Faubourg

In Part Three of my collection posts, we move on to the next size up, the so-called vintage silk 70x70cm scarves. This used to be Hermès’ standard size in the 1950ies and onward until the seventies or so, before the larger 90×90 size replaced it. It was re-introduced in 2007 for the 70-year celebration of Hermès silk scarves. Since then a few designs have been released in this size every year.

Today I present to you a scarf that I find simply wonderful.

Heritage, tradition and a deep commitment history is what characterizes Hermès, but it is not everything. A sense of humour, a willingness to stay contemporary and a certain daring are part of what makes Hermès designs unique.

This scarf is called Minuit au Faubourg (Midnight at Faubourg) and is drawn like a comic, even using comic sans font for the title and the signature at the bottom.

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This colourway is my favorite (it was released in about ten different colourways, most of them much louder than mine), it is essentially black and white (or shades of grey) with accents of yellow.

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This is a scarf I seriously contemplate hanging on the wall, since it really is all about the motif. Above you see it tied. It loses a bit of its punch, but it is still a fabulous, neutral scarf that goes well with just about anything, the yellow giving it a little kick.

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I couldn’t resist doing lots of detail photos for this one, since there is so much to discover and last but not least, this scarf is pure fun.

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The horse on top of 24 Faubourg is really there on the actual building in Paris (as well as on the Madison Ave, NYC store) and normally bears a rider that is not on his horse in this scarf, but standing in the window. The horse is wearing the cape and eyemask of a superhero. It is being called to save Paris by the light being shone into the night sky from the Eiffel Tower.

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On the detail below you can see the signature of the artist, Dimitri Rybaltschenko, and maybe the man himself standing in the window?

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I particularly love the nightscape of Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge and several roof tops.

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I was looking for this colourway for quite some time until it luckily popped up on h.com and I snapped it up. The fun with Hermès is, finding a particular item is always a hunt and you never know what you are getting, when and where (and if at all!!!).

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As per your wishes, I include a photo of myself wearing the scarf here in a simple knotted loop. The scarf is first folded into a strip and then wound around the neck twice and secured with a double knot.

Minuit au Faubourg is surely not a classic design, but I love how it conveys the way Hermès is not a staid, unmoving entity, but a modern brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Instead of basking in old glory, they continuously try to stay innovative and thus offer something for everyone.

What do yo think about this unusual (for such a venerable brand) design?

Do you like it? Or do you think Hermès should stay with bridles and birds?

UPDATE: Thanks to commentr happyface, here is a link to a lovely little video about this scarf.


Posted in Hermès, Scarf Collection | Tagged , , | 43 Comments

Roses Revisited, Perfume Lovers London, The October Gallery, London – Thursday 26th February 2015

By Tara

Aromatherapy tells us that rose oil makes us feel loved and beautiful. I’d say that’s about right. If ever I start the day feeling like I need a little extra shot of beauty in my life, I turn to a rose perfume. I like them full-bodied, on the dark side and definitely rose-heavy. However, I was very happy to try a whole range of different roses at this PLL evening.


Event organiser Lila Das Gupta introduced us to Andy Bradshaw who lead a previous evening of roses a couple of years ago. Since then many more roses have been released and Andy (who was extremely informed and entertaining) took us through the following fragrances below.

I am paraphrasing what was said in order to give you the feeling of actually being there.

Andy: Roses have been on earth longer than man. But why are they so evocative for us? The answer is that they are a metaphor for life. The “blood red” rose. Red being the colour of passion. The rose can prick us but we still love it. Love can hurt us but we still love. Some of the roses we will try tonight will blow your minds…


Rose Anonyme, Atelier Cologne

Andy: There have been so many rose/oud fragrances released in the last few years. I say that there is even Royal Oud by Creed for people who don’t like oud. The first time I tried Rose Anonyme it knocked my socks off. It’s fantastically blended. Do get this one on skin. It combines incense, Turkish rose, velvet oud, patchouli and benzoin. It’s such a clever composition (by Jerome Epinette) because it lasts and lasts but retains its lightness.

Roses come in so many different forms. Une Rose by Frederic Malle is a yardstick rose soliflore. It is a majestic soliflore. Rose can be centre-stage or it can wink at you from the wings. Or it can be sweet, wearing cute bobby socks.

Audience member: It’s nice but there are a lot like it. It’s rather like Midnight Oud by Juliette Has A Gun.

Andy: It is similar but this is better blended.

Nevermore, Frapin

Andy: This was Lila’s standout fragrance of 2014 and I could not disagree. Some fragrances can be classed as gothic and this is one of them. It was inspired by Poe’s poem “Nevermore”.

Lila calls it a “sandalwood rose”. Sandalwood is not listed as note but we can conjure an accord which might not be there, from several others. Nevermore has a certain boozy quality to it. I like it. There’s something of the night about it.

Rose Cut, Ann Gerard

Andy: This Bertrand Duchaufour creation is like you are slowly pickling yourself in rum, plum and spice. Isn’t it glorious? This takes you away from Armani and Hugo Boss. The rose is underpinning all the other accords.

I love how roses are so versatile. I am reclaiming roses for men. Men used to wear roses all the time.

Lila: This one is much warmer and more seductive on skin.

Audience member: It’s very fizzy.

Lila: It is a mix of femme and butch to me.

Vengance Extreme, Juliette Has A Gun

Andy: When the original Lady Vengance came out I expected it to be more thrusting, like the slutty rose of Voleur de Roses by L’Artisan Parfumeur. I wanted it to say to me “Come on Big Boy, you’ve pulled!”. Juliette Has A Gun must have realised because they released this Extreme version.

We had to put it in a cage or else it would have devoured all the other fragrances around. The accords are lavender, rose and patchouli. It’s a unisex rose fragrance.

Audience member: It has a very velvety texture.

935, Jamal

Lila then introduced Mohammed from Jamal, who have just launched their first four fragrances exclusively at House of Fraser on Oxford Street. He told us he was carrying on a family tradition because his parents had had an attar business.

935 is a rose fragrance which has some amber and a just little oud as Mohammed didn’t want to overpower the composition. It also has some water-lily for freshness. Lila had sniffed it without any prior knowledge of the brand and was really impressed.

Lila asked Mohammed why rose was so popular in the Middle East. He explained that it is the first scent you smell in the home, growing up. It is also part of Islamic culture where rose is the scent of heaven. It’s brought, along with saffron, by the angels.

Ferrari Oud, Ferrari

Andy: This is Ferrari trying to do an upmarket fragrance. I sprayed it in Milan without thinking too much about it. Then I keep thinking “What smells so good?” and realised it was me. It has rose, saffron and oud. It’s beautiful.

Scent, Theo Fennell

Andy: This one reminds me of Perfect Night by Bella Bellissima, which when I wear it, people say “You smell like sex – in a good way”.

Cumin makes this rose dirty.

Lila: I wore it to a friend’s 50th birthday party and her husband kept saying to me “You smell so good”. It was embarrassing!

Andy: I should say this is discontinued but it’s still available at the discounters. I can see it becoming expensive to get hold of, like Alexander McQueen’s Kingdom.

Lila: Another naughty rose is Oud Ispahan by Dior.

Café Rose, Tom Ford

Andy: I find the Tom Ford line to be quite patchy but this is eminently wearable. It sounds like it would be heavy and loaded with coffee but it’s actually surprisingly light and more like a frappuccino with caramel on top. It’s probably a little sweet for me.

Levantium, Penhaligon’s

Andy: This was released last year and I think it’s their best fragrance since Sartorial. It’s utterly beautiful. It features rum, rose, spice and a little oud.

Another great fragrance by Penhaligon’s is Elixir, composed by Olivia Giacobetti. It took the rose from Hammam Bouquet and gave it a twist using eucalyptus and smoky woods. Some fragrances come and go but this one has stood the test of time. The drydown caresses your skin in a warm, comforting way.

Audience member: I wear it to bed.

Audience member: It’s warm and spicy.

Andy: It’s a forgotten great.

DamaRose, Xerjoff

Andy: This a beautiful Rolls Royce of a soilflore. It’s utterly stunning. The first time I tried it my knees melted. Paper doesn’t do it justice.

Andy finished by reading a wonderful poem by Emily Dickinson: –

THE ROSE did caper on her cheek,
Her bodice rose and fell,
Her pretty speech, like drunken men,
Did stagger pitiful.

Her fingers fumbled at her work,—
Her needle would not go;
What ailed so smart a little maid
It puzzled me to know,

Till opposite I spied a cheek
That bore another rose;
Just opposite, another speech
That like the drunkard goes;

A vest that, like the bodice, danced
To the immortal tune,—
Till those two troubled little clocks
Ticked softly into one.



A few other roses available to try on the night:

Tobacco Rose, Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Rose Oud, By Kilian

Saffron Rose, Grosssmith

Rose Velours, Van Cleef & Arpels

Rose Imperiale & Rose Nocturne, Terry de Gunzburg

Lyric, Amouage

Portrait of a Lady, Frederic Malle

La Fille de Berlin, Serge Lutens

Please share your own favourite roses in the comments!

Posted in By Tara, Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Rose | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

Peace And Serenity – Review: Maison Mona di Orio Eau Absolue

Hey there Olfactoria’s Travelers,

Portia in the OT house from Australian Perfume Junkies and Perfume Posse.

Do you ever wear fragrance for your own mad selfish pleasure, do any of your frags give you a smile of joy every time throughout the day when you get a sneaky huff of yourself? I really love the Mond di Orio line and today’s fragrance especially, it fits me like a really comfortable wool/cashmere sweater.

Eau Absolue was created by Mona di Orio and released in 2013.

Eau Absolue Mona di Orio FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, clementine, petitgrain
Heart: Geranium, Java vetiver oil, bay leaf, pink pepper
Base: Cedar, musk, labdanum

I have written about Eau Absolue before. It is a stellar fragrance on my skin and it has serious longevity.

The opening is balmy and there is something in it that reminds me of the smell of indoor swimming pools and also our childhood sun-protection cream for the outdoors. No, I can’t tell you what it is about Eau Absolue that makes me return again and again. I bought 10ml in a split last year but there is so little left that I am pretty sure it’s going FB this year.

Eau Absolue Mona di Orio Pringle_of_Scotland Cashmere WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

I have an admission to make, Eau Absolue is so perfectly blended and is such a magnificent scent that I really don’t want to parse it for you. What I will say is that if you spend a morning swimming, reading and sunbaking at the beach and are walking towards your transport to go get some lunch. Eau Absolue has the same sense of dreamy, languid anticipation. It is the perfect, slow, happy morning and the hope of something delicious and filling (back in the day it would have been a family corner store Cheeseburger with beetroot and carrot each and a shared chips for the whole crew).

I find myself lately upon wearing Eau Absolue to become peaceful and serene.

Val, portia, Michael Austria 2014

Where can you wear Eau Absolue? ANYWHERE!! I purposely put my decant away so I would have some left for myself because it was getting a LOT of wear. Last year I took it on my holiday with Michael through Europe and wore it more than half the journey, above is a photo with Michael and Val the Cookie Queen in the mountains near Salzburg, Austria.

When I have a bottle I am also worried that Eau Absolue could eclipse many of my other faves in my rush to wear it. Let’s see how long the couple of ml I have left lasts…

Further reading: The Non-Blonde and Australian Perfume Junkies
LuckyScent has $230/100ml
Peony Melbourne has $230/100ml with FREE DELIVERY in Australia
Surrender To Chance samples start at $7/ml

Have you tried Eau Absolue? Is there a Mona di Orio that tweaks your fancy?

Portia xxx

Posted in By Portia, Fragrance Reviews, Mona di Orio | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Monday Question – What Slightly Weird Thing Do You Like To Do In A Foreign City?

Tara is in Vienna this week and she and I are enjoying a few days of sightseeing, perfume hunting and chatting over tea.

On Thursday we are going back to London together to do the same thing over there.

I thought this was the perfect occasion to ask you about city travel.

Aside from the obvious, what do you enjoy doing in a new to you city?

Any strange or slightly weird things you like to see or do?

Do you like to bring back something from your travels?

Is there something in particular you like to see in every city?

My Answer:

Tara’s Answer:

I guess the fact that I like to visit niche perfumeries in a new city would seem alittle strange anywhere but here, otherwise I normally do the touristy things because they are usually popular for a good reason – except Madame Tussaud’s in London (and in Vienna too as Birgit tells me). I like to bring back a handicraft made locally and/or a bottle of perfume so I can remeber the trip whenever I spray. For others I tend to bring them back food that is typical of the region, preferably something sweet. From Vienna it will be most likely some Mozartkugeln.

Olfactoria’s Answer:

I love to visit supermarkets and drug stores to see the day to day essentials particuar to the country I am in. I find it fascinating to see the different things that make daily life in a strange country. I buy a lip balm (of all things!) in every city I come to, always the one that seems to be the most exotic looking to me. I have a nice collection of interesting lip products by now. As I said, slightly weird… ;)

What about you? 

Posted in Monday Question, Travels | Tagged , , | 54 Comments

Chainlinks And A View From The Top – Hermès Scarf Collection Part 2: Pochettes Circuit 24 And Un Jardin Sur Le Toit

Welcome to the second part of my scarf collection posts. Today I have two more small sized scarfs to show you.

The first pochette (45x45cm) is called Circuit 24 Faubourg. It mentions the address of Hermès’ Paris flagship store of course, but the circuit part refers to a racetrack. The motives used are the famous Chain d’Ancre (anchor chain) that Hermès uses again and again in jewellery, porcellain designs, clothing and, of course, scarves. On this pretty little silk square the chainlinks are arranged to form a racing track of sorts.

MaiTai has done a cute video about this scarf (although hers is a 90 in a different colourway) making this particular point clear.

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I bought this scarf at the Hermès boutique in Vienna, it was not a planned purchase, but this design is one that really speaks to me. I already have another circuit scarf in a bigger size and different colours, so when the SA showed me this cute little version of it, I just had to take it home. The colours are beautifully neutral and work perfectly with navy, burgundy, black and, well, anything really. :)

Here you see it tied. The small format also makes it ideal to use around the wrist as a bracelet, either covering a bangle or on its own.

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The second one today is a very special scarf in that it neatly ties (yes, bad pun!) in with my other love – perfume.

It is named exactly like the Ellena creation Un Jardin Sur le Toit which is part of Hermès’ Jardin series. The scarf was initially released in tandem with the perfume and relaunched last year, where I snapped it up in Paris.

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You can see the lovely drawing on the scarf and the one on the box of Un Jardin sur le Toit are almost the same. I love how just the garden on the roof is coloured, thereby underscoring its escape from the city aspect beautifully.


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The story of this scarf is funny too. The Husband and I had a bit of a Hermès marathon behind us when we visited Paris last summer. At the airport, my lovely and indefatigable husband said he would go to the restrooms, when it truth he decided to check out the Hermès boutique at the terminal as a kind of last hurrah. He wanted to purchase a pochette, any pochette, to surprise me, then go back with me to exchange it to the one I selected for myself. How romantic (and wise!), isn’t he?

Only the problem was that the unimaginative SA in the shop would not let him do it. She insisted that she could not let me exchange the scarf later (which would have been only 5 minutes later!). What a cow!

His surprise ruined, M came back moping a bit, but not defeated. This is Paris after all, and Paris has not one, not two, but three Hermès concessions at Charles de Gaulle airport. So on we traipsed to the next terminal where a lovely and friendly SA showed me Un Jardin Sur Le Toit in a few colourways.

The light blue one was love at first sight. Happy End.

Next week we’ll take a peek at the next size up, the vintage 70 silk. Stay tuned!

Posted in Hermès | Tagged , , | 56 Comments

Cleansing Smoke – Review: Naomi Goodsir Bois d’Ascese

By Tara

I really enjoy smoky aromas but I fully expected not to take to Bois d’Ascese (Ascetic Wood) because it sounded like the equivalent of a bushfire on the smokiness scale. However, while I may not be about to purchase a bottle, I did get caught up in its burning invocation.

There’s something enveloping and almost sensual about it (though I may be on my own with the latter). Some seem to find it too austere for comfort but I find that sinuous cloud of smoke and incense transporting.

bois d ascese

Naomi Goodsir is an Australian milliner who released her first collection of fragrances in 2012. Bois d’Ascese was composed by perfumer Julien Rasquinet and contains notes of tobacco, whiskey, cinnamon, amber, cistus labdanum, oakmoss, smoked cade wood and Somalian incense.

The overarching accord is tarry and smoky but it’s a blazing campfire out in the middle of nowhere rather than the harsh phenols pumping out from a tannery. The incense is very much wrapped up in the cade wood smoke.

Cade wood oil or “juniper tar” derives from the distillation of the twigs and branches of the juniper shrub. The result is a more forest-y kind of tar/smoke aroma.

Bois d’Ascese is extremely punchy and pungent in the early stages. As well as tangy and peaty facets, there’s a sticky, slightly sweet, labdanum resin that oozes golden amber out of the smoky blackness.


After the first hour or so, it mellows out considerably into a spare, tinder-dry, lingering smoulder. I find it much easier to wear after this point.

It clings to the body and feels surprisingly weightless. Lasting power is outstanding as it seems to adhere to the skin.

In the traditional sense, it’s certainly masculine in character and I imagine it could be knock-out on a guy.

Bois d’Ascese may not be everyone’s idea of a pleasing personal fragrance but I think it’s more wearable than the thick birch tar smoke of Le Labo’s Patchouli 24. It’s smoother and much more contemplative. It transplants you to a landscape far away from modern life…

Above the campfire, the starry firmament stretches away so endlessly you get “sky awe”. You feel tiny – just a speck in this infinite universe.


Instead of making you feel pointless, your insignificance has the opposite effect. You feel immensely comforted and liberated by the fact that nothing is as important as you thought it was. Everything gets quiet and still. All is assigned to its rightful place.

This feeling is very calming for a habitual over-thinker like me.

For all its charred timber and billowing smoke, there is something haunting about Bois d’Ascese. It seems to have been crafted as a considered aesthetic statement as opposed to a crude smoke bomb.

The reference to asceticism in its name implies monastic abstinence in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. Bois d’Ascese is a holy smoke that will coat and cleanse you, exorcising your demons from your very pores: a purification ritual.

Posted in By Tara, Fragrance Reviews, Incense | Tagged , , , | 30 Comments

Perfume Around The World – Niche Perfume Shops In Prague

By Ana-Maria Melnicky Calin

Editor’s Note: Today I am happy to introduce you to Ana (read a bit more about her at the end of the post), who will take us on a trip to beautiful Prague to see what the niche pefume world there has to offer the discerning Perfumista. Please join  me in giving Ana a warm welcome and a big Thank You for this helpful post.


If you happen to be around Prague, wandering on its ancient streets, wondering if there is any place you can smell or buy niche perfumes, here is the list.

Just a note before we start: all the shops are centrally located, but are quite small, and literally hard to find, so pay attention to the exact addresses if you don’t find them in the first place.

All owners are up to date with novelties on the market so you will find new brands in their stores in the near future.

Kosmetické delikatesy Madeleine,
10, Dlouha St.

Kosmeticke delikatesy Madeleine

Mrs. Rudicova and her husband are the pioneers in this field in Czech Republic. They started their shop in 2004 with the French apothecary makeup brand T. Leclerc, L’Artisan Parfumeur and Annick Goutal. And they had instant success: rice powders by T.LeClerc and natural perfumes sold like gold in the post-communist young market that was thirsty for such luxury products.

The name of the shop is inspired by the Place de la Madeleine in Paris, the place where they decided to start this business.

One by one they then added the perfume brands: The Different Company, Parfums de Rosine, Floris, Grossmith, Amouage, Carthusia, Rancé, Naomi Goodsir, Jardin d’Ecrivains, Jovoy, and most recently Le Galion and the marvellous cosmetic range Une Nuit a Bali.

With exquisite artistic talent and excellent knowledge in the field, Mrs. Rudicova will tell you wonderful stories about perfumes and will for sure find something suitable for you. She strongly believes that the one main thing that differentiates niche and author perfume brands from mass market is the quality of the ingredients that they use. The question she asks is “Where is the truth behind the product, behind marketing?” And the answer is straight forward: “in the passion of the “nose” for the best materials and in the quality of the time”.

The shop is intimate and beautifully decorated in a classical style.

Egoist Royal Parfums
5, Husova St.

Egoist Royal Parfums

A new addition to this market, the shop is located on a winding street that brings you to the famous Old Town Square. The moment you enter shop the shop you find yourself surrounded by the largest selection of niche brands in Prague. The owners started their business in the beauty field in the early 90’s in Samara, Russia and are really passionate about perfume.

Pavel and Elena will give you interesting details about the people behind the brand, as they know most of them personally. Their approach is warm and friendly, and will find yourself captivated by the stories of perfumes they tell. You can choose from a wide variety from the classical Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier, Houbigant, MDCI, Isabey, Montale, Panouge to more modern like Alyson Oldoini, Atelier Flou, Evody, Franck Boclet, Guilietta Capuleti, M. Micallef or the really young and trendy The Vagabond Price, Viktoria Minya and Jul et Mad.

The website also serves as comprehensive encyclopaedia of ingredients, and I do recommend browsing it for improving your general knowledge on perfumes.

Their credo and inspiration for naming the shop is “Be an egoist, spoil yourself with high quality perfumes”, so indulge and visit their shop if you are in town.

Jachymova 2


Launched back in 2012, the store has a modern, minimalist approach where the product is king: no superfluous decorations, just perfumes.

What you will find in Jakub’s store is a great selection of famous niche brands, creating cohesion with their contemporary brand style. The owner has a long history in the beauty field, starting as a beauty editor for ELLE magazine when he was 18 and then continuing in marketing for luxury brands. It was during these times that he discovered the refined universe of niche perfumery.

Jakub has a savvy approach to the store’s promotion, understanding very well the added value of PR. That is why his business is successful and his shop is always full. The idea of strong individuality and coherence is highlighted by that fact all selected brands have a modern, contemporary feel to them . The price range is generous, allowing for all types of clients to find something suitable.

You will find resonant names: Dyptique, Francis Kurkdijan, Kilian, Byredo, Amouage, Nasomatto, Histoires de Parfums, Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle, Aedes de Venustas, Mona di Orio, Comme des Garcons, LM Parfums, Boadicea The Victorious, Clive Christian or Escentric Molecules.

There are also cosmetic brands such as Eve Lom, Sisley, Aesop, Egyptian Magic, the Super Elixir dietary supplements or candles from Cire Trudon.

Ingredients is among the few shops around the world to stock both fragrances for women and men by the French luxe brand By Kilian.

You can tell Jakub is a connaisseur by the way he talks about perfume, underlining the importance of quality ingredients, and therefore naming his shop similarly. He believes that in order to create a great perfume, a “nose” must be both a great chemist and an artist.
And there is more coming up: there will be a whole floor dedicated to cosmetics starting in June 2015, so don’t miss Ingredients if you visit Prague.


Royal Perfumery
45, Vaclavske Namesti

Royal Perfumery

Opened in September 2014, Royal Perfumery has the most accessible location, on the commercial street Vaclavske Namesti. The shop is small, but elegant and both the manager, Diana, and the sales personnel enjoy talking to their clients and sharing the perfume stories. In fact they take training very seriously. Understanding and feeling the brand is crucial for introducing the right brand to the right type of client, Diana mentioned. At the Royal Perfumery you will even find the rare and spectacular perfume fountains from Caron.

The selection of brands is eclectic, so chances are you will find a fragrance that suits you: Puredistance, Caron, M. Micaleff, House of Sillage, Bond No.9, Tiziana Terenzi, Robert Piguet, Giulietta Capuleti, Cuarzo Ramon Bejar, Alexandre J, Paul Emilien, Houbigant, Taylor of Old Bond Street and Floris.

The name of the brand is meant to be cross cultural and appeal to all potential clients, both locals and tourists.
The opening hours are generous, you can drop by 7 days a week until 10 pm in the evening.

I hope you will enjoy your stay in Prague and pay a visit to at least some of these niche brand perfumeries. If you have already visited, please let us know about your experiences.

About me:

My name is Ana-Maria. I am a perfume lover, fascinated by the sense of smell. Ever since the first time I walked into a niche perfumery 8 years ago, I knew this was going to be a long love story. What I enjoy most is finding out new stories about scent and sharing them on my blog smell-spell.com.

I am a perpetual discoverer in the field of quality, memorable and beyond fashion perfumery. I believe in “slow scent”, in taking the time to choose a fragrance, in allowing the natural steps to happen: listening to the story behind the brand and the perfume, smelling, trying on, feeling and only after that buying.
I am Romanian, living in Prague with my family.

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Monday Question – Would You Like To Buy My Perfume? Perfume Sale Spring 2015

Something different today: I need to spring-clean my perfume closet and wondered if maybe you would like something… a perfect opportunity to treat yourself.

It works like this.
From the list below choose if there is something there you would like to have. I will add a bottle, decant, mini or bag of samples to that for free.

Please email me with your interest (olfactoria at gmail dot com), first come, first served basis. I can’t reserve perfumes, sorry.
The more you buy, the more you get extra.

For London fumies: I will be in your lovely city from March 5-8, so I can carry your buys over and we can meet in London to complete the transaction.
Same goes for anyone in Vienna of course. Otherwise shipping costs are 15€ per package, no matter how much you buy or where in the world, packaging costs and shipping costs that exceed 15€ (which it always does…) are on me. Prices are low as the perfume is meant to really sell and you are in for a bargain, so please no haggling.
I will ship as quickly as possible as soon as the payment is received (bear in mind my upcoming few days jaunt to London though!)

Payment is through Paypal or wire transfer (within Europe).

So here goes…

Perfume Sale List February 2015

Diptyque Geranium Odorata EdT 100ml, 95% full. 50€

Houbigant Quelques Fleurs 50ml EdP BNIB. 50€

Juliette Has A Gun Calamity J 100ml EdP, 90% full. 80€

Jo Loves Gardenia 100ml EdT, 85% full. 80€

Martin Margiela untitled l’eau 100ml EdT 70% full 50€

Guerlain Vintage Shalimar EdC in watch face bottle, ca. 1970ies, prime condition. 250€

Jil Sander Sun 75ml EdT, 95% full. 30€

Oscar de La Renta Esprit d’Oscar 50ml EdP, 90% full. 50€

Bulgari Jasmin Noir 30ml EdP, 95% full. 30€

All items come with their original box.
Happy shopping!

Posted in Monday Question | 38 Comments