Absolute Aphrodisiac – Review: Introducing Initio Parfums Privés

By Sandra

Taking a stroll through the city the other day I stopped in a perfume store and asked if they had anything new. Spring is thankfully fast approaching and I love sniffing the new releases for spring as they start rolling in.



The SA guided me towards a beautiful row of black bottles with an intricate logo in filigree which looks like intricate lace. Some of the bottles had a red filigree logo and others had a silver logo. The SA explained that the perfumes were so new, had just arrived in the store, and apologized as she was unable to walk me through them thoroughly. So, we had a cursory sniff together and I chose one to sample on skin.

Now, before I get to the perfume, I will say that I came home and looked up Initio Parfums Privés and learned more about them. So, let me introduce you to the brand using their words from their website.

What if your instincts were guided by your sense of smell,
leading you towards new adventures?
INITIO takes fragrances to new heights, with enhanced powers that defy the imagination.
Wild nature and the science of pheromones fuse deeply together within the formulas, working their magic imperceptibly.
The Absolutes and The Magnetic Blend, invisible forces to be worn alone or blended together, INITIO fragrances stir your instincts.
This is where it all begins…

There are two lines to this brand. The Absolutes and The Magnetic Blend. They can be layered or not and are meant to evoke powerful images, adventures, emotions you name it.

The one perfume I decided to spray is called Absolute Aphrodisiac and the website lists vanilla, white flower and castoreum as the main accord.

Oh my goodness is this the most voluptuous sensual vanilla opening tinged with light florals. It is divine. It goes on almost thick and leaves my skin with a subtle shimmer – just for a little bit but it is so beautiful and smooth.

As the perfume dries down it warms with my skin and becomes smoldering. There is an animalic side to this that is beckoning me to bury my nose to my wrist. It is as if I have tendrils of vanilla hovering over my skin – teasing me with a grin.

The perfume is ever so delicate and not overpowering at all, but it does last all day on my skin leaving me wanting a full bottle and wanting to test it with others in the line. Needless to say I love this perfume.


Now that I know I can blend and mix and match the perfumes I can’t wait to go back to the perfume shop and test out the Absolute Aphrodisiac with one or more of the Magnetic Blends. The one that is calling to me the most is Magnetic Blend 1 which is ambergris. I look forward to smelling them all individually and blended.

I hope you can all try them when they come to your area. Have fun testing and blending.

It is going to be a new way for me to experience perfume and to have a sensual blend of my own.

Posted in By Sandra, Fragrance Reviews | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Different And Good – Review: Papillon Perfumery Angélique

Darling Olfactoria’s Travelers,

Portia from Australian Perfume Junkies and Perfume Posse and today I’m trying a new-to-me house for you all. Not so long ago Karen Gilbert was in Australia and she left me three samples of the Papillon range, I really loved the Tobacco Rose one while she was in town but I didn’t get to spend much time with Angélique, yet it haunted me a bit, I was wondering if it was as good as I remembered or if I was just having such a good time that the world smelled gorgeous.

Angélique was created by Liz Moores for Papillon Artisan Perfumes in 2014.

Angelique Papillon Artisan Perfumes FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Mimosa petals, orris, champaca, osmanthus, cedar, olibanum

From the Papillon site:

Osmanthus. White Champac. Orris. Mimosa. Frankincense. Cedarwood.

“Inspiration for my perfumes comes to me in many ways, but none more so than from the nature in my own garden. Angélique began as an olfactory portrait of the Iris Pallida; days spent breathing in the delicate scent of the flowers and the honeyed aroma of pollen emerged as nature’s own sketch of what Angélique would become.

Angélique became a perfume based on my personal impression of the beautiful Iris Pallida, a flower that is as captivating and angelic as nature herself.”


Angelique Papillon Gewone_engwortel Angelica WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

The dry green rasp of torn new branches and leaves, rooty and crisp fresh pulled carrots and the pretty, green, furry flutter of mimosa open Angélique. We are talking a seriously beautiful fragrance that is spring, dewy mornings, it’s the cool sunrise, it’s new growth, fresh cut flowers and water.

The heart of Angélique is warmer, woodsier, rustic life as a woodcutter or a woodcutters home, the logpile and the beeswax and resins used to keep the wood lovely and moisturised. It is the balmy goodness that wins out in the end, a soft salve for cracked hands and heels that smells of the spring from whence it came, even in the deads of high winter and summer.

Angelique Papillon Woodcutter Kazimir Malevich WikiMediaPhoto Stolen WikiMedia

I only got two wears out of my small vial that I spritzed. It was worth it to be submerged in this beauty. Simple, wearable and still interesting. I would recommend Angélique to anyone who is bored with the current crop of fragrance and mass-tige: this is different and good.

Further reading: Nick Gilbert and Olfactoria’s Travels
LuckyScent has $160/50ml
Papillon has £94/50ml and samples

Have you got your sniff on this set yet? Angélique, Anubis and Tobacco Rose are their names and Tara has reviewed them here. Tobacco Rose is getting the most blog loving and I really adore it too, there may be another Papillon post coming very soon.

Portia xx

Posted in By Portia, Fragrance Reviews | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Monday Question – Favorite Things Winter 2015 Edition

What are your favorite things right now?

What are your current mini-obsessions?

What has captured your interest lately?


My Answer:


I have been reading three books lately that couldn’t be more different, but all of them are very interesting.


One novel (Karen Joy Fowler: We Ar All Completely Besides Ourselves – love the title, interesting and unusual topic), one self-help book (Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanes Art Of Decluttering And Organizing – highly recommended! I love it! It really, really works!) and one memoir (Mohamedou Ould Slahi: Guantanamo Diary – hard to read, fascinating and utterly horrifying.)

What is on your reading list currently?


I have lately started to listen to podcasts while doing chores around the house – laundry never was so interesting before! – and I love it. I listen to The New York Times Book Review, Serial and NPR Invisibilia (the latter is excellent!).


Do you listen to podcasts at all? Which ones would you recommend?


I have a spring fling (in the middle of winter) with Hermès Hiris. An oldie, but goldie from Olivia Giacobetti that smells of rooty iris and fresh linen.

hermes Hiris

Calming, light, airy and elegant.


We got Netflix recently and made our computer believe we are Americans, which is genius, now the whold world of American TV is open to us. Hehe.


We are avidly watching Orange Is The New Black right now and it is a very good series indeed. Also still loving Scandal (where else can you see an unparalleled collection of cashmere, silk, fabulous coats, designer bags AND torture scenes right next to each other???)


It is scarf time and I’m so enjoying it and making a point of wearing a different one every day. The weather makes me dream of cashmere everything, but that won’t be happening without that lottery win we have scheduled to come about any day now… ;)


Photo by Hermès

Are you all still interested in seeing my scarf collection? I feel strange about it, like I would bore or bother you with it, which is what I do NOT want! Let me know please!

Online Finds:

I recently happened upon a blog written by a Texan in Paris called Linda V.Wright (both the name of the blog and its writer), a small boutique owner in her sixties. Her style both sartorially and in character are deeply impressive. I hope to be like that at that age.

linda 2

Photo copyright Linda V. Wright

linda 1

Photo copyright Linda V. Wright

What are you reading, hearing, smelling, seeing, wearing and finding at the moment?

Posted in Monday Question | Tagged , , , , | 48 Comments

Free Spirit – Review: Vero Profumo Kiki Voile d’Extrait

By Tara

Vero Kern is steeped in the classic fragrances from Guerlain and Caron which she wore for many years before becoming a perfumer. This knowledge, love and appreciation of old-school French perfumery comes through in her artistic creations time and again.

It’s wonderful to have someone making perfume today that draws from that rich heritage and yet brings something so entirely new and exciting to it.

kiki voile

This approach is exemplified in Kiki Voile d’Extrait which is Vero’s homage to Paris.

It takes its name from Alice Prin, known as Kiki de Montparnasse. She was an artist and artist’s model who symbolised the bohemian, creative soul of the city. Kiki was visual artist Man Ray’s companion for much of the 1920s and posed for his famous surrealist photograph “Le Violon d’Ingres”.


Kiki Voile d’Extrait was launched in 2013 and is a lower concentration of the Extrait, suitable for spraying. It includes notes of bergamot, cassis, lavender essence, geranium, lavender absolute, caramel, opoponax, patchouli and musk.

I am not usually a lavender fragrance fan but Kiki soon charmed me and my pre-conceptions melted away. By the second time of wearing, I was hooked.

Vero enlivens distilled lavender in the top with fruit, while below she accentuates the burnt sugar facet of lavender absolute with caramel. In this way she creates a seamless continuum which deepens and recalibrates over time.

When you first encounter Kiki Voile d’Extrait you are met with the familiar cool breeze of lavender; green, herbaceous and very smooth. It’s matched with tart fruit (bergamot, cassis) and this gives it such a great kick.

After starting out prim and proper, our Little Miss Lavender becomes almost tantalisingly edible.

Leaving work at the library, she’s wearing conservative clothing and sensible shoes. She then stops off at her Paris apartment, emerging sometime later as a saucy gamine. On arrival at the cabaret club that evening, she is unrecognisable from the girl we all thought we knew.

The drydown of Kiki Voile is nothing short of glorious. The lavender is now liberally dusted with caramel. Not thick and syrupy the way I had envisioned, but beautifully soft and powdered.

At this point I am reminded of the vintage Jicky I experienced at The Osmotheque fragrance conservatory in France. It was so loaded with vanilla it made me smile.

I also detect a connection between Kiki Voile d’Extrait and Shalimar. In the Voile the vanillic/ambery caramel is blended expertly with patchouli, musk and opoponax, making it feel like a lighthearted, lavender-hued twist on the Guerlain classic. It’s marvellously moreish but not quite gourmand.

I now believe the legend that says Shalimar came into being as a result of Jacques Guerlain overdosing Jicky with vanillin.


Kiki de Montparnasse was an eternal optimist, even in the face of adversity. She once said –

“All I need is an onion, a bit of bread and a bottle of red [wine]; and I will always find somebody to offer me that.”

The Voile d’Extrait is equally carefree. For a worrier like me, it is a joy to be around.

I could learn a lot from Kiki.

How you do feel about lavender? Do you have a favourite fragrance from Vero Profumo?

You can read Olfactoria’s reviews the other Vero Profumo perfumes here (Kiki, Rubj, Onda, Mito, The Eaux de Parfums) as well as Tara’s take on Rozy.

Posted in By Tara, Fragrance Reviews, Lavender, Vero Profumo | Tagged , , , , | 29 Comments

Monday Question – Have You Read Any Good Perfume Books Lately?

Let’s talk perfume books today:

Have you read a perfume book recently?

Which perfume books would you recommend for new fumies?

What kind of book about perfume would you like to read?

Which book would you think is essential reading for any serious fragrance fiend?

Which book would be good for a “normal” person as an introduction into our world?


My Answer:

I’m really looking forward to reading all of your answers today as I have been woefully negligent on the fragrance book front. (I blame the Kindle and all its literary temptations.) I have started but not yet finished Mandy Aftel’s new book Fragrant though.

As for recommendations for newbies, I definitely think the Chandler Burr books belong on any reading list, as does of course Luca Turin’s The Guide, even though I hardly ever agree with him, it is still a very interesting and helpful introduction to niche and mass market perfumes.

One book that irks me is Roja Dove’s Perfume. It has such great photography and also very interesting content, but is so badly edited (if at all!) that the poor grammar and copious typos sufficiently distract me to make the reading experience an irritating one.

A friend recently wondered about the new(ish) book by Tess Williams and whether it would make a good gift for a non-fumie. I’d love for all of you who have read it to chime in on that question!

So, let us know! What fragrant literature have you read lately?

Posted in Monday Question | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments

Saint and Sinner – Review: L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

By Tara

The name of this fragrance always put me off. Understanding it to mean “Gates of Hell” I imagined Passage d’Enfer to be sulphurous and indolic. However that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Released in 1999, it contains notes of white lily, frankincense, aloe wood, benzoin and white musk. Being an Olivia Giacobetti creation, Passage d’Enfer was never going to be overwhelming. Far from it: it’s quiet and meditative.


Its hushed tone seems to suit its spiritual home of a medieval church. It reminds me of the Notre Dame in Paris which I visited on my 18th birthday. Like that very special cathedral, Passage d’Enfer has a holy atmosphere which verges on the mystical.

I don’t find anything hellish about it, but there is a dark shadow lurking behind the gothic pillars. The mood is contemplative, mysterious and otherworldly. I find it beguiling.

For me, Passage d’Enfer only suggests the presence of lily. There are hints of the soft waxy feel of the petals, the luminous white colour and the prettiness of the flower. But when I breathe it in, I don’t think “lily”. It’s very subtle and not at all indolic or high-pitched. I suffer from white flower fear, but there isn’t the slightest danger of it being headache-inducing.

The incense in Passage d’Enfer is soft and more woody than resinous. It’s the scent of a stick of incense that has recently been snuffed out, leaving its smoky tendrils spiralling up towards the vaulted ceiling.

Serge Lutens played a not dissimilar game of light and shade recently. His L’Orpheline combined dark incense with soapy aldehydes but I find Passage d’Enfer much more feminine and intriguing.

When I spray Passage d’Enfer, I don’t feel like I’m wearing something obvious. I enjoy contradictions, so a fragrance which is ashy and clean, earthbound and ethereal, makes me happy. It’s a clever, minimalist composition which is intellectual as well as soulful.

It’s so gentle I highly recommend it to those who have struggled with incense perfumes in the past. It’s a muted, airy scent which you can apply with a heavy hand to get more volume.

Despite the lack of projection, I love the contrast between the musty stone of the church walls and the crisp freshness of the calla lilies on the altar. There are also hints of the wooden pews and dripping beeswax candles. There’s a sacred atmosphere but it’s more complex than that.


Picture the following scene…

It’s dusk and the light filtering through the stained glass windows is fading fast. A woman offers up a desperate prayer to save her soul from temptation.

If anyone gets close enough to smell her, they’ll be left wondering. Yes, they will get holy incense with hints of innocent flowers, but they will also sense something less pure: a quietly burning desire.

Chaste in body yet wanton in mind.

Perhaps Passage d’Enfer is not such a misnomer after all.

Posted in By Tara, Fragrance Reviews, L'Artisan Parfumeur | Tagged , , , | 33 Comments

A Bitch In A Tar Pit – Review: Montale Aoud Cuir d’Arabie

Hello Olfactoria’s Travelers,

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

A split I was part of a while ago that turned out to be a fave for a while and then the decant got put in a box and ignored. Well, I’ve resurrected it lately: Aoud Cuir d’Arabie by Montale. The Montale range is really enjoyable for me. I love their outrageous openings and sultry hearts. Of course, I’m not afraid of fragrances with size, he he he, though this particular fragrance is only enormous at the start…

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives only these featured accords in one line:
Tobacco, birch, leather, oudh.

I love the leather and medicine opening and in Aoud Cuir d’Arabie. Here we have a great example of a scent that provides a Band-Aid analogy but it wears as a hint rather than the focus. The hefty nod to a tannery dries the top of my mouth with its pungency: ie. my dream of a tannery, which is clearly a Disney version with a bunch of strapping, muscled, hairy chested tanners singing an ooompapa song about how hard their lives are and how the girls don’t like them because they stink.

The whole opening sequence is not for the faint hearted but totally enjoyable. Basically all the notes we are given are there front and center at the start. I found this great nude bikers picture and Aoud Cuir d’Arabie is the scent of one of these leather bike seats after a heavy day of nude riding.

Aoud Cuir d’Arabie by Montale Naked_Bike_Ride London WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

My feeling when wearing Aoud Cuir d’Arabie is that I am wearing way too much fragrance. It seems like I’m enveloped in cloud of it and that every person in a 5 km radius must be thinking, “EEEEW, that bitch smells like a toilet in a smoky tar pit” but it seems that though it has excellent sillage and more than moderate projection no one felt overwhelmed.

People that smell me get a warm floral leather fragrance, one person I asked saying pretty! My skin gives Aoud Cuir d’Arabie a sweetness that does not show on my BFF Kath’s skin, on her it is a more raunchy leather/oudh centric fragrance, still beautiful and interesting but less sweet tobacco. Now we are talking well worn leather that has taken on the scent of humanity and lost the edge of industrial whatever it is they use to make it leather.

Aoud Cuir d’Arabie by Montale Baseball Glove WikiCommonsPhoto Stolen WikiCommons

Nowadays in the morning after a wear I can still smell the remnants. Aoud Cuir d’Arabie ends up much sweeter at the end and though they’re not mentioned I get some musks along with sweet tobacco and some very soft warm resins that could be the oudh remnants, or it could be some labdanum, there is something sweet there at the end anyway.

Further reading SmellyThoughts and Memory of Scent
LuckyScent has 50ml/$120 & 100ml/$170 (Currently there is a discount!)
SurrenderToChance starts at $4/ml

Have you tried Aoud Cuir d’Arabie by Montale? Are leather and oudh your thing?
Please leave a comment because this is meant to be a conversation, join in!
Portia xx

I have written about Aoud Cuir d’Arabie by Montale before at Perfume Posse, this review is based loosely on that review.

Posted in By Portia, Fragrance Reviews, Montale | Tagged , , , , | 21 Comments

Monday Question – Which Samples Or Decants Are In Your Bag Right Now?

Today’s MQ is quick and easy:

Which samples are in your purse or upon your person at this moment?

Are you carrying a well-edited selection?

A big jumble of hopefuls?

Or just one particular sample or decant?

Do you ever carry a full bottle?


My Answer:

I have a 15ml travel bottle of Hermès Paprika Brasil in my bag as well as a sample of Hiris (which I love!).

I never carry a full bottle, but make myself a decant if I want to bring something in particular.

I used to exchange the samples in my bag regularly, but lately I have been happy with Paprika Brasil as it seems to mesh well with whatever I applied in the morning (which is usually some other Hermessence to tell the truth and they all seem to complement each other well).

What treasures will your bag yield today?

Posted in Monday Question | Tagged , , | 48 Comments

High Spirits – Review: Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling

By Tara

Juniper Sling is an homage to London Dry Gin and the Jazz Age.

Really, you couldn’t get a better beverage to inspire a fragrance than gin. It can be infused with a wide range of natural botanicals including citrus peel, almond, angelica, saffron, orris root and even frankincense.


Perfumer Olivier Cresp was an interesting choice for Penhaligon’s who released this EDT in 2012. Cresp has largely worked on mainstream fragrances including Dolce & Gabbana’s Light Blue and the game-changer that is Thierry Mugler’s Angel. From the notes it looks like he infused some gourmand nuances into Juniper Sling:

Top notes: Cinnamon, orange brandy, angelica, juniper berry
Heart notes: Cardamom, leather, black pepper, orris wood
Base notes: Brown sugar, black cherry, vetiver, ambrox

juniper sling

The botanicals are released into the air straight out of the bottle. Chiefly the aniseed of angelica, the piquancy of black pepper and the gin of juniper. There’s also a very nice orange brandy accord. Fellow cinnamon-phobes need not fear, I can’t detect it except for a little sweet and spicy warmth. It’s a great opening.

Juniper Sling settles down to a powdery, sweet and softly musky skin scent. I wouldn’t actually describe it as boozy from this point. It’s uplifting and light-hearted but not alcoholic. On me, it’s mostly about the tame musky/labdanum-y scent of ambrox and the gentle aniseed of angelica.

Angelica can be herbal, green and spicy, the way it is in Angelique Sous le Pluie for example, or aniseed, peppery and musky, the way it is here.

Although there are contrasting sweet and savoury facets in Juniper Sling, the sweetness takes over.

I don’t find it fleeting the way some do, but it stays close to the body. Bear in mind that it is an eau de toilette so lasting power will be limited. It could easily be worn by either gender. It’s as androgynous as the boyish figure of a flapper.

The backdrop for Juniper Sling is 1920s London, when the bright young things were doing the Charleston and listening to Jazz which were new, exciting and a little daring. No doubt they’d be smoking and drinking a few gin cocktails too. The mood was carefree and hedonistic, without a thought for tomorrow.

I must admit I don’t find the fragrance as heady and boisterous as the Roaring Twenties. It’s rather too subdued for that, but this impression is probably down to the fact the deeper accords don’t show up on my skin (such as the leather, black cherry and vetiver).

In the end, the musky sweetness is just too persistent for my taste. All the same, Juniper Sling is a playful yet modest fragrance which I can imagine working well as a discreet work scent.

What are your favourite alcohol inspired fragrances?

Posted in By Tara, Fragrance Reviews, Penhaligon's | Tagged , , , , | 26 Comments

Ephemerals – Mini-Reviews: Brecourt Paris

By Sandra

Brecourt Paris is a relatively new niche perfume company (2010) created by perfumer Emilie Bouge and is based in Paris.  I have never tried their perfumes and now I have a handful that I have tried and truly enjoyed.

Let’s have a sniff at these beautiful interesting blends.

Brecourt has created a line within their brand called Les Ephemeres whose purpose it is to explore rare and precious essences from ancient times and how they can be interpreted in modern perfumery. These rare and precious materials are limited to small quantities and so we know which batch we are smelling Brecourt adds a wonderful touch to their bottles in this collection by dating the bottle on the front with the year of production. Excellent idea!

Rose Gallica – Les Ephemeres – 2012


Notes: Pink Pepper, Frankincense, Rose, Myrrh, Cashmerewood, Ebony, Ambergris (listed on Aus Liebe zum Duft website)

On first sniff this is similar to Kilian’s Rose Oud. I love Rose Oud and wear it in the summer when it is hot.

Rose Gallica opens with a strong sense of rose and wood. The incense takes its time coming to the forefront. It slowly unfurls and mingles with the rose beautifully.  Rose Gallica quickly shifts and brings in the woods. That is what makes this perfume so mesmerizing for me. Rose Gallica takes me on a walk through a magical dark forest and I stumble upon a small cottage with the most enticing rose garden and it just beckons me to sit down and relax using all my senses.

Rose Gallica enchants me with its cool and warm properties. The incense cools the warm petals of the roses. The woody notes are touched with the warmth as well.  There is a light touch of ambergris in the base which rounds out the perfume beautifully.

Poivre Bengale – Les Ephemeres – 2013

brecourt poivre bengale Notes: Begal Pepper, Ginger, Incense, Clove Buds Absolute, Nutmeg, Sandalwood, Leather, Cashmere Woods, Ambergris

Brecourt mentions that

“The pepper of Bengal is the first spice that was introduced in Europe during Antiquity. A subtle jewel, pleasant, sweeter that our daily pepper and never previously used in perfumery.“

On first sniff I get a whollop of pepper but strangely don’t have the need to sneeze. The pepper is immediately in the forefront with ginger hot on its tail. The incense cools the whole bit down but not too much because then comes the nutmeg with the sweet clove. This is a wonderfully spicy perfume transporting me to a spice market. The spices are all blended so well that it is a stroll through the spice marktet with a breeze moving through. What makes this perfume striking is the balance between the spices and the sandalwood, woods and ambergris in the drydown.

Oud Santal – Les Ephemeres – 2014


Notes: Orris, Violet, Oud, Cashmere Wood, Cipriol Gurjum, Sandalwood, Ambergris, Musks

Brecourt mentions that Oud Santal is

“A profound sensibility… without saffron as compared to all the ouds in the market.“

As I apply this perfume I am surprised at the initial blast of iris  at the start. It is nice and cool and not medicinal at all like many ouds can be. The sandalwood takes a bit of warmth to show itself and when it does it is a fascinating perfume that I cannot stop smelling. It is oud and sandalwood with tendrils of iris and much later on there is a touch of ambergris.

I have become a fan of ambergris in perfume and am loving the way Brecourt uses it.


I truly enjoyed the three Brecourt perfumes from the Les Ephemeres collection. I look forward to trying more perfumes from the house. Have you tried Brecourt yet?

Here are more mini-reviews by Olfactoria.

Also, can you please suggest any perfumes with a bit more ambergris for me to try?



Posted in Brecourt, By Sandra, Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Spicy, Woods | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments