Monday Question – Are You A Closet Perfumista?

Are you open about your perfume hobby?

Do you share your passion with casual acquaintances or are only closest friends in on the secret?

Is your fragrance hobby public knowledge or is it your private indulgence?


My Answer:

As much as I talk about perfume in the virtual world, I tend to keep it under wraps in real life. Mostly it is because I am not a person who generally shares personal stuff easily, but also because I still harbour a little shame about pursuing something so superficial. (Which it is not, I know, but that is my Freudian Super-Ego talking, which, honestly doesn’t know the first thing about perfume. ;) )

What about you? Are you open about your love for all things scented or do you handle it on a need to know basis?

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Under the Boardwalk – Review: Heeley Sel Marin

By Tara

Sel Marin is probably the fragrance that Heeley are best known for. An upscale oceanic scent that contains notes of lemon, bergamot, beech leaf, sea salt, algae, moss, seaweed, vetiver, musk, leather and cedarwood.

It starts off with zesty lemon peel and sea salt, as bright as sunlight and as enlivening as a coastal breeze. For the first hour or so it is a revitalising swim in a secluded rocky bay with not a SPF’ed tourist in sight. It feels like seawater lapping around my sunlit skin.

After about an hour, a clean vetiver drifts in and the mood shifts. We move into the shade under the boardwalk. Algae cling to the huge timber pillars which are repeatedly soaked in saltwater. Green and musty seaweed is strewn across the beach which is scattered with moss covered pebbles. Everything is encrusted with sea salt.

Oftentimes salt notes put my teeth on edge but that doesn’t happen while wearing Sel Marin.

There’s a touch of something which could be the unsettling ozone twang of iodine. That not always pleasant back-note of sea life left behind by the tide. It just adds to the realism and isn’t strong on my skin.

Sel Marin is bone-dry with no sign whatsoever of coconut infused sun lotion. It isn’t the scent of a tropical resort or even a desert island like Heeley’s Coccobello. It’s a rugged seashore in temperate climes, with skies which regularly cloud over and seawater which is murky and briny, not turquoise and crystal clear.


A salty, woody vetiver is not my style, but I admire the way Sel Marin recreates such a vivid scene. I might not always wish to wear fragrances like this, but I admire the way they seek to capture a sense of place with lots of atmosphere. They’re like one of the magical bottles in a tent at The Night Circus:

“He picks up a frosted-glass mason jar and unscrews the silver metal lid. This jar is not empty but contains a small amount of white sand which shifts on the bottom. The scent that wafts from it is the unmistakable smell of the ocean, a bright summer day at the seashore.

He can hear the sound of waves crashing against the sand, the cry of a seagull. There is something mysterious as well, something fantastical. The flag of a pirate ship on the far horizon, a mermaid’s tail flipping out of sight behind a wave. The scent and the feeling are adventurous and exhilarating, with a salty tinge of a sea breeze.

Bailey closes the jar and the scent and the feeling fades, trapped back inside the glass with the handful of sand.”

Extract from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Posted in By Tara, Heeley, Vetiver | Tagged , , , , , | 27 Comments

Getting To Know Dawn – Review: DSH Scent Of Hope And More

By Michael

Not too long ago I read that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz was recreating Jacques Fath’s Iris Gris and I was hugely excited. So off I rushed in an iris perfume loving fragrance geeky dash to get samples.

Little did I know that her new “Scent of Hope” would introduce me to two other of her wonderful fragrances.

Scent of Hope


“Inspired by one client’s devotion to the fabled Iris Gris de Fath perfume, the Scent of Hope is an iris soliflore fragrance at its most voluptuous and luxurious with decadent peach in the top and the kiss of animalics in the drydown.”

Scent of Hope contains notes of:
Aldehydes, Ambrette Seed, Bergamot, Carnation, Civet, Grandiflorum Jasmine, Green Oakmoss, Ionone, Lemon, Muguet / Lily of the Valley, Musk, Mysore Sandalwood, Orris, Orris Concrete, Peach, Vetiver co2, Violet, Violet Leaf Absolute and Virginia Cedar.

Scent of Hope is the fragrance that piqued my curiosity about DSH Perfumes and it didn’t disappoint although, surprisingly, it is not my favourite.

It opens with a hefty dose of iris and an even heftier dose of peach.
The fatty peachy aldehydes provide Scent of Hope with a smooth buttery feel.

This is all underpinned by some floral and woody notes that are quite soft.

Like the original, Scent of Hope smells surprisingly modern.

This is a safe bet for an iris fan but it doesn’t dislodge my personal favourites, Iris Silver Mist and Irisss.
The fact that these two even come to mind is testament to the fantastic job Dawn has done in trying to recreate THE classic.

This is mandatory sampling for iris fans.

In addition to being a lovely fragrance 30% of  Scent of Hope’s sales will be donated to Denver-based, Sense of Security, an organization dedicated to helping those coping with breast cancer afford their treatment and living expenses. What a wonderful show of support for a very worthy cause.


dsh viridian

“Organic. Sultry. Enchanted. An abstract green scent that speaks of dark woods and deep forest floors. The greenest green perfume we make… a sharp green-woody-conifer-herbal design that is deep and cool at the same time.”

Well I didn’t get any greenery at all but I certainly do love this fragrance.

Viridian contains the following notes:
Aloe, Angelica, Artemisia, Australian Sandalwood, Bergamot, Brazilian Vetiver, Celery Seed, Chrysanthemum Absolute, East Indian Patchouli, Galbanum, Oakmoss, Myrrh Gum, Orris Root and Violet Leaf Absolute.

My favourite experience of perfumery is when I encounter truly evocative scents and Viridian is one of the best.
It takes me straight to a golden sandy beach.
The smell of hot sand and sun cream hit me straight away.
Later there are some metallic violets, incense and iris.
Hot stones then join me on this imaginary beach and the sun cream turns into sexy hot skin.

I don’t get anything green despite the name and my experience of this fragrance is so very different to the other reviews I’ve read. Strange. Either this just smells very different on my skin or the sample had the wrong label. I hope it was the former because I love Viridian and want to add it to my collection.

A “beach” fragrance without the obligatory lactonic white floral and vanilla/coconut combo? Sign me up.

Cuir et Champignon


“A rich leather perfume flavoured with the distinct aroma of white button and dark woodland mushrooms.”

Cuir et Champignon contains notes of:
Bergamot, Castoreum, Cepes (Mushroom Absolute), Civet, Clary Sage, Clove Bud, Galbanum, Gardenia, Guaiacwood, Hiba Cedarwood, Honey, Indonesian Vetiver, Leather, Neroli, Orris, Peru Balsam, Sandalwood, Tobacco Absolute, Tuberose Absolute and Wild Chamomile.

Cuir et Champignon is my second favourite of the group.
Being a leather fragrance lover I probably should have expected to enjoy Cuir et Champignon but who would have guessed that a mushroomy leather could work so well.

The opening is very camphorous with a strong iodine like aroma.
The closest smell I can liken to this is the nose of a very peaty whisky minus any alcohol or booze.
This is followed by an old dusty wood smell mixed with strong medicinal birch.
After a few hours Cuir et Champignon softens considerably with the iodine and birch notes lingering on.
Finally a dark mushroom leathery drydown takes over. Lovely.



“Modernism. Minimalism. Urban chic. An abstract masculine design with notes of brushed steel, glass, concrete and motor oil.”

Metropolis contains notes of:
Aldehydes, Ambergris, Atlas Cedarwood, Australian Sandalwood, Bergamot, Black Leather, Brown Oakmoss, Castoreum, Chinese Geranium, East Indian Patchouli, Gallica Rose Otto, Leather, Musk, Petitgrain, concrete and motor oil.

Well there’s a big long notes list and a fabulous description but Metropolis didn’t pan out well on my skin.
It starts with fizzy woods and a touch of leather.
This is closely followed by some green notes, bergamot, aldehydes and geranium.
Brushed steel, concrete and motor oil? I wish I got all of that.
Very quickly Metropolis moves close to the skin and there it remains a very soft skin scent.

Twelfth Night

“A dense and foresty oakmoss rich design that is also a mildly spiced, conifer-woody.”

Twelfth Night contains notes of:
Brown Oakmoss, East Indian Patchouli, Frankincense (Olibanum), Juniper Berry, Laurel Leaf, Myrrh Gum, Patchouli and Spicy and Woody Notes.

On me this was a big patchouli bomb supported by some woody notes and a touch of rose-like notes.
Not much in the way of moss and quite simple.
I think this in one for the hard core natural fragrance and head shop patchouli fans.
Seek out Twelfth Night if either of the above is you!


“An elegant yet full-bodied woody/resinous/conifer design.”

Michelangelo contains notes of:
Ambergris, Atlas Cedarwood, Bergamot, Brazilian Vetiver, Brown Oakmoss, Clary Sage, Frankincense (Olibanum), Himalayan Cedar, Incense, Labdanum, Laurel Leaf, Lemon, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Myrrh Gum, Origanum, Palma Rosa, Peru Balsam, Pine Needle, Spice and Woody Notes and Tobacco Absolute.

The opening of Michelangelo smells very alcoholic to me, something akin to de-sweetened rum.
It then settles down to notes of laurel and lemon/bergamot over a soft resinous mossy base.
A fairly prominent pine note runs through the fragrance alongside some tobacco and vetiver.

Then, over time, Michelangelo dries down to a grassy and woody skin scent.
Unfortunately I’m neither a fan of particularly green nor wholly natural smelling fragrances so this one just isn’t for me.

Again, natural fragrance fans should check this out.

I want to say a big thank you to Dawn for sharing some of her creations with me.
I didn’t love all of them, probably because I struggle with all natural perfumes. Let’s be honest though, when do any of us love everything we try from a perfume house?

The fact that Viridian (here is Olfactoria’s take on the fragrance) and Cuir et Champignon are going straight to the top of my shopping list is convincing enough for me that everyone can find perfumes to love in the DSH line.

Are there fragrances in the DSH Perfumes line that you love?

Do you enjoy all natural fragrances?

Tell me about it below.

Posted in DSH, Fragrance Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments

Monday Question – Which Fall Release Are You Most Excited About?

New perfumes abound year-round, but fall is often the time to think about something new.

So which of the scents released for this season catches your eye, or rather: nose?

What new launch are you most interested in?

Or have you already decided on a new addition to your collection?


My Answer:

Unsurprisingly the perfume i am most excited about comes from Hermès. The twelfth Hermessence Cuir d’Ange has my name on it.

Another one I will definitely try is Knot, the second fragrance release from Bottega Veneta.

What do you crave this fall?

Posted in Monday Question | Tagged , , , , | 60 Comments

Coconut Cooler – Review: Heeley Coccobello

By Tara

Not for the first time, I’m in the minority by not being a fan of coconut perfumes. I think coconut can be great when it’s in the mix (as it is in Nuxe Prodigieux Le Parfum or Fils de Dieu by Etat Libre d’Orange) but I find it too sweet and overpowering when it’s the dominant note. For the most part, Coccobello manages to buck this trend.

heeley coco
Launched in 2013, Coccobello has top notes of palm leaf and gardenia, middle notes of coconut, sea salt and vanilla and base notes of Virginia cedar, benzoin and sandalwood. The bottle features a pretty palm tree.

Coccobello opens up beautifully green and lightly aromatic/spicy. I’ve not encountered a palm leaf accord in fragrance before but it smells like lime juice squeezed over coriander. The gardenia is very muted which I think is a good move considering it might have tipped the balance and made it cloying.

There’s a subtle milky texture of the kind you often find in fig perfumes, but for the most part Coccobello is the scent of coconut water. It has a wonderfully fluid feel. If it were a drink it would be a Coconut Cooler with crushed ice and herbs, not a sweet and creamy Pina Colada.

It’s fresh, clean and simple in the most positive of ways, while a bit of spice, greenery and salt spray keeps it interesting. I enjoyed the first few hours.

At around the four/five hour mark, an airy vanilla gatecrashes the party and spoils it for me just a touch. I can’t help but miss how cool and refreshing the scent was before its arrival. It’s not unpleasant in the least but combined with the coconut, it becomes just that bit too sweet for my taste (although admittedly I have low tolerance for sugar).

It’s washed clean of vanilla by the base, which is very pale woods with a little of the aromatic/spicy feeling of the early stages. It’s like an attenuated version of Hermessence Santal Massoia.

As you would imagine, on the whole Coccobello has a relaxed coastal vibe, which is more breezy than beachy. Its style is that of Robinson Crusoe stranded on a desert island as opposed to a glamour puss sunning herself in St. Tropez.


Robinson Crusoe by Heavenly Demonic on deviant art

It doesn’t smell like I’ve smothered myself in sun lotion and feels completely fine for office wear. There’s not a lot of sillage but it has very good longevity, better than average for an EDP.

I think it’s pricey for what it is, but give it a try if you’re prepared to splash the cash for the right coconut fragrance or you’re looking for a tropical scent which isn’t flowery. Coccobello is assuredly genderless.

For other coconut-centric perfumes check out Olfactoria’s reviews of Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder and Love Coco (Now Love Coconut) by Honoré des Prés.

How do you feel about fragrances featuring coconut?

Posted in By Tara, Fragrance Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

Candle In The Dark – Review: 24.09.11 By Hilde Soliani

Hey Hey lovely Olfactoria’s Travelers,

Portia with you today from Australian Perfume Junkies and Perfume Posse.

It seems I am the only person who has reviewed this lovely fragrance before. Sometimes the really good stuff gets missed in the overwhelming crush of releases that happens every year, it’s a crying shame that we are just not able to keep up and get the best the notoriety it deserves. Here then is my candle in the dark.

Hilde Soliani is a fragrance creator, artist and person of uncertain moods. I have seen her rip a whole group of people to shreds when they questioned one of her labels on a FaceBook fragrance board, yet she has also been very friendly with me in emails and what little I have had to do with her. Nobody questions her ability to make wonderful fragrance though….

24-09-11  was created by Hilde Soliani in 2012.

24-09-11 Hilde Soliani FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Calamus, amber, frankincense, myrrh.

Straight out of the spritzer I get a gorgeous wash of resinous amber, a sweet and caramellised amber that is both delicious and engulfing. I think one of the resins gives me a decidedly breathy, bed head smell that sinuously wends its way through the lovely toffee-ish scent that is 24-09-11. The calamus (at least I think it is, as I’ve never smelled it) gives a dryness that cuts through the resins beautifully stopping the whole fragrance from becoming a sweetened mess. It’s an interesting green note, dry and slightly dusty and reminds me a little of patchouli without smelling much like patchouli, more in the feeling and atmosphere that patchouli creates.

24-09-11 Hilde Soliani Breeze Brad Hammonds FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

There is something cool and sunkissed about 24-09-11. A very good choice for Autumn and Spring as it seems to capture the coolness and wan sunlight of early morning in both mid seasons. An interesting, hefty amber fragrance made lighter and brighter by the addition of the calamus, made oppressive yet transparent. An interesting dichotomy, almost a fragrant oxymoron. Here we have hot liquid gold contrasted with dry and desiccated grass. The two never really come to terms with each other through the life of 24.09.11 and it is this frisson that keeps me glued to my wrist or breathing into my jumper all day.

From Fragrantica: 24-09-11 is dedicated to Hilde’s late father as an “angel” who guards her. Its notes are inspired by the flavors of Jerusalem, the Wailing Wall and the scents of the bazaar and markets with rich spices.

24-09-11 Hilde Soliani  jerusalem neu_alf PixabayPhoto Stolen Pixabay

If I spritz in the evening tomorrow morning I will awake with a smear of sweetness left that lingers extremely quietly till lunchtime. I don’t know how Hilde Soliani managed to create something so big and yet so ethereal. You are fragrant the whole time but its a fragrant that seems to fit my skin, fit me, as if it understands my smell and wants to make that smell the best it can possibly be. This interesting, awkward, enticing and unusual combination that is 24-09-11, it feels like me.

Were I to be a one fragrance kind of person, I think 24-09-11 would be in the running…

LuckyScent has $160/100ml
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $5/ml

Have you spent any time with Hilde Soliani’s fragrances? Did they inspire and delight you?
Portia xx

Posted in Amber, By Portia, Fragrance Reviews, Myrrh | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Monday Question – What Is The Book Or Story You Cannot Forget?

I have a non-perfume related question for you today. I know my readers love books as much as I do, so please share with me:

Is there a book, novel, short story, etc. that haunts you since you have read it?

What book has made an indelible impression on your mind?

Is there a story that has captured you more than any other?

Why is that?


My Answer:

Today’s question was inspired by Neil’s post about a book by Josephine Hart, Damage. I have first read this book when I was quite young and I have never forgot it.

Its movie adaptation features my favorite actor ever – Jeremy Irons, and it is one of those rare cases where the movie is just as good as the book.

Other stories that have struck a chord and stuck with me for twenty years now are One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy and Die Unendliche Geschichte (The Neverending Story) by Michael Ende.

They all speak to me in ways other stories don’t and I will always re-read them and there is nothing better than to sink back into the beloved world of a story that is and is not your own.

Posted in Monday Question | Tagged , , , | 49 Comments

Land of Plenty – Review: Mona di Orio Eau Absolue

By Tara

Eau Absolue is said to be a fragrance Mona created for herself and embodies her love of the Mediterranean. It was launched in 2013 and is described as a Citrus Aromatic. Mona composed the formula before her untimely passing in 2011 and it has been produced by Accords et Parfums, the lab in Grasse she worked with so closely.

Mona_di_Orio Eau_Absolue

Top notes are bergamot, clementine and petitgrain; middle notes are geranium, vetiver, bay leaf and pink pepper; base notes are cedar, musk and labdanum.

Eau Absolue follows the arc of the sun as it travels across the sky, reflecting the development of a summer’s day in the Med. The fragrance starts bright at first-light and becomes warmer and fuller until sundown, when it gets cosy for the twilight hours.

As you’d expect from the notes, Eau Absolue opens full of orange-hued goodness. It’s resinous rather than zingy, including the twigs and leaves as well as the fruit. The juice oozes slowly, feeling warm and sticky.

The citrus is nicely rounded out with a blend of green and slightly earthy notes (including vetiver and geranium). There’s a feeling of overflowing abundance. The soil is mineral rich, leafy plants are flourishing and tree branches are dripping with ripe fruit.

The heart is dominated by a fantastic beeswax accord and for me, it raises the fragrance to the status of serious lemming. Its delicate honeyed sweetness is blissful and a perfect counter-balance to the citrus and green notes. It’s so present and adds such a malleable texture, I feel as if I can almost rub it between my fingers.

In the base, the beeswax remains while the fruit and greenery take a step back to make room for a gentle, soothing amber and a soft, cuddly musk.

Unsurprisingly considering it’s a fragrance by Mona di Orio, this is not a light eau de cologne. Eau Absolue is classed as an eau de parfum and its lasting power is outstanding. It has great depth, with a quiet potency and reasonable projection.

It’s an encapsulation of the warmth and fecundity of the Mediterranean, rather than an antidote to the heat. Therefore I’d stop short of recommending it as a cooling fragrance to spray liberally on a super hot day. I think the sweet beeswax could be at risk of feeling stifling in very hot or humid weather, if applied with a heavy hand.

The upside of this is that Eau Absolue has more than enough heft for wear outside of the summer months. It could be the perfect reminder of those long, languid days as autumn draws in.


Eau Absolue has a different feel to the rest of the line and is well worth a try if you have yet to find a fragrance in Les Nombres D’Or that works for you. Unlike the others, the mood is very outdoorsy and incredibly relaxed. You can almost hear the bees buzzing, see the fruit-laden trees and sense the sun’s warmth on your skin.

It really does feel as if Mona managed to capture her Mediterranean happy place in a perfume. Glorious.

Posted in By Tara, Chypre, Citrus, Cologne, Fragrance Reviews, Mona di Orio | Tagged , , , , , | 29 Comments

Bogue Profumo MAAI Giveaway Winners Announced!

Michael showed us the beauty that is MAAI last week in his review.

The following commenters got lucky and will receive a sample of this enigmatic perfume.

Cynthia Mc


Please get in touch with your details at olfactoria at gmail com as soon as possible, so we can get this on the way to you!

Posted in Giveaway | Tagged | 5 Comments

Roman Holiday – A Travelogue

By Sandra

Rome is one of the cities on earth where I feel completely relaxed and at home.

We decided to take the one week of vacation that the Norwegian had, and fly to Rome for the full week. The week was the start of Ferragosto which many will know is basically the start of vacation in Italy. Knowing this in advance and understanding that it may be challenging to do any perfume sniffing (which is not that important in the grand scheme of things) we went with the assumption that we would be relaxing and kicking back our feet Roman style. So, we packed our bags and left the house at 0415 to catch a 0600 flight.

roman forum 7

There was a slight hiccup at the Fuimicino Airport on arrival. Blame the early hour but we followed the signs to baggage claim and ended up two terminals away from where we were supposed to be. Apparently this was of no concern to the security at the correct terminal (must happen often as there were several people lined up waiting to go back into the terminal) and they allowed the Norwegian entry in order to fetch our bags.

Finally, we got to our driver and were on the way to our favourite hotel in Rome. The sun was up and it was already at 90% humidity which coming from Vienna this summer left us drenched.

Rome delivered everything it promised and then some. We settled down quite quickly to relaxation mode and we strolled the streets of the inner city. Since pretty much everything was closed, including most perfumeries, we mapped out our days to get the maximum in sightseeing. No, it was not challenging with the 5 year old in tow – he was a trooper.

coloseum reds bigger

If I ask my son what his favourite part of the trip was, it would be renting a family bike (sat the three of us) in the Borghese Gardens and biking and taking in the fresh air and the beautiful song of the cicadas. Or, he may say that dressing up as a gladiator after visiting the Coloseum was an experience not to be missed. The Roman Forum was an adventure and we kept him entertained by asking him to look out for wild cats. (None to be seen.)

Navona night 4

I was on a Bernini kick – hunting down statues and fountains by Bernini all over Rome. Timing is crucial in Rome as we soon found out. We hiked to one church to see a famous statue and got to the front door of the church to find out it closed 15 minutes earlier for a two hour lunch break. Ok. We moved on. You would think that I would learn to look things up but I thought ok we go to the next church on the list another day and just get there by 2pm. Believe it or not but that church was closed from 2-4:30pm. Argh! My favorites this time were the Coloseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Capitoline Museums and the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. The Norwegian loved every single day and I have not seen him so relaxed in years. This was the first vacation for him in over a decade without a laptop!

church steeple sun

The last full day of our vacation was also my birthday and it was the first day when many stores would reopen after the Ferragosto vacation. I wanted to visit a few more Piazzas and churches and had no intention of doing any shopping. On our morning walk to the Spanish Steps and to the Piazza del Popolo we saw that Amouage had a stand-alone store! In Rome!

Amouage boutique

Walking into the Amouage store after all of our sightseeing had me hooked as soon as I smelled the inside of the store. I swooned at the beauty around me. I wanted Fate Woman and as the SA found out that I know many of the Amouage perfumes for women, she suggested that she walk us (husband key person here) through the men’s line. Most importantly for me all of the extraits were in one area for me to explore. The Norwegian fell in love with Lyric Man and I fell hard for Lyric Extrait. Thankfully the SA informed us that they will deliver anywhere within Europe. Christmas shopping here we come! It was a truly beautiful shop with a knowledgeable, patient and friendly SA.

Bernini Triton close

Rome was magical. The pictures I took will always take me to the relaxed summer days of 2014.

Where have you all taken your vacation this year?

Posted in By Sandra, Travels | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments