Monday Question – What Is Your “Back To School” Perfume?

Fall is here! The weather turns decidedly more unpredictable, rain, wind and cooler temperatures take over. School starts again and there is whiff of new beginnings in the air.

Fall for me is always a time to start over, a beginning of a new phase. We perfume people tend to mark such changes in mood with a new perfume. A new purchase or a rotation in our daily fragrant wardrobe is in order.

What is your fall perfume?

Which perfume marks the start of a new phase for you?

What is your going back to school scent (whether you actually go back to school or your kids do or you just remember the feeling)?


My Answer:

When a new school year begins, it is usually the time for me to rotate my daily perfume collection. The summer scents go into hibernation in my closet and the cosy fall scents are allowed their time on the glass tray.

I look forward to take out Chanel Bois des Iles, Cuir de Lancome, Hermès L’Ambre des Merveilles, Nabucco Amytis and maybe a Guerlain or two (like Cuir Beluga or Angélique Noire).

As for something new? I am contemplating to finally get a travel set of Hermès Brin de Réglisse and Paprika Brasil (prodded by Michael’s lovely review). If you click the link to my Brin de Réglisse review you might wonder if I finally lost it, but I did a complete 180 on this perfume and I’m so glad about it. Time to write a new review I guess… :)

I’m looking forward to hearing all about your new fall acquisitions, wishlists or “shop your own collecton” scents!

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Summer In Italy – Scented Travels

We started our yearly trek to Italy once more in the city of Udine. It is very convenient to spend the night there, before venturing further south, since five hours of car travel are plenty for two young children.

We had a fantastic lunch at Osteria di Villafredda in the tiny hamlet of Loneriacco. It is near a castle and offers great food and a view that immediately relaxes the eye and the mind. A drink on the Piazza in downtown Udine later left me completely tipsy and happy (they know how to make their Aperol Spritz!).



Osteria di Villafredda

Our hotel is a little outside of Udine, in Tricesimo. The view from our balcony never fails to get us into vacation mode. Life as usual gets left behind and we slide into the Italian way of life, which is slower, focused on sensual pleasures and infinitely more fun.


View from the balcony of Hotel Continental, Tricesimo

My two little soldiers adore Italy, if it were up to them, they would happily spend their lives eating pasta and running wild. Italians are so much more accommodating with kids, it doesn’t matter when they don’t sit quietly all the time, they joke with them, they bring them extra food and the boys relish the attention and revel in their status of being “belli biondi” (beautiful blonds).


The next day we went on to Florence. I didn’t plan out a whole itinerary of cultural exposure, since I would have only frustrated myself, we’ll keep the heavy museum tour for another time. Instead we wanted to explore the city on foot wherever the road took us, so to say. I wanted to boys to enjoy themselves, not complain about stuff all the time.

It worked out rather well that way, although many of you will probably be horrified that we did not get to the Uffizi or the Palazzo Vecchio. We did extensively walk the Giardini Boboli, saw the Palazzo Pitti, the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition and Santa Maria Novella.



Our hotel was conveniently located near the Porta Romana in a quiet tree-lined street (Via Niccolo Macchiavelli) and looked fabulous. An old villa slightly gone to seed, but still exuding old-world glamour. It had a garden that might be best described as enchanted, with green labyrinths, hidden nooks and crannies, old statues and fountains, in short a children’s paradise.


Entrance of the Classic Hotel in Florence


Our third child, Dr O’s love of his life


In the Boboli Gardens



Fountain at Boboli


In Florence I steered my troops in the direction I wanted them to, of course, which was to the local Hermès boutique and to several profumerias. By now my children think it is completely normal and the done thing to visit perfume shops when abroad (or at home for that ;) )

The first interesting store was the Olfattorio, Bar a Parfum. I asked the SA whether I was allowed to make a few photos with my phone, but she didn’t allow it and wanted me to ask her boss (who was not there). I complied of course, but I honestly don’t quite see the damage some exposure on a blog could do to a store… (enlighten me if you can!)

Despite the no photo rule, I had come with a purpose and was not to be deterred. I wanted a summery perfume that didn’t require thinking and Diptyque Geranium Odorata was just it. It sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, but I am not, I’m really happy with the L’Eau line of Diptyque and currently own three of them (Neroli, Lavande and now Geranium, reviews are hopefully in my and your near future). To make up for the photo embargo, the SA showered me with samples and I left as a very happy Perfumista.



Entrance to the Olfattorio

The next stop was the perfumery of Santa Maria Novella, a ringing name in the world of perfume, this old monastery still sells potions, creams and perfumes based on formulas from the 17th century (or so the PR lore says).


Piazza di Santa Maria Novella

It was hot, the boys were tired (all three of them) and time was short, so I didn’t dally for too long, since Niki fell asleep on the stairs I quickly purchased my Pasta di Mandorle (the best handcream ever!!!) and smelled a few perfumes, among the standouts for me were Zagara, an orange blossom cologne and Tobacco Toscano, a sweet tobacco vanilla scent. I didn’t care so much for the famed Melograno, but maybe I’m doing it a disservice by not actually trying it on skin. The line comprises over 40 perfumes, so I’m looking forward to finding a few more surprises next time…


Interior of SMN pharmacy – impressive.



Young Master Paul professionally checking out the fragrance display.

A nap and some drinks later we moved on and eventually spent another two days leisurely strolling the city, having excellent food three times a day (as you should!!!) and enjoyed ourselves.


The Palazzo Pitti


Sculpture in the Amphitheatre of the Pitti


Dr O in his Dolce Far Niente get-up. (Paul in the background can’t quite believe his eyes).

After almost a week on the road we went to our beloved seaside hotel on the Adriatic coast, the Hotel Maracaibo in Jesolo Pineta. This was the place the boys spent their summer for the past five years, and I am bit nostalgic, because it was the last time this summer. The boys are big enough now for us to venture further and show them a bit more of the world.

That said, we enjoyed our last vacation there like never before. It was such a relaxing and quietly peaceful time, I find myself wishing I was still there. (Which is a first as vacations with the boys tended to be more exhausting than anything else, but age has made them wiser by now ;) )

After a week of lounging by the pool, eating our body weight in fresh, delicious Italian fare and evenings of long talks on the veranda we made our way home to Vienna.

My fragrant souvenirs of this lovely summer are the two Diptyques, Eau de Lavande (brought back for me from the US by the ever generous Dr O who was in Oregon right before the Italy adventure began) and Geranium Odorata from Florence, and one more perfume I discovered and had to immediately buy, because it was love at first sniff – and continues to enchant me – Acqua di Parma Rose Nobile. More on that later…

Thanks for making it this far. If you are still reading you are in for a chance to win some of the newest addition to the Acqua di Parma Nobile line, Rosa Nobile (a 5ml sample drawn from my bottle) that is to be released widely in September.

Please leave a comment on this post about your ideal vacation destination to enter the giveaway. I’ll let draw a winner in one week’s time.



Posted in Diptyque, Ramblings, Santa Maria Novella, Shopping, Travels | Tagged , , , , , , | 69 Comments

A Visit to the Perfumery at Roullier White, London – Sunday 10th August 2014

By Tara

Recently I finally visited the perfumery at Roullier White in south east London for the first time. It took me so long because if you live north of the Thames, it’s not the most straight-forward place to get to. This is primarily because it’s not served by the underground network we are so used to travelling around the capital on.

After taking two tube trains, I met fellow perfume lover Irum at London Bridge Station. From here we got the over-ground train to East Dulwich Station and then opposite we caught a bus (185, 40 or 176) to the North Cross Road stop on Lordship Lane. The shop is less than a minute’s walk at number 125. We were meeting our friends Nick of and Sabine of Iridescents, who are both lucky to live locally.


We found Nick and Sabine standing outside the front of the store enjoying ice-cream from the neighbouring Oddono’s Gelati. Not to be left out, Irum and I went off to indulge in exceptional blackberry sorbet and chocolate ice-cream (me) and salted caramel and pistachio ice-cream (Irum). Perfume people are nothing if not pleasure seekers.

Having consumed our cones, we entered the store. Roullier White is actually more than just a perfumery, it’s a life-style store. They stock everything from pet care and men’s accessories to scented candles and kitchen wares. There is also the Mrs White’s own brand range of home and beauty care products. After reading all this on their website I expected the shop to be pretty big but it’s actually just two rooms with a carefully edited selection of high quality products.


Some of the perfumes are on the counters to the right, but they mainly line the shelves just behind them. The two sales assistants who helped us were knowledgeable and friendly. Straight away Irum and I asked to try the perfumes by Neela Vermeire Creations. These aren’t stocked anywhere else in London as far as I’m aware. I tried Ashoka for the first time, straight onto skin and liked it a lot. It is a beguiling beauty but the bright and bold personality of Bombay Bling! is still my favourite from this exquisite line which also includes Mohur and Trayee.

Sabine, Nick and I then had fun trying a few of the wacky Smell Bent fragrances, which are relatively cheap at £45 for 50ml. Tokyo Mama: Fizzzzz is so like the lemon flavoured fizzy drink 7Up that it made us laugh. Nick thought he may well buy a bottle next summer. Brussels Sprouted to my great relief was actually a green fig cologne and then there was Walk of Shame, which was not nearly shameful enough for Nick’s skanky tastes. However, after a fresh start on Sabine, it did start to reveal a little of the night before.

Irum was looking for something for her boyfriend and very much liked Norne by Slumberhouse which she found wintry and Nick described as “labdanum-y forest floor”. Slumberhouse is an American boutique cologne label inspired by urban culture, particularly “the new school of hip hop”. Slumberhouse may be a bro’s brand but they have bottles with pretty beads in them.

The hit of the day was Odd Fellows Bouquet by Atkinson’s which turned out to be a vanilla tobacco on skin. It was sweet on Nick to the point of resembling Spiriteuse Double Vanille, while to Irum’s slight disappointment it was a little drier on her. Atkinson’s is a British perfume house founded in 1799 and relaunched in September 2013 after a long absence. Prestigious customers of the past include the Duke of Wellington, Admiral Lord Nelson and Beau Brummell.

We also tried fragrances from Histoires de Parfums, Carner Barcelona, Calé Fragranze d’Autore, Jardins D’Ecrivains and Imaginary Authors, among others.

There was so much spritzing that it was hard to keep track as you can see from the photos.


Do I spy a Flamingo jacket on Nick?

Some of the other brands stocked are Mona di Orio, Jovoy, Mark Buxton Perfumes, Hiram Green, Aedes de Venustas, Caron, Olfactive Studio, Maria Lux, Farmacia SS. Annunziata, Maison des Reves, Rance, Evody and Maira Jung, but there were quite a few more to explore. I recommend going on the website and writing out a list of things to try before you go.

After we were well and truly sniffed-out we retired to the House of Tippler next-door for gin cocktails and more chat, of a perfumed nature and otherwise.

So whether you are based north or south of the river, it’s worth seeking out Roullier White for some brands you just can’t find anywhere else in the city and like us, why not enjoy some top quality ice-cream and cocktails at the same time?

Posted in By Tara, Shopping | Tagged , , , | 29 Comments

Iris In Disguise – Review: Hermès Paprika Brasil

Editor’s Note: I want to welcome Michael today. He is an Australian, living in Sydney and I met him in person last January when he and the inimitable Portia of Australian PerfumeJunkies visited Vienna. Michael has a great nose and an equally great passion for perfume. He also is a charmer, because he knew that to win me over a review by Hermès is definitely the way to go. ;) So enjoy with me Michael’s take on Paprika Brasil and let’s hope for many more of his charming reviews in the future.

By Michael

Hi there!

My name is Michael and I’m a fragaholic…

It all started a few years ago when I sniffed Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles.
Instantly it transported me back to a place in my childhood. It was all orthodox masses and sacramental wine.

Many hundreds of fragrances later and here I am indulging myself with fragrant musings.
I hope you don’t mind.

I’m delighted to be writing on occasion for Madame Olfactoria and what better place to start than with one of her favourite houses, Hermès.

I was never a Hermès fragrance fan.
Well, not until recently.

A few years ago I tried Terre d’Hermès and sure, it was nice.
I then tried Voyage d’Hermès and liked that one a little more.

Based on these, and a few others I can’t recall, I thought “meh, Hermès just isn’t for me”. Moreover Jean-Claude Ellena’s minimalist style just wasn’t to my taste.

Fast forward to February this year and a bored jet-lagged wait at Bangkok airport had me searching for some retail therapy.
I settled on a set of four 15ml Hermès travel bottles – a fantastic size for those of us with far too many fragrances.
Little did I know I would discover my Hermès gateway: Paprika Brasil.

“A tinctorial wood to colour fabrics red, ‘brasil wood’ gave its name to the country. With its power of suggestion, “bois de braise” sparked my imagination and I chose paprika to illustrate it. By mixing and matching, I recreated its scent, which is more secretive and discreet than its taste.”
Jean-Claude Ellena

Paprika Brasil is part of the Hermèssence line and contains notes of Pimento, Paprika, Cloves, Iris, Green Leaves, Mignonette, Precious Woods and Brazilian Redwood and was created by Jean-Claude Ellena in 2004.

hermes paprika-brasil

Paprika Brasil contains iris and lots of it. To my nose it is the dominant note which is fantastic because I love iris.
Here it feels like the iris bedded on soft woods and highlighted with a healthy dose of red peppers.
It’s such a clever and unique idea.

The red peppers are fresh. Like a freshly cut chilli but with only a hint of heat. There’s little in the way of dried or stuffy powdered chilli.
I find the red pepper notes to be a little abstract. They are identifiable but not so literal and strong that spicy foods or food like smells ever come to mind.

The iris is neither heavy and buttery nor too light and powdery. It’s just floats along in a soft middle ground being brought a back to earth with the smooth combination of soft woody notes.

As the fragrance dries down some green notes appear and blend seamlessly into the woody iris. Sometimes, I’m sure I smell hints of leather through the sleeve of my shirt.

Applied liberally I get soft to moderate projection and enough longevity to last the working day.

While I enjoy wearing Paprika Brasil, I’d also love to smell it on a partner. After the first few hours it has a lovely soft skin like quality that I would love bury my nose into after a long day at the office.

Personally I have very few easy to wear fragrances. Inevitably easy to wear equals boring and I have far too many fragrances to try. Paprika Brasil however is one of the few fragrances that I can easily reach for every day and still enjoy.


I hope everyone tries Paprika Brasil especially lovers of iris notes. Paprika Brasil is definitely one to add to an iris lover’s wardrobe if you don’t find it too spicy.

Do you have other Hermès or iris loves? Please tell me about them below. I‘d love to add them to my list of fragrances to try.

Posted in Fragrance Reviews, Hermès | Tagged , , , , , | 35 Comments

Monday Question – Do You Love Scented Soaps And Other Bath Products?

I am back from a long absence, first in Italy, then in our country cottage and hope to share more about it all with you soon. Today let’s start with a Monday Question, I want to know:

Can you be enticed by scented products other than perfume too?

Do you use scented soaps, shower gels, lotions, hand creams etc.?

Do you worry about them clashing with your perfume of the day?

Do you coordinate them? Use the matching products if available?

Or are you only using unscented stuff?


My Answer:

I used to stick to unscented products, but lately I have embarked on a love affair with scented everything. The Diptyque line of body products (see my review of the body lotion here) is outstanding and I enjoy testing my way through the variety of products available. More of that at a later date…

When in Italy I visited the famous Santa Maria Novella pharmacy and fell for the Pasta di Mandorle hand cream which smells divinely of almonds and is very soothing and rich for dry hands (unfortunately it is so expensive :(  )

As for the shower, I discovered a very affordable, no, outright cheap option in Italy (gotta counteract the SMN investment). A line called Le Petit Marseillais that offers affordable and lovely scented shower gels, soaps, body lotions and creams. I stocked up on the shower gels in Orange blossom, Almond and Milk as well as a few scented hand soaps for the whole family. I like the brand’s presentation and the performance of the products a lot. Of course it inevitably follows that it is not available here in Austria, as it seems to be the rule for stuff I like.

Are you familiar with the line?

Is Le Petit Marsellais available in your country?

What about you and your scented preferences aside from using perfume outright?

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Evergreen – Review: Parfum d’Empire Corsica Furiosa

By Tara

Released earlier this year, Corsica Furiosa was the first new launch from Parfum d’Empire since 2012’s Musc Tonkin.

Perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato has based the fragrance on an overdose of the natural material, lentisque (or mastic resin), using it in the form of oil, absolute and extract.

The resin is obtained from an evergreen shrub, Pistacia lentiscus, which is native to Corticchiato’s picturesque homeland, the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

Corsica Furiosa

Notes for Corsica Furiosa include lentiscus (mastic) oil, nepita (a local variety of wild mint), lentiscus absolute, tomato leaf, pepper, lentiscus extract, hay, honey, cistus and oakmoss.

As you may have already noticed, the line has redesigned its bottles and packaging.

The top of Corsica Furiosa features tomato leaf with a dash of lemon and a few sprigs of mint.  The lentisque quickly kicks in full force and the fragrance remains linear for several hours. It’s tart and crisp, accented with a sprinkling of pepper.

Lentisque (and therefore Corsica Furiosa) is the scent of bright green, fibrous plant stalks rather than dark green, lush vegetation. It’s more sturdy than tender.  I can imagine the bosky bushes in Corsica growing on dusty slopes under a hot sun.

“Furioso” is a musical term. It’s a direction, instructing a piece “to be played rapidly and with passion”. Corsica Furiosa is certainly invigorating in its verdancy. It’s a vivid green at high pitch.

Enlivening and intense, it captures the mood of an energetic walk up a hillside in the Mediterranean, with clean air and wide open vistas.

It’s green from start to finish but it does become more earthy and mossy in the base, which is the part I like most. I can’t detect any honey or hay, as listed.

Green perfumes are largely genderless but I find Corsica Furiosa rather more masculine than feminine in style.  It’s clean-cut, literal and cologne-fresh. I’d categories both projection and longevity of the Eau de Parfum as about average.

Having experienced it a couple of months ago in Lentisque by Phaedon and now here, I don’t think lentisque/mastic is my kind of green. I prefer those that are dark and deep like Ormonde Woman or light and sparkling like Chanel’s Bel Respiro.  Another factor is that I don’t have a reference point for lentisque. It doesn’t conjure up the greenery I know and love.


If however, like Marc-Antoine, you have happy memories of time spent on the “Island of Beauty” and recall its particular herbaceous scent, then maybe Corsica Furiosa will hit the spot and transport you back there with a single spray.

Have you tried Corsica Furiosa?

Are you fond of any of the fragrances from Parfum d’Empire?

Posted in By Tara, Fragrance Reviews, Green, Parfum d'Empire | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Portia’s Summer Fling – Review: Tocca Giulietta

Dearest and most delightful Olfactoria’s Travelers,

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

I wanted to show you a perfect summer fragrance this week because you all are coming to the end of summer up north and I think I’ve found a super easy wear, well priced frag that could be a summer signature scent that will happily take you from lazy Sunday brunch to chi chi drinks with the boss and clients, from the footy to the ball. A no worries spritz both refreshing and pretty…

Giulietta was created by Ellen Molner and James Bell for Tocca in 2009.

Giulietta Tocca FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Ylang ylang, green apple, pink tulip
Heart: Bulgarian rose, lily of the valley, palida iris, vanilla orchid, lilac
Base: Heliotrope, cedar, musk, amber, sandalwood

Everyone talks about the green apple opening in Giulietta, it’s not photo realistic but it is crisp and refreshing and I can definitely see why it’s such a winner for so many people. I had never associated tulips with fragrance, but there is a green sappy wetness surrounding the apple that could well be tulip turned up 1000 times from nature, maybe. I also get frosty morning, metallic hint of snow or ice. This is a sweet, as in ‘she’s a sweet girl”, uncluttered, fresh fragrance that is shy and retiring. A cool breeze on a warm day. That first sip of slightly flavoured sparkling mineral water when you really need some liquid refreshment.

As the opening is overtaken by the bouquet in the heart I am completely at a loss to pick individual notes, though I think I can smell iris or heliotrope in their most powdery forms and something quite delightfully soapy; there is a lovely fresh green-ness that stops Giulietta turning into a soapy/powdery mess and keeps us firmly in fragrance land. I’m not sure if it’s me or if the fragrance then skews a little lived in, after the flowers do their thing and the whole scent heads towards dry down I am enjoying a healthy, clean but not recently bathed, human fleshy fragrance underpinning everything and making it interesting. It doesn’t stay in this mode for long though, the generic soft powdery vanilla woods and laundry musk style blows in and Giulietta takes a fairly predictable fade to gone, predictable but nice. Sadly my skin never gave me the sorbet moment in dry down that Jessica got at NST.

So wearability? Absolute and utter wearability from jeans to gowns, t-shirt to dinner suit. I think Giulietta would smell even better on a guy than a girl just for the fun of it. Date night, work, the opera or party night out, if you are a one frag person this is probably the kind of thing that you will spritz and wear to the bottom of the bottle, which BTW is really lovely, heavy and feels a good deal more expensive than Giulietta sells for.

Further reading: Now Smell This and Convenient Beauty
Beauty Habit have $68/50ml
Surrender To Chance have $13/4.5ml manufacturers samples

What is your summer spritz for 2014?
Portia xx

Posted in By Portia, Floral, Fragrance Reviews | Tagged , , , | 23 Comments

Hypnotic Tuberose – Review: Nasomatto Narcotic Venus

By Tara

“The fragrance is the result of a quest for the overwhelming addictive intensity of female sexual power”

say Nasomatto about Narcotic Venus.

How’s that for a mission statement?

nasomatto venus

I tend to find tuberose more than a little overwhelming. I feel like it’s trying to dazzle me with its intensity rather than gently beguile me with its seductiveness.  It can also have buttery overtones which make my stomach churn and a camphorous quality that literally leaves me cold.

It’s precisely that bold character which makes tuberose so divisive.  It’s a love it or hate it kind of note. If you love it, you probably have more than one tuberose perfume in your collection. If you hate it, you probably don’t like to even see it mentioned in a note list.

I am trying to admire it, or at least develop a healthy level of respect. So let’s see how I get on with Narcotic Venus…

The brief list of notes is as follows; tuberose, jasmine, lily and spices. The perfumer is Alessandro Gualtieri who has done a number of perfumes for Nasomatto including the jasmine loaded Nuda.

I don’t hold back when first testing my sample. I apply 4 hefty spritzes to my arm and let it settle for a moment. When I go in for a tentative sniff I’m relieved not to be repelled. This is good news considering Narcotic Venus doesn’t break you in gently with anything as wimpy as a citrus top note.

The tuberose is upfront, loud and proud (as ever) but the lily and jasmine flank it nicely. All three work in harmony and it has quite a mesmeric effect. A heady mix for sure but it also has a lush freshness. Imagine a giant floral arrangement of recently cut flowers, radiant and fragrant.

It’s not too sweet or at all indolic, which definitely helps. As for the spices, they are either so well blended or muted that I can’t pick them out.

I’m not about to become a tuberose convert but I do find it wearable at this point. I assume it’s made of good quality materials because it’s smooth and doesn’t screech. It is a little buttery and there is something faintly medicinal, but both of these classic traits are low-key.

The sillage is not nearly as huge as I had anticipated.  After about an hour the cold store freshness fades and it becomes warm and sensual, slowly turning into more of a skin scent. The bottle is labelled “Extrait de Parfum” and the lasting power is excellent.

From this stage on it remains linear and gradually it starts to get to me.  It goes to my head, mimicking that feeling of oppressiveness you get in very high humidity.

It’s not an obvious man-eater like Fracas or a cold bloodied shocker like Tubéreuse Criminelle. Narcotic Venus takes you over by stealth. Those flowery fumes seem innocuous at first but then you suddenly discover that you’ve been overcome.


It does what it sets out to do. It surreptitiously delivers a steady stream of hypnotising tuberose and watches as you sink slowly to your knees.

I say this to all you tuberose lovers: knock yourselves out with this one.

(For some reason it is now listed as Narcotic V. on the Nasomatto website.)

Posted in By Tara, Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Nasomatto, Tuberose | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Perfume Free – A Trip To The Alps

By Sandra

Giving my nose a much needed break from perfume never crossed my mind. For as long as I can remember I have worn perfume at some point in time during the day or night. The only obvious exception was when I was down and sick. That’s it.

Mountain flat view

Naturally in preparing for my most recent vacation I had it in the back of my mind to sort out my samples and decants with which I wanted to play. Well, blame it on stress or early onset dementia, time flew by and as I prepared for the trip and packed I had the intention of sorting as a last minute fun activity but never got around to it.

Saturday morning rolled around and we had to pack the car for the drive to the mountains. Great, anticipating a relaxing sunny vacation packed with adventure we climbed into the car – suitcases and bags busting out of every corner. The Norwegian had to stay behind as he was given a short deadline for a major project. This ended up being the first time in years where I was going on vacation alone with my parents and my son and I was looking forward to spending quality time with them – away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Sean on mountain

Two hours into the drive I realised that I was not scented for the day! No problem – right? When we arrived at our destination I carried all the bags and suitcases up to the flat and eagerly took out my cosmetics case fully expecting to find my samples or decants.

I forgot! Not one sample or decant! My mom was beside herself and could not stop laughing. Of all people – I forgot. Not all was lost she assured me. Mom had of course packed all of the samples and decants that I gave her. So if I needed to I could have a nice stash to chose from.

A funny thing happened though. We opened up the windows in the rented apartment and as I breathed in the fresh mountain air I forgot all about my supposed dilemna. Morning came and I still was not interested in perfume.

cable car mountain

What struck me most was that I was enjoying the smell of the fields being fertilized. Sunshine on the first day enabled us to drive higher up and to take a cablecar up the mountain. Everything smelled different and I was basking in the ‚natural’ smells that I was encountering. As I said, fertilizer, but also the grass after being warmed up by the morning sun let the morning dew steam off and it was so refreshing. Buttercups on top of the mountain did not smell, but drew me down to the ground to play with my son and I imagined them giving off a velvety honeyed aroma. Mountain water so clear and cold mesmerized all of us.

Buttercups and water

The second day of our vacation saw rain, and oh how it rained. But there is something magical about being in the mountains with fog and clouds kissing the mountains and coming down to the valley, hiding the natural dramatic beauty underneathe. Rain drenched grass and trees also have a beautiful smell.

I am such a city girl and I wish sometimes that I wasn’t. Many of you will wonder what I am rambling on about. But as a city girl this was an awakening of sorts. When ever I have been out in nature – Norway for instance – I still wore perfume. Maybe from now on I will choose to forget my perfumes at home when I go on a vacation where a lot of outdoor nature activities are called for.


I was taught a valuable lesson. I do not need to wear perfume and I certainly do not need to panic when I forget to bring some along. In fact, my nose was grateful for the two week break. Not only was I able to enjoy my vacation in a whole new level, but when I came home I was able to smell my perfumes with a fresh and relaxed nose.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Can you relate?

Posted in By Sandra | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments

Windswept – Review: Atelier Cologne Mistral Patchouli

By Tara 

Like many people, I associate patchouli with cool – particularly autumnal – weather. It has a warm, earthy, sometimes dirty aroma which goes well with bonfires and falling leaves. It can have hippy connotations but it can also be refined as exemplified by Chanel’s Coromandel. These days it’s usually cleaned up and paired with sweet fruit in the ubiquitous, youth -friendly “fruitcholi”.

However a cologne-style take on patchouli is not something I’ve come across, until now.

The mistral wind is a strong, cold, north-westerly that blows from the south of France into the Mediterranean.

Can patchouli really take to the sky? Is it possible to transmute earth into air? Apparently so.

atelier mistral patchouli

Created by Jérôme Epinette and launched in 2013, the notes given for Mistral Patchouli are grapefruit, black pepper, star anise, iris, incense, geranium, fraction of patchouli from Indonesia, benzoin and vetiver.

Some perfumes use coconut to give a beach-y feel as in Bronze Goddess, or are inspired by the ocean like Hermessence Epice Marine. However Mistral Patchouli is the smell of the shoreline, where land meets sea.

The fragrance starts off with sunlight sparkling on the water’s surface. A zesty opening exuding ozone and setting the maritime scene.

I have issues with grapefruit but it’s very fresh and pleasant, not at all sharp or reminiscent of body odour (thank goodness). On the flip-side, pepper has long been a favourite note of mine and here it’s sprinkled over the grapefruit flesh, mingled with just a hint of incense and star anise.


From this point on, the notes blend together to form a vision of the sea shore…

Everyone except for you has left the beach for the day. The sea breeze is whipping up and the tide is out, leaving behind driftwood and seashells. You stand at the water’s edge with the grassy dunes behind you, an old weathered pier to your side and the sea stretching endlessly ahead.

The bracing wind feels good against your over-heated skin. You shut your eyes and inhale that site-specific scent of damp sand, long grass, musty wood and briny air.

You turn and head for home, carrying this coastal cocktail of aromas with you on your skin, after it’s been warmed by the sun and cooled by the wind.

Mistral Patchouli could make a nice alternative to the classic citrus cologne. It’s subtly spicy and sensual whilst still being clean and lightweight. I can imagine it being worn with a white shirt to the office on days when you’d rather be roaming the shore.

If you’re not generally a fan of full-on patchouli, don’t be too put off. It’s very airy and smooth.

You don’t get much sillage but longevity is very good. Anyone could wear it but I find it more masculine than feminine in character.


I’m going to close this post with the story Atelier Cologne has associated with the fragrance because I’m a sucker for a bit of romance:

“Just as they could not stop the winds from blowing, nor could they stay apart any longer. They left everything behind, but they were together, fearless and free. They laughed in the sea salt air and shared a final moment on land before setting sail under the luminous blue sky…”

How do you feel about patchouli perfumes? What type do you prefer?

Posted in Atelier Cologne, By Tara, Fragrance Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 32 Comments