The Candy Perfume Boy’s Summer Special – Perfume Lovers London, The Cavendish Club, London on Thursday 18th July 2013

By Tara

After the wettest summer on record in 2012, we are now in the midst of a heatwave here in the UK. On the day of the event, the temperature had topped 30 degrees for five days running. What better timing then for The Candy Perfume Boys’ Summer Special?

Thomas, The Candy Perfume Boy, has a fantastic perfume blog and is the fragrance expert for I was very much looking forward to his talk because I knew Thomas would come up with some quirky perfume picks and he has such a talent for coming up with unique and entertaining descriptions. I thought it would be a lot of fun and it was.

Event organiser, Lila das Gupta, distributed paper scent strips as each perfume was discussed and I’ve approximated what went on below. So buckle your seat-belts and enjoy the ride!


Thomas Dunckley, The Candy Perfume Boy

Thomas: Many have spoken about the ability of perfume to transport you to a different place and time. With this theme of olfactory transportation in mind, I thought it would be fun for us to take a brief summer holiday – and it’s free!



London, United Kingdom

Celtic Fire, Union


Notes: Peat, oak, fir balsam, pine needles, birch tar, Marmite and bog myrtle

The first stop is London 2012. My last Summer Special was the day before the start of the Olympics. My friends and I spent the day in London and happened to see the torch on Oxford Street. The energy in the city that day was palpable. At that time I was testing the new Union fragrances and the most unique of the line was Celtic Fire. It’s very peaty, leathery and smoky. It also includes Marmite tincture. When I smell it I’m reminded of the opening ceremony of the Olympics, specifically the Industrial Revolution section with the massive towers rising up amidst the smoke. It brings back memories of a great summer and a really successful Olympics for the UK. Celtic Fire is novel but it’s not a novelty. It’s very strange, but wearable.



Paris, France

Paris, Yves Saint Laurent

Notes: Bergamot, geranium, hawthorn, mimosa, rose, violet, amber and musk

Paris is my favourite city in the world. This perfume captures the spirit of the people of Paris rather than the city itself. It brings to mind chic Parisians carrying big bunches of pale, blush roses. It’s a big, dewy, floral bouquet of roses, violets and mimosa. The fizzy aldehydes give it a lot of lift.

Lila: I wonder how this current version compares to when it was first released.

Audience member: It was a bit of a shagger in he 80s but now it’s settled down and got married. (Laughter)

Lila: It probably wouldn’t be as popular if it was released now.

Audience member: It’s had its shoulder pads taken out.

Thomas: My mother wore it when I was young so I have that association.



Bombay, India

Bombay Bling!, Neela Vermeire Creations

Notes: Mango, lychee, blackcurrant, cardamom, cumin, rose, cistus, jasmine, ylang-ylang, tuberose, frangipani, gardenia, patchouli, tobacco, white woods, cedar and vanilla

Bombay Bling! captures modern India. It reflects the vibrant colours of India but also its economic changes. Fruit perfumes have a bad name because mainstream offerings often use syrupy, strawberry notes. Bombay Bling! opens with a cocktail of fruit but it’s effervescent, fresh and tart. If it were a cocktail it would be dangerous to drink. It features mango, lychees and blackcurrant – it’s a fruity party.

Lila: It has the wet, earthy signature of Bertrand Duchaufour. Neela choose him as the perfumer because he has visited India a lot.

Thomas: It has white flowers as well as the fruit, but they are light and translucent. It’s quite loud with good lasting power. What I like about it is that it stays fresh all the way through.

Audience member: What are the other perfumes in the line like?

Thomas: Mohur is a sour, carroty rose and Trayee is like kulfi cardamom ice-cream.



Istanbul, Turkey

Traversee du Bosphore, L’Artisan Parfumeur

Notes: Apple, smoky notes, saffron, pistachio, rose, tulip, leather and musk

Thomas: I’ve been looking for a Turkish Delight perfume for ages. Serge Lutens has a couple but they smell like burnt cherries. This one opens just like Turkish Delight. It’s really interesting – there are so many different components. There’s rose, pistachio, tulips, apple and nice use of a suede-like iris.

Lila: Bertrand Duchaufour was stuck in Istanbul at the time of the Reykjavik dust cloud so he decided to compose a perfume!

Thomas: It’s a whole city in a bottle. I haven’t been to Istanbul, but it’s how I imagine it would smell.





Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Oud Velvet Mood, Maison Francis Kurkdijan

Notes: Oud from Laos, cinnamon, saffron and copahu balm

Dubai is an interesting place because all these skyscrapers are in the midst of the desert. Oud Velvet Mood is the smell of the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world – with all that hot glass and metal as well as dust and warm sand. There is something spiky about it, like when you rub velvet the wrong way. It’s a bit unsettling, crackly and disjointed.

Lila: It’s more oud-y than his OUD.

Thomas: I prefer the original OUD but of the three Oud Moods, Velvet is my favourite.



Bangkok, Thailand

Ladyboy, Gorilla Perfumes

Notes: Banana, seaweed, violet, chamomile, labdanum and oakmoss

This was inspired by the ladyboys of Bangkok. It makes me think of the ladyboys caked in make-up and wearing heavy, sweet perfume. The opening smells strongly of foam banana sweets and violets but it is a changeling. Over time it shifts into a warm chypre with lots of labdanum and oakmoss.

Audience member: In the morning you wake up to someone with stubble. (Much laughter)

Lila: When was the last time you wore it?

Thomas: I haven’t worn it for a while because it takes a lot of commitment. It has the lasting power of enriched uranium. I think of it as an autumnal scent because it has a humid quality.


Positano, Italy

Aqua Decima, Eau d’ Italie

Notes: Lemon, mandarin, mint leaves, neroli, petitgrain, hedione, white wood and vetiver

Over the short space of time I’ve got to know this line I’ve fallen in love with a good few of them and Eau Lac is a serious lemming. The owners of the line have a luxury hotel in Positano on the Amalfi coast (Editor’s Quite Unrelated But Interesting Side Note: Hotel La Sirenuse in Positano is a place I long to go since I’ve seen the movie Only You with Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. It is dreamy…sigh.)

Lila: I looked into staying at that hotel but it is so unbelievably expensive. It’s the kind of place where I imagine rock stars stay. We’ve looked at Paestum Rose from this line before.

Thomas: Aqua Decima is their tenth and latest fragrance, hence the name “10th water”. It aims to capture the spirit of Italy itself. Like the people, it is animated and lively. Fizzy and sparkling, it features Amalfi lemons and herbal mint with lots of leaves and stems. Unlike a lot of colognes it doesn’t fade after ten minutes. It’s very summery and perfect for this weather because it’s very refreshing, like a mojito.



Venus, Outer Space


Narcotic Venus, Nasomatto

Apparently Nasomatto don’t “do” note lists.

This will be our furthest trip. We are leaving Earth for outer space to make a brief visit to Venus. Narcotic Venus is a nice, jungley tuberose. It’s not fresh like Carnal Flower, or a diva like Fracas or a murderer like Tubereuse Criminelle. I imagine pink skies and black flowers on Venus. It’s very fruity with lots of bubble-gum. I’m thinking of wearing it at my wedding next year because it says “I’m the bride, look at me!”

Lila: I was recommended this at Liberty and sprayed some on without thinking too much about it. I’m not a white floral lover, however after leaving the store, I had to turn back and buy a bottle. It was so good.



Mystery Perfume

Lila: Here’s a mystery perfume that I want you all to try and tell me what you think it smells of.

(Tara: The audience consensus was sherbet, plastic and sambuca.)

Lila: It’s actually called Arctic Jade by Agonist. I wanted you to try it because I don’t think it smells at all like its name. It’s warm and fuzzy, not arctic or jade-like. It’s my summer hit. What do you think would be a better name?

Audience member: Sherbet Dip.

The Candy Perfume Boy assumes the professional sniffing position.

The Candy Perfume Boy assumes the professional sniffing position.

Thanks to Lila and Thomas for a wonderful whirlwind trip around the globe and beyond.

Have you tried any of these perfumes? Do you have a favourite? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About Olfactoria

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This entry was posted in By Tara, Chypre, Citrus, Cologne, Eau d'Italie, Floral, Fruity, Interview, L'Artisan Parfumeur, Lush Gorilla Perfumes, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, Nasomatto, Neela Vermeire Creations, Union Perfumes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to The Candy Perfume Boy’s Summer Special – Perfume Lovers London, The Cavendish Club, London on Thursday 18th July 2013

  1. Vanessa says:

    So many wonderful images and smells conjured up by Thomas’s far ranging talk and your outstanding reporting, Tara! I smiled at the reference to ‘marmite tincture’, which is a term I never thought I’d see. Cool bottles, too. And I didn’t know that about BD being stuck in Turkey – ‘it’s an ill dust cloud’….as they say. And the ladyboy story cracked me up. I must retry it if I kept my sample, ditto Paris, of which I own a vintage mini. What an entertaining and informative night – sorry I couldn’t be there!

    • Tara says:

      Hi V,
      Thanks! It was great how imaginative Thomas’s choices were. Lila wondered about the Marmite tincture and someone in the audience (Grant from Basenotes I think) said he had some at home and it did indeed smells exactly like Marmite. I did know about BD being stuck in Turkey, I was stuck in the less exotic Florida at the time. I bet a lot of TdB fans are grateful! I must say that perfume really fascinates me. As for Ladyboy, the opening took me right back to the smell of old school “penny sweets” like shrimps etc. A lot of fun.

      Hope you’ll be able to come down for a talk once we reconvene in the autumn.

  2. happyface313 says:

    Oh, wow! I am impressed at how good some people can smell – unfortunately I can’t 😦
    Amazing descriptions, amazing names, amazing bottles 🙂
    Have a very HAPPY weekend 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Thomas’s nose is extremely good, as is Birgit’s (Olfactoria). I bet you’re better than you think though.

      Wishing you a very HAPPY weekend too!

  3. happyface313 says:

    I’ve just seen that you have Jour d’Hermès in your header…one of your favorites, too? 🙂

  4. Olfactoria says:

    Tara, you are indeed a fantastic reporter! It must have been a charming evening, thank you Tara and Thomas!

    • Tara says:

      Thanks, B! It was a charming way to spend a hot, summer’s evening. It was really fun to try some perfumes I wouldn’t have otherwise.

  5. ringthing says:

    What a fun trip, thanks Tara! Those Union bottles are very cool and I’m fascinated by the Marmite tincture. I bought a jar on a whim last winter and it’s… interesting… I kind of craved it a bit after a while.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks ringthing! Those Union bottles are very nice “in the flesh”. I definiately crave Marmite but it tends to make me itch so I have to limit my intake sadly. It’s the kind of thing people find very odd if they haven’t grown up on Marmite on toast!

  6. FeralJasmine says:

    What fun! I own a bottle each of the original and the reformulated YSL Paris, love them both, and consider them different perfumes. I have never heard the difference between them as pithily expressed as the good Mr. Dunckley does here. I also recently obtained a decant of Mohur, which I had been longing to try for months, and I have seldom been so disappointed. A sour, carroty rose indeed. Life is short and one can’t read every blog, but this has assured that I will add The Candy Perfume Boy to my must-read list. Thanks so much for this lively, spirited account.

    • Tara says:

      Thanks so much Feraljasmine! I’m glad the lively, fun spirit of the evening managed to come across. The events are far from “dry talks”, they are full of laughs and very interactive! I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of Thomas’s blog, it’s hugely entertaining as well as informative.

      The original and vintage Paris are obviously extremely different but it’s nice you can appreciate them both. Too bad you didn’t get on with Mohur, Bombay Bling! is fab.

  7. Nina Mayleas says:

    Ain’t it great to be able to shut off the heat and humidity with delicious descriptions of scents. I tend to retreat to “dry” fragrances that have tons of Vetiver in the heat. A small parfumerie in New Orleans called Hove has a pure Vetiver which I adore. They also have soap and they used to sell the roots for a potpourri experience.

    • Tara says:

      Perfume is great escapism, Nina. I totally agree. Whether it’s the heat or a stressful day.

      I’ve heard good things about Hove and I like your method of wearing dry vetivers in the heat.

  8. Pingback: The Candy Perfume Boy’s Summer Special V2 | The Candy Perfume Boy

  9. Lavanya says:

    You’re getting married next year? Congratulations!!!! (or is it Thomas who’s getting married next year)

    • Tara says:

      Nice to “see” you Lavanya!

      It’s Thomas who’s getting married next year to his gorgeous fiance Nigel, who was at the talk on Thursday. They are a pretty awesome couple.

  10. Thank you Tara for such a lovely write-up! It was great to see you as always 😀

    • Tara says:

      Thanks, Thomas! It was a great evening with lots of laughs and fun sniffs. I especially enjoyed trying Narcotic Venus and Ladyboy.

  11. Jordan River says:

    What a life you lead Tara. Great report and you have reminded me to try Celtic Fire. I remember this from your Flying The Flag piece. How is this brand doing do you think?
    Thomas when will you take this show on the road? Follow The Sun.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Jordan,
      It’s certainly very handy living in London when it comes to perfume events!

      Celtic Fire is very striking but not necessarily something you want to smell of, unless you are very fond of strong, smoky birch tar leathers. It’s hard to say how the brand is doing considering it’s only sold in Selfridges, London and Henry Bendel, New York but it seems to have got a positive reception and the perfumes are well done. From comments though, it does seem like the Union Jack bottles are perhaps the biggest selling point!

  12. Pingback: People In Perfumeland – Lila Das Gupta Of Perfume Lovers London/Olfactive Events | Olfactoria's Travels

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