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 Escentual.com. 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: 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
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.