February 3, 2016

Dame Perfumery - Osmanthus and Gardenia

Osmanthus is one of the 10 famous flowers in China and Taiwan and the flower of the month of August. A traditional symbol of Love and Romance. Dish underglaze blue and white decoration, Kangxi period 1662-1722, ca 1690-1700.
Photo: Henri René CADERIUS VAN VEEN, via Gotheborg China Porcelain Glossary.

Dame Perfumery's style is that of easy to love perfumes. If their aim is to create immediate olfactory pleasure, then they achieve that aim well and fully. There's no having to get used to it, or acquiring a taste.  Or perhaps they suit me especially on a personal level, because they speak to me in that direct way favorites immediately do.

There are several soliflores in the line. The two I have tried so far, Osmanthus and Gardenia, are both so rich bright and dimensional they almost belie the title of soliflore because they are so big and full, engaging, and as dimensional as many other perfumes based on and titled after these floral themes.

Osmanthus Perfume Oil comes in a 10ml rollerball oil base that opens out with real power.  It's as big and full as an alcohol based perfume. It reminds me of certain Estee Lauder perfumes, in the way it opens with so much intensity, for example the opening of the original version of Beautiful. It's not a surprise to find out that Jeffrey Dame worked at the Lauder organization for a serious amount of time.

Intensely apricot and green, I consider it therapeutic grade for those who need a change of mood while in the depths of winter or for those long separated from naturally highly fragranced flowers.

I am not personally acquainted with the Osmanthus flower in nature, only as a perfume element, so can't speak to how realistic this is. That said, this version provides an intoxicating spell of immersion into a white floral spirit, while remaining fresh and energetic.  It's a festive aesthetic, while casual and down to earth at heart.

It can be used as a layering element with the other soliflores in the line, opening the whole experience up to personal experimentation. These perfumes are well priced enough that this is a reasonably attainable idea.

The Eau de Toilette version is even brighter and openly embracing right from the start, as the alcohol evaporates and releases the perfume elements into the air as quickly as physically possible.  I find it has a little more astringency and a more youthful energy, with the apricot bonded to the green more tightly, as a more a unified team than the oil version.  Both versions are decorative and ornamental in the extreme.

They both calm down to publicly acceptable levels of intensity fairly quickly but I don't mind reapplication or having that first big hit be for me alone at home before venturing forth to a restaurant or elsewhere.  Both versions continue after the first big open in true form but with a closer boundary for sillage, and that's just as well in this day and age.

Gardenia tattoo by Amanda Wachob
The Gardenia oil is hyper-real and green, with a just a shade cast by a soft cloud, a light shadow behind it as a base, throwing its pure brightness into higher relief. The green within is lively and tropical, exuberant and fresh.  I find that sometimes a heavy gardenia perfume can hit you hard enough to make you sleepy, that an overload creates a narcotic effect as part of the experience, but this is more the rocket fuel part of the flower's aroma.  It reaches out towards the world to announce itself as here and very much alive, calling to all butterflies, birds and bees to come right over.  I find a softly musky base, very skin friendly, as an integral element.  As with Osmanthus, this first powerful opening calms down quickly, and pulls in its sillage to a more intimate space.  Wearing this in winter and allowing it to capture your undivided attention will bring memories of perfect summer days. That makes for a soothing refreshing experience.

Again the Eau de Toilette emphasizes the brightest and most uplifting aspects, a slightly lighter and slightly more sheer effect, with the green more predominant.

It's nice to use both Osmanthus and Gardenia in the oil roll on and the eau de Toilette at the same time.  After a few minutes the initial intensity will calm itself enough to make you able to mingle in public, but the big hit of a pure floral experience is available on reapplication whenever you like.

There are other engaging perfumes in the line; more on those on another post.

Visit the Dame Perfumery website for more information and to order directly.

Please find an interesting in depth interview with Jeffrey Dame on his background in the fragrance industry on the blog From Pygos

Many thanks to Ida Meister for going out of her way to introduce me to these perfumes.  Please see her in depth piece on the Dame Perfumery Soliflores on Fragrantica, if you haven't already seen it.

Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

Above photos taken from the web and credited as shown in the captions.

Amanda Wachob has a long waiting list that is now closed for her tattoos, due to the avid following she  has inspired. The Gotheborg Chinese Porcelain site illustrating Osmanthus is live linked in the caption, with much further info on the influence of Osmanthus in Asian cultures.

January 24, 2016

Using Your Sense of Smell during Respiratory Distress - Ginger and Other Aromatics

I've been down for the count this past week, there's something bad and tenacious going around. Unfortunately I could not go near true perfume at all, with heavy respiratory symptoms instantly triggered.

That said, I found aromas that were beneficial and soothing. Eucalyptus, Lavender, Honey, Lemon and Ginger, Peppermint and Raspberry, as teas or steams or inhalants, or fragranced warm compresses for the face.  Clove and Lemon essential oils are nice to drop into hot water and drink, as their scent comes up from behind the nose and sweetens the moment, especially if the soothing scent and feel of honey has been dissolved within.

Scented shower gels and soaps have also been a comforting olfactory support, as the hot water joins with a mild version of a therapeutic scent like Eucalyptus.

Below follows a re-posted piece on Ginger from 2006, slightly modified, as readers may not have seen it before, and it might be useful for those unfortunates who have or are about to be hit by the current respiratory plague. It's been spreading like wildfire.

It's an old fashioned kind of illness, putting you in a position to understand more fully the stories and lives of the past.  As a virus there is no treatment, only symptom management, so very 19th Century. If you can deal with it, it's a good time to read or re-read the Victorian era classics, like the Brontë sisters, or or Dickens, or maybe the old Russian novels.


Ginger has a great tonic and uplifting effect. Have about four pieces of dried candied ginger, with most of the sugar brushed off. It's like drinking strong coffee without the caffeine. It has a similar stimulant effect as coffee on the body and brain; you become more alert.
Ginger played by Tina Louise on Gilligan's Island

It's effective and fragrant for headaches, indigestion and motion sickness, both on land and sea.

Ginger tea is good for morning sickness or anyone experiencing unpleasant symptoms due to the flu, and also excellent for coughs and colds. It actually works when many other over the counter symptom controlling drugs do not.

For a heavy cough, fresh ginger root is cut, peeled and boiled in plain water for about three minutes, with the strained liquid sweetened with a little raw honey. A tea cup's worth will provide a few cough-free hours until you can drink another cup.

It also clears the sinuses and some claim it can control the symptoms of asthma. It is strong, and tastes something like cognac or whiskey.

It makes a refreshing fragrance and if citrus notes were added such as bergamot or lemon,  truly stimulating and energizing, with aroma therapeutic properties that promote focus and alertness.

Consider Ginger Grant, (above) as played by Tina Louise on Gilligan's Island. Her name and red hair bespoke a fiery nature that helped keep those castaways engaged and motivated on that small desert island.

She's a good representative of the virtues of Ginger essence.


I'll be back soon with something completely new. I have an abundance of and a growing backlog of wonderful perfumes to write about.

Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

January 5, 2016

Zoologist: Bat and Hummingbird

Zoologist is an indieperfume company created by Victor Wong that commissions some of the most interesting indie-perfumers to make perfumes inspired by iconic animals (without the use of any animal products, no less).

This is a lovely concept, and it seems that the perfumer and the animal spirits have been well-matched to bring out the perfumer's personality as well as express the spirit of the specific creature.  I find there's something almost Ancient Egyptian in this inspiration, as that mythology depicted many an elegant god and goddess with the head of an animal joined to the body of a human, both male and female, harmoniously combining both with a natural balance and poise.

The Zoologist site is engaging and the graphics are delightful.  I especially love the illustrations for these two perfumes, Bat and Hummingbird. There is something unique in the company's overall style and approach, which is a little more masculine than is usual in perfume presentation design. Original, engaging and contemporary, with a light sense of humor, while harking back to the beautifully detailed engravings made by artist-naturalists of past centuries.

The site has in-depth interviews with the perfumers on the inspirations behind the construction of each perfume.

The two that are my favorites so far are Bat by Ellen Covey and Hummingbird by Shelley Waddington. They work harmoniously together too, wearing one on each arm. The deep fresh earthiness and fruit of Bat coordinates well with the nectar and florals of Hummingbird.  They both have a light spirit, lift off with an airbourne energy, grow more dimensional and complex, while gentle and imbued with a subtle variety of natural intensity sweetnesses.

Bat is the essence of an appealing cool mineral earthiness, a true black soil, fecund, dark and spare, touched by the sweet creaminess of tropical fruit and a forest aura.

There is an airy quality, something of the experience and environment of a small delicate flying creature who eats fragrant fruit and flocks to rest inside the dark recesses of caves, to come out and whirl around at night, navigating by radar. Seems like every animal has its own super power and for bats it is the invisible sense of radar, that unerring aim and sense of direction toward what they need and desire.

For all the earthiness there is a liftoff that carries on with energetic vitality, steady throughout the perfume experience.

Notes are listed as - Top: banana, soft fruits, damp earth. Heart Notes: fig, tropical fruits, mineral notes, myrrh, resins, vegetal roots. Base Notes: furry musks*, leather*, vetiver, sandalwood, tonka (*= chemical notes, as Zoologist does not use animal products).

The listed banana note almost frightened me, but it comes through gently with a fresh creaminess that modulates all the rest, and so not as a dominating note.

For me that is the damp earth, mixed with myrrh, vetiver, and tonka. There is a night-ly quality here, one with the excitement and energy of a night out, as the opposite of sleepiness; fueled by the clean mineral and nectar notes. The woods are subtle and the perfume grows dimensionally as it dries down, getting softer all the way there.

Hummingbird by Shelley Waddington is a study in the layering of nectars, floral and fruit, moderated by a creamy musk and soft woods supporting a pure froth of aromatic energy.

It has an ethereal and energetic nature, delicate and refined.  The sweetness of these nectars is bright and light, not amped up or heavily syrupy. The perfume's most striking personality feature is the purity of a strong Spring white flower style, softened by airy cream and woods.

The intense energy of a floating hummingbird hovering in mid-flight is represented by the aromatic high pitched singing quality that goes on and on through the life of the fragrance.  The fruit is represented by natural nectars, without standing out as recognizable separate notes, but rather joined as an accord that pulls together all the essential mildness within the sweetness.

I felt the hummingbird persona, I also felt the wildness hover beside the civilized behavior of watching the birds take a friendly offering at a feeder, perhaps inspiring decorative painted images on fine porcelain cups and dessert plates, from which to take afternoon tea. This perfume has an ornamental, decorative quality that is sunny and softly bright.

Notes are listed as - Top: apple, cherry, citrus, lilac, muguet, plum, rose, violet Leaf. Heart Notes: honey, honeysuckle, mimosa, peony, tulip, ylang. Base Notes: amber, coumarin, cream, moss, musks*, sandalwood, white woods.

Please see the links above and the Zoologist site for more information and to order samples and full size perfumes.

Images above taken from the Zoologist site, and Pinterest for the depiction of Anubis, the dog headed god of Egypt.

Copyright 2016, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

December 17, 2015

D.S. & Durga Hylnds: Pale Grey Mountain, Small Black Lake

Loch Lomond via Wikipedia Commons
Road to the coast by Gogoye on Flickr.
I've been in a a Scottish frame of mind recently.  I'm not Scottish and I've never been there, but, the images above are what I expect and long to find when I get there.

The D.S. & Durga perfume line Hylnds is a series of olfactory tributes to the Highlands, long lost to the inhabitants. As has happened to many through history long and not so long past, the natives were driven away from their ancestral birthplace to the edges of the country, in this case out to the edges of the coasts, by the aristocracy who wanted it all for themselves.  It is now a largely uninhabited, a place that nature reclaimed, abundant with native flora and fauna.

Many of the displaced came to North America during the early European settling of the Northern and Mid Atlantic East Coast, gravitating to the mountains. Known as fierce fighters back in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, there remains a quietly strong force of nostalgia for the old landscapes, often expressed in folk music. Many who live in the U.S. to this day relate to this kind of essential longing, and this perfume is an olfactory candle-lit flame to a lost place and past.

Could be the feeling of exile from something of significant beauty that was once a source of sustenance. Collective unconscious images of expressive spaces filled with dramatic earth water and sky, touched with atmospheric effects of mists and fog, lichen, low growing northern shrubs, brambles and wildflowers, all held within this perfume.

Pale Grey Mountain, Small Black Lake delivers this longing in a form of ephemeral reality. The quietness is suffused with the breath of air surrounding the bracken, suffused with a moist silver fog. It holds the chill of a black lake reflecting a black sky, quiet spaces alive with active nature and fast moving cloud formations, sudden glimpses of sunlight detailing the majestic beauties made of simple and plain things like stones, and water in all its forms, mixed with leaves and woods.

The perfume has a bracing fresh opening, listed as fog on stone, water, pepper and lichen, the clean pure air of the great open North Atlantic spaces.

Later the central core comes out, a woodiness tinged with pepper.  Notes are listed as heather shrub, beechwood, bramble flower and marsh violet.  A wooded tone, branches dissolving into rich mulch, chilled by cold water and air, and purslane, a rare use of that plant in perfume.

As is often the case with natural/botanic materials, this perfume is subtle, rich and  beautiful but not long lasting or big.  It has tremendous dimension, complex and poetic, more of an olfactory art piece than a commercial perfume, but very wearable by both men and women.  It's a special form of aromatic experience that requires quiet attention and is best appreciated at the freshest course of its application, in the first hour or two.

Robert Burns:

Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North,
The birth-place of Valour, the country of Worth;
Wherever I wander, wherever I rove,
The hills of the Highlands for ever I love.

My heart's in the Highlands, my heart is not here;
My heart's in the Highlands a-chasing the deer;
A-chasing the wild-deer, and following the roe,
My heart's in the Highlands wherever I go.

Farewell to the mountains high covered with snow;
Farewell to the straths and green valleys below;
Farewell to the forests and wild-hanging woods;
Farewell to the torrents and loud-pouring floods.

This  poem,  sung to the Arvo Pärt music by Else Torp and Christopher Bowers gives an aural way to sample the spirit of this perfume as a tribute to the Scottish Hylnds.

Sample set of the Hylnds line is available at Twisted Lily and more information or to order directly from the perfumers online and at many other niche perfume retailers.

Above images borrowed from Wikipedia and Flickr.
Please visit the active links for more information.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.

December 10, 2015

Continental Beauties: Russian Tea, Myrrh Casati, Figue Fruitee

European perfume can be an escape into an ideal landscape and imaginary life that somehow still calls on all my personal Western Hemisphere scent memories most intimately.  There is a cultural connection but also there's a grounded reality to many modern Euro niche perfumes these days, calling straight to the primal scent pleasure centers. I'm not the only one, as these perfumes have drawn avid perfume fanatics like moths to flame. Refined and sophisticated, they are also intimate and distinctively individualist.

Russian Tea by Masque Milano hit me immediately as pleasurable, but then directly fractal-ed into complexity and multi-dimensional aromatic richness.  There's the black tea astringency and liveliness, a hint of mint and raspberry to uplift the serious darkness, and the lightest shade of black pepper to tickle the nose along with black tea.  All together the effect is something like an incense but one burnt for comfort and quiet personal pleasure.

The constant tea drinking that takes place in the great 19th Century Russian novels makes another dimensional reference for those who have taken an emotional plunge into that literature, and associate cups of tea with long sessions reading miraculously beautiful books.  It's a deep Eastern black tea, no citrus, more like an oolong and faint white smoke touched with mild sweetness.  I know my mother used to sweeten tea with raspberry jam instead of sugar sometimes, and that may be why I find the floral fruit addition in this black tea perfume so true to life.

The notes are listed as mint, black pepper, raspberry, black tea, magnolia, everlasting flower, leather accord, incense, birchwood, and cistus-labdanum. It's a beautifully enveloping velvety fragrance, that would work anywhere and for both sexes, brought out best by cooler temperatures.

Myrrh Casati by Mona di Orio is another perfume that is brought out by coolness. A clear fruity evening shade of darkness, bittersweet, an herbal potency of many layers, with the character of an incense made for overcast days.  Imbues personal space with elegance, luxury, sophistication and mystery.  Based on the character of the Marchesa Casati, an eccentric Italian aristocrat of the early 20th Century who was the embodiment of creative Deco luxury and fashion.

This perfume could bring you into the fine leather interior of a great Italian sports car, or a precious wood paneled cabin on an utterly luxurious ocean liner of the past, where everything was made with exquisite craftsmanship and materials.  This perfume is like a modern take on an olfactory artifact of that period in the luxury decorative arts. Its concentrated form makes you take in all the details.

The notes are listed as Peruvian red berries, pink pepper, Guatemalan cardamom, safron, licorice, Siamese benzoin, myrrh and incense from Somalia, Indonesian patchouli, Indian cypriol nagarmotha, and guaiac wood.  A perfume for any occasion, for both sexes, it creates an aura of intelligent sensuality.

Figue Fruitee by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger brings you right to the perfect countryside, sunny and fecund, peaceful and flowering. A sense of well being, pure air laden with the scents of the country, the mild sweetness of aromatic fruit. Conveys the warm energy of late summer in concentrated form, a way to breathe in a traditional corner of the French countryside and become one with that life.

One of a suite on the iconic perfume materials of the south of France,  by an old perfume family from Grasse using the skills of long tradition.  The most prominent notes are listed as grapefruit, fig, walnut, lime, cedar, leather, musk, plum and benzoin.  The beauty of this perfume experience is the sense of mildness and balance, like perfect balmy weather, that automatically relaxes the body and soul. Can be worn at any time by anyone. It would convey something definitely pleasant about the wearer, as an appreciation of cultivated and refined earthiness.

These are three perfume pleasures that are capable of carrying you away to another world and time, pulling off that most skillful of olfactory magic tricks. A lovely treat for those who need it, or appreciate their refinement enough to simply want what they offer. All three concentrate on carrying you deep inside a beautiful experience.

Please follow the live links for more info as to price and further details.

Disclosure:  Received these three as samples from Twisted Lily in Brooklyn. I am so grateful that they allowed me to browse and try everything, and then obtain a few samples for deeper and longer examination. It's a scene of discovery and delight every time.

My opinions are personal and not compensated.

Images above taken from the perfumer's websites.

Copyright 2015, Lucy Raubertas, All Rights Reserved.