On perfume, and a few reviews

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I love fragrance and perfume. I always have. My first ever perfume was an aggressive, bright floral – Insolence by Guerlain, which to this day smells like my teenage years. I loved it so much I went through two bottles and everything I owned seemed to smell of it.

My love for niche parfumery was sparked by a visit to a Roman ‘profumeria’, Cherry. I haven’t been in years and I’m not even sure it’s still there, but it was a lovely little shop filled with beautiful, expensive-looking bottles. The owner was very knowledgeable, very chatty and bubbly, and kept spritzing me with all sorts of things, asking questions about what I was looking for, my life, my personality. I was in there for a good few hours and I left with dozens of scents layered on me and a beautiful golden bottle of Safran Troublant by L’Artisan Parfumeur in a glossy paper bag.

What I love about perfume is how powerful it can be. You know the feeling of a scent instantly bringing you back to a certain moment of your life? You can almost feel that moment materialise around you, before it slips away and you find yourself taking a whiff again and again, chasing a blurred memory.

I love unusual fragrances. I love acquatic notes and silky vanilla. I love fragrances that make me feel like I’m somewhere else, or that comfort me like a warm hug. I love choosing them depending on my mood, or the weather, or that dream I had last night.

One thing I’ve learnt in a few years of hoarding fragrances – it will almost never smell the same on you as it does in the bottle, or on someone else. Skin chemistry plays an important role in fragrance, and it’s all well spritzing perfume onto a tiny strip of paper, but I would never buy a perfume before having smelt it on my skin. I like to spray them, smell them, and then go back to them again and again, after ten minutes, then an hour, and then decide whether it’s worth buying or not. That’s why I love buying samples and playing with them.
Here are a few new discoveries:

Lostmarc’h Aod 

Notes: lemon, gardenia, coconut, salt, sea water.

The opening of this was a little too alcoholic for my taste, and then it settled into a pretty, clean, inoffensive floral perfume. Sadly, the very notes that caught my attention in the first place, when reading the description (coconut and acquatic notes) were barely there on my skin. No see breeze, no ocean, no wet sand. Just a very pretty, feminine  gardenia, with a green and fresh opening and a milky, creamy drydown.

While I wasn’t too keen on the openining (like opening a bottle of vodka), but I have to admit that Aod warmed up to me. I liked the soft, sweet, milky drydown. It’s well blended, subtle and close to skin, I can see this worn on the first day of spring, before flowers start to bloom, paired with a crisp white shirt. If you want to smell like stormy seaside, though, I would look somewhere else.

CSP Acqua Motu

Notes: Immortelle, sea water, lily of the valley, sand, seaweed (yup).

This one opens with green, almost balsamic and incense-like notes, which make for an intriguing start, and then it becomes a stormy sea. It’s salty, savoury, woody, musky. It’s like smelling your skin after a day at the beach: that unique, salty and sun-soaked scent on tanned skin. Aqua Motu smells of holidays on a semi-deserted islands; no sun lotion accords here, just straight-up salty water and sand. It’s different and a little wild and sexy.

Dyptique Philosykos

Notes: fig leaves and wood, white cedar.

I fell in love with this straight away. It’s fig – but more of a green fig than a ripe, sweet fig. It’s creamy and intense and subtle and it reminds me of my grandparent’s house in the countryside. Lush, green vegetation and fruit trees. It’s both fresh and comforting, and it smells like a summer rain storm. You may think this is the sort of fragrance you’d rather smell than smell of, but the drydown is so wonderfully creamy and woody that I think it really works as a perfume.

Lostmarch – Lann Ael

Notes: vanilla, hay, buckwheat, apple, wheat, milk (basically, cereals and milk).

This one is wonderful. It’s creamy, sweet, cereal-y vanilla. It doesn’t smell syntethic in any way, it’s warm and soft and cuddly and it prolongues the wonderful feeling of warmth you get eating porridge under a duvet when it’s hailing outside. Beautifully comforting, like a hug in a bottle. I don’t think it’s too sweet – its sweetness is balanced by slightly tart apple and it’s so well done. Normally I like my vanillas a little dirtier and spicier, but Lann Ael is so close to skin and comforting. I also find it sexy – not in a loud, floral kind of way, more like wearing a knitted jumper with lacy lingerie underneath.

Etro Vicolo Fiori

Notes: Tangerine, Bluebell, Waterlily, Lotus, Cyclamen, Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Peach, Melon, Musk, Iris, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Ambergris.

As a non floral lover, I find it hard to fall in love with fragrances that are straightfroward florals. The only exception are lily-of-the-valley mononotes (lily of the valley, to me, is the best smelling flower on the planet. It’s bright and silky and subtle. It smells of spring and white cotton and lazy days in bed with white, crisp cotton sheets).

Vicolo Fiori is a floral with fruity top notes (the tangerine note is especially bright) and warm, woody base notes that remind me of a sunny, hot summer day. This basically smells of summer. It’s beautiful, cheerful, and subtle enough not to give me a ‘ flower headache’. On me, the drydown is a little suncream-y in the best way possible. Perfect for spring and summer.

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Happiness – a short story

“I sit in the bathtub and try to relax. I  used to love baths, I loved slowly lowering myself in scorching hot water until it didn’t hurt anymore, my index finger drawing swirls in the cloudy water. I used to think it was relaxing.

So I sit and wait. I wait to feel relaxed. But the water is hot and it gets steamy and I can feel streams of sweat running down my cheeks and with them the expensive facemask I bought with money I don’t have.

I sit and wait and grow restless. I used to love baths so why isn’t this working, I wonder. It was meant to be good. Expectations do that to me; they make me feel unsettled. I rarely enjoy something others have deemed life-changing. I find the unexpected more comforting.

So I think about all the things in my life I hate but won’t change because it’s easier not to. And about my mum who says: you should write more. I know, I say, I used to write all the time.

I used to be sensitive and thinskinned and now I’m only the latter. I used to be passionate and feel everything so strongly and deeply and everything made me cry. I would daydream all the time and have lots of imaginary friends with complicated backstories and I used to spend every waking moment secretely pretending to be somewhere else.

I sit in the bathtub and wait and try really hard. I think about him and how I loved him and I liked pretending he loved me. He’d say you’re so pretty when you smile and I would blush because no one had ever said that before, because it isn’t true. I seldom smile and if I do my smiles are fake and they’re not even that convincing. Sometimes I’ll find myself in a situation where I’m supposed to smile – like, the old man who lives upstairs saying good morning or the shop assistant asking if I’m sure I don’t want a lotion for five pounds more, it’s on offer you see – and I just forget to curve my lips.

I loved him because he had the most perfect, joyful, child-like smile. I’ve always looked for what I don’t have.

I sit in the bathtub and wait and suddenly feel lonely and I think it’s because I have stopped. Immersed in hot water and silence I can’t rely on the distractions I surround myself with and suddenly I remember that everything I love will one day die.”