Friday, 29 January 2016

N-Cigale sample winner

The winner of the N-Cigale sample draw is M.D - congratulations!
Your name was drawn on as the triumphant one!
You can see the draw here.

Please contact me via the Sorcery of Scent blog or Facebook page with your details so that I can get your prize off to you.

Thank you to those who participated! I strongly urge you to check out the sublime N-Cigale scents and perfume presentations at your earliest convenience - there's so much to love!


Sunday, 24 January 2016

N-Cigale - Brief Review + GIVEAWAY

I was fortunate to spend my youth growing up in the emerald embrace of New Zealand... a far-flung Isle with a South Pacific lilt; one whose natural beauty is incomparable to any other country I'd seen before, nor seen since. Our small home used to back on to a national forest... a vast viridian thicket of curling 'punga' palms and countless towering pine trees. On summer days I would venture out with my friends and get lost in it's green. We would throw fallen pine needles scooped by the armful from the forest floor at one another; traipse through shallow creeks looking for eels, harvest hardened pine-sap nuggets from damaged tree trunks, and collect abandoned cicada husks in screw-top glass jars. All around us, the scent of the forest... damp soil, rotting leaf litter, fresh oxygen and the resinous green of pine. We would stay out well into the early evening until after the sun had gone, returning home only when the orchestral chirrup of the cicadas had ended for the day.

Now - some 35 years later - the smell of pine or the song of cicadas will take me straight back there. They are memories I cherish of carefree times, and I feel a life-long affinity with these two things. Cicadas and pine. Imagine my delight then, when I recently discovered N-Cigale, perfumers of Marseille who honour both with their exquisite olfactory creations.

Whilst regarded in many cultures as an insect of royalty, wealth and good fortune, cicadas have become a recurring theme in 'modern' perfumery over the past hundred years; their decorative form reproduced many times in flacons and boxes, particularly during the Art Nouveau age. Roger et Gallet and Molinard have arguably two of the most exquisite interpretations, the former rendered by Rene Lalique

Now, almost one century later, renowned decorative artist/sculptor Patrick Veillet has re-rendered the cicada for a modern age. Gone are the Arts and Crafts ornamental flourishes... instead, Veillet has conjured a stripped-back geometric interpretation that communicates all that is required with just a few lines. Veillet's illustrious career has seen him working with the world's biggest names in fashion and accessories, and he is credited with designing some of the world's most recognisable and beautiful perfume bottles - editions for Thierry Mugler, Gaultier, Chloe, and Alexander McQueen amongst others.... his wealth of experience has finally culminated in the realisation of his own perfume house N-Cigale, of which he stands firmly at the helm. N-Cigale is super chic, edgy and breaking new ground in design, perfumery and the decorative arts. 

To date, N-Cigale's approach to their perfume has been to explore 3 ingredients: fig, pine and lavender - but to elevate them to a whole new space. Frankly, what they have managed to achieve - in my eyes - is nothing short of spectacular. Three notes, each rendered two contradictory ways - one follows a lively, vibrant trajectory, and the other, a darker, unexpected one. These scents are packaged in exquisite lacquered shiny glass cicada flacons - each tinted with a different hue, and each with a stained ash wood cap. And, if these objets d'art weren't desirable enough, the perfumes they hold are truly inspired.

Below, a brief reflection on each fragrance in the N-Cigale collection.

Pin Mystique

The sharp (almost citrus) ecclesiastical perfume of resinous incense stones burnt in swinging censers... a whitewashed Greek church perched high on a pine and cypress-covered hill overlooking a sea of endless blue. A Mediterranean zephyr and the haunting wail of wind in the needles. Austere, yet summery - a sense of solar warmth and dappled shadows under the canopy of a majestic pine. Pin Mystique (Mystical Pine) is a bracing yet comforting olfactory journey - a sense of familiarity and timeless tradition.

Pin des Calanques

A fascinating study whose opening is resolutely citrus and camphor... it veers into a darker orbit with an underlying ribbon of precious woods, violet and husky iris, the sum of which evokes a sense of dwindling light at the end of the day. It is the hour just after sunset where the sky is a sweeping palette of pastel hues that run through the pink/purple/blue spectrum. The perfume of resinous pine remains as the evening wind picks up and sweeps the warmth of the afternoon off into the Aegean. The mosquitoes are out and its time to retreat indoors for a shot of masticha or feijoa vodka. Pin des Calques (Pine of the Creeks) feels devoutly nocturnal.

Figue Fresh

Brimming with a sense of broad, open spaces, Figue Fresh is a diaphanous interpretation of fig that feels somewhat weightless and ethereal. It floats under a sky quilted with clouds that are pregnant with rain. A sense of ozonic wetness and impending lightning. Static in your hair. This is a fig whose sun-soaked warmth is dwindling after a sudden drop in temperature. There's moisture in the air, and only minutes before the deluge begins.

Figue Orientale

An oriental reverie - the perfume of the Syrian souks at sunset - perfumed wooden boxes, sugared rose petals, tanned animal skins, sweet figs steeped in honeyed syrup, and the glint of hammered copper.

Figure Orientale (Oriental Fig) - to my nose - has a slight Middle Eastern slant, reminiscent of the beautiful perfume oils one comes upon when wandering the medinas and bazaars. A darker, more mysterious exploration of fig.

Black Lavender

A nostalgic glance back to a Golden Era - sequinned dresses and fringed hemlines, velvet smoking jackets and black shoes with a mirror-like shine... sheikhs and flappers dancing with abandon in the decorated jazz halls of the Art Deco age. This aromatic lavender is imbued with the smell of heavy mahogany furniture, face powder, floral corsages and a light film of sweat. A genderless, celebratory nod to times past where stuffy airs and graces were abandoned in favour of daring personal indulgences. 

Lavande Velours

Brisk and chilly, Lavande Velours (Velvet Lavender) evokes thoughts of crisp linen tablecloths on tables overlooking the Santorini Caldera... cloudy glasses of ouzo tinkling with ice sipped generously at nightfall. Whilst ever-present, the lavender here is blanched and crisp... almost unrecognisable under a freshly-ironed mantle of green anisic aromats and creamy tonka. The smell of clean skin, rubbed with light natural oils after a cold dip in the Aegean. Light, vivifying and cold.

N-Cigale is a welcome addition to a world rife with niche perfume houses and artisanal producers. Their beautiful boutique in Marseille is testament to Veillet's keen design sensibilities, and their vitrines are immaculately stocked with beauteous flacons, and cicada-shaped porcelain and jewellery. 

For more information, please visit their showroom at:

5 rue de la Prison


You can also find them via their website at or on Facebook and Instagram.


Whilst I'm reluctant to let go of these wonderful samples, I would like to offer them to another reader so that they too might experience N-Cigale
(I am sure with time, that I shall be purchasing full bottles of those scents that have moved me the most)! All six samples have been lightly tested.

To win, just leave a comment in the comments field below, telling me which of the N-Cigale scents intrigues you the most. One winner will be drawn at random on Friday January 29th, and their name published here!

Good luck! 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Ne m'Oubliez Pas - New from Guerlain

This year, Guerlain Parfumeur Thierry Wasser restores the Maison's celubrious tradition of somewhat affordable luxury with the release of "Ne m'Oubliez Pas"; a new pure parfum creation with sales limited strictly to the flagship Guerlain boutique on the world-famous Champs Elysées. It marks the second release of an extrait de parfum in recent times, presented in a generous 125ml quadrilobe flacon... "Le Bouquet de la Mariée" - the first -  was intended for (but not limited to) brides-to-be. Given the pair's generous concentration and liberal fluid volumes, their price (from €500 - €750) is more attainable for most than their spectacular annual editions that often run in the high thousands.

Ne m'Oubliez Pas - to my mind - feels more like a harkening back to the House's illustrious history of coveted editions made in small quantities, rather than Bouquet de la Mariée's conspicuous marketing brief compliance. Ne m'Oubliez Pas, for one, feels undisputedly Guerlain... it draws an arc through points plotted along the Guerlain timeline since Wasser's ascension to the throne; an olfactory snapshot of the fingerprint he has left on the House to date (with perhaps with a brief nod to one or two of the greats of yesteryear).

Ne m'Oubliez Pas (Don't Forget Me) has a surprising fruity flight, though not an expected one of citrus and pink pepper... rather, it feels dense and dewy; a splash of the amber/peachy opening of Guet-Apens perhaps? Second, a rising tendril of curried immortelle, laced with spices... a dense thread of cumin and cardamom that echoes the dry wood and allspice of Songe d'Un Bois d'Ete. These notes are steeped in a rosy/fruity damascone plumminess reminiscent of the highly coveted Shiseido great Nombre Noir. (Here, we have a rare, fleeting glimpse through a window into the excessive creations of the 80's). As the parfum dissipates over many hours, we catch flashes of the candied rose in La Petite Robe Noire and Rose Nacrée du Desert and finally trace the drydown back to the amber / patch / vanilla toothiness that is evident in the l'Art et Matière collection.

Whilst on paper this scent may read as something of a Frankenstein's monster, on skin it actually sits in the register of the sublime. I can see no good reason why Ne m'Oubliez Pas will not be as revered and cherished as one of Jacques Guerlain's lesser-known creations. It may never quite be a Shalimar or a Mitsouko, but quite possibly a Fol Arôme, a Coque d'Or or an Atuana.

As one can never truly predict how long a Guerlain scent will be kept in production, I recommend you think about making this your purchase of the year. And whilst it may one day inevitably end up a Bolshoi or a Parisienne, one can never refute the timeless allure and charm of an exquisitely-fringed quadrilobe flacon. 

Get it while you can.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

NEW: Olivier Durbano - Chrysolithe (Chrysolite)

Each September in the lead up to Pitti Fragranze (the international perfume and fragrance trade expo held in Italy) I find myself awash with excitement; overwhelmed with an eagerness to learn which new stone has been plucked from the vast repository of jeweller / perfumer Olivier Durbano, and has been fashioned into one of his olfactive 'Stone Poems'. Last weekend, Olivier presented the eleventh scent in his series, Chrysolithe to a very receptive international audience. Today, Tuesday, a bottle has reached my desk here in Perth, much to the delight of a very adrenalised Sorcerer! Chrysolite is a name given in antiquity to any number of stones in the yellow/green spectrum. Today however, the term which was once give to a whole cornucopia of gems, has narrowed somewhat to describe chiefly one stone in particular: Peridot.

This past weekend marked the 16th wedding anniversary of yours truly and Mrs Sorcerer, and quite by coincidence, Peridot is the stone traditionally given on this occasion. I'm sure Monsieur Durbano could not have imagined how well timed this release was; particularly as it has already taken place amongst my most favourite perfumes in his collection to date. It represents something quite unlike any other perfume he has released until now, and in fact, like nothing else I've ever smelled. Period.

Chrysolithe has been referenced in the Holy books of many cultures and is a stone linked closely to the Gods. It is the stone said to have even been one of the foundation stones of Jerusalem, and it is right here that the artistic focus of this perfume becomes a lot sharper for me. Chrysolithe - the perfume - I find, straddles the line between the East and the West. It feels distinctly French in its approach, but in the olfactory register it veers more towards the Near and Middle East... a fanciful jaunt along the mesopotamian basin; green oases in the sands; hammered Persian gold; bustling soukhs filled with viridian hand-dyed silks.

Chrysolithe opens with a sparkle of lemony-green verbena whose tartness is instantly diminished by the herbaceous spiciness of hyssop - a plant with a slightly camphorous quality. This is underpinned by a bouquet garni of cumin, black pepper and cinnamon which each lend warmth to the composition. A flash of ginger proffers a sharp 'bite' to the topnotes, and ushers in an aromatic heart of rosemary and sage. These notes feel dense and oily, but are broken up by flowering jasmine which adds a certain softness and roundness. A woody, earthy trail unravels, which at times - given the condiment-like piquancy of the top and heartnotes - flickers between musky and leathery animal facets in a somewhat astonishing fashion. Chrysolithe feels genderless and compelling... a perfume which for the most part in fact, defies adequate description. It is the perfect marriage between green aromatic accords and woody spicy notes...the sum of which surprisingly propel the author to landscapes dotted with whirling Dervishes, open desert fires under a rising crescent moon, and lumbering Bedouin caravans. Oddly - for those familiar with Olivier's work - this is another of a small few scents in the series that do not carry his signature 'Durbano-ade' of Somali Frankincense, but that is certainly not to its detriment. Chrysolithe - whilst a unique and distinct creation unto itself - does not feel at all out of place in the distinguished company of its older brothers and sisters.

In 2015, Olivier Durbano continues to prove he is a master of his craft, and indeed an accomplished interpreter of the stones that have enchanted him since childhood. Chrysolithe is the olfactory apogee of his hard work this past year, and gives rise to more exciting additions as he continues his journey moving forward. Olivier's is a path that is paved with baubles both rich and rare, and I, for one, cannot wait to explore it with him.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

GUERLAIN: Dress Code - the ultimate refashioning of Habit Rouge?

To many, Guerlain reside at the pinnacle of French perfumery where they have been held in high regard for almost two centuries. Within its bountiful history, countless perfumes have come and gone, but Jean Paul Guerlain's masterstroke of 1965 Habit Rouge is something of a perfume pillar Chez Guerlain... arguably their most beloved and revered masculine. Over the years Guerlain have tinkered with it - reprising it in every concentration imaginable, and shuffling components in its pyramid to try and achieve a flanker that can come even close to its legend. In 2015 - the 50th anniversary of Habit Rouge - master parfumeur Thierry Wasser has arguably pulled off the unthinkable... he has refashioned this timeless classic and given it a new lease of life. Habit Rouge Dress Code may very well mark the Mount Everest of flankers... can anything shoot higher than this new edition whose charisma might very well eclipse the original?

I don't think I've been more excited about a flanker, um, ever. Dress Code takes all the aspects I love about the original and amplifies them... it creates an orchestral passage that increases in volume and force, drowning out the annoying white noise (those love/hate nuances) that dogged Jean Paul's creation. Today, Wasser paints from a palette that is partially his predecessor's and partially his own; Jean Paul's comprises vibrant pops of citrus and subtle tints of leather whilst Wasser's is rich with infinite shades of almond and toothy praline. The result... Wasser's considered reorchestration sees Habit Rouge galloping forth and leaping out of the 1960's and right into the here and now. Much like a museum-quality restoration of an old master, Wasser has removed the lacquer that has yellowed with age, exposing a colour spectrum that is infinitely more lively; the contrasts are more pronounced; the fonto more vibrant; the highlights crisper and whiter. Wasser has rendered Habit Rouge more relevant to today; heightening it's already-celebrated status to something stratospheric.

As with years gone by, if it is Guerlain's intention to release a Habit Rouge flanking edition every year, then in the years to come Dress Code will be hard to trump. To my mind - at least - it has achieved everything it could possibly wish to. It stands a head and shoulders above the L'eau's, the Legere's, the Driver editions and the Cavalier presentations. How sad it will be to crowd it and devalue it with countless more revisions, when frankly, Dress Code comes within atoms of pure perfection.

One not to be missed.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Hermès - Jour d'Hermès Gardenia

In 2015, Hermès in-house parfumeur Jean-Claude Ellena continues to stroll in his garden to find a guiding light; one which will transform his 2012 creation 'Jour d'Hermès' into a paragon of femininity and fortunately he has done just that. This year, his eyes have settled upon the gardenia - a flower whose narcotising and mesmerising perfume has won the hearts of millions the world over.

Jour d'Hermès Gardenia represents the dawn of a new day... a whisper of feminine charm laying just below the horizon; the anticipation of the beauteous sun about to breach the skyline before climbing in the filament. Illuminated by a single flower, gardenia serves as the backbone upon which this profusion of florals has been planted... Jour d'Hermès Gardenia is an aria to sensuality. Bursting with intoxicating blossoms of rose, jasmine and tuberose, they are dragged into the celestial orbit of the gardenia - a flower which has remained the symbol of womanly appeal for millennia.

Straying somewhat from the Jour d'Hermès and Jour d'Hermès Absolute trajectory (but still managing to remain recognisable as their younger sibling), Gardenia is resolutely more delicate... the sensation of a zephyr of wind caressing the skin, or the gauzy, diaphanous tickle of silk dragged across the body. Jour d'Hermès Gardenia forms a luxurious vegetal/solar halo around the wearer.

Already launched in Europe, Jour d'Hermès Gardenia will reach retailers shelves here in Australia this September, and as with all scents from the esteemed Hermès stable, it will not disappoint.
Visit for more information.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Scent Gent x Sorcery of Scent - Winter top 3

Fellow West Australian perfume commentator and video blogger Rob (aka "Scent Gent") stopped by Casa SorceryofScent the other day to chew the fat and run through my current winter top 3.
Rob has been creating a flutter lately in the perfume world with his engrossing and informative video blog / youtube channel. Be sure to check out his pages on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Cheap thrills: ZARA 7.0

International "fast fashion" giants ZARA have a store pretty much in every major city nowadays, bringing affordable and trend-driven fashion and accessories to the mass market. Several times a year, Zara also create inexpensive perfumes to accompany each new seasonal release... its up to the individual to judge whether they're to one's own taste or not, but I, for one, do like to check them out from time to time. Back in 2009 I waxed lyrical about their fresh and chic 'Vetiver' cologne from their Perfumed Water series, suggesting that low pricing does not necessarily equate a compromise in quality. Six years on, and I've found another little nugget: Zara 7.0... a supremely aromatic woody fougere style fragrance that could happily grace any niche perfume lover's shelf.

Packaged in unassuming pale grey-marle coloured boxes, 7.0 is one of three new releases (including 8.0 and 9.0, respectively) which - for me at least - fills a hole where theres something lacking in my fine fragrance wardrobe. Fortunately, the key notes are listed clearly on the bottle and box, so there are no ambiguous interpretations of individual components. 7.0 is a blend of Violet leafs [sic], Mint, Lavender, Geranium, Sandalwood, Musk and Cedar. Straight from the bottle (which looks conspicuously Hugo Boss-inspired), 7.0 takes flight with a jet of sparkling citrus and crisp mint. Moments in, and the sharpness recedes to reveal a lovely marriage between soft lavender and geranium (a slight lemony facet suggests perhaps pelargonium - a plant of the same family but different genus). A rising cedar warmth presses up from below with a slight woody prickle in the nose, but a vein of sandalwood diminishes the sharpness and lends a curious creaminess to the mix. Fascinatingly, there is an unusual sharp green astringency that stays present well until the final molecules evaporate from skin.

The overall feel is one of a delicate dance between botanicals and synthetics. It feels both classic and yet surprisingly contemporary. For those who relish the botanical feel of Bottega Venetta Pour Homme, or who is wowed by the digital green rendering of Costume National's Cyber Garden, then you will find a pleasing commonality here. 7.0 feels fresh and modern, yet not entirely unexpected.

Zara continue to surprise with the occasional fragrance that could easily become a mainstay in any perfumista's collection. If you have the time and the nose for it (certainly there are some cheap shockers amongst them), then a stroll through both mens and womens perfume departments is time well spent.
At $25 AUD (approximately $18 US / €16) for a 100ml bottle, at least no-one will be crying if after a time, it is pushed to one side when new fragrance toys are added to your perfume pool.
Hop to it, then!

Monday, 29 June 2015

Hermès - Le Jardin de Monsieur Li

In 2003 - under the guardianship of in-house nose Jean-Claude Ellena - Hermès invited us to stroll through a garden in the Mediterrannean; Ellena's first olfactory exploration in the Jardins perfume series. Since then, we have been taken to examine the garden oases of southern Egypt; the fragrant lawns of India after the monsoon; the verdant green of a rooftop Garden in Paris, and now - in 2015 - Ellena takes us for a stroll in a perfectly manicured Chinese garden... Le Jardin de Monsieur Li.

'Monsieur Li' is a purely fictitious character, but it is a name that communicates a sense of maturity and of even-handedness... of an individual whose efforts and dedication to cultivating his garden with such precision and love, culminate in a retreat that is every bit as gratifying to the eye as it is to the nose. It is a name with a certain charm and whimsy... a collision of East meets West; "Monsieur" being devoutly French, and 'Li" being resolutely oriental. Not surprisingly, the name Monsieur Li speaks well of what one can expect in the bottle... that is, a tender olfactory essay in Chinese gentility and refinement, which has been approached in a conspicuously French way; a way which is unquestionably Hermès.

In retracing the route of the inception of this perfume, Ellena visited countless Chinese gardens. He recalls:

"I remembered the scent of the pools, of the jasmine, the wet stones, the plum trees, the kumquats and the giant bamboo. It was all there, even the carp in their pond, taking their time to live to a hundred. The Sichuan pepper bushes were as thorny as roses and the leaves gave off a lemony scent. All that remained was to compose this new garden, one which contained all the others."

The flight of this perfume is a bright citrus with an unusual aromatic green undercurrent... it dances between notes of bittersweet kumquat and jade-colored aquatic accords. There exists a sense of balance and refinement right from the outset... a curious symmetry between components that feels effortless and precise; Ellena's very own Chinese 'masterstock', perhaps. Jasmine is listed amongst the olfactory notes declared on the outer packaging, and indeed one can find it there, but there appears to be an assortment of flowers that are not mentioned in the accompanying pyramid; rose? peony? magnolia? Again, Ellena has woven them all into the tapestry of this perfume with such mastery, that they are difficult to distinguish. The overall feeling however, is one of tenderness, filtered light, and an accomplished marriage of the elements, earth, water and air.
Monsieur Li feels incredibly diaphanous - as thin as Chinese rice-paper lanterns, and as semi-transparent as blooms of coloured ink dropped on wet watercolour paper. Over the hours, it tapers into a fine mist of clean musk and blonde woods.

As far as the Jardins series goes, Le Jardin de Monsieur Li takes up residence comfortably amongst it's older siblings and feels very much a part of the broader picture. Collectively, Ellena's Jardins creations form an aria to genderless perfection, each with a proficient sense of lightness and harmony.

Le Jardin de Monsieur Li is available internationally from March 2015, and will launch here in Australian department stores, Hermès boutiques, and on the Australian Hermès website this September.

Monday, 22 June 2015

The Different Company - WINNER!

CONGRATULATIONS to our competition winner CurlyJo, who has won herself a 10ml The Different Company manufacturers sample of the delightful "I Miss Violet" eau de parfum!

CurlyJo, please send me an email or private message via the Sorcery of Scent facebook page with your details and it shall be sent off to you this week.

Thank you to all those who submitted their entries and recommendations via the blog and facebook page - I shall endeavour to try them all!

Stay tuned for more perfume banter and giveaways!
Have a great week, everyone!