Monday, 23 February 2015

Les Perles d'Isabey - Extraits d'Exception

Parfums Panouge have wowed and amazed with their highly anticipated launch of Les Perles d'Isabey - new pure parfum editions of three existing scents in their stable: Perle de la route d'Emeraude, Perle de Gardenia and Perle de Lys Noir. Yours truly has waxed lyrical in previous posts about the second coming of the esteemed house of Isabey, and these exquisite "Perles" signify a return to the House's traditions of meticulously crafted perfumes and perfume presentations.

In keeping with early Isabey examples from the Art Deco age, each flacon is realised as a pearly balloon of glass, inspired by a glassmaking method first introduced to the house in 1925 by master glassworker André Jollivet, who perfected the process adopting techniques imported from the Orient. Each flacon is individually packaged in a luxurious double-hinged silk-lined box with leather-like finish. It is accepted that in this day and age, so few perfume houses lavish the capital and resources to produce such exacting presentations, but this is something it appears that Isabey will never compromise. The meticulous packaging merely hints at the perfume residing inside as being one of exceptional quality and beauty. And to this author's nose, they are just that.

Perle de Gardenia
My relationship with Isabey's Gardenia eau de parfum is a long one, so when Mrs Sorcery of Scent and I heard of a parfum extrait edition, we were instantly excited. At the first opportunity to sniff and wear, we were astonished at how lovely it was, even if there is something of a divergence from the EDP. The parfum version feels slightly more resonant - perhaps less sharp or crisp - in the first moments when applied to skin. There is a very different texture too... more evocative of napped suede, which borders on white chocolate. Panouge / Isabey Parfumeur Jean Jacques has shunned the expected and deliberately taken "Gardenia" on a trajectory that does not follow, but rather runs parallel with the eau de parfum edition. Instead of simply turning up the volume in his parfum version, he has added an enchanting accord of white leather. This note adds a resolute sensuality; a softness that shifts away from heady gardenia blooms, into something more... intimate. It somehow feels more round... indeed, much like a pearl. Worn on its own, or even layered with the EDP, La Perle de Gardenia offers another captivating shade of the scent that the pair of us know and love.

Perle de la route d'Emeraude
In his approach to creating La Perle de la Route d'Emeraude, Jean Jacques again, has taken some artistic liberties that steer it away from the EDP. The precious golden orb holds an elixir which perhaps reaches even further into the Orient; more so than the eau de parfum which primarily focused on sun-soaked orange-blossom, jasmine and tuberose. Here, the Perle edition unfurls (to my nose) with a vaguely more resinous/incense slant... in its flight there is a brief undercurrent of smokey plumes (largely absent from the EDP) which later dissipate. There is a warmer, creamier nucleus of orris and ylang-ylang which emits a hazy ambery glow... in this regard, La perle de la Route d'Emeraude could perhaps not be any more appropriately packaged... its olfactory texture is of diffused golden light. Lightly spiced with cinnamon and imbued with silky vanilla it makes for a lip-smacking extrait that oozes sexiness and charm.

Perle de Lys Noir
The enchanting Lys Noir eau de parfum has become an undisputed favourite of mine... I relish its narcissus / lily / heliotrope blooms which when combined, emit an almost coconutty accord in its flight. La Perle de Lys Noir, on the other hand sees a shift in focus where - moments out of the bottle - there is a huff of pepperiness... one which diminishes after several moments. Over the span of its life, the EDP remains slightly more diaphanous, floral and musky, whereas the pure parfum feels somewhat more dense. A delicious yellow-brown ribbon of Ylang-ylang takes up residence between the other existing florals, and darker woodier notes tend to advance from below. Sandalwood and resinous frankincense underpin the composition, and it is awash with a balsamic, slightly animalic quality in the trail (perhaps ambergris). Perle de Lys Noir is sumptuous and mysterious... and indeed, I would expect no less from this revered House.

If one looks to quantify the opulence and lavishness of a perfume house, then one needn't look any further than Isabey. Les Perles d'Isabey are proof-positive that exacting standards, exceptional ingredients and masterful blending can truly create magic. The art of perfume is not dead... it is alive and well in the here and now.

Parfums Isabey are available in select retail outlets (online and offline) internationally, and I sincerely hope for us Australian perfumisti, that they will soon be readily accessible to us here.

For more information on Parfums Panouge and Isabey, visit:

Friday, 20 February 2015

Gorilla Perfumes and More: Lots Going On at LUSH

With their roots planted firmly in the 1970's, UK cosmetic outfitters LUSH are today a globally recognised brand. Perhaps first known for their eye-catching soaps sold by the pound, LUSH have since expanded their inventory to include (amongst other things) exciting handmade cosmetics, innovative hair-care products, jiggly shower jellies and precious perfume oils.
Seriously people! In 2015, no fully-fledged perfumisto should be recoiling from LUSH shopfronts, deterred by the pungent odours that spill from the door! In fact, any serious fragophile worth their salt might actually like to spend a little time in there.

Gorilla Perfume is an arm of the company that produces blended perfume oils sourced from all corners of the earth. In 2010, Sorcery of Scent blogged about Icon - a scent which truly won me over, but alas, was discontinued shortly thereafter. As it turns out, Icon was only one of a number of Gorilla Perfumes that enjoyed its 15 minutes of glory before being retired forever. In that regard, Gorilla Perfumes feels a bit renegade - a bit non-conformist... releasing perfumes in finite little 'volumes'... a "get-it-while-its-hot" approach to perfumery. This in itself can prove both frustrating and exhilarating: favourites can be suddenly pulled, but new editions come that beg to be explored.

In recent 'Volumes', yours truly has been swept away by two scents in particular; namely Sikkim Girls and Hellstone. The former is wanton blend of tuberose, frangipani, tea and jasmine... it feels devoutly heady and carnal, and is (at the time of posting) still a mainstay in the line. The latter, Hellstone, is a punchy, brawny blend of earthy vetiver, resinous opoponax and animalic cumin... it resides in a register of gruff masculine virility, and challenges the nose much in the same way other cumin-laiden favourites like Rochas Femme might. Alas, the latter has recently been retired, but not before yours truly panic-bought a bunch of bottles! The magic that ensues when this pair is layered must be experienced to be believed... we're talking Va-va-voom! With many perfumes to explore (and seemingly endless layering combinations), even a novice perfumista would find much to love in the current Gorilla Perfume inventory.

But the fun doesn't end with the perfume oils. LUSH, I've discovered, are being incredibly crafty with their product lines, creating perfumed products that truly innovate: chewable toothpaste tabs in a cornucopia of flavours, bronzing bars that you rub on skin, and shampoo solids for your hair. Perhaps one of my most favourite products to date is the fascinating "Copperhead" solid shampoo... a macaroon-sized disc that - if it weren't for its tremendously appealing perfume of earthy, smokey vetiver - might look a bit like a puck-sized cowpat. Its magic however, lies in it's composition... a blend of melted henna, arabica coffee grounds,vanilla absolute and roasted cocoa extract. These ingredients work together to produce a surprisingly generous lather, and add conditioning and lustre to the hair. With each disc lasting approximately 80 washes, I've resigned myself to buying a handful of these as gifts to give to friends.

Throwback time: I distinctly recall the first time I ever walked into a LUSH store... it was in Piraeus, Greece circa 1998 and Mrs Sorcery of Scent and I were lured through the doors the smell of soap cartwheeling on the air. Back then the store inventory comprised chiefly of their soaps - enormous rounds of the stuff that looked like iced cakes and amethyst stones and frozen water from the Aegean. Today, LUSH still produce exceptional handmade soaps, and my my most recent sample was their zesty "Sexy Peel" soap... a sun-coloured slice that smells of limoncello and citrus sorbet... arguably THE most appropriate thing to use in the heart of the West Australian summer. After rinsing with it, I found the top layer of peel acted as a gentle exfoliant, and my skin stayed perfumed with the pleasing odours of a delectable lemon curd or scrummy marmalade jam.

Suffice to say, LUSH are making quite a flutter. I can't help but tip my hat at a company that are pushing the limits of convention, and are offering a range of products that span from vegan to those that are ethically sourced. In this day and age, its refreshing to see a global entity return to time-honoured values whilst still staying relevant today.

LUSH have stores in most major cities and a comprehensive online presence. Visitors in Australia can visit or drop into a local Lush boutique. (If you're in Perth, the team in Plaza Arcade in the central CBD are knowledgable, genuine and attentive). For international visitors, visit:

Monday, 16 February 2015

QUICKIE REVIEWS: Guerlain: Teazzura, LPRN Ma Robe Petales, Le Plus Beau Jour de ma Vie

Whilst many are still nursing a Christmas hangover, Guerlain are already straight out of the gates with three brand new releases for Jan/Feb 2015! One by one, Maison Guerlain have sounded off with a new creation in three of their existing product avenues: the Aqua Allegorias, the principal parfums, and the parfums d'exception collections.

Teazzura (Aqua Allegoria)

Much as the name might suggest, Teazzura is an invigorating 'eau' that feels brisk, inviting and infinitely blue... perhaps an olfactory moment of pause beside a cerulean pool which is overlooking the sweeping Santorini caldera. Bristling lemon/bergamot bring a sense of Guerlain's 'signature' flight before a ripple of dry aromatic chamomile lends a husky, hay-like warmth to the mix. Fresh green-tipped leaves of tea counterbalance the citrus with a sedatory, calming effect and lend a sense of weightlessness and transparency. All this is awash over a considered base of white musk and calone, which together, suggest unspoiled waters lapping against the white-sand shores of a far-flung isle.
Teazzura is a lovely citrus / aromatic scent with an arresting aquatic slant... a sense of shimmering summer-blue found whilst holidaying at the equator.

La Petite Robe Noire - Ma Robe Pétales

Arguably Guerlain's most successful cash-cow in recent years, the LPRN collection never fails to enchant with its collectable editions rendered with a mere stroke of a brush. Ma Robe Pétales is the latest addition to the line which surprisingly side-steps the somewhat expected lip-smacking cherry-soaked red-berry signature of its elders and instead, takes a fanciful pirhouette across newly-introduced facets of mandarin, freesia and pistachio. This makes for quite a leap away from the LPRN that we are accustomed to, and towards something more spritely and fresh. There are occasional huffs of spring/summertime florals like rose, neroli and jasmine; but also a feeling of lantana (a very fragrant but poisonous flower that grows abundantly along footpaths - although this note is not actually listed). These lend a vivaciousness and lightness that is a welcome change from the existing LPRN olfactory benchmark. However, before you start to think it is sounding too far removed from the original, there is a familiar and endearing tonka / patchouli trail that is common to them both.
La Petite Robe Noire Ma Robe Petales will undoubtedly sell hand over fist... if not for its collectibility (and its potential brevity as a Guerlain flanker), but also for its perfume. A very solid and enchanting release.

La Plus Beau Jour de Ma Vie - (eau de parfum)

"Le Bouquet de la Mariée" is a brand new parfum extrait launched this month, presented in a 125ml quadrilobe flacon which represents the house's first commercial bridal perfume in over a century. The 60ml eau de parfum version - christened "The Most Beautiful Day of my Life" (above) - is prettiness personified with its monogrammed flacon and puffer... everything a bride could wish for! A delicate composition comprising opening notes of citrus, angelica and pink pepper, there is instantly a feeling of 'nude'... cashmere soft skin tones with perhaps a flush of timidness on the cheeks. A candied almond note not only lends a sense of celebratory tradition, but also a toothsome deliciousness, whilst pretty pink and white florals peer from beneath a veil of mouthwatering vanilla. The composition is underpinned by notes of white musks and patchouli: the perfect foundation upon which all others rest. 
This perfume's appeal extends well beyond potential brides-to-be, so it's billing as a wedding perfume can be no more than a marketing angle. With a similar structure and DNA, La Plus Beau Jour de Ma Vie could quite as easily take up place amongst her siblings in the L'Art et la Matière collection. One to be cherished, just as one should their partner.