Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire: Musings on the Nature of Fire and the Smell of Smoke

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I’ve had an interesting week and the smell of smoke has played a starring role. As the saying goes, “where there’s smoke there’s fire”, and this week there was indeed a fire, a 1,200 hectare fire (3000 acres) in fact, quite close to our house in rural Victoria. On a 39 degree, windy day, with grass and foliage as dry as tinder at the end of an El Niño summer, we watched a terrifying bushfire start in the nearby mountains and get out of control very quickly. Our adrenal glands were exhausted from the panic of that day and we are still recovering from the stressful evacuation that we chose to undertake. Though the fire was 18 kilometres away, across the dry grassy paddocks, fire can move at a speed of 60 kilometres an hour in the right conditions (trust me, it was the right conditions), and with the strong wind shifting to fan the fire our way, there was no way we were going to take any chances. We left.

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Summer Series Part 2: Shalimar Showdown

Welcome to Perfume Polytechnic’s Summer Series. I’m taking a break over summer from writing new posts, but instead of stopping publishing altogether, I want to share with you some of my favourite posts from this year and earlier. I hope you enjoy reading them; you may even come across something you missed the first time round!

Today I’m sharing a post of mine from early 2015, Shalimar Showdown: The Originals and The Flankers Battle it Out, in which I compare and review eight different kinds of Shalimar (vintage, contemporary, different strengths and flankers) and one vintage Emeraude. It was fun to write and I hope you find it fun to read!

Shalimar Showdown is my most read post on Perfume Polytechnic. It’s interesting to read if you like Shalimar but don’t know which one to buy, or if you’re interested in collecting many of the different Shalimars, or even if you just want to find out what some of the differences are between them all. Obviously I haven’t reviewed every Shalimar there is: I do hope in a future post to review a few more of my vintage bottles and also the Shalimar flankers that have been released recently. But for now, pour yourself a cuppa, find a comfy chair, and enjoy the journey that is Shalimar ShowdownContinue reading

Design Age: Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 With Room Fragrances by Fleurage

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Dulux Design Age Colour Forecast 2016 launch. Infinite Worlds colour palette display room.

What do certain colours smell like, taste like, feel like? Do colours trigger emotional associations, and do they suggest certain forms and shapes, the use of certain materials and the creation of certain kinds of objects? What of other times and worlds? Can these be denoted or expressed with certain colours? All of these questions were opened up, explored and experienced at the Dulux Australia Colour Forecast 2016 launch last Tuesday evening, September 1, at Meizai in Richmond, Melbourne.

The new Dulux colour trend collection is titled “Design Age”, and features four colour palettes, all with evocative names: Bio Fragility, Infinite Worlds, Future Past and Retro Remix. I’ve not been to a product launch of this kind before, and was thrilled when perfumer Emma Leah, of Fleurage in Melbourne, invited me to this cross-sensory event, which featured artisanal objects by local makers and designers, all influenced by Dulux’s new interior paint palettes and the creative concepts behind them. Emma designed a room scent for each colour palette, and textiles by Elise Cakebread, ceramics by Porcelain Bear and furniture by Grazia+Co were also featured.

As Perfume Polytechnic is interested in exploring the art of olfaction in all forms, including synaesthesia and multi- or cross-sensory events and art that features scent, I’m very excited to share my experience of this immersive, hyper-sensory event with you.

The launch began with champagne and canapés on the ground floor of the Meizai furniture showroom, which gave me time to talk with Emma Leah about her involvement in the project, the colour palettes, the concepts behind them, and how she incorporated these ideas into room fragrances. After an official welcome, we were each handed a Dulux paint colour swatch from one of the palettes, and divided into groups according to colour. Each group was then guided separately through the four Design Age room displays on the top level of the showroom.

Each of the palettes was displayed in a unique room, specially created for the launch, with wall paint in a number of colours from the designated palette. Each of the designers had their work featured in one room, although Emma had created room scents for each palette, all of which we experienced at the launch. Emma’s main focus however was on the room scent for the Future Past theme and her scent was the feature design object for this room and colour palette.

What transpired during our tour was a cross-sensory delight, an intense experience of interrelated tastes, colours, scents, furnishings, decorations, and specially designed artisanal objects. As we were led into each room, we were offered specially designed gourmet canapés and mini-cocktails by Peter Rowland catering that also drew on the theme of the room’s palette for inspiration. Emma’s scents had been sprayed into the air of each room, adding an olfactory element not often considered or experienced in designed spaces, and the scent component was a welcome counterpoint and addition to the otherwise very visual displays.

Room One: Bio Fragility

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Dulux Design Age display room: Bio Fragility

“Fragile life is the embodiment of beauty…

We marvel in the intricacy of creation and its duality of fragility and strength…

Bio Fragility takes its colour cues from natural and living matter – flesh tones, lichen, moss and stone influence the subtle hues of the palette which are derived from chalky brittle elements rather than soft textures.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Canapé: Mushroom macaron
Cocktail: Elderflower martini
Featured Designer: Porcelain Bear – “Porcelena Bowl” and small vessels

Upon walking into the Bio Fragility room, we were surrounded by muted pastel paint shades, furniture, decorative objects, and softly chiming, Eno-esque electronic music punctuated by tinkly and percussive sounds, which was replicated in each of the rooms. The mushroom macaron was a surprisingly stunning canapé. It matched two of the paint colours (the pale pink “frock” and the mushroom-coloured “mangaweka”), and provided a fascinating taste combination of a sweet exterior with a pungent and savoury mushroom filling. The crunchy yet brittle macaron gave way to a gooey filling, perfectly demonstrating the duality of strength and fragility in this design concept. The elderflower martini was delicate and sweet, but not too sweet, just like the colours in the room.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma spoke to me about this colour palette and the concepts behind it – that Bio Fragility was “pastel” and delicate, but that the concept didn’t allude to softness or cuddliness, as pastels often do. Rather, the theme was more about hard and fragile surfaces, such as chalk and porcelain that easily shatters, hence the bowl by Porcelain Bear as the feature object in this room, as well as shattered ceramics as a room decoration. She says of this colour trend and her scent: “powdered pearls are a high quality abrasive exfoliant that shines and sparkles like fairy dust, and struck me as the perfect representation of what this trend captures. The scent is smooth and elegant but cool. It is alluring but what we call a hard scent. Nonintrusive but present and affecting.”

Notes used in the Bio Fragility scent and related colours from the palette*:

white musk (great star), rose musk (chamber), baby powder (chain pearl), coconut (snow queen), smoke (silkwort), anise (purebred), lilacs (partita)

*note – to refer to the full colour palettes, see the link at the bottom of this post

How does it smell?

The baby powder dominates and is soothing and familiar, and there is musk and a hint of coconut. It’s a very pretty fragrance, and it certainly smells fragile in a powdery way, a little like broken chalk, or, as Emma says, powdered pearls. It aligns superbly with the colours from the palette that were chosen for the walls, which included a muted pink (frock), a pale mossy green (fibre moss), a pale lavender (atelier) and a soft mushroom (mangaweka).

Room Two: Infinite Worlds

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Dulux Design Age display room: Infinite Worlds

“As the world becomes overcrowded we explore the innovative possibilities of unknown worlds…

Our fascination with the deep ocean and infinite space inspires visions of creatures glowing with phosphorescent light against dark coloured backdrops and celestial objects such as planets, moons, exploding stars and vast nebular clouds.

Dark colours… juxtaposed with flashes of brilliant reds, pinks, coral and space age metallics. Glowing hues are used as accents to help recreate the eerie effect of deep uncharted worlds.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Cocktail: Homemade lemonade cocktail
Featured Designer: Elise Cakebread – hanging soft hemispheres and pile high club floor cushion

Infinite Worlds is an entirely different colour palette to the previous one. We walk into a room filled with deeply soothing dark and pale blues, with pops of brighter reds and oranges. The room and its contents nod back to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust of the 1970s while at the same time hinting at the future, and unknown worlds on planets far away. Futuristic textile hanging orbs and a floor cushion by Elise Cakebread are the featured design items in this room and they add a whimsical, organic element to the otherwise mostly hard and smooth textures in the room. The cocktail for this design concept is a homemade lemonade cocktail in a sci-fi shade of aqua.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma Leah in the Infinite Worlds room

Perfumer Emma Leah in the Infinite Worlds room

Emma says of this scent: “To me this is a burst of star dust – a soft metallic scent with a watery fruit note, gentle but present, cool and ethereal, gender neutral but a drifting prettiness to its feel. It flows and reveals itself smoothly.”

Notes used in the Infinite Worlds scent and related colours from the palette:

blackberry (purple verbena), melon (melon baby), pomegranate (lickety lick), metallic (thebe touch), white musk, ocean salt (lake tekapo), velvet rose (jupiter jazz)

How does it smell?

Emma’s Infinite Worlds scent is full of fruit; at first my nose struggles to identify what the fruit is and I think I’m smelling something sharp and citrussy, but then melon, blackberry and pomegranate emerge quite clearly. A sweet rose compliments and blends with the luscious fruit notes. Most of these fruity and sweeter notes represent the warmer, brighter and metallic tones in the palette, literally popping out with sweetness and brightness from the fragrance. They seem to float on a salty ocean surface, with an ocean salt note reflecting the oceanic blues of the colour palette and a metallic, slightly smoky note in the background providing further interest and a hint of sci-fi.

Room Three: Future Past

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Dulux Design Age room display: Future Past

“As we move towards the future we look to reassurances from our past.

Our reality is one of a digital world where we seek comfort in nostalgic references that ground us in times of uncertainty… We are drawn to contemporary designs that evoke reassuring memories and fuse modern with heritage and classicism… This theme takes its cues from Steampunk references merging with modern design to create a new version of the old…

Deep and decadent traditional hues are made modern with the addition of mustard, pink and purple. The scents of tobacco and leather are reminiscent of an 18th century explorer’s lounge, evoking visions of luxurious browns and rich timbers.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Canapé: Roast duck tasting spoon
Cocktail: Mulled wine
Featured designer: Emma Leah – Future Past room fragrance

The Future Past room revisits old worlds and is reminiscent of times past, merging colours, materials and styles from the Victorian era and pre-WWII decades with clean and modern design elements. Shades of brown, grey and lime green dominate. Gorgeous brass lamps, wooden and leather furniture, and a shelf display featuring old-fashioned perfume bottles fill the room. A modern take on a Persian rug, in mottled shades featuring lime and musky pink, dominates the visual space. The surfaces in the room are mostly hard and sturdy, yet the ambience is warm and inviting. The rich red colour and spicy flavour of a small glass of hot mulled wine and an exquisite roast duck tasting spoon, complete with pate and dried kale garnish, expresses the opulence and vintage feel of this colour palette perfectly.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma says her featured room scent for the Future Past theme is “complex and rich but smooth and elegant. Bold and dark with definite presence, I have woven a delicate floral through a complex mossy wood with era-specific hints of unusual notes like hay, tobacco and leather that deserve exploration like the colour palette of this trend.”

Notes used in the Future Past scent and related colours from the palette:

moss (highlander), green wood (emerald forest), violets (passionate blue), honeysuckle (army canvas), lilac (purple people eater), leather (loose leather), bergamot (pickled), coriander (vintage green) and a hint of cherry (ripening grape)

How does it smell?

Emma’s feature scent for the Future Past theme is rich and opulent. It’s a beautiful and complex chypre, with an opening of fresh green notes, well-blended old-fashioned, sweet and powdery florals (including a wonderful violet), and a touch of leather and cherry to make things really interesting. It’s refined yet plush, and is a sexy, feminine fragrance. It reflects the bygone eras that the Dulux palette alludes to and yet is perfectly suited to the modern era at the same time. As Emma is a vintage perfume expert and specialises in vintage perfume making techniques, I can’t think of a better choice of perfumer to design a fragrance for this theme, mixing old and new.

Room Four: Retro Remix

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Dulux Design Age room display: Retro Remix

“A new retro is formed — mixing together iconic elements from across the mid to late century…

Less of a nostalgic trend this theme explores a more youthful expression, with new generations discovering these influences for the first time and creating their own remixed style…

Experimentation in colour combinations leads to acid brights clashing with faded, muddied colours such as browns and olive greens. The colours are happy and nonconformist, optimistic and energetic.”

(Source: Design Age Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch brochure)

Canapé: Banana split
Cocktail: Brandy Alexander
Featured designer: Grazia+Co – David ottomans and Bowie side table

Retro Remix blends colours and styles from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It’s an unusual juxtaposition, and one that I personally find a little jarring. Bright, clear, pop colours of the 60s and 80s co-exist alongside more muted, nature-inspired colours from the 70s. The furniture and room decorations are clean and sparse, with a nod to the modernist and slightly futuristic pieces of the 60s and 70s. The Brandy Alexander cocktail is a delicious nod to the 1970s and the miniature Banana Split is a classic, fun retro dessert, suiting the vibe of this playful palette.

Room Scent by Emma Leah

Emma says of this theme: “Fizzy pop is what jumped out as I looked this over and my symbol of the seventies is pineapple! A lively, playful, interesting fruit that went with everything I have taken it as the cornerstone but not dominating. Instead what results is a fresh fun combination that pops with green grass, subtle woods and herbaceous greens.” Emma also said to me at the launch that when she created this scent she imagined summers from the 1970s and drinking fizzy pineapple drinks while sitting on grass. We also spoke about the use of pine in her scent, which was a ubiquitous fragrance ingredient of the 1970s.

Notes used in the Retro Remix scent and related colours from the palette:

grass (grass court), sandalwood (tuk tuk), green fern (green olive) , traditional musk (titi islands), pineapple (brassed off)

How does it smell?

Realistic, fresh, crisp and green grass and pine notes open this fragrance. As it develops the pineapple emerges, and the fragrance takes on a more tropical feel. I feel transported back in time to my early childhood in the 1970s when I smell this fragrance and reminisce about pineapple flavoured ice blocks and my Dad’s Pino Silvestre. Pineapple was king during this era, and while it is strong in this fragrance, it’s not sickly sweet or fake smelling. The sandalwood is gorgeously sweet and creamy and the musk blends in well, adding an airy, light and sophisticated aura to the composition. This room fragrance certainly matches the fun vibe of the Retro Remix palette, but displays an extra air of elegance thanks to the green notes and musk.

Gift bags

Gift bag contents

Gift bag contents

At the end of the evening we were each presented with a gift bag containing a range of goodies including a bottle of one of Emma’s room scents and a full colour brochure of the Dulux Design Age Colour Forecast for 2016. Lucky me – I managed to score three bottles of scent (from various bags) and one of Emma’s samples, so I can enjoy all of her specially commissioned fragrances at home now too.

Reflections

The Dulux Colour Forecast 2016 launch event was a fun, engaging and creative night. I was pleasantly surprised at the degree of cross-sensory thought that had gone into the production of the room displays, the works by the various makers and designers, and the food and drink. As an artist and synaesthete myself I have worked in cross-sensory ways for a long time. In fact, I think it’s a core aspect of how many creative people think, in ways that recognise the connections between life and art, between the various senses and art forms, and by finding creative equivalences between one art form and another. It’s a method of working and thinking about the world that appeals to me, and this is why I thoroughly enjoyed the event.

The colour trends themselves were really fascinating, distinct from one another, and broad-ranging. A nod to the past and an almost nostalgic longing for the pre-digital age was a theme that traversed several of the palettes, as well as the influence of natural elements, from worlds both real and imagined, contemporary, and into the future.

I’m really thrilled that a global company like Dulux has taken this cross-sensory and very intimate approach to launch and promote its new colour range. The event was smoothly organised and felt personal, special and unique. All of my senses were fully engaged and stimulated throughout the evening.

Scent helps to create specific and complex moods in architectural and designed spaces and can be tailored to match certain colours, design concepts and themes. It was wonderful to experience Emma’s room scents in each of the spaces, and exciting to witness scent being used as a design element, featured equally alongside the visual design objects. I do hope this is a trend that we see much more of in the future.


Dulux has produced a short video about each of the designers involved in the launch:

To explore each of the colour trends further and to view the full colour palette for each of them, visit the Dulux Australia website.

To find out more about perfumer Emma Leah, visit the Fleurage website, and read my interview with Emma, right here on Perfume Polytechnic.

A Taste of Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima

Recently I was fortunate to receive a Discovery Kit from Italian niche perfumer Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima to review. “Odori d’Anima” translates as “scents of the soul”, and this is certainly a soulful collection of perfumes, with interesting and emotive concepts underpinning them that collectively seem to hint at a yearning for the complete expression of the soul, a longing and nostalgia for the past, and a respect for the elemental beauty and wild spirit of nature.

The kit features samples of the entire range of Mendittorosa’s seven fragrances, presented in the most beautiful way with information cards and decorative packaging, all arriving sealed in a golden envelope. In fact, Mendittorosa’s packaging for their bottled perfumes is beautiful too, and sculptural, as you will see in the photographs below. The packaging has been designed in Italy, with the interesting bottle caps and metal features being crafted by hand.

Mendittorosa is a small-batch production perfumery, and sources its materials from Grasse, in the South of France. All of Mendittorosa’s fragrances are designed as unisex, to be worn by women and men.

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Mendittorosa Discovery Kit

Mendittorosa is the brain-child of Stefania Squeglia, who founded the house in 2011, after an epiphany about her true purpose in life, at the base of the Stromboli volcano in Sicily.

“It was here on this island at one of the most southern points in the Mediterranean that
Stefania Squeglia was gifted with her true vocation in the form of a memory that had been
out of reach until that moment: as a young girl in Naples, she would take the glass jars her
grandmother used to store homemade tomato sauce and fill them with foraged rose petals and oils. She would then hide them in the dark to discover them later. Erupted. Changed.” (courtesy of Mendittorosa marketing brochure)

Stefania works with perfumers Amelie Bourgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel to create the Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima range.

Today I will present to you a taste of Mendittorosa, a glimpse at and an impression of each of their seven fragrances. I have worn each of these fragrances a few times now, but to give each of the fragrances full justice would take a full blog post for each. Consider these mini-reviews to be an introduction to Mendittorosa. They are meant to convey how the perfumes smell to me, how I feel about them, and hopefully they will pique your curiosity to find out more and try them for yourself.

Sogno Reale

Sogno Reale

Sogno Reale. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

Sogno Reale is the latest release from Mendittorosa. In fact, it is so new that there is a waiting period of 30-50 days to receive this fragrance! Sogno Reale translates to “real dream” in English, and is all about achieving one’s dreams in life. Sogno Reale is “Created for people, who will search and find their dream and make it come through. The ultimate companion for your way of life based on our philosophy: Search and you will find…” (Source: Mendittorosa’s website)

Sogno Reale sample

Sogno Reale sample

Concepts of dreams aside, as a scent, Sogno Reale is said by Mendittorosa to combine “a trilogy of sun, earth and sea blends together”, which gives a very accurate impression of this fragrance. Sogno Reale is a very sunny and interesting fragrance, and would be great for a hot summer’s day. To me the dominant characteristics are a salty marine note, something grainy, like unprocessed wheat, a bright lemon top note, and animalic notes. The combination of these ingredients results in a fascinating smell that is a little like salty, human skin that’s been in the ocean and then dried in the sun, overlaid with a touch of citrus, which fades as the perfume develops. The wheat note that I smell has no basis in the notes provided, but whatever ingredient creates this olfactory illusion, it hints at wheat grains and bread, and salty bread at that. There are some interesting basenotes used – including sandalwood and volcanic olibanum – and they are detectable, but not at all dominant. What they do is provide a grounding for this interesting and layered creation, in which the top, middle and base notes seem to hover, somewhat distinctly from one another. The sandalwood rounds out the composition slightly, while hyrax, an animalic note that is redolent of musk, civet and castoreum, helps create the skin-like and animalic characteristics of Sogno Reale. Unlike many animalic fragrances, this one is not heavy or overwhelming. It’s sweet, and it’s light and bright, yet very interesting and complex.

Le Mat

The philosophy behind Le Mat is as follows: “Le Mat is the “odour” of bravery, gumption and change. With a mantle of nutmeg and black pepper that protects its heart of geranium and rose, the scent unleashes whiffs of patchouli and cashmere wood. A blend of celestial and earthy aromas that instills a sensation of freedom.” (Source: Mendittorosa’s website)

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Le Mat. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

Le Mat is my favourite of Mendittorosa’s creations. It is a rich creation housed in fabulous packaging, featuring the tarot card “Le Mat”, or “The Fool” as this card is known in English. The title of “The Fool” is somewhat deceptive in tarot – the fool does not represent a simpleton or an idiot – rather, he represents newness, purity and childlike innocence, or prophesies the beginnings of a new spiritual path.

Le Mat sample (right) shown with Sogno Reale sample (left)

Le Mat sample (right) shown with Sogno Reale sample (left)

I adore Le Mat. It’s a spicy, musky rose with honeyed nuances and an immortelle note that emerges more and more as the fragrance develops. It is sweet, but not too sweet, and a little woody. It reminds me of Turkish Delight, that rose-flavoured middle-eastern sweet, and Musk Lolly sticks. It smells like the most delectable, rich and luxurious blend of two fragrances I already own and love: L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Safran Troublant, and Mor’s Marshmallow. The rose melds with a geranium note (which has a rosy, green quality), and is supported by musky and woody cashmeran, loads of nutmeg, and pepper. Base notes consist of an earthy yet not overdone patchouli, and a hint of clove.

Trilogy: Alpha, Omega & Id

These three fragrances were conceived as a Trilogy. Mendittorosa has the following to say about the three fragrances: “Because in opposition, we find balance, the three scents in The Trilogy line—Alpha, Omega and Id—are designed not just to complement each other, but to complete a journey.” (quoted from Mendittorosa’s marketing brochure) These fragrances are designed to be worn alone, or layered. Due to time constraints, I did not layer these fragrances for this review, so I cannot comment on how they combine and work together.

Id

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Id. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa

Mendittorosa describes Id as follows: “Essential, rich, and wild, Id is the dark passion that drives us towards our dreams. Inspired by the nickname “Iddu” the locals give to the Stromboli volcano, Id is an olfactory dedication to the fiery being that first breathed Mendittorosa into life.”

I can imagine Id is a very popular fragrance in the Mendittorosa line. It is so appealing and woody-sweet, warm and very wearable. It smells so much to me like Donna Karan’s iconic Black Cashmere that I feel it is difficult to review it objectively. Id features nutmeg and incense (labdanum) and woods, a strong cinnamon note and a touch of clove. For those who loved Black Cashmere and can no longer find it, you will love Id and be thrilled to have a replacement. Compared to Black Cashmere, Id is a little softer, a bit less incensey, and also a touch sweeter than Black Cashmere.

Omega

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Omega. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

Mendittorosa decribes Omega as: “The last letter of the Greek alphabet, ‘omega’ denotes the end, the final limit. It is Alfa’s polar opposite, deriving its elegance and composure from an awareness of its mortality. Its leather core is draped in velvet layers of Egyptian cumin and white musk.”

This description doesn’t match my experience of Omega. To me, Omega smells like a burnt vanilla fragrance with a hint of musk. On first application, I find this “burnt” aspect a little hard to handle. I think the burnt note is ambroxan, which often has this effect on me: I find it too much for my nose in this case, and a bit acrid and bitter. I believe that many perfumers use ambroxan to replicate the smoky qualities of oud, but this is just my suspicion. Despite my dislike of ambroxan, this note calms down about twenty minutes into the fragrance’s development, and Omega ends up smelling quite approachable and wearable, a bit like Rochas’ very popular Tocade, but without the rose. I do not detect any leather, cumin, iris or frankincense (all listed notes). There is a hint of very well blended jasmine that lifts and sweetens the composition. Omega will appeal to people who like vanilla but want something a little left of centre.

Alfa

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Alfa. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

Mendittorosa describes Alfa thus: “Alfa is the beginning—a naked Venus rising from a clear blue sea. Deceiving in its simplicity, it tells a tale of earth, milk, and vineyards, but its saffron heart contains deep yearnings for the sensuality of nutmeg, sandalwood, jasmine and thyme.”

When I first smelt this perfume (before I read the notes above) I thought it was a classic masculine fougère, which, sadly, is probably my least favourite category of perfume. I was then very surprised to find that conceptually, this fragrance is linked to Venus, the female and very feminine goddess “whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and desire.” (Source: Wikipedia) Nevertheless, let me continue with my own impressions of this fragrance, as they are very different to Mendittorosa’s description above. Alfa smells like a masculine fougère, with fresh citrussy, woody, and herbaceous notes dominating. The sharp (and in this case somewhat citrussy) note of ravensara dominates the opening of the fragrance, and white thyme is also apparent. It’s slightly woody too at first, with a soft frankincense in the base. The woods develop quite intensely about twenty minutes in: again, I smell the burnt note of ambroxan, or “oud”. If saffron is in this fragrance, it is used subtly as I find it hard to detect. A hint of jasmine warms and sweetens the composition ever-so-slightly. This is a well-constructed perfume and is a fresh and slightly interesting take on the classic fougère formula, even if it is not to my taste.

North & South

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North and South. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

“Each North has its South, and each South, its North. Two opposites longing for completeness.” (Source: Mendittorosa website)

As with the Alfa/Omega/Id Trilogy above, North and South can be worn together, or alone. I did try them together, and will discuss my findings below.

North

“Bright and pure, light, and nostalgic, North evokes memories of empty white pages, dry leaves, crisp wood of Swedish saunas, children’s drawings.” (Source: Mendittorosa website)

North features a light and airy cedar wood, like that used in Comme des Garçons’ Kyoto. This cedar dominates, but is blended with a lovely bergamot and pepper. My impression of North is that it is a fresh and woody forest scent and when I smell it I feel like I’m walking amongst a plantation of fragrant, camphoraceous trees. North has moderate  sillage, without being overwhelming. It is a calming, dry scent that would appeal equally to women and men.

South

“Sultry and slow-moving, South ushers 
in memories of hot bread, white linen sheets dried in the sun and of pure Marseille soap. It is the colourful clutter of our favourite things in a nest of softness.” (Source: Mendittorosa website)

South is sharp and creamy and slightly sweet all at once. Creamy sandalwood in the base is offset by a very lemony, citric basil top note. Hazelnut, a rounded, sweet and nutty note, is also quite detectable. Syringa (similar to orange blossom and jasmine) is quite noticeable too. South reminds me a little of a softish Samsara by Guerlain or Allure by Chanel, both of which feature a combination of jasmine and sandalwood, but here the composition is made much more interesting with the basil and hazelnut, and an interesting “hot bread” note that appears after about fifteen minutes of wear. This bread note reminds me of the “wheat” note I detected in Sogno Reale. South is quite soft in character and moderate in sillage and is more feminine than masculine. It is a very pretty, yet interesting scent.

North and South Layered

These two fragrances layer well. The notes of South dominate, in particular the hazelnut and bread notes, although the cedar is also very apparent. It probably goes without saying that this combination is much richer and more complex than North or South alone.


Summary and Where to Buy

I hope you’ve enjoyed my survey and brief impressions of Mendittorosa’s current range of fragrances. The Discovery Kit is an affordable way to try these lovely creations and to explore them for yourself.

You can buy the Discovery Kit on the Mendittorosa website for 40 Euros (including shipping), which includes a 20 Euro refund voucher to use with any full bottle purchase for two months.

Mendittorosa’s fragrances all come in 100ml, extrait de parfum strength bottles. They range in price from 185-225 Euros each and can be purchased from Mendittorosa’s online shop and from selected retailers.

Disclaimer

My Mendittorosa Discovery Kit was provided free of charge. Many thanks to Stefania Squeglia and Jakub Piotrovicz for generously providing the kit. All opinions are my own and I strive to be both honest and respectful to the perfumers and their creations in my reviews.

Smell of the Day: Almond Blossom

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Almond Blossom

Smell of The Day is about noticing and appreciating the smells around me. Just one smell. It might be a perfume, a fragrant flower, the odour of something cooking, an unpleasant smell. All smells are equal. All smells are interesting. All smells affect us. Smell of The Day posts will feature one smell that made an impact on me that day.

Smell of the Day: Almond Blossom

The old almond trees are now in full bloom. The weather oscillates between winter and spring: sun, rain and wind alternate rapidly. The almond blossom covers the tree in little white balls and an intoxicating, buttery, honey-like vapour radiates out for metres around. Hundreds of bees visit the blossoms, happily drunk on the sweet nectar. Their buzzing vibrates my eardrums. I want to lie on the grass and look up at the blue skies through the trees, but it’s still too cold. Already the wind and rain are blowing the blossoms off the tree. It snows blossom petals and they will soon be gone, but spring will soon be here.