Perfume Meetup at Fleurage Perfume Atelier

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Perfumer Emma Leah in front of her work space

A small group of Melbourne perfume aficionados recently had a wonderful and immersive experience learning all about fragrance from botanical perfumer Emma Leah at her perfume atelier Fleurage. Back in September I created my own fragrance with Emma, and wrote about it in one of my early blog posts. We ended up with a magnificently rich and original fragrance called Karatta, a fragrance based on scent memories of my childhood holiday house at the beach. It was such a lovely experience and on the day, Emma and I discussed the various perfume groups I’ve been a part of, both online and in person. She very generously offered her space for a perfume meetup, and I arranged for a group of six of us to meet with Emma and her partner Robert, at Fleurage, for a supper meeting.

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Emma talking with the group

Emma offered to talk about her practice and show us her perfume-making materials. The format of the evening took the form of a free-form conversation between Emma and all of us. She encouraged us to ask questions throughout, and it was these questions that guided the conversation. We got to hear about Emma’s own perfume education and training (traditional, botanical), her process of making fragrances, the materials she uses, her opinions of the new IFRA restrictions, the price of materials and their availability, and so on. So much was discussed that I can’t possibly record it blow-by-blow here, but it was a fascinating and very educational experience.

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Emma talking with the group

Emma also passed around some of her own fragrances periodically for us to smell. These are wonderful, botanical, vintage-style creations, and I recommend anyone in Melbourne go and visit Fleurage and give them a try; they are truly beautiful and sophisticated fragrances and like nothing else on the market today. We also got to smell some of the perfume ingredients that Emma uses to make her fragrances. It was a real treat to be able to smell real iris – which had everyone in raptures. Iris is one of the most expensive and hard-to-come-by ingredients used in perfumery, so none of us had smelled it before as a discreet ingredient. Iris smells very much like violet (which surprised me), and much less “flat” and waxy than it does in the iris-heavy fragrances I’ve smelled. We also smelled several types of lotus (from memory, pink, blue and white), which were also beautiful, but the highlight ingredient of the night for many was cèpes mushroom. This unusual perfume ingredient smelled of an intensely savoury and rich combination of mushroom and vegemite. I would love to smell this ingredient in a perfume one day, I think it would be earthy and marvellous!

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Gabriella sniffing the cèpes mushroom – a magical ingredient!

All of those who attended the meetup were very grateful for the opportunity to meet with Emma and have an open conversation about perfume. Being able to have an in-depth discussion with a perfumer and to have access to her fragrances and materials was wonderful. Thank you Emma and Robert for sharing your fabulous perfume atelier and your time with us!

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Emma Leah’s fabulous perfumes

If you are interested in learning more about Fleurage Perfume Atelier and Emma Leah’s perfumes, you can visit the website here.

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Perfume Review: Tuberose Fragrances by Histoires de Parfums – Part One – Tubereuse 1: Capricieuse

Introduction to Histoires de Parfums Reviews

A few months ago, in my Facebook group For Love Not Money, some of us took part in a perfume review challenge. In this group task, we each chose a fragrance house that we wanted to become more familiar with, and wrote a review on a different scent from that house, every day for seven days. This was a great way to get through some of my samples, which seem to have multiplied faster than Mogwais in the movie Gremlins over the past 18 months, and to really explore both the fragrance house, and their scent compositions.

I chose to review seven fragrances by the French company Histoires de Parfums and I’ll be sharing some of these reviews with you here at Perfume Polytechnic.

A couple of weeks ago I shared my review of 1740:Marquis de Sade with you. You can read that review here. Last week, I wrote about Olympia and you can read that review by clicking on this link. If you’re interested in some background information about Histoires de Parfums,  it can be found in this post.

In this two-part review I will be sharing my thoughts and impressions of two of the Tuberose Trilogy fragrances by Histoires de Parfums, Tubereuse 1 and Tubereuse 3. I won’t be reviewing Tubereuse 2: Virginale at this stage.

PART ONE – TUBEREUSE 1: Capricieuse

Let me start off by saying I’m not sure that I like tuberose. It’s one of those overpowering notes that tends to dominate any fragrance it’s in. I find its indolic, sweet and heady nature too much, most of the time. I can admire its camphoraceous, sarsaparilla-like qualities as found in Serge Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle, and I respect Robert Piguet’s Fracas, which renders tuberose in intense, creamy tones. But to me, tuberose is like the colour fuchsia: I just don’t like it. Both fuchsia and tuberose scream “femininity” to me in a way that, as a woman, I don’t want to be represented.

It is with some surprise then that I have to confess I absolutely adore both Tubereuse 1 and Tubereuse 3. This may make me sound like a hypocrite, but, as I will reveal, the way in which this powerful note is used and combined in these two fragrances makes all the difference.

One day early last year I was on one of my perfume self-education sessions in Melbourne. These would go on for hours, several times a week in the early days of my fascination with perfume. On this particular outing I was reeling with excitement from sniffing Tubereuse Criminelle: I had finally learned to identify tuberose! The goal of some of these self-education sessions would be to learn, by elimination and deduction, what a particular note smelled like, then find as many perfumes as I could which contained that note (using Fragrantica and The Guide), and go and sniff them. This is how I discovered the Histoires de Parfums Tubereuse Series. I was fascinated by this trio of perfumes that utilised tuberose as top, middle and base notes. Surely they would all be too overpoweringly “tuberose-y” for me? But, to my delight, when I spritzed Tubereuse 3 (T3), I was pleasantly surprised. T3 is essentially a tobacco and immortelle dominant perfume, with the tuberose playing only a supporting role in this fragrance, adding a sweet, robust layer and strength to the fragrance. I will review T3 in more detail tomorrow.

After being totally smitten with T3, I ordered some samples from the Histoires de Parfums (HdP) line. One of these samples was Tubereuse 1: Capricieuse, which I promptly and utterly fell for.

Tubereuse 1 is described as follows:

“Miss Tuberose is a Super Diva! Stubborn, demanding, temperamental…Yes, she deserves it all! Natural yet sophisticated, she balances between modesty and pride! She delivers her powdered and adorned hypnotic iris and saffron.” (Quoted from the HdP website)

The notes for Tubereuse 1: Capricieuse, are as follows:

Top notes: Tuberose, Bergamot, Saffron.
Heart notes: Tuberose, Iris, Ylang-ylang.
Base notes: Tuberose, Suede, Cacao.

Does Tubereuse 1 (T1) match up to the description above? Not really. Do I mind? No! I adore this fragrance, just as it is. T1 is rich and restrained, warm and cool, flat and vibrant, and simply gorgeous. Six to seven sprays are enough to get me through a full six hours before this becomes a skin scent. It radiates enormously for at least the first two hours of wear. On fabric it will last until you wash your clothes.

On first blast I am almost overwhelmed by the yummiest, warmest almond, not listed in the notes; but my observation is supported by the ingredients list, where I notice farnesol is listed. Farnesol is the main constituent in mimosa (wattle) flowers, which have a similar almondy smell to them. The powdery, earthy note of saffron and the soft, fuzzy suede compliment and blend beautifully with the almond note, with the suede gradually dominating from around the 20 minute mark. The iris, flat, bitter and cool, adds another powdery facet to the composition, yet contrasts with the warmth of the other notes. Cacao seems present, again, in a warm, earthy, powdery form, but it’s not strong.

Predominantly, this is a duet between iris and suede, and a study in powdery notes: it is such a beautiful creation. Tubereuse 1: Capricieuse is a close relative to HdP’s 1889: Moulin Rouge, a similarly powdery fragrance that is heavy on the iris. Moulin Rouge is sweeter, more girlish, while Tubereuse 1 is more modern, original and striking.

But where is the tuberose? It is present, but is so well blended that it only adds a slight sweetness, a warm floral note that underpins the whole composition. During the opening of the fragrance, I occasionally catch the tiniest, most whispery glimpses of indole, as if from the very periphery of my vision, but these soon fade away. Apart from this, the tuberose could really be any sweet, warm floral smell; it isn’t really strongly identifiable to my nose as tuberose. There is no camphor, no screaming fuchsia, there is nothing cloying or overwhelming about it in this composition; it is my kind of tuberose: warm, soft and fuzzy. Dusty, rosy brown. Cosy.

Tubereuse 3: Animale review to come soon…