Thursday, 17 April 2014


I started to write this post on a Eurostar train when I was not in the mood to read and M, my travelling companion, kept himself busy with a comedy show on the ipad. I was wearing Rozy which I had been introduced to just two days earlier at an evening at Bloom perfumery in East London. For a full report on the evening and the wonderful and inspirational Vero Kern please read the post by Tara on Olfactoria's travels.

Vero Kern at Bloom perfumery
Being immediately drawn to this mysterious scent I decided to spend the train journey to Paris wearing it. The fragrance was so present that it felt like carrying another soul with me, an invisible traveller, if you like. I began writing random words and associations, trying to unfold and dissect the perfume's soul possessing nature when I realised that a lot of the vocabulary in my notes stemmed from the magical and the drug related. Intoxicating, mind altering, possessive, psychedelic, bewitching... 
No coincidence, given how closely connected these two worlds are. It's a very small step from the love potions and ointments of medieval witches to Timothy Learie's LSD experiments. And if we still lived in the Middle Ages, I am sure that our modern perfumers would be accused of witchcraft. The women amongst them foremost and anyway. Not much danger to end up on the pyres when you produce a fragrance that just smells a bit nice, but if your creation is as potent and beautiful as rozy in its voile d'extrait form, you might be in trouble. Of course I'm not suggesting here that Vero Kern is a modern witch, I merely want to give an idea of the power her scents possess. So, back to the rozy, which at that stage (about 2 hours in) had developed to its full potential, and I had been thoroughly hexed by scent. 

My visual interpretation of rozy. in voile d'extrait by vero.profumo

At the event Vero told us that her inspiration for rozy had been the magnificent Anna Magnani in the film Rose Tattoo. And of course, having just reviewed another perfume dedicated to her, Nobile 1942's Chypre, I am now most intrigued about comparing  them. There are undoubtly  hues to both scents that show them to be in a colour family of golden yellows, burnt oranges, rosy reds and some brown, but the overall effect is very different. Chypre is less vibrant and multifaceted but gentler, more a hearty home cooked dish compared to rozy's finesse. By this I don't want to diminish the Nobile scent, it's just a different approach to a similar theme but there is no denying that vero.profumo's creations are in a league on their own. 

When M saw me working on the visual for rozy he said:" Oh, that looks like a maelstrom of roses." and he was right, I wanted to capture the perfume's amazing ability to take you and your soul on a mind altering ride where it's not you, the wearer, who is in control. An oriental rose glazed in aromatic honey. Tuberose, but thankfully not too much of it, balsamic labdanum, vanilla, cassis and sandalwood. The mere notes never explain the effect of the whole melange coming together. In this case, it's a mixture that is both unsettling and comforting. How that is achieved with such quality and opulence I have absolutely no idea, but given that Vero Kern is also a trained aromatherapist, it's safe to say she knows her stuff.  It is not an easy scent for me though. For all its beauty, I simply have to be in the mood to be that much entranced. When I was wearing it in the relative closed environment of the train I got almost a bit scared by it. Rozy doesn't just sit on my skin and dries away, it dances. It has an excellent sillage but manages not to overpower an entire train carriage (just me) and stays forever on my perfume eating skin. I found a trace of it the next morning. If you like the general description of the notes, (don't be scare off if any of them is usually not to your liking, it's all in the mix) and want to have a perfume like no other, rozy in the Voile d'Extrait concentration is a must try. I find it truly magical. 

How and where to wear:
If you're not afraid to wear something that goes on and under your skin then rozy will make excellent company.

An explanatory note: This review is based on 
a.) rozy in voile d'extrait concentration, there is also an EdP version which is a bit greener and has peach and mint instead of the cassis, as far as I remember.

b.) a sample given to me by Bloom perfumery at the end of an event for which I paid.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Friends reunited, The Perfume

Our 20's should, in theory, be years of youthful joy, optimism, and independence. Mystified as a glorious time for trying out everything before finding yourself, for many of us they turn out to be the most miserable years we are going to have this side of 50. Quarter life crisis is a relatively new concept and it sounds ridiculously silly and self indulgent. Even though the idea was virtually unheard of during the 80's, I suffered badly from it. With extra hairspray and bells on. 

I had left home for art school at 19 with a wardrobe full of hand-knitted jumpers, floating dresses, a ton of books and all the enthusiasm in the world, and within a year I had bottle bleached hair, mostly black clothes and a big identity crisis. Although I was living in a sleepy and rather beautiful small German spa town I wanted to to be part of the 80's unprecedented urge for the ultimate Cool with a capital C. Like many others before and after me, I spent my student years trying too hard to fit in with the New and was shamefully fast with getting rid of the Old. Ultimately, it didn't make me a happy young woman. Living on my own was an exciting and new experience, but it was also far more stressful than I dared to admit and pretending to be cool with everything and making decisions that would have great impact on the rest of my life was a little bit more than I had bargained for. At a time when even banal wardrobe decisions could make or break your peer group status it was good to have a few corners of your life that were uncontroversially simple. In one of those corners were my books, and in another was perfume. I had a little treasured collection of smelly things, mostly hippy-shop essential oils and lots of incense sticks, but also perfume bottles gifted to me by my mum or my granny. Often these "young women scents", like Charlie and Anais Anais  were overly floral and/or too clean for my tastes, but then came the 80's Big Perfume Bang. Everyone was wearing something, and lots of it! And because my mum had a good idea of what I liked she usually gifted me a bottle for Christmas. Karl Lagerfeld, Salvador Dali and Montana Parfum de Peau were amongst my precious possessions, but my signature scent in the late 80's was Jean Louis Scherrer No. 2. I loved the Art Deco inspired bottle and its slightly understated content. For the time JLS2  was probably a bit too subtle, nothing in this perfume shouted "Wham!", but it suited me, or better said, it suited the image I had of myself. 

I wore it for a decade and it was only when a man complained about my "old fashioned" perfume choices that I gradually gave it up. I know, should have given up the man instead, and not just for olfactorial disagreements. The late 90's and early 00's didn't do it for me perfume wise, and I felt that I was out of touch with what was considered a modern scent. Giving it up all together was a safer and easier option. 

Ever since my love for perfume has returned I wanted to go back to the Scherrer and see what it would evoke after all these years, but it had never been popular here in the UK and wasn't easy to find in the shops. Last autumn when I visited the little Jean Patou boutique in Paris I eventually had a chance. (Patou and Scherrer are now owned by the same British company based in glamourous Watford). I cannot say it instantly gave me imaginary shoulder pads, but it was a pleasant reunion with an old acquaintance. Pleasant enough to start looking for it on amazon and ebay. 
Last week I got lucky and for a little over a tenner it became part of my collection. I only ever owned the EdT and this is an EdP version of unknown age, but it feels sufficiently like the scent I remember. I know it has been reformulated to fit in with EU regulations and it's certainly cleaner than it used to be, but quite frankly, it's been 20 years and I've changed more than a bit as well, so I will not go into a hissy fit about it. Life goes on, we change, we get old if we're lucky, and discontinued if we're not.   
The opening is an aldehydic equivalent of big, backcombed hair, followed by tons of honey, some rose, some orris and a few drops of fruit juice and amber. This is what I can actually smell. When I looked it up online a dozen notes that I didn't notice showed up. Some of them are real pet hates of mine, like the evil peach, and in this case I'm grateful that my nose isn't detecting them. Analysing this perfume with its connection to my younger self is difficult at any rate, I simply cannot detach myself enough and whenever I try to, it muddles my brain and plays tricks with me. It has excellent sillage and I feel properly dressed when wearing it. Despite the ingredients it's never been a sweet scent for me. Warm, yes, but not sweet. Stays on for at least 6 hours and turns its golden hues into a dark orange towards the end. It comforted and hugged me then and is still lovely to me now, like a friend who has forgiven me for losing touch and happy to catch up again whenever we feel like it. I've tried hard to do a visual, but in the end I went for a picture of me trying hard to be cool in the 80's. I might have worn the scent on the day the photo was taken. 

How and where to wear:

I would like to wear this in 30 years time when they play KISS  for afternoon tea entertainment at retirement home. Hope my joints will still allow for some moves on the dance floor then.