Monday, 16 June 2014

El Born, it takes all sorts...

Spanish perfume house Carner have dedicated their 5th scent, El Bornto the ueber trendy local borough in Barcelona of the same name. My personal memory of Barcelona is a bit hazy but I certainly wouldn't mind a refresher any time soon, not least because the city has become a bit of a perfume destination. I have tried the whole Carner range before and while I certainly liked them, I found longevity to be a bit of an issue. Considering they are all created around woody notes, I thought they should last longer. But there is a certain aesthetic about their fragrances, a moody, warm and somehow languished sensuality, that appeals to me and I was happy to try their latest creation.

El Born has 2 distinctive phases for me. The first, which I call the wet one, is a strong honey and angelica mix with some added citrus notes. This honey has been made by bees who get stupidly drunk on strong cocktails on a daily basis. Well, the bee equivalent of a cocktail obviously. The sweet/sour/booze mix is interesting, but quite 'in your face' and I sit through this first half hour a bit impatiently because I want the second, dry phase to begin. The one that screams:

My visual interpretation of El Born, by Carner

LIQUORICE ALLSORTS! Because that is what is, in all its delicious glory. The list of notes is long and let's say, colourful, and congratulations to anyone who is able to sniff out half of them, but for me it's all a blend to conjure up the liquorice. If you like your allsorts and your black wheels, this scent will make you very, very happy. Otherwise you might want to stay away. It covers the whole spectrum of the legendary candy, the woody bits, the strange salty sourness you get when you munch on the all black stuff and your teeth get funny, the fruitiness from all pastel coloured ones, and the creamy sweetness from the yellow/brownish bits.  When I was a child, I hated liquorice, but these days it's a flavour I like to find in whiskeys, wines, gins and... perfumes. Alcohol makes a lot of things better.
It has excellent staying power and good projection. Once the dry phase has started it gets gently softer and softer until vanilla replaces the fruity sourness. All in all, a wonderful and sweet-wood fragrance for those who like their Haribo with a shot of spirits. Of course, there was no way I could resist using the marvellous colours of the Liquorice allsorts world for my visual. It might not be exactly what Carner had in mind, but for me it totally works. Also: sorry for headline pun but again, irresistible.

How and where to wear:
A perfect choice for a long night out. I bet it will smell lovely on a hot summers evening in Barcelona, while you desperately wait for the restaurants to open and serve you some food. 
At 10 p.m. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Imaginary Authors, Chapter 1

Backstories for perfumes are sometimes interesting, often ostentatious and nearly always written by some more or less clever PR company. Having worked in advertising myself I usually waver between cynical disbelieve and appreciation when it's really well done. Imaginary Authors is an American perfume house which have apparently found someone to do that job very nicely, and even better, with a fun twist. Not only have they invented a backstory for their scents, they invented the authors as well, complete with his or her biography and a blurb of the novel which inspired the perfume. Pretty meta. On top of the written stories the line has quirky aesthetics, complete with washed out photography and cute illustrations. Despite all the lovingly done visual identity and the well written copy they have not forgotten the most important thing: The fragrances. There are 8 scents available in the UK, I have so far tested 5 and today I want to write about the two I liked the most, The Cobra and the Canary and The Soft Lawn.

The Cobra and the Canary is an orris/leather melange which starts with a citrus note that never entirely leaves the scene, just invites the other components to have a go when it's their time. The leather is somewhere between suede and butch, on my skin that depended on the outside temperature (it's been pretty warm this week in the UK). The usual softness of the orris is flanked with tobacco and dried grass which gives a nice smoky/dry texture. The whole feel of the scent is very summerly, a bit like an On the Road Again version of Cuir Ottoman, and it's pretty damn sexy. Projection was good enough to earn compliments from random people, something that doesn't happen all that often. As I said at the beginning, the freshness stays on until the dry down and TCATC is quite a linear affair, but not by any means simple. Lovely scent, makes me want to meet the young man who will wear this and break my heart. (Entirely imaginary) 

The second fragrance did come as a bit of a surprise: Green perfumes and me, we have a problem. I often find them too harsh, too bitter, too medicinal, and even the harmless refreshing ones or the great classics of the genre do not work for me; and I have really tried. Consequently I am very reluctant to test a perfume called: The Soft Lawn, with the given notes of Linden blossom, Ivy, vetiver, oakmoss, tennis ball and clay court. Hm. Not sure. The tennis ball and the clay are probably just some gimmick, and the rest is green.

My visual interpretation of The Soft Lawn by Imaginary Authors

But, but... what a nice one! It really is super soft this lawn. One on which you can rest your head and aching body and it will give you comfort and peace. The opening is full of Linden blossom, a fresh and yet calming note, and ivy and vetiver following suit to add some weight to all the fluffyness. It stays pretty linear from there on until it disappears on me after about 4 hours. I can't detect any tennis balls, but it's been a while since I smelled one that wasn't drenched in dog drool. The tennis inspiration for this fragrance isn't so much Wimbledon with hints of sweat and glory, but playing a relaxed double with your friends at the end of a glorious British summer day. In your own court, at the back of the garden. If Brideshead Revisited ever needed a perfume, it would be this one. Understated, sophisticated and terribly lovely it soothes and wraps you in soft green blankets. There is a mild melancholy hidden there somewhere (all that ivy gives more shade than light) and may be that is what attracts me to it. I rarely seek refreshment from a perfume, that's what shower gels are for. An all green scent that manages to be soothing rather than refreshing is a rare find and this one goes straight on the full bottle wish list, despite the fact that I do not own a tennis court, a well trimmed hedge and a worn out teddy bear. 

How and where to wear:
Grab a copy of Brideshead, in paper form, not as an e-book, and find yourself a nice spot in a park.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Violent Violets

Ach, violets. Such delicate little things. I always thought it odd that the German word for them, Veilchen,  is also used to describe a black eye. Totally unjustified, misleading and rather lazy. Yeah, they are purple blue and so is that bruise in your face, but still, so many other plants come with that colour and are far better suited for fist fights. Thistles, for example, or even bog standard pansies seem more robust and outgoing than the shrinking violet. For me, a perfume smelling of violets should carry an innocent sweetness around for a little while. I don't mind at all if the fragrance turns into something different, modern or dark after ten minutes, but I do want that intense powdery hit for the briefest of moments.  Otherwise, what's the point? 

So, why has this violet here, the one in that innocuous little glass vial labelled I Profumi di Firenze, Violetta di Bosco, just punched me in the face like some thuggish alpha violet on steroids? You remember these cartoons when someone bends over to smell a flower on a lapel? This. Not nice, not fair, not done. I mean, I understand that perfumers use the violet leaf rather a lot these days, and the word bosco in the name indicates that this could be a rather savage version of the note, so one can say I should have known. May be. But it didn't prepare me for this:

Violetta di Bosco, the visual. 

So much for shrinking.... Poisonous, bitter, wild, out there to eat through my skin layers. It's not a very blue smell either but comes and goes in wafts of ugly and medicinal screeching greens.  It's not entirely impossible that I have a very bad skin/nose day... and I understand the attempt to create a greener, manlier(!) version of a note that is often perceived as cloying and grannyish, but on me these violets from the woods are a complete disaster and I hate them too much for another trial on skin time. One Veilchen is quite enough. 

How and where to wear:
You don't like violets? Why not wear a violet perfume? What could possibly go wrong?