Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Jewel of the Nile… A Special Correspondent’s Report from Egypt by Purple Rose of Cairo

Among of the The Perfumed Dandy‘s greatest pleasures in this great big scented world are the remarkable people that he encounters on his travels and the wonderful tales they have to tell.

These good folks come from far and wide and their stories are as diverse as the cities and nations that they hail from.

Over the weeks and months ahead it will be my pleasure to introduce these splendid individuals and their stories to you in The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Supplement.

We begin today by traveling to one of the most ancient cities on the planet to meet my very very Special Correspondent…

Our Purple Rose of Cairo was born and bred in much colder climes, but has for the last five years made her home in the timeless city on the Nile.

Always possessing a passion for perfume, her nose has led her to seek out the olfactory arts of Egypt wherever she finds them in this city of secrets.

Here, our heroine shares with us the story of her first adventure into the realm of the greatest of Egypt’s bazaars…

When one visits Egypt for the first time one is struck by the sights, sounds and scent of this ancient land.

Dusty palm trees swaying in the dry breeze, dented cars beeping in a vain attempt to get giggling children to move to the side of the road, ladies shopping in colorful scarves that billow around them like the wings of exotic birds, men in dark suits with ties tied tight despite the oppressive heat: all quickly passing open windows from which the scent of garlic and pungent spices fried to just short of the burning point creeps out into the street.

This is Egypt.

Below our feet is the sand that pharaohs and commoners alike tread.

I came wishing to experience it completely and I did.

Like all visitors I insisted on seeing Cairo’s famed Khan El Khalili Bazaar at least once.

The Khan al Khalili Bazaar by Purple Rose

The Khan al Khalili Bazaar by Purple Rose

So, one lazy afternoon we went.

The driver dropped us off at a green pedestrian footbridge and we walked over the busy Al Azhar Street to the bazaar.

At the corner was a perfume shop. Tall heavy glass bottles with Arabic script lined the walls.

A Corner Perfume Stall by Purple Rose

A Corner Perfume Stall by Purple Rose

The color of the bottles’ contents range from deep russet to pale chartreuse, golden champagne to sunny lemon. I longed to stop, but the open-air stall was surrounded by far too many Egyptian customers haggling and getting their orders filled.

The :Loofah Seller by Purple Rose

The Loofah Seller by Purple Rose

We continued up the narrow Al Muizz li-Din Allah Street passing papyrus sellers, gift shops and carts piled with pale cream colored loofahs being sprinkled with water to keep them plump.

Corn was freshly grilled and sweet potatoes roasted for hungry visitors.

Every few steps we are stopped by dark-eyed young men inviting us to come see their wares for “just one minute”. Sometimes they spoke French and other times German as they tried to deduce our homeland.

We came upon the Ashraf Barsbay Mosque and stopped out front to buy an ice-cold Pepsi in a glass bottle. We stood there sipping the delicious brew made with real cane sugar and sealed in time worn glass.

It was heavenly.

Since we must return the bottle, there is time to appreciate all that surrounds us.

Glittering Gowns by Purple Rose

Glittering Gowns by Purple Rose

Spice shops with herbs bulging from burlap bags, crystal pyramids glittering in the sunlight, belly dance costumes dripping with tinkling faux coins and colorful cotton night dresses catching the wind and fluttering like majestic flags.

The scent of bodies out too long in the heat next to potent perfumes, people pushing and weaving their way amid the rutted streets while men with hand carts piled with goods make hissing sounds like a cat to cause people to jump out of their way.

Young boys with trays full of tea, coffee and soft drinks stopping at shops and filling orders, while older men sit smoking shisha, the pungent apple tobacco drifting around them like a cloud.

Golden Treasure by Purple Cairo

Golden Treasure by Purple Cairo

We come up to Al Musky Street where the gold shops begin.

The windows glitter and entice us to take a peek at the contents.

We point out our particular favorites and giggle when we adore the same item, “such good taste”.

Hidden between the gold shops are a few perfume bottle and scent sellers. A tall, slim youth with a brilliant gapped tooth smile invites us into his shop that is little more than a glorified closet.

The glass doors are so slim we must open both sides to enter. Perched on short stools we sit and gaze at the beautiful bottles their number doubled by the mirrored walls.

The Perfume Closet by Purple Rose

The Perfume Closet by Purple Rose

The young man turns on a fan then offers us refreshments. I order a Turkish coffee with one spoon of sugar, my friend another Pepsi.

He starts to show us the latest bottle designs and one by one a small area on the desk is filling with our choices.

The Perfume Bottles by Purple Rose

The Perfume Bottles by Purple Rose

Small petite ones in blue, purple and red, unique shapes like palm trees and elephants, tall curvaceous bottles with carved leaves and flowers dabbed with bits of gold paint to enhance the workmanship.

I sip my coffee enjoying the thickness and the hint of an added cardamom.

I ask to see the list of perfumes. He hands me a well worn card that has English on one side. The spelling mistakes are quickly apparent to my eye.

There are single flower perfumes: rose, lily of the valley and jasmine then specialty scents with Egyptian names to light the imagination of visitors: Cleopatra, Secret of the Desert and Bride of the Nile followed by the clever duplicates of famous French perfumes like Coco and Opium.

He grabs a bottle from the shelf and gently swirls the contents so that the dabber has a drop of perfume, this he carefully applies to the inside of my wrist.

The oil is warm and sticky on the skin and begins to emit a delicious scent.

Then he suggests lotus as it is the most famous and sought after oil of all.

We kept trying more and more perfumes till we had no more spots to dab and the scents became one glorious blur.

Now the question was… what size bottle to buy?

He suggested a huge 100 mililitre flacon, but I had been told that it is easier to travel with 10 or 20 mililitre roll-on bottles.

I picked a delicious amber, a carnation, Cleopatra and of course the most desirable: the lotus.

He quickly filled our bottles and wrapped them in bubble wrap. Then out came a well worn calculator and he ground out the total to which we shook our heads and insisted “it is too much”.

He rolled his eyes and insisted in return that he was giving us the best prices in the whole bazaar. We bantered back and forth until we agreed upon the price.

I took the last sip of my now cold coffee revealing the mud-like but oh-so-tasty silt on the bottom.

Then carefully I counted out my Egyptian pounds as he pulled out a small gift. A sky blue scarab stone.

He handed it to me “for luck” along with his card and invited us back soon.

Arms full, we stepped out into a wall of heat and quickly disappeared into the crowd.

Little did I know I would soon be making many return visits to Cairo.

It has been my home for the past five years.

I am recognized at the bazaar and now I know who to ask for when I am looking for a special gift.

While I am not viewed as a tourist, I am not Egyptian either, with my blonde hair peeping out from under my head cover, steel blue eyes and pale skin I walk between the two worlds.

The green footbridge was recently removed, only the weathered steps remain. My perfume collection grows with each visit to the bazaar, jasmine, violet, apple, “Coco”, “Angel”, “Givenchy Pi”, vanilla and many more.

Content in my small flat, windows open, listening to the birds sing, I sit while anointing myself with oils like an Egyptian princess and invite you all to come visit my fragrant realm.

The Dandy is quite mesmerized by that visit to the bazaar.

In fact all that remains is for him to express his enormous gratitude to our very dear Purple Rose of Cairo for sharing her story with us and to set out my sincere wish that will shall hear more of her adventures in the future.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.
The Perfumed Dandy

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Time for tea… tea for ten… The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Supplement

The warm glow left by an hearty lunch is starting to fade away into the distance this grey Sunday here in London.

So, at The Perfumed Dandy‘s place thoughts are already turning to that wonderful fixture of every gentleman’s day: afternoon tea.

For many poor souls the hectic world which they live means that there’s no time for the proper taking of tea of an everyday afternoon. But come the weekend The Dandy simply insists one must make time for tea!!

And if there is no time for tea itself?

Why not take a tea scented perfume instead?

In order to accommodate the proper apportment of a favourable fragrance for a tea party or even (if times is hard) something to wear in place of taking of tea itself, The Dandy has set out on a search for the best tea scent a gent can buy.

The hunt is on going, but so far your gentleman of the scents has found that as well as “Two for Tea” there are at least another nine worthy guests to be invited…

1. L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

Some argue that this craftsman’s work is more spice and smoke than real tea.

The Dandy says “Have you never tasted lapsang souchong?”

This one wholeheartedly meets with approval here at Dandy Mansions, as it’s able to give a decided kick up the proverbials to even the dullest social intercourse.

Not of course that there’s ever a dull moment here.

2. Jo Malone Tea Collection Assam and Grapefruit

Coming from the now Jo-less Jo Malone’s Tea Collection this plays amiably on the indisputable affinity between tea and citrus, though whether there’s actually any tea in the composition or merely a suggestion is a moot point.

The twist is one of the most accurate renderings of a grapefruit (a pomelo being a rather thick skinned version of everyone’s favourite breakfat fruit) anywhere in fragrance.

Light and fresh and not too sweet, not at all that sweet actually.

3. Bvlgari Eau Parfumee au The Vert

A deliciously herbaceous green tea with a great wedge of lemon.

That’s it. No less no more.

But whatever you might think of it, this typically sparse affair from Jean Claude Ellena is something of a reference scent in this class.

Longevity is variable, but one might try layering with the body products to increase the overall effect.

4. Illuminum Tribal Black Tea

Setting aside the inexplicably unappealing and industrial packaging that is the downfall of this otherwise delightful house, this is a quite deliciously simple scent.

There is citrus at the start, but beyond that a good clear note of black tea set off marvelously with cardamon.

Just lovely.

5. CoSTUME NATIONAL Scent Intense

Looking more like the front end of an art deco motorcar than your average flacon, this is a suitable storage mechanism for a decidedly streamlined scent.

It would be easy to miss the tea in this at first as it has to compete with very efficient amber and patchouli notes (The Dandy gets much less sandalwood than others) but there it is and it leands a certain civility to a perfume that might be a little too modern without it.

One for a very contemporary tea party one feels.

6. Fragonard Concerto

My goodness, what is it with tea and all this brushed aluminium and faux industrialism? I sense an unwelcome theme emerging…

A more welcome connection between many of these fragrances is that they genuinely do capture that illusive Holy Grail of perfumery “freshness” – much more pleasantly to my mind than many aquatics or heavy citruses.

Allegedly male – since when did the taking of tea become a gender issue? – this is a light and airy bergamot infused little number.

Perhaps a little uninspiring tout seul, it is quite lovely as part of a cleansing routine when taken along with the accompanying toiletries. At Fragonard’s prices why not bag the lot?

7. Roger & Gallet The Vert

Sticking with Gallic retro reliability, Roger & Gallet are guardians of one of the world’s oldest colognes and maintain an admirably wide range of perfumes in this concentration (Cedrat and Orange are much under rated favourites of The Dandy‘s).

Like much else in the house’s range The Vert is exactly what it says on the ample container – a refreshing perfumed water – as such it does not aim to be nor is it overly sophisticated, long lasting or intense.

It is pleasantly perfumed and very refreshing – perfect when that’s what you want.

8. L’Artisan Parfumeur The Pour Un Ete

A counterpoint to The Dandy‘s first pick from the perfumed craftspeople, this is a much less spicy and smoked affair, but it has a wonderful jasmine note that carries it away into a different realm from other teas.

The lemon here is also to die for and there’s a deal more mint in my opinion than is often noted by other noses.

A scent for summer? Perhaps.

A perfume to cut through humid heat? Undoubtedly.

9. Robert Piguet Chai

A new addition to the increasingly highly esteemed re-imagined Robert Piguet collection, Chai comes across as a much more complex affair than many of the others mentioned here.

Yet, its notes are not dissimilar: both bergamot and beeswax are there, but the substitution of white tea for black and a magnificent basenote of mate take this brew in a decidedly different direction.

Potentially difficult to track down in some parts of the world as it ‘is intended for an Asian market’ (really?), this is undoubtedly worth the effort.

10. Angela Flanders Earl Grey

Presiding over her perfectly formed perfume shop on Columbia Road, home to London’s Sunday morning flower market, where The Dandy was just this morning (as you ask, some lovely purple roses) Angela’s fragrances have become something of a British institution – just like afternoon tea itself.

Not, strictly a ‘tea scent’ at all – except in name and allusion, this oriental chypre is sumptuously splendid, with bergamot sitting on top of a suitably dark rosewood heart and a green and earth base.

This maybe a slight cheat, but Angela’s Earl is undoubtedly The Dandy’s favourite.

So there we have it – ten for tea!!

Quite a crowd I should say, but there’s always room for more at The Dandy‘s table…

My search for the ultimate tea scented experience is far from complete and I would simply adore it if you could suggest a few more brews for us all to try.

You never know, the best answers might earn you an invitation to The Dandy‘s parlour.

I say.

More tea vicar?

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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Another 20 scents one never knew a man could wear!! The Perfumed Dandy’s Library Catalogue #4

Has The Perfumed Dandy mentioned that since starting out on his amazing adventure in the Wicked Wild West that is the World of Women’s Perfume he has amassed from dear readers an astonishing array of almost 500 suggestions of once forbidden ‘female fragrances’ that you consider fit for a gentleman to wear?

Well, The Dandy has most certainly mentioned it now!

Being ever one to share both the love and the wisdom, I have taken it upon myself to spread cognisance of these suggested scents far and wide each Saturday.

Such is the premise of our weekly peek inside the The Perfume Dandy’s Library Catalogue.

What follows is the fourth installment of ’20 scents one never knew a man could wear’ that may tickle either your fancy or your funny bone…

If you would like to further the cause of one of the fragrances, getting it a step closer to the dizzying heights of The Perfumed Dandy’s Hit Parade kindly respondez-vous to this post.

Alternatively if you believe you have the perfect perfume for The Dandy but can’t see it listed below simply visit ‘Suggest a new scent or recommend an old one’ to put the name forward.

Allons-y!!

1. Karl Lagerfeld KL

An animalistic 80s spicebomb in packaging so redolent of that decade one can almost hear soft rock in the background.

Karl himself famously slimmed down and is still around so is there any room for this soft perm of a perfume in a modern man’s wardrobe?

2. Rochas Eau de Rochas

It reads just like a classic cologne with a steel rod of oakmoss inserted.

Could this citrus star be a spray on ‘splash’ with a bit of bite for the modern man about town?

3. Cacharel Amor Amor Forbidden Kiss

Amor Amor has more flankers than there are Kardashians (which The Dandy thought was a religious cult or a species of Star Trek aliens until recently).

Is there anything remarkable about this member of the family that should secure it a place on The Dandy’s skin?

4. Dior La Collection Couturier Parfumeur Granville

Coniferous and herbaceous, this would certainly seem to be a candidate for any gentleman’s fragrance wardrobe.

But is the upscale Dior simply special enough to be worth trying?

5. Versace Versace

Catch a falling star.

The Versace brand is obviously in decline, is there anything about this beautifully packaged 2007 offering that can help recapture the house’s glory days?

6. Diesel Diesel Fuel for Life Unlimited

A fantastic flacon. But once again the folks at Diesel seem to think that life is only worth living when fueled by licorice.

Is this anise aroma really worth a spray?

7. Thierry Mugler Alien Les Parfums de Cuir

Can this extra terrestrial jasmine be made more real by the addition of some amber and a little leather?

The Dandy does hope so as he would like to wholeheartedly like at least one Mugler scent.

8. Mancera Roses Vanille

A modern rosewater sweetened by, one hopes, a moderate amount of vanilla.

Is this a deliciously retro fragrance deserving of The Dandy’s attentions?

9. Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan

Monsieur Lutens, a weekly incumbent on this list it seems, returns with a spicy, resinous it had been said heady mix.

Is The Dandy, with his not-so-sweet tooth, really up to a scent some describe as downright syrupy?

10. Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule

Serge’s second entry is a sublime sandalwood with a slightly gourmand edge so they say.

Are they right? Would you like The Dandy to find out?

11. Diptyque L’Ombre Dans L’Eau

Big tomato. Bigger blackcurrant bush.

Should The Dandy take a walk in this green and potentially pleasant garden?

12. Chopard Madness

A confession. The Dandy knows nothing of Chopard and is therefore at your mercy.

Please be gentle with me…

13. Chopard Casmir

Tenderness I implore you…

14. Chopard Wish

“You give a little love and it all comes back to you….”

15. Bvlgari BLV

Wisteria is a wonderful addition to any floral display. The Dandy is yet to be convinced of its success as a perfumed bloom.

Can this scent change The Dandy’s mind?

16. Lalique Encre Noire Pour Elle

Encre Noire itself is a workhorse vetiver that The Dandy has been known to put into occasional service.

Is this rose hued sister to the masculine stallion a worthy addition to his scented world?

17. Lalique Perles De Lalique

One more Lalique and one with quite the whitest packaging one has ever seen.

Does this dark peppery rose live up to the promise of its prominent patchouli?

18. Prada Prada Candy

Everything about this – the packaging, the notes, the name – has The Dandy running for cover… and yet one good commercial and he thinks again!

Is there more to this Candy than a saccharine flash in the pan and some stylish marketing?

19. Chanel Cristalle Eau Verte

Cristalle itself is one of The Dandy‘s dearest favourites. Green notes are also particularly suited to his palette…

So nothing can go wrong, no?

20. Chloe Eau de Fleurs Capucine

And finally… what I believe is our first entrant from Chloe.

Something of a surprise to The Dandy as this house seems to have become the very epitome of perfumed androgyny in recent years.

Is this emerald green really as beautiful a gem as it appears to be?

Now, I know I’m repeating myself but… If you would like to further the cause of one of the fragrances, getting it a step closer the dizzying heights of The Perfumed Dandy’s Hit Parade kindly respondez-vous to this post.

Alternatively if you believe you have the perfect perfume for The Dandy but can’t see it listed below simply visit ‘Suggest a new scent or recommend an old one’ to put the name forward.

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More, more, more… Coco by Chanel The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Big. Blousy. Really rather beautiful.

There were two 1980s.

The one where women wore military cut pencil skirt suits with NFL shoulder pads and went to work on Wall Street.

Where the females of the species needed bigger balls than all the men and shorter fuses than fourth of July fireworks just to get ahead.

And then there was the other one…

Then there was a world of femmes fatales with super-structure soft-brushed hair styles and wardrobes of endless sable coats and satin negligees that slipped effortlessly to shag pile bathroom floors before pedicured feet dipped into 36 inch deep baths of milky eau and sky high bubbles.

This was the world of Coco.

A world of interiors of unabashed retro-romantic re-imaginings.

So come now as we enter the faux Roman Spa bathroom, three colours of marble and a gold leafed vanity unit, and gasp as we grasp an incautious glimpse of our deshabille heroine.

First inhale the rich pot pouri of orange, peach, pomegranate and rose petal.

Then catch our unawares hostess’ perfume: a textbook exercise in the floral meets the oriental: rose rises again with jasmine and orange blossom cut through with clove.

Finally a resinous wave of bath oils as you approach her lascivious body, her beating heart.

Reaching out to touch her alabaster skin… you pause… amber, sandalwood, labandum and the animal sexuality of the Diana of the sunken corner bath suite.

No, no.

You retreat.

You must not touch what you cannot afford.

And this is a rich beauty priced high above rubies.

Less is less. More is More.

Excess is best.

*************

Coco by Chanel is the quintessential smell of the decade of apparent plenty.

More than a dozen years after the death of Gabrielle and a decade after the launch of Cristalle, it was time to ring the changes at Chanel: to herald the dawn of a brave new world.

The world of cool as ice creations such as No19 was long gone, their sparse feminism to be replaced with an enormous outpouring of fin de siecle flouncing femininity.

No perfume encapsulates these gestural sexual politics better than Coco.

So these new attitudes divided, so does the perfume.

Some encounter classic rose and sandalwood. Others an almost fruity almost sweet vanilla that betrays much of what was to follow within a decade. Another house holds that this is a grand floral, while others still cry animalic wood.

In truth this apparent confusion belies the truth: Coco is complex.

It is a perfume that sought to be everything to every man and woman, just as it could be argued women everywhere found themselves having to do just that at just the same time.

And yet, and yet, the overall effect is not of confusion but of an overabundance of confidence and an unquiet coherence that brings contentment to all who encounter it.

This scent maybe identity crisis underneath, but on the surface it’s a mini-series superstar.

Oh yes and my goodness did it, for better or for worse, change the game.

The cry went up:

‘Madame Chanel is most definitely dead. Long live Coco.’

*************

At the time it would have seemed inconceivable, but today, can a man wear Coco?

Hell why not if he’s got the hotel room to go with it!

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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The rites of Spring… Diorissimo by Dior The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

It was an idea of nature and not the thing itself she adored.

She had no time for mud and weather, wild animals and running amok.

Her idea was of an idealised au naturelle where plants were perfected into decorative stage set props and trees became perfumed bit part players.

A world where she could glide gracefully through scented air on a swing suspended from an invisible branch, her perpetual motion made possible by a silent servant glimmering on the edge of ghostliness.

How natural then that she should make her way each day in her extended late lunch hour to a room on Manchester Square, placing herself safely within walls hung with pastel silks and paintings.

There, surrounded by marquetry and enamelled secretaires, just footsteps away from cabinees of fine Sevres, she contemplated copious swirls of peach pink damask, petticoats and lace.

She fancied herself in a hat, with a corsage of violets tempting the eye to the edge of her over brimming décolletage.

She flushed at the thought of flattering glances stolen by a man looking on from an unfortunate angle and forced out a feigned blush at the suggestion of the inevitable animal advances to follow.

Day dreaming of throwing silk slippers and caution to the wind, the imagined breeze brings the fragrance of an illusionary forest floor to her: jasmine, ylang ylang, boronia, lilacs and everywhere muguets.

The Lily of the Valley it is said was born of Eve’s tears as she departed disgraced from the Garden of Eden.

Yet this woman, sat alone in the distant splendour of a stately home turned picture gallery, has never even entered paradise.

A golden clock in the shape of a sphinx chimes in another room not far off and even her extended hour is over.

Careful not to let the guard to see, she scribbles her telephone number on a scrap of paper and reapplies her perfume.

Renewed, as always, by her midday encounter, she is still surprised to find that it is now Spring outside.

Buoyed up by the sunshine and the burgeoning hope of a change of seasons and fortunes, this time she lets the note slip from her hand as she walks past the man planting out small flowers that look like snow drops.

She will carry those same flowers one day, in a bouquet, arm in arm with him.

*************

Diorissomo by Dior is one of the most discretely but decidedly sexual of all scents.

It is a great mass of aldehydic muguet, the parfumeurs’ sleight of hand for the seemingly innocent Lily of the Valley.

But like the flower carried by wealthy brides on their wedding day, this scent conceals deeper and more animal pleasures beneath its surface of propriety and cleanliness.

A lasting tonal green escorts the fragrance through from a brief citrus opening to a floral heart that contains the signature note supported by lilacs, jasmine and aromatic rosemary.

This being no tended flower garden but a wild forest floor, there are also aromas of wood and animals in amongst the undergrowth that hint at altogether darker pastimes.

This scent is a work of both art and artifice capturing the corseted sexuality of a swoon to absolute perfection, smelling salts and all.

However, beware, for Diorissimo is not for the faint of hearted, more for those prepared to lose their hearts.

It is the smell of lovers.

*************

It must be admitted that to many the muguet is a quintessentially feminine scent and as such many men would find it hard to even consider wearing this perfume.

I am not one of those men.

I enjoy Lilly of the Valley scents, most of all in the morning, and would be happy to awake to find Diorissimo in my bed.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy

The Perfumed Dandy

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She knows her own mind… Knowing by Estee Lauder The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

Being used to having all matter of things pretty much all her own way in the office, she wasn’t about to let a silly thing like March frosts come between her and her early blooming roses.

Of course she had space neither for a hothouse nor a conservatory, in fact she had no outside space at all.

But there was her building’s stairwell: that would do well enough, glazed as it was all the way up in its austere modernist symmetry.

Surely even her tedious co-operative co-members couldn’t object to being cajoled into allowing a little natural beauty into the clear lines and white space of their shared world, she decided.

The man at the flower store had advised a miniature variety would be best. She told him, a jovial, handsome but small framed man of Greek extraction, that she didn’t want anything ‘squat squatting on my steps’.

He shrugged and gestured for his eldest boy to fetch down the formidable peach coloured floribunda that she finally fixed on.

“It can grow to be quite bushy” he ventured “Oh. I’ve no problem with pruning where necessary” she assured him, a sharp half meant semi-smile on her lips.

With her words she gestured for the “&sons” of the establishment to take the plant and all the planting stuffs out to the taxi she had waiting.

It was in the cab that the smell first caused consternation.

The driver was, to put it mildly, displeased with the aroma she had introduced into his vehicle:

“It smells like a bloody barnyard in here” he bemoaned.

It was a cry she would hear time and again from the dreary folks on her landing and those on the floors above and below.
She explained that it really was necessary to mix peat moss and mulch and fresh farm soil to give the roses the best possible start.

She set out, so she thought, with a surfeit of patience that nitrogen was the very nub of things so far as roses were concerned and ,well, “horse manure is just the best there is”.

She took extra care when expounding that as no one would be eating the roses when they finally came it really didn’t matter that she had taken to spraying the plants twice a day with pesticide that some people said bought them out in a rash.

She even reacted calmly when other residents planted herbs along the corridors: coriander, bay, patchouli, to offset the odour.

And, if she harvested them a little robustly, it was they who had invited her to help herself.

She did, however, take exception when a few families started cooking spicy food much too regularly for her liking.

She raised questions about anti-social behaviour at a tenants’ meeting.

Then the roses arrived and everything was forgotten, by her.

She cut stem after stem and filled vases in every room of her apartment.

The scent was deliriously delicious.

In the hall, the cut back bushes gave off a green smell that the she just knew her neighbours were coming to adore.

*************

Knowing by Estee Lauder is a single minded scent.

It has a clear and determined idea of where it wants to be and it’s damn well going to get there.

Opening with a minor avalanche of sparkling insecticide aldehydes, overflowing oakmosses are next, beating out a baseline with dark patchouli that will last the entire tune through.

The melody itself is carried from the off by a charming, slightly dry, somewhat spicy rose that is filled out in the heart by a string section of white flowers with some support from attendant aromatics.

The long dry down, so typical of this house, sees a smoky vetiver take up the letitmotif and the animalics, that have been harmonising so prominently play a subtle solo or two.

And here’s the thing, to the wearer, with the close to the skin rose note forever at hand, the whole symphony makes sense, once it’s modern take on classic theme is understood.

But to unschooled noses a little further away a misconception might form that this is a brittle, bitter and little too forthright fragrance.

It is nothing of the sort.

Knowing is a triumph of structure and strength: a modern rose with impeccable, if pruned back, floral chypre credentials.

*************

Some scents one has a sense a man could wear, in this case one just knows he should.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy
The Perfumed Dandy

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It came like a thief in the night… Bandit by Robert Piguet The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

The papers christened her ‘The Black Glove’.

He called her Bonnie and she called him Clyde.

And not one reporter in Cannes suspected that the crimes were the work of a double act.

They knew she was she, but they all had her down as a solitary sort of cat.

Anyway they had bigger things to vex them than a jewel thief, no matter how alluring.

It was May 1968.

A year after their first date in the cinema Reflet Medicis just off the Boulevard St Michel: all damp and decayed plush smelling of moss and leather and the small animals who no doubt made their home there.

Warren Beatty and Fay Dunaway were in a shoot ‘em up up on the screen while in the pit they resolved to live gangsters’ lives together.

He was the brains, her Serge, and she was the willing flesh, his Brigette.

He knew the diamond trade, not only who sold what, but who bought, who was looking to sell and who was sitting on the good stuff.

She could, the result of a past life, slide up walls like they were dance floors and crack a safe as easily as a peanut shell.

So when the trouble kicked off in the big city they decided to hit the coast.

They would catch the movie crowd in time to bag their jewels before they jetted out of the ruined Festival and the frenzy that France had become.

In that heat and the confusion of cancelled cocktail parties, suspended screenings and endless squabbles in the Grande Salle, our pair lifted more wealth than they had in twelve months on the road.

Every time this Miss Parker struck, following the detail of her Mr Barrow’s plans to the point, she left behind her a small bouquet of flowers for the former owner: the last of the spring’s violets smelling more of soil than petal, some gardenia, the odd carnation for colour and an off white rose.

The police thought they could track her down through florists.

But it was Clyde who collected the corollas from the gardens of the victims’ villas as he cased out their joints and the gems.

The earthy odour should have told the Inspectors these blooms were not shop bought, perhaps they would have done had the police not been more perturbed about politics that year.

And then there was the smell that gave our star her screen name.

A thick, brutal, but beautiful leather, somewhere between riding crop and racing driver’s gloves.

As it happened everyone settled on Le Gant Noir, the feeling was that a feline thief had to make a quick getaway after all.

What fewer noticed was the chemical aroma just underneath, the citrus cologne she used to wipe away any trace of finger or indeed glove prints.

But there was one, a young inspector, who saw her in a pharmacist just off the rue d’Antibes buying a great flask of fragrance, and glanced down to see her small Hermes bag with matching white suede gloves.

White leather gloves in May in the middle of a near revolution?

He might have caught her then, might even have caught them both, but film directors turned fanatics and students, workers and socialists brought the country to a standstill.

The President fled and so did our pair of pretty organised criminals.

De Gaulle would return but Le Gant was gone forever.

Bandit is the scent of Left Bank larcenists who steal sometimes by stealth, on occasion by sleight of hand but always with an enormous sense of style.

Its leather note is, quite rightly, a legendary knockout punch given power and lift by a physical architecture of aldehydes and oakmoss.

However, there is some playfulness here too, beyond the freshly squeezed citrus and steely galbanum of the opening a teasing hint of florals sits behind the great fist at the heart of the fragrance.

The dry down too is a pleasing affair as the muscular perfume relaxes slightly but loses nothing of its toned character. Here the smoky notes of vetiver and myrhh come together in an accord resembling rolling tobacco.

Bandit may not have a name that conjures glamour anymore, but this is the highest end heister you’re ever likely to come across.

This is pilfering made perfection.

*************

It is also a fragrance that Bonnie and Clyde can enjoy together forever.

For a lady who loves the movies and the people who make the movies.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.
The Perfumed Dandy

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Sickly tea and boozey sympathy… Green Tea by Elizabeth Arden The Perfumed Dandy’s Scented Letter

No one could pretend it was anything other than a slapdash attempt at a sophisticated summer picnic.

Nothing quite worked, things were just not right, or just not there at all.

Like The Pimms: a great jug of sweet herbal cocktail that came mixed with over-sugared sparkling iced tea instead of the intended tart homemade lemonade.

The Pimms, that arrived in a too heavy to lift crystal decanter that looked like it had actually been lifted from an exhibition of inappropriate wedding gifts circa 1893.

The Pimms that had, floating forlornly amongst its half melted heart shaped ice cubes, great long sticks of celery instead of the more usual cucumber, refugees from an abandoned idea for a Bloody Mary. And much too much mint.

Oh The Pimms. My goodness did everyone have to acclaim, salute and surrender to The Pimms.

The Pimms you see was to define the picnic as a party.

The Pimms was a marker of all things civilised and smart and a step above the few sandwiches on a lawn of a normal picnic.

Ah yes, then there were the sandwiches, or rather then there were not sandwiches. The sandwiches, along with everything else savoury, had been left behind in the car to sweat it out on the back seat in the early summer heat.

The odour of fermenting spicy Southern fried chicken if not actually present seemed to pervade one’s consciousness.

It was, apparently, ’much too far’ actually to go back and fetch any real food, besides if anyone wanted something un-sweet, they could fish out a stick of the unfortunate celery from the vat of saccharine tea and sympathetic booze and have a munch.

Alternatively, there were cakes.

Lemon cup cakes to be precise, frosted with icing, a whole lot of mint icing.

Cakes that were in fact 80% sugar coating and 20% cake.

They were, truthfully, enough to tip a diabetic over the edge at fifty paces.

Nobody mentioned the combination of lemon and mint, it seemed best not to.

All of which left things uneasy and slightly queasy but bearable.

Then she arrived.

Ten years their junior, ten times their volume in appearance and audibility.

She smelt of poorly knocked off classic perfume and overpoweringly of the gum she incessantly chewed. Sugar free and good for ‘her hygiene’ she insisted.

As she turned towards you to offer her latest pearl of wisdom on the misfortunes of an unfamous celebrity the huge fake mint of her mouth furniture, a ghastly too sweet to be sugar aroma became instantly and nauseatingly enveloping.

The only hope was that another guest or The Pimms would take her attention away.

When her focus shifted, however, the relief was a false dawn, a waft of bitter, salty dried on under arm sweat and cheap jasmine deodorant was your reward for having paid her too much heed.

And so it went on: a cycle of menthol, passed its peak perspiration and the great glugs of cocked up tea and vodka cup cocktail that she wound up slurping direct from the decanter within forty five minutes of arrival.

The horror was complete when, cakes devoured and The Pimms and all guests exhausted, she passed out with the words…

“I met a Kardashian at the opening of a K-Mart once…”

Then all that remained was to transport her, en masse, back to the car where now soured slightly spicy Southern fried fowl and a ride home awaited.

*************

Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea is an unpleasantly sickly absence of taste where a good scent should be.

It manages to coordinate a collection of apparently innocuous notes into something cyclically banal and mentholatedly nauseating.

Opening with a big metallic straight-from-the-tin note of readymade and heavily sugared ice tea with something distinctly alcoholic, intended perhaps to lend a touch of racy chic, only a zest of lemon and undefined citrus provide all too brief relief.

The tea persists well into an elongated heart that is the strangest part of the whole affair, for this is where the mint note, a chewing gum confection of an aroma with an anti halitosis fennel, appears, then disappears and then reappears almost literally ad nauseum.

This compositional quirk, which might be interesting or exciting were the note beautiful or even bearable is rendered irritating to the extreme by the plastic, mouthwash like quality of the odour.

Then yet another transformation, as in late dry down the mint and acid elements dissipate and a rather salty, perhaps too salty, amber appears with a distinct artificial oakmoss structure underlining it.

Any sense of hope is misplaced for this oakmoss has a bitter unpleasant spice and lacks any power.

Indeed, the best thing that can be said about this Green Tea is that, the Wrigley’s moments apart, it stays relatively close to the skin throughout and is almost instantly forgettable.

Notwithstanding this lapse in silage, the longevity for something that comes across as a near tea cologne at the opening is reasonable.

For once this staying power is actually a negative, for this is a scent that is by turns offensively inoffensive and firmly rooted in the world of oral hygiene.

Eventually one is left wishing that like a gate crashing guest a summer picnic it would just go away.

*************

Nothing about Green Tea other than its central sweetness would ever have denoted gender and now that men are as sugary toothed in their fragrant tastes as women this is an odour for everyone and no one.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.
The Perfumed Dandy

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Pure poetry… L’Encens Mythique D’Orient by Guerlain A Special Guest Review by The Collector

The Perfumed Dandy is delighted to welcome a very special new guest critic.

The Collector is one of the very most refined of all the many connoisseurs of the art of perfumery that The Dandy has ever met, the scope of his knowledge and the precision of his analysis are only surpassed by his wisdom.

It is therefore my very great pleasure to introduce the first of what I hope will be many reviews by The Collector

I have worn this scent every day for nearly a fortnight.

I have broken my own rule regarding avoiding other reviews while attempting to pen my own.

I have been certain of how to translate this sensory experience into words, then lost, certain again, and lost once more.

Myth is an invitation into the labyrinth.

The explorer considers and contemplates, discovers meaning in the myth only to find, with introspection, that they have discovered something about themselves, not a quality inherent in the object of their study.

The temptation analyzing any myth is to provide a discourse as endless as the memories and thoughts to which it gives fleeting life.

The meaning of a single passage of myth in the Aeneid, as detected by James Frazier, drove a twelve volume magnum opus.

Thierry Wasser evokes in this fragrance all the power and complexity of myth, not with scholastic detail and complexity, but poetic force and simplicity.

The poetry of this fragrance lies in the seeming simplicity of its exposition.

There are only three notes of significance, rose, ambergris and the titular Encens- Olibanum, or Louban in proper Arabic.

All other notes are present solely to emphasize and complete the presence of these three.

Just as the true poetry, per Robert Graves, is the retelling of myth: organically remembered ancient religious rites and practices, so Encens Mythique D’Orient is a true perfume, smelling of the rose before all other roses, the most rare expression of the sea, and the first of the precious resins.

The rose note is soft and contains great breadth, it is not the scent of any particular rose but of being intimately in the presence of real roses.

Not just the smell of the flowers, but the cut green stems and the sharp, citric taste of the petals, which are provided by a dose of aldehydes and orange blossom.

The ambergris is unctuous, quietly vibrant with the potential for salty animalic expression.

It is a clean skin that can sweat, exude oils, project fear or passion. A drop of moss adds an earthy bitterness that rounds this element and further emphasizes its human quality.

The Encens is the most clear and remarkable note.

This is not the smell of burning incense, but of the purest resin from the Boswellia Sacra.

I have had the pleasure to visit some of the high wadis of Dhofar in Oman where the most precious variety of Olibanum, Hojari, is harvested and to pluck a few pure white tears of the resin from the trees. The note contained within this perfume recalls the scent perfectly.

It is sweet yet dusty, with a sharp element that is often compared to pine but is more green, fresh and without any turpenic aspect; there are also hints of lemon and honey and light dry woods.

The elements of this perfume are clear, but the development, and the perception of the elements has only one consistency, proof of the brilliance of the composition.

With every wearing a clear narrative emerges.

At first I was prepared to write of how this was an elegy to ambergris with rose emphasizing through harmony the sweet and sour aspects of the smell while the olibanum did the same for the salty and sharp elements.

But when I wore it again, to refine and detail this conclusion, it was the the scent of olibanum that dominated, with its dusty, lemony sweet aspects supported and enriched by the distant sweetness, green and tang of rose and its woody resinous quality enhanced by the unctuous and bestial quality of the ambergris.

These were not different takes upon the same scent, but entirely different experiences.

Perhaps a mild allergy or sniffle had altered my perceptions?

So the effort continued, another day confirming one or the other until it manifested itself as a rose perfume, again structured as before, but this time with the olibanum and ambergris in support of a central rose theme.

As I became aware of each of these iterations, they became apparent constantly, sometimes each manifestation would appear as a skin scent when I put my nose to my arm, sometimes a different variation would reach my nose as a waft of air drifted up. It would open as rose and dry down to ambergris, or open as olibanum and dry down to rose.

Frustrated, and thinking it would not be possible to write a coherent review of Encens Mythique, I looked at some other reviews to try to get some idea of the correct interpretation of these notes and their proper structure.

Instead I found, among the first three well respected reviewers I consulted, one paean each to a brilliant rose perfume, a work of genius with ambergris, and the perfumer’s most noble expression of olibanum.

And then it was clear, this perfume is Mythique.

Not in that it contains a precious resin, but in its very quality.

It does not have the quasi-literary narrative structure of an opening, middle notes and a dry down.

It is myth, it is poetry, it grasps at the unconscious and manifests itself in the manner that any given time commands, time that can be an entire day or a single sniff.

It is three simple notes, each formed so that it can be equally facile in a leading role or as part of a supporting tandem.

It is three notes that with each wearing, each perception of change in their respective roles, become more captivating to the nose and the mind.

They dance around each other, not in a circle, but in a triple helix, always rising but never converging.

Is this a scent that you would enjoy?

It is.

Setting aside the descriptive flourishes, a minimalist rose perfume with a structure very much in keeping with two other recent successes in this genre: Cartier’s Declaration d’un Soir and the Different Company’s Rose Poivree. If you enjoy either of these simple but well structured rose scents that lack any particularly overbearing aspect, you will very likely enjoy Encens Mythique.

*************

Finally, out of courtesy to my host, I must answer The Question: is it a scent for a man or a woman?

The triune nature of this perfume utterly rejects the question.

Boswellia Sacra of Dhofar, Oman. Lent by The Collector

Quite exquisite, both perfume and prose.

All that is left is for The Dandy to express his enormous gratitude to The Collector for the wonderful review and extend an open invitation to him to return at a time of his wishing.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.
The Perfumed Dandy

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The Perfumed Dandy’s Happy Mothering Sunday Supplement

On the occasion of of Mothering Sunday, also known as Mother’s Day, here in the United Kingdom, The Perfume Dandy tips his hat and and presents a bouquet of flowers to mothers, grandmothers matriarchs everywhere.

Hurrah for mamas!!

The tradition in this part of the world derives from the practice of Christians returning to their mother church on the second Sunday in lent and combining the pilgrimage with a visit home to celebrate the day with their own mater.

Today as with Mothers Days in other parts of the world the occasion is marked with flowers, special meals and the giving of gifts…

All of which leads me to 10 scented last minute suggestions for sons and daughters who have perhaps mislaid their presents home… the shops here in London open at midday, so you better get your skates on!

1. The Earth Mother: Eau de Campagne by Sisley

Possibly the most naturally green and garden-like scent ever created. Herbs and grass and tomato plant combine in a light and joyful way that’s perfect for the woman who likes to be with her plants!

2. The Spring is in the Air Mother: L’Essence by Balenciaga

Violets are one of the essential scents of the Spring and this tender perfume from the reinvigorated Balenciaga has a spring in its step, and knows how to celebrate. Click on the image above for a The Perfume Dandy’s review.

3. The Grand (Dame) Mother: Shalimar by Guerlain

Let’s not forget the grand dames out there and indeed the grandmothers. Whilst The Dandy doesn’t believe for a minute in the idea of ‘old lady’ perfumes, Shalimar is the ultimate fragrance for rekindling the flames of a fabulous past.

4. The Unflappable Mother: L’Histoires de Parfum 1826

Inspired by the last French Empress, Eugenie, “The Beauty of Granada”, this is a cologne on turbo charge with patchouli and amber to back up citrus and floral notes. One for a woman who takes everything in her stride.

5. The Foodie Mother: Un Bois Vanille by Serge Lutens

Every mother knows the best bit of a creme brulee is the slightly burnt sugar on top! Giving a darker edge to the cult of vanilla, Lutens’ fragrance of for the discerning gourmand.

6. The Flower Power Mother: Do Son by Diptique

There ain’t no bloom bigger than a tuberose. If you want to say it with (bottled) flowers Diptyque’s elegant take on the most forceful personality in the floral world is a wonder.

7. The Glamour Mother: First by Van Cleef and Arpels

If you want to demonstrate to the mama that she is still the main event then putting her First would not be a bad move. Arguably bigger than the current No. 5 and deeper than Patou’s Joy, this huge aldehyde, floral animalic drips old style glamour like practically nothing else on the market.

8. The Tough (Love) Mother: Cuir de Russie by Chanel

We all know that all mother’s are the boss, but some mothers are The Boss, for the woman who likes her place in pole position and knows how to rough house it with the boys nothing beats Chanel’s great leather.

9. The Never Forgotten Mother: Private Collection by Estee Lauder

Not every mother will be with us today, or any other day. Estee Lauder’s masterful rendering of chrysanthemums and an almost transcendental sense of cleanliness is a perfect way to remember.

10. The Dandy’s Mother: Narcisse Noir by Caron

With its breathtaking scent of daffodils, the national flower of the Dandy’s homeland, and its sense of dignity and serenity, this is The Dandy‘s personal choice. If you’d like to hear more, more words are a mere click away…

Of course, every mother is different, unique and special in her own way and The Dandy only makes these suggestions for your convenience and consideration.

Perhaps you have alternative perfumed thoughts? If so please do share…

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy

The Perfumed Dandy

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