sas

I am quicksilver, the fox in the night, emotional about the poetry, love & desire in scent, read me.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Foxy Loves of 2015 - Part I (The Triptych)




This year I have found and worn some beautiful work. I had a very unsettling period in the summer when my sense of smell just collapsed; I found myself unable to properly distinguish between notes, accords and materials I normally navigated with ease. This was the result of a serious viral infection a few years ago that resulted in hospitalisation and now a ghostly set of symptoms rises and falls like a malevolent tide, periodically attacking my olfactory system. Even when I recover, I am plagued by doubts; am I truly smelling cashmeran or cistus or just my memory of them? It has made me painfully conscious of how I interact with aroma, much more so then before and I have been researching the science of scent psychology and the effect on mood, migraine, learning, autism, dementia and sexual awareness. I now go for days with no scent on at all, whereas before I would never have dreamed of doing that. My skin and senses need days of neutrality and blankness in order for me to process aroma.  

I have written less than I would have liked I think, but what I have written is bold and heartfelt. Some of you have commented on the increased poeticism and eroticism in the writing. This is fine; I am always trying to do different things. I wrote five scent-related prose essays for Issue 4 of ODOU Magazine, the olfactory related publication designed and edited by the wonderful Liam Moore. I loved writing these, short obsessive pieces linking sex, death, desire and love to five particular fragrances including Bulgari Black, Vero Kern’s Onda, Iris Nazarena by Aedes de Venustas, Daphne by Comme des Garçons and Tabac Blond by Caron. I have more prose in Issue 5.. not saying too much except it will be haunted and obsessed with roses.  

I have always taken my time with my reviews and thoughts, those of you that follow my work are aware of that. I need to, the pieces are long, detailed and take a lot of time to research, plan and assemble. I also take a lot of the images myself. If don’t take them, I edit them ruthlessly through a complex series of apps, filters, lenses, effects and frames to achieve the precise look I desire. Editing is exhausting. I always overwrite and prune back; it’s the way I’ve always written. It’s indulgent and time consuming I know, but it allows me to play around with large amounts of info and then begin to carefully whittle it down through numerous drafts. I have a few trusted readers, only one technical reader, perfumer and friend Mr E; he has read my work from the beginning and I rely on his expert aroma knowledge to help me when I stumble or need reassurance that my instincts are not crazy. I still don’t do negative reviews and yet I’m still criticised by other bloggers for this. I don’t care. Everyone is different, all our tastes unique. I like things, you all like things. That’s all it really amounts to. I am not a perfumer or any kind of expert; I write on what I like, why waste time on anything else?

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Disorderly Wine: ‘Fundamental’ by Rubini Profumi




It has taken me a little while to get around to writing down my thoughts on Fundamental Eau de Parfum by Rubini Profumi. I was very kindly sent a sample by Andrea Bissoni Rubini when the scent initially launched at Pitti 2015 and it fascinated and charmed me then. It is very much an Italian affair, created by Andrea, in collaboration with Ermano Picco, blogger at La Gardenia nell'occhiello, perfumer Cristiano Canali and renowned designer Francesca Gotti who created the singular presentation for Nu_be, another innovative Italmian niche brand. The mix of personnel is quietly and distinctively a family of perfumed immensity and quite the platform for a debut scent.

Andrea Bissoli Rubini

I have become quite addicted to Fundamental’s unexpected and compelling grape note; it smells yeasty, fatty, smeared and indulgent. Shifting from sparkling party bubbles, the bread and melon hit of prosecco to a more disturbing lolling, after-hours addiction of vampiric carmine stain; there is unwashed skin, a whiff of fuck and silence, falling make-up, lipstick, cologne, tradition and innovation. All of these disparate elements swirl around that central personality of Soave grape. It is quite an experience.


Fundamental by Rubini

So much time is spent writing about lost scents and houses attempting to shore up their crumbling foundations. There are also many faux-vintage olfactory formulae out there, offering cracked windows into bygone eras with mixed results. Fundamental is a very different creature. Andrea comes from a line of established Veronese perfume sellers, so his blood is scented, but he was restless, aromatically fatigued if you like, looking for something amid the usual flacons that would inspire him. He set out to create his own scent, an odour that satisfy his vintage cravings but also represent something modern, constructed and singularly apart from anything he had experienced to date. Could he build a fragrance that might echo with history and geography and yet still resonate with a contemporary set of complex and fickle senses? 

Ermano Picco (l) & Cristiano Canali (r)

The name Fundamental is key to this scented endeavour. Andrea’s grandfather started up a small perfumery business in Verona in Northern Italy in 1937 after returning from the Italo-Ethiopian war. The word translates variously as crucial, intrinsic, supporting, base or foundation. His grandfather’s name was Pietro, the Italian word for stone. His post war perfumery business was literally the cornerstone of the Rubini family. Fundamental is Andrea’s homage to his grandfather’s memory but also a way of saying.. ‘This is my foundation, I place this olfactory object in place and mark a new Rubini beginning..’

Verona

In order to achieve his dream, Andrea set about assembling a talented and relatively green squad of collaborators to help him realise his Fundamental project. La Gardenia nell’Occhiello is an Italian perfume blog hosted by Ermano Picco, a man who knows a lot about the history and traditions of perfumery. Andrea consulted with Ermano in order to create a detailed brief they might start with. Using this, they contacted Cristiano Canali, a young graduate from the ISIPCA in Paris who Andrea had previously met at Pitti when he was showcasing a selection of the Osmothèque’s classic canon of perfumery.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Narcotic Self-Love: ‘Romanza’ by Masque Milano




When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance.

From The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde



Romanza, the latest fragrance from the talented and dashing Masque Milano boys Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi is a glorious, swooning descent into exquisite malignancy.

Ovid’s Metamorphoses tells us the tale of a beautiful hunter called Narcissus, obsessively loved by the wood nymph Echo who followed the boy through the mountains. Realising he was being followed shouted…’who’s there?’..

Who’s there? shy Echo shouted back. When she revealed herself, she was spurned and devastated, fading away to just her voice… an echo. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge lured the arrogant youth to pool of still mirrored water where he fell in love with his own reflection. When he finally realised his aching love would not be reciprocated, he died and was transformed into the narcotic, waxen bloom that so many of us love.

The doomed Narcissus..

This myth of obsessive all consuming love is a powerful concept. It is a psychiatric disorder indicated by differing degrees of severity. True narcissists are terrifying, fabulously charming and intoxicating but brutally cold and capable of astonishing emotional cruelty. Still, somehow we find them magnificent, alluring and sexually compelling. Like blue glittering fire, we feel the need to stand close, despite the fact we may be consumed. They have hypnotic vortex.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Soulfood For Dreamers:‘Le Mat’ & ‘Sogno Reale’ by Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima






For Jakub. Thank u. x.


I have said it before in previous blog pieces, but so much intriguing and personal niche olfaction has come out of Italy in recent years.

Nu_Be, Rubini, Bogue, Masque Fragranze, Laboratorio Olfattivo, Blood Concept and Gabriella Chieffo to name just a few. Small independent perfume brands seem to thrive, due partly I think to the long-standing Italian commitment to artisan skills and quality, already perceived perhaps in other areas such as glass, leather, lace, couture, shoemaking, saddlery, chocolate and epicurean goods. Italy has a passionate culture of slow shopping, an appreciation of smaller retailers supplying more specific goods rather than just concentrating purchases in one place. This has created in the Italian psyche a way of savouring quality, service and individuality along with the actual product being incrementally valued as it passes between client and artisan. There is immense obsessive pride in detail, provenance, materials and service.

While this all seems rather obvious, this deliberately appreciative approach to careful, selective buying is anything but that. Slow shopping is about the perception of what has gone into the assembly of what you are buying as you wander the boutiques and small stores as part of a daily or weekly routine. Part of the luxurious pleasure is buying from vendors who know their trade, be it bread, cheese, wine, cured meats, coffee, fish, skincare, honey and of course perfume. One of the unique aspects to artisanal scent is often the opportunity to see or hear the makers or artistic directors behind the scents wax lyrical about their inspirations. There tends to be a palpably intimate artistry by some of these makers that drives them into the tricky and judgemental arena of perfumery.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Ride: A Romance of Leather & Fur – ‘Metal Hurlant’ & ‘Shermine’ by Pierre Guillaume





‘..And my motto is the same as ever -
I believe in the kindness of strangers.
And when I'm at war with myself - I ride. I just ride..’


(From end monologue of Ride by Lana del Rey,
lyrics & music by Elisabeth Grant & Justin Parker)


Pierre Guillaume has recently released two new stylistically different fragrances, both of which have made their way into the foxy collection. The first, Metal Hurlant is the latest addition to his alluringly complex Collection Croisière, an olfactory exploration of places and spaces, travelling by air, road, water, bike, boat, foot, imagination and wilderness dreams. The second is Shermine, the thirteenth addition to his enigmatic diffusion range Huitième Art, where the focus on purity of form and relative simplicity of materials has created a line of honed and minimal serenity.

Shermine & Métal Hurlant
(Foxy Collection)

Metal Hurlant is a gasoline patchouli of burning roads, the thrill of hot bike chrome and embraceable weary leather jackets; a fantasy of cling, heat and dissonance. It’s sexy, weird, windswept and oddly dislocated. Shermine is its polar opposite in texture, inspired by the implied cruelty of silvered fur and the aged beauty of bruised iris rhizome, spiked with piquant citrus.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Between Flinted Spoor & Sky – ‘Neandertal’ by Kentaro Yamada & Euan McCall





I firstly admit this piece will be a personal one. It has to be. The perfumer Euan McCall is a dear friend and someone I have known and worked with for years. However, I would not be reviewing the two chiaroscuro reflections of Neandertal if I did not think they were worthy of consideration. Euan and I are both intensely private men with high personal standards when it comes to our work: his olfaction and my writing. I inhale his work. He reads mine. I have observed the genesis of Neandertal and sampled the various mods along the way of what eventually coalesced into the Light and Dark versions of the compositions.

Euan is voraciously self-taught, obsessed with the beauty and power of perfume from an early age thanks in part to his own clinical, acquiring nature, perfectionism and a grandmother who wore only the most beautiful classic perfumes and instilled in him the importance of scent as statement, raiment and bijou. He has acquired an astonishing amount of knowledge since I have known him, organic chemistry, reverse engineering and the nuts and bolts of assembling a multitude of differing accords, bases and mods. He has set about making himself into the perfumer I think he has always wanted to be.

Euan + Lily

 We have worked alongside each other now for years in a small Edinburgh-based fragrance boutique, laughing lots, occasionally bickering, sulking, learning from each other, but mostly laughing so damn much. We worked together on a few olfactory projects, but to be honest my heart (and talents..) do not lie in perfume creation. I am a writer, poet and evaluator. I can sample, inhale, sniff, wear, laud, love and wax lyrical on scented assembly and emotional impact, however Euan has an innate understanding of fragrance chemistry and construction. 

Mouilettes, numbers & materials

He has honed and deepened this skill with self-study, market research and the steady, relentless creation of accords, bases, riffs and scents. His carefully gathered collection of oils and synthetics is mightily impressive and has dramatically helped to enrich and inform my own writing and connections to the often technically demanding entourage of olfactory flim-flam and obfuscation. 

Overhead of Euan's workspace

The only way to really understand materials, their nuances and interactions is to smell, build and experiment. And Repeat. It is a rigourous discipline, more akin to science and mathematics with the complexities and minutiae of actual material weight and the more abstract exigencies of weighing off the effects and themes against one another. The relatively clinical role of combining ingredients seems straightforward enough and yet behind the science is a powerful and dramatic assembly of knowledge; the subtlety of floral aromatic sculpture, molecular tenacity, complimentary effects and polarising flora, an awareness of skin as canvas.. dirty, seductive and alluring. 

Euan's workbench with lily

Fragrances are composed like musical compositions, notes, flowing over, in and out each other, rising falling, pianissimo, crescendo, aubade and coda. This of course is true for contemporary niche and artisanal perfumery; high street, big budget scent creation strides a different client-led budget-controlled path which while it might have some artistic credibility and imagination glimmering behind it is essentially a big-bucks driven behemoth that must move enormous unitary in order to justify blockbuster ad campaigns, models, movie stars and mini-movies.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Necro-Floral Nocturne: ‘Room 237’ by Bruno Fazzolari






The eerie celadon-toned wash of Room 237 in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining is the creeping inspiration for one of the most unsettling perfumes I have discovered for a while. I’m enthralled and a little appalled by this claustrophobic essay in abandoned floral silence. Room 237 by Bruno Fazzolari is uncomfortable scent making, a prickling journey of disintegrating soapy compulsion that is hard to shake.

Foxy bottle of Room 237 by Bruno Fazzolari

I have been wearing this lurid aroma for a while and find myself in love with the toxicity, its suggestion of nocturnal soapiness on the edge of mould, mingled with absence, mildew, wall, tile and fleeting hints of phantom ablutions. It is like nothing else in my collection.

Room 237 by Bruno Fazzolari
(shower curtain impression I)

Bruno is a San Francisco based artist who earned his MFA at San Francisco Art Institute in 1996 after graduating with a BA from the University of California, Berkeley in 1991. He has exhibited in groups as a solo artist in LA, New York and across California. He has synaesthesia, the much discussed condition which allows those that suffer if I have to use such a term, to taste colour, see music and taste sounds. The senses to a certain degree are cross-wired, but this description barely does the condition justice, it is far more complex and abstract than that. Many people see it is a gift, a secret talent, a special viewfinder on the world. I think for Bruno, odours splinter into tonal impressions that move and shift with rather distinctive emotional effect. These colour mood boards that form inside his mind and sometimes on paper act as a point of departure for olfactory exploration.

Bruno's sensory colour
breakdown of rose otto
(source - Bruno Fazzolari blog
)

There are many different manifestations of synaesthesia and experts continue to redefine the mechanisms and protocols of individual experiences. Some people feel skin sensations on hearing certain sounds, others see colours instead, letters have colours, sounds and words have tastes. A particularly rare manifestation is genuinely empathetic; synesthetes witnessing for example a touch to a person’s cheek will feel that same gesture on their own face. It is a deeply intriguing and emotive subject and makes for very interesting discussion when applied to the creative arts, be they visual, musical, olfactive or even gustatory.

Friday, 11 September 2015

A Cargo of Samurai Dreams - ‘Nanban’ by Arquiste




As I was writing my recently posted two-part piece on the Arquiste collection I wondered what would come next from the prodigiously talented triumvirate of Carlos Huber, Rodrigo Flores-Roux and Yann Vasnier. Then, part way through my extensive note making and sampling, the lovely Ruth at Bloom Perfumery (now sadly moved on…) sent me a sample of a new Arquiste perfume that Carlos has shown the Bloom team at a floral themed Arquiste event earlier in the year.

Arquiste Instagram teaser image.. 

The sample was Nanban. It was astonishing. At the time, I had no notes to go with it so I wore it blind, free from trying to locate specific effects and notes in the mix. I set it aside and waited until I was really ready to do it justice. I had been struggling with a weird dose of asnomia from a viral infection and just wasn’t sure if I wasn’t smelling things correctly or even at all to be honest. I had a surreal moment sampling gardenia perfumes and had to stop. I just couldn’t tell if I perceived olfactory inflections of gardenia or just inhaling my own memory paintings of the bloom. It was both harrowing and immensely unsettling.

Carlos Huber & Rodrigo Flores-Roux taking
mischievous shots of yet to be launched Nanban... 
 

After a month or so, my olfactory senses rebalanced. I reached a point of equilibrium; a necessary if rather nasty regimen of meds seemed to unlock the grace and recognition of my aromatic abilities. As I so often do, I wore Nanban to bed. The weather was close, I always sleep with notebooks by my bed in case I need to write things down, it’s a hangover from teenage dream journals. I knew Nanban was different as soon it curled like careful bonfire over skin.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Supple Vistas – ‘African Leather’ by Memo Paris





After Irish, Italian and French interpretations of skin and wander, African Leather will be #4 in the Cuirs Nomades series from luxury French perfume house Memo Paris, one of the fragrance world’s best kept and most indulgent secrets. This beautiful new creation launches in the autumn but I have been lucky enough to spend time recently, indulging in its rather extraordinary aromas. 

'African Leather' - Memo Paris

Each time I champion Memo fragrances, part of me is a little reluctant to do so for fear that others might discover the olfactory wanderlust and my beloved choices might become commonplace. Nonsense of course, but it a fear I think that potentially stalks some increasingly successful niche brands. How successful do you have to be before tipping into something resembling popular mainstream acceptance. Brands like Le Labo, By Kilian and Editions Frédéric Malle and L’Artisan Parfumeur for example occupy uncomfortable ground. It’s not a surprise that Malle and Le Labo have been acquired by Estée Lauder and L’Artisan and their sibling brand Penhaligon’s by Puig. Big name brands want some shiny niche baubles to hang in their windows. But sooner or later, the niche labels tarnishes or the quality is eroded, carefully at first. Acquisition of niche is all about subtlety and patience.  

Clara Molloy of Memo Paris

Memo Paris for me is a quintessential French niche brand, private, defiantly esoteric and emotional, linked directly to co-founder (the other is her husband John)and Artistic director Clara Molloy. The fragrances are precious and precisely luxurious, inspired always by Clara’s obsession with travel and the psychology of journey, of moving thorough landscapes to a destination. Indeed the brand’s motto is The Journey is the Destination. This could be said to be true of their beautiful catalogue of scents. They are constructed in such wise and picturesque ways as to storytell materials and aroma effects in seductive and often unexpected forms.

Aliénor Massenet
parfumeuse extraordianaire

Les Echappés is the name of the core anthology of travel inspired perfumes that Clara and her talented parfumeuse Aliénor Massenet have assembled together. The relationship between these women is fearsome, their artistic symbiosis and instinctual understanding of one another’s nuances is key to Memo. Along with John’s business head and the distinctive photographic style of Guillaume Lebon whose images seem to guide, capture and suggest mood and emotion as scents are developed, the Memo Paris style is one of languid beauty, arresting haze and the need to be admired, quietly and urgently.

My first Memo was Siwa, endless bottles in and I am still in love with its soothing cereal-soft beige booze vibe. It has a delicious buttery popcorn facet that I adore; overlaid with sweet narcissus, my skin smells ghostly, a vanillic lullaby. I also have Lalibela and Monoa in my collection, one a demanding glassy desert rose, the other a glittering comet of oppoponax.

Kedu

There is a new collection chez Mémo, Les Graines Vagabondes (Wandering Seeds…) that has commenced with the appearance of the delicious Kedu, a scent so aromatic with smeared and toasted sesame I was quite lost for a while when I first sampled it. I just kept returning to my nutty, verdant wrist over and over. Kedu is inspired by Indonesia and the dramatic temple of Borobudur, the 9th century Buddhist temple in central Java. Pilgrims ascend three levels of this symbolically carved stone mountain/temple. As they do so, they interact with complex bas-relief cosmology and multifarious deities. The temple came to light again in the 19th century, after lying asleep under volcanic detritus and hungry jungle for centuries.

Aliénor Massenet and Clara have used the symbolism of sesame seeds to construct a unique and deeply resonant scent. According to Javanese tradition, throwing the aromatic white seeds into fire can purify your soul. Anyone who cooks and who has pan roasted sesame seeds will know how exquisite the oily, creamy scent of the toasted seeds are they turn golden. Fin du Monde by Etat Libre d’Orange is the only other scent I have sampled which has such a lovely sesame note. The precocious young talent Quentin Bisch tasked by Etat with creating their hazy apocalyptic gourmand allied his sesame with iris and a tremulous gunshot effect. It is a remarkable scent and one that Quentin has yet to capitalise on.

The comforting white nuttiness of sesame is hard to explain, but it’s a smell I have always loved, in tahini, baked in bread, on Mediterranean pastries and the oil drizzled over stir-fired Chinese greens. Kedu uses three main players, the sesame, grapefruit and white musks to create an airy, blanched ground of grace and careful texture. Over this trails whispers of mate absolute, moss and a fragile rose-peony accord that wears like crumbled frozen raspberries. I love Kedu’s complexity and embracing nutty comfort. I will be adding it to my collection; I need its pallid plane.  

I am very intrigued by this first chapter of Les Graines Vagabondes. So much scope for olfactive exploration. You could look at the title in two ways I guess; seed dispersal, carried by winds, seas, rivers, fur, gut, foot and shoe to places beyond origin to germinate and start afresh. Or the beautiful gathering or anthology of seeds by bygone explorers, collectors and pioneer botanists, travelling by ship or overland, their precious cargo of seeds bound for botanic gardens or private collections. We are familiar with the sci-fi trope of floral and agricultural arks of seed of seedlings heading off to distant galaxies to green future landscapes and crops. It will be fascinating to see what Memo do next in this very promising series.

Grace Jones... an Empress of leather

For now I am still deeply besotted with Les Cuirs Nomades, a collection that continues to evolve opulently and beautifully. Leather fragrances have a particular attraction I think, appealing to our baser, more animalic sensual instincts. The materials may have changed over the decades of perfumery as the technology of aromachemistry has become increasingly more advanced, nuanced and in many ways more atmospheric but the desire to capture the ghost and imprint of pelt and hide is still a powerful one.

Equine dreams..

The first, Irish Leather was wild, green and equine, a love letter to (Irish) John Molloy from Clara Molloy. The scent is an abstracted capture of sweat-flecked horses racing through verdant countryside. Juniper and mate absolute play superbly foliate against Massenet’s devout love of tonka bean. It is beautiful, unpredictable, bitter then sweet, supple and ghostly. There is just enough whiff of mane and fur to cause pause, but this is quickly snatched up in the bravura assembly of crackling, swift materials.

Auto dreams...

Next up was the ravishing Italian Leather… OMG.. I swooned on first smelling this, the vanilla bean effect was ENORMOUS; allied to iris, galbanum, oppoponax, sage and the most glorious tomato leaf effect made the scent supple, sensual and almost overpoweringly present. There is a gluttonous, gourmand intensity to Italian Leather; it is quite the malleable, moreish force. It is also damn sexy, a leather of luxury classic cars, vintage lather driving gloves steering an heirloom car or caressing a bare suntanned thigh. A leather of sun and open windows. 

Couture dreams...

French Leather was quieter, more introspective, a sueded leather of discretion and poise. This took me a few wearings, and then I was hooked. The triptych of rose, lime and leather is very unique and works with an alarming beauty. This is a couture, cut leather form, a bag, a laser cut sheath dress, something moulded softly to the body like a second skin in shades of thulian and amaranth. French Leather does echo Jean-Claude Ellena’s Hermès masterpiece Kelly Calèche in its expensive Birkin interior rummagy aroma. Yet French Leather sets itself apart by dripping that rather brave lime note top downward. It serves to fittingly counterpoint any potential rosaceous excess and season the pink pepper, woods and resins.

panthera leo

Memo’s African Leather is strong juice, a sonorous expansive spiced floral scent on a taut dry leather ground. Aromatic is a word bandied out with recklessness in scent, but this is just that, a perfume deep and cohesive with aroma, its components assembled and blended with satisfying and panoramic beauty. The saffron/cumin/cardamom triptych is intensely bitter and green lending the huge opening of the scent an arid sun-baked quality.

Giraffa camelopardalis

There is a sense of pressure in African Leather of open sky weighing down on parched ground and animal hides searching for shade. The strong leather accord that Massenet has created is not the smooth supple interior car upholstery of Italian Leather, but rather that of ragged ear, bitten hide, camouflage fur and striated stillness. The vetiver is the grass and cover from heat, eyes and tooth. So much profundity to the materials used, you can feel it in each shift and roll of the evaporation curve. I’m not the biggest fan of geranium, it often smells medicinal, but the high quality MD geranium absolute used in the lush middle stage of African Leather is fabulously verdant savannah, the ground as it were, a canvas of safe perfumed heat over which moves the rumble of hoof, paw and claw.

Equus quagga

African Leather has vista and haze, but is essentially a still mood piece. There is restlessness and charge but its animalic gaze is actually rather basilisk and unrelenting. Massenet has laid down this emerald velvet geranium at the feet of Memo’s imagined grazing mammals and the effect is dazzling.

Loxodonta africana

As with all the Cuirs Nomades series, African Leather too has serious projection, sillage and longevity. The oud accord and parched chewy patchouli stretch out the drydown with a campheraceous trail. The all-important leather is preserved and well-travelled like an explorer’s venerated bag, salted with time, rattling around in dust-tossed Landrovers. This is of course is also a fantasy leather, a safari melange of up-market and managed game reserves, dusk-lit designer lodges and tables laid with white table cloths and improbable food, flickering in the light of torches and mannered staff. All of this seemingly at odds with the reality of religious and tribal intolerance, poverty, HIV, corruption and the fractious, wearying alliance between terror, tourism and economical needs in these rushing multi-media times.

'African Leather' press event
chez Deyrolle, Paris

African Leather is panoramic, a complex aromatic and luxury scent of a perceived effect, an animalic tone suggestive of roaming savannah wildlife, corralled by westernised floral tropes. It seems viewed almost from above as a light aircraft passes silently over a game reserve, a flowing intermittent shadow of wings passing over the bush below. The animals grazing beneath don’t notice the interloper on high. It’s an affecting montage of motifs and mood that has been collected and assembled by Clara and Aliénor reflecting once again, Memo’s unique and stylish ability to encapsulate the singular essence of a place or destination, however vast or seemingly obtuse. Memo perfumes lie on the floor of the mind like scattered photographs, evocative souvenirs for our skin to savour, rendered with brio and substance.

The final fabulous stages of African Leather are sheer joy. Hours into the ornate drydown the golden glow of saffron sudden ignites again, setting fire to the grasslands of the mind.   



©SilverFox 14 August 2015


For more information on Memo Paris fragrances, please click on the link below:



Disclosure - Sample of 'African Leather' very kindly provided by Memo Paris, opinions my own.





Sunday, 2 August 2015

Imagined Reconstructions: The Gathered Beauty of Arquiste - Part II



Isle de Fasianes/Isla de los Faisanes


In 1659, the Ile des Fasaines or Isla de los Faisanes, a narrow strip of land in the Bisadoa river in the Pyrenees witnessed the by proxy marriage of Louis XIV of France and Maria Theresa, the Infanta of Spain. A series of rigourous etiquettes, theatricals, political manoeuvring and esoteric court discourse had led the two courts to the point they were they were meeting on an obscure if highly symbolic condominium to seal the marital fate of two royal personages.

Pheasant Island is not much to look at to be honest, but as a condominium, an area of joint sovereignty, it still holds an oddly charged symbolic power, jointly controlled by Irun in Spain and Hendayé in France. At he time of the historic meeting, it would have been elaborately dressed like a stage set, bridges constructed to link the island to either side of the river, pavilions built to house the various royal entourages. These would have been lavish and dazzling to behold, each court aware of the importance of such visual array. The invisible line between the to camps would mark the Infanta’s crossing from Spain to France, a deeply symbolic movement away from the gloomy customs, mores, dress codes of the Spanish Hapsburg court into the convoluted and comparatively frivolous French Bourbon court concentrated at Versailles.

Arquiste hero images:
Infanta en Flor (top) & Fleur de Louis (bottom)

It is this moment of duty and elaborate rencontre that Arquiste have chosen to examine from opposite and complimentary viewpoints in two exquisite floral compositions, Infanta en Flor by Yann Vasnier and Fleur de Louis by Rodrigo Flores-Roux. Yann, a Frenchman takes on the Infanta’s delicate worries and Rodrigo, the Latin, tackles the confident French floral strut of Louis and his courtly demands. The formulae echo each other yet differ in beautiful and elegantly contrived ways.