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

Sunday 29 October 2017

O Sylvan Sorceress I Know You Walk the Woods At Twilight: ‘Dryad’ by Papillon Perfumery

‘Lie still, lie still, O passionate heart, lie still!
O Melancholy, fold thy raven wing!
O sobbing Dryad, from thy hollow hill
Come not with such despondent answering!

(From ‘The Burden of Itys’ by Oscar Wilde)

Dryad is a pagan thing, rooty, foliate and spellbound, forged in the crucible of the New Forest, an ancient hunting ground stained with blood and druidic oblations, trees splashed with vital fluids offered up for prosperity, fertility, sex, weather, crop life and safety. This is where you will find Liz Moores one of the most artistic and talented perfumers currently working in contemporary perfumery. Like an increasingly small number of independent makers like Bruno Fazzolari, her good friend Antonio Gardoni, Mandy Aftel, Hans Hendley, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and John Biebel, Liz is responsible for everything in regards to her perfume house Papillon Perfumery, from the sourcing of materials, tincturing and filtering to filling samples, bottling, packaging and promotion.

Beautiful image of Dryad © Thomas Dunckley
@ Candy Perfume Boy

I think Dryad is the closest thing we will get to a confession from perfumer Liz Moores as to her true desirous state. A desire perhaps sometimes to walk out into her beloved forest and be swallowed up, consumed by the foliage, roots and buds. She is many things, sensual forest dweller, mother, wife, lover, voluptuary, businesswoman, realist, role model, fierce friend and emotive animal whisperer. Owls, rabbits, cats, dogs, pythons and I imagine anything really with wings, claws and fangs falls under the enchantment of Liz Moores.

Liz 'Dryad' Moores 

I have loved Liz’s work from the first moment I smelled Tobacco Rose, her third Papillon creation launched in 2014. The unfolding of rosaceous wax and carmine excretions mesmerised me. Anubis her precious first creation was a startling and passionate debut, a perfume imbued with something intangible, a purity of intent, yet oozing oriental sensuality and an aura of hard graft and accomplishment. But that thrashed rose smelled like bloodstained skies studded with pollen-weary bee stars. My bottle has simmered in the darkness of my study and has become more waxen and lipsticked. Not polite glossy lipstick, but that sanguine overkill dragged off with the back of a hand in the glare of a neon club bathroom as walls sweat and bounce.   

Foxy's Tobacco Rose (Image©TSF) 

Then came Salome, the candlelit disturbance, whispering words of persuasive pornography. A unsettling hit for Liz, redolent of private, urgent sex and things deemed to too daring to share outside a shattered bedroom. At times it seemed too too genital, too rutting to flout in public places. Yet something in Salome clicked in so many of us, that animalic sliver of us that always denies watching porn or potentially cheating on lovers. It is one of the few seriously erotic perfumes made in the last twenty years. The trick is that each of us feels immensely special in it, as if Liz had created something bespoke and confidential that we alone can revel in.

Sunday 8 October 2017

Wood, Cloth & The Scent of Heritage: Floris X Turnbull & Asser '71/72'

‘Masculine exhalations are, as a rule, stronger, more vivid, more widely differentiated than those of women. In the odour of young men there is something elemental, as of fire, storm, and salt sea.

Helen Keller

This is the second time in recent years I have been surprised by a Floris perfume. I’m not saying there is anything mediocre about the collection but the perfumes and colognes and Foxy have never quite clicked. Perhaps I have just spent enough time with them to see or sniff beyond a perceived mantle of traditional respectability and just a little too vintage heritage that is both its raison d’être and perhaps too it’s weak point. Interestingly though things are carefully shifting and altering at Floris, renovations, brave launches, subtle brand and store edits, tweaks to the PR atmosphere and promotion of the house.

All this is happening slowly. Slow is good, it allows for adaptation, appreciation and reconciliation. It also demonstrates an awareness on behalf of Floris that certain things needs to change but only permissible in a discreet honest way, nothing outré or misleading.

Foxy's Floris...
(Image ©TSF)

It is a relief to see Floris elegantly alive, the other main English perfume house Penhaligon’s sold its independence a couple of years ago to Puig along with sister-house L’Artisan Parfumeur and both have been fundamentally altered in the process.

Time is in many ways fortuitous for another genuinely British perfume house with royal warrant approval to self-reflect and assiduously, stylishly reasserts itself. It was Floris’ seriously amazing Honey Oud and Leather Oud perfumes from the Private Collection in 2014 that originally alerted to Floris again.