Scent Reflections

Just came across these for the first time, they both look delicious.

Olfactive Studio — tip from my friend Abby

Shay & Blue — tip from The Silver Fox

Always wonderful to have new perfumes to read about!




I haven’t posted in ages, mostly because I realised I was obsessing over perfume and spending too much money buying all the perfumes I wanted to smell. It’s tricky that, being so interested in something that you really need to physically experience to appreciate properly, but not being able to access it unless you have the cash!

I’ve been trying to follow the advice of my new favourite Internet guru Anna

.20130408-193518.jpg of And Then We Saved because she is SO cool and beautiful and she has so many great ideas about saving and spending. I have a lot of debt that I’m trying to pay off, having worked at humble arts jobs for a long time and having a penchant for taking holidays and buying clothes, makeup and perfume on my credit card… Eek! So I’ve been trying to follow the Spend Fast and to spend no money at all except for absolute necessities, and perfume doesn’t seem to come under that heading, sadly. Well, if I ran out completely I could probably justify buying some more, but I probably have enough in my closet to last me at least a couple of years. And my friend Lilias at work keeps giving me half empty bottles of Guerlain perfumes that she’s decided she doesn’t like enough, lucky me! But I still find it so hard to read about beautiful perfumes and not be able to smell them! I guess that’s the joy of samples when you can get them.

I am, by some glorious chance, on the By Kilian mailing list which means that every couple of months I get sent a padded envelope from France with a beautiful embossed piece of print and one or a few exquisite perfume samples inside. Amazing!

Anyway, I guess it’s all about balance. I haven’t done very well at all this month with my Spend Fast as first I watched Project Nim on iPlayer and decided I couldn’t bear to use products that have been tested on animals if I could possibly help it, so I searched everywhere for cruelty free products that might be good for my skin and decided to try Paula’s Choice new natural range. I’ve always loved her products and it’s great to know that they are cruelty free and that there’s a really natural line available now. It all made me wonder if any of my perfumes are tested on animals… something I’ll be checking for in future!

Well, that cost a pretty penny, and then I had some bills to pay, and then I found a few clothing items on eBay and in a pop up shop that I couldn’t seem to resist (one is a dress with tiny horses on it!). And voila, I’ve gorged rather than fasted! I feel like an alcoholic that’s fallen flat off the wagon onto my face.

Ah well, I guess I just have to start again next month. It’s great to have goals!

(This is not my hair!  But it’s more like that now than it used to be.)

This morning my friend Abby noticed that I have changed my hair colour yet again – it was getting blonder and blonder until a recent hairdressing appointment saw me leaving with what my partner’s sister described as ‘turbo blonde’ hair.  That dye job was painted on bleach and it hurt!  I even had blisters on my scalp for a few days.  I decided that I’m never doing that again.  Also, it looked great for about two weeks until the roots started to grow in.  Bad!

So, I decided to go the Lush Henna route.  This was a big decision as henna, as I have learned in the past, does not take kindly to mind-changing.  I had hennaed hair a number of years ago, decided to bleach it blonde, ended up with green and pink hair that mostly needed to be cut off, dyed dark brown, and treated very carefully for a long time until it grew out.  So going from blonde back to hennaed brown felt like a potential disaster but it worked out quite well actually.  I had to do it a couple of times, and have a feeling I might need to henna it a little more often than usual at first to help my super bleached hair hold the colour, but thanks to Caca Brun I’ve now got rich chocolate brown locks that feel thicker and in better condition than they have in AGES.

I feel so empowered as well, knowing that I can do this myself and that I don’t have to spend £100 in the hair dressers every time my roots grow in.  Phew!

Anyway, when Abby saw my hair, she said – now you can wear a different perfume!  And I was fascinated and asked her what she meant.

Apparently it’s something her mum told her when she was little – brunettes can wear musky perfumes, blondes can wear florals, or something along those lines.

While I don’t exactly agree, and generally believe anyone can wear any sort of perfume they like (whatever smell, whatever gender), I do think it’s a sweet notion.  I want to know now what sort of perfume red heads should wear!  And do different hair styles necessitate different styles of perfume?

Have you ever heard about this and do you think certain smells go better with particular hair colours/types (curly, straight, etc) or styles?

I’m wearing Lush’s delectable Breath of God today, which I think I’d wear no matter what colour my hair was, as it’s so darn beautiful!

PS Abby’s response to the post:

On that note, I propose lovely sandalwoods and single notes for  redheads…

On the single note note though, have you come across Demeter single note perfumes – they have an incredible range – Earl Grey, pavement, and lettuce, laundromat, vinyl among others (yes, lettuce).

Love books?  Love perfume?

My friend Lilias just sent through this: Paper Passion.

I want to smell it!

Recently I got a small bottle of Comme des Garcons 2 which I adore – it’s meant to smell of Japanese calligraphy ink.

Having never smelled Japanese calligraphy ink, I can’t say if it’s an exact match but it does smell completely gorgeous and makes me think of scribes copying out texts in a temple while incense burns and paper walls glow with the heat of candles.

I think these would make an excellent pair for a poet who loves perfume!


Apologies for being silent for so long.  My new job as Programme Manager of the Scottish Poetry Library started in May, and I’ve been so busy planning delicious poetry events that I haven’t had a moment to write about my other obsession, perfumes.

The marvellous poet and perfume aficionado Elspeth Murray kindly just sent me an amazing link however, which is so wonderful it’s forced me to break the silence!

Have a read of this: There, In Your Drink, a Drop.

My friend The Silver Fox wrote a delicious blog recently about Vera Wang’s Princess Night.  I did give Princess Night a try the other day when i was through in Glasgow and had popped in the House of Fraser’s perfume gallery.  The kind saleslady who accosted me asked what I was looking for, and when I asked for Princess Night she thought at first it wasn’t out yet, then discovered the black glitter encrusted bottle for me.  She sprayed it generously onto a card and waved it in front of my nose – BLACK CURRANT JAM.  I sprayed it all over myself as well – BLACK CURRANT JAM, and much later that evening a friend leaned over and said, you smell like BLACK CURRANT JAM.  Which is not a bad thing to smell of, though I did feel more sticky than elegant somehow.  But it’s really yummy.  Oh yes, and it rather wonderfully brought me back to my days as a student in Bristol, drinking black currant and cider in the student union.

An important aspect of the Fox’s post, I think, is that there’s no point in being snooty about fragrances.  There are great cheap fragrances and awful expensive ones (and this goes for art too of course).  There is a way of making art (and perfume) that comes from an original and beautiful vision, and there is a way of making these things that is burdened by commercialism, critical opinion, supposed views of the masses, and so on, that often ruins the thing.

I’ve been meaning to write about Donna Karan’s Gold perfume for ages.  I’ve discovered, much to my surprise, that in my increasing (let’s not say old yet) age I have gone from being someone who doesn’t like the smell of lilies (fresh, perfume, whatever) to the point of feeling a bit ill over them to someone who LOVES the smell of lilies.  I’m saving my pennies for one day getting a bottle of Frederic Malle’s Lys Mediterranee.  I’ve got a bottle of Penhaligon’s beautiful Lily & Spice, which always makes me think of Marlene Dietrich in a black and white tux leaning against a baby grand, singing some unbearably deep heart-breaker of a tune between puffs of a hand-rolled cigarette.

I love Gold.  It’s one of my most favourite perfumes in my current collection.  I felt a little guilty about it at first, as it was mainstream rather than niche, as I got a couple bottles of it really cheap off eBay, as it seems as if it was being discontinued because of, I don’t know, I’m assuming a lack of sales?

It’s the one perfume that every time I wear it my boyfriend says, “You smell beautiful.”  It gets four stars from Tania Sanchez in the A-Z Guide, and she describes a sense of the perfume cycling ever upwards, “like those audio illusions of tones that sound like they’re climbing infinitely higher even though the series is actually repeating.”  I love that description as I do get the sense of white lily and sweet amber cycling or rotating in a sensual dance throughout the wearing of this fragrance.  The image that always comes to mind for me is of a woman on a pedestal in front of a roaring fire in a massive country mansion.  The woman is in a floor-length gown of white silk.  You see her as you enter the room and she is pale, cool, pure silken sensuality – the white mouth of the lily.  You walk toward the fire, lean against the warm stone of the hearth, and she turns to face you, glowing, golden, her dress now a sheath of dripping honey.  Walk back toward the door, turn, and see her silken whiteness, walk back to the fire, turn, and see her molten, golden sexuality.  That’s what Gold does for me!  The fact that it keeps changing throughout the day keeps me interested, delighted – one minute calmed by the cool white lily, the next warmed by the sweet as honey amber.  Just.  Gorgeous.

I recently got a bottle of this perfume – Cabotine de Gres – at TK Maxx for £11.  I had a quick look at the perfume boards on my phone while I was in the store and saw some good reviews, so I picked it up and took it home.  Then I read Luca Turin’s rather damning review: ‘nasty floral’ in short.  People were describing it as having a sharp green opening, and then warming up with a raisin-y note.  I sprayed it on and it reminded me so much of something from my childhood – I must have smelled it on someone when I was young or something very similar.  From the point of view of it reminding me of something nice from my childhood, of something like my first notion of perfume, I really enjoyed it initially.  My boyfriend said it smelled acidic, but I persisted and enjoyed smelling the raisin-y note an hour or so into wearing.  That afternoon another perfume arrived in the post – “Delicious” Chocolate by Gale Hayman (I find it funny that the delicious is in quotes).  By then I wasn’t really noticing the Cabotine anymore, and I sprayed one wrist with the Chocolate perfume which was really gorgeous – sweet cocoa and warm, fruity tobacco; tootsie rolls and chocolate flowers.  Suddenly, smelling my other wrist, I could really make out the Cabotine and in comparison is smelled incredibly ‘trite and acid’, as described by Luca Turin.  After smelling it next to the Chocolate, I had to sell it on eBay as I couldn’t bear it anymore – all i could smell was that biting acidic note.  All this made me wonder if I really do prefer sweeter perfumes, as most of the ones I really love are somehow sweet; either white lily sweet and spicy or dark, musky sweet.  Anyway, thank goodness someone else wanted it – I love that I can pick up a perfume, try it out and sell it on if I don’t like it.

I’m still not convinced “Delicious” Chocolate is a keeper – in a way it is great – chocolate flowers! – but it also really reminds me of another perfume; Exclamation by Coty, that a friend of mine used to wear when we were teenagers.  It reminds me of my early nineties adolescence in a way I find slightly disturbing.  However, after a long day of wearing Chocolate, my boyfriend hugged me and said, mmm, you smell good – always a positive, and it has the best bottle; super Hollywood bling with a big gold cat on top.  Hmmm, maybe I will hang on to it!

“Delicious” Chocolate really conjures a certain sort of outfit as well – shiny gold leggings, skyscraper high black patent heels, a leopard print blouse, red lipstick, and blonde hair sprayed into some sort of bouffant.  I don’t wear this particular outfit when I’m wearing Chocolate, but I like that it suggests this for me, it fulfills some sort of Lana Del Rey, trailer trash cum superstar fantasy that I can’t quite let go of.  Most perfumes conjure a look or outfit for me – do you get that?

Isn’t it interesting how our appreciation of a scent can be so linked to our memories and experiences.  Have you ever found yourself liking (or disliking) a scent because it reminded you of something or someone?