Les Senteurs. I have "previous" for doorstepping perfume people: there was that time with MyBeautyBlog in November, for example. Though in fairness Nick was half expecting me to turn up at some point.
The new branch of Les Senteurs is in a quiet Georgian street just a hop and a skip from Marble Arch tube station. It looks almost identical from the outside to the store in Belgravia on account of its regulation "Les Senteurs Blue" paint and potted bay trees. The colour is a rich petrol blue / teal, a few pantones down from Barclays Blue. Come to think of it, I have never seen petrol or the duck in question in that exact shade, but no matter.
First off I bought a bottle of Fracas for a friend with an upcoming milestone birthday, which I was glad to do, for my high ratio of sniffing to actual shopping does trouble me periodically. Business out of the way, I got down to a bit of sniffing, though I was mindful that I needed to leave some nostril capacity free for my Big Harrods Blitz with Tara straight afterwards, so I didn't go overboard.
Most scents were tested on card (where the usual massive caveats apply, especially following the incident with Dior Bois d'Argent, which turned out to be a totally different animal on skin vs card), but Nick kindly gave me samples of Mona di Orio Ambre and Tubéreuse to test at my leisure, along with Huitième Art Myrrhiad.
Andy Tauer Pentachords
I didn't expect to get on with these at all for some reason, and in the event I didn't dislike them, but - a bit like the Andrea Maack range I tested in Basel - they were curious without striking me as being something I would want to wear. They don't have the trademark "Tauerade" medicinal wire wool vibe going on, so from that standpoint alone they were off to a flying start. I remember Verdant as unexpectedly minty, and Auburn as an offbeat spicy number, which put me vaguely in mind of DSH Nouroz (the Scent Formerly Known As Tamarind Paprika), and then White I can't bring to mind at all. Sorry - complete "white out". The fragrance strip smells sort of gourmand and reminiscent of JM Blue Agava & Cacao, but that could be the high quality paper used by Parfumerie Générale (to avert any confusion, I am not slavish about coordinating my blotter brands with the scent being tested!)
So those impressions - I won't even dignify them with the term mini-reviews - are highly suspect, but the non-Tauerade aspect should encourage anyone to try them who is not a fan of the usual Tauer style.
Les Parfums d'Empire Fougère Bengale - urinous curried straw (sorry, Dee, I know you rock this one, so you may have even more magic skin than Birgit, which is saying something!)
Mona di Orio Cuir - like the inside flap of a cheap leather satchel, only much worse
But hold on a minute, I said this post was about my Mona di Orio epiphany, right? Epiphanies are not supposed to be bad. Well indeed, and my 180 on this line - coming to appreciate it now that the post-traumatic stress of my Nuit Noire necklacing assault in Paris has at last subsided - started well before my visit to Les Senteurs in fact. For Birgit of Olfactorias Travels had given me a starter kit with several samples from Les Nombres d'Or, and I was already very taken with Musc. Then Nick sent me some more samples in January, including Vanille and Oud. The former struck me as a "true" vanilla ie with a slightly granular, burnt sugar smell, but not cloyingly so, while the latter was a wonderfully ethereal oud, perfect for someone as rampantly oud-averse as I am. The L'Artisan Timbuktu of ouds, if you will.
Mona di Orio Ambre
Like Oud, Ambre is a minimalist scent: a creamy woody amber with faintly spicy notes. The opening was a little potent, mind, and almost leathery to my nose, which broadsided me a little! In fact the amber note isn't very pronounced at all, not if your yardstick is Ambre Sultan or Ambre Russe. It is more in the ballpark of a very quiet Guerlain Bois d'Arménie - which I love, yet which seems quite rough and loud by comparison. Hmm, maybe the love child of Bois d'Arménie and Marc Jacobs Amber Splash, then diluted loads more and dusted with spice. The mental images I have of this scent is of the sun streaming into a room full of dusty wooden furniture and of a lump of mica glinting in the sun.
Notes: cedar, ylang ylang, benzoin, tolu, vanilla
Dewy, fresh and green like Carnal Flower, but more citrus-y and with none of the oppressiveness that I get with that scent - and which I get in an even more marked way with By Kilian Beyond Love. I find Beyond Love positively suffocating (the tuberose knocks you out and as you sit there stunned, someone finishes you off by whacking you over the head with a coconut). Tubéreuse, meanwhile, could turn out to be my Holy Grail tuberose scent, and I never thought I would ever want one, never mind find one. So yes, I think I may be having a bit of a tuberose epiphany along the way as well, notwithstanding the heliotrope note I have just noticed in the list! Who'd have thought that Mona di Orio would be the perfumer to bring about such a transformation in my tastes? And it sounds as though Olfactoria did a bit of a U-turn of her own as a result of smelling Mona's collection - or was nudged a bit further in this new direction, say.
Notes: Pink Peppercorn, Bergamot, Absolute Tubéreuse from India, Benzoin, Casmeran, Heliotrope
I did smell one or two other scents briefly (nozzle or card), including a couple of bracing Heeleys (Verveine & Sel Marin), the new Glam Rose from Les Parfums de Rosine (not unlike Lipstick Rose), and PG Tonkamande (not a whole lot going on with this one - it was the tonka equivalent of those high pitched whistles only Alsatians and teenagers can hear).
I also tried Huitième Art Myrrhiad on a blotter in store and later on skin, and it is louder on my skin: licorice-y vanilla, reminiscent of Lolita Lempicka and Diptyque Eau Duelle with added licorice - or maybe even a toned down, much more minimalist version of Kenzo Jungle L'Eléphant. Myrrhiad was quite pleasant, but I kept wishing there was less licorice in there (or none, preferably). Let's just say that this is as nice as a perfume can smell with licorice in it!
I have only just googled the notes, and am pleased to confirm that my nose is on the right track - that really was licorice - ha!
Notes: myrrh, leather, black tea, vanilla and licorice
And then before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye to Nick till the next Perfume Lovers London event later this month, and head off to Harrods to meet Tara, where we embarked on a sniffing and makeup-ogling session of epic proportions...
Photo of Mona di Orio Ambre from cafleurebon.com, photo of Mona di Orio from basenotes.net, other photos my own