Thursday 31 October 2013

Peeling back the years - Indeed Labs Retinol Reface review

I noticed the other day that my e-buzzing Beauty Blog ranking - the one I inadvertently gained when I failed to find a Perfume category to list Bonkers under way back when - has taken another tumble!  I am sure I was in the 80s before - that is a major plummet, and one I am not sure I can readily address.  That said, I had been planning another beauty post anyway, because of my latest quest in search of the best products for 'that unfortunate crossover condition of “problem mature skin”', as I once termed it.

What sparked my interest on this occasion was a post by the ethereally beautiful Dee on BOTOblog about her make-up regime, in which she explained that the condition of her skin (flawless, luminous, porcelain-like!) was largely down to her regular use of prescription retinoids, a derivative of Vitamin A.  There is a fair body of scientific evidence to suggest that retinoids do indeed 'minimise the appearance of wrinkles, bolster the skin's thickness and elasticity, slow the breakdown of collagen, and lighten brown spots caused by sun exposure' I was intrigued, but further research led me to conclude that prescription strength might not be for me, as the retinoid products are so much more potent than the OTC ones based around retinol.

Danielle de Medeiros - major lid love and socket envy!

I figured that as Dee has 20 years on me, her skin is doubtless more resilient, while mine is older, thinner, dogged by acne and rosacea, and susceptible to allergic reactions at the drop of a drop of tea tree oil, or a smidge of zit-busting benzyl peroxide.  There was also the possibility that I had neglected my skin for so long that it was in fact too late to perform anti-aging interventions - as I wrote in a comment on Dee's post, it might turn out to be a case of 'closing the stable pores after the collagen has bolted'.  This sorry state of affairs is attributable to decades of blithely ignorant sunbathing abuse, compounded by no regular moisturising regime whatsoever till I was knocking on 40.  The eye creams on the market for much of that time seemed to migrate into your eyes at night and sting like blazes, plus my vegan lodger prompted me to abort my brief flirtation with one of the major brands by claiming that its face creams contained minced deers' hoo-has, which must have been an apocryphal story that I should really have challenged.

Source: - female deer unwittingly kiboshing my early skincare regime

Though the jury was out as regards the chances of improving my skin tone at this late stage, I decided to chat to Tara of Olfactoria's Travels about her own preferences in this field of anti-aging skincare.  She was also leaning towards a gentler approach involving OTC products, specifically Trilogy Rosehip Oil, which had garnered a lot of favourable reviews, and was available in Boots.  So on the shopping list it went, and the other weekend I set off for Boots to pick up a bottle.  As it turned out though, my local branch was too small to carry it, so instead my eye was drawn to another product from the Indeed Labs range - my dalliance with their Nanoblur cream is documented here.

Indeed Labs Retinol Reface seemed like the milder form of retinol treatment I was looking for - it promised to be 'moisturising as well as non-irritating, with no peeling, dryness or redness'.  Moreover, Retinol Reface apparently contained not one but 3 types of retinol: a 'Rapid Action' form, a slower release form where the retinol is encapsulated into plant micro-spheres, and a retinol-like peptide, which mimics the behaviour of retinol, but is kinder to skin.  Okay, so two types of retinol then, and a gentle interloper.

Tara of Olfactoria's Travels, also looking radiant!

That night I eagerly applied what I took to be a small amount of the Reface cream to my whole face, though it is very hard to know what exactly is the correct amount - some of the blogs I read spoke of a pea-sized blob, but that doesn't seem to go very far - or even two.  I took care to include the problem areas of age spots on my cheeks, lines above and either side of my mouth, plus the generally crepe-y bits above my eyes. Big mistake!  The next morning I woke up to find the skin above my eyes had swelled up - not as badly as the time I went to sleep in the sun that I mentioned in my interview on Olfactoria's Travels, but enough to look angry, as though I had been bitten by a mosquito or something (which has also been known).  Not bad enough to resort to shades but enough to make me self-conscious.

Source: Wikipedia - collagen helix

The next night I applied the cream everywhere except near my eyes, and the night after that I chickened out completely and didn't apply it at all.  My reading on the Internet suggests that puffiness of sensitive areas is not an uncommon side effect, and that the whole business of finding your skin's level of tolerance to these anti-aging products is a bit of a 'suck it and see' process.  

Oh, and you are meant to wear 50 SPF sun cream during the day, all the while that you are applying the retinol product at night.  Which meant a trip to Asda to find anything with that high a factor.  Ambre Solaire came up trumps but it was very greasy - classic suncream rather than moisturiser - such that I didn't want to go out looking that shiny, on top of having the puffy eyes!  But because I only applied the cream twice, I ended up only wearing the sun cream for one day. It felt counter-intuitive on an overcast day in mid-October, I have to say.


So anyway, having stopped using the retinol cream for the moment, I concentrated on trying to reduce the puffiness above my eyes, and tried eye baths and compresses of hot and cold tea bags to little effect. Two and a half weeks on, the eyelids are still a bit puffier than I remember them as being, but it just looks as though I have aged slightly.  Which is of course rather ironic, but there you go!  

I do plan to have another bash with the Reface cream, keeping clear of the eyes next time, obviously.  After all, I got pretty good results with Indeed Labs' sister product, Nanoblur, especially on the fine lines above my top lip.

And meanwhile I have invested in another product that Tara tipped me off about - Dermalogica gentle cream exfoliant, but haven't had a chance to use it yet.  I have never exfoliated my face before, and the rest of me only about once every couple of years.  I vividly remember Mr Bonkers complaining about the state of the bath afterwards.  I guess I am part of the 'pot of Nivea and ChapStick generation', tending to moisturise only when skin starts to resemble a cracked delta or actually sloughs off.  But as with pensions, so with skincare, it is something best started young when the idea seems almost incongruous.  Yes, it really is a case of a stitch in time saves nine.  Or a splodge or a slather, if you will.

And meanwhile, if I can't quite manage to peel back the years, I can always hide behind my hair.

UPDATE - December 2013

Right, so I have had another tentative dabble with the Retinol Reface product, being most careful to avoid the eye area, and have had no problems with sensitivity elsewhere on my face - am putting it on my forehead (major ploughed field zone!), cheeks and chin.  I get a slight tingling at best, but I reckon my skin has now grown accustomed to the product.  I have been using Retinol Reface on and off for about two weeks now - I don't do consistent regimes where beauty products are concerned ;) - and have the impression that my forehead looks a bit smoother, and maybe also the grooves either side of my mouth.  Not sure the vertical lip lines directly above my mouth are improved - if anything they look longer than I remember, but maybe I just haven't noticed their inexorable march!  But I will keep going, as I think the peptides part of the formulation may be helping plump out my deep frown lines at least.

Friday 18 October 2013

A Tauering oversight! - Tableau de Parfums Miriam and Noontide Petals reviews

Summertime by Ash Straker ~ Source:
Andy Tauer is one of the most accessible and 'interactive' perfumers in the niche sector. He reveals a lot about his work - and his life generally - through his blog, and is active on Facebook, engaging with readers and fans through posts, competitions and the odd polemic.  Here he is in his hotel room in Chicago, there he is catching a plane to Russia (I use the term 'Russia' loosely).  Although I have never met him, I've been several times to the bookshop in the Spiegelgasse in Zurich run by his friend and carrying his perfume range, and have ambled in streets with which he must be very familiar.  Yes, Andy Tauer feels almost 'hautnah' (literally 'skin near' in German, or perhaps 'up close and personal'), plus I know several people who have met him... Why, Freddie of Smellythoughts has had dinner with Andy Tauer and Vero Kern - at the same time no less! - while Sheila Eggenberger of The Alembicated Genie caught up with him at Pitti Fragranze in Florence last month.  Okay, so I haven't actually met Sheila either, but you know how it is...;-) Then of course I did once see a remarkable Doppelgaenger of Andy Tauer at a popular nightspot in Edinburgh.  And back in 2008, when my interest in perfume was relatively new, I won a sample set in an Advent giveaway, and I am sure I still have the handwritten card that came with it stashed away somewhere...

And maybe, in hindsight - or im Nachhinein, as the lovely German phrase goes - I had too much exposure to Andy Tauer's line too soon, before my taste had become robust/evolved enough to appreciate his work. For with the exception of the transcendental L'Air du Désert Marocain, that dusty-ambery-spicy rose scent inspired by an arid wind wafting the curtains of a Moroccan hotel in the early evening breeze, none of the early releases worked for me.  I found the 'Tauerade' base in most of them - to borrow March of Perfume Posse's amusing coinage for their signature drydown - too raspy and scratchy, in a wire wool-ish kind of a way.

Medieval, Andy Tauer's friend's bookshop in Zurich 

But over the years one or two of Tauer's later creations seemed exceptions to this - Carillon pour un Ange, for example, though even that scent had a distinctive metallic tang, in a clear case of 'galvanising the lily'.  I didn't mind Zeta either, which also had this metal facet that never tips over into abrasive Brillo pad territory. Orange Star, meanwhile, I struggled with on account of soap, not metal, and when I was in Paris in June with Undina, I dismissed Noontide Petals on similar grounds.

The next thing that happened was that Freddie gave me a sample of Tableau de Parfums Miriam to try and I was immediately smitten.

Notes: fresh citrus accord, geranium, violet blossom, rose, jasmine, ylang, violet leaf, lavender, vanilla, orris root, sandalwood


There is a slight sparkle of citrus and aldehydes in abundance in the opening, but they were ultra quiet, like the vibration of many tiny humming birds' wings, or bubbles of Prosecco streaming to the top of a flute.  And I am not talking about the violent fizzing of a cheapo bottle of Highland Spring here, but more along the lines of a delicate 'petillance'.  Or - if anyone has ever had physio delivered by one of those machines that massages your muscles with micro-pulses - it was the olfactory equivalent of that mildly buzzing sensation. Not unlike the polishing brush at the dentist, come to think of it - you know, the one with the insane tickle!  Yes, I found Miriam pin prickingly effervescent, elegant and feminine, and vintage / retro in feel.

I can best sum up the general style of Miriam as 'finely milled Chanel No 5' - or Le Dix perhaps, on account of the greater presence of violet.  It is more restrained than either of those, more dialled back, making it more wearable in my book.  And greener and earthier and more chypre-ish than those two.  Kind of 'murky' or 'muddy' to be honest, but not in a bad way.  Can you have aldehydic murk?  Clearly you can in my world, and on my wrist.  In fact the more times I tried it, the less citrus and fizz and the more of this earthy quality I got instead, as if the brightest of the aldehydes had actually risen to the top of the vial, and I was now sniffing the olfactory 'lees', which were still nice.  Oh, and in its final stages Miriam assumes a smooth yet powdery, snuffed out quality, which is also lovely.  In short, Miriam has all the good attributes of a vintage fragrance and none of the bad (aggressive aldehydes, aggressive galbanum, aggressive oakmoss or animalic notes etc).

Heartened by this unexpected epiphany, I decided to fish out my sample of Noontide Petals next, and before spraying it on I studied the notes.

Top notes: bergamot, aldehydes, Bourbon geranium
Heart notes: rose, ylang, tuberose, jasmine
Base notes: patchouli, frankincense, vanilla, sandalwood, iris, with a hint of styrax and vetiver

Why, I thought, I absolutely should love this one, especially as we are talking just a 'hint' of styrax, and not the industrial quantities found in Yatagan or Amouage Tribute Attar.  So this time I decided to tough out the detergent stage and see what came next, which I had not had the patience to do at the time of my visit to Jovoy.  And was I glad I did!  For Noontide Petals gradually moved through into a phase which, while still soapy, was less detergenty so and more plain clean, cut with a bright lemony sherbet facet, like shafts of sunlight poking through a veil of cloud.

Or like Pez sweets, actually.  Does anyone remember collecting the different dispensers?  It may have been the ylang making its first appearance, as that has a zingy tang to it.  Whatever its origin, the cheerful sherbet note remained throughout the rest of the development, but the best was yet to come, for eventually the big white florals loomed into olfactory view, a veritable glowing orb of them, as the sun burnt through more of the soapy haze.  If I am honest, I would reduce the soapy quality in this if I could, but the florals are just about radiant enough to hold their own.

So I would be interested to know - how is your own hit rate with Tauer Perfumes?  

How do you get on with 'Tauerade', metal or soap - if you detect these elements indeed?

And have you - like me - had any late onset epiphanies with the range? 

Finally, here is Graeme, the Andy Tauer lookalike again - funnily enough, I am going back to that same venue tomorrow and will be sure to look out for him!

Friday 11 October 2013

Manufacturers' samples - the long and the short(age) of it

Over the five years of my interest in perfume, I have noticed a gradual decline in the availability of manufacturers' perfume samples - more so in the mainstream segment of the market, but to a degree also in niche.  It used to be the case that you would ask a sales assistant in a department store or the duty free section of an airport if she had a sample of the latest release, and she would open the bottom drawer of the fixture to reveal serried ranks of little carded samples of the scent in question - and of many other, older scents displayed.

These days I am more likely to be greeted with a blank look when I inquire about the availability of a sample, or the news that: 'We had some right after (insert name of perfume) came out, but they are all gone now'.  Boots - that stalwart of the designer perfume retailing scene - stopped stocking samples some time ago.  Whether this can be correlated with Nick Gilbert's departure to pastures new and more deserving I cannot say... ;-)  And when I popped into a large M & S in Preston last March, keen to try the new line created for the store chain by Lyn Harris, they only had a 'scratch and sniff' card for one of the three female scents, and none for the men's range.  The staff there couldn't have been more helpful, however, hastily fashioning decanting receptacles for me out of tester pots for face cream which they sealed with sticky tape.

Then in Paris in June, the Frédéric Malle stand in Printemps had no samples of Denise Van Outen (sorry - Dries Van Noten) - had never had them I think - but didn't bat an eyelid when I asked to make my own using one of my snap-on ink pots Freddie of Smellythoughts got me into.  Ormonde Jayne once made me up a sample of Tiare after I sent them my own vial in an SAE, ditto Fortnum & Mason's when I was after ones of the Comtessa di Castiglione scent I spied in Sidmouth this summer. Actually that isn't strictly true - they mislaid my envelope with the empty vials in it and decanted a bit into two screw top Dior pots that may also have been destined for make up samples by the looks of them.

Manufacturers' carded samples - an endangered species?

Which reminds me that Dior - in Selfridges, and possibly generally - have now stopped giving out those generous 4ml pots of their Privée range that a certain perfumista friend of mine used to routinely snaffle for me every time she was passing... ;-)  And the Chanel Exclusifs 5ml ones are of course as rare as hens' teeth. You would probably have to queue up the night before the launch with a sleeping bag to score one of those coveted 5ml bottles now.  I missed the 1932 mini in Glasgow, for example, which was gone in a blink of an eye apparently.  And don't get me started on Le Labo - let's just say that when I think of them in this particular connection, the words 'blood' and 'stone' spring to mind...;-)

So you get the picture...a general backing off from the provision of samples for in-home trial, a general fobbing off with bits of card - sometimes enormous oversized square bits of card!  Or ribbon, or some other scrap of silky cloth if you are lucky, which in fairness do retain the scent quite well, though it is not the same thing at all as being able to apply it on skin.  Or we are invited to sniff scrumpled bits of tissue squashed into votive glasses, or stick our noses down metal trumpets, or inside perspex tuboid things - it's all rather strange...And on the basis of this we are meant to know if we wish to spring for a full bottle or not. the other end of the scale there are still some houses which are generous - perhaps too generous - with their samples.  Take Hermès, for example, who give out 4ml samples in long glass-stoppered vials slipped into those distinctive orange card cases.  Hermès has to be the most forthcoming with samples of all the luxury brands I know, and I am borderline ashamed of the times I have sauntered in (invariably wearing my good, sample scoring coat or its summer frock equivalent, depending on the season), spun some line about a friend / husband / relative with an upcoming birthday / wedding / anniversary, and walked out with not one but two of the 4ml vials.  For two fit better into the card case than one - one just rattles around, quite frankly - so the SA usually cracks and sticks two in there, one for me and one for my imaginary friend.  In my defence, I have genuinely given away a number of the Hermès samples I have procured using various ruses - my old English teacher did wear Vetiver Tonka at her wedding (er...the sample, not a full bottle) - but I cannot pretend not to have squirrelled away a few vials for my own nefarious use.  Though some of the ones pictured above were gifts to me by friends and relations on similar morally questionable foraging missions.

How 'grand' is my Grand Bal sample?!

Then there was my super tall grande(!) Dior sample of Grand Bal, which should have been a gift with purchase, but which the SA in a branch of Dior in Paris gave me for no good reason at all, other than that I complimented her on her Swarovski crystal-encrusted lips.  And this despite the apparent clamp down on even the 4ml Dior pots.  Then in Germany once, in a small niche perfumery in Wasserburg, the assistant showered me with a fistful of carded samples, plus a large mini of Micallef Hiver, and that was just for shooting the breeze with her.  So there are still some great instances of unprovoked generosity, which as I say remains positively systemic within Hermès. ;-)

Micallef mini bag - you'll have to imagine the bottle!

But the problem with large samples is that you may never need to buy a bottle, for if you have a few of those 4ml-ers away they will quickly accumulate to nearly 15ml, the size many perfumistas agree is the ideal for a 'full bottle'.  I have just bought a bottle of En Voyage Perfumes' Zelda, for example, which is of that order I think.  So Hermès may be shooting themselves in the foot there, and Dior too, though they seem to have caught themselves on now pretty much.

So I would be interested to hear about your experiences in terms of sample scoring...specifically:

Are manufacturers' samples becoming more scarce generally?

Is a 4ml sample too generous for the brand's own good?

Are you also a wee bit sheepish about your own sample scoring forays?

Saturday 5 October 2013

The 'Careful Whispers' series: No 2 - Puredistance BLACK review

Back in August, Undina of Undina's Looking Glass blogged about the upcoming fragrance from Dutch luxury perfume house Puredistance - the succinctly named BLACK - which is due to be launched in November.  All we had to go on was the press release, which described BLACK (created by French perfumer Antoine Lie) as an 'understated elegant and mysteriously charming perfume inspired by the concept of BLACK; a concept that for centuries has been associated with secrets, mystery and style...The essence of the concept was to create a perfume that is close to the wearer and releases sensual and elegant scent layers in a whispering way - without shouting.'  There was additionally a clue as to its fragrance family - we were told that it would be 'more masculine and oriental' than Puredistance 1.  And then came the kicker:

'And as a consequence of the concept of BLACK, we will not reveal the ingredients of Puredistance BLACK...Envision, Smell, Feel.  Don't analyse.'

Source: Puredistance

In the comments to Undina's post, readers weighed in with predictions as to how this latest addition to the Puredistance stable might smell, and we discussed our take on the company's wish to create an aura of mystery around its new fragrance, which extended to new levels of coyness around the idea of publishing fragrance notes. I speculated about how masculine it would be:

"I clocked the ‘elegant, mysterious and whispering’ (yay!), but wondered if for 'BLACK' one should read 'butch'."

And now my sample is here - thanks, Samira!!  I was so keen to test it that I whacked it on just as I was going out the door to a meeting in Edgbaston, taking a leap of faith that its elegant whispering ways with a masculine leaning would make it appropriate as an 'office scent'.  More on how it smells in a moment...

Sexiest Jiffy bag ever!

First of all, I would like to say that I have a lot of time for Puredistance as a company.  They are one of my favourite niche houses, no question.  For the people at Puredistance have always been unstintingly friendly, appreciative and generous in their dealings with bloggers, an impression that was only reinforced when I called into their headquarters in Groningen towards the end of a long business trip in 2011. The team working for Puredistance is young, dynamic, professional, and totally enthused by their product range.  And for such a high end brand, I was struck by how completely unstuffy they were. As I recounted in my post about that visit, Jan Ewoud Vos endeared himself to me hugely when he offered me some apple cake for the road, and proceeded to wodge a big piece into one of their pristine perfume boxes with its padded satin lining!  Nor did they bat an eyelid when, in my review of Puredistance 1, I likened their packaging to a 'top of the range coffin'.

So while I am predisposed to like the house and their perfumes, I don't get on with all of them.  M is too masculine for my taste (only to be expected, really). And the musk in Opardu was problematic on my skin, though it was an unequivocably tender and pretty scent.  And even though I was concerned that BLACK might go the same way as M, I was still unfeasibly excited to try it.

Packaging for Opardu sample - foam strips galore!, with a velvet veneer

And whereas my sample of Opardu had come in a disproportionately large and clunky box - protected by an assortment of foam strips I found so intriguingly odd that I have kept them to this day, long after the perfume vial had been drained - BLACK came in more minimalist packaging, of which I heartily approve. Moreover, the padded, bubble wrap-style envelope, was also black!!  What an inspired move!  So I was already well on the way to liking BLACK, even though I had yet to extract the vial from its size-appropriate satin baglet (see photo at top of post).

There was a flyer in the package in a black envelope, and a black business card from Jan Ewoud Vos, on the reverse of which one of his staff had written - using black fountain pen at a guess, or a high end felt tip maybe:

'Envision. Smell. Feel.  Don't analyse...', reprising the injunction of the press material.

Hold on a minute...I am a market researcher, analysing is in my D & A!  So forgive me if I cock a small snook at that injunction right off the bat...;-)  As for 'envisioning', well I'm never going to do that, am I?  I might picture in my mind's eye, or do a bit of imagining perhaps.  The only people I know of who could 'envision' without so much as a backward glance are creative types in ad agencies and government think tanks, PR execs - oh, and the odd political speech writer.

So I will kick off by describing how BLACK smells, which may involve a bit of light comparison, and some pretty wild note guessing, just for fun. Then if this post hasn't got too long by that point, I will shut my eyes and have a crack at a little visualisation...

Right, so the opening of BLACK is hotly spicy, and I was instantly reminded of Neela Vermeire's Trayee and Penhaligon's Elixir.  For the purposes of this review I am wearing all three, plus Le Labo's Poivre 23, and I can confirm that the spices in BLACK are nothing like the Le Labo scent, so I can exclude that from my inquiries - they are sharper and drier.  This piquant phase is relatively shortlived, especially compared with Trayee, and it is not long before BLACK has melded with my skin (yup, I can absolutely vouch for the staying close to the wearer part!) and embarked on its whispering phase.

How fortuitous that I had already devised this series of perfume reviews founded on the very principle of whispering...;-)

Elixir sample - also in black packaging!

There is another part of the press release which states that BLACK 'stays in the shadow, giving away - only every now and then - part of its delicate nature'.  That is also true - it really is extremely quiet after the opening salvo of spice.

So to recap, I think I am on safe ground by stating that this is some kind of woody/spicy/incense-y oriental. Eyeballing the commonalities between Elixir and Trayee - and having an almost certainly doomed punt to fill in the gaps - I would guess that the notes might include some combination of cinammon, cardamom, pepper, incense, vanilla, cedar and sandalwood - and maybe vetiver, amber or even musk to round the whole thing out, but I really haven't got a clue...;-)

I should also mention that the similarities between BLACK, Elixir and Trayee are mainly at the start - beyond that BLACK settles into a much more gauzy veil-like effect, while Trayee's hot spiciness persists all the way to the drydown - it just gets progressively softer.  I'd even say that BLACK is similar to its 'Careful Whispers' stablemate, Penhaligon's Iris Prima, specifically in that diffusive, indistinct regard, but a woody/spicy/oriental version, if that makes any sense.

Spice poster - Source: Wikimedia Commons

If there are any flowers in BLACK they are not making themselves known to me.  I note, however, that both Trayee and Elixir have jasmine in them, and I never noticed it there, so who knows? - maybe there is a smidge of jasmine in BLACK too, deftly blended into the softly spicy, thrumming base.

While - to come over all capitals myself for a moment - I ABSOLUTELY LOVE BLACK, to the point where it has just gone and pipped Puredistance 1 as my favourite of the line!, I can imagine that some people may find it a tad too quiet.  I sense there are fumeheads out there who are by no means after perfumes that 'shout' as such, but who prefer them to have a normal speaking voice, say.

And that is probably all I have to say as regards my cheeky and hopeless stab at deconstructing BLACK. So now I am going to have a crack at the envisioning bit - here goes...!

I am dressed pretty much top-to-toe in black: black boucle wool belted jacket, black jeans, black patent chunky heeled shoes, black eyeliner and lashings of black mascara, just stopping the right side of demented spider.  I am wearing my black leather bracelet I got at the Leather evening of Perfume Lovers London, and my black 'flittersniffer' earrings made from Belgian lace.  I am off to meet my friend R, who has a sleek bob of jet black hair and wears a lot of black herself.  She turns out to be wearing a black and red shift dress and black ballet pumps, and has spritzed on either Bvlgari Mon Jasmin Noir or Ralph Lauren Notorious - both glossy black carded samples I gave her, which smell fabulous and completely different on her.  We meet in the sepulchral gloom of a popular nightspot and battle our way towards the bar, nearly deafened by a cacophonous wall of sound, as it is always heaving at the weekend.  I steal a whiff of my wrist, a momentary reverie amidst the jarring Saturday night revelry.  My scent of the evening is ethereal yet warm, wistful yet comforting...I am of course wearing Puredistance BLACK.

Thursday 3 October 2013

The clipboards are turned! Bonkers is interviewed on Olfactoria's Travels & Purple Paper Planes

Well, here's a turn up for the books...  As readers may know, I am a market researcher, and am often excluded from answering surveys by virtue of my profession.  So I jumped at the chance to take part in a couple of Q & A sessions recently, hosted by fellow bloggers.

The first was with Olfactoria of Olfactoria's Travels, as part of her 'People in Perfumeland' series, in which Birgit asks her guests 20 open-ended questions (I love open-ended questions - they are my stock-in-trade!) about their lifestyle, tastes and habits.  If you haven't already seen it, hop on over to Birgit's blog for that post - here is the link.

The other Q & A piece was with Lavanya of Purple Paper Planes - by pure coincidence, and following the principle of multiple buses coming along at once, both posts were published yesterday. ;-)

The questions posed by Lavanya (plus an extra one lobbed in by Suzanne of Eiderdown Press) concern definitions of beauty, an abstract and quasi-philosophical topic on which I initially felt ill-qualified to comment.  But Lavanya assured me that I should have fun with the subject matter (I love having fun!) and not be concerned on that front.

Snow by Lawren Harris

So here is the link to Lavanya's post, Seven Questions on Beauty - if you compare my answers to those of Suzanne, who features in the previous post, our take on what constitutes beauty is incredibly similar.  I am looking forward to comparing notes with the other contributors yet to come!

Oh, and I did once blog about going 'on tour' with the band whose track I selected in my 'beautiful music - UK' category.  It was only last year, but newer readers may be curious - there are a number of perfume connections, even. ;-)

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Another perfumista path crossing - Tamsin visits Bonkers Towers!

Regular readers of Bonkers will know that I have historically travelled a lot on business and for pleasure, and that I have tried wherever possible to combine those opportunities with meeting fellow fumeheads, Natalie of anotherperfumeblog being my most recent meet-ee (did I just make that ghastly word up?).  But then yesterday, in a completely new departure, a perfumista came to me(!), to wit Tamsin, whom many people will be familiar with from her active Facebook presence, hilarious cat cartoons, and latterly her heartwarming montage of kitten pics, in which she documents the development of semi-pedigree fluffball Plum in tiny incremental steps.

I first met Tamsin on a swap board.  She may even be the very first person I swapped with, or one of the first, certainly.  Tamsin has been living in the USA for the past 14 years, though she is British and hails originally from just down the road from me.  Which explains how, as part of a European grand tour of relatives and friends - including several blind dates with perfumistas (I was the fifth in the UK!) - she and her husband wended their way to Stafford yesterday, which also happened to be Tamsin's birthday.

And so it was that five years on from our original swapping contact, Tamsin and her husband had dinner with me, which segued seamlessly into another session of Cake Club, at which they were guests of honour. Tamsin even managed to make a cake on the hoof the day before - a rich chocolate mixture with a sleekly glossy yet rugged texture like an alligator - which turned out to be a delicious hybrid of biscotti and Brownie.

Tamsin and her husband K were easy, funny and charming company.  It really was as though I had known them both for much longer, a phenomenon those of us who have had blind dates with fellow fumies consistently report.  K deserves a special mention for helping to arrange the place settings and kindly popping out to the local shop to procure Diet Coke, the signature drink of my friend Clare.

By a curious coincidence, there was an existing connection between Tamsin and several of the Cake Club members, namely that the house in which her father was born is in the village where two of them live, and where Clare used to live.  There was therefore talk of extant relatives and their doings - I heard a reference to a windmill and a crow - though I was out of earshot some of the time, rummaging for extra cake forks and the like.

Tamsin and Clare - oh, she's finished her Coke already!

And of course, with it being Tamsin's birthday, how fortuitous that cakes were on hand, several with candles on them. All night long we sampled cake and Tamsin blew out candles till we could eat cake no more - so we ate trifle instead, whose candles had miraculously not subsided into the cream by this stage.  We washed the cake down with Cava of various hues and Earl Grey tea, until it was that time known as 'Tupperwares at midnight' where we find our original receptacles and divvy up the leavings to take home.

I have kept Tamsin's quota here, as she is coming back this morning for us to sample some perfume together. For as I am increasingly finding with these newfound Internet friends I have met through our shared interest, it may be fragrance that has brought us together, but then we find we have a ton of other stuff in common and that perfume is just the icing on the cake...

Hmm, shall I try scented icing next time?  Okay, maybe not.