Tuesday 20 May 2014

Mistaking scents for store cupboard staples

Wedding scent and wedding favour ~ Source: Sue Morley
CONTENT ADVISORY - This post plumbs new depths of tangentially scent-related trivia - no bathroom pun intended. ;)  And that should perhaps be 'shallows'?

I am afraid my posting rhythm on Bonkers has been a bit disrupted of late - partly by a phase of 'extreme research' into bathroom fixtures and fittings, as I embark on the next major home improvement project. My ongoing visits to bathroom showrooms even spawned a blog post, but the unbridled silliness that follows here is nothing to do with my current preoccupation with sanitaryware, but rather with an amusing status update I spotted on Facebook.  In it my cousin's wife, who recently celebrated the wedding of her daughter in Canada (the location is significant) writes:

"One day soon, I will inevitably spray myself with maple syrup and pour Chanel No 5 on my pancakes."

Sue's jokey post struck a chord with me, and I idly started to rummage in my own pantry for inspiration.  It took a matter of mere moments to assemble a collection of store cupboard staples which could readily be confused with fragrances - based mainly on bottle shape in my own case, but sometimes also on the colour of their contents.

I kicked off with this bottle of extra extra virgin cat's pyjamas organic bio olive oil featured in my recent post from Berlin.  It is rather reminiscent of Givenchy Pi, don't you think? - just lose the bizarre top and slightly tweak the trapezoid angle - why, it even has Greek letters on it to boot!  Then before I knew it I was on a roll...

Source: douglas.de

Bottles of olive oil - or the ones in my cupboard, certainly - seem to come in particularly kindred shapes to perfume, as evidenced by this one, which - through half closed eyes at least - is a dead ringer for the Bois 1920 range.  Oh, okay, it really needs broader shoulders, I can see that:

Source: fragrantica

And then there is that good old accompaniment to fish and chips, Sarson's malt vinegar, doing a pretty decent imitation of J-Lo's Glow and its various flaming flankers...

Source: fragrancex.com

Hmm, what about the staple food of my house plants, Baby Bio, giving those ornate Ajne bottles a run for their money...

And finally, I feel sure there is a perfume bottle opposite number for this sweet chilli dipping sauce, but it eludes me for the moment.  If you have an idea about that, or can think of any other frivolous pantry and perfume bottle pairings, do let me know in the comments.  I also had a tall bottle of Styrian pumpkin oil that was a near miss for Profumi del Forte, but the neck shaping was quite a bit off.  I mention this just in case anyone was thinking of giving me a present of fancy cooking oil in the near future.  I think I am luxuriously well catered for in that department thanks, as I have two more bottles besides those (albeit with unremarkable contours). But for the record more gin would always go down well... ;)

Oh, and if anyone has any remaining appetite for things beyond the kitchen that are also shaped like perfume bottles there's a round up of other oddities here.

Saturday 10 May 2014

The Scent Crimes Series: No 14 - Stealth perfuming roses

Goodness, there seem to have been a fair number of scent crime posts lately - either that or I am just becoming more irritable in my old age...but here we are at No 14 already.

Some readers may remember my post last year, which could perhaps be described as a paean to the roses in my garden, and the variety of their scents. Okay, one or two didn't appear to smell of anything - for reasons I never did quite fathom - but mostly they did, with the peachy-pink and yellow ones coming out on top of the fragrant league table.

Nine months on, my garden is still going through its kaleidoscopic spring flower display of cherry blossom and clematis, with the odd splash of scarlet from an errant tulip, or bank of yellow from wild poppies. I did, however, have a strange encounter with a rose recently - in an Indian restaurant, to be precise.  A group of us had gone there last Saturday night, and the customary ritual at the end of our meal of hot towels, a complimentary tot of some unspecified liqueur, and After Eight Mints was swiftly followed by the bestowing of a single long-stemmed yellow rose on the ladies of our party, to wit my friend Clare and me.

Well, the first thing someone like me is going to do when presented with a rose is have a jolly good sniff, isn't it?  So imagine my surprise when my nose was greeted by a very artificial-smelling vanilla scent - of the same calibre as those cheap tea lights you get in pound shops, if you know what I mean.  Now I love vanilla as a note, but this was a very poor rendition, trust me. So I immediately made a moue of disappointment and instinctively thrust the flower in the general direction of the waiter. 'Look, it seems to have had perfume sprayed on it!' I exclaimed in a tone of shocked concern.  The waiter was inscrutable on this point, and promptly disappeared into the kitchen, giving just the ghost of a shrug as he went.  But I knew the restaurant had to be responsible...for I have protested my own innocence before now, following an act of stealth perfuming.  I am thinking of the time I spritzed ex-Mr Bonkers's side of the bed with L'Artisan's L'Eté en Douce to extract humorous revenge for a slur on my laundering capabilities (it being a very laundry musky style of scent, you see).  The full escapade is recorded here.

Source: wilko.com

Meanwhile, Clare agreed that her rose also smelt odd and had plainly been tampered with, but we dutifully carried our flowers home, whereupon I put mine in water and went to bed.  The next morning I came downstairs to find the unpleasantly cheap vanilla scent still permeating the immediate surroundings of the dining room table.  Moreover, the petals looked visibly withered and darkened in colour.  'Oh dear', I thought to myself, 'the aromachemicals in the fragrance must have got at the petals in some way - unless the rose was not long for this world anyway.'  Deep down though, I suspected the perfume of having hastened the poor plant's decline, but maybe some horticulturalists out there can confirm this either way.

So I have to ask - have you ever come across an artificially scented rose - in an Indian restaurant or anywhere for that matter?  

And if so, in your opinion is the spritzing of roses with perfume injurious to the health of the flower?

Hmm, I must say this incident certainly brought the message home that in certain instances - on plants as on the public at large - 'no perfume is better than some'...

Sunday 4 May 2014

A Tattoo Named Desire: Vero Profumo Rozy edp review, and musings on perfumer bias

The Rose Tattoo House in Key West, Florida
I would have written this post earlier in the week, and blame Birgit of Olfactoria's Travels for the delay. Yes, I have been devouring one of her book recommendations, Louise Doughty's Apple Tree Yard, and much of my free time this week has been lost to that.  It was a chilling, truly electrifying read, and I heartily endorse her selection.

Then, thanks to Tara of OT, I have had a sample of Vero Profumo's Rozy edp for a little while now, and have tested it a number of times.  At least six in fact, toggling between wrists to preclude 'wrist bias'.  And I am going to spell it 'Rozy' rather than '.rozy.' as per the bottle, if you don't mind, because of the risk of grammatical confusion - and the fact that I am too lazy to 'dot my full stops', as it were.

Source: Bloom Perfumery

So...the leviathan that is mainstream perfumery trundles on apace with its unseemly number of launches every season, but as readers may have noticed I mostly tune out to that.  Instead, my ears are at least half-cocked to the latest niche launches.  The blogo-planets seems to be moving through the house of Vero Profumo at the moment, with numerous reviews appearing - notably of all the Rozy variants, but also Mito, Rubj and Onda.  Less so Kiki, though I do like that one.  We also seem to be in a bit of an En Voyage Perfumes phase, and one of Liz Moores for that matter, though I have yet to try her line.  Not so long ago Perfume Land was reverberating with reviews of Neela Vermeire's original trio, followed by a delightful aftershock of acclaim for Ashoka, while Puredistance has also caused a few spikes of interest, most recently with its launch of BLACK.

The Vero Profumo range I spied at Mussler Beauty, Stuttgart

But right now, if I had to 'call the market', I would say that Vero Kern's work is riding particularly high and capturing people's imagination, not least because Vero herself is such a vibrant, original and down to earth character by all accounts.  I would venture to say that she is the perfumer equivalent of Vivienne Westwood crossed with Germaine Greer.  A number of my blogger friends have met Vero in person - several times even, properly hanging out with her, indeed! - I am thinking of Freddie of Smellythoughts, for example, and Val the Cookie Queen of (mostly) Australian Perfume Junkies.  And then of course at the recent workshop in London hosted by Bloom Perfumery, a number of other perfumistas and bloggers had the opportunity to meet Vero and learn more about the inspiration behind her work, including Tara herself and Sabine of Iridescents.

Tennessee Williams and Anna Magnani ~ Source: swide.com

So the collective reports of meet-ups with Vero Kern have predisposed me to like her even more, which is what I mean in the title by 'perfumer bias'.  I really, really want to like all of Vero Kern's work, because I admire and am drawn to what I know of the woman.  And I am conscious that I have probably tried harder with her fragrances than I would if they had been the latest release by Parfums d'Empire or Parfums de Nicolai, say. I will also admit to having been nervous about testing Rozy. As I wrote to Val via Facebook: 'What is Rozy like?  Sounds a bit massive / 'out there' from the notes?', to which she replied: 'Not massive, just gorgeous.'

Notes: Rose d'Orient, lilac, peaches, passionfruit, honey and sandalwood

But whilst I have instantly taken to scents like Kiki edp, Rubj edp and Mito Extrait and Voile d'Extrait - the opening of Mito edp remains a little acerbic for my tastes - Rozy has proved a bit more of a challenge.

Determined to keep this pink theme going ~ Source: Wikipedia

The inspiration for Rozy has been well documented in other reviews, namely that Vero Kern's muse was the Italian actress Anna Magnani, especially in her role as the lusty, headstrong and hot-tempered Serafina Delle Rose in the Tennessee Williams play, 'The Rose Tattoo'. According to one rather sparse plot summary I found online, it 'tells the story of an Italian-American widow in Louisiana who has allowed herself to withdraw from the world after her husband's death and expects her daughter to do the same.'  To be fair, Rosario the husband isn't dead all the way through, and the play also involves dressmaking, smuggling, long distance lorry driving, adultery and betrayal, together with rose tattoos on the person of practically everybody except Serafina herself, though she does experience a sort of 'rose tattoo stigmata' early on in the story on learning that she is pregnant. The film was mostly shot in Key West, and the house where much of the action is set is still known as Rose Tattoo House.

Source: findyourtattoo.net

Google the name 'Rozy', however, as I did in an idle moment, and in that well known resource of Urban Dictionary you will find a much less rumbustious kind of a gal:

'A cute and very sweet little girl living in Connecticut who likes to sleep with cuddly gray sweatshirts on, sleep with her chubby and very soft bunny, stay up all night working on English essays...' and more in that vein.

So banish that image of a Rozy 'perzona' from your mind right off the bat, though lilac could be thought of as a bit of a demure, cutesie note I guess (FM En Passant springs to mind.)  But not here....

Anna Magnani ~ Source: Wikipedia

Okay, so I have written down my impressions each time I have tried Rozy edp...The opening is a bit of a shock, and not the sort of thing I usually like - powdery in a musky, intense way. Texturally I am reminded of PdN Sacrebleu, which hits you with an opaque 'wall of stuff' that I am at a loss to describe in more detail. Sometimes, but not on every test, I detected a slightly sharp, angular quality to the opening that quickly subsided.  On one such occasion my thoughts also drifted to some unidentified boozy-fruity-woody scent by Frapin - or maybe Ginestet's Botrytis.  The fruitiness morphed into more of a distinctively winey, woody, almost menthol-y scent.  I have written 'corked claret' to evoke the woody undertow, and also 'cough syrup'.  For what Rozy most resembled after about twenty minutes or so was Halls Soothers in blackcurrant flavour - possibly cherry, but a dark, deep fruity one for sure.  But as I say, sometimes Rozy skipped this very brief Soothers stage and segued from the musky opening straight into 'broadly beaming fruit'.

For up next is a phase that was uniformly present and much more winsome and accessible - more in the style of Rubj (which I like a lot), but Rubj oozing with honey, and with different flowers.  It is a radiant phase, bright and upbeat, and still noticeably fruity. I get more of the peach at this point - the passionfruit may in fact have been what my nose read as blackcurrant earlier? - and the rose and lilac are pushing through, drenched in honey.  Now honey is a tricky note for me at the best of times - Viktoria Minya's Hedonist was all kinds of wrong on my skin, for example, as Freddie is my witness! - but the honey here is one of the highlights.

A bolt of silk fabric, doing a good impression of a rose ~ Source: ebay.com

As Rozy wears on and becomes generally more attenuated, predictably I like it even more.  Images of Greek yoghurt laced with honey float into my mind, or a shower creme based around honey and milk.  This is the most beautiful part - a silken, honeyed, milky lava, flowing at an almost imperceptibly slow speed.

And then, in the far drydown - on most occasions, but not all - Rozy bites back again, when the honey note turns ever so slightly urinous - what Elena of Perfumeshrine once described as 'honeyed piss' in connection with Absolue pour le Soir by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.  This is phenylacetic acid, apparently - or something behaving very much like it on my wrist.  I can tolerate it these days, as my threshold for animalic notes has greatly come on since I first developed an interest in perfume.  It made me smile, if anything.  There was still a trace of it on my skin this morning after yet another wearing last night.  I should give Schiaparelli's Shocking another go, as I may be ready to meet that same animalic note there again...

So, believe me, I tried to love this, but a diva fruity scent like this was always going to struggle to reel me in. Even Plum by Mary Greenwell, one of the few 'big fruity chypres' to get under my radar, can be a mistake on some days.  But apart from the fuggy wallop of the opening, and despite Rozy being fruitier than I normally go for, I do genuinely like it, and just wish I liked it even more!

And I remain as keen as ever to meet Vero Kern some day. And her dog.  And I don't even like dogs - or most dogs, certainly!  That's perfumer bias for you.

Source: Facebook

PS I would be interested to hear whether you are prone to 'perfumer bias' in relation to any particular fragrance line or collection of that perfumer's work, and how this plays out in your sniffing experience?