Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Plush peony: Aroma M Geisha Botan review, plus a peony-coloured dishcloth giveaway (don't laugh!) as Bonkers turns 9

I don't know where the time goes, but I have just checked when I started Bonkers about Perfume, and it is 25th October, 2009. Some years I celebrate my blog anniversary late - up to eight months late in 2013!, then I may even have forgotten it altogether the odd time, while this year I decided to mark the occasion a day early, why not?  I do wonder if it is a bit cheeky to have an anniversary at all when my posting has become sparse of late, but I guess I am still just about going at least, on my tod, after a fashion. Or rather not after a fashion, as being on trend or 'in the swim', or even vaguely Zeitgeisty is not really my way.  I can't even bring myself to do Instagram and engage with those pesky thickets of hashtags, but that is a matter for a whole other post some time.

Behold, a cake that says those look a wee bit  like peonies to you? Just getting in the mood...

Source: Pinterest

And before broaching Maria McElroy's latest perfume release I will mention the rather mundane giveaway I am linking to it - and my anniversary. To be fair, my giveaways have been getting progressively more mundane, eclectic, and some would say downright bizarre with each passing year, spurred on by my pathological fear of posting perfume, the obvious prize. But I have no qualms about mailing this pink and therefore broadly peony-coloured dishcloth anywhere in the world to the (un-)fortunate winner. Knitted by own own age spot mottled hand, no less!

Me, I still clean my entire house with roll after roll of kitchen towel, but I have a small but growing number of environmentally-conscious friends, who are embracing recyclable things in a big way, even to the point of crocheting substitutes for cotton wool pads to remove eye make up. So by that yardstick, a washable dishcloth isn't so far-fetched really. Made from cotton, with a ruggedised pattern of double moss stitch that lends the cloth its abrasive qualities. Well, up to a point. So if you would like to be in with a chance to win it - and a DNEM will not offend, haha - please indicate as much in the comments. And I am aware it is not quite a proper square(!), but what else would you expect on Bonkers?

Truffle is thankfully asleep as I type, for she really got her claws into the bag containing HOCB Immortal Beloved last year.

And on to Geisha Botan at last, two samples of which arrived from Maria of Aroma M this week. Now I did have a number of perfume-themed (no, really!) posts in the pipeline, so the fact that this review (after a fashion) has catapulted the scent to the top of the queue - or to the mouth of the pipeline, should that be? - speaks volumes. This is suddenly the perfume I want to write about most of all, as you may rightly infer.

Before I tried Botan, I had a quick glance over the PR blurb that was sent with it. The first thing to mention is that Botan is another Japanese-inspired scent - as its inclusion in the Geisha range would suggest indeed - moreover the word Botan actually means 'peony'. I have to say I would never have made the connection, for Botan is quite a heavy word, and peonies blowsy but lighter somehow, even when they droop, of which more anon. My mind also keeps drifting towards 'butane', from which obviously I quickly yank it back. To top things off I have a type of monkey image running through my brain, but I may in fact merely be conflating Borneo and Orang-utan.

So it is doubtless best to move on from such unhelpful free associations and return to our peony muttons. The potted version of the story behind Botan is as follows: newly arrived in Tokyo in the 1980s, Maria visited Ueno Park, noted for its 17th century Toshogu Shrine. Here she chanced upon a peony garden and was struck "not only by this flower's profusion of bedazzling jagged-edged pink blossoms, but by its gentle rose-like scent." Maria considers peonies "quintessential Asian flowers" and harboured a long term wish to create the quintessential peony perfume herself one day. And now here it is.

Ueno Park ~ Source:

On a side note, I used to have two enormous peony bushes in the back garden of the house I shared with Mr Bonkers. The blossoms were incredibly profuse and a very pale pink, and every year I would 'kettle' them in a kind of metal pen to stop the heavy heads drooping till they eventually caused the whole plant to fall over. The bushes bloomed every year all the time I lived there, but I suspect Mr Bonkers - not someone overly endowed with green fingers - may since have managed to kill them, if the fate of my beloved Pieris is anything to go by.

Notes: peony, rose, sandalwood, vanilla, "velvet woods".

Now, returning to peony-inspired perfumes, in the spirit of full disclosure I didn't think I was a big fan of these. There are a few I have tried, and they can be a bit watery and insipid, or occasionally even tart. Moreover, I associate them firmly with spring, so was faintly puzzled to be receiving samples of a peony perfume in October. Though the timing of the package may have been fortuitous. Anyway, I need not have worried...oh no...

This was a peony perfume with welly. The plushest of peony perfumes ever made. It is thick and powdery and velvety and musky with just the right amount of sweetness. The peony and rose notes are beautifully blended with the lighter peony keeping the rose from being overly dark and Gothic, a la Czech & Speake's Dark Rose (there's a clue in the name!). If I remember rightly, it was also a touch agar woody and used to catch in my throat.

Now I do love gourmand orientals (being the happy owner of both Parfumerie Generale's Brulure de Rose and Tauer PHI Une Rose de Kandahar), and when Maria described this to me as a 'floral gourmand', that seemed spot on. If anyone remembers Sonoma Scent Studio's Velvet Rose, I am reminded of its rich, velvety texture, if not its scent particularly. And there are one or two other fragrances with this kind of vibe that I can't summon up for the moment. But think the olfactory equivalent of sensuous velvet damask cushions and you won't go far wrong. Funnily enough, I was thinking of getting this very one for a friend as a present. Interestingly, I imagine there is a phantom hint of plum in Botan for some reason, which I swear I detected before lighting upon this plum - and pleasingly plump - cushion!

Source: Ian Snow

I can see me wearing these samples of Botan all through the winter, day or night. Botan is a light heavy oriental, if you know what I mean. A soprano as it were. But it has heft and swagged folds too. While managing to completely avoid being the sort of powdery diva scent you would associate with a stout opera singer. I love the idea of an peony oriental scent - it really does seem to subvert the usual conventions. I am very drawn to Maria's other amber-forward creations, both for Aroma M and House of Cherry Bomb, and now I am delighted to have discovered a whole other fragrance style of hers that moves me to the same extent.

Oh, I say, I have just googled an image of the bottle - my very first sighting of it - and look what colour it is!

Source: Luckyscent

PS The draw is open until the end of October ie midnight on Hallowe'en!


Tara said...

V, I tried this for the first time today and I love it too. Its so much more than a pure peony perfume. I was surprised too at just how velvety it is.

Congratulations on Bonkers' 9th birthday! Wow, a decade next year.

I think the knitted cloth is a lovely prize but please DNEM because as you know, I'm frantically get rid of stuff, not adding to it. Even in the form of a pink knitted square :)

Unknown said...

I really love peonies but I have always found the fragrance note rather wan and underwhelming. This perfume sounds much more like my cup of tea and much more like the extravagant velvet aspect I love about them. And I would like to be put in the draw for the knitted dishcloth - it looks great!

Unknown said...

And I forgot to say Happy 9th Bonkers Birthday !!!!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

So glad you love Botan too! I would have imagined you would. I do find pure peony scents pale and wan at times as I mentioned, but this is a much fuller production, while staying in a lighter register.

I am not sure the dishcloth is the right shade for your kitchen, though it could possibly have been repurposed as a flannel in your b/w bathroom. Where would you have hung it though? ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Bejoux Noir,

Botan does not disappoint in the robust texture department. It also has great staying power, well speaking for the oil version which is the sample I have tried so far, but quite likely both at a guess. You are welcome in the draw. The good thing about draws on Bonkers is there are so few takers - on account of the size of the blog and the rum nature of the giveaway items! - that the odds are rather good. ;)

Vanessa said...

Thank you very much!

lady jane grey said...

Ach, the two of you, now I want to try this peony scent ! I love the real thing, I mean the lovely lush flowers, reminding me all the gardens of my vhildhood, everybody seemed to grow peionies back then... Sending lors of love !

Undina said...

I'm not sure if I would have even commented on this post if it hadn't been for the prize... so please EM! OK, of course, I'm kidding - but only about the first part. I'd love to win that beauty (as long as it doesn't come with a stipulation that I have to use it for the designated purpose ;) ).

Congratulations on the anniversary, Vanessa! I think that your posting schedule is just perfect (at least for my workload recently)! I hope that by now you know that we're not here for some deep perfume insights (for that I wouldn't be going anywhere these days - too boring). "return to our peony muttons" - just priceless! :) So just keep writing about everything you're writing now, and I promise that I'll be reading you at least for the next 9 years.

This perfume sounds extremely appealing, so I'll try to get to know it - even though its name is the last thing that would attract me: in my native language's slang the word "botan" means something close to "nerd" or "anorak," though I'd take it any day over the recent Tom Ford or ELdO's exercises ;)

Anonymous said...

Botan sounds really rather lovely.

Wishing you a very happy blogoversary!

And while I would love your beautiful artwork, please don't enter me this time as I am actually moving house on Halloween, so wouldn't want it to go missing in the wastes of the Royal Mail's sorting offices ....


Vanessa said...

Hi lady jane grey,

I am ashamed to say that despite having been the owner of the aforementioned peony bushes, I don't remember smelling them particularly. I may not have thought they even HAD a scent. I know better now! Love to you too. x

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Thank you for your kind words about Bonkers and its anniversary - you are thoroughly entered in the draw! If you win the dishcloth, please feel free to use it in ny way that occurs to you. ;)

How interesting about the meaning of 'botan' in your native language. Funny how we are both out of step with the flower's delicate character in our own associations with the word as meaning something much more down to earth!

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Botan is rather lovely indeed. I quite understand your not wanting to be in the draw - and would do even if you didn't have compelling logistical issues ahead! Good luck with the house move - I know how much is involved in such things.

Vanessa said...

PS In fact it took two attempts on Maria's part to get the samples to me, so The Royal Mail does have form in that regard.

Anonymous said...

Tell me about it ......

Thank you!


Tara said...

Ha! Quite, V. Not a handle in sight :)

Anonymous said...

Happy bloggiversary! Count me in for a knitted washcloth - I usually have to wait for the Ukrainian Christmas Craft Bazaar to stock up. AnnieA

Vanessa said...

Thanks, AnnieA! You are in the draw. Ooh, love the sound of that Craft Bazaar. Nothing like that round these parts.

Vanessa said...

;) ;)