Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Perfumista samples site, and how Robin made me blog again

Princess Diana rose

I have been away too long. Too long from the blog, and from the perfume scene generally. I have not been completely asleep on the job, but have largely got tip offs about new releases from other blogger friends, and occasionally still from a perfumer directly. I read just two fragrance blogs regularly, and comment on both. In the old days it was upwards of 20. I wear perfume fitfully, but always with enthusiasm when I remember to do so. I am not making great inroads into my SABLE*, but it gives me pleasure to drain the odd 1ml sample or little decant every so often. A few things have turned while I wasn't looking, but we are none of us getting any younger.

Yet perhaps unexpectedly, it is my recent distracting health issues that have led me back to perfume. I am still being investigated for a couple of issues, while a few others have been diagnosed, or have disappeared as mysteriously as they came, or been relegated to the "to be monitored" (aka "too hard") pile. Harrowing as the process has been at times, I am so grateful to have been scanned from top to toe, as I mentioned in my earlier posts. Last week saw my eyeballs join the list, with bones to follow next month. Somewhere along the way, a consultant said he really liked me, as I was "unusual", which was a tonic in itself. ;) Another doctor said he believed in "treating the person rather than the test results", while conceding that I had managed to clock up a startling number of abnormal findings in recent months which would worry anyone.

So this unsettling experience - compounded by a spike in neighbour bother, on which I shan't dwell here - led me to crave rose perfumes of late, which I do periodically in times of stress, ever since I hit the menopause. I have been enjoying them in my garden too, while the friend who painted my flittersniffer avatar (David Gleeson) gave me a 'Princess Diana rose' from his, so one way and another, the flowers and their scents have been on my mind. 

A cursory rummage in my perfume wardrobes (literally!) was enough to establish that I own very few rose-centric scents anymore. I have Bvlgari's Rose Essentielle, which I wore to my dad's funeral, but it is quite modern in style. I was after something lush and multi-layered, like Keiko Mecheri's Mogador, which my friend Jessica found for herself after a long and winding quest. A veritable feather bed of petals you can sink into with your nose, you know the sort of thing. Or indeed the late lamented Creed Fleur de The Rose Bulgare, which Bois de Jasmin rates very highly: "After a somewhat perfume-y and oddly 'green' start, this one is unmatched rose verisimilitude". Hiram Green's Lustre also ticks the box, but a vegan friend has fallen in love with it, and I wouldn't part them for the world, while the other rose scents in my collection are wintery, or dark, or spicy, or powdery, or linear, or have a goodly dollop of Tauerade. I couldn't find a single soliflore in my drawer. ;)

Minutes later, I had clicked on a perfume sampling site called "Perfumista" (a very good name to appeal to our community!), and scored a 5ml decant of Parfumerie Generale Brulure de Rose, and a 1ml sample of Diptyque's Ilio, my curiosity about which had been piqued by Undina's recent review. I hunted for the chilly new Serge Lutens she also reviewedLa Dompteuse Encagée - but to no avail. They were out of the Hiram Green as well, though I was impressed the brand was even stocked. I wracked my brain for other scents I had heard about lately, and rootled around in Jo Loves, Jo Malone, Tom Ford and Hermes, then left it at that. And I know Brulure de Rose isn't a soliflore either, but I miss having a bottle, and 5ml should keep the lemmings from the door for a bit. They don't do Keiko Mecheri in fact, though I did look. An impressive range of niche lines nonetheless.

'Thinking of you' 

The Perfumista site offers free delivery on orders over £10, which is great, as I expect to buy at least £25 worth of something (invariably wool!) to qualify for that perk. A slightly irritating thing about the website - as it displayed on my laptop anyway - is that it was impossible to scroll down the brand list beyond the M row, no idea why. I viewed the site on my mobile instead (where brands appeared under the Categories tab, somewhat illogically) to refresh my mind about what else I might be interested in.

And I am writing about this site before the perfumes have even arrived, because the mere fact of my having bought them - like in the good old days of The Perfumed Court! - is noteworthy enough, I felt. Today I have gone back into Google to see what other sites are out there now (I may be the last person to know about them all, haha), and on the first page of results I clocked Fragrance Samples UK, Perfume-samples, and Scent Samples, all of which were new to me. I have been away too long, as I say.

So how, you may ask, does Robin come into it? That would be Robin of Now Smell This of course, though I hardly need to mention that I am sure, as her blog is a cross between a behemoth and a bellwether; it is the CNN of the blogosphere, and a bottomless resource in more ways than you can shake a blotter at. I am in awe of the work Robin has put into maintaining the site all these years. She is a tower of strength and endurance, no question. And of course I once had a couple of guest posts on there in 2012 (well, one on NST itself and a companion post the next day on Bonkers); unfortunately they led to a barrage of trolling, and got me banned from linking to the blog on Facebook for three years, which I admit to thinking a disproportionate response at the time. ;) [Links on request for anyone who missed the whole kerfuffle and may be curious.] Anyway, I was looking to see if Robin or anyone at NST had also reviewed the new Serge Lutens, and then thought to check her blogroll to see if I was even still on it, and miraculously I was! It was quite a sobering read, mind, as so many of the names have got "no longer updated" in brackets after them, and I really didn't want that fate to befall me too.

So here I am, sneaking a post in before Robin notices I had been gone a while, hehe; still not through the 'testing tunnel', but learning to live with being abnormal. After all, that consultant did say I was "unusual", so I have a reputation to maintain...

And lastly, here is a rose David painted earlier - doubtless also from his garden (am surprised he is not called Austin, quite frankly) - because while perfume sillage evaporates and real flowers die, a still life painting is a joy forever. 

'rose pink' by David Gleeson

UPDATE: The samples are here! The vials are nicely presented, in an easy-to-rip-open sealed silver pouch inside a sturdy brown envelope inside a white Jiffy bag. Oh, it is so good to be reunited with the PG...!

*My SIL's acronym for "Stash Above and Beyond Life Expectancy"


Hazel said...

I love Rose perfumes too. Just finished Miller Harris Rose en Noir, have a dwindling bottle of Diptyque Eau Rose, and a frugally used discontinued Penhaligon's called Elizabethan Rose. This last is utterly like standing outside my grandparent's cottage when the roses had gone feral and colonised the holly and the Laurel hedges.

Tara said...

Back with a bang V! Fabulous, entertainkng post.
Nice to hear of a UK based samples site though I cant imagine using one again, ypu never know. It must be fin to have that buzz once more.
I didn't know you turned to rose perfumes in times of stress but I'm pleased they help
Brulure de Rose is perfect for the comfort factor and I remember when PG himself signed your bottle.
Robin truly is a stalwart. That drama over your post tbough really was a beyond ridiculous misunderstanding and overeaction.
Oh and that is my new favourite painting of David's. Just stunning.

Vanessa said...

Hi Hazel,

You have made me remember that I also looked on Miller Harris on the Perfumista site! Quite a good selection too. And while I was there I remembered your bottle of Rose Noir - another fine example, though not what I was craving. I am not sure I have smelt that Penhaligon's one, but it sounds lovely. I watched a programme on Meghan Markle last night(!), and ended up googling her wedding scent, which was a sort of Mediterranean-style Floris special, and there I reminded myself of The Queen's wedding scent in 1947: White Rose, also by Floris, and quite a spiky number on account of the carnation.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Thank you...ooh, I don't know about a bang exactly, but not a whimper at least! I was really taken aback at how many sampling sites there are now, and I didn't even explore beyond Page 1. Roses, yes, a trusty standby.

You got me thinking there, but I am pretty sure it was Bertrand Duchaufour who signed my bottle (of Penhaligon's Amaranthine) - in two different places, one of which I only discovered much later! - however, having checked the post from that night at Les Senteurs, it seems PG *did kiss me(!)*, which is arguably even more exciting, albeit fleeting:

"At the end of the night I saw him sitting quietly on a sofa at the back of the store and went over to say thank you and to show him the bottle of Brûlure de Rose I had bought on behalf of a friend whom I had just introduced to the scent. He stood up and kissed me on both cheeks in that gallant way the French do. The "bi-cheek bise" made my night..."

Glad you like David's painting. I love all his floral paintings, but particularly the roses.

Undina said...

Hi V! Great to have you back!

I like the painting. Interestingly, while I thought (looking on IG) that it was your photo, I was going to say how well it was taken to resemble an older painting :)

I like rose perfumes a lot. I’m not sure which ones you put into the categories that do not work for you now (other than Andy’s roses), so I’ll just name several that I like.

The most recent find - Love Kills from Masque Milano (I wrote about it last year and cited great reviews from Jessica on NST). There was also a recent perfume with a very fitting name - Perfumista by Anatole Lebreton. Hermès Rose Ikebana and Bois 1920 Kimono Rose. JHAG Miss Charming. Rose Trocadéro Le Jardin Retrouve. Others that I can think of, I’m sure, you also remembered.

I’m not sure if I remember the events you referred to as they were happening, or if I learned about them later from your blog, but I remember. It was ridiculous.

I hope the health-related “discoveries” will slow down at some point soon: your doctors have been entertained enough! ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Thank you!

David's paintings do look like Dutch Old Masters, I always think. There was one he posted on IG today that is particularly in that vein. See if this link is public, I assume so:


I would line my walls with DG paintings if I had the money. I do own a couple, plus a print.

All those styles of rose I mentioned still work for me, including the Tauers like Rose Vermeille, but were just not what I fancied in that moment. I don't know several of those rose scents you mention, and may seek out Love Kills next time - I do recall your review now, and being fired up by your description.

The fall out of that post was crazy at the time, though both Robin and another senior blogger rallied round. Bizarrely, I ended up selling a bottle of perfume to one of my most vocal critics, and that created a strange kind of truce, as she couldn't help but remark on how well I had packaged it for the long journey. ;)

Tara said...

A double kiss is much better!

Vanessa said...

Haha, Tara, maybe so! Though a Bertrand squiggle is also forever...;)

Anonymous said...

Oh, wow - you've been kissed by the incredibly handsome Pierre Guillaume - how lovely!

Not so lovely, your medical odyssey and the NST debacle. Can't believe that you of all people were banned from Facebook and that you were trolled ... I thought the perfume community was above that. I've only had one bad experience in many years and that was an inexplicable pouring of hatred on me when I said I liked Eternity! I don't understand people. I would indeed like the link cos I have a morbid fascination for reading about the strange working of human minds.

I am sorry you are still stumping the medical profession and hope that answers and solutions will come very soon.

Have you tried Annick Goutal's Rose Absolue? Not the newish one, Rose Splendide, the one that's been around for yonks. Don't know what it smells like these days, but it used to remind me of pure rose essential oil and satisfied my craving for a realistic rose perfume.

It's great to see you back - I miss your funny stories.

Good luck.


Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

I couldn't help but smile at the absurdity of anyone attacking you for liking Eternity. Didn't we all own a bottle back in the day? I know I did, and I wasn't even into perfume back then. It was just a go-to scent of the late 80s / early 90s.

I am still stumping the medical profession, but getting used to it now at least!

Rose Absolue nearly featured in the post as a scent I would like to try, and I must have forgotten to include it in the end. Thanks for the reminder and the endorsement of its being a straight up rose - it is firmly in my sights.

I will mail you that link, and a bit of background on the sorry saga. ;)

Ines said...

There are so many things in your post that I can relate to. Had no idea there was a problem with a post and facebook?! Please, I would like to know more (you can email me the link). And whatever it is that happened, 3 years do seem an inappropriate punishment.
I wonder if you tried the Narcisso Poudre - it contains a nice rose note.

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

I guess we are contemporaries on the 'scene', so it is not surprising perhaps that you can relate to some of the same things. ;)

Narciso Poudre - yes, I think I have tried that Narciso, and it was very nice. I will email you the link to my ill-fated post, sure.

Oh, my samples have arrived so I will put an update to the post!

Vanessa said...

PS I sent it via Facebook Messenger, as I can't seem to find your email address.

Undina said...

For the record: I never had a bottle of Eternity for women (I didn’t like it), but I liked the masculine counterpart on my vSO and got him a set. I think he still has some perfume left in one of the bottles :)

Vanessa said...

Haha, Undina, fair enough! It was a pretty sweeping statement on my part. ;) I don't believe I have ever sniffed its male counterpart.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vanessa, so good to read another blog post from you! And I am glad that health wise, things are fine overall and that you have been able to get more thorough checks.

Rose scents are indeed very comforting, and Brulure de Rose sounds amazing. I enjoy contrasts: Serge Lutens’ La Fille de Berlin - a warm spicy rose, as well as Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady, a cold churchy rose. I have a rollerball of rose oil from Klein’s Perfumery which is a facsimile of a rose garden in bloom, and just as over-powering. This reminds me, I need to revisit my drawer and sniff them all again!


Vanessa said...

Hi Joyce,

Thanks for dropping in, and for your good wishes.

I think Brulure de Rose is in my top five perfumes period - it feels very me, possibly because it combines a gourmand oriental treatment (a favourite category of scent) with roses.

I must revisit La Fille de Berlin - I know Tara is a big fan, just as Val is of Portrait of a Lady, of which I do have a mini and always associate with her. That Klein rollerball sounds potent in a good way!