My Perfume Hall of Fame

Apart from makeup I also have an unhealthy obsession with perfume. Since a lot of what I was drawn to weren’t readily available where I lived, I used to scour the web for information on niche houses, noses, order samples and organise swaps to feed this addiction. I was ecstatic when I got the POTL Luctor et Emergo sample and finally understood what everyone was raving about; when I first visited Paris I made it a mission to go to Les Salons de Shiseido and to smell the exclusives. I bought Rahat Loukoum (I was in a sweet, gourmand scent craze, particularly with almonds). I had decants of iconic perfumes that I was too young to appreciate at the time and eventually I had so many little vials and samples that I didn’t know what to do with them.Ahhh the memories! That was almost 10 years ago (I started young, ha). I’m much more restrained now, and I really only focus on two perfume houses which you’ll see below. My preference for perfume has evolved as well and for a few years I’ve been drawn to spicy, oriental scents (which I never thought I would like). I’ve chosen three perfumes from my small collection for this post. It’s awfully hard for me to describe scents, they are, after all, very personal choices. You’ll also find that other bloggers do a much more wonderful job describing them than I do, and they are far more knowledgeable with the notes and ingredients that goes into them as well. Enough blabbering, here we go:

Portrait of a Lady – Dominique Ropion for Editions de Parfums, Frederic Malle
From the site:

Portrait of a Lady is a new breed of oriental rose, a baroque perfume. It is based on an accord of benzoin, cinnamon, sandalwood and, above all patchouli, musk and frankincense. It takes off with an excessive dosage of the best Turkish rose essence that Dominique Ropion linked to the rest of the formula, thanks to a red berries and spice accord.

After hundreds of trials needed to balance such an excessive formula (Portrait of a Lady is undoubtedly the perfume containing the strongest dosage of rose essence and patchouli heart), a rare symphonic perfume appeared:  a new oriental rose, a sensuous beauty that attracts people like a magnet, a modern classic:  Portrait of a Lady.

I got this last year, trying to branch out from my go-to Lutens and it’s probably the best perfume purchase I’ve ever made. It would not have been something I would try if left on my own since I tend to steer away from rose or floral scents. At my first visit I was deciding between POAL and Dans tes bras. I went home, and couldn’t stop sniffing my wrist that had POAL on. I went back, to a Malle shop closer to home and was suggested French Lover as a potential candidate based on my perfume preference. In the end POAL won the battle because it’s so elegant, so alive, complex but well-balanced and so long-lasting – probably the most long-lasting perfume I have. I welcome its feminine presence among my mostly uni-sex perfumes. (but I do realise men wear this too!) It’s an instant confidence booster for me and I love when I put on a jacket and smell shadows of the scent on it. It doesn’t always go on the same, I mean that sometimes I get more of the berries, sometimes more of that beautiful sandalwood towards the drydown. This is the perfume I’ve got the most compliments on, both men and women.

50ml. 145 euros.

Rousse – Serge Lutens
From the site: Piquante

Yes, just one word, meaning spicy. (The word on the English website though is ‘Racy’) I remember they used to give out more info on the perfumes on the site … oh well.

Gathered from other blogs, the notes are: mandarin, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, precious woods, cinnamon wood, amber, vanilla and musk.

I don’t know how to describe this… Rousse is a perfume built around the ‘theme’ of cinnamon. It doesn’t evolve much and some fault it (rather unfairly I think) for that. To me it has a kind of mystery to it, amber and spices and maybe a little soapy. I like it a lot and reach for it often especially in winter. I’ve seen comparisons to all kinds of cinnamon candies but I never ate one in my life so I couldn’t comment on that. Filles en Aiguilles, released two years after Rousse and which appears to be much popular and liked than Rousse, is to me, the same perfume but built around the theme of pine. I don’t like Filles en Aiguilles at all.

As an aside, I just noticed on the Lutens site that Rousse is no longer in the export range and is now only sold in flasks. I was going to buy a spray bottle last year – I was reading about reformulations (for all perfumes in general) but then thought it’s probably too late anyway since this was released 5 years ago in 2007 so whatever reformulation there is to do has already been done, hence there’s no ‘real hurry’. Now it will cost me 130 euros …… gaaah!! Not happy. I got my bottle when it was first released though so at least I’ll have something to judge against.

50ml. I probably paid 70 euros back then.


Gris Clair – Serge Lutens
From the site: Poussière Lavande (English site: Lavender dust)

Poussière is dust but I would call it a dusty lavender if I have to, instead of lavender dust.

Launched in 2006 I remember going to Les Salons and compared this with Encens et Lavande. Encens et Lavande has more lavender in the opening and dries to the ash/incense note in the name. Gris Clair is a cold, sharp lavender. Very sharp. It almost stings the nose sometimes. The drydown reminds me of freshly pressed, hot off the iron cotton. I preferred the coolness of Gris Clair, went with that and haven’t looked back.

Spraying it now (6 years after purchase) I can still picture myself walking out onto the street from where I used to live, wearing Gris Clair almost religiously for a time, into the brisk weather. This will always remind me of Paris.

50ml. 79 euros (current listed price)

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