Latest Loves and New Discoveries

Dear Scent Diary,

UnknownWhew, it’s been a long few of weeks with work. I find that when things get intense, my perfume habits become the most telltale, revealing more since my perfume choices are born out of a lower ranking on my priority scale than they normally do. What I reach for becomes a quick decision based on a sure thing – the last thing I need is a scrubber or something I’m meh about on a day when I need to be on top of things, or at least not underneath them. So here are the scents that qualify, based on my habits over the last few weeks.

Le Labo Iris 39 – Apparently, it’s what I want to wear when I need to get things done. Iris, fresh damp earth and a bit of soap (in a good way). Love.

Atelier Cologne Grand Neroli – A simple yet beautiful fragrance that I find uplifting and unobtrusive. I reached for it on several occasions, more than once to wear during yoga class of all places.

Il Profumi Chocolat – This has been a new discovery and perfect in moments when I needed a ‘pick me up’ or a distraction when I was stuck for ideas. Incredibly interesting and only mildly reminiscent of chocolate. Woody greenness misted with orchid and chocolate. Masculine but feminine at the same time. Ugh, I love it.

Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance – I’ve taken to spritzing this on clothing I plan on wearing the next day when I need to be creative. The dry-down of this rose patchouli scent is to die for, and apparently inspiring.

Le Labo Rose 31 – Ugh, I need a full bottle of this. My decant is getting scarliy empty after these last few weeks. Loved forgetting what I put on in the morning then being struck by a beautiful spicey, woody rose later in the day and remembering that it’s me. (Update: The husband heeded my hints and bought me a bottle of this as well as Iris 39 for my birthday. I’m a lucky, lucky girl.)

Amouage Lyric Man – I have to admit I don’t love this (my heart is with Lyric Woman). But I do like its fresh, natural, dewy take on rose so I’ve been trying to make my decision to buy a used bottle, right.

Le Labo Labdanum 18 – Yes, it’s been Le Labopolooza around here of late. I found myself spritzing this after a bath at the end of the day for comfort and to celebrate the lack of thinking I’d need to do in the immediate future.

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon – I love the opening of this oh so Chanel fragrance. It’s quite sweet on my skin, powdery, woody and warm. Just when I think it’s quickly disappeared, someone mentions how good I smell.

Carner Barcelona D600 – I only wore this once during all the work craziness but boy did I enjoy it. The iris and (what I perceive as) almond combo had me smiling even when things were going to hell in a hand-basket.

Jo Malone Blackberry and Bay – Its crisp, crunchy, fresh zing was just what I needed on several occasions when I had to make presentations and sound like I know what I’m doing. Love it, and thank goodness for it.

Has anything rung your bell lately?

Must see: BBC Perfume Documentary Series

Dear Scent Diary,

If you haven’t seen it already, this documentary series is nothing short of fascinating. Of course I binged and watched all three parts in one sitting. I don’t necessarily recommend doing that though – one per evening is plenty (each is roughly an hour long). Just click the links and enjoy.

Part One: Something Old, Something New

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 1.00.05 PMPart One covers the venerable house of Guerlain and follows Thierry Wasser as he takes his first steps as head perfumer at the company. We also see behind the scenes as a new Tommy Hilfiger scent is created – from the fragrance, to the bottle design, to the sales floor – and witness how much involvement Tommy really has in the whole process. We see inside Chandler Burr’s approach to scent as well as inside his apartment.

Part Two: Bottling the Memory

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 1.03.57 PMPart Two takes us to Jean Claude Ellena’s dream office in the woods where he talks about his process for creating fragrances, and are a fly on the wall when he presents some new creations to the General Manager of Hermes Perfumes, Catherine Fulconis. We follow some star students at Givaudan and learn about the scent aesthetic at CB I Hate Perfume.

Part Three: The Smell of the Future

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 1.08.56 PMPart Three lets us in on the process of creating a hit scent for Axe and along the way learn oodles of interesting info about fragrance tastes around the world. Did you know that Brazil is the fastest growing market in the world for fragrance? I didn’t. And Roja Dove gives advice to the couple behind Grossmith, the ancient English perfume house set on remaking the Oriental fragrances that once amused Queen Victoria.

Hidden Gems: The Perfumes of Ys Uzac

Dear Scent Diary,

I happened upon the Swiss niche perfume house, Ys Uzac, in late 2011 when I was just starting to compile my ‘perfume houses with good sample programs‘ list. Since they offered generous samples of all their fragrances for a reasonable price, I placed them at the top of my list to try. Finally, after almost two years of other more urgent lemmings getting in the way, and prompted by their very interesting sounding new releases, Immortal Beloved and Satin Doll, I tried the line for the first time.photo-1 copyNow, I’m generally not the gushy or declarative type, but just this once, I’m prepared to go beyond my comfort zone. Ys Uzac, I feel is completely underrated or overlooked or both, and are a must-try niche gem. I very rarely hear them talked about and I just plain don’t get it – all their fragrances are interesting, original, high-quality and generally, smell fantastic. It also doesn’t hurt that their packaging is beautiful and their bottles, chic and modern.

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Vincent Micotti and Vera Yeah, co-creators of Ys Uzac.

The house was founded in September 2011 by husband and wife team Vincent Micotti and Vera Yeoh – he an ex-concert musician (which explains the the musical reference in each perfume’s name) and she a designer (which explains the artful packaging). Vincent himself is the house perfumer and prefers to work with a high percentage of natural raw materials. “It is true that all the fragrances have a very high naturals content, and this is mainly because I appreciate working with naturals very much and try to keep close to a style of aesthetics in perfumery I appreciate. But many molecules that aren’t natural are absolute keys in perfumery, of course.” Unknown-6

Born into an artistic family in Lausanne, Switzerland, he has been fascinated by perfume creation since his teenage years. “To sketch an exquisite wonderland with imagination and creativity is my biggest passion in life.”

In my opinion, all six of the fragrances the house offers are worth sampling, but here is a run down of each of them so you may pick and choose as you wish.

Unknown-1Immortal Beloved –  Easily my favourite of the two new releases and probably my favourite of the entire line. It opens with an incredible booziness contrasted with what feels like a dry leathery note. There’s a sweetness in the background thanks to plum and what I interpret as an orange note, as well as a hint of spiciness thanks to some black pepper. As it dries, a butteriness develops and it enters its most gourmand stage. It’s never completely edible as the dry, leathery opening note takes on a buttery sandalwood character that reminds me of Serge Lutens’ Santal Majuscule. If you like that one, Immortal Beloved will most likely steal your heart. Up close, the now boozy, buttery, woody blend has a rough, prickliness to it, but as it starts to project and waft, the outward impression is of smooth, aromatic cognac and sandalwood. Kill me now and I’ll die happy. This would be considered masculine by many but any woman who likes deep, cognac soaked woody perfumes will love this. It projects extremely well and lasts for seven hours, though it becomes faint at around six.

images-5Satin Doll – Their second new release, Ys Uzac describes it as a ‘modern iris chypre’. On my skin, the open is a somewhat abstract blend of fresh florals contrasted nicely with a dry patchouli base. The fragrance sweetens slightly as it develops and after ten minutes becomes dominated by tuberose and jasmine. The white florals are never heady or rich – instead they’re clean and ‘dispersed’ by orris powder, giving it a light, watery effect overall. In terms of being a chypre, Satin Doll doesn’t have an overabundance of oakmoss or the chypre trademark ‘perfumeiness’ – it’s just very feminine, wearable and lovely.  It stays fairly close to the skin and has excellent lasting power. Satin Doll was recognized as being one of the two best perfumes at Esxence 2013.

Pohdaka – Opens fresh and appealing in a very original way. It’s green and herbal, with mint and shiso leaf (smell the adorning greenery on your plate the next time you have sushi) contrasted with tobacco leaf and leather. It’s fresh, minty, bitter, odd and quite wonderful. Best on a man, I’d say, but one of my favourites nonetheless. Very good lasting power.

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Monodie – Opens with a sweet grapefruit note and ends with a sweet grapefruit note. In between, its blended with plum, freesia, rhubarb and green, green galbanum. Overall, it’s a fresh citrus scent that isn’t tart or crisp. The fruit seemed to mascerate on my skin with the sweetness being softened and rounded by the florals – and there’s something about the intensity of the galbanum note that keeps it  pleasantly strange. Once again, unique and lasts 5 – 6 hours.

images-8Metaboles – Opens green and fresh with tomato leaf, ivy and geranium. There’s a hint of an ambery base when it dries down, giving it the overall impression of a fresh, wearable, green and clean fragrance. Completely unisex and pleasingly unlike other green or clean fragrances. This one had the shortest longevity on my skin.

Lale – Opens with familiar notes but is blended in an unfamiliar way. Grapefruit and bergamot come on strong at first, but soon the unique blend of osmanthus, white tea, rose, saffron and apricot combine to create a sweet yet light and gauzy, modern, fresh scent. Amber and incense in the base give it some atmospheric umph. It lasts and projects for 7 hours on my skin and I’m completely charmed for the entire length of it even though fruity florals are not usually my cuppa.

Well done, Vincent. Well done.

images-3Samples are available from the Ys Uzac website for shipping worldwide, as are 50 ml and 100 ml bottles of each fragrance (100 ml bottles only for the new releases). Shipping is free within Europe and possible worldwide, though the new postal regulation headaches make it worthwhile to contact them first to see if there’s a distributor in your country. The North American launch of Immortal Beloved and Satin Doll is still upcoming (consider this a preview if you live on this continent) but the other four fragrances are carried by both Luckyscent and Osswald NYC.

*I requested and was provided a set of samples. This review was not sponsored and I’m not affiliated with the link.