Monday, January 10, 2011

How to wear chocolate in January

Get yourself a package of Michel Cluizel's Noir Infini, 99% cocoa, chocolate pastilles (they call them minigrammes). The 1-kilogram bag is a mere 20 Euros at my store - affordable luxury. Dissolve them in milk (I use 3 teaspoons for 200ml, adding about a teaspoon of raw cane sugar. I do this in a teflon-coated pan to avoid excessive burnt-milk-pot-cleaning procedures). Stir with a whisk and bring to a very brief boil. Pour into cup. If you like, use a milk frother to whip it up further. You'll notice, though, that this chocolate has a voluptuous texture all by itself, usually achieved in such products by emulsifiers and thickeners. Cluizel does not use soy lecithin or anything else. The flavor is rich, full-bodied, intense, complex and immensely satisfying - and the 99% cocoa means you can individually temper the sweetness.
Now, put on a spitz of Lutens Borneo 1834 or Coromandel (my choices), Il Profumo Chocolat Amer or Amen/Angel, relax in your favorite compfy chair and revel in sensuous delight. If you really want to intellectually distract yourself from this sensory reverie, you can pick up Maricel Presilla's wonderful book on chocolate.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Essentially Me - Sensuous Innocence, Rigorous Classicism and Hot Stuff

For today's look at essential oil merchant and craft perfumer Alec Lawless' creative work, here are three decidedly feminine scents by Essentially Me that really won me over. What unites all of them is that the predominance of naturals de-caricaturizes fragrance styles which have become utter freaks by the use of cheap and frequently loud substitute synthetics in mainstream perfumery, often ending as drugstore shadows of what they used to be. Here they are restored to classic beauty.


Is it ever. So much so you really need to be somewhat mature, favour a conservative wardrobe and think of the Beatles as new-fangled. That soapy clove embedding florals will always remind me of the distinguished, friendly elderly ladies that doted about our neighbourhood when I was a child. A pleasing memory, but not one for me to wear.

Heart: floral rose

Nuance: citrus

Intrigue: fresh herb and spice.

Rose otto, rose de mai, orange blossom, neroli, ylang, geranium Bourbon, jasmine
Bergamot, green mandarin, petitgrain
Coriander, bay, clove bud, vetivert Bourbon.

White Blooms:

This is innocent and sexy in an intelligent manner Audrey Hepburn would have loved. Such a pleasure, also, to be smelling white blossoms rather than screechy-blaring-in-your-face “WHITE BLOSSOMS.” Like the milky bosom of a Courbet canvas compared to Hollywood’s contemporary silicon balloons, sensuous, yet tasteful.

Heart: delicate white floral

Nuance: soft green balsam

Intrigue: warm woody.

White Champac, orange blossoms, pink lotus, jasmine.
Absolutes of hay and beeswax
Sandalwood, frankincense, benzoin resin

La Joupe (dedicated to our British fragrance friends)

I’m afraid that under the new UK austerity policy this fragrance will soon be outlawed, as it is simply too buxom and voluptuous a floriental to be tolerated. The neroli-tuberose-jasmine-ylang axis is incredibly sexy, warm and opulent, but the naturals play out their strength here, in that the composition never descends into gaudiness. It’s Liz Taylor before the Seventies. It’s also just the right scent to seduce men, politicians included, so maybe we could reconsider that austerity bit, eh, darlings David & Nick?

Heart: heady floral

Nuance: Oriental

Intrigue: musky.

Tuberose, orange blossoms, jasmine, patchouli, ylang
Vetivert bourbon, frankincense, guaiacwood, labdanum, tonka, oakmoss, vanilla

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Essentially Me - Hi, I'm Amber

In the perfume neighbourhood, Amber is the girl next door who could be so much fun if only she wasn’t so bland, so vanilla, so boooring. And yet she insistently hangs around your house and seems impossible to ignore. Thankfully there are some people who remember it’s about sugar AND spice. Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan is my favorite amber because that girl got' herb. Happily, Essentially Me’s Amber is her own spice girl, too. It’s the mint and thyme in particular that raised my eyebrows and spirits. Plus an amber not totally overdosed on Ambroxan and related drugs is always a genuine relief. The end result is an interesting, masculine-tilted, but entirely unisex potion recommended to all who wish to escape the drudgery of mainstream amberdom.

The notes as given by Essentially Me:

Heart: masculine floral
: balsamic incense
: herbs and spice

Mint, caraway, thyme
Jasmine, lavender, rose, clary sage
Labdanum, frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh, vanilla, patchouli.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

To those still reading - know ye, that I fave found blogging in the traditional style incompatible with a life of overwork, child-rearing, and hassling winter bugs. I guess I'll just settle for for the occasional perfume-historical or cultural essay, though I will try to regularly discuss interesting vintage and lesser-discussed contemporary scents. On that note, a happy new year, live long and prosper and may you always smell good! I'll be posting more "Essentially Me" review this week and we shall see where things move from there.

Sincerely and olfactorily yours
The Duke of Pall Mall