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Wikipedia - Five gems of antiquity, Rob Lavinsky, April 2010

We’ve been at this perfume thing a long time now, sniffed a ridiculous number of fragrances, bought and written about hundreds of them, and yet our passion for this art form continues to grow. Our hearts still beat a little faster when we sniff a new scent and realize that it has “it”, that powerful thing that triggers memories and emotions, different for each of us, but which leads into the experience of pure beauty. The perfumer’s art is invisible and miraculous.

For me then, making decant samples is unadulterated pleasure. I look forward to filling orders because every order is different, a surprise, like a box of chocolates.  Classics, best-sellers, new, vintage, mainstream, ultra-niche, award winners, or hidden gems….“Oh, wow, look! they’ve chosen THAT one”. To me, they’re all beautiful which is why I own them, and so I get to experience these fantastic scents again and again, as I fill up the little glass vials, cap them with the stoppers, and stick on the labels.

I get really excited when I see a reader has ordered a fragrance that I think is truly unique but which has never received the widespread focus or praise it deserves. In perfume terms, this is a “forgotten gem”, a “hidden gem”, a scent that was ahead of its time and has survived under the radar. I’m not alone in identifying these special fragrances. Blogs such as ours, and perfume writers and critics have talked about many of these forgotten fragrances, explained their importance in the fragrance continuum, and eloquently described their surprising quality and enduring aesthetic appeal.

Here are a few to explore:

Amaranthine – Penhaligon’s – unwilting beauty

Costes  - Costes – the scent of elegance in Paris

Dirty English – Juicy Couture – Anglomania at its best

Jungle L’Elephant – Kenzo -  perfume gold

Kingdom – Alexander McQueen – an olfactory masterpiece

Madness – Chopard – hidden gem from 2001

Minotaure – Paloma Picasso – David Bowie and thinking of heroes

Miss Me   - Stella Cadente – a shooting star

L’Original  – Andrée Putnum – rediscovered and re-launched in 2015

Silk – Andrea Maack – wearable art

Some of these under-the-radar fragrances are available for not much money from online discounters, so if you want to experience niche or niche-type fragrances try a decant sample from us first, and then order a bottle online knowing you’re going to receive a true gem.  Go ahead - you know you want to....

 

 

Baccarat Rouge crystal vases - luxuo.com

The folks at Baccarat sure know how to party with style. When the luxury crystalworks brand had its 250 year anniversary in 2014, they had a yearlong celebration that began with the publication of Baccarat’s history in January, followed by a party in Milan for the glitterati in April and a retrospective exhibition at the Petit Palais in Paris. Then, in Tokyo, there was the unveiling of the largest chandelier ever made, designed by Japanese artist Yasumichi Morita. There was the creation of Parure Louxor, a five-edition set consisting of a necklace, drop earrings, and a ring created by jewelry designer Elie Top. The brand also launched Baccarat Rouge 540 EdP by Parisian perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Only 250 numbered bottles of the juice were produced and presented in a limited edition Baccarat crystal bottle. Yep, they partied like it as 1999.

And none of this stuff was cheap. The jewelry costs € 25,800, the chandelier doesn’t have a price (if you gotta ask, then you can’t afford it…) and the limited edition bottles of Baccarat Rouge 540 sell for £2,510.00 (I quote the UK website because they offer free shipping. I’m here to help.)

Thankfully, in 2016, Kurkdjian was given the right to sell Baccarat Rouge 540 through his brand, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, in an MFK-style bottle.

I say ‘thankfully’ because I think this one of the best fragrances created M. Kurkdjian. But before we get to that, it helps to know more about the history of Baccarat and the inspiration for Baccarat Rouge 540.

Wikipedia says that “In 1764 King Louis XV of France gave permission to found a glassworks in the town of Baccarat in the Lorraine region in eastern France to Prince Bishop Cardinal Louis-Joseph de Laval-Montmorency (1710-1802). Production consisted of window panes, mirrors and stemware until 1816 when the first crystal oven went into operation. By that time over 3000 workers were employed at the site.”

It received its first royal commission in 1823, which resulted in other commissions for royalty and heads of state around the world. Soon Baccarat earned a reputation for quality and excellence and expanded its crystal production to chandeliers, barware and perfume bottles.

The defeat of Napoléon III in 1867 allowed Baccarat to get established in the Asian market, especially in Japan. Still, one of the strongest areas of growth was in perfume bottles. Production grew from 150 bottles a day in 1897 to 4,000 a day in 1907. Soon they were creating bottles for houses like Caron, Dior, Patou and Elsa Schiaparelli.

In 1993, Baccarat began making jewelry and in 1997 they expanded into perfume.

OK, so that explains the chandelier in Tokyo, the Parure Louxor and the limited edition bottles for the fragrance but what about the inspiration? Well, it’s in the name.

In 1839, Baccarat developed the first colour pieces in various shades of red, blue, yellow, green and black. It was the red colour, produced by heating 24-carat gold powder with clear crystal gradually to a temperature of 540 C that became the iconic Baccarat rouge. Baccarat Rouge 540 is Kurkdjian’s interpretation of the process. In an interview he said, “The perfume suggests the heat of the furnace, the breath of the glass maker and the transparency of crystal through the association of ingredients that, in my mind, represent those ideas.”

Baccarat Rouge 540 opens with a sparkling note of blood orange. The ruby red colour echoes the name, but it smells citrusy-bitter, yet sweet and juicy and with its raspberry facets. Lurking just behind it, I smell the salty-sea sweetness of ambergris and the woodiness of cedarwood. On me, these stay present throughout the development of the fragrance, at times in the background at times called forward by facets of the other ingredients. In time, a note of jasmine, sweet and indolic blooms, its airiness warmed by saffron. The fact that saffron is one the world’s most expensive spices by weight, is a nod to the luxuriousness of the Baccarat brand. A note of aromatic, herbaceous sage appears, its peppery aspect keeps the warmth humming. It’s paired with lavender, its medicinal aspect on show here. Oak moss, turpentine-like, earthy and woody gives Baccarat Rouge 540 a rich, foresty, sensuous depth.

For me, what makes Baccarat Rouge 540 a perfect scent is the way the notes play on the skin, as though through a crystal lens, changing, re-arranging, re-combining different aspects of each note. For this to be successful the ingredients have to always re-combine in a pleasing way.  This is the genius of Francis Kurkdjian: choosing and manipulating ingredients to not just represent the heat of the furnace, the breath of the glass blowers and the transparency of the crystal, but to result in a fragrance that is complex, luminous and a joy to wear.

Daniela Riccardi, Baccarat’s chief executive, said in an interview that “Baccarat is an investment that gives you pleasure forever.” Baccarat Rouge 540 EdP certainly is, I have no doubt about that. I’m just glad I don’t have to invest £2,510.00 in a bottle (even with free shipping….)

Baccarat Rouge 540 is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.
 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

 

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."
                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.
 
What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

Over the past few years, we’ve tried hundreds of samples, and when we deem a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let other perfumistas buy and try samples from our collections, and share their experiences with us, too, through Comments.
 
WHAT WE DO
 
We blog
On weekends we post an story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent experts, so these aren't critical reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.
 
Mid-week, either our friend Esther posts "Sniffing Around",  which is all about news in the perfume world - what's new and wonderful, upcoming launches, what's on sale where, etc. Or we post "Nose-to-Nose", our conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention over the past week. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to buy our selection of 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.
 
We sell
We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.
 
Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 
When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.
 
Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

 
If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retailer or online source.

We provide
A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
 
We hope you enjoy perfumeniche.com, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.