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Champs Elysee, Paris -

I got an email earlier this week from the Netherlands from some new perfume lovers who are just beginning to seriously explore the world of fine perfumes, and they have questions about the Guerlain classics,  Jicky, Vol de Nuit, Mitsouko, L'Heure Bleue,  Shalimar, etc. Which is better, EdT or EdP? What about the extraits, the parfum versions, are they really so much richer than the lower concentrations? And what about recent re-formulations? How do they compare to previous versions? We’re in the middle of a real conversation now, having some fun as I answer their questions and they make choices for their first order. 

A run-through of our Guerlain listings brought me up short. We’re missing the Mitsouko Parfum version, an inexplicable oversight which I’m going to fix right now.…

If you’ve read my post about Mitsouko, you know that this particular Guerlain chypre is my Holy Grail perfume. I was wearing and loving Mitsouko long before my perfume obsession fully developed, and long before Luca Turin ever picked up a pen and wrote The Perfume Guide. The connection to Mitsouko has everything to do with my real life – read about it here.

The Mitsouko I describe in my original post is actually the parfum concentration which was in the little bottle that was given to me years ago by my Paris boyfriend, and which started my devotion to this iconic scent. Mitsouko was then, and still is, a whole different experience than other perfumes. From my post in 2010:

“…Mitsouko is made for skin - in fact, skin should be listed as one of the ingredients. This stupendous fragrance doesn’t reveal itself in a predictable way, but I can tell you that you’ll smell sun-warmed peaches, a whiff of orange blossom, lemon or lime, roses, jasmine, soft ambery vanilla, damp green moss, sea salt, dried herbs, spices, woods, leather, smoky vetiver. Not in sequence, alternating, repeating, maybe together, maybe separately, perhaps strong, maybe just a whiff, almost sweet and then not sweet, filled with light then darker, mysterious, open, playful, satisfying, but always leaving you wanting more..."

My bottle of the parfum is the most recent 2013 formulation, and it is the Mitsouko I remember from years ago. It is full and luscious, warm and plush, nothing overstated or out of balance, with creamy golden peach, cool mossy notes, velvety woods spiced with cinnamon and vanilla, a feast for the senses. Less citrusy and sharp than the EdT, not as fruity as the EdP, Mitsouko Parfum has a darker richer opulent complexity than the lighter versions, a depth that intrigues from the very first sniff. 

Beautifully balanced, elegant, mysterious , and sensual, Mitsouko in any of its fragrant variations is a timeless masterpiece. Eau de toilette, eau de parfum, or parfum, each Mitsouko version has a slightly different focus, but all of them have the same wonderfully long langorous warm drydown that feeds the senses with pure pleasure.

Someone, somewhere, commented that a person doesn’t choose Mitsouko – it chooses you. And if it does, you’re one of the lucky ones. I consider myself very lucky.

Mitsouko Parfum is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $20.00 for 1 ml.


Mitsouko EdT is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Mitsouko EdP is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.



The last time I was in Paris, I had coffee with a perfumer for a mid-sized niche line. We've known each other for a few years and have gotten to know each other quite well. On this day, I asked him what fragrance he wore most often. Without missing a beat, he answered 'Bel Ami from Hermès. You're surprised' he said, 'You were expecting me to say I wore one of my fragrances.' The look on my face had given me away. 'The fact is, I do wear my fragrances, but I've worn Bel Ami since before I started making perfume. It's a sentimental choice for me. Besides, it is a classic men's scent and one of the best leather fragrances ever created, but the truth is, I am one of those people who prefers Jean-Claude Ellena's version better than the original.' He paused for a moment. 'Wait, you don't have coffees with Ellena too, do you?' I assured him that I don't, though if I was ever given the opportunity to have a coffee with M. Ellena, I would not turn him down.

After some more conversation and canelés, we said our goodbyes and parted ways. But for the rest of the day, my mind kept going back to Bel Ami. A quick stop at Hermès for a sniff and a sample, and I understood my friend's fascination with the scent.

When Hermès, the saddler come luxury goods manufacturer, wanted a perfume centred around leather, they turned to Jean-Louis Sieuzac, who created Bel Ami for the brand in 1986. Sieuzac drew inspiration for the fragrance from Guy de Maupassant's novel, Bel Ami, published in 1885. Set in Paris, during the Third Republic, it tells the story of provincial upstart Georges Duroy, who ascends to power by manipulation, opportunism, seduction and politics to become one of the most successful men in Paris. The story is told against the backdrop of lush scenes and characters of belle epoque Paris.

Soon after its release, Bel Ami became the standard for leather-based fragrances. But times change, and in 2014, Bel Ami was reformulated by Hermès house perfumer Ellena to comply with IFRA regulations. I have never smelled the vintage version, but I'm sure glad I listened to my French friend and bought the 2014 version.

Bel Ami opens with a nose-tingling note of citrus that leads to cardamon – sweet, spicy and resinous and warm spicy clove. The cardamon and clove are deep, aromatic and exotic. Could this be a nod to the three years Georges Duroy, spent in military service in Algeria? If it is, sign me up! As the spices settle on my skin, they are lightened by a note of basil that's fresh and herbal and slightly anisic, giving the opening a gentlemanly elegance. Cue the leather - Russian leather that is. That rich leather smell that's synonymous with luxury goods - think leather gloves or handbag or boots. Here it's smoky, potent and virile. Musk adds sensuality and warmth to the leather, making it sensuous and supple, while powdery iris gives Bel Ami sophistication. Patchouli is sweet, rich and woody complements the Russian leather beautifully. At the base, vetiver is deep, warm and woody, while vanilla softens the virility just enough to turn Bel Ami into a very smooth operator.

The drydown is warm, sweet, sophisticated and undeniably masculine.

One has to wonder if Georges Duroy had worn Bel Ami, would he have gotten to the top of the Parisian social ladder faster? Without doubt.

Bel Ami is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml. - Leather tools by Scott Bauer

Welcome to

"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.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed 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.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

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 others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.


We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative 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.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 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 – retail store 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, 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.