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Photo courtesy of L'Artisan Parfumeur

I don’t know why, but this summer I seem to have been seeking out perfumes that have a sense of ‘fun’ to them, like Twilly for example. It might be due magnetic fluctuations, the new vitamin supplements I’ve been taking or spending too much time on Instagram, I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that I am loving this space I’m in, especially when it’s scented with Bana Banana by French niche house L’Artisan Parfumeur. It’s just fun to wear and makes me feel happy whenever I do. Notice how I avoided saying I’ve gone bananas for it. That’s just too obvious and easy and beneath me. Ahem.

The inspiration for Bana Banana was really what led to the launch of L’Artisan Parfumeur in 1976. In that year, self-taught perfumer, Jean-François Laporte, who founded the Sisley fragrance line in 1972, was creating a costume for a ball at the legendary Les Folies Bergères, the famous Parisian cabaret. Think over the top costumes, elaborate sets, exuberant design and exciting effects - all of it fueled with expensive champagne – sounds like a ball to me.

One of the most famous entertainers associated with the Les Folies Bergères, was Josephine Baker, the African-American expatriate performer who in 1926, caused quite a stir with her erotic dancing performed in little more than some beads and a skirt made of string hung with artificial bananas. Laporte was also a chemist and plant collector, and it was the banana skirt that inspired him to create a banana-based fragrance as part of his costume for the ball.

He noticed that jasmine flowers in full bloom gave off a scent that reminded him of ripe bananas, so he came up with the idea of macerating banana pieces in a distillation of jasmine flowers. The fragrance didn’t work out, but the experience made Laporte realize his love of working with natural, high-quality ingredients and this led to the creation of L’Artisan Parfumeur. His commitment to creating original fragrances based on scents from nature in an artisanal style, quickly made L’Artisan the go-to house for perfumophiles looking for something new and exciting. It’s also the reason why Laporte is considered the founder of niche perfumery.

Fast forward to 2019, and the launch of Bana Banana, a re-imagining of Laporte’s banana-based fragrance by Céline Ellena that worked out beautifully.

It opens with a note of banana, flanked by warm pepper and spicy nutmeg. The banana is rich, sweet and jammy and smells, well, like a ripe banana. Violet, slightly bitter and powdery, counterbalances the sweetness of the banana. It also coaxes a note of creamy, sweet, carnal jasmine forward. The jasmine overlays the banana but doesn’t smother it. The banana and jasmine work so well together that it seems an obvious pairing, something I take as a nod the Laporte’s inspired idea of putting the two together those many years ago. I smell iris here too, a favourite note of mine. It extends the powdery aspect of the violet, giving the perfume a romantic, sophisticated tone. The banana slowly fades into a gently sweet, warm, sensuous base of Tonka bean, musk and amber.

The drydown is sophisticated and smooth and playful. It’s a gorgeous summer fragrance, although I have a feeling it may turn into an all-season pleasure, that can be worn by men as well as women.

If you think a banana-based fragrance sounds weird, well, you may have to change your thinking. Bana Banana is no novelty fragrance, it’s a L’Artisan fragrance – original, inspired by nature and superbly -made.  It makes me smile every time I catch a whiff of it.

Bana Banana is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for I ml.

 

YES is such a simple word. A response, one syllable, easy to say in just about any language. When used as a permission or a confirmation, the word signals special importance.

I think it’s a great name for a fragrance, especially one from Italian designer Giorgio Armani, the master of classic couture for as long as I can remember. Easy to say, easy to wear, Si Eau de Parfum from 2013 is all about Armani style, simple, chic, elegant. Its olfactory style was created by perfumer Christine Nagel, highly regarded by perfume lovers for her own simple elegant aesthetic, and who is now the in-house Fragrance Director at Hermès Paris.

Si is described on the Armani website as “created for the modern woman who’s strong yet feminine, sophisticated yet charismatic. ..[who] embodies the very essence of chic Italian elegance and style”.Modern, chic, and feminine, voluptuous, intense, and soft,Si is all these things and more. In the nose, it’s fruity, floral, woody, powdery, musky, an oriental/chypre hybrid that starts out deceptively simple and ends with deeply appealing complexity.

I discovered Giorgio Armani Si after reading Luca Turin’s review in The Perfume Guide 2018, in which he rated it as 4 Stars. I probably would never have sampled it otherwise. After testing it a couple of times, I couldn’t resist buying a small bottle to wear this summer, which has been so hot and humid. Si smells wonderful regardless of the Humidex. 

What are the notes? Si opens with a zesty rush of citrus, bergamot and mandarin on top of blackcurrent (cassis) liqueur, very feminine, fresh and sweet, on the verge of girly. It smells luscious, round and curvy, flirty. Ooh la la! But the girly facet subsides as the floral notes develop – bold rose de mai, jasmine and freesia with a touch of indolic funk, narcotic orange blossom – resulting in a sensuous vibrant accord, a whirl of fruit and flowers delicately scented with a gourmand vanilla. Si now smells more confident rather than girly, chic rather than flirty. 

The perfume’s complexity is revealed in the base as the heart accord begins to fade after an hour or so. Aromatic masculine elements such as dry patchouli, blond woody notes, amber and musks perfectly contrast with and balance the feminine accord, building depth and a subtle seductive power. The florals become more airy, the base accord hums, and luminous musks and vanilla notes at the end create a creamy elegance that sits on the skin for hours. 

Cate Blanchett was chosen by Armani as the face of Si for its launch in 2013, a role she continues to this day. The Australian actress is beautiful, elegant, feminine, sexy, and intelligent. Talented and very much her own woman. Confident and chic. She was a perfect choice, I can’t think of a better persona for Si.

Si was a surprise, feminine, soft and powerful, sensuous, elegant, right down to the bottle design with the distinctive sculpted black cap. And I love the marketing hyperbole on the website…

“…created for the modern woman who …says YES to life! Sì to Strength! Sì to Dreams! Sì to Freedom! Sì to Love! Sì to Myself!...” .  Giorgio Armani Si

Oh, those Italians! Charisma, style, elegance, it’s in their DNA. 

 

Si by Giorgio Armani is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for I ml.

Image - armani-beauty.ca/en

 

 

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.

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.

WHAT WE DO

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 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.