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Eau de Mandarine Ambrée -

A last blast of winter hit Toronto last weekend, April 14 and 15, with a brutal ice storm. It was like living in a horror movie as Mother Nature attacked with incredible winds, ice pellets, snow, and freezing rain for over forty-eight hours. We stayed inside for two days, binge-watching series we’d been promising to see, and eating way too much of the wrong food groups. The ice melted by mid-week but the grey skies, bone-chilling wind, and depression remained.

Until today. Today is blue sky and sun, there’s warmth in the air, it’s really Spring, and I feel happy! What better way to celebrate than to wear a tart, juicy, joyful and beautiful fragrance that smells like sunshine all day long. It’s a 2013 fragrance named Mandarine Ambrée from the Hermès Colognes Collection, created by the Master of Simple but Fascinatingly Complex , Jean-Claude Ellena. 

He says: “I can think of no smell more joyful than mandarin, more mellow than amber.” Intrinsically cheerful mandarin is combined with sparkling passion fruit which is itself revealed by the mellowness of amber….a lively, shimmering, smooth paradise, captured in a colour.” Hermès website

Intensely orange in colour, mandarins are juicy with a sublime tangy tartness, and a fruity sweetness that deepens as you eat the fleshy sections. The sweet citrus scent of their oily rind combines with the flavours of the delicious juice, making mandarins the ultimate orange experience when at their peak of ripeness. This intense sensation of pure natural fruit greets me with the first spritz of Mandarine Ambrée. Mmmm, I love oranges.

Citrus top notes are volatile and soon fade away, but not in Mandarine Ambrée. A dash of passion-fruit adds a metallic-green sweetness, expanding and deepening the juicy orange accord, rather than changing it, or making it disappear. And then as the cologne dries down through the heart, the amber base notes seamlessly expand the orange even further, adding  soft woody and vanilla notes.

In the dry-down, Mandarine Ambrée is a warm and quietly radiant fragrance, but now more elegantly complex than its tropical opening, the orange and amber notes in perfect balance, paired in perfect harmony. The mellowness of the amber with its soft woody resins reflects the exuberance of the orange, making it even more beautiful and joyful.

Mandarine Ambrée is an Hermès scent by Jean-Claude Ellena, which translates into a quality fragrance. This deliciously light and simple scent lasts all day on my skin, which is a formidable achievement for an eau de cologne. From top to bottom a citrus scent, it’s perfectly suited for women and men, a cologne that can be shared.

Mandarine Ambrée is a colour captured in scent, a scent captured in colour. It looks and smells like Spring to me.

Mandarine Ambrée is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.



Photo from Wiki Commons: Square in Florence showing a white high water mark from the 1966 flood

An escape from the cold, dull Toronto spring to the warmth of the Tuscan sun. Driving along the FI-PI-LI on day trips to Siena, Pisa or Livorno, the windows down, singing along to Paolo Conti on the radio.

On this day, it’s Florence - the jewel in the crown for me. The Duomo, the Ufizzi, the Mercato del Porcellino and of course, the perfumes. Walking around Santa Croce, you notice what look like white bricks in the walls of some buildings but they’re really high water marks from the 1966 flood of the Arno, which devastated Florence. Considered the worst flood in Florence since 1557, it took place on November 4th 1966. Long periods of heavy, steady rain, filled the Levane and La Penna dams in Valdarno, the valley of the river Arno, and they began to release more than 2,000 cubic metres of water per second towards Florence.

At 4:00 am on November 4, there were fears the Valdarno dam would burst, so engineers released a mass of water. By the time it reached the outskirts of Florence it was traveling at 60 kilometres per hour. By 9:45 am the Piazza del Duomo was flooded.

As it traveled through the valley, the fast-moving water picked up debris and mud. It was so fast and so powerful, that when it hit Florence, it ruptured central heating oil tanks. The water, mud and oil mixed together causing even more damage. At its highest, the water reached over 22 feet before starting to ebb at 8:00 pm.
By the time the water fully receded, 101 people had lost their lives and millions of masterpieces of art – paintings, frescoes and rare books, were destroyed or damaged by water, mud and oil.

Realizing the cultural impact that of the loss of these valuable treasures would have, not only for Florence and Italy, but for the rest of the world, people began to help. Money for restoration and repair was raised through donations and fundraising, and people just pitched in. Like the group of Germans who repaired the musical instruments of the Bardini Museum. And the “Mud Angels”, young people from all over the world, who flocked to Florence and cleaned the mud, oil and garbage from the city and rescued damaged works of art, and books from flooded rooms. All of these donors, fundraisers and volunteers played a vital role in the restoration work that still goes on to this day.

Which is why I made a pilgrimage to Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella to buy another bottle of ‘Angeli di Firenze’ or ‘Angels of Florence’. It was launched in 2006 to mark the 40th anniversary of the flood and is dedicated to Mud Angels. In fact, 5% of the purchase price goes towards the restoration of artworks, which makes anyone who buys it an angel, I suppose.

Angels of Florence opens with a gentle note of bright bergamot which leads to a bouquet of fresh florals that weave and swirl around each other. I smell jasmine first, but then lilac comes forward, only to fade into a gardenia, ylang-ylang and orange blossom combo. But it’s a note of rose that stands really stands out on me. The floral notes are light and ethereal, punctuated with geranium and violet leaves that give it green infections, which add dimension before it gets fruity from notes of peach, prune and melon, warmed by cinnamon. Vanilla at the base sweetens the fruits and adds a lush creaminess, while sandalwood white musk, and ambergris ground the flowers and fruits and hold them tight to the skin.

Angels of Florence is a fairly linear fragrance, and by that I mean it’s uncomplicated. It has depth and progression but it is a simple, tender beauty that I feel is especially suitable for spring – no matter where you are.

Angels of Florence is listed in our decant store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.



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.

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.

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 other perfumistas buy and try samples from our collections, and share their experiences with us, too, through Comments.


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 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.

Or we post "Nose-to-Nose", our 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 – 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, 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.