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Sometimes, I lose my way. I get lost in the labyrinth of new niche lines and fragrances. I get too distracted by the allure of the mysterious and the unknown. That’s not a bad thing. On the contrary, it is good to explore new territory and make new discoveries. But I easily fall down rabbit holes that can leave me feeling confused and confined. When I start to feel this way, I have to reset, recalibrate and refresh and I seek the comfort of the familiar. My latest episode led me back the temple of beauty, literally, Aedes de Venustas, and their gorgeous Pélargonium EdP.

Pélargonium is centered on pelargonium graveolens – a type of geranium. Oh, this business with the geraniums again! It can be confusing. Luckily, Wikipedia is a great resource:
“The shape of the flowers offers one way of distinguishing between the two genera Geranium and Pelargonium. Geranium flowers have five very similar petals, and are thus radially symmetrical (actinomorphic), whereas Pelargonium (and also Erodium) flowers have two upper petals which are different from the three lower petals, so the flowers have a single plane of symmetry (zygomorphic).”
Well, maybe not. Simply put, pelargonium graveolens are not the geraniums that you see in window boxes. Instead, ‘graveolens’ refers to the strong-smelling leaves, which are rose-scented, giving pelargonium graveolens the nickname “rose geranium”.

The inspiration for this EdP was the still life paintings of Dutch Golden Age of the 16th and 17th centuries. In fact, the English term ‘still life’ is derived from the Dutch word ‘stilleven’. The Dutch were obsessed with horticulture during this time and their floral compositions led to a mania for this type of still life.

Pélargonium opens with bergamot, sweetened with juicy mandarin, spiced up with black pepper that’s heightened with a snap of Sichuan pepper. Clary sage and green cardamom buttress the herbaceous scent of the geranium leaves. The green cardamom is also sweet and resinous, leads to the star attraction: pelargonium graveolens (A/K/A Egyptian geranium). I do smell its rosy aspect but there is so much more to this fragrance. Nose Nathalie Feisthauer describes pelargonium graveolens on the Aedes de Venustas website as “aromatic, with a crushed-leaf facet, less fruity and more balsamic than rose, almost incense-like” and she deftly displays these facets in a way that makes this EdP a real heart-tugger. The spices at the top warm the pelargonium while orris adds its distinctive violet-like odor that strengthens the rosiness, giving the fragrance a real floral presence.  But orris is also woody, warm and sweet, qualities it shares with carrot seed. They bring an irresistible earthiness to the juice. Balsamic, citrusy elemi resin emphasizes the balsamic aspect of the pelargonium. The base is woody from Cedarwood and Guaiac wood, which also gives the base a gorgeous smokiness. Moss, green and earthy, is softened with musk.

The drydown is elegant, refined but make no mistake, this is a big, not loud, but big spicy, floral, herbaceous, citrusy and woody scent. It’s an exciting fragrance that is perfectly unisex.

One advantage of the still-life art form is that it gives the artist license to experiment with the way elements in a composition of a painting are arranged. Nathalie Feisthauer has done this with Pélargonium and I appreciate this art form as much as I would a painting by an Old Dutch Master.

A spritz of a beautiful fragrance from one of my favourite perfume houses and I am righted again.

Pélargonium is listed in our Decant store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.
 

Image - Ambrosius Bosschaert 1573-1621. Bouquet in an Arched Window, Maurithuis, The Hague, Netherlands - Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Until about a year ago, I regularly bought several magazines but now I buy only one, which is Vanity Fair. It has a new editor, a young woman by the name of Radhika Jones, so it has a brand new streamlined look and pace, which took some getting used to for a long-time VF devotee like myself, but now I’m hooked.

The beginning of every month finds me scanning newsstands for the new VF issue with its spanking new spread of great contemporary stuff…culture, politics, art, history, science, biographies, opinions, fashion, scandals and gossip. Every issue is a journalistic smorgasbord of articles which are always well-written, and always contain food for thought. Plus sometimes a little bit more…

Sometimes, a new VF issue includes scent strips for new perfume launches, which I never ever pass over, rubbing them immediately on my wrists. This month’s issue included Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum Intense, a deeper darker sweeter version of Chanel’s best-seller Coco Mademoiselle, and also Honeysuckle and Davana, a brand new floral from Jo Malone, and this is the one that instantly stole my heart.

First of all, there’s nothing quite like honeysuckle. I know  honeysuckle first-hand because there’s a fence on the corner near our house which is covered with the vine in mid-summer, and its distinctive scent is always in the morning air. Its white blooms with yellow centers have a sweet honeyed citrusy scent, delicate and fresh, which intensifies as the day passes, becoming swoon-inducing when the sun sets and the blooms are in shadows, indescribably intoxicating and luscious. Close to orange blossom, sort of like jasmine or tuberose, but different. Younger and softer.

Davana, on the other hand, is unknown to me. A little research tells me that davana is a green plant native to India, its essential oil is rich, sweet, fruity and herbal, slightly woody with a hint of vanilla and a subtle licorice note. It’s a chameleon in fragrances, taking on the qualities of other notes but lifting and enhancing them at the same time, and it’s also known to change according to different skin chemistries.

The opening accord of davana and rose and neroli in Honeysuckle and Davana on my skin is divine. Green and earthy, slightly fruity and fresh citrus-sweet, this vibrant accord soon softens with notes of hay, and quickly leads into the honeysuckle heart which is bright and youthful and radiant, sweet and bursting with intensity. Images of bees and hummingbirds appear in my mind, buzzing and whirring as they feast on the honeyed nectar from the centre of each white bloom.

As Honeysuckle and Davana dries down the honeysuckle note shifts dramatically into its evening persona.  The addition of the traditional chypre notes of oak moss, patchouli and sandalwood transform the honeyed heart into a deeply rich floral fragrance with a warm subtle waft which lasts for hours. Sultry with hints of leather from the distinctive sueded apricot of the osmanthus note, luscious with the creamy aromatic waft from sandalwood, darkly inviting from the earthy patchouli and oakmoss, Honeysuckle and Davana dries down from happy youthful radiance into a true femme fatale floral.

Honeysuckle and Davana was created by Celine Roux, Creative Director at Jo Malone, along with Master Perfumer Anne Flipo creator of countless best-selling contemporary fragrances, many for L’Artisan Parfumeur. Faced with the fact that the scent of the honeysuckle flower actually does chemically change throughout the day and is therefore almost impossible to render as an essential oil, they opted to use headspace technology, a technique which captures and analyzes the olfactive compounds emitted into the air by both the daytime and nighttime scents of the actual blooms, which they then tried to replicate.

The fact that Roux and Flipo have truly captured both the daytime and nighttime version of honeysuckle in a single fragrance, and that it unfolds and evolves on skin in the same sequence as the aroma of the living flower on the vine, is almost unbelievable. But that’s what they’ve achieved. Honeysuckle and Davana is exactly as described, in the best possible way. This is the new gem in the long line of Jo Malone colognes. 

Scent strips in magazines? Try them. You never know when you’ll discover a gem.

Honeysuckle and Davana is listed in our Decant store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Images - jomalone.com

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.