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It's winter where I am but, I'm ready for it since I brought my favourite cold weather fragrances to the front of the shelf at the end of autumn. Now, by the middle of winter, I notice that the fragrance I've been wearing most is Psychédélique from Parsian niche house Jovoy Parfumeur Parisien.

Jovoy was started by Blanche Arvoy in 1923. The shop on Rue de la Paix catered to perfume lovers looking for rich, luxurious scents. But times change and tastes change and by the early 1960's the line had disappeared. Enter François Hénin. A genial, amiable man, he revived the line and used it to anchor Jovoy, a multi-brand perfume store at 4 Rue de Castiglione in Paris that he opened in 2006. It wasn't long before this spacious, inviting shop became the Paris destination for perfumistas from all over the world.

I have little resistance to the scent of patchouli any time of year, but the heavy, dark, sweet, earthy, woody scent that comes from that bushy herb from the mint family, really sends me swooning in cold weather.

For some people, patchouli is forever associated with a head shop, hippie vibe they find challenging to wear.  I get it. I really do, but patchouli is a complex ingredient, and in the right hands, a patchouli fragrance defies that tired cliché. Psychédélique is one such fragrance.

Of Psychédélique, the Jovoy website says: 'This 'revival' perfume pays homage to the '70s, the decade that transformed patchouli into the legendary scent of the counterculture. At all the festivals, from Wight to Woodstock, patchouli's woody and mysterious richness sang the backup vocals for the rock mindset of a new generation of rebellious youth. Today, it has made its comeback, more hippie chic than ever and the boho-glam idol par excellence. It is a classic in its own right, with all of its audacity intact. Retro-nostalgia has never been so modern'.

M. Hénin knows about patchouli. In a previous life, he worked exploring and distilling raw ingredients for the perfume trade in places like Vietnam, where patchouli is extensively cultivated. Of Psychédélique he says: "Psychedelic: my great patchouli fragrance, dark and smoky, ambered, generous and opulent…Even the rain and mud of Woodstock won't wash it away."

Psychédélique opens fresh and tart with a note of nose-tingling citrus followed by a punch of ambery labdanum. As it quietens down, the citrus fruits become jammy and sweeter as a potent note of patchouli appears dark and smoky, yes, but also leathery, woody, earthy, spicy, sweet and camphourous it. A quiet OMG leaves my lips. The patchouli quickly moves to the sidelines to allow the nuances of its facets to shine before it blends with the sweet amber, which coaxes up a delicious chocolate facet of the patchouli. At the next stage, the patchouli is lightened and rounded by rose and geranium before settling into a smoky, warm, earthy hum, sweetened by creamy vanilla and softened by musk at the base.

At the drydown Psychédélique becomes more of a skin scent on me - refined, sophisticated, and beautifully seductive with its come-close siren call — a truly wearable patchouli fragrance.

If you are a patchouli lover, I think you'll love Psychédélique, if you're not, well, remember, you're never too cool to try something new.

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

 

It’s snowing and cold, so this is the perfect time to tell you about Ambre Eternel.  This fragrance is a bit of a chameleon. Let me explain.

First of all, it’s from Guerlain, created by House Perfumer Thierry Wasser as the second in the Absolus d’Orient collection, and it is a scent that Guerlain describes as “an ode to noble and precious grey amber.” 

Grey amber refers to ambergris, the vomit excreted by whales which oxidizes in seawater and sunlight over time, taking on a distinct salty-sweet animalic scent that adds depth to perfumes, drawing other notes into rich accords with its fixative properties. Real ambergris is rare and therefore exorbitantly expensive, and it has been replaced in modern perfumes by cheaper synthetic formulas. The House of Guerlain has created perfumes with an amber accord for decades – Shalimar  was introduced in 1925 and grey amber is still listed as one of the ingredients in the current version of this iconic perfume  (read Gwen’s blog). 

When I read the Perfumers Secrets on the Ambre Eternel webpage,  I was thrilled…. “Thierry Wasser meticulously chose different blocks of ambergris on the basis of their iodine, warm or animal scent to create an exceptional blend, known as a communelle, and thereby obtain[ed[ the perfect amber note”…. Ambre Eternel contains real ambergris, and not the golden caramel, vanilla sweet, synthetic amber note that make most luxury or niche amber perfumes just too much for my nose. 

That said, the opening accord is a shock. Guerlain’s category for Ambre Eternel EdP is a Woody Oriental, but what I’m smelling is a delicate bouquet of pale grey iris, tinged with powdery violets, carried in hands gloved in the thinnest softest suede. Not what I expected, and iris is not on the note list. But my nose smells iris, without a doubt. (I even dabbed an Iris (L’Attesa by Masque Milano) and violet frag (Bois de Violette by Serge Lutens) on my wrists to compare – yup, I’m right). The effect is cool and soft, with distinct leather floral facets misted with salty sea spray and a faint powdery Guerlinade sweetness, the famous vanilla/tonka/amber accord. This unusual amber opening accord conjures an image…grey skies with low white clouds, frothy waves breaking on the shoreline, seagulls, seaweed, rocks, and ambergris washed up on the sand…

After an hour or so, a different amber accord unfolds, changing the grey to soft gold, mixing the cool florals with soft spices, coriander and cardamom, and sweetening the mix with delicate caramel fruity notes as it moves toward the heart. Deep in the heart, the leather is transformed into dark leather instead of supple suede, and the powdery floral accord disappears altogether, replaced by a sensuous mix of orange blossom and peachy notes and wood smoke. The sweet animalic warmth of grey amber pulls them into a sensuous accord that smolders quietly, glowing from within.    

After three hours the base reveals a third amber accord, which is definitely worth the wait. Dark leather, dark and dry woods, wood smoke rather than woody resins, and musky-sweet animalic amber fuse together into the most masculine accord of the three. Leathery, woody, smoky this accord feels dry and incensy, open and airy rather than funky. The scent ebbs and flows, sometimes disappearing and then wafting up unexpectedly, smooth as satin, warm and inviting. The waft is perfect, close and personal, and the scent lasted on my skin until the next morning. 

Ambre Eternel is a chameleon, completely non-gendered yet able to adapt to whoever wears it. This fragrance will play amber three different ways on your skin.  Iris and suede with amber is otherworldly, peachy florals and leather with amber is sensuous, and wood smoke and leather and amber is commanding. It is an exceptional interpretation of a very unique perfume note. Following the dry-down through the three accords turned my day into one of pure pleasure, exploring new olfactory paths, discovering the power of real ambergris, grey amber. Ambre Eternel is now officially my favourite amber fragrance. 

Ambre Eternel is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml

Image - Ambre Eternel EdP bottle by perfumeniche.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.