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Anyone who’s poked their nose into the perfume world, and done a little experimenting with niche fragrances, has discovered Serge Lutens. For some, the Serge Lutens fragrances are the ones that send them on their journey down the perfume rabbit hole. The very first place we visited on our first perfume pilgrimage to Paris almost a decade ago was the Serge Lutens boutique in the Palais Royale, where we bought four of the bell jars. Two each – Muscs Koublai Khan and Bois de Violette for me, and Iris Silver Mist and Tubereuse Criminelle for Gwen, each regarded as iconic fragrances by perfume critics and enthusiasts. To say that we are huge fans of Lutens is an understatement, since collectively we own thirty-eight of his fragrances, all of which are listed in our Decant Store.

Over the past few years Serge Lutens explored new creative territory, seguing from his dense lush Oriental “Lutensian” style found in Ambre Sultan, Santal Majuscule, Arabie, Cuir Mauresque, Feminite du Bois, for example, into more abstract, focused, simplistic fragrances which were interesting to me more because of their difference from his signature style, rather than because they smelled spectacular. I missed the resins and balsams, the spices and amber and musks, the warmth, the shiver of anticipation I’d get when I’d sniff a Serge Lutens for the first time, knowing that I’m in for some very serious pleasure. That sweet feeling had disappeared with the newer releases……but now it’s back.

Le Participe Passé (Past Participle), his most recent release from Fall 2018, takes us back to his signature Oriental style. He says: “Take time to revisit our past and bring to light a consciousness. When the sap of our history deafens our memory.” Serge Lutens  With the very first sniff, Lutens took me back to the warmth, the radiance, the fiery spices and resinous woods, the dark indulgent sweetness and narcotic opulence found in the very best of his oeuvre.

Egyptian balsam is the core of Le Participe Passé and the waft from the first spritz is fantastic. Like snowy pine needles crushed and rolled between ungloved fingers, the balsam is slowly warmed by body heat so that the resins release their cool green notes . The sensation of warmth gains momentum as more wood resins and spices are added, creating a softly sweet incense accord with burnt sugar and smoky facets.

In the heart, the heat builds and the spiciness intensifies with notes of dried fruits and a faint maple-curry waft of immortelle, creating a delicate layer of caramel sweetness over the balsamic resins. In the base, notes of soft sueded leather and dark bitter patchouli balance the resins and caramel notes, cooling them into a blanket of opulent warmth, slightly sweet and boozy and golden ambery. The long dry down has a dense velvety waft which has me repeatedly lifting my wrist to my nose for another sniff.

This fragrance is deceptive. Since it opens with such a powerful balsamic statement, and is quite dense, it may be perceived by the inexperienced nose as too linear in its development, a one-note samba. But it is filled with contrasts and complexity, moving from cold to warmth, resinous to sweet, dark to ambery. Have patience and wait for the magic to play out on your skin. 

Le Participe Passé is our thirty-ninth Serge Lutens fragrance, and it has rekindled my deep admiration for the creative vision that he and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake have shared with perfume lovers over the past two decades. I'm fired up to rediscover the beauty of the other thirty-eight Serge Lutens fragrances in our Decant Store. Which one will I try first?

Le Participe Passé is listed in or Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.

Image - sergelutens.com

 

It’s that time in the year when we see lists appearing online and in magazines for “Best of” 2018: Top 10 best books, best film, best album, best song. Who or what were the favourites?

We ask ourselves the same question every year. It’s a tough task to create our list of favourites because we only buy and write about fragrances we love, so they are in fact, all favourites. And if a fragrance came out in an earlier year but we only discovered it in 2018, lines get blurred and the judging job gets tougher.

This is a job that requires the application of rigorous standards of assessment. Over the years, we’ve gone to experts outside the fragrance world for guidance, to see how they assess attributes in a category. We’ve studied the NASA guidelines for physical fitness, examined the Nobel Prize Committee’s process of nomination and selection of criteria, and investigated how Forbes Magazine creates the categories to rank the wealthiest people on the planet.

None of these sources proved to give us the special insight we need for judging our fragrances. So, we spray, we sniff, we discuss, we debate and we argue. We cull, we winnow, we sift through all our fragrances. Sometimes it gets heated - once a perfumer’s name was actually taken in vain….mon Dieu!

By the time our choices are pared down to the finalists, olfactory exhaustion has set in, the wine glasses are empty, and we have been known to resort to the time-honoured selection method of "Eeny, meeny, miney, moe". But our “Faves in 2018" Decant Pack choices were easy – they chose us, because they are, in two words, unique and spectacular.

Here, described below for you, dear reader, are our “Faves in 2018" Decant Pack.  Not all these scents were released in 2018, but they’re the ones that in 2018, we wore and loved the most. We’re offering a pack of six decants for $30.00, regular $39.00, plus shipping, so you can try them. You’re gonna love ‘em!!!
 
Pélargonium - Aedes de Venustas
Centered on pelargonium graveolens – a type of geranium that has a crushed-leaf facet with a balsamic aspect that’s almost incense-like. The fragrance is big, not loud, but big spicy, floral, herbaceous, citrusy and woody scent with an elegance that will put it at the top of your favourite fragrance list.

Sweet Morphine – Ex Nihilo

One sniff and I was hooked! It’s the rich smell of lilac – lovely, soft and a little powdery on me – and it just melts into my skin. Iris soon appears adding the woody-floral smell of violets to the lilac. The combination is tender but potent. The flowers are boosted at the base by a patchouli/vetiver woody accord that is sweetened by vanilla so that what had melted into my skin before now radiates from it. I. WANT.MORE.

Dirty Ginger - Heretic Parfums

This is a 100% all natural perfume that’s 100% fabulous! When nose-tingling black pepper and zesty, floral-scented lime and earthy, spicy cumin get jolted by a juicy, fleshy, hot note of fresh ginger, well, there is no denying the excitement. Dirty it may be, but it’s not dark or deep - think sensuous and sophisticated.

Slowdive – Hiram Green

Slowdive is about tobacco blossom and…bees! Beeswax, and pollen, and honey in a hive, not sweet or cloying or syrupy honey, this honey still belongs to the bees! “The heart –  rich and deep, with hints of dried fruit and creamy tuberose – is delicately anchored by a base of honeyed resins that give Slowdive its soft and exotic touch”. It’s the deliciously natural glazed honey and beeswax combination that wins my heart in Slowdive. Smells great on women and men.

Honeysuckle and Davana – Jo Malone

First of all, there’s nothing quite like honeysuckle with its sweet honeyed citrusy scent, swoon-inducing as it dries down. Davana, which is native to India, is rich, sweet, fruity and herbal, slightly woody with a hint of vanilla and a subtle licorice note. Blend those two notes together through the artistry of two brilliant perfumers, Celine Roux and Anne Flipo, and you have Honeysuckle and Davana, a radiant summer fragrance which dries down into a true femme fatale floral. Just gorgeous.

Au Coeur du désert – Tauer Perfumes

Andy Tauer released this parfum extrait version of his iconic L'air du désert marocain in late 2016. With a 20% concentration of perfume oils, the dry aromatic accord of cedar and vetiver in the original is dialed back, smoothed by more musky-salty ambergris, deepened by dark vanilla and velvety patchouli. Au Coeur du Désert has a luxurious silky texture, an intimate golden warmth, woody and ambery, that melts on your skin. Another masterpiece from Andy Tauer for women and men to love and wear forever.

"Faves in 2018" Decant Pack is available in our Decant Store for $30.00, plus shipping.

 Photo - 81st Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, 2009 from Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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.