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Iris pallida flower - Wikimedia Commons - Pamwik, April 20, 2015

Where I live, it has been a long, harsh winter as it happens. I don’t usually mind winter. In fact, I’m one of the few people who likes it. I like the serenity of it, the coziness of being indoors and the way snow softens the hard concrete and brick edges of the cityscape. But, as the days lengthen by seconds and the temperature inches up each day, I begin to feel spring just at the far edge of winter. I like the slow- waning part of winter too, especially when I wear Angélique from London-based Papillon Artisan Perfumes – the niche fragrance house founded by perfumer Liz Moores.

Ms. Moores was a massage therapist who began mixing essential oils for her clients before turning her hand to creating fragrances. A few successes, a few failures, a lot of hard work, study and courses at the Fragrance Foundation in London, is the short story behind the founding of Papillon Artisan Perfumes in 2011.

The house launched three inaugural fragrances in 2014: Anubis, Tobacco Rose and Angélique. As people began to discover the line, chatter began to build, the line got more attention and praise and kudos for Ms. Moores creations followed. Kay and I are huge fans of her work, but Angélique might just be my favourite (well, until I wear one of the others and switch camps AGAIN).

Of the creation of Angélique, Ms. Moores says, "Inspiration for my perfumes comes to me in many ways, but none more so than from the nature in my own garden. Angelique began as an olfactory portrait of the Iris Pallida; days spent breathing in the delicate scent of the flowers and the honeyed aroma of pollen emerged as nature's own sketch of what Angelique would become. Angelique became a perfume based on my personal impression of the beautiful Iris Pallida, a flower that is as captivating and angelic as nature herself."

It has one of the most gorgeous floral openings of any fragrance I have ever smelled: iris is in the centre of a swirl of delicate osmanthus, warm white champaca and tender mimosa. The osmanthus, with it apricot/leather aspects, the white champaca, with its tea-like nuances, and the gentle green, honey and almond overtones of the mimosa, combine with the woody, earthy iris to make a heady floral spring bouquet that has a gentle sweetness and a little nip of green. Orris, thick and creamy, keep the iris front and centre with its powdery, violet aspects. Virginian cedarwood and a note of frankincense (quite restrained and light) give it a woody texture and a lovely depth that never overwhelms the iris, and seems to prevent it from dissolving into a powdery scent.

The drydown is tender and gentle and really clings to skin but that Eau de Parfum concentration keeps it around a long while. For me, balancing the ethereal nature of the fragrance with depth is a real coup and makes Angélique one of the best iris fragrances on the market.

Angélique is one of those fragrances that is so much more than the notes it has and in many ways breaking it down does it a disservice. And, anyway, I find it morphs on my skin in different ways, in different temperatures. Sometimes it's a little spicy or boozy or vanilla-like and sometimes not – just like the smells that come from a garden - so that the note-for-note description doesn’t really work. But, each time I wear it and experience something new in it, I fall in love with it even more.

Which, on this Valentine’s Day, brings to mind this quote from Albert Einstein: “You can’t blame gravity for falling in love.”

No, sir, Mr. Einstein, you can't blame gravity for falling in love. Here at the niche, we blame perfume for that.

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

Kiehl's Original Musk blend No.1 - kiehl'

The musk note is sometimes overlooked, but we love it. We own several great musk fragrances, such as:

Muscs Koublaï Khän by Serge Lutens, the Holy Grail “beautiful skank” musk for musk note lovers, perfume lovers, and lovers in general.

Musc Nomade by Annick Goutal, the elusive, quirky, now-I smell-it, now-I-don’t airy musk for sensualists

Musc Tonkin by Parfums d’Empire, the intoxicating buttery leather musk for hedonists

Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle, the opulent spiced woods musk for seducers

And now one more…

Kiehl’s Original Musk, Blend No. 1. - this is a musk for everybody.

Kiehl’s Apothecary in New York City has been in business since 1851, and according to their website, introduced their Musk Oil in the 1920’s. It was shockingly called Love Oil at the time, and was re-introduced in 1963, renamed as Original Musk Oil. I wore it and loved it in the 1970’s, in fact,  everybody loved the subtle clean musky scent that smelled like salty sweaty sexy skin, and Kiehl’s Musk became THE unisex scent of that era. The EdT, a lighter version of the oil version, was launched in 2004 as Kiehl’s Original Musk Blend No. 1 and is sold at every Kiehl’s counter for an extremely reasonable price.

You might be wondering what’’s so special about the musk note.

Well, musk is very powerful stuff!  The use of real musk from any kind of deer has been prohibited worldwide since 1979, but synthetic musk is universally used in perfumes, and in just about every scented product you can think of. Soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, cleaners, air fresheners, candles contain musk because the synthetic versions are cheap, and we humans seem to like they way they smell.

Commercial musks range in smell from clean, light, and slightly sweet, like clean linen, to dark and funky like real animalic musk, which smells rank, sweaty, hairy, with a fatty sweetness. On its own, animalic musk comes close to smelling like feces, but when mixed with other notes, it becomes the butter in the sauce, the cream in the coffee, the element which transforms all the parts into a magical gorgeous olfactory whole. 

Kiehl’s Original Musk Blend No. 1 is expertly blended. It develops quickly and then settles into elegant muskiness which lasts for hours. The first spritz is thick with aldehydes, cosmetic and soapy, but don’t be discouraged because the Dove Soap vibe soon fades, slowly replaced by an earthy and powdery but very delicate sweetness, citrus and white florals surrounding a pure rosy heart.

In the dry-down, the base notes emerge as a caramel-infused accord of white patchouli, amber, tonka and vanilla, rich and dark. Like thick cream, the musk blends seamlessly with the base so that Original Musk transforms into what I can describe as a lighter softer quieter cleaner Muscs Koublai Khan. Just a bit skanky, just a little bit dirty.

Everyone should own a bottle of Kiehl’s Original Musk. It’s one of those fragrances that you reach for when you can’t make up your mind, and at the end of the day you’ll be happy you chose it. It makes you feel good. It’s not too sweet or floral, or too soapy or clean, or too strong or strange. It’s a musk for everyone that wears close to the skin like a good musk should, subtle, silky, and quietly sexy.

Kiehl’s Original Musk is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00 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.

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 an 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 over the past week. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to buy our selection of 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.