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Photo -Wikipedia - Jordan Almonds by Alex Kaspernicius, Feb. 2006

I grew up in the Italian area of downtown Toronto, so most of my childhood friends were Italian. We walked to school together, did homework together and hung out after school together. One of our schoolyard rituals was sharing treats we brought home with each other at recess.

I'd bring molasses kisses or mints, and they'd have pieces of panforte or amaretti cookies. And every once in a while, if I was lucky, someone brought a small muslin pouch of candied almonds to school. These were my favourites. I loved the hard, pastel-coloured sugar coating that cracked between my teeth on the way to the delicious almond.

The first time I had one of these candied almonds, I wanted more. Where did they come from? How could I get them? I asked my mother if she could buy some, but she didn't know what they were or where to get them.

I went straight to the source: my Italian friends. They told me they get them as party favours at weddings and baptisms because they signify the bitterness of life (the almond) covered in the sweetness of love (the sugar).

It turns out this isn't just an Italian custom, but a European one where sugared almonds, called Jordan Almonds, are handed out on holidays, birthdays and feast days. I’m all grown up now, and candies don’t appeal me to me as much as they did when I was a child, but oh, how those sweet memories of sharing treats, laughter and confidences with my friends come whooshing back each time I wear Jour de Fête by Olivia Giacobetti for L'Artisan Parfumeurs.

Jour de Fête translates into English as 'celebration day' and is an olfactory reminiscence of those festive occasions when the sweet smell of candied almonds wafted through the air.

Jour de Fête opens softly with a sweet note of almond. A bitter/honey note from pink laurel creates the impression of bitter almonds, a nod to the symbolic meaning of the nut in the candy. There's orris here too, powdery, violet-tinged and slightly sweet. It adds a lovely cool texture to the fragrance that reminds me of the hard, cool sugar coating on my tongue when I first put the dragée in my mouth. As it blooms, a note of wheat drifts forward. It smells of flour more than hay and balances the sweetness at the opening, setting the stage for a creamy, comforting note of bourbon vanilla that stays all the way down to the drydown where it's anchored by cedarwood, which gives it dryness and depth.

Jour de Fête is built around just three notes - almond, wheat and vanilla – and breaking it down this way, Jour de Fête sounds as though it would smell sweet, cloying and jejune. And it might if it weren't for Giacobetti's deft hand at keeping the sweetness soft and evocative.

What I most enjoy about Giacobetti's work is her genius for creating sheer, delicate, transparent fragrances that are so evocative. Jour de Fête is ethereal, not light, so it sometimes feels as though it has disappeared, but it's still there, a tender reminder of sweet memories and a harbinger of celebrations to come.

Jour de Fête is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.




Photo: perfumeniche

Perfumes have always been in my life, but when I discovered niche scents in the early 2000s, everything changed, and perfumes became a part of my life. Now, I not only wear perfumes, but I also collect them and write about them.

One of the first niche fragrances I discovered was Black from Bulgari, the Italian luxury brand known for its fine jewellery, fragrances, and leather goods. In 1998, Bulgari hired brilliant Annick Ménardo to create a fragrance designed for the urban man, which is to say, a man’s fragrance that smells of the city as opposed to the country, the sea or a barbershop. Ménardo delivered and created a masterpiece that has become a classic of modern perfumery.

Ménardo constructed Black without top notes or dry down, which some people interpret as linear. I am not among them.

On me, Black opens with a hint of fresh bergamot and the smell of rubber. To my mind, it’s not the smell of a hockey puck or a rubber suit – it’s the smell of new car tires. I can’t think of a better note that defines the sophisticated man about town than this one. The rubber smell comes from Lapsang Souchong tea, which gives Black a soft, seductive, smokiness. This smokiness is steeped through the entire fragrance. Jasmine links to the tea. Here it’s green and gently floral, its opulence holds the rubber smell in check so that it never becomes harsh or overbearing. Woody notes - cedarwood and sandalwood - usher in a note of sensuous, supple leather. I smell musk, which heightens the animalic aspect of the leather just as sweet, creamy vanilla shows up. To me, the vanilla ties it all together by adding something familiar and comforting to offset the smell of rubber. Amber keeps the sweetness going while resins extend the smokiness for hours.

When Black first came out, reviews described it as unconventional, avant-garde, edgy, and Goth with a fetishistic/rubber smell. A lot has changed since 1998. Nowadays, the smell of rubber in fragrances is not uncommon - think Eau du Fier from Annick Goutal or Tom of Finland from Etat Libre d'Orange. And while Black was designed as a fragrance for men, it’s now considered unisex.

Our perceptions of Black may have changed, but the fragrance remains the same: a rather delicate fragrance with no edginess, sharpness or harshness. It is still one of the most elegant, exquisite fragrances ever made and every time I wear it, I fall deeper in love with its timeless beauty.

Black is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 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.

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.


We blog

We write 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.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants. That's .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, 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.