Iris Poudre

Iris Poudre really is one of my dream perfumes. It is from Frederic Malle and was created by the esteemed nose, Pierre Bourdon, who was Edmond Roudnitska's only student. Bourdon was a runner, (he and Roudnitska would run together once a week), he had already studied political science before following his path to greatness as a nose and he is universally admired in the perfume world for his innovation and the quality if his work. By the way he also created Femnite du Bois with Christopher Sheldrake, a perfume of iconic status amongst perfumistas.

So, Iris Poudre.... it is a holy grail perfume for me; absolutely and with no hesitation. I am fortunate enough to now own a bottle thanks to a generous friend. It's gentle and beautiful, classic and elegant, it has a timeless quality and a dreamy tone. The listed notes are bergamot, rosewood, ylang ylang, carnation, magnolia, jasmine, lily of the valley, violet, rose, aldehydes, iris, musk, amber, vanilla, sandalwood, and ebony. The fragrance opens gently sweet and floral, lightly powdered and it opens up exquisitely. This fragrance is everything I aspire to be and the emotion it evokes in me is pure love.

As Iris Poudre wears in it becomes ever more alluring on my skin, ( I cannot resist repeated sniffs of my wrist throughout the day) yet never does it lose it's elegance. It is like a beautifully poised ballerina. I want to hold my breath and let the moment last for ever.

Try it if you get the chance and tell me if you love it. 

Sugar withdrawel blues and perfume comforters

No perfume yet today as I have been running, cleaning the car and cooking. Can't wait to shower, choose something feminine and possibly sweetish as I recently gave up sugar! So hard to do that by the way, especially as I relied on it emotionally. Thank goodness I still have perfume to make me feel good and Cinema by YSL might fit the bill. Gorgeous sunny day here in Provence.

The Genie in a bottle

The Genie in a bottle

Years ago, many years ago in fact, I fell in love with a fragrance. I never knew the name and I still don't. It was worn by a friend of my mothers and has remained in my mind all these years. I was too shy to ask her the name! I have longed to find the fragrance and thought about it almost obsessively. Such is the power of scent and the memories that swirl around when we think about it.

Last week I rummaged through my bowl of samples and decided upon Rose Anonyme by Atelier Cologne. Not only was it a beauty.... this took me right back to my childhood. It is almost a perfect match for the fragrance I have been longing to smell again. In fact it was created in 2012 so it cannot possibly be The One but still, I appreciate it hugely. According to Fragantica the notes are:- Calabrian bergamot, ginger, turkish rose, Somalian opoponax, agarwood (oud), indonesian patchouli leaf, papyrus and benzoin.

This is an unusual yet wearable perfume, the rose note is subtle but radiant and fresh and has a "wet" feel to it, the ginger note lends lightness and lift. Wood and light clean patchouli are definitely there and the opoponax gives a certain darkness and sweetness, in that oriental way. I find Rose Anonyme to be perfectly balanced and delightful. I literally drenched myself in it and wore it three days in a row; a rare occurrence! What a trip down memory lane. The sillage is medium and the longevity very good. The emotion evoked is pure nostalgia. Comforting and feminine in a self assured way. Ultimately it is not "me" since it's completely interwoven in my mind with another person. So I guess I won't be buying a bottle (120 euros for 100ml) however I will certainly need another sample so that I can conjure her up like a genie from the bottle and I may splurge and purchase the soap (20 euros for 200g). That would be wonderful.

The Atelier Cologne line is carried by Secrets de Parfums at 23 rue Papassaudi Aix, they have a facebook page too. I am a fan of Atelier Cologne, Mistral Patchouli for example is amazing and I intend to explore more fully.

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Frangipani heaven

In love with my newest perfume. A frangipani oil from Bali. It's girly yet green, floral yet elegant. I am transported on a beautiful trip to a place where things are simple, beautiful and pleasure filled. A perfume can do that to me. Lucky me. I have to say that this one also brings me comfort as it reminds me of my Mum for some reason; it has a clear pureness about it that exudes serenity and joy. Perhaps that's why. It puts me in mind of her wearing l'Air du Temps which is more about carnations... so I am sorry if that makes no sense. Very grateful to the dear friend who bought me this precious oil. I will treasure it and wear it often. I might just have to visit Bali to buy some more. This is one happy, feel-good smell.

Tricky to find... but I still want to try it

There is a new flanker out that I am itching to smell. It's exclusive to Harrods unfortunately which means I will have to wait a while. What is this rare liquid? Aqua di Parma's Colonia Sandalo. In my mind it has the appeal of a refreshing cologne with the creaminess and elegance of sandalwood. How soothing that might be. Meanwhile I will content myself with sandalwood soap.

There is a lovely review of Mysore Sandalwood soap on the Bois de Jasmin blog here:-

Have a lovely day, keep cool and beautifully scented. Do try the Colonia Ambra, from the same line, it is such a special, authentic and refreshing amber for summer.

Ravel Event Aubagne 17th and 18th June

Come along and discover some beautiful fragrances from Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger, Evody and Papillon Perfumery. It is going to be beautiful and in such a stunning setting. The cherry on the cake for me is that I love pottery and Ravel is one of the best.

grape blossom.jpg

The magical fresh scent of grape blossom just took my breath away. Taking a late afternoon stroll with the puppy through the vines it took me a moment to register where the divine floral fragrance was coming from - there are so many wonderfully scented flowers in bloom right now, not least honeysuckle and linden. Grape blossom is different though, to my nose it has a watery facet, like watermelon or even cucumber, along with the floral facet, it is lightly green also. I could have stood among the vines for hours breathing that smell in. Delicate and balanced. The image of the blossom depicts the smell perfectly. If you get the chance do go and walk through the vines, you won't be sorry.

I recall that Caudalie have a grape blossom scent, it is light and lovely, one of my sisters was partial to it. Not great staying power but very reasonably priced. Would be lovely sprayed in your hair. It is called Eau Fraiche Fleur de Vigne (Eau Fraiche denotes that it is less concentrated that cologne). There is also a shower gel with the same fragrance that I have treated myself to in the past. You can purchase online or in almost any French pharmacy. Mother Nature surpasses the Caudalie but it's a very pretty and enjoyable fragrance. Worth a try if you like fresh, floral, girly smells.

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Lily of the valley


On the first of May in 1561, France’s King Charles IX was given  a muguet, or lily of the valley in English, as a lucky charm and liked it so much that he decided to offer them each year to the ladies of the court.

there are some beautiful lily of the valley fragrances, Diorissimo is perhaps the best known and is much admired on perfume blogs for its beauty (yes, I too agree it  is beautiful). Diorissimo isn't "me" though somehow, it doesn't move me. The other day I tested the new  Hermessence, Muguet Porcelaine, so named because the little bell flowers are as fragile as porcelain. The Hermes website describes this as a "fragrance with a heavenly, joyful register." That's exactly the note that it struck with a client of mine. We tested this together and I asked how it made her feel. "Happy" she said. My sentiment precisely. After the fresh bright floral lily of the valley, Muguet Porcelaine becomes spicy. In an airy fashion, nothing dense or chewy. The feel of this fragrance is cool and fresh yet bursting with promise and life. As with all the Hermessences this is an airy, minimalist fragrance, very refined and elegant and in the Jean Claude Ellena style. I need a sample certainly and perhaps a small bottle for spring.

Perfume and Make up at English Bubble - Saturday 30th April

I am excited about this event where I will be doing mini perfume sessions and make-up, the theme of the latter is "evening eyes". For a very small sum I will perfume you and do a beautiful eye make up look.

I will also be selling a divine new product for your feet, wild crafted foot soak with herbs and essential oils. For a luxurious and relaxing treat that is also beautifully fragranced of course.

Pop in anytime from 4pm until 8pm,  there are lots of other things on offer, see the link below:-

Where to go? 453 Avenue Jean-Paul Coste, 13100,  Aix-en-Provence

Look forward to seeing you there.

Jean Claude Ellena and "Carte Blanche" fascinated from start to finish

Two weeks ago I attended an incredible conference at the Hotel de Caumont; it is an arts center in Aix en Provence and is a beautiful, cultural venue. The title was L'Art du Parfum, Carte Blanche - (the art of perfume, complete freedom) and was given by highly esteemed perfumer and house nose for Hermes, Jean Claude Ellena. He also happens to be my number one favourite and creator of my treasured and beloved Vetiver Tonka.

Jean Claude Ellena is an accomplished speaker and story teller, be it via perfume or with words and there lies his genius. I was carried away for nearly two hours into his magical and privileged world. He is rightly proud of his "carte blanche" - Hermes are one of the few houses who allow their nose complete creative freedom and do no market testing whatsoever. A marketing man in the audience was dumbfounded to hear this which was fun to hear. Despite this and the great commercial success stories Jean Claude Ellena has brought to Hermes, he remains full of integrity and humility. He explained to us that he would never take on a bespoke perfume for an individual, no matter what the price tag. He finds the idea narcissistic and artistically it does not interest him.

When working on a new fragrance the creative process can be fast or slow. For example the first Jardin, Un Jardin en Mediterranee was completed in three days and a recent Hermessence, Cuir d'Ange took him ten years. The average time taken is perhaps nine months (Terre d'Hermes for instance). Jean Claude Ellena can create a fragrance in his mind as he knows the molecules by heart, this is a skill that takes about twenty years to perfect. Maybe longer, perfume is in Jean Claude Ellena's DNA, his father was a perfumer and he grew up in the perfume industry.

We watched a little film about the inspiration for Le Jardin de Monsieur Li, you can watch part of it here:-

We also had the opportunity to ask questions and I was there with my hand up like an over-eager Hermione Granger.... my question; since Jean Claude Ellena doesn't wear perfume which perfume does his wife wear? The answer; she is wearing the Hermessence he is currently working on. As she was in the audience I cheekily approached Mme Ellena and asked if I could have an avant première sniff of the new Hermessence; she graciously and obligingly offered me her neck to smell. Sadly it had worn off, what a disappointment but I guess I will just have to smell it as soon as it is released.

I bought a copy of Jean Claude Ellena's Journal d'un Parfumeur (Diary of a Perfumer). He wrote a beautiful dedication to me:-

 "For Rebecca and her passion for perfumes. Thank you! Jean Claude Ellena 3/2016"



I didn't know a great deal really about essential oils but I learnt a lot at a conference about them last week. It was held at Les Deux Garcons in Aix, organised by the Rotary Club and the ticket sales went towards buying a new wheelchair for a young woman, as our speaker, Aude Le Bas, gave her time. Aude is a naturopath with Swiss roots and she is a gifted speaker well used to conveying her knowledge to others. So here are some surprising facts I learned:-

- Essential oils are not oils (they have no lipids in their makeup) they are so called because they do not mix with water but float on top.

- Although by law the expiry date on the bottle must be three years from the date of manufacture, essential oils can safely be used for ten years from the date they were extracted. Do check your eo has a lot number on it as this gives traceability.

- Almond oil, often used as a carrier oil, is going to get rarer and consequently more expensive; this is linked to bee problems which is so sad. Macadamia nut oil was mentioned which pleased me as I use it at home already. Our speaker also mentioned apricot oil.

- Doctors, nurses, midwives and other health professionals are becoming more and more engaged with aromatherapy; the science behind it and the results are stacking up. Certain sectors of the Pharmaceutical industry are lobbying against essential oils which kind of speaks for itself! Aude often lectures about and teaches aromatherapy to doctors etc. She advocates working with modern medicine and the realities of modern life. She was drinking a coke during the lecture (not a herb tea) by the way.

Afterwards we were able to smell - and taste! - various eo's. One little mystery bottle that was passed around caused several people to puzzle what it was (it had no label). I said rosemary... and I was right. Glad my nose didn't let me down.

With 15 essential oils Aude said we would be able to look after most things although there are hundreds and hundreds available. I have quite a few but lemon, (the most indispensable essential oil apparently), rose, ravantsara, geranium and sage oils are now on my shopping list. Geranium will compliment my imortelle/heliochrysum purchased recently for bruises. This magical combination of geranium and heliochrysum mixed with an oil or a plain moisturiser suitable for your skin type, will result in younger looking skin. Worth trying for certain.

There will be another, more comprehensive, opportunity to hear Aude, as there is an essential oil workshop in Venelles on 22nd March. The cost is 65 euros including lunch and it will last all day. Your french needs to be pretty good to follow what is said. Call 04 42 54 48 76 or email if you would like more information or wish to reserve a place.

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Blooming Bouquet eau de Toilette from Dior

This fragrance was proposed to me to test and my expectations were low. For a start I am not too keen on the name. Also the modern, feminine, mainstream Diors are not my favorites. Well, I was in for a delightful surprise. Blooming Bouquet is a light, fresh, pretty rose sitting on a light, clean, soft musk. The fragrance is a perfect fit with the bottle, the pale pink juice and the advertising images are lovely and girly. Imagine a dewy spring garden with slightly zesty pink roses, hints of other florals and freshly laundered cotton sheets drying in the breeze. This is a concept that has been explored before (Pleasures!) and to me it's very successfully interpreted by François Demachy, Dior's nose. When I apply, I feel lighthearted and pretty. A yes for spring, a yes for a young bride too perhaps!

The musk incidentally is lovely, it makes me want to nuzzle my wrist all day. This perfume is not in the least demanding and above all it is great fun. There is fruit in here too, beautifully handled; not sweet! I would be happy to smell this on my daughter but equally I will wear my sample this spring when I don't want to think too hard or when I must be careful not to overwhelm other people with more "challenging" fragrances. Here is a fruity floral that I can get along with and that is a rare thing indeed.

Comfort Perfumes

Some days you just need comfort and today is one of those days. It is chilly and pouring with rain here in Provence and I am nursing some injuries. This calls for a cup of tea by the fire, a cashmere sweater and a comfort scent. Nothing cold will work (although I have plenty of cool perfumes in my collection and they have their uses), nothing too demanding and above all nothing new. Not in a risk taking mood today!

Naturally enough a comfort scent might be one that you apply before bed and here are my top six:-

Organza Indecence by Givenchy - spicy, woody, unusual yet relaxing with a slightly sweet drydown of woody vanilla. It is beautiful and unusual. You only need a few little dabs as it has excellent sillage.

Coco by Chanel - an elegant and smooth oriental, I especially love it after an hour or so. Again, apply lightly as it is an 80's powerhouse.

Amour by Kenzo - lovely rice note, frangipani, vanilla and wood. The name is a great fit: "Love" in french. This perfume carries me away on a cloud of rice pudding!

Prada eau de Parfum, - an amber fragrance that is a descendant of Thierry Mugler's Angel. So there is patchouli in there but this one is much easier to wear, softened up and rounded out.

Brûlure de Rose by niche house Parfumerie Générale. Lush dark rose and toasted sugar. Initially I wasn't keen but it has grown on me, to the point where I am addicted. It takes you on a journey this one.

Homme by Dior because what could be more comforting than snuggling up with your man, in reality or with perfume? The iris in it slays me. The comfort of that almost papery smell. Powder too for sure and a hint of cocoa at the end. Of this list Homme is the least warm on opening due to the hint of citrus but that quickly fades and things warm up.

Please do tell me what your favourite comfort scents are!