Friday, 28 November 2008

Little black dress perfume

I think we all have our 'little black dress' outfit, even if it's not a little black dress it's an outfit we know we look at our best in, or perhaps just smart in, that we know we can whip out at short notice and look great in, should the occasion arise.

I bought a fantastic little black dress this weekend, rather by accident. I actually don't wear very much black and it's not my normal default look so I quite enjoyed putting on the dress, the heels, the full make up and going out feeling very together.

I only had Coco Mademoiselle perfume with me so it was, by default, my little black dress perfume.

Not being able to choose which scent to wear (I was getting ready at a friend's) made me think what would I wear if I could choose? Much as I do like Coco Mademoiselle it's in my bag because it covers any occasion and in truth for going out I prefer something a bit riskier and a bit more unusual. Do ladies have an equivalent of the little black dress in perfume? Something they always feel attractive and interesting in when they are out? I know I have a default wear to work scent but I am normally very fickle when going out.

I also like a bit of juxtaposition with my outfits so by nature in a black satin dress I would tend to wear something unexpected, some Diptyque Philosykos or something out there and unusual, Commes De Garcon or Costume Nationale Scent Intense for example. Likewise I quite like to wear jeans and a t shirt with L'heure Bleu or Bois De Illes, the unexpected can really work.

I would be very interested to hear if people have a 'going out' perfume or perfumes and what they are.

picture courtesy of:

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Idle Pleasures

I was walking very briskly through the arctic winds last night when I took refuge in a favourite gift shop. You know the kind of place where you simple shouldn't go if you are feeling in the slightest bit credit crunched because you will want countless things; candles, shower gels, cashmere eyes masks, whole recipe books devoted to marmite, all those non essential items that feel far more needed than a pint of milk.

I happened upon a lovely little ray of sunshine in the form of the hardbacked, crisp paged, The Book of Idle Pleasures.

The book is a collection of one hundred small pleasures to cherish that we perhaps forget about. I was actually already in a good enough mood but this touched me somehow and did exactly what it says it wants to; reminds you of the little things that make life better. It's witty, it's fun, it's poignant and it's very high up on my wish list! for this is really the sort of thing you should be given rather than give yourself.

Really I think knowing the pleasure of kicking leaves, waiting for tea to brew and napping is the beginning of wisdom.

When books are bliss there is barely anything so good.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Pour Troubler

I was the very lucky winner of the Perfumeshrine draw for a sample of Guerlain's Pour Troubler.

When my sample arrived in the post (with unexpected friends!) it was definitely like Christmas had come early.

Helg's review of Pour Troubler is so thorough in terms of historical context, Guerlain and scent that I don't feel I should cover the same ground less well- but you can and should read the review here if you haven't already.

However I can give my opinion with the scent so far. So back to last night...

Being ever so careful but also moving ever so quickly I dropped a little of the Guerlain nectar on my wrist while trying to inhale the scent from the vial I was holding.

The first thing I felt was that I was literally smelling a little time capsule, which I thought was perhaps silly because I smell lots of scents that were formulated around this time. Thinking again though I am always smelling current formulations of those scents not the real thing from the real time. So I had a real sensation of sampling something precious but also from another time, it was like holding a vintage dress, ever so delicately.

The scent from the vial and on my skin was actually far more modern and also lighter than I had expected.

I am a great lover of L'heure Bleu and completely agree with Helg that this scent shares characteristics with my great love. Funnily enough though, much as I adore L'heure Bleu, on my skin this smells like it was made more recently. It is missing some of the melancholy and anise which makes L'heure Bleu slightly gourmand to my nose.

Still while the 'blue' aspect is missing to some extent there is something like the blue character there. The name Pour Troubler is very apt for while it's comforting I suppose it is also transitive, disrupting, head turning but in a subtle way, not quite arresting but it has something. I think perhaps where L'heure Bleu is melancholy this is reflective but with some optimism too perhaps?

If L'heure Bleu and Pour Troubler were sitting at a bar I think they would both be sipping a cocktail, L'heure Bleu in navy satin and Pour Troubler in soft pink, perhaps with a white fur stole. L'heure Bleu would catch your gaze and perhaps smile at you with her eyes but no more, Pour Troubler would give you a proper little smile but probably wouldn't be able to hold your eye for so long.

I can't totally put my finger on what is pulling me into this scent but I can't stop sniffing my wrist. I am not detecting as much 'Guerlanaide' as is evident in L'heure Bleu or Mitsouoko or subsequent Guerlain scents. It is certainly slightly sweet but it isn't sickly, sugary or at all fruity. On my it is more of a powdery, sweet skin scent with a touch of Guerlain magic. Something to treasure.

picture courtesy of:

Monday, 24 November 2008

The art of scent

This weekend I really enjoyed this article in the Times Literary Supplement by Angus Trumble.

He discusses why perfume isn't taken more seriously as an art form while references Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez's beautiful Perfumes the Guide.

What I really enjoyed about the article as that the author was obviously not from inside the world of perfume, the article says he is curator of paintings and sculpture at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven Connecticut. Nevertheless he is saying exactly what so many of us say, that some scents are as evocative as a great piece of music or a particularly poignant, beautiful or even unsettling painting. Also that the great perfumers are artists who deserve to be recognised as such in the way a sculpture, painter or composer is.

I just enjoyed coming across these thoughts somewhere I wasn't expecting to and the idea that someone might read their paper, pick up their favourite scent and think again about it, about who composed it and why they enjoy it.

Friday, 21 November 2008

No longer waiting

picture courtesy of

Hotel Rough Luxe

I love the look of the new Hotel Rough Luxe in London. I adore the dishevelled grandeur look and it's sadly missing in most hotels. I particularly want to curl up in that copper bath.

The Rough Luxe concept is quite interesting for these times, it's about putting a little luxury in a rough area, or roughing up something very luxurious. In homes or hotels I want rooms that seem real, not ones that are so perfect you are afraid to lie back in a chair. The Rough Luxe concept is involved in other areas as well, their philosophy is outlined here and you can also read more about the shops and other destinations who are signed up with them. The Cowshed in St Moritz looks particularly fabulous.

I was thinking about rough luxe as concept in beauty. I guess the equivalent is mixing up a £100 face cream with a devotion to Carmex or mixing a chemist/ drug store scent up with a fabulous niche scent , a la Sarah Jessica Parker before Lovely.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Devil's Whore

The Devil's Whore is a new civil war drama that started on Channel 4 last night. You can read more about it here. I have been looking forward to this more than most of the Autumn TV.

It's written by Peter Flannery who wrote Our Friends in the North. He has apparently been working on this story since 1997 which shows dedication to the narrative and ideas.

One of my main reasons to be so interested is the English civil war gets far less treatment in terms of film, television and wider influence than the French revolution some one hundred and twenty years later. Obviously the French revolution has a certain je ne sais quoi that we can't quite compete with but this new adaptations goes some way to making things more interesting- and the scenery is stunning (although apparently south african for budgetry reasons- eek- well it doubles well).

The civil war is one of England's most radical episodes. We were really quite ahead of ourselves with ideas about democracy and equality, granted it all came to nothing in the end and, as with all the best ideologies, it got used for individual gain. I am very fond of the royals and I wouldn't really want President Brown/ Blair/ Thatcher so perhaps it did all end well but there is no denying that the revolutionaries were onto something.

The first episode was really rather good, granted there were some slightly special special effects involving visions of the devil, but I liked that Cromwell was quite sidelined in this telling, so far. I prefer to see things from a slight side view (and Cromwell has had his fair share of air time).

I was also actually very taken with the ladies fashion (the less said about the men's facial hair the better I think). Really this period wouldn't get me going but they have dressed Andrea Riseborough in some fabulous blues with shots of red and all the clothes are of the most rippling and tumbling silks and velvet with touches of leather. Everything looks to smell of newly died leather, gunpowder and woods.

Next week she seem to be working cross dressing/ female bandit chic. There is also a wealth of earnst men for her to get involved with. I can't wait!

Picture cortesy of Channel 4

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


I'm waiting for an e-mail.

It's a kind of madness.

Checking every minute won't help will it?

Inbox. click. No new messages.

Do something else, make tea.

Return. I'll just check. Inbox, 2 new messages, click, neither is the one. Heart slumps a little. Still no sense in obsessing.

Read e-mails, my friend is well, the National Theatres new stuff sounds very worthy but not gripping.

Inbox. click, no new messages.

I won't check again until lunch unless a new message flashes up.

Well maybe just once.

Inbox, click, no new messages.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The Expresso Martini

All hail the Espresso Martini, you make tired Londoners kick their heels off and party long after the last tube. You may also be guilty of leading them to stay up much too late and behave much too badly but you are still fabulous in every way.

Should you need some help from the Espresso party starter here is the recipe. Use with caution, sore feet, lack of sleep and lots of fun may follow.

Classic Espresso Martini

1 oz cold Espresso
1 1/2 oz Vodka (Absolut)
1 1/2 oz Kahlua
1 oz white Creme de cacao
Mixing instructions:
Pour ingredients into shaker filled with ice, shake vigorously, and strain into chilled martini glass.
It should be somewhat frothy.

picture courtesy of:

Monday, 17 November 2008

Wake up and smell the coffee

I have a serious weakness for Starbucks eggnog lattes. I have completely bought into the marketing and now associate the arrival of the red cups with the start of the Christmas season.

You can understand then that I was fairly horrified that Starbucks have stolen a little bit of my Christmas and discontinued the eggnog latte this year (in the UK in any case).

I know I'm not the only person who feels this sense of despair and muting of the Christmas bells, in fact there is a Facebook group called bring back the eggnog latte. While I hope they will conquer the giant and bring back the eggnog I'm fairly certain that this year I will not be able to enjoy my seasonal favourite.

So in the meantime I will be getting my coffee hit elsewhere (aside from red cup time I'm more of a chai tea gal than a coffee addict).

I have a secret passion for Cacharel's Noa perfume which has a prominent coffee note.

This is not every one's cup of tea (or coffee), Susan Irvine describes it as being for 'nuns and virgins' in herThe Perfume Guide book. But Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez are keener in Perfumes the Guide calling it a 'low budget wonder' that has the 'feel of a perfect everyday fragrance'.

I actually wore this a lot on a holiday to Cornwall, which should smell of crashing waves, driftwood, moss and rain on sand. So the soft whisper of cashmere and coffee that I get from Noa was perhaps a strange choice- but I like to mix it up and this fragrance is a whisper rather than a shout which appealed to my idea of soaking up the natural Cornish smells while having scent on- and retaining some slight smell of the city I love.

This scent now has lovely memories of a great holiday in a county I love. So at a time when the city is very busy and everything is very hectic Noa calms me and takes me back to the grey deserted beaches in Cornwall- and gives me a little coffee hit too.

Noa picture courtesy of

Sunday, 9 November 2008


I have been tagged again this time by Helg whose work at the wonderfulPerfume Shrine I enjoy and admire a great deal.

The rules of the game are: 1. Link to the person who tagged you 2. Post the rules on your blog 3. Write six random things about yourself 4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them 5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog 6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

So to the six random things!

1) Although I seem very English I have Irish ancestry and think in my way I am quite Irish too

2) I feel quite uncomfortable if I don't have a pen and paper with me at all times

3) When I go to other European countries people seem to invariably think I'm native, well until I open my mouth, I get asked for directions by locals and other tourists pick me out to ask questions as if I am not one of them. This pleases and amuses me, I like to think there is a touch of the Alec Guinness about me and I can blend in well.

4) My favourite food of all is pasta, well today anyway. Pasta is a life affirming sort of food, I always feel better when I have it and ready for whatever comes next.

5) As well as my obvious love for perfume I also adore jewellery, particularly anything Art Deco or Nouveau but really anything sparkly and/ or shiny. It is perhaps strange then that I only had my ears pierced when I was twenty five (there another thing about me- I am more than 25...) I would like to say that I am now enjoying earrings as much as any other item of jewellery I wear. However people who say ear piercing doesn't hurt are either lying or have VERY high pain thresholds. I thought it felt like someone had attached a stapler to my ear and didn't take it off for at least 2 hours.

6)I am Capricorn and in many ways am very true to my sign, I certainly always like other Capricorns which is a supposed trait. I have always felt a strange affinity with Aquarius though. I would love to find out if I could in some way be slightly Aquarian, the descriptions always fit me well and seem far more natural to me.

Kate Moss as Marlene Dietrich courtesy of: (Kate Moss and I are both Capricorns and we share the same birthday- so I thought it was a good excuse for this great picture!)

I am not going to pass on the tag as most of the blogs I regularly comment on have been tagged recently- but I think this is really fun so in lots of ways I wish I could re tag people!

The week

A week of red cups, paracetomol and sleeping away from home for days.

What calms me is what feeds me, news of progress and hope far away so close and small things; typing, riding the bus, being with friends but also being alone.

So to the weekend and shopping, my head swimming with scents and last nights wine, rain endlessly falling, somehow London is trying to wash the week off me so I'm ready for more.

I'm like a child and find repetition so comforting, to Mr kiss kiss bang bang again, is it wrong that to me everything in the world is right when I'm watching a James Bond film?

Heading home lapels, blouses and the ground are awash with paper poppies while late bonfire night fireworks ring out- but tomorrow all will be silent and still as we remember.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Le Labo Poivre 23

Le Labo’s Poivre 23 is named, like all Le Labo fragrances, for its main ingredient (pepper) and the number of raw ingredients that go into it (in this case 23). This Le Labo fragrance is only available from Liberty in London, which is also the only UK stockist for Le Labo.

On initial spritzing this scent is all pepper, it literally smells as if your nostrils are filled with the entire contents of a pepper mill. What is slightly bizarre about this is your body expects to sneeze when it smells a pepper blast but of course it doesn’t.

Clever as it is that the scent is so realistic I don’t really want to smell of a pepper mill so was pleased that this passed in a minute or two. For the following ten minutes I found Poivre 23 strong and muddled.

After these ten minutes a familiar scent started to develop on my skin but initially I couldn't pinpoint what it was. It was a dirty incense which I soon realised was very similar to Commes De Garcon Avignon on my skin.
Avignon is a perfume I greatly admire but sadly it is not at its best on my skin and I think I am destined to only own the candle.

After about half an hour Poivre 23 is a lighter Avignon on me. For people who Avignon smells fantastic on I can’t really see why you would need Poivre 23 but if like me Avignon loses some of its church refinement and is the wrong side of dirty then this might work for you.

After about 4 hours Poivre 23 was still apparent on my skin. By now it had changed again to a slightly more soapy incense smell, a cousin to Santa Maria Novella's Melograno.
This dried down scent is fantastic but not as complex as the other scents I have mentioned. By this time it is quite light and I’m not sure either the cost or the time it takes the scent to develop will mean it’s going straight to the top of my wish list. The initial fifteen minutes or so are very tricky too. However I can't deny this scent has something.

picture courtesy of

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Celia Birtwell Apres L'Ondee

I'm a big fan of Celia Birtwell. I also love the work of her sadly deceased husband Ossie Clark but that is for another post.

Celia seems to have walked a sometimes difficult road always with grace and always on her own terms. She has also achieved the seemingly difficult position of being a very relevant lady in her later years. Her website is here and is filled with lovely textiles. She also designs capsule collections for Topshop which I have found to be not only lovely but of very good quality for the price.

On reading my Vogue yesterday (I'm not normally this obsessed with an issue honestly!) there was a little feature on people's extravagances. Celia Birtwell named hers as perfume (she is one of us!) and said how much she loves Apres L'Ondee. I don't know why this pleased me so but it did. It is just perfect for her, perfume can tell you so much about a person.

You can read more about the David Hockney painting Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy here picture courtesy of Wikipedia.

Picture of Celia Birtwell courtesy of

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Tales of the Unexpected

Following on from my earlier post I have found some of the Tim Walker pictures with Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter that I was getting all of a flutter about. These are my favourites, more are available here

Pictures courtesy of:

New Vogue

You know the festive season approaches when the Vogue December issue is out. They always seem to save their best cover for this time of the year and this picture of Kate Moss in lemon John Galliano for Dior couture is beautiful.

My real excitement was sparked by the Tim Walker feature with Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton. Surely Helena and Tim in a Tim Walker photo shoot cannot be anything less than fabulous?

I can't wait to get my Vogue home and out of it's cellophane.

Picture courtesy of

Monday, 3 November 2008

Quantum of Solace

After a weekend spent struggling to birthdays and shops against near Siberia winds and endless rain, both of which have their charms but can grow wearing, I was very happy to take shelter at the cinema and watch Quantum of Solace.

I have been watching and reading James Bond for as long as I can remember. I have grown up with the character and always known him in my life in the way I have always known the Queen as my head of state and always had a roast on Sunday (well almost always). I know the novels and films aren't to every one's taste but I personally love the character for all his faults. I also find the attention to detail in the books and films and the design and locations in the films as interesting and fulfilling as the stories.

I loved the Casino Royale novel and was very pleased with the film, although I think a little less action at the beginning would have taken nothing away from the film. I have admired Daniel Craig's acting since before Bond and thought he would do a good job. My favourite Bond is Sean Connery but as I have always watched all the films I accept that every Bond is different and that the differences can bring strength to the film franchise and a variety to the viewer which is enjoyable.

I wonder if we would all love Sean Connery if he had gone on much longer, part of the reason his films are (mostly) so good is because he is playing the character at the perfect age and with a freshness and enthusiasm that obviously waned (I personally wish he had stuck to his original instinct and not returned for Diamonds are Forever).

I had revisited the Bond of Fleming last week by reading the Quantum of Solace collection of the Bond short stories, which I had never read and always been interested in. The story of Quantum of Solace itself is unrelated to the film, it's an anecdotal story as told to Bond over after dinner drinks by a civil servant. The story is interesting though because it introduces the concept of a quantum of solace which the new film does centre on; that is the amount or type of solace Bond needs to move on from his anguish over the fate of Vesper Lynd, his love interest in Casino Royale and one of Bond's only true loves throughout Fleming's books.

As all the reviews so say this film starts barely an hour after Casino Royale ends which is a new concept for a Bond film and actually works very well. The film is very action packed but actually when you think about it most Bond films are quite action focused. It is not at the expense of clever or witty dialogue but one of the wonderful things about Casino Royale was that they stuck quite faithfully to the story of the card game and the film managed to be very tense when all the main protagonists were in one room outwitting each other mentally rather than physically. There isn't as much room for those kind of exchanges in Quantum of Solace but the action is all qualified. In fact I would say the action is more integral in this film than some of the extended chases were in Casino Royale.

There is a fantastic sequence at a performance of Tosca which is very well shot and all the acting is really very good. Judi Dench is wonderful as ever and Daniel Craig seems to be Bond more than acting as him.

The film is tightly edited, perhaps a little too tightly in places but I would much prefer to be left wanting more than less and I most certainly do want more. I want to know more about Quantum, Bond and M's new Spectre like arch rivals. I also want to know more about how Bond develops post Vespa and if he will meet up with Camille again.

picture courtesy of