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According my copy of the Farmer’s Almanac, first frost is just around the corner. The days are getting shorter, and the nights are finally cool. At my house, that means the first wood fire of autumn. Like the first snowfall or the first crocus, the first fire heralds the new season.
There’s something compelling about a real wood fire in a fireplace. People are inexplicably drawn to them. Maybe it comes from prehistoric times when people gathered around a fire for warmth, for safety and for cooking. Grouped around a fire, they relaxed, bonded over food and talking and sharing stories. This hasn’t changed – just watch people gather round a fireplace at Christmas.
And nothing sets a scene for seduction like a roaring fire.  Snuggling in front of the fireplace, watching the oranges and reds of the flickering flames to the sound of crackling logs, feeling its warmth, inhaling the smell. Add a platter of runny cheese and some good wine and every sense is engaged, heightened and ripe for exploration.
All to say, this is time of year for By the Fireplace by Maison Martin Margiela.
By the Fireplace is part of the Replica line, where each scent is, as it says on the package, “A reproduction of familiar scents and moments of varying location and periods.” By the Fireplace was signed by Marie Salamagne, who excels are creating fragrances that evoke a specific time and place. I would never be without her Venice, September 22nd 2007, 8:00 am Vaporetto to Lido de Venezia, or her 6 Marzo 2008, ore 11 - Piazza Duomo, Ortigia, Siracusa – Sicilia.
By the Fireplace is the scent of burning wood and chestnuts, the location is Chamonix, in the French Alps, in 1971. Chamonix is one of my favourite places in the planet. The skiing in the winter, the hiking in the summer. In summer the days are long and warm but the nights are cooled by mountain breezes. In winter the wood chalet restaurants are close and cozy, warmed by log fires often in huge stone fireplaces. Cheese fondues with bread dipped in kirsch before being dipped in the molten cheese, is shared with friends and creates a closeness and conviviality with other diners that carries on later in your own chalet.
This is the mood, the feeling, that By the Fireplace invokes.
It opens with pink pepper, which smells rosy, not spicy, and a fresh, sweet note of orange flower petals. This floral start is quickly warmed with a note of spicy, aromatic clove so the opening smells fresh and warm. As it warms on the skin, a soft, sweet, mellow chestnut accord appears. It reminds me of the marrons glacé my father-in-law so adored. Then the Gaïac wood appears with its gorgeous woody, smoky and tar-like aspects – this, for me, is a show stopper. Cade oil brings more smoke – aromatic and dark it’s the kind of smoke that swirls up through the wood in a fireplace. This is a beautiful smokiness – soft and true – that doesn’t overpower the fragrance but quietly dominates it. At the base, creamy, rich vanilla emerges. It stands up to the smoke and without it, the whole works might spontaneously combust. And wafting from the forest is the woodsy, balsamy smell of Peru Balsam, its cinnamic and vanillic facets echoing the spiciness and sweetness that came before it, while cashmeran is perfectly musky and woody.
The drydown is smoky, warm and gently sweet and packs all the seduction of a roaring blaze in a fireplace. It has all the compelling qualities of fireplace and wearing it just draws people to you.
True story. The first time I tried By the Fireplace was in a Duty Free store in Montreal. I spritzed it on my wrist, and within a nanosecond I asked a sales assistant for a bottle of it. As I was waiting, a middle-aged, quite handsome, gentleman touched my shoulder and asked “What are you wearing?” I held out the tester of By the Fireplace and said “This perfume” and spritzed a little into the air between us. Soon a woman came up to him. “What are you doing Darling?” she asked him. He spritzed her. She inhaled It paused a moment and said “We buy this one”.
Be warned, when you wear By the Fireplace, you are wearing a weapon of mass seduction. Good thing it’s unisex.
By the Fireplace is listed in our Decant store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

I love the old Guerlain fragrances.  Apres l’Ondee, Jicky, Shalimar, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, Vol de Nuit. Shocking in their originality when they were introduced decades ago, they still stand as the benchmarks against which modern fragrances are compared and measured.

I’ve worn Guerlain’s Jicky for a long long time. I wore Jicky EdT  on and off for a few years before I really understood it, but I finally “got it” and began to experience it in living colour instead of black and white. Wearing it in warm weather was the key to creating the magic on my skin.

Aimé Guerlain’s Jicky is the oldest perfume still living, breathing, and selling in the perfume world. Introduced in 1889, it was the first “abstract” fragrance because of its complex, pyramid structure – top, middle, base – which made it so different from the simple soliflore scents which preceded it with their focus on a single recognizable note, such as rose, or lemon, or violet from top to bottom.  Jicky also contained the civet note under the accords of lavender and creamy vanilla, herbs and lemony citrus, which created a seductive animalic stink, the scent of of sex, of warm sexy skin, a new experience for perfume enthusiasts.  This brilliant use of civet and other new synthetic notes such as musks and coumarin, transformed Jicky into the first unisex scent, worn first by men, then claimed by women, and loved and worn by both men and women to this very day.

After I fell in love with the Eau de Toilette•• version, I went all-in and bought a bottle of the Parfum Extrait, loving the distinctive pharmacy bottle with its “champagne cork” stopper as much as I love the gorgeous juice inside it. I listed Jicky EdT in our Decant Store several years ago, and now I’m adding the Parfum Extrait because perfume lovers should have the opportunity to experience the different beauty in each version.

To refresh your memory…..

Jicky Eau de Toilette

The Eau de Toilette opens with a bright citrus blast, a punch in the face of lemon and bergamot on a bed of peppery aromatic lavender. The scent drifts toward herbal then soon sweetens with creamy vanilla custard, mixing the citrus accord into a delicious lemon-meringue cofection. And then the civet note wafts in from a distance, draping Jicky with a light veil of animalic skank. I process the civet as warm sexy skin, not skank, a scent that mixes seductively with the lavender-vanilla and rose-jasmine heart notes. The dry-down is warmed and sweetened by amber, vanilla and a spicy woody accord with hints of smoky incense. The notes weave in and out with a softly persistent and tenacious waft which lifts lightly off the skin.

And introducing….

Jicky Parfum Extrait

Jicky Parfum is definitely different from the EdT. It has a more nuanced presence right from the start, less brash but more of everything, more rounded and full, rich and creamy, subtly orchestrated so that the notes and accords unfold seamlessly and slowly. The civet is quietly there at the top and builds slowly, demanding attention and gathering momentum into the heart, wrapping Jicky Parfum in a cashmere blanket of skankiness rather than the light veil in the EdT version. The base is filled with warm cozy amber, bits of leather from benzoin, creamy sandalwood and rosewood, lazy seductive musks and dark vanilla, and its deep beauty wafts subtly for hours, making Jicky Parfum Extrait feel much more grown-up than the EdT. 

So, here’s the difference between the two Jicky versions:

Jicky EdT is lighter with more lavender and citrus but still has enough of the civet skank appeal to keep it interesting all through the day. 

Jicky Parfum Extrait is bigger and fuller and darker and richer with a big dose of civet and musks to keep it interesting all through the night.

Try them both, and you’ll see for yourself.

Jicky Parfum Extrait is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $20.00 for 1 ml.

Jicky EdT is listed in our Decant store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.


**EdT = 5-15%, most around 10% aromatic compounds – usually bright and sparkly, light waft and low duration, less expensive. Good for daywear.

EdP = 10-20%, most around 15% - heavier and more complex on the skin, powerful waft, more expensive. Good for eveningwear.

Extrait de Parfum = 15-40%, most around 20% - complex and sophisticated, creates a subtle intimate aura which is very long-lasting, most expensive. Good for glamwear, which is anytime you damn well please!

Also, perfumers often change the formulae between the different concentrations, so that different notes or accords are featured.


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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 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, 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.