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Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe - Édouard Manet, 1863

Musée d'Orsay, Paris

 

One of my favourite courses in high school was the art history. I loved learning how to ‘read’ paintings and sculpture, seeing things in a new way and studying artistic interpretations. Of course, in a rough and tumble household of six, I sometimes got razzed for my ‘uppity’ leanings and my mother would have to admonish a mocking sibling with ‘Leave her alone. She’s doing her homework.”

I remember studying at the kitchen table one evening after dinner, my workbooks and papers scattered around me, my copy of ‘The Impressionism Movement’ open to Édouard Manet’s 1863 painting called Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass in English) trying to figure out what was going on in the painting. It shows a nude woman having lunch with two fully clothed men in a rural setting, while another barely-dressed woman bathes in a stream. I was deep in thought…the play on light and dark, how it seemed like there were two separate paintings one canvass – one of two women and one of two men - how the bathing woman seems to float above the other figures.

Lost in deep thought, I didn’t hear my brother enter the room.
‘What’s really going on in this painting?’ I wondered aloud.

‘Well, it looks to me like those two chicks lost a game of spin-the-bottle’ my brother said glancing at the open book as he walked by the table on his way to the fridge.

‘Philistine!’ I shot back tartly, gathering up my books and pens and retreating to my room to study alone. Again.

Impressionism is considered the first modern movement in painting. It was born when a group of Paris-based artists in the 1860s broke away from traditional painting by focusing on capturing the sensory effect of a scene rather than the realism of it. Shapes and contours are suggested rather than depicted. It is characterized by thin, visible brush strokes, open composition and the depiction of the changing qualities of light.

When Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe was fist exhibited it caused quite a stir – a naked women sitting in a forest with two fully dressed men? Scandalous! But it was also new and exciting, which makes it the perfect muse for Sur L'herbe, one of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s new colognes. Colognes? From L’Artisan? Yep, colognes. Sur L'herbe, along with, Au Bord de L’eau, are the two fragrances in L’Artisan’s first ever cologne collection. Both were created by nose Fabrice Pellegrin. He’s known around here as the perfumer behind White Tubéreuse, Volutes EdP, Liquid Crystal, Essences Insensées Mimosa and Black Amber among others.

It opens fresh and lovely with a gentle note of bright bergamot and sweet, clean-smelling neroli. Fir absolu adds to the freshness with its slight aroma of citrus and its evergreen smell. The evergreen trails to the heart where I smell flowers – not one distinct flower – just carpets of them. This comes from paradisone.  It definitely places me in the cool of a forest on a perfect summer’s day. The heart rests on white musk and ambergris. Over time Sur L'herbe dries down to a smooth, tender, musky skin scent with a green note hums in the background.

The experience of the fragrance is like looking at an out of focus photo, blurry and with no clear definitions, making Sur L'herbe is a true olfactory moment captured in time. To achieve this Impressionist effect the L’Artisan website says Pellegrain was prompted to ‘reinvent neroli or rather, the distillation of the orange blossom petal plant, by injecting a saturation of light. He has placed at the heart of the cologne, a solar accord, to which he has added white musk and amber ingredients with an overdose of oxygen which blurs all preconceptions.’

That explains why every time I wear Sur L'herbe it smells new and exciting. It’s gonna be a great summer – I can just smell it.

Sur L'herbe is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Image - Wikipedia

 

 

Guerlain Vol de Nuit Parfum Extrait bottle - perfumeniche.com

I first tried Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit parfum when I was about six years old. The square-shaped smoky glass perfume bottle with the deep grooves on the front was on my mother’s dresser so one afternoon I thought I’d give it a try, see what perfume could do for me. It was obviously something she enjoyed, along with my Dad, who always nuzzled her neck when she wore it. Maybe he’d like it on me, too!

I took out the stopper, stuck my finger over the top and tipped up the bottle as I’d seen her do many times, but the result was a bit of a surprise. My little six year-old finger left a large gap in the opening and the very expensive parfum extrait gushed out of the bottle directly onto the top of the mahogany dresser. Whoops. I was in trouble.

I don’t know which was more upsetting to my mother - the large white mark on her antique dressing table or the loss of almost one-quarter of her most favourite perfume, which at the time was irreplaceable because it was only available in Paris, but I clearly remember the experience as being the low point in our relationship up to then.

It marked me. I didn’t go near her perfumes for years after that, not until I grew into an obnoxious teen and the world of romance became my reality where her Shalimar lured me with its siren call. But even then, I definitely never considered even trying a single dab of the verboten Vol de Nuit.

However, all that changed over ten years ago when the world of perfumes lured me in again. It turned out that my BFF Gwen was also a lapsed perfumista – who knew? - and we began to explore niche perfumes, which led to the two of us starting this blog in April 2010…… which BTW is exactly seven years ago!

Happy 7th Birthday to us - time flies when you’re experiencing the world through incredible fragrances!

Now back to our scent story….

Together, Gwen and I re-discovered the wonderful world of Guerlain fragrances. Guerlain, the French perfume house which started in 1828, the dynasty of four generations of talented Guerlain noses who have created hundreds of remarkable olfactory compositions. In Paris, New York, Toronto, and anywhere we could find them, we dabbed and spritzed then purchased many Guerlain fragrances, old and new, women’s and men’s, classic and modern.

We’ve written our stories about these fragrances, which we’ve listed in our Decant Store so you can try them - from those which were created over 100 years ago, to those that were launched this year - Apres l’Ondee, Jicky, Shalimar, Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue, Habit Rouge EdP, Heritage, Vetiver, Derby, Terracotta Le Parfum, Mon Precieux Nectar,  Cuir Beluga, Samsara, 02 Paris-New York, Arsene Lupin Dandy, Songe d’un Bois d’Ete, Mon Guerlain, and yes, even Vol de Nuit.

In 2011 I wrote about Vol de Nuit EdT, the Eau de Toilette version. Here’s an excerpt:

“Luca Turin in Perfumes the A-Z Guide says that he and Tania Sanchez use Vol de Nuit to “ recalibrate their olfactory apparatus” after a hard day of perfuming, and says “God bless Guerlain for still doing this stuff”. I agree with him wholeheartedly. I purchased a bottle of the eau de toilette, which is now half empty, and I am dying to get a little sniff   - no, make that a big INHALE - of the pure parfum, which is said to be extraordinary, but is hard to find.”

The pure parfum, the parfum extrait WAS hard to find, but I found it, and bought it. A 30 ml. bottle of parfum extrait. An extravagance.

So what makes a parfum extrait, or pure parfum, different from an EdT or and EdP?  It’s the concentration of aromatic compounds in the juice versus the solvent, which is usually ethanol (ethyl alcohol) – see below**.

Vol de Nuit is an aromatic oriental chypre, and Vol de Nuit EdT opens with a rush of green lemony citrus followed by sweeter orange and mandarin notes. It has a lush quality, amped up by the aldehydes as it moves into the heart, where the lovely florals and vanilla are detected. The scent is soft and clear, and darkens as the spices, sandalwood, and iris adding an interesting dryness in the drydown, and musk adding softness at the bottom. It isn’t a scent that features weird notes or strange accords, or is shocking in any way. The Vol de Nuit EdT scent line flows like a smooth river in the dark of night, creating a cool atmospheric rather than edgy quality.

Vol de Nuit Parfum Extrait as the Guerlain website says, is orchestrated differently than the Eau de Toilette, which gives it an “absolute presence.” Less brash in the opening notes than the EdT, the citrus is replaced with soft green galbanum and violet, the individual notes flow in perfect harmony through the heart of carnation, jasmine, rose and vanilla into the woody musky powdery drydown, a subtle orchestration that shifts the meditative quality I felt in the EdT into a higher smoother gear. Rather than on a river, we are in the air.

Everything about the parfum is more nuanced, deeper, longer, darker, smoother and more sophisticated, which demands attention. I feel as if bathed in a warm amber light, hearing the most beautiful music as I experience this enigmatic scent. Is it green, is it floral, is it woody, am I floating, am I flying, where am I going? Vol de Nuit, Night Flight, is taking me somewhere I’ve never been before.

Vol de Nuit Parfum Extrait is an incredibly composed fragrance, enigmatic because it has no clear focus, the notes flowing together seamlessly. Composed by Jacques Guerlain in 1933, it was considered a modern scent inspired by trans-Atlantic flight, which was ground-breaking at that time. To me, it still feels ultra-modern as it conjures the feeling of travel through Deep Space, dark, soundless, mysterious, where Time changes and there is no end.

Vol de Nuit Parfum Extrait is extraordinary, and worth every penny.

Vol de Nuit Parfum Extrait is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $15.00 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.

Source: Perfumeshrine.com

 

 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

 

"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.
 
WHAT WE DO
 
We blog
Mid-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 perfumeniche.com, 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.