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I’ve been writing about fragrances for over a decade now, and I’ve seen fragrance trends come and go and come back again and one category that has remained popular over time is church scents - those evocative fragrances that conjure up the bells, the garments, the cold stone, the chanting and the smells associated with worship. It’s not surprising since church scents are incense-based, because incense has been used for centuries in religious worship, ceremony, and meditation in religions around the world. Yep, the resinous, smoky, woody smell of incense definitely has mass appeal.
I must confess, this fragrance category has always been a favourite of mine. In fact, I seem to have a habit of buying ‘churchy’ scents: Comme des Garçons Incense Avignon, Serge Lutens’ La Religieuse, Etro’s Messe de Minuit, Helley’s Cardinal, L'Artisan Parfumeur’ Passage d'Enfer and Séville à l’Aube, Laboratorio Olfattivo's Sacreste and Byredo’s Encens Chembur. Like any perfume collector, I read reviews religiously, looking for my next favourite fragrance so when I discovered Basilica from Italian niche line Milano Fragranze I knew I had found it.
Founded in 2020, Milano Fragranze, is a spin-off of Masque Milano. The line is under the direction of Alessandro Brun, who was born and raised in Milan. Each fragrance in the Milano Fragranze line represents a place in Milan. Basilica EdP was inspired by the Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio located in the center of the city. Built in 379–386 by St. Ambrose, the church has become a symbol of history, faith and worship for Milanese. And this fragrance captures the spirit of the basilica beautifully.
The opening is bright and herbal from thyme and camphourous rosemary. The way these two herbs are presented borders on medicinal, until they are smoothed by a note of softly sweet warm milk. Warm milk! It’s a familiar scent that smells like a hug feels – comforting and calming. I relax right into it. A few beats later and the milk ignites the amber warmth of labdanum. And when its resinous aspect links up with resinous, smoky incense, deep memories start to swim up to my consciousness. The base is woody from cypriol, balsamy cedarwood and rich sandalwood. It’s the woods that bring the memories into focus. My child-self is in church – the cool open space, the warmth of the candles, the smell of the incense, sunshine streaming through stained glass windows, the wooden pews, and the rich, full sounds of the organ fill the space. I scan the choir, and my eyes settle on my mother, singing there. I lean over and rest my head on my father’s arm. I feel at home in this sacred place.
Like other church scents, Basilica is more about how it makes you feel than how it makes you smell – that’s where its beauty lies – and likely explains why this fragrance category never goes out of fashion.
Basilica is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00

I'm generally skeptical of marketing materials, especially those promoting fragrances, and often wonder, 'Who writes this stuff?'

It's no surprise then that it was the colour of De Profundis that got my attention when I saw it for the first time at Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris. It looks like no other perfume, a beautiful, otherworldly shade of violet. It drew me to the fragrance, and when I smelled the juice, I was so taken by it that I wanted to know more about it. Later that day, I began my research.

The perfume is named 'De Profundis' after Oscar Wilde's letter written while in prison to his lover and the man responsible for his incarceration, Alfred Douglas. De Profundis, or Psalm 130, is a penitential psalm that expresses sorrow for sin and translates from Latin as "from the depths."

Wilde's time in prison transformed him. Where once he was shallow, irreverent, and arrogant, two years of hard labour humbled him. In De Profundis he writes, "The supreme vice is shallowness."  What Wilde had written was a love letter that chronicles the death of one life and the beginning of a new one through hope and redemption.

De Profundis by Serge Lutens, expresses transformation beautifully, much like Etro's brilliant Messe de Minute. Where Messe de Minute moves from dark to light, De Profundis moves from light to darkness.

On me, De Profundis opens with a crisp green note, followed by blue flowers: bluebells, hyacinth and violet. These spring flowers signal rebirth as they shingle down to earthy, herby-scented autumn blooming chrysanthemum, the flower associated with death. It's joined by fresh, jasmine-like lily of the valley, a gorgeous fragrance but all parts of the plant are poisonous – a clever pairing. I get a whiff of bitterness at this stage along with an animalic note, likely from chamomile that plays off the florals. Lutens' signature dried fruits appear -  I wondered when they would show up. They usher in a base of woods and incense, which is often associated with funerals, that weave through the flowers, making the drydown rich yet surprisingly ethereal. It leaves me wanting to smell this and only this for a long time.  

De Profundis has an origin story I can really get behind; still, I like to let this beauty tell its own story... on my skin.

De Profundis is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00


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.