An Evening with Portia Turbo: Perfume Lovers London


Post by Tara


Hey APJ!
I’m guesting here today from A Bottled Rose to report on a very special occasion – Portia Turbo hosting Perfume Lovers London! The theme for the event was “Great Women” and the following should give you an idea of how it went. Just imagine Portia’s words with a good smattering of hilarious expletives.
So take your seats because here we go…

Portia Tara Perfume Lovers London Jan 2016 #2Perfume Lovers London

An Evening with Portia Turbo

28th January 2016

Portia: This the pinnacle of my fragrance experience, presenting in a chapel. I feel like “Santa Portia of the Fragrances”. The idea is to take 12 woman who were of import to the world and talk about the fragrances I’d put with them.

Portia then gave everyone a slip of coloured paper with one of the women’s names on it.

Queen-cleopatra WikiMediaWikiMedia

Cleopatra VII (69-31 BC)
Ubar by Amouage (1995)
Notes: Litsea cubeba, Mandarin, Orange, Violet leaf, Freesia, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-valley, Orange blossom, Rosewood, Tuberose, Ylang-ylang, Copaiva balsam, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Vetiver, Amber

Portia: Apparently Cleopatra had a face like a foot but a beautiful body and awesome personality.
Ubar has such power but is lilting underneath. Ubar is what I imagine they’d have embalmed her in. It’s a heavenly scent, a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
Who else had Cleopatra and what perfume did you think of?

Audience member: I immediately thought of Poison.
Val the Cookie Queen: Onda Extrait (Vero Profumo)

Stilke_Hermann_Anton_-_Joan_of_Arc's_Death_at_the_Stake WikipediaWikipedia

Saint Joan of Arc (1412-30)
Celtic Fire by Union (2012)
Notes: Oak, Fir balsam, Pine needle, Marmiteโ„ข , Birch tar, Sweet gale

Portia: Just for fun I thought we’d pair Joan with Celtic Fire (much laughter). I donโ€™t think it really smells of Marmite.
Lila (Event organiser): Can I just say…
Portia: When it’s your evening you can say what you like (Laughter)
Lila: I was just going to say the perfumer gave Grant from Basenotes a little of the Marmite accord because he belongs to this Marmite secret society.
Portia: {With comic sarcasm} That is a lovely story. Thank-you.

Empress_Catherine_The_Great_circa_1770_(D.G._Levitsky) WikiMediaWikimedia

Catherine the Great (1729-96)
Ambre Russe by Parfums d’Empire (2005)
Notes: Champagne, Vodka, Ambergris, Coriander, Cumin, Tea, Cinnamon, Leather, Vanilla, Frankincense

Portia: Catherine the Great was truly forward-thinking and progressive. Ambre Russe smells to me what I imagine a Russian sitting room would smell like. I think when you wear it you feel like aristocracy – well obviously I do.

Florence_Nightingale_CDV_by_H_Lenthall WikipediaWikipedia

Florence Nightingale (1820-1921)
Sharp by Andrea Maack (2010)
Notes: White musk, Orange blossom, Vanilla

Portia: Being in England I thought I’d pick someone particularly English. I’ve chosen Sharp. It starts medicinal but ends up an incredibly warm fragrance. What did anyone else pick?

Audience member: White Linen, Estee Lauder.

Empress_Dowager_Cixi_(c._1890) WikipediaWikipedia

Tz’u Hsi (1835-1908)
Opium by YSL (1977)
Notes: Bergamot, Clove, Jasmine, Coriander, Laurel, Mandarin, Pepper, Plum, Citruses, Orris root, Lily-of-the-valley, Carnation, Patchouli, Peach, Rose, Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Amber, Benzoin, Coconut, Musk, Myrrh, Opoponax, Sandalwood, Tolu balsam, Vanilla, Vetiver, Frankincense, Cedar, Cistus

Portia: I call her Suzy. I’ve chosen Opium by YSL and we have some of the Parfum from the last century. Back then it was a kitchen sink fragrance – they threw everything into it. It lasts eternally on a scarf.

Eleanor_Roosevelt_cph.3b16000 WikipediaWikipedia

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
Rose sur Reuse by SOIVOHLE (2012)
Notes: Tuberose, Red rose, Red berries, Parma violet, Jasmine, Lily, Lilac, Orchid, Oakmoss, Vanilla, Woods, Musk

Portia: Eleanor really helped to create America so I thought I’d pick an American perfumer, Liz Zom of SOIVOHLE. Rose sur Reuse is a rose and tuberose fragrance.

Vanessa of Bonkers About Perfume: I thought of Private Collection, Estee Lauder.

Katharine Hepburn kate gabrielle FlickrFlickr

Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003)
Gentlewoman by Juliette Has a Gun (2015)
Notes: Bergamot, Neroli, Almond, Woody musk, Orange blossom

Portia: When I was a kid the women ran everything so I dreamt that when I grew up I’d be like Katharine Hepburn. Clearly I have her poise. I’ve chosen Gentlewoman by Juliette Has A Gun. It smells like a men’s cologne on a beautiful woman. I know some perfumistas need to be challenged every time they breathe in, but this is just really good. Any other suggestions?

Audience members: “Jicky” “Eau Sauvage as it’s so fresh” “Chanel No.5”

Rosa Parks YouTubeYouTube

Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Ashoka by Neela Vermeire Creations (2013)
Notes: Fig leaf, Leather, Lotus, Mimosa, Fig milk, Osmanthus, Rose, Water hyacinth, Vetiver, Storax, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Myrrh, Tonka bean, Fir balsam

Portia: I’ve chosen Ashoka because although Rosa Parks was prominent in the civil rights movement, she looks like she had a softness about her. Ashoka starts strong and strident but ends up being a creamy figgy vanilla.

Elizabeth_Taylor_1 WikipediaWikipedia

Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)
Byzance by Rochas (1987)
Notes: Aldehydes, Basil, Carnation, Spices, Green notes, Cardamom, Mandarin, Lemon, Citruses, Aniseed, Orris root, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-valley, Rose, Tuberose, Ylang-ylang, Amber, Heliotrope, Musk, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Cedar

Portia: What a heartbreaker she was. I’ve chosen a discontinued gem – Byzance by Rochas. It smells so fabulous on skin that I’m putting some on and walking my fat arse up and down the aisle.
Portia proceeds to windmill her arms through the audience exclaiming “I AM sillage!”

Sylvia Earle WikipediaWikipedia

Sylvia Earle (1935- )
Beyond Paradise by Estee Lauder (2003)
Notes: Bergamot, Blue hyacinth, Jabuticaba, Orange blossom, Philodendron, Jasmine, Italian honeysuckle, Orchid, Mahonia , Ambrette seed, Broad-leaved paperbark, Natal plum blossom, Zebrano wood

Portia: I’ve chosen Beyond Paradise for oceanographer Sylvia Earle because it’s American, a beautiful fragrance and it used to come in a bottle the shades of the sea. They’ve taken some of the breathy jasmine out of the current version.

Audience member: I thought of Lauren or Aliage by Estee Lauder because they’re outdoorsy.

Portia: I also considered Womanity.

Oprah_Winfrey_2010 WikipediaWikipedia

Oprah Winfrey (1954-)
M7 by Yves Saint Laurent
Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Rosemary Heart: Oud, Vetiver, Mandragora, Amber, Musk

Portia: Oprah is a woman who has changed the face of the world. M7 was the first oud in mainstream perfumery and it has a real smoothness. The oud and vetiver gives it a kind of petrol-y greenness. It’s fabulous but weird. No wonder it never made any money. Can you still get it?

Nick Gilbert: It’s been relaunched as M7 Oud Absolu.

Portia: Any other suggestions for Oprah?

Audience member: Ambre Sultan (Serge Lutens).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel (1954-)
Black Saffron by Byredo (2012)
Notes: Honey pomelo, Saffron, Juniper berry, Leather, Rose, Black violet, Blond woods, Raspberry, Vetiver

Portia: Black Saffron is sheer and radiant but tough. It smells of petrichor – rain hitting hot tar. I think Angela is tough but has a sweetness.

Well, it’s been amazing to see you all and so many happy faces! (Huge applause)

Portia Lila Grant Val Perfume Lovers London Jan 2016 #1Val (Cookie Queen), Grant (Basenotes), Lila (Perfume Lovers London),
Antonio Gardoni (Bogue Profumo), Portia Turbo (APJ)

Hope you enjoyed this taster of the Portia Turbo experience. We were all still buzzing long after the event was over. It was such a thrill.
Let me know in the comments if you have any fragrant suggestions for these great women.
Tara xxx


(Ed: Go visit A Bottled Rose)

38 thoughts on “An Evening with Portia Turbo: Perfume Lovers London

  1. What a fantastic way to structure a perfume event! I loved reading about this. It reads as if it there was a wonderful intimacy there. I must say though, I did laugh out loud at the mental picture of Portia working the aisle “I Am SILLAGE!” What a soundbite.

    Great write up and full of fabulous names I recognise.

    warm scented wishes to all
    Sam xx


    • It did feel intimate, Sam. Everyone was in good spirits and up for a laugh.
      “I am sillage!” was just priceless. Portia at her very best.


  2. I echo Sam in every way. What a marvelous event! I so appreciate your sharing it with us. As for Elizabeth Taylor, I’m glad Portia didn’t match her with White Diamonds! But as usual, I’ve got a new list of scents to find and try.
    Warm aloha,


  3. Portia was fabulous! It was such a fun evening and a brilliant first visit for me to Perfume Lovers London. I do think Portia needs to make ‘Sillage: The Frangance’ and then do a breathy ‘I am Sillage’ voiceover on the advert, saving the windmill walk for the launch party. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’ve kept my the handouts for reference and have loved my sample of ‘Sharp’


    • What a great choice for your first visit to PLL, Meredith!
      Nice to hear you’ve enjoyed your sample of Sharp.
      LOVE the thought of Portia doing one of those breathy fragrance ad voice-overs! ๐Ÿ˜€


    • Thanks for stopping by, Neva!
      Portia really is an amazing entertainer which is why I was so happy to finally get to see her in action. What a fabulous experience.


  4. What a fabulously fun presentation! I have been looking forward to this post for awhile. Thank you, Tara, for your great report on the action. I especially liked Portia’s “I am sillage” ! The whole event must have been wild!
    Azar xx


    • It was pretty wild, Azar! A lot of fun was had by all. Portia didn’t disappoint her adoring fans who had travelled from far and wide.
      “I am sillage” is sure to go down in history ๐Ÿ˜‰


  5. You know, Tara, that I love reading your reports of events I couldn’t be a part of (though I think I would still enjoy reading even about those that I personally attended – we’ll have to test this theory one day ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Thank you for bringing it to us.
    I’m not good at scenting anybody/anything (but myself ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) but, I think, I’d share my beloved Ubar with Cleopatra…


    • Ha! Thanks, Undina. We shall definitely have to test that out one of these days.
      If you’d have to share a beloved fragrance with anyone from history, Cleopatra isn’t bad ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. Oh, it was such fun to relive the evening through your thorough report. I am convinced you were a stenographer in a former life, as I have said many times. I especially loved the way you captured all Portia’s best wisecracks, and also the fact that you used different pictures from the ones projected on-screen on the night. And Portia’s outfit was an absolute highlight. ๐Ÿ˜‰


    • V,I cut out a couple of hundred words but all the best stuff is still there. It’s not verbatim but hopefully the wisecracks are ๐Ÿ™‚

      Portia chose all the pics and her head-dress was a particular highlight!


  7. Thanks for the wonderful writeup Tara! I have been looking forward to reading about it for quite some time. What a special evening you all must have had. Sandra xo


  8. A brilliant report as usual. I loved the ones you did on B’s blog. Now I am feeling smug for having suggested to Portia that a “Tara report” of her appearance/performance at Perfume Lovers London would be ideal. Good to see that Portia agreed and that she broke her short posts only rule.

    Also really enjoying your blog “A Bottled Rose.” I’m happy to see you continuing to report the PPL events.


  9. Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Lindaloo. It’s nice to hear you’ve been visiting A Bottled Rose. Ah, so it was your idea? I must say, it’s been really fun guesting here on APJ as I’m such a fan.

    It was good of Portia to break her short post rule for me. I cut it down as much as I could but it would have been such a shame to miss out so much good stuff. It’s her fault for being so damn fabulous.


  10. Great article, and a great idea for an event. I’m embarrassed to admit that there were a couple of women on that list of high achievers that I had not heard of.

    I had always pictured Cleopatra bathing in milk, so I would have nominated a milk-smelling fragrance for her. Perhaps Bronze Goddess might be fitting.


    • No shame in that, Greg. I hadn’t heard of a couple of them either. It’s always good to learn something new.

      Funny you say that about a milky scent for Cleopatra. I was thinking of Amaranthine.


  11. Experiencing the night vicariously through your post Tara. thanks for that. I wish i had been there to meet you all and see the sashaying Portia. It sure sounded like fun! ๐Ÿ™‚


  12. I donยดt know how you remember all this stuff! Perfect write-up. I am always so busy being hyper-active at such thins I forget. Wonderful. To be repeated ASAP in one way or another. Bussis. xxxxx


    • If I didn’t take notes and write them up straight away I’d be lost! I thought I might not be able to enjoy the evening as much but I don’t see how I could have enjoyed it more.


  13. Tara I felt I was there with your description and I am glad that Londoners got to experience the fabulous Portia Turbo in action….haha I am silage is the best!!


    • It’s so cool that you get to see Portia doing her thing every weekend, Anna Maria. At least I got to experience a special one-off performance!


    • Hey Sun Mi
      Portia made it such a fun and interesting evening for us. Hope you enjoy testing the new fragrances ahe’s introduced you to.


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