Saturday Question: Which 3 Perfume Notes Do You Look For?




Hello Fellow Fumies,

I have had an idea. Well, actually I’m copying an idea from Olfactoria’s Travels. Once a week there used to be a Question. Everyone would chime in with an answer, chat with other responders and it would be a generally fun events each week. Taking sides never meant taking offence and everyone kept it respectful and light.

I’d like to carry on that tradition, maybe you’ll see it on the weekend or chime in through the week. Hopefully you will come back and see if anyone has responded to your comment and you can reply to them.

If we get over 200 responses I will draw a $20 Surrender To Chance Gift Card. Every comment will get a place in the draw, so if you comment purposefully on your own or another comment you’ll have a chance, will draw the winner on Friday and the winner will be announced in next Saturdays question.

Last Weeks Winner:

Send me an eMail to portia _ turbo at yahoo dawt com dawt au


Saturday Question

Which 3 Perfume Notes Do You Look For?

OK, so most of us have a few trigger notes. You know, the ones you see in a fragrance note list that instantly catch your attention. Maybe you love it because it’s a note that you love to have overwhelming you. It could be a back story player that you find easy to notice and its participation always makes you smile. A Base note that you love because it will be the one you smell the longest in your fragrant wear. Perhaps its a top note that gives you shivers. I think we all have a few notes that we recognise with love but lets keep it to three today.

My answer:

Amber: Though not every fragrance that has amber is a favourite I do tend to like my scents warm, resinous and sweet. There’s something so comfortable about ambers, and fragrances that include it in their main ingredients. It’s a little deeper than vanilla but not so darkly animal as labdanum/styrax/benzoin alone. Some of my most loved ambers include L’Artisan L’Eau d’Ambre, Huitiem Art Ambre Cerulean, Jessica simpson Fancy Nights and Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan.

Rose: Roses come in so many different scent families. They can be sweet and jammy, citrus or tea, smoky, boozy, fruity and a whole host of others, or combined. There’s something incredibly precious about how a rose smells. Maybe because Mum loved them so much and grew them in our garden. I could have been influenced by the adoration for roses in prose, advertisement and gardening books but I really do feel a genuine attachment to the fragrances that roses emit. Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur, Soivohle Rosa sur Reuse, Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges, Parfums DelRae Coup de Foudre and Annick Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais are just some of my rose loves.

Lavender: Lavender is so soothing yet manages to also be gloriously alive and breathtakingly beautiful. Considering what a fragrant staple it’s been its poor reputation in the 21st century seems unwarranted. Personally I can take it straight up, blended among the crowd, a central or backing role. It scent refreshes my brain and lets me sleep like a log, whenever I change the sheets I spritz the new ones with L’Occitane Lavande de Haute-Provence. Other Lavender loves include CHANEL Boy, Le Galion Cologne Nocturne, Guerlain Jicky, Hermessence Brin de Réglisse and Jean Paul Gaultier Le Mâle.


So my question to you is

Which 3 Perfume Notes Do You Look For?

Favourite Fragrance Note?




Hi there Fumies,

There are a few notes in fragrance that if I see them in a note list I definitely want to give them a sniff. Not all the fragrances that have these notes in them work for or on me. As a starting point though I am much more willing to try some new thing with these babies in on my skin. I’m WAY more inclined to order a sample or seek it out actively.

Favourite Fragrance Note?



OK, probably no surprise to most people who read APJ regularly but Amber is one of the notes that I look for in note lists. Recently Fragrantica changed their note list icons and it took me a while to recalibrate my swift glance. Fortunately Amber wasn’t changed hugely. Now if I see Amber in the name of a fragrance then I’ll spray myself without even looking at the note list, not clever but often fun.

Some ambers I really love are: Ambre Cerulean by Huitieme Art Parfums, L’eau d’Amber by L’Artisan, Ambre Russe by Parfum d`Empire, Olympic Amber by Olympic Orchids, Amber Queen by A Dozen Roses, Ambre Narguile by Hermès, Chergui by Serge Lutens and Ambra del Nepal by I Profumi di Firenze. Obviously not a complete list, this is off the op of my head.



Growing up Catholic and attending primary school with Nuns and secondary school with Jesuit Priests my early years were awash with incense. Then as late teens bloomed, in fashion school and my friends began to become more multicultural I got to smell incenses from around the world. Nowadays I have a cupboard full to overflowing of incense gathered from visiting many countries. From the cheapest to the quite expensive and I love them all. Put a hefty dose of incense into a perfume and I will try to get my nose on some ASAP.

Some of my adored incenses: Avignon by Comme des Garcons, Trayee by Neela Vermeire Creations, Oliban by Phaedon, Fille en Aiguilles by Serge Lutens, Encens Flamboyant (Shower Gel) by Annick Goutal, Bois d’Ascese by Naomi Goodish, Interlude Man by Amouage and Vintage Opium by Yves Saint Laurent. Trayee Neela Vermeire Creations



I think I am hyper-nosmic to oakmoss and its facsimiles. Even the merest smidgeon and it overtakes most fragrances for me. A good thing in my eyes because I love its soft, furry, green smokiness. In my nose a little bit of oakmoss makes every fragrance more stunning and desirable. If I see the word oakmoss in a note list I can be about 95% sure that it will be a winner only skin and that pretty soon there’ll be a FB and a backup in the cupboard.

Oakmoss-centric frags in my wardrobe: Mitsouko, L’Heure Bleue & Vol de Nuit by Guerlain, Chloe (1975), Antaeus by CHANEL, Niki de Saint Phalle, Magie Noire by Lancome, Bandit by Robert Piguet, Miss Dior by Christian Dior (1947), Farouche by Nina Ricci and Eau de Gucci (1993)

So, over to you. What note or notes ring your bells when looking through note lists?
Portia xx

Kalemat by Arabian Oud


Post by FeralJasmine


Some time ago, my friend Kafkaesque did a review of a then-unknown perfume called Kalemat, from Arabian Oud. It was $60 for a big bottle, and such is the seductive power of Kafkaesque’s prose that large numbers of us blind-bought it.

Kalemat by Arabian Oud

Kalemat Arabian Oud FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Blueberry, anise
Heart: Rosemary, cashmere wood, floral notes
Base: Musk, amber, honey

To see exactly what seduced us, there is no alternative to reading the original post, because nobody can write like Kafkaesque. You will also note that, like a comet, the post developed a very long tail as we all reported back with our experiences. My own response was a tiny bit disappointed at the time, and that’s where matters stayed until a few months later, when I noticed that the level in my bottle had decreased visibly and bought a back-up bottle. In cool weather, I reach for it at least three times a week, and often wear it as a comfort scent in the evening and on weekends.

Kalemat Arabian Oud Women's_Day_in_Egypt WikiMedia)Photo Stolen WikiMedia

So why did it take me weeks to fall in love? Chasing a youthful dream, I’m afraid. To this day, my dream amber is one that I smelled on a woman in Egypt over 20 years ago as she passed me in the street, and I am still seeking that honeyed amber spice-bomb and haven’t found it. When I read about Kalemat, I was sure I had found it, and felt irrationally disappointed when Kalemat was its duplicate but, on my dry perfume-eating skin, was a soft memory rather than the concentrated bombshell original. All the notes are there, but the volume is turned down.

Kalemat Arabian Oud Amber Ann Porteus FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

Is that a bad thing? Not at all. If I found my dream amber, Kalemat Cubed, it would probably clear elevators. Kalemat has a beautiful sunset-honeyed cloud of an opening that has excellent projection and killer sillage, and for the first 20 minutes projection is several inches off my skin. I spray before going to work, and enjoy this part along the commute. By the time I arrive, the sillage is soft and polite and it never raises an eyebrow among my colleagues. I don’t get the rivers of amber that Kafkaesque got, but I do get trickles of honeyed spiced amber that delight me every time I can sniff my wrist surreptitiously, and waft to me with every movement of my hands. A few other notes, like the blueberry-spice note, drift by and turn my thoughts firmly to pleasant things when they reach my nose. Sprayed more heavily in the evening, it reminds me that life is so lovely and generous that those of us who can’t afford the Roja Doves can still smell wonderful. It is killer on a scarf in the winter, warming you subtly. The packaging is also lovely, with a heavy, substantial 100ml glass bottle that arrives in a lovely Arabic-lettered book box.

Kalemat Arabian Oud mosque CarlMaxwellLewin PixabayPhoto Stolen Pixabay

The parent company, Arabian Oud, moved off Amazon but Kalemat can still be found on EBay for very reasonable prices. Someday I still hope to find my dream amber for special occasions, Kalemat Cubed, but this one will hold me just fine until then.

FeralJasmine X

A Whale of A Week!


Post by Ainslie Walker



It’s whale-watching season here in Sydney. As they migrate past the Harbour, people line the shore to catch a glimpse. I visited the cliffs at the entrance to Sydney Harbour last week and saw some. Amazing creatures, and a very Sydney experience.

Whale_watching Australia WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

A Whale of A Week!

Also last week, I was lucky enough to smell a lump of ambergris. Ambergris is fecal matter (TURD) from sperm whales. It takes many years to form, lining the intestinal wall of the whale to protect it from the beaks of the squid it dines on. Debate surrounds how it is released from the whale -some say it’s vomit, some say it comes out the other end. Scientists say whale fecal matter is only fluids, so now it is believed the ambergris is only released when the animal dies, breaks down, or even explodes!! Lumps have been found from 15g to 420kg. The price for naturally found ambergris is extremely high, the odds of finding it, extremely small. Many countries ban the trade of ambergris as part of the ban on the hunting of whales- Australia of course is very strict-none is coming in and none is getting out!

Amber/Ambergris is a somewhat mysterious perfume ingredient. Is it a resin from a tree or is it really whale’s vomit/poop that’s been washed ashore? Is it a man made accord? I am curiously confused, and have had to investigate.

Ambergris ainslie

The word ‘amber’ was adopted into the English language in the 14th Century and referred to ‘grey amber’, now known as ‘ambergris’ (ambre gris). ‘Amber’ (Baltic/white/yellow amber) is fossilised tree resin, considered a gemstone, and appreciated for its colour and beauty since the stone ages. The term ‘amber’ was used to describe this substance in the early 15th century and was used more and more as ambergris use declined. Yellow amber and ambergris are both found washed up on beaches – ambergris floats, however, amber is too dense to float.

Ambergris is waxy, solid and flammable, and usually grey or black. When fresh it has a strong fecal odour. As it ages and oxidises, floating out to sea. I experienced a salty-fresh, dry marine blast, like sea rockpools, with animalic and fecal notes, something also very deep and earthy from the “lumps”. I then smelt from a bottle of ambergris tincture. It instantly reminded me of “Isocol” –isopropanol/rubbing alcohol, benzoin- but much deeper, earthy, smooth, cool and kind of ear-waxy,… still marine, dry, animalic and slightly fecal.

Isocol ainslie

Ambergris’ main use in perfumery is as a ‘fixative’ – allowing the elusive perfume notes, and especially quick evaporating top notes, to linger longer.
Nowadays, it is uncommon for large product houses to use real ambergris in perfumes. (Hermes and Creed claim they still do). Synthetics became available in the 20th century that are cheaper and easier to acquire. Perfumers now make “amber accords” from combinations of vanillin (synthetic vanilla), labdanum, benzoin and styrax (liquid-amber tree resin).
In perfumery, ‘amber’ describes a warm, powdery, sweet and mysterious base note. Classed as ‘oriental perfumes’ in English, and in French, “parfums ambres”. Shalimar is the best example of this sweetened genre, a more bold take is Serge Luten’s Ambre Sultan with its bay leaf twist.

Ainslie Walker x


Further reading and exhibitions:
Book: Christopher Kemp’s Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris

Here’s a link to a (life size) whale photography exhibition currently on in Sydney. The exhibition is breathtaking, and really captures these incredible and rare creatures.

Side note: Dioressence was famous for using real ambergris in the past. Apparantly Hermes, Merveilles still contains it! Go have a smell!

A Tale of Two Ambers


Post by FeralJasmine


Here in New Mexico fall brings us exquisite clear brisk days, cold nights, and a sense of stirring and coming to life after the oppressive late summer. I become obsessed with amber and spice in late October, and stay that way until late February, when I turn wishfully to the earliest florals. I tend to start buying new ambers as soon as the interest develops, as if I must compulsively store up provisions against the winter. This year, though, I’m trying to behave more sensibly, and to hold the thought that a person only needs so many ambers. My heart isn’t in this, but I’m testing the theory.

Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio Ann Porteus  FlickrPhoto Stolen Ann Porteus Flickr

With this in mind, over the last month I’ve tried to make a point of noticing which ambers I reach for most. There are a lot of contenders that I wear regularly, and two clear winners that I reach for whenever the amber craving comes over me.

A Tale of Two Ambers

Ambra Aurea from Profumum Roma

Ambra Aurea Profumum Roma FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Amber, incense, myrrh

The first is Ambra Aurea from Profumum Roma. This is a strong and intense amber for amber lovers, not jazzed up with many other notes. I find it a touch harsh when first applied, and it needs light and judicious application. When I say light, I mean that one small spray may be enough. Soon it is smooth dark deep amber, absolutely lovely. I have the ultimate in scent-eating skin; most perfumes don’t last more than a few hours on me, and many don’t even last 60 minutes. But this one gives me projection and sillage for an incredible four hours, then fades to one of the most beautiful skin scents that I have ever experienced. I still have lovely skin scent in the morning after applying it early in the previous evening. This is unheard of for me. A person with scent-retaining skin, after one application, might be scented for life. I like to put this one on in early evening when I come home from work, and relax with it by the woodstove. I have worn it to work, two small dabs rather than sprayed, and gotten an appreciative response. But bear in mind that Ambra Aurea is an elegant beast, but a beast indeed.

LuckyScent has $240/100ml

Ambre Noir by Sonoma Scent Studio 2008

Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Labdanum absolute, amber, rose, olibanum, myrrh, vetiver codistilled with mitti (clay), oakmoss absolute, aged Indian patchouli, texas cedarwood, sandalwood, castoreum

The second is Ambre Noir from Sonoma Scent Studio. This one is based on labdanum, one of my favorite notes, with plenty of amber along for the ride. Oakmoss and spice notes are present, but subtle. I would swear that there’s a subtle touch of vanilla; perfumer Laurie Erickson refers to a minimal amount of vanilla in the write-up, but doesn’t list it among the notes. This one is rich and elegant to wear, and I have frequently worn one spray to work, but I apply a full hour before arriving at my workplace. It makes me feel sexy, warm, and comfortable, a good feeling all around.

Sonoma Scent Studios have $16/5ml
Surrender To Chance starts at $5/ml

There is no doubt that if I were limited to two ambers (Perfume Goddess, keep this fate far from me,) it would be these two. But for Oz readers, I can’t resist mentioning one more that isn’t limited to winter: Barbara Bui by Barbara Bui. This one is light and powdery vanillic amber, can be picked up for a song on EBay, and is one if those scents that can please the perfumista without overpowering innocent bystanders.

I would love to hear about your favorite ambers, because despite good intentions I’m always looking for new ones to try. When I first wrote the previous sentence, my Autocorrect altered it to read “I live to hear about your favorite ambers,” which I’m afraid is more or less correct. Share your favorites and join in the fun!


Ambre 114 by Gerald Ghislain and Magali Senequier for Histoires de Parfums 2001

Hey Hey Fume Addicted Family,

As it cools down up in the Northern Hemisphere and warms up in the Southern there is some crossover time where the temperatures are similar throughout the days and evenings, still brisk enough to take a cardigan with you but warm enough to often not need it. Now is one of my favourite fragrance wearing times because it seems the range that is comfortably wearable is limitless. Just recently I went in on a split from the lovely MH at FFF and I’m glad I did…

Ambre 114 by Histoires de Parfums 2001

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Nutmeg, caraway
Heart: Sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, cedar, rose, geranium
Base: Tonka bean, amber, benzoin, vanilla, musk

I have been wearing Ambre 114 to work for the last 3 days and yesterday it even got Disco Nap and Bedtime wears, I will wear it to bed tonight too. If you are frightened of the harsh, powerful or scary reputation that amber has then this is a wonderful gateway amber. It goes on sweet and yummy, slightly burnt like the sugar on brulee, is pretty and leaves a fabulous sillage, at times there is a Shalimar-esque ice cream sweetness to Ambre 114 that never goes so far down the vanilla road but is looking at the signpost on the fork. Creamy, delicious but still cool and light. A contradiction in theory but beautifully brought to life by Gerald Ghislain and Magali Senequier. So smooth and subtle even in the opening and all the way through to dry down. There is never a harsh moment and tonight at work one of the lovely workmen said I smelled “like a rich and fancy lady.” WOW! That is the kind of compliment that could seriously have me buying a bottle if I weren’t already saving.

There are so many featured accords that pass me by when wearing Ambre 114, the 114 is the amount of separate ingredients, that I feel it would be churlish of me to try and parse this perfectly balanced, all weather, fresh and light amber fragrance. I feel comfortable and relaxed in it, as if I’ve been wearing Ambre 114 for years and have always smelled this good.

Maybe a little too fragrant for work but all other occasions will be well served, even dinner or a movie. Jeans or ballgown, Ambre 114 will fit right in. You will smell beautiful.

From LuckyScent: This mythical raw material improves a 114-element composition. A caravanserai of scents for this hot oriental intensifying the natural sensuality of grey amber, sweet perfume and tinted with exoticism. In the Orient, women used to burn incenses, myrrh and amber. It is an oriental vision of voluptuousness.

Photo Stolen balkanholidaysblog

OlfactoriasTravels and TheNonBlonde for further reading
HistoiresDeParfums has 60ml/87euro
LuckyScent has 60ml/$125
SurrenderToChance starts at $5/ml

Whatever you do today make sure you take a moment for yourself,
Love and hugs,
Portia xxx

It’s nearly the 10 year anniversary of the Sydney Gay Games and here is the Opening number of the Opening Ceremony starring Bob Downe. You’ll see me at the end. Unfortunately I couldn’t find us doing our spiel, it was pretty cool, I got the whole stadium to do a Mexican Wave and when they were at the stand up position they had to scream PORTIA!! One of the high points of my career.

Ambra del Nepal by Giovanni Di Massimo for I Profumi di Firenze

Hey Ho Frag People,

I have a strong love for amber perfumes. I like their treacle like sweetness and bitter chocolate darkness, the vanilla that feels like it’s been brewed in a dirty coffee machine, that rich, dark, almost malevolent opening that feels like it’s going to burn out your nostril hairs that warms on your body into something delicious, gourmand-esque but not totally foodie as such. Me and amber, we are mates. I am greedy too and want to try them all to see what twists and turns the next one will offer, just like the rest of my fragrances really. So what does Ambra del Nepal by I Profumi di Firenze give me that the others leave out?

Ambra del Nepal by I Profumi di Firenze

I Profumi Del Firenze site says: The perfumer and chemist Dr. Giovanni Di Massimo, the founder of “I Profumi di Firenze” uncovered in 1966 the secret recipes of the perfumes used by princess Caterina dé Medici, after the big flood that devastated Florence the same year, finding in the mud an old renaissance manuscript caught away by the water.

Photo Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives only these featured accords: Nepalese Amber, cardamom, Madagascar vanilla

A beautiful opener with that medicine cabinet, herbal and caramelised sugar hiding a Crème brûlée sweetness that washes out from under the bold opening and gives the most divine caramel coffee, vanilla cream, bitter chocolate, Ambra Del Nepal is a sweet and spicy Oriental Gourmand frag hit.  There is some discussion about how much cardamom there is and sometimes I get it, others nothing, tonight I went to the spice cupboard and smelt cardamom (pods and ground) and except for the crazy rush of the opening I think it plays only a supporting role because I get spicy but not really cardamom per se.

Ambra Del Nepal is more gourmand that the usual amber that I’m attracted to but seems to do it in such a way that the foodiness is totally acceptable, biscuit-like vanilla. You’d think with such a short list of featured ingredients that this would be simple but it is anything but. There is a definite journey taken here. I love how it gets softer and softer till it becomes a glorious overlay on my own scent, it could be me. This barely there stage lasts right through till morning and gives me morning sex confidence, I still smell completely edible!

Photo Stolen millarandmore.

BeautyHabit has 12ml for $39 or 100ml for $99
NowSmellThis has a completely different experience but we both love it.

I hope you all enjoyed a look at Ambra Del Nepal, what a great fragrance. Do you have a favourite amber? What is it? Do you wear it only in the cooler months?
Till tomorrow, take good care of yourself,
Portia xx

L’Eau D’Ambre by L’Artisan Parfumeur 1978

Hello Gorgeous!

This morning as we got out of bed there was a definite chill in the air so I decided that it would be a perfect day to grab the L’Eau D’Ambre from the fragrance fridge and give it a whirl. On writing this I have been wearing it 7 hours and there is still a beautiful warm amber glow whispering from my skivvy. Amber fragrance has nothing to do with the Amber worn in necklaces except that it smells like wearing amber feels; warm and richly exotic. It is a sweetish, resinous and woody accord usually from benzoin, labdanum, and vanilla, then other interesting accords and notes are added to give light and shade to a fragrance.

Photo Stolen Allposters

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s L’Eau D’Ambre is created with an extremely short list of accords, amber, patchouli, vanilla and geranium. On my skin I love the herbal/medicinal opening and think the minty, green geranium, which softens out after the initial rush and swoop, is instrumental in keeping the ambers and vanilla from getting too gourmandy throughout the life of the fragrance, though it does skirt caramel sometimes. I do notice there is a feeling that we are about to get fruit or roses every so often, just a hint, they never arrive but I am kept guessing all day. An oriental that hints at the spice road rather than embraces it and if you are looking for that harsh, burnt, markets in Asia, in your face amber extreme then pass L’Eau D’Ambre by. It is warm and classy, never overbearing, but keeps itself very nice. Often referred to as the amber for non amber fans, I agree, no need to push yourself to love this because it’s just a delightful and elegant amber for any occasion, opera, dinner, shopping or Bar B Q. Sensual rather than sexual, I feel very comfortable, like I’ve put on a comfy pair of jeans that I know look great.

Photo Stolen L’Artisan Parfumeur

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s website says Jean-Claude Ellena created this glorious perfume. Fragrantica, on the other hand, quotes it as Jean-Francois Laporte along with Vanilia, Tubereuse and Mure & Musc in the same year. I guess L’Artisan would know? Fragrantica does say Jean-Claude created L’Eau D’Ambre Extreme and L’Artisan doesn’t bother.

eGlobalBeauty has 50ml for $95 including P&H
Annoyingly L’Artisan Parfumeur don’t ship to Australia so I can’t order from their sale. GRRR! But you can.

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend. Have you tried this house? What is your favourite L’Artisan perfume?

Portia xx