Ombre de Hyacinth by Calice Becker for Tom Ford 2012




Hiya Designer lovers,

Today we are looking at one of the Private Blend Jardin Noir series. The only one of the group still on the Tom Ford website is Cafe Rose but the others are still available at the discounters including this one.

I don’t tend to try all the Tom Ford fragrances because I think his pricing policy is taking the piss. Yes, they are lovely, some could even be classed as modern masterpieces but the consistent price jumps, bringing out a bunch at a time, the lack of consistent availability due to discontinuations and that it’s really just a jumped up Estee Lauder brand all make me a bit grumpy with them.

Anyway, all that aside, when I was in the USA in 2013 these were relatively new. Tom and I spent a moment sniffing them and I liked a couple but couldn’t remember which. So I bought a set of decants. I don’t know why but the set got put aside unopened and they have just resurfaced.

Ombre de Hyacinth by Tom Ford 2012

Ombre de Hyacinth by Calice Becker

Ombre de Hyacinth Tom Ford fragranticaFragrantica

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Galbanum, Magnolia, Violet leaf, Frankincense
Heart: Hyacinth, Jasmine, Pink pepper
Base: Benzoin, Galbanum, Musk

My Google translate says Ombre de Hyacinth means Shadow of Hyacinth.

Bitter, smooth green with a very slight taint of sweetness. Galbanum gives a dark furriness here and is offset by the lightness and crisp snap of violet leaf. Quickly coming in is the hyacinth but to me it’s like running your thumb down the stalk of the flower and smelling the wet sappiness. The frankincense is resinous rather than could stick, woods or smoke and helps the galbanum feel ultra glassy.

Ombre de Hyacinth hyacinth pezibear pixabayPDI

My skin throws only the merest soapiness until well into the heart and the vegetational greenness stays, overriding it and giving the impression of drinking clean, fresh water from a snow melt stream. Yes, Ombre de Hyacinth stays dark for me. The fluting notes of violet & hyacinth are overshadowed by the bitter shade of galbanum. This makes them both more interesting because you have to follow your nose to find them. Also, I’ve never noticed them dealt with in this way before.

Soapy? Not really what I think of as soapy but the scent in deep dry down does seem to lose focus and becomes an amorphous, slightly pea scented wash. Not bad, but not nearly as amazing as the first 3-4 hours. What though do I expect? That’s a pretty good run before boredom sets in. Maybe it’s me and not the scent that has become less excited?

Ombre de Hyacinth lasts exceedingly well. Once the fragrance has died down it stays at that level, fragrant within a 30-ish cm radius and a whisper outside that, for hours and hours.


Further reading: Non Blonde and Perfume Posse 
Feeling Sexy Australia has AUD$325/50ml FREE Australian delivery
Surrender to Chance has samples starting from $4/0.5ml

What do you think of the Tom Ford Private Blend range? Do you own any? Which is fave?
Portia xx

Amber Oud by Calice Becker for By Kilian 2011


Post by Portia


Hi there Fragrant Fiends,

Oudh. The 21st centuries answer to IFRA compliant base notes. It is the ubiquitous fully fragrant, dark, deep and dirty base note giving a solid grounding to an industry that has lost its regular, centuries old palette to drug companies greed: the modern multinational fragrance component creators. I’m sure it’s a more complex problem and that I’ve missed most of the memos but from the other side of the world this is how it looks to me. Sorry, end rant.

So, I tried Amber Oud around the time it came out and could not justify the spend to myself at that time, 5 years on I wondered if my thoughts had changed with the ever increasing price of fragrance. Was $395 a reasonable price for something I remember being so lovely, and reading the other reviews written at that time it was as special as I remember and many others were happy to drop that kind of cash on it.

Amber Oud by By Kilian 2011

Amber Oud by Calice Becker

Amber Oud By Kilian FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Amber, Benzoin, Spices, Oud, Vanilla, Cedar

Softest, plushest, tamest oudh ever. So gorgeously rolled and folded into the spicy vanilla/amber bakery and only held slightly dry by the crispness of cedar. Warm and enveloping I can see why even the oudh haters love Amber Oud so. Lightly medicinal, a tiny hint of band aid and only the merest waft of poop Amber Oud is almost a gourmand oudh, oudh light or kiddies oudh. So velvet soft and cozy, as close to a warm beige cashmere lounge throw as oudh can be. Delightful, sweet, sensational and gorgeous: the words that jump into my head while sniffing are not the usual ones associated with oudh in my experience. The By Kilian crew have created the most fabulous general public oudh and it makes me smile.

The amber is sweet and caramelised, lit from within and effulgent Ambre Oud grows more and more lovely. Very reminiscent through its heart of the L’Artisan L’Eau d’Ambre, a similar warmth and purity. It stays pretty and buoyant and luxurious, the most expensive caramel toffee.


Here’s my quandry: yes this is lovely. It’s incredibly wearable, luxurious and gorgeous, no doubt about it. When I press my nose to my fragrant spots it is utterly swoon worthy. When it’s not so close, when I’m catching whiffs of it as I go about my day, Amber Oud is not a lot better than 50 other ambers on the market. From Queen Latifah through L’Artisan, Nicolai to Giorgio Armani: yes they are all different but at arms length the differences are not so pronounced, yummy amber. Is Amber Oud at $395 from $370-$150 better? Is it really? I hang my head in shame because for me the answer is no…. I’ll put my decant away and try it again one day, maybe then?

Amber Oud By Kilian red No Entry Pixabay

Further reading: Olfactoria’s Travels and Bois de Jasmin
LuckyScent has $395/50ml
Surrender To Chance has $5/0.5ml

What is your cut off point? Do you have one? How important is having something in your collection?
Portia xx




Prelude to Love by Calice Becker for by Kilian 2008

Hi hi hi Sniffas,

While in London earlier in the year my mate Tara (of Olfactoria’s Travels) gave me a set of the by Killian samples. It’s beautifully presented in a little velvet pouch of 2ml vials. On my return from traveling I searched high and low and couldn’t find the damn thing, then I forgot about it in the way you do. While cleaning up stuff in anticipation of our move I discovered the baggie in a small cardboard box that had been packed and put to the side with a bunch of other stuff from the trip. I would swear I looked in the box thousands of times……

Prelude to Love by Calice Becker for by Kilian 2008

Prelude to Love By Kilian FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, Seville orange, Amalfi lemon, bitter orange
Heart: Ginger, neroli, rose, cardamom, orange blossom, freesia, pink pepper, lavender
Base: Iris, Cypriol oil, musk, Russian leather

Basenotes gives these featured accords:
Top: Bergamot, orange, lemon
Heart: Ginger, neroli, orange blossom
Base: Florence iris

The glorious, pithy citrus tinged with green is juicy and ripe. It is the warmest cool fragrance, with a very interesting oily/petrol taint that I find peculiar and inviting. Like pashing/snogging a recently showered and cologned mechanic. There is something extremely lived in about Prelude To Love that makes it more than a cologne, it’s a cologne involved in a sexual tryst, even to the lightly breathy orange blossom and neroli in the heart.

Prelude to Love By Kilian Orange_zest WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

As an aside: I was standing next to a gardenia hedge early this evening and the absolutely gorgeous/disgusting fragrance emanating from the flowers was completely engulfing, I was transported into a world of scent, shut my eyes for a moment and just breathed in the luscious, lascivious, overwhelming fragrance.

Prelude To Love is nothing like that but it does have elements of that sweetly erotic, human in close contact but cleanly washed idea. Freshly washed flesh but in a hairy nook or crevasse that always maintains the humanity.

Prelude to Love By Kilian sext mechanic PinterestPhoto Stolen Pinterest

Then, not long after I am swept away by an extremely pretty floral, it’s a bouquet, thick, rich and heavy. That’s what’s so weird about Prelude To Love, though it feels a bit cologne-ish, the heft and nuance seem too deep and mercurial for it to be put in such a simple category. This cologne has cajones. A honeyed, animalic sweetness runs under the whole life of the fragrance that has me smiling as I get huffs, very, very nice to wear. I can see why Prelude To Love is still so popular.

Prelude To Love is fabulous, you can tell it is the best. You want similar results but for a fraction of the price? 4711, even the newest formulation, is a very good bright citrus cologne. You will have to reapply more frequently but isn’t that half the fun?

Prelude to Love By Kilian QM2 Sydney WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and Olfactoria’s Travels
LuckyScent has $155/4 x .25oz Travel Spray Set
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $4/.5ml

Do you love the by Killian range? Is there a favourite amongst them for you? I love sweet Redemption and Back to Black, Prelude To Love is wonderful, I’m pretty sure though that there are 6 other citrus frags in my wardrobe that I’d reach for first.
Portia x


Cuir de Lancôme by Calice Becker and Pauline Zanoni for Lancôme 2007


Post by Trésor


As I am writing this the very first snow of the season is beginning to fall and winter’s crystalline breath is rushing through the labyrinth of tree branches outside my window, sounding with an orchestral percussion as if greeting the frigid embrace and welcoming it with open arms. My world is now captured within a veil of glimmering virginal white and my heart longs for a warmth that’s slipped away as sand through an hourglass.

Cuir de Lancome  Grandma Katina Rogers FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

Not the physical warmth of being cocooned within a favourite blanket but an intangible emotional warmth that only blooms with the reminiscence of being held in the arms of one who’s love has served as both shelter and unfailing nourishment. Someone who’s love remains only as radiant aura held within a sacred chamber deep within your heart. Few fragrances are able to manifest such cherished memories for me, to transcend space and time and revive as this fragrance does. Today I review Cuir de Lancôme, a magical potion and olfactory time machine who’s precious vapors transport me and pay tribute to my beloved grandmother. A pulchritudinous woman, a force of nature who’s luminous soul taught me of absolute joy and unconditional compassion.

Cuir de Lancôme by Calice Becker and Pauline Zanoni for Lancôme 2007

Cuir de Lancome Lancome FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Mandarin orange, saffron, bergamot
Heart: Patchouli, hawthorn, jasmine, ylang-ylang
Base: Orris root, birch, styrax

The opening of Cuir de Lancôme is a spectacular symphony of brilliant, spherical mandarin and delicately bitter bergamot. The effect is so incredibly familiar, not dissimilar to the aroma of an exquisite artisinal soap procured on a journey through the south of France. This is a most beauteous prelude to what I can only describe as one of the softest, most creamy and positively unctuous leather notes I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

Cuir de Lancome leather_jacket WikipediaPhoto stolen Wikipedia

Cuir de Lancôme is not akin to the subversive, BDSM black of Etat Libre d’Orange’s Rien but a master class in restrained elegance. Utterly smooth with textural symmetry to that of whipped butter and kissed with delicate swirls of saffron and I’m certain other spices which are so meticulously blended that they simply register as a gossamer veil of whispering heat. Beneath this leather smolders a rich, deep and dry patchouli interlaced with the balsamic splendor of a languid styrax and an exceptionally photorealistic note of birch.

What’s so terribly beautiful about this act of the fragrance is how it pulsates from the skin in a soft and gloriously diffuse halo, maintaining a poised restraint while beckoning you closer as if to draw you into a tender hearted embrace. It is this precise moment where Cuir de Lancôme is most fragile but as with all creatures of beauty it is in this fragility where it exhibits it’s most extraordinary power, an immaculate vulnerability. An achingly divine swan’s song leading the fragrance into conclusion, just traces of powdery warmth dancing upon the skin.

Cuir de Lancome Swarovski_swan elektriksheep DeviantARTPhoto Stolen DeviantART

I usually get a good 8 hours wear out of this deeply beautiful elixir with a moderate sillage that’s surprisingly enveloping despite it’s modest nature. Though I prefer it as the temperatures descend I think one could wear it any time they pleased, it’s really quite versatile in that way.

Further reading: Now Smell This and Olfactoria’s Travels
Galaxy Perfume has $79/50ml
FragranceX has $102/50ml
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $5/ml

I’d love to know which fragrances bring to life memories of an incredible happiness as this does for me. Sending each of you all of my love.

Trésor xx

Beyond Paradise by Calice Becker for Estée Lauder 2003

Hello Hello Hello,

While moving I have rediscovered an old favourite bottle.

Way back in the early years of this century I had a beautiful partner called Varun, we traveled often to his homeland India. On our first journey to India I was taken by the lovely smell of jasmine and marigold that women would wear in ropes in their hair, a thick, rich and intoxicating smell that could become completely overpowering in a small shop with two or three women thus adorned.

Beyond Paradise Estée Lauder  taj-mahalPhoto Stolen Pixabay

So 2000, 2001 and 2002 visits were filled with this glorious and enchanting waft at unexpected times, not every woman would wear the garlands and I never found out what prompted it though at weddings they were everywhere. Sadly the practice is seen less and less in modern Incredible India.

Beyond Paradise by Calice Becker for Estée Lauder 2003

Beyond Paradise Estée Lauder FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Orange blossom, blue hyacinth, Jaboticaba berry, lemon, bergamot, grapefruit
Heart: Laelia orchid, pink honeysuckle, Japanese mahonia, jasmine, gardenia
Base: Natal plum blossom, golden melaleuca, zebrano wood, ambrette seed, amber

Fast forward now to 2003, and I am traveling alone to meet Varun who has had to go home to run the family business. As I’m walking though the Duty Free an Estee Lauder rep hands me a miniature bottle shaped like a teardrop with my gifting purchases. The bottle itself was so beautiful, exquisite, a rainbow teardrop and inside was a fragrance filled with bittersweet heartache. The smell of glamotous Indian women wearing their jasmine and marigold hair garlands, the hot wet heat of southern India’s spring and the cooling breeze blowing over lotus ponds into Kerala wooden pole houses. On my first sniff I was overcome with nostalgia and nervous tummy butterflies of anticipation.

Beyond Paradise Estée Lauder Flower_garland WikipediaPhoto Stolen Wikipedia

Ha ha ha! Of course, I arrive in India and Varun is like, “What for are you wearing that nasty cheap roadside stall jasmine oil?” Ha Ha ha! So away my little bottle went for that holiday but on my return Beyond Paradise became the scent of India for me. Even though I have been to the oldest and most reputable scent wallahs in Old and New Delhi, Jaipur and Kerala it is Beyond Paradise that takes me to the first few visits to India every time.

Beyond Paradise Estée Lauder  Varun PortiaVarun & Portia 2004

Basically Beyond Paradise opens like a vase of flowers, all wet, green leaves, a little crackle of bitterness, crisp white flowers and softly sweet fruits, it goes more white flowers through the heart and then dries down to dry white flowers, a very little bit fleshy and ripe, then fades to nothing musky woods. The story isn’t big and the shifts aren’t monumental, Beyond Paradise is fresh and light but gives you really good sillage and projection for most of the day.

The Little Book of Perfumes LuckyScentPhoto Stolen LuckyScent ($18 at LuckyScent)

Fast forward again to 2011 and I am given a book called The Little Book Of Perfumes by Luca Turin & Tanya Sanchez. Though I had been a mad collector of frags on and off through my life never had I been given such purpose in my collecting as that book gave me. Instantly I wanted to try ALL 100 fragrances in that book, but to find something I have loved so well for so long in that book was a complete surprise.

Further reading: Sweet Diva and Scentualist
Beauty Encounter has $55/50ml
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $3/ml

Are you a Beyond Paradise fan? What was one of your excited fragrance epiphanies?
Portia xx