The Electric Perfume Acid Test


Val the Cookie Queen


“She comes in colours everywhere, she combs her hair, she’s like a rainbow ..”  1967.  The Rolling Stones.

Hey Happy Trippers

Perfume is my drug of choice, these days at least.   As I was writing up my recent psychedelic special in Strange Tales Part II,  I got to thinking about what fragrances I consider as trippy.

Do colours smell?  Are they light, or dark, or sparkly?  Do they appear in layers?  Do they move?  Can you taste them?

The Electric Perfume Acid Test

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Ode by Guerlain 1955


Greg Young


Bienvenue treasure-seekers.

Over summer I was in Canberra and visited the Treasures of Versailles exhibition. There were a few nice things in the exhibition, but nothing I could afford.

I was inspired to go hunt for a few treasures of my own. The suburb of Fyshwick has a cluster of antiques warehouses and markets that are always good for a trawl. In the stinking heat of New Year’s Eve, we headed up there and had a look around. I got lucky at the second market that we visited. My eye was drawn to a cabinet with a few little bottles in it. I particularly noticed a little bottle of Joy, but I thought the price was risible. Lurking behind it was this unopened gem, still in its original box.

(It wasn’t until later – too late to take a photo of it – that I got the musical pun, and am still wondering if it was intentional).

Ode by Guerlain 1955

Treasures from Australia’s Capital City



Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Aldehydes, jasmine, rose, iris, sandalwood and musk

Ode was launched by Guerlain in 1955. The pun was intentional for Guerlain; Ode was a response to Patou’s Joy, a floral aldehyde built on jasmine and rose.

Ode was quite a stepping stone in Guerlain’s history, for a few reasons. It marked the changing of the guard, being the last fragrance of Jacques Guerlain’s career and the first by the then 18 years old Jean-Paul Guerlain. Monsieur Guerlain notes that it was also the first ever Guerlain fragrance to have a one syllable name (the house has strongly preferred three syllable names such as Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, Nahema, etc.) and was also the first to have a bottle designed specifically for that fragrance.

And what a bottle that was; a Baccarat design showing a single rosebud in a sculptured vase. Sadly, my find was not that bottle, being the EDC and not the extract.

Even the Ode EDC was a ground-breaker, introducing the “travel bottle”, a solid rectangular design also used for Habit Rouge and Vetiver. Sadly, I didn’t get lucky with that historic find either.


(Ed: All photos supplied by Greg un less specified. Thanks buddy)

My Motherland by Dzintars 1981: from Latvia with love


Post by Ainslie Walker


Hello lovelies!

The first time I pondered smells of Latvia, I was in my kitchen in Sydney circa 1995 toasting a slice of “Latvian Sweet and Sour Bread.” The smell was divine – spicy, slightly sweet and tart. The bread was a dark rye/sourdough containing aromatic seeds. On further investigation I established the seeds were caraway, a new and delicious flavor to me. The bread, with new and improved politically correct name, is still available from Coles supermarkets in Australia. Particularly delicious toasted with butter- spread thick and vegemite- spread sparsely.

Was it just an odd Australian-ism naming this bread Latvian or was it traditional to the country? Thanks recently to Google (which was not really around back then) and some further international travels, I learnt caraway is used in a lot of Latvian cooking, including in their traditional cheese. I still always ask about the bread to any Latvians I come across and it usually starts an interesting conversation…or a really odd stare!!

Dzintars by Dzintars #3

Recently my wonderful Latvian friend was speaking to her mother about Latvian scents when her mum wandered off, coming back with a small collection of old bottles and boxes she called me straight away. The bottles were treasures she had collected and brought over from Latvia when immigrating and also gifts she had received from travelling friends and relatives over the years. In the package was plenty of vintage bottles of Joy by Jean Patou, but the one that caught my attention the most was something I had never seen before. They requested I do some research for them, so here goes:

My Motherland by Dzintars

From Latvia with love

Dzintars by Dzintars #1

From the site (Thank you Undina)
Top: Lily-of-the-valley, geranium, bergamot
Heart: Rose, jasmine, neroli, iris, hyacinth, ylang-ylang
Base: Musk, amber, black pepper, cinnamon

Dzintars by Dzintars – a product house based in Riga dating back to 1849. With 188 fragrances in their back catalogue, they are deemed the largest manufacturer of cosmetics and perfumery in the Baltics.

You can see in the photos, the beautiful cut glass bottle, silk covered and lined box – complete with hand embroidered ribbon and medallion pinned to it. Just gorgeous! Opening the bottle, which is now empty I can smell traces of patchouli, civet, musky oakmoss and balsamic sweet, sticky notes. Research says the fragrance from 1981 is a chypre containing bergamot, lily-of-the-valley, cyclamen, iris, orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, patchouli, cloves, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss and civet.

Dzintars by Dzintars #2

The word Dzintars is Latvian for amber and more than 4000 men in Latvia share the name – it is often also a surname! On eBay I found a CD called Dzintars: Songs of Amber by the Latvian Women’s Choir! Anyone who knows me knows how much I love amber, so this is hugely impressive to me!! Perhaps I have found my calling in the Baltics? Ha ha.

Dzintars by Dzintars #5

My own mother was a “10 pound Pom” back in the 50’s, emigrating from the UK to Australia with her parents via boat with 1 suitcase between them. Have you ever considered what fragrant treasures people bring from country to country and what their stories are? It is interesting to ponder the trails fragrances take before landing in our possession. It’s fascinating to get people talking about the fragrance bottles they have stashed away when empty, yet not thrown out – there is always a sentimental tale to discover.

Dzintars by Dzintars #6

What’s your favorite and sentimental fragrance story? Have you any Dzintars fragrances? What can you tell me about them?

Until next time! X

Ed: There are some changes to the original post because Undina has found extra information and can read the language. Thanks Undina. XXX)

Perfume: A Century of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom


Post by Anne-Marie


I am fussy about perfume books because there are some terrible ones out there. But slowly I’ve built up a little library and I thought I might share some impressions of one of my favourites.

Perfume: A Century of Scents by Lizzie Ostrom

perfume-a-century-of-scents-lizzie-ostrom Book DepositoryBook Depository (AUD$28.45 Delivered)

You may know Lizzie Ostrom as Odette Toilette, a British-based speaker and commentator on fragrance history and culture: a ‘purveyor of olfactory adventures’. Her book is a tour of the twentieth century via 100 mini-essays on perfumes which ‘have something to say’, as Lizzie puts it, in their own times and often in ours. The book begins with Houbigant’s Le Parfum Idéal (1900) and ends with Demeter’s Dirt (1996).

Lizzie’s selection is not always based on perfumes which have survived until today. You’ll find plenty you have not heard about because although there is coverage of many fine and expensive masterpieces of ‘olfactory art’, there is also an emphasis on mass market perfumes which tell us a lot about what ordinary people actually wore, once upon a time.

So among the great Guerlains, Carons, Chanels and Lauders you’ll find (ahem) Climax by Sears (1900), a ‘mail order perfume’ costing 25 cents ($7 today), and Dri-Perfume (1944) by J.L. Priess, a strongly scented powder produced when war conditions restricted the availability of cosmetic alcohol.

Unusually, the book is not lavishly illustrated, coffee-table style. It contains no vintage ads, just simple, charming line drawings. Lizzie finds context not in images but in literature, movies and popular culture. This for me is pure fascination. Lizzie has, I swear (because I’ve been there), spent many, many hours in libraries poring over magazines and newspapers so as to understand the cultural context of each perfume. Her essays are not reviews, but a series of rich and original insights based on this research.

Lancome’s Magie Noire (1978), for instance, is described as ‘the wiccan perfume’. Its release made the most of counter-cultural interest in spells, tarot reading, cults and drugs. The Wicker Man – do you remember the film? Yes! So of course it makes sense that Magie Noire became an instant classic.

Then there is Jean Desprez’s Bal à Versailles (1962) and the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968). What?! But yes – remember the Baron and Baroness Bomburst of Vulgaria, absurdly dressed in ermine and knee breeches, dripping with diamonds? The pure silliness of it all is a perfect match with the faux-opulent eighteenth century-style bottle and the gloriously vulgar scent that is Bal à Versailles.

Meanwhile Jōvan Musk Oil (1972) brings forth memories of the cheesy crooners of the era, especially Demis Roussos in full kaftan and comb-over. Yeesh!

A word for Shalimar lovers: sorry, but your idol is not here. This does not offend me but I do think it odd, Shalimar being one of the most loved and influential perfumes ever.

Perfume: a century of scents by Lizzie Ostrom (Hutchison, 2015) is available as a hardback for US $26.95 and in Kindle for $15. Check out Lizzie’s website

10 Mysterious Extinct Human Species : Video


Post by Portia



Do you want to see something fabulous? It’s always a surprise to find out something wonderful about our world. Before this video I had heard of only two of the other species of humanoids on the earth, that there were ten or even more is surprising to say the least. That only some of them have added to our gene pool is also interesting, most going extinct 40,000 years or more ago.

Mind blown,
Portia xx

10 Mysterious Extinct Human Species  YouTubeYouTube

10 Mysterious Extinct Human Species

The Mini Museum & Esscentual Alchemy – Unguent, Unguentarium & U Tour


Post by Azar


Hello APJ,

Several years ago both Brad and I collected all kinds of antiques. We were such crazy collectors that at one point our home began to take on the aspect of a museum. When we moved from that very old house (by American standards an antique in it’s own right) into a larger, more “modern” 1960s home, we gave away or sold many of our old “treasures”. In our new house we resolved to maintain a clean, spare look and try not to become burdened by our stuff. Well, as you probably have guessed, that resolution didn’t last. These days we don’t feel quite so driven to possess used things but we still like the look and feel of something old. I believe that I can sense another person’s way of life or spirit in a vintage piece, not unlike the experience of using someone else’s pen or pencil. For example, when I play a friend’s musical instrument I find it has taken on certain aspects of the musicality of the person who regularly uses it. This phenomenon may be the result of an actual physical change in the instrument’s materials brought on by years of exposure to the player’s individual style.

The Mini Museum & Esscentual Alchemy

Unguent, Unguentarium & U Tour

That being said, toward the end of the summer we were eagerly awaiting the arrival of an unguentarium and two other ancient miniature glass pieces from the Mini Museum’s Unguent, Unguentarium and U Tour. It was a weird experience when we finally opened the boxes. The unguentarium, a very small (just over 4cm high) mouth blown glass bottle, encrusted with sediment, was from the early Roman period, circa the 1st century A.D. It was carefully packaged in sand to give the impression of an archeological dig. An unguentarium (from the Latin unguentarius, a perfumer or dealer in unguents) is a small vessel designed to hold liquid, solid or semi-solid perfumes, cosmetics, perfumed oils, etc. These little bottles can still be found in ancient Greek and Roman sites, especially in tombs.

Unguent, Unguentarium & U Tour #1

Unguent, Unguentarium & U Tour #2

My favorite of the three artifacts was a longer (7.30 cm), narrower and seemingly more delicate bottle, also of mouth blown glass dating from roughly the same period. This lovely little piece was called a lachrymatory – a vessel for tears or a tear catcher – also used to hold perfumes, fragrant oils and unguents. It is believed that the ancients used these bottles to gather their tears, burying them with their deceased loved ones.

Unguent, Unguentarium & U Tour #4

Unguent, Unguentarium & U Tour #3

The third artifact was a tiny blown glass mold form probably created around 50. A.D. in Phoenicia (modern Lebanon).

Unguent, Unguentarium & U Tour #5

Unguent, Unguentarium & U Tour #6

In addition to the three ancient minis there were two modern perfume samples, created by perfumer Amanda Feeley of Essential Alchemy specifically for this Mini Museum traveling unguentraium project. Here is a brief description of these fragrances from the museum’s fact sheets:

” ‘Helena’ is the chosen name for both the ancient vessel…and the commissioned re-creation of [an] ancient Roman unguent by perfumer, Amanda Feeley. In her meditation with the vial, Amanda ‘felt an image of a woman in a garden on a warm, spring day’…The end result was her ‘Helena’ – the reconstructed, oil-based fragrance of 30% parfum concentration and ‘Helena MMXIV’ – the brighter, alcohol-based eau de parfum…”

For more information about these beautiful fragrances check Amanda Feeley’s website. I understand there will be another Unguentarium Tour next year. If you are interested in the project contact Allen at the Miniature Perfume Shoppe/Mini Museum

Azar xx

Karen Gilbert: 1 Day Masterclass : Photo Essay

Hi there Perfumistas!!

Last Saturday saw a crew of us doing a One Day Fragrant Masterclass with the amazing Karen Gilbert. To say I learned a lot is a complete understatement, Karen is so knowledgeable, has the most incredibly diverse history within the fragrance industry and has the gift of making everything seem so simple and gives clear and concise instructions. I work best under those conditions and it seemed that everyone was drinking in the knowledge and we had a super fun time.

Karen Gilbert: 1 Day Masterclass : Photo Essay

Topics Covered In The Class:

  • The History of Perfumery
  • The Sense of Smell and What it Means To Us
  • The Beginners Guide to Training your Nose
  • Classifying Fragrances
  • Top, Middle and Base notes and Why They Are Important
  • Creating Accords
  • Practical Blending Techniques
  • Naturals Vs Synthetics

Karen Gilbert Masterclass 2014 #3

The first part of the day was meeting us, giving us some theory, history, insider gossip and news, information that has taken me a few days to percolate because it was completely jam packed. We broke for lunch, which was Sydney pub fare and that gave us a moment to really connect with each other and bond.

Karen Gilbert Masterclass 2014 #5

Karen Gilbert Masterclass 2014 #6

Karen Gilbert Masterclass 2014 #7

Then we went back to the classroom and started meeting accords, molecules, notes and learned a very basic how to for fragrance creation. Karen had brought both natural and synthetics for us to learn about, which was a total bonus. We were able to smell 3 different aldehydes, a bunch of fragrant fillers and smoothers and some that could increase diffusion and volume. It was engrossing stuff and we had so many questions. Each question led to 10 others so we were getting knowledge that only the rarest few are privy to. I cannot tell you enough what an excellent experience the day was or how giving and nurturing Karen Gilbert is. To be honest, I don’t know how Karen supplied so much stuff for the ridiculously small amount of $295 for the day. It was overwhelming how much choice we had when it came to creating our personal fragrances.

Karen Gilbert Masterclass 2014 #8

Karen Gilbert Masterclass 2014 #9

Mine ended up being these accords/notes:
Top: Coriander, lemon, Virginian cedar
Heart: Ylang ylang, orange blossom absolute, listea cubeba (May chang), P.E.A.
Base: Labdanum, galbanum, oakmoss

PEA is a synthetic aromachemical that gives lift and brightness to the naturals. Often used in perfumery apparently to add volume and enable diffusion. I used 4 drops and the difference to heart of the frag was astonishing.

Karen Gilbert Masterclass 2014 #11Photo Donated Ainslie Walker

I have been spritzing my fragrance quite a bit and am so happy with the outcome. As I said on Facebook: Perhaps Malle, YSL or Hermes will never be knocking on my door asking for recipes but I think it’s a rather lovely, simple fragrance.

From a one day class I wasn’t expecting to learn so much. I think it will help enormously with my own purchasing in the future and definitely gives me some insights that I will put towards my blogging. I would take the class again in a heartbeat, I know that I will learn even more next time.

Portia xx

Scent With Love: CHANEL No.22

Hi there APJ,

My mate Rose M sent me a package a while ago. It got lost in a drawer during a clean up and since we have been organising the house for Open Houses a bunch of forgotten magic has turned up. What is in the package? Modern & Vintage CHANEL No.22 EdT and some Vintage CHANEL No.22 parfum. OH MY! You may remember I discovered CHANEL No.22 in Paris earlier this year with Michael. Rose M thought I should get some historical juice on my skin and be able to compare, I’ll do my best but this wonky old nose will probably just smell the same thing at different strengths…..

 CHANEL No.22 by Ernest Beaux for CHANEL 1922

Chanel No 22 Chanel FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica 

Fragrantica  gives these featured accords:
Top: Lily-of-the-valley, neroli, aldehydes
Heart: Oriental jasmine, rose, Comoro island ylang-ylang
Base: Haiti vetiver, Bourbon vanilla

OK, so the vintage EdT comes out sweeter and more aldehydic. Current EdT has a fresh, nutty and much cooler vibe than the vintage. Vintage smells animal and sensual while the modern has a metallic edge, a little reminiscent of No. 19. As the top notes blow off the two become more alike and though still different they coulod be the same fragrance family now. Vintage seems smoother and warmer, like the ultimate softness of room temperature ivory against your skin and still the current is cooler, more transparent like cool crystal.

CHANEL No.22 EdT Ivory Carving Cliff FlickrPhoto stolen Flickr

CHANEL No.22 EdT Crystal Bowl Mauricio Gouvea FlickrPhoto Stolen Flickr

Suddenly, at about the 20-30 minute mark it’s like they both come into clear focus and smell nearly exactly the same, there are differences but only the difference that a wear on different days woulds NEVER tell apart. It’s like you are wearing the same fragrance but in different weather or after you’ve used a different body wash in the shower. Vintage lasts for hours longer in the heart section and when modern has almost completely disappeared I can still smell glorious aldehydic bouquet pumping its lavish tune from the vintage. Dry down is warm and subtly earthy but through CHANEL No. 22s life it never loses that aldehydic magic.

They are both incredible and I am going to grab some of the current EdT and Parfum. The die is cast.


Further reading: Bois de Jasmin and Perfume Posse
You can try or buy CHANEL No. 22 at any of the stand alone CHANEL stores or a very few department stores.
Surrender To Chance has CHANEL No. 22 samples starting at $4/ml and Extrait at $8/ml

Thank You Rose M. I have enjoyed this throw down immensely and you have ultimately made me a complete slave to CHANEL No.22 EdT.

Portia xx





Maison Oriza L. Legrand – History

Hi there Perfumed Peeps,
Later today APJ will look at one of the fragrances from this house but I thought it might be good for you all to read the history of the company beforehand. The story presented here is from the Oriza L. Legrand website, and gives a very nice potted history that will have you up to speed in a couple of minutes.
Portia xx

History of Maison Oriza L. Legrand

Oriza L Legrand  LOGO

 In 1720, during the reign of Louis XV,  Fargeon Elder Parfumeur Distiller of the king and his court (known in Europe as “The Perfumed Court”), gives birth to Oriza House. In 1720, Oriza House enjoyed the trust of the most illustrious and especially King Louis XV of France.
The company was the official supplier of the King and the Fargeon were famous as the perfumer of Queen Marie-Antoinette.
The creams and powders Fargeon created were also destined to the eternal youth and beauty of the famous courtesan, Ninon de Lenclos.
Since the beginning, the House received the royal warrant as the official supplier of toiletries and fragrance of the Royal Courts of France, Italy, England and The Imperial Courts of Napoléon III and Russia.
The name of the house originates from Oryza Sativa, the latin name for rice, which was part of the ingredients for rice powder, make-up and wigs.
Oriza Michael #1Michael at Oriza L Legrand with Franck & Hugo (Photo donated by Michael)
Then in 1811, Louis Legrand took over the house as he understood its potential prestige. With its fragrant creations, he developed it to its full extent. Legrand led Oriza to its fame and set his boutique on the famous rue Saint Honoré in Paris. He created the most refined, the most exquisite and the most complex products. Legrand was a true fragrance artist.
Some time later Antonin Raynaud joined the house as an associate. Legrand then sold him the house, and he renamed it Oriza L. Legrand as a tribute to its first two owners and the story of the famous house of perfumes.
Oriza L Legrand  Original Facade
In 1887 the company Oriza L. Legrand patented and produced the world’s first solid perfume (Essence Oriza Solidifiée). The whole manufacture, from the distillation and maceration of perfume ingredients to labelling, from soap making to grinding rice for powder, was concentrated in the factory of Levallois-Perret. Oriza L. Legrand was one of the rare houses that provided the Courts of Russia, England, Italy and France. The house was also one of the firsts to turn its fragrances into lines of products.
Oriza L Legrand Soaps
For most of its perfumes, Oriza L. Legrand had a perfume, a powder, make-up, soaps and lots of perfumed items.
Oriza L Legrand  PerfumeThe factory employed over 200 staff at the end of the 1800s. It ran at full capacity and Raynaud put his financial means at the service of the house. He created for instance his own, very refined package boxes. He also turned to Baccarat, who created bottles for prestigious editions. And he left Faubourg Saint Honoré to set up to shops on 9 boulevard de la Madeleine and on 11 Place de la Madeleine, where Baccarat currently stands. this provides an indication of  how important the house had become by then.
Company Oriza L. Legrand successfully participated in international exhibitions and has been regularly awarded prizes, from the bronze medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris (1867) to the Grand Prix in 1900. At the turn of the 20th century, 90% of the production went abroad.
Today Oriza L. Legrand is still made in France and works with small companies all over the country. Raw materials of the highest quality are still used and the apothecary’s artisanal processes followed.
We are very proud to open 4 centuries of archives and present to the world a part of our prestigious history.
All Photos unless otherwise specified Stolen Oriza L Legrand