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“A tobacco aroma with sweet undertones of honey. A pure aphrodisiac”. This is how today’s fragrance is described by Kilian. And Kilian’s perfumers know their stuff so I am sure this potion has caused more than one baby in its lifetime. For me…no. Unfortunately. I would love to love tobacco and honey. I want to love every Kilian fragrance because the ones that I do love I am completely enchanted by. And I know enough to know that every black bottle with this name has been created with great passion and dedication. Also I am interested in all sorts of connections between the olfactorial world and the emotional world. So I am sorry to say, “Back to Black: aphrodisiac.…our paths will never cross again”.

The first two hours I was intrigued by this perfume. I felt like I smelled like a male rock star. Crude, restless, eager, fierce. I did however not feel like that rock star, but like I had borrowed Mick Jaggers perfume. A bit weird but interesting! However the fierceness disappeared and turned into something more like heavy incense at Midnight Mass. Bit too much of it for me, I couldn’t carry it off, but still… interesting. But then by the end of this day suddenly something entirely different emerged. To me, it resembled heavy roses and soap. I know a lot of people think that sounds beautiful but it is just not my thing. I felt like when you have not rinsed the soap away from your hands and that experience to me is really uncomfortable, just the thought of it makes my head itch. But this is personal, the people in my company did not react like this at all or even sense that sort of thing.

My reflections do not mean anything else than this, a bad match simply and I would love to hear someone else describe a contrary experience of this fragrance to me. In fact, when you google “kilian aphrodisiac review” you will find exclamations of great joy. And this, is one of the things that makes perfume so interesting.

So, please look at the notes below and if you like the sound of them look up reviews on blogs, Fragrantica etc. This could be a sensational discovery for you. And now I am going to look up the notes – which I have in fact not done before this very moment because I wanted to give you a sincere reflection without having “the right answer”.

Ok, another floral day… Not my thing. Still not my thing. But, if you like light florals you will probably love this one. It is very springy and very feminine and gentle. Like a soft kiss on the cheek. You hardly notice that you are wearing a perfume but you smell really nice. And I mean really really nice. It does not however make me want to surrender as much as it makes me feel like I already have surrendered, which to me is a less interesting feeling. But if you want to have a perfume that feels elegant and easy, try this one. Also I would say that it is an excellent choice for environment or situations where a more extrovert fragrance is not suitable.

Fragrance no 7 is described with these words by Kilian, “An inspiration from the Marshmallow. A pure sensual treat.” I didn’t read it however until today (I wore the fragrance yesterday), and it makes me smile. The description feels more than adequate as I felt a bit like this the entire day. Or no, I did not feel like this, but I felt like I smelled like this.

Holy Sweet, Stockholm
The roses, honeysuckle and the caramel are like a romantic embrace. There is something about the feeling that this fragrance creates that makes you think of women like in the old movies. Of blushing cheeks, soft skin, light red anticipating lips, blossoming cherry trees, skirts that swoosh on a summer’s day and crushes. Total utter impeccable sweetness. And… as much as I love seeing it and it makes me smile and fills my heart with marshmallows…it’s just not me. Well, ok, it is a part of me… Yes. But not enough parts to define me in a way that I am comfortable with so not a fragrance that I can “stay” in.

However…there is a person that is the embodiment of all the things mentioned above. Also she of course has many many other sides and is a more complex person. But. She has that very very very special kind of romantic sweetness that you find in so few people these days. You have met her before on this blog, Karin. Karin can carry blush, blossom, swoosh, caramel and rose with a credibility and contemporary touch that no one else that I know can master. So, my Love. don’t be shy-sample now belongs to her, it’s  a really lovely match. Perfumes like this are made for women and womanisciousness like Karin.

Second day with this diabolic caress.


I am infatuated. I keep smelling my own skin and every time I do it smells differently. It feels like I keep chasing it, the scent. Trying to capture it. Eight hours after application only a soft basenote veil is left and you have to be very close to feel it. So I put my wrist right under my friend Fredrik’s nose. He is a photograper with a divine eye and he has been wearing Noir Epices by Michel Roudnitska so you understand… he understands. He tells me I smell like I am wearing a man’s perfume, but he says it with a smile that can only mean that it is in a really good way. Before he has finished describing his reaction the fragrance has changed again. Which gives me a reason to start all over and reapply. I have it in my pocket. I have been carrying the sample with me for two days, every now and then I have to reach for it. Love is an understatement. Fredrik leaves with arms covered in styrax and castoreum.

For some reason, for me it is really about basenotes. I am obsessed with basenotes. But then I also prefer afternoons, Sundays and autumn. The dance between the resinoids, woods and glands in this fragrance intoxicate me. I don’t feel the violet at all. I feel an almond that is not there. I feel so many things and this fragrance just keeps changing. But there is a constant balance between soft and coarse. Between close and escape.

This is what perfumery as an art is about. The creation of adventure. Artistry and mathematical precision in magic union.

Agarwood. gaharunusantara.indonetwork.co.id

I have a weakness for Iris. It is a scent that gives a fragrance immediate elegance and it quietly travels between confidence, politeness, reservation and kindness. Extrovert and disciplined one second, discreet and sophisticated the next. It is also a note that I love experiencing on different people and especially both men and women. Iris is so elegant, and so versatile. So I was looking forward to this.

This is a lovely fragrance. I can imagine that many people would feel very comfortable with it and that it would blend nicely with most body temperatures, skins, characters, textures. I think it would be very interesting on a masculine man. On me, it felt light and undemanding. I had a moment when it gave me associations with traveling in warm equatorial countries. Not because it smells like a warm equatorial country but because it is the kind of fragrance that you would feel comfortable and invigorated applying for dinner on a warm day. I also think it would be lovely with light clothes in linen and elegant sandals.

For me it was maybe a bit too light. I felt like I was searching for something that was not there and like it left me too soon. But like I said, this is a lovely fragrance. It works very well in a business context and does not demand attention. Also one of rather few interesting perfumes that would work very well at a dinner or lunch.

It is a man. I am sure of it. A tall man with integrity in corduroy. He has the fingers of a pianist and speaks of politics. It is a fragrance of an intellectual man, sharp and keeping the world at a distance. Not someone you hug. Someone you would really want to discuss the world with by a fireplace with some incredible cognac though.
Two hours later he is gone. He has left a veil of something that makes me think of Santa Maria Novella or a meeting between the clergy and herbs. But the man is replaced by a woman with strong attitudes and sharp features. She takes over a room. 
She stays for about an hour. Then enters a different person. Someone more subdued but confident. Much softer though. I envision a baroness from Veneto in masculine clothes and unruly hair. I like her. 
As day turns into evening the herbs are gone. Also the sharpness. What remains is a soft warm velvety vanilla. Where did they all go?

One of the most beautiful and enchanting persons I know, fashion journalist and author Karin Falk, had a birthday party yesterday. A party that was the perfect reflection of herself and her unique mesmerizing blend of sweetness, elegance, charm, style and… magic sparkle. If I one day (wishing) have some kind of perfume-making in my life she is one of the first persons I would want to make a bespoke perfume for.

Happy birthday magic person 

The party in itself was beautiful. For me, it was also pure ego-bliss as I spent most of the evening talking about perfume with Anders and David. I hope they were not painfully overwhelmed by my neverending discourses. I can’t help it. Standing in that kind of setting, surrounded by all these Karin-kind-of-people, with fantastic playlists in the background and a candlelit cake-vaganza and neverending champagne…and then these two men ask me about perfume… It is almost too much. My heart went all…well, like this:

Photo by fellow party guest Karin Jacobsen

The conversation revolved around a new perfume for Anders. Anders is special so his perfume has to be also of course. He is one of the stars of Diablo Swing Orchestra, a band that creates music made of this world, other worlds and everything in between. Listen to the song A Tapdancer’s Dilemma, you will understand, this man obviously cannot have just some “nice perfume”. David, works at Swedish fashion brand Acne and his girlfriend wore a striking red folded envelope/clutch-ish pièce de conversation handbag that he had chosen for her. He was also totally in the zone when it comes to perfume talk. Isn’t that just a really great quality in people?

So. Now I am looking for a special scent. Masculine but young, something that captures unusual width of heart and depth of soul. Warm but with integrity. Soft but strong. Solid but with a charming twist. Poetic but sharp. Infinite but present. Present but free. It will include amber, neroli and wood notes. Also definitely bergamot. And then something else… Animalistic notes for sure, but not sure which one. As you understand this is a challenge that I embrace with great enthusiasm.

I wish all parties in my life were like Karin’s party. I wish all days in my life included searching for someones scent.

Life is bespoken. Cherish the people that remind you of that.

In Stockholm there is a place for yoga called Yogayama. If
you ever come here, and are a yogi, I recommend you drop in for a class or just
stop by for lunch upstairs. In the winter there is an open fire and the whole
place smells of beautiful soothing incense and chai. During a recent visit I
lingered for a while around the shelves with candles, incense and fragrances. I
discovered a brand called Jimmy Boyd (sounds like a friend of the Rat Pack
rather than a nose doesn’t he?). Unpretentious clear bottles of soft
breezy fragrances that made me think of washed bed linen swaying on a cord to dry in the sun. I left with a ”water”, Limón y rosa. On the bottle it is
written, ”Produced with love”. I like that… The fragrance is an
aromatherapeutical mix of citrus and rose that can be used for the body or
spaces.

This fragrance really stands out in my collection
which, as you might suspect by now, has several orientals and very few florals or citrus fragrances. The
closest, and actually very close, is my summer favorite Escale a Portofino. In
fact, this breezy thing feels like a virgin version of that one.
My agua fresca de limón y rosa soothes me, and I find it an
excellent option for times when I don’t feel like making an advanced perfume
choice or in a situation where a heavy scent is not appropriate. This fills a
void for me as I have been inclined to go all or nothing and felt an emptiness
of the olfactory soul on the days when it was nothing. I have used Rain from Demeter on such days, but we suddenly started to disagree.
But back to Jimmy Boyd. His real name is James Joseph Boyd
(and now he starts to sound like a writer friend of Henry James, doesn’t he?)
and he was born in Barcelona. His career as a perfumer started with studies in
Grasse under the tutorship of Marcel Carles. (Bonus fact: Marcel Carles’ father
was a mentor to Jacques Polge). I look forward to getting to know the nose of
Mr Boyd better.
The 1920’s were a decade that had great impact on perfumes and perfume use. In fact, this decade produced some of the most important perfumes of the entire century. One significant trend was that fashion designers started to sell perfumes under their clothing brands, the most legendary one (and quite revolutionary at the time) of course being Chanel No 5, released by Chanel in 1921. Even the bottle was a bold zeitgeist statement with a bottle design far from the ornamentation associated with feminine things. It was simple, bold and unquestionable. 

Bottle designs and the visuals around the fragrances were extremely important and often flirted with contemporary life style. There was the mascerade theme… Masque Rouge, for example, was introduced in a modern bottle, and a box with a red mask. “Mascarades” by Cherigan came in a black bottle with a golden face under a rain of gold dust and gilded triangles. Baccarat were extremely popular for bottles because of their superior quality crystal.

One of the reasons for doing a post on the 1920’s, I admit, is the occasion to indulge in…

Shalimar. A fragrance that, for me, just basically sums it all up. All of it. Shalimar was created by Jacques (I feel this name keeps reappearing in my perfume-life) Guerlain in the early 1921 but it was in 1925 that it had its breakthrough, at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris where it was an instant success. The fragrance is named after the Garden of Shalimar in Lahore, built by emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife, Mumtaz. (Also the woman that Taj Mahal was built for…). Shalimar means the ‘Abode of Love’ in Sanskrit. The sweet vanilla creation mesmerized its first discoverers. Oh…how I wish I could have been there. Can you imagine? Being one of the first women to put Shalimar on your skin? The 1925 bottle was designed by Raymond Guerlain and made by Baccarat.


Shalimar had a bit of a comeback in the 1980’s. It was relaunched in a new bottle in 1985 to commemorate the 60th anniversary. This was followed by the addition of Shalimar Light in 2004 which was replaced by Eau de Shalimar in 2008. Shalimar is currently made as Shalimar Extract, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne, and as a Fleur de Shalimar Edition. Shalimar contains bergamot (top), lemon, jasmine (heart), rose (heart), iris (heart), opopanax (heart), tonka bean (base), and vanilla (base). It is an oriental perfume, which is also according to what was fashionable at that time – an era seduced by its own interest and fascination for things exotic.

Other famous fragrances from these years are Arpège, created by Jeanne Lanvin for her daugter’s 30th birthday and of course Jean Patous Joy. Joy was created with the intent to send a message to the heavy cynical Great Depression-attitude that Patou described as dominating society. He asked Henri Almeras to create something using Bulgarian rose and jasmine from Grasse. The result that Almeras presented to Patou was sensational, but Almeras was worried that the ingredients were too expensive for the fragrance to have success on the market. Joy became the most expensive perfume in the world, and a huge success. It is also the perfume supposedly worn by Josephine Baker.

Does it matter if you can classify what fragrance you’re wearing? If you know whether it is a floral, fougère or oriental? In theory, if you ask someone like me who is against superficial pointless namedropping – the answer is no. There is absolutely no point in keeping that sort of stuff in your head just for the sake of it or because you “should” know. In practice however, there are two reasons for you to think about perfume classification – the main one being that it’s a great tool for new discoveries as it will provide you with concrete links between what you like or dislike, and this will lead you to new fragrance pleasures. And pleasure is a great reason to care about things. The other reason is just simply curiosity. Some people just like maps. I do.

19th century perfumer Charles Piesse was one of the first to start classifying perfumes. He quickly turned to the world of music for symbols and so the language of perfumers became similar to that of musicians (which it still is today). The terms used in perfume language have the purpose to describe the different aroma layers in a fragrance, like chords. We also talk about top notes and different tones when distinguishing between ingredients and specific scents. We talk about the tonality of a fragrance just like we when analyzing a music piece.

There is also a more architectonical way of visualizing perfumes. William Poucher was one of the first to use the ‘fragrance pyramid’ to explain the top, middle and foundation as layers. He created the structure based on measurement of evaporation rate of perfume ingredients (fastest evaporation = top).

Image borrowed from davidreport.com/201103/scent-tokyo/



Here are some terms (from different eras, let’s not be so dogmatic) that are good to know when going on your perfume quest. The terms continuously develop and some perfumes contain traits of different families.


Floral: There are a few different types of floral fragrances. A Single Floral is a fragrance dominated by one particular flower (if you are fragrance shopping in France just channel Vanessa Paradis or madame Deneuve and say “soliflore”). Floral Bouquet is combination of fragrance of several flowers in the perfume. And Bright Floral is a modern fusion between Single Floral & Floral Bouquet.


Amber or Oriental: Fragrances with slightly animalic scents of ambergris or labdanum, combined with vanilla, tonka bean, flowers and woods. Orientals are not fragrances from the Orient but rather evoke the European (or specifically Victorian) 19th century image of the Orient.

Wood: Fragrances dominated by woody scents, usually sandalwood and cedarwood.

Leather: Fragrances with a middle note with honey, tobacco, wood and wood tars.

Chypre: Bergamot, oakmoss, patchouli, and labdanum. “Green” is a modern more light version of this group.

Fougère: A base of lavender, coumarin and oakmoss. (More info in post on Houbigant)

Aquatic/Oceanic: A modern category with clean often androgynous fragrances.

Citrus: Used to be a term used about eau de colognes now used for, well, citrus fragrances. (I know, a bit boring this description but some things are just not that complicated).

Fruity: Fragrances characterized by other fruits than citrus for example peach or passion fruit.

Gourmand: A term used for fragrances that often contain tonka bean, vanilla etc and create associations to desserts or flavors.

If these terms seem confusing or too many, The Fragrance Wheel might be your tool. It was developed in 1983 by Michael Edwards and based on four standard families: Floral, Oriental, Woody and Fresh. (Edwards divides these into three sub-groups which helps us see connections. The subgroups are Floral, Soft Floral, Floral Oriental, Oriental, Soft Oriental, Woody Oriental, Mossy Woods, Dry Woods, Citrus, Green and Water. But I think you might be ok just remembering the four main ones). 


Fougére gets a special position in the center as it combines elements of all four. If you know just these five terms you are safe, and it is likely that by studying the wheel and fragrances that you like you will be able to tell your preferred scent family/families. Also, if you ask someone in a perfume store for help and they give you a puzzled look – then I would suggest go to another store. Let’s encourage enlightenment, shall we?

I have found several “how to find your fragrance” articles that talk about how a certain type of person or age is recommended to go for one of the fragrance groups (eg fruity – young girl, fougére – man, green – sporty, oriental – in the evening). This is not my kind of fragrance approach. Be aware of the signals that your fragrance sends out, what it communicates about you. But find your thing. Go for what makes you feel good – and feel like you.