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I want to share with you the story of my last evening in Grasse. (How I miss this place and how I felt being in that experience…)

There is a narrow winding long cobbled street in Grasse, Rue de L’Oratoire. Somehow wherever I would go I would find myself in Rue de L’Oratoire. In this labyrinth of Grassesque marvels there is a place I knew I would visit sooner or later. 

Before going to Grasse Institute of Perfumery I had read about Clayton’s adventures there and about his visit to perfumer Didier Gaglewski (in Rue de L’Oratoire 12). It seems many visitors to Grasse feel the need to buy perfume as a souvenir and the local shops cater to that idea in different ways. For me the real treat of being in Grasse was the access to the backstage area of the perfume industry. The fields, the insider information, the lab, the raw materials – but above all – the conversations with people who work with perfume in various ways. If I had an experience like that – and could buy something that would preserve the moment for me – then great, but perfume per se was not the main thing. But then of course a place like Grasse provides gems like Beauty Success where you can find Coriandre and Caron’s Pour un Homme! But back to Gaglewski. This encounter was really a quintessential part of this adventure.

First time I met Didier Gaglewski was when going to dinner with my Spanish friend (and I am sure future perfumer) Inma, Daniela from Fragonard and the lady that they were staying with in Grasse. The lady knew Didier so we introduced ourselves briefly when passing by his shop and said we would come back. After a few days, you see, Inma and I had embarked on an inspiring inner journey analyzing various ways to pursue olfactory paths in our future careers. And monsieur Gaglewski seemed like a very good person to turn to for some advise since he himself started to work with perfumes after pursuing a different career for some time. So a few days later we returned. 

The shop. Photo from Gaglewski.com
Didier generously shared his story with us and we spent a long time discovering his creations, from the ultra-masculine conceptual Cambouis, a humoristic flirt with the idea of a man working on his car and the smells of this, to the soft romantic Aria, a seductive classic über-feminine dream of tuberose and vanilla. I had a different instant crush though… first for the name and then for the smell, the woody Journaliste. No surprise that it includes some of my favorite notes – petit grain, mandarin, ginger, cardamom and tonka bean. The Journaliste is now here in Stockholm with me. It reminds me of the alliance between brain and heart, plans and dreams and of this very special place in Grasse. 
So, on my last day I went back to Rue de L’Oratoire, 12 to say goodbye to Didier and to show him my three own creations from school for some professional feedback. A very rewarding visit since I also had the luck to talk to the customers that came to the shop. I was struck by the great conversations that happened. So far from some of the empty quick exchanges of clichés in department stores. People ask Didier a lot about his background and profession and creations and he answers every person’s questions very genuinely and generously. A young man entered out of curiosity, not really ready for a purchase, but full of questions. It was such a nice conversation to listen to and a moment that captured some of that special thing about Grasse so well – it is a place that loves perfumes and that loves to take the time to talk about perfume with anyone who has a desire to know more. There is so much knowledge in those hills… and so little of the excluding elitism that you find between perfume shelves around the world. 
Scent strips made of ribbons at Gaglewski.

Thank you Didier for sharing your story, time and thoughts. D
ziękuję.

“Vous êtes brune, de peau mate.Vous êtes gaie et un peu capricieuse. 
Vous croquez la vie.
Votre rire cristallin ne connaît pas de frontière. 
Vous êtes si près de l’enfance que l’on se demande parfois si vous n’en sortez 
que pour paraître sérieuse, mais l’on sait bien que cela ne durera 
que le temps d’un clin d’oeil.”

(From description of Aria on Gaglewski.com)
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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”.

A new year of ventures and aspirations deserves to be inaugurated with the right fragrance. My choice was Voyage d’Hermès for my first day at work in 2012. 

Voyage d’Hermès is a recent creation (2010) from Jean-Claude Ellena. Voyages are a re-occuring theme at Hermès. If you look at the ambitious catalogues and films that Hermès create, as well as their website, you will see that there is often a feeling of expedition in the story. The logo itself with the calèche evokes the feeling of travelling and the saddles are also a part of ventures.

Voyage is unisex, or as Hermès say ”shared”. Ellena belongs to the perfumers who call gender labels for perfumes a commercial construction. If you have read my post on pour homme and pour femme you already know how I feel about the matter.

Voyage is a woody fragrance with musk and carries a kind of undefined feeling. When you apply it, the first impression is very fresh but dry, vital, the citrus is strong but has a slight coarsness. It definitely awakens you, like a kiss in the neck from a freshly shaved man. But after a moment it softens and the woody stability appears as well as the cardamom.

Some Ellena-experts say that this is a typical Ellena perfume. I agree. It has that rare combination of depth and simplicity that Ellena creates.


The bottle is designed by Philippe Mouquet, an in-house designer at Hermès, and inspired by a magnifying glass.

The launch of Voyage was accompanied by ambitious films, according to Hermès tradition. You find  this one on Hermès web site and then there was a beautiful commercial. This is the long version.

An unusual man brought up the matter of what fragrance to wear for Christmas. By now I suppose you have all made your choice for today, (I would love to know what it was). Tomorrow we will all make it again. So, my thoughts on this are as follows.

Christmas is a beautiful holiday that offers a wealth of inspiration for self-insight and care for others regardless of how or where you spend these days. It is a special time and therefore deserves a special fragrance, This does not mean complicated fragrance. Just a deliberate choice. (Which on the other hand is the way I wish more people looked at fragrances all days of the year but anyway).

Here are a couple of examples of things to consider when picking your Christmas fragrance.

1) What other fragrances and scents will surround you? 

Christmas is a holiday of many odors, scents and smells. Some amazing, some less amazing. Wherever you will be – your perfume will be a part of a larger olfactory sensation. Try to predict some dominant traits and see them as a part of your palette that you work with when choosing what to add (with your chosen perfume). In my home for example there are various white flowers, spruce needles, oranges, cardamon, an open fire, no meat or red wines during Christmas Eve, just white fish and very delicate flavors followed by cakes or warm drinks with dried fruits. This to me suggests a lighter fragrance or gourmand.

2) Who are you spending Christmas with and how close will they be? 

This is actually quite significant. Just think about it – for example would you want to put a delicate piece of white fish in your mouth while your nose is stuck in an attack from your neighbour’s heavy floral? (I HATE when that happens at a restaurant). If you are in company of many people seated very close for the whole evening I would suggest you all go easy on perfumes for dinner. I am strongly in favor of not wearing strong perfumes to dinners at all actually. Or apply them so much in advance that by the time you sit down you’re in a gentle base note phase.

These two are things you should think about. Apart from that other criteras are more for pleasure and as many as you want them to be: what will you wear (style, texture, how warm etc), what scents do you want to feel yourself and what will make you comfortable etc.

My choice today was based on this: the general fragrance palette described above, that I like the classic Christmas style, that my day was divided in two parts where the first was a long walk downtown, a visit to church to light candles for the absent ones, light lunch and then in the evening dinner with few people in a spacious house. Plus also that Christmas Eve for Catholics is not “the real feast” (that is tomorrow) but an evening of anticipation for what is to come. In Polish we call this Wigilia.

Therefore… I chose something light and young, elegant but discreet. From an iconic brand (for the classic feeling) and by an iconic nose. As I applied it in the morning, by dinner there was just the softness of the basenotes. Also, I applied it only on the neck so the sensation was very mild, both for me and others. 

Top notes: orange, bergamot, mandarin, grapefruit
Middle notes: morning rose, Italian jasmine, ylang-ylang, mimosa, florentine iris
Base notes: Indonesian patchouli, Haitian vetiver, Bourbon vanilla, white musk, opoponax, tonka bean

You probably guessed. By Monsieur Jacques Polge:

Tomorrow I will wear my beloved Omnia. The first one. Masala tea, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond, chocolate, ginger, mandarin orange, saffron, pepper, cardamom, cloves, tonka bean. Quite appropriate for Christmas Day in other words. 

Hope you are all having a beautiful Christmas.

Bvlgari released Omnia in 2003. I was at that time a young woman taking the first steps in my career and hadn’t really even thought about perfumes that much at all. I suppose in a way I was more into discovering myself than defining myself. But it was winter and I was buying Christmas gifts and wanted to buy something for myself. To commemorate this time in my life. I went to the perfume section of Stockholm department store NK.


The first time I tried Omnia it felt sort of self-evident but not in a sensational way. Just, ”yes, there it is”. I adored the unusal bottle however. Since then I have bought many perfumes, some have been perfect for a while, for specific situations or for more. But the only fragrance that has stayed with me, and by far the one that I get most comments about is this one. I have noticed that for one, not many people know it at all, and then those who do either love it or hate it. Actually more often the latter. Thus, when I go to get a new bottle it is never easy to find. I have to order it or wait while someone goes to see if they have one ”in the back”.

Omnia was created by nose Alberto Morillas. The fragrance was said to have been inspired by the spices discovered by Marco Polo on his voyages. The notes include black pepper, mandarin, masala tea, saffron, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, almond, chocolate, lotus blossom, and sandalwood. The lotus is discrete which I am happy about and the Christmas dessert feeling only lasts for a brief moment. Then it lands in this soft saffron, cardamon embrace. Sometimes you feel the clove just briefly.

I love this fragrance. It is a non-choice for me, I don’t have to be in a particular mood to carry it off, not wear anything special. It is never ”too much”. It just blends with me. I always return to it at some point even after longer periods of infedility. It’s is a sort of default fragrance for me. And the nostalgia of it makes it special. Also, the fact that I rarely, if ever, meet someone else who has it makes it feel even more ”mine”.

There have been new versions of Omnia since the original first one. These however I do not get along with at all.