Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chanel #5, A History Exotic

Chanel #5 is a fragrance of iconic status. Marketed as luxury, class and a beauty that stands apart #5's perfume story may surprise you as it includes black earth and melting ice. The creator of Chanel #5 Ernest Beaux {genuflects} has this to say about what inspired the fragrance:

"I’ve been asked some questions about the subject of the creation of No. 5. When did I create it? In 1920 exactly [launched in 1921], upon my return from the war. I had been part of the campaign in a northern region of Europe, above the arctic circle, during the midnight sun, where the lakes and rivers exuded a perfume of extreme freshness. I retained this note and recreated it, not without difficulty, for the first aldehydes I was able to find were unstable and unreliable."

Souvenirs et Parfums, by Constantin Weriguine

Weriguine tells us Beaux included the scent of tchernozium, a fertile black earth of the region and that #5 sought to create a "winter melting note".

Perhaps next time you wear or sniff Chanel #5 you can experience what the creator intended, something deeper than pearls and an expensive black dress. I've always loved #5 above all other Chanels and a perfume story such as this one only endears it to me more.

Thanks to FiveoaksBouquet and Michael Edwards "Perfume Legend's" for this story.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Arcana Filthy Viking

I've often seen inquiries on perfume forums asking for fragrances with mint in them. The answers given are sparse and the fragrances suggested have mint only as a minor supporting note in what is otherwise a green or a chypre or a citrus. Why mint hasn't translated well into perfume is difficult to understand once you experience the variety and creativity with which it's been used in the world of perfume oils. Filthy Viking is a great showcase of this.

"Bracing Norwegian juniper, frigid Icelandic mint and the hardy wood of a longship."

An icy mint beginning will probably be too much for some but this soon softens and the wood comes to the fore. It's pine and planks and tar and mint, masculine but beautifully soft in the drydown. This is no novelty scent, it's development is very enjoyable. The wood note and the hint of tar create a warming balance with the mint and it takes little imagination to feel the worn deck of a ship and the sharp cold air. I have tried three of Arcana's mint perfumes and they each paint their own fascinating and very different story.

At first whiff Filthy Viking really cleans the sinuses!

Competition! Identify this photo and receive some free Arcana samples!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Arcana Soaps

Over the next few blog-o-cycles I will be writing about the wonderful perfume oil company, Arcana. If any e-tailer could convert a Lutens sipping, Tauer tooting self-confessed fragrance snob to the joyful worship of a 5ml bottle Arcana would be it.

Fragrance collectors are often holy grail seekers. Long after they have given up the search for a One True Scent in favour of a grand gallery of scents they still long for bankable perfection in, if not a bottle, a house. Wouldn't it be wonderful if a dearly loved line always produced magnificence? If you adored Goutal and you knew that none would ever fall flat, if you rejoiced with each L'Artisan release and reached for your credit card unsniffed? There is always an edge to the disappointment of a poorly done scent when it comes from a house one dearly desires to exalt above all others.

I thought I was over all that but Arcana brought it back in a rush. I have tried ten Arcana scents and each has been a portrait of perfection, a beautifully rendered piece of art. Could this be IT, the Holy Grail house? Probably not and I would hate to put such a burden on poor Arcana's shoulders but I have certainly enjoyed this scent journey and I hope to share it you.

Birthed in Portland, Oregon in 2003 Arcana is the creation of Julia, surname unknown to me. Arcana began as a soap company and carries matching soaps and scrubs to many of their oils. Arcana has several dozen scents available at any given time including 5-10 seasonal scents with limited availability. Each one has struck me as a marvelously complete scent, a work of art that stands alone. Never too light, always evocative, beautiful labels. Arcana sells through a variety of etailers, most notably Magical Omaha and The Soapbox Company. International customers should head over to Magical Omaha as The Soapbox Company charges 37.00 to ship internationally.