An introduction!

Ahead of our anticipated soiree on the evening of Thursday May 8th, here is a brief introduction to each of our guests to whet your appetites!

So read on, discover the creations of these masters of fragrance and join us from 17:30 at:

Les Senteurs, 2 Seymour Place, W1H 7NA

James Heeley

James-Heeley-1EDIT

Born in Yorkshire, James Heeley worked for many years as a designer – taking his inspiration from the world of nature. It was when he moved to Paris and discovered the works of legendary perfumer Annick Goutal that he fell in love with the world of fragrance. James’ contemporary style can be seen in every scent: they are innovative, imaginative but always with a hint of the long tradition of French perfumery.

James will be introducing his latest scent, Coccobello, as well as the rest of his fragrances. Always a joyful, warm fellow to talk to, this will be a rare treat!

Discover Heeley

 

Marina Sersale and Sebastian Alvarez Murena

 PortraitMarinaSebastianEDIT

Eau d’Italie hails from the beautiful sun-drenched coast of Positano, and Le Sirenuse hotel which is wonderfully apparent in their fragrances. Marina and Sebastian, who have spoken at Les Senteurs before, are both incredibly charming and passionate – always a complete joy to talk with, one can’t help but fall in love with them and Eau d’Italie!

They will be presenting their upcoming fragrance, Graine de Joie, for the first time in the UK; a brilliant, sparkling scent with notes of red currant, pomegranate, freesia and a slightly musky drydown. Sure to be a favourite in the coming summer months!

Discover Eau d’Italie

Alberto Borri

nu_beEDOT

Nu_be are a relatively new addition to Les Senteurs, and they have been met with great enthusiasm. Contemporary, stylish and enticing: the fragrances are each inspired by Chemical elements, including Hydrogen, Carbon and Sulphur, and created by some of the best noses working today.

Alberto created the brand in order to combine the modern artistic approach to fragrance with traditional perfumery. He has a strong familial background in fragrance: his grandfather founded Morris Profumo, and has an undeniable passion in scent, which shows in the fragrances of Nu_be. Alberto will introduce Mercury and Sulphur, the two latest additions to the Nu_be range, as well as showing the short film inspired by the collection.

Discover Nu_be

If you would like to attend our evening on Thursday May 8th, please RSVP to:

pr@lessenteurs.com | 020 7183 5842

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Gentlemen’s Scents For Discerning Ladies.

marlene-dietrich-tuxedo-life-archives-eisenstaedt

Of course one of the whole points of Les Senteurs is to encourage our customers to wear whichever fragrance appeals to them: we do not sell by gender. Increasingly the niche perfume industry has followed us here: a perfume is sold as a beautiful scent aimed at the sensibility, psychology and emotions of the individual; its attraction is not confined to a specific sex.

Yet, nonetheless, certain fragrances whether by name or by the use of certain ingredients do carry connotations of being specifically male.

Ladies! I’m going to ask you to be bold,set aside your prejudices and preconceptions and have another look, another smell of the following scents.

We’ll start with 5 exemplars: that will be enough for most noses. If you find you like the idea, I’ll prepare you another batch. So do let us know. Thank you.

Vetiver Extraordinaire
By
Frederic Malle – Editions de Parfums

vetiver extraordinaire at Les Senteurs

We often hear ladies complaining – and with reason- that modern commercial fragrances are too sweet, overly laced with vanilla, tonka and liqueur accords. Here is the perfect antidote. Spraying VETIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE is like diving into a cool jade-green lake or showering under a forest waterfall.

It’s curious: most women adore the chthonic earthy smell
of vetiver grass (perfumers tend to work with the root) but when the oil is worked for women’s scents (sic) all the tangy edgy sharpness is usually ironed out. Here Dominique Ropion uses an egregiously high concentration of smoky Haitian vetiver and emphasises the bitterness with pink pepper, oak moss and – most dramatically – with slightly acrid biting myrrh.

On a girl’s skin this can be absolutely divine if you are looking for a crisp, super-elegant, immaculate chypre. A scent to wear with your most expensive tailoring, with your best shoes, a £200 hair makeover. Don’t be put off by my stressing the severity of VETIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE: as with all the perfumes described here, remember that the chemistry of a woman’s skin will in most cases naturally soften even the most extreme of austere scents.

Try Vetiver Extraordinaire.

Original Santal
By
Creed

Original Santal from Creed at Les Senteurs

Creed offer many opulent florals but it has to be said that the true glory of the range lies in the masculine lines. Creed has the perceived character of being fundamentally a House for men. So get in on the act, girls, and pinch one or two boys’ fragrances for yourselves.

I recall that when ORIGINAL SANTAL came out a decade ago the first consignment, which arrived in mid-winter, was almost exclusively snapped up by ladies for their own use. Now why? Well – there’s the glorious fiery bottle for a start. Now I know that in the final analysis the container is irrelevant – as with an oyster it’s what inside that counts. But, a fun flacon IS important and the graduated reds of SANTAL grab the attention as startlingly as Bette Davis’s scarlet ballgown in ‘Jezebel’.

And it becomes the contents perfectly: sweet, yes, but most winningly so and also woody, warm & generous-hearted. The tonka bean lusciousness is balanced with sandalwood, ginger, bitter orange, coriander, cinnamon and Creed’s famous juniper. A party scent, a scent that picks you up and makes you smile; you could never feel depressed in ORIGINAL SANTAL. How great is that?

Try Original Santal

Bois du Portugal
By
Creed

Bois du Portugal from Creed at Les Senteurs

Another cross-over act and my own favourite of the entire Creed range.
BOIS DU PORTUGAL goes back some 30 years and is one of those delicious scents of which it is hard to be sure of the ingredients. Undoubtedly I am not alone in finding this an added attraction: we all love a little enigma in a perfume.

BOIS DU PORTUGAL is deep and soft, dark and green: but of a quality quite unlike VETIVER EXTRAORDINAIRE. This is velvety, embracing, lulling, warm and enveloping. The smell of summer forests in Portugal filled with fragrant woods, lavender, oak moss and touches of lemon and citrus. Maybe a little leather, rose and a hint of lily of the valley underfoot The base is sandal and cedarwood bolstered & enriched with Creed’s signature ambergris.

Ladies who love Mitsouko, Eau du Soir and Femme should try this. It’s simultaneously chic and confident, sexy and assured. Like every good scent it should smell as though it is part of the wearer, as though exuded by the pores not by an atomiser.

Try Bois du Portugal

Pour Un Homme
By
Caron

Pour un Homme de Caron at Les Senteurs

The name and the plain square no-fuss bottle are uncompromisingly masculine. The fragrance is something else, a scent for everyone and anyone. Launched in 1934 this is in one sense the perfume that started all the His & Hers trouble: Caron claims it was the first fragrance marketed for men. It has been one of the world’s most iconic creations ever since.

Even if you think lavender is not for you, give POUR UN HOMME a go: this is sexy amorous seductive lavender, not a tired drawer freshener or faded cologne. PUH is the most luxuriously simple blending of complementary lavender oils with a discreet heart of rose absolue on a swooning base of expertly deployed vanilla and tonka which soften and enhance rather than sweeten. They also prolong tenacity as do the precious woods which hold them: PUH lingers leisurely on the skin.

This little masterpiece is one of a great quartet of lavender scents which includes the eccentric Jicky, the surreal beauty of Cologne Pour Le Matin and the blue afternoon of Reverie Au Jardin. Viva lavender, vive Caron!

Try Pour un Homme

Geranium Pour Monsieur
By
Frederic Malle – Editions de Parfums

geranium pour Monsieur from Editions de Parfum at Les Senteurs

The late great Mona di Orio used to reflect nostalgically on the scent of garden geraniums, gratefully watered on a hot dusty summer evening. Colette, too, wrote about this spicy green aroma. Now we can all wear it in
the setting of Dominique Ropion’s glorious green jewel.

GERANIUM is initially cool, even cold, a symphony of all the mints and peppermints. It’s bracing, sparkling, alive, tingling – there’s a slight mentholated quality to it, a morning wake up call. Because of this you may find it a perfect scent for daytime, for the workplace. This is the fragrance for a tall Hitchcock blonde, sure of herself and her frosty magnetism. Like her, GERANIUM melts and warms upon acquaintance, as your skin transforms it into a lightly musky creaminess, with touches of cinnamon and incense resins. Ingrid Bergman would have done it justice. So would Grace Kelly.

Try Geranium Pour Monsieur

Please have a try: in some ways this is maybe the most superficially masculine of my five choices but it is so unusual, unique and, frankly, gloriously unpredictable that I urge you to try it.
You may find the results sensational.

Breathe Deeply: 100 Scents you need to smell…


Image: Atlantisqueen.co

Image: Atlantisqueen.co

Everyone loves a list.

Here is my own riposte to all those endless ‘must do’s’ – 100 things to see/read/eat before you die – always so popular in the Bank Holiday Newspapers.

Yet so many of those recommended experiences are curiously passive, depressingly automatic: they involve buying a ticket, taking out a subscription, visiting some sort of restaurant, theatre or other place of entertainment. “You pays your money & you takes your choice”. A bit lifeless, maybe? 

Smells are different. They are trickier to seek out; they take you by surprise at unexpected moments; they rocket you across time and space; they resist control or manipulation. With smell you must take your pleasures where you find them.

Most of the following scents are delicious; some are startling. A few are revolting but arresting. Only one I have not yet smelled…

Even as I write, reports are coming in from Australia that the Duchess of Cambridge ‘recoiled’ at the smell of a koala: the eucalyptus oil comes out through the koala’s pores, you see, intensified by its own natural odour. Smells never fail to amaze: if you let them.

Tell us what you think of this list.

Here we go:

Box… & phlox: pink & white phlox was introduced into Europe by the Empress Josephine – a hot white peppery scent; the smell of childhood.

Phox: directgardening.com

Phox: directgardening.com

A new bar of soap

A traditional eau de cologne

Orange peel & marmalade

Clean sheets – laid up in lavender or simply air dried.

Fresh cut spring grass

Cowslips

Cowslips: plantlife.org.uk

Cowslips: plantlife.org.uk

Pigs

The silk lining of a vintage fur coat

Apple blossom

New books: hardback &  limp edition smell quite different.

New Books: radionorthland.org

New Books: radionorthland.org

Chanel No 5 – it changes all the time like so many classics. Our wonderful Sarah McCartney,  recently smelled the 1929 version: curiously like Lux soapflakes.

Jasmine – in a pot, in the garden or on the streets of Damascus. 

The hills of home – that indefinable smell of your native air. I can smell Leicester coming a mile off.

Lilac

Ether

Ether: Wikimedia commons

Ether: Wikimedia commons

Fried onions

Russian airports – once redolent of over-ripe apples, cigarettes & petrol. Have they changed ?

Toast

A glasshouse of ripening tomatoes

Sweet peas – which is lovelier? The colour or the perfume?

White sugar – a nasty smell. Used to make me feel quite sick as a child.

Tom cats

Tomcat - Walt Disney (comicvine.com)

Tomcat – Walt Disney (comicvine.com)

Hyacinths – though to some they smell of tom cats.

Scarlet geraniums – more properly called pelargoniums but you know the plant I mean.

Christmas and Easter – something indefinable in the air. Unmistakable, impossible to pin-point.

Privet hedges

Shalimar by Guerlain- at least in its glory days. See Chanel No 5, above.

Suede gloves

Vinegar

The sea

Icy iron – an iron railing with a hard January frost on it.

Image by Sharon Wilkinson: kingstonphotographicclub.ca

Image by Sharon Wilkinson: kingstonphotographicclub.ca

Horseradish – the hotter the better.

Honeysuckle

Lily of the valley

A convent chapel – inner cleanliness.

Prison – I have yet to smell this and trust I never shall; but the awful miasma is something that everyone who has been banged up infallibly mentions.

New shoes

Ripe pineapples – warm fragrant golden sweetness. 

Bluebells & wild garlic

Bluebells and Wild Garlic: Wikimedia commons

Bluebells and Wild Garlic: Wikimedia commons


Backstage – of any theatre.

Syringa on a June evening.

Olive oil

Snuffed candles – in the second they are extinguished; hot wax & burned wick.

Rosemary, lavender, thyme – the glory of the herb patch.

Cocoa butter

Fear –  a sour, foxy reek.

Jonquils in a sunny beeswax-polished hallway.

Camomile – though not camomile tea.

Bacon, coffee; cigarettes at the moment of lighting: all notoriously smelling better than they taste.

Coffee and cigarettes

Coffee and cigarettes

A gardenia + a magnolia flower – often talked about; seldom experienced for real.

An iris bed in bloom: the flowers DO have a scent, an unforgettable smell.

Daffodils

Laburnum 

Stargazer lilies

Hot tar

Indian basil

Creosote

Narcisse Noir de Caron

Guelder rose –  that gorgeous vibernum shrub reminiscent of expensive vanilla & peach ice cream.

Broad bean flowers

Methylated spirits

Tuberose

Vanilla pods

Gorse – coconut frosted with sea salt in May sunshine.

Incense

Lemons –  like the sweet peas, the colour and scent are mutually enhancing.

Clove pinks

Fresh oysters on ice

Oysters on ice: theguardian.com

Oysters on ice: theguardian.com

Celery 

Nail polish remover

Hot custard

Marlene’s hands, 1972 – covered in Youth Dew

Linseed oil

Violets

Bonfires – in small doses

A well-soaked sherry trifle

Rain

Marigolds

New potatoes boiling with mint

“Iles Flottantes” – that exquisite delicacy first tasted at a French service station. 

Steaming hen mash

Kaolin & morphia

A rose

Sealing wax 

Newly washed hair

Hot mince pies

The bitterness of poppies

Scalding hot tea

Hot Tea: misslopez.se

Hot Tea: misslopez.se

Linden blossom

The inside of handbags

Myrtle – always a cutting in a royal bride’s bouquet.

Raspberries

Anything from LES SENTEURS….

Les Senteurs - Seymour Pl

Les Senteurs – Seymour Place

Spring Lamb

lingosdotco

One of my more sympathetic correspondents – a regular reader – texted me this morning to say that she was motoring into the Cotswolds take lunch at The Lamb at Burford. What a lovely April day out! And how many memories this brought back, though I’ve not put a foot through the door since 1959. My father had an old friend who farmed locally and consequently we occasionally drove down for a meeting at The Lamb. For a great treat we once stayed the night. The farmer was a Parson Woodforde figure: he weighed in excess of 30 stone and when he dined chez lui he would have his housekeeper roast two joints of fragrant home-raised lamb. One for his guests and one for himself. Whenever I smell rosemary for remembrance – “Pray you love, remember!” – I think of these feasts.

It was in the dark saloon bar (or possibly the Residents’ Lounge) of The Lamb that I first met Miss Twine, a rich and elderly heiress who wore an item of clothing quite new to me: a small & squashy black velvet hat with a spotted net veil above a very wide and lavishly carmined mouth. I was about two, I suppose, and was presented to Miss Twine to be inspected and admired as she sipped her Bristol Cream. The veil rather foxed me and had to be explained away: not a deformity but a fashion accessory. I remember the warm scent of abundant face powder on her huge soft face, the syrupy luscious sherry and fumes of something which I imagine was a Caron, Coty or Weil masterpiece sprayed generously over the furs and other upholstery of her person.

The final visit to The Lamb was marred by a faux pas on the part of my younger brother. I don’t know what had happened to the roast lamb that day but we lunched at the hotel. The farmer joined us; both my parents were there too, and my grandmother, fragrant in her signature Blue Grass which sat so well with her Players cigarettes. We forget how children notice everything: nearly 60 years later I remember a certain froideur in the atmosphere. My grandmother was an advocate of healthy eating: maybe the obesity upset her. I don’t know.

But possibly it was this slight tension which caused the subsequent disaster. We ordered shepherd’s pie, made in those days with mutton. I can smell that, too: rather dry and grey, like minced up india rubbers. There seemed to be no gravy. We sat on great carved wooden chairs, rather low; I somehow managed to reach the table, but my brother had to be perched on cushions. We never got to the pudding: I can’t remember who noticed first but we suddenly became aware of a great spreading pool beneath my brother’s chair. The cushions were sodden. All I recall after that was my grandmother’s whispered “I think we should leave – now…” And so we did, me enthralled by the drama.

And oddly enough I’ve never tasted a shepherd’s pie since: it’s always been cottage pie, the beef variant. Smells nicer, tastes better. Besides where do you get mutton these days? But ah! The stinging fragrance of capers and creamy onion sauce. Another story, entirely.

Vignettes of old Marylebone No 12: A Dream of Fair Women

George_Romney_-_Lady_Hamilton_as_Circe

As we have seen so often in our vignettes, Marylebone has always been always noted for its lovely ladies. Emma Hamilton, one of the great beauties of her age was married to Sir William Hamilton, diplomat and antiquarian at Marylebone parish church ( St Mary ) in 1791 having been “sold to the old man for £20,000” by his nephew.

Almost ten years later – and much stouter – Emma was back at St Mary’s for the christening of Horatia, her illegitimate daughter by England’s greatest hero, Lord Nelson. To avoid outraging public decency mother and father posed as Horatia’s godparents and even in adulthood the girl refused to believe that she was the offspring of the once Divine Emma.

Despised and disliked by most of her contemporaries, Emma seems much more attractive to us: Romney’s glorious paintings show a beauty that still resonates in the 21st century – all that magnificent hair and a gorgeous mouth; attractive too is Emma’s love of food and drink – to the point of falling off her chair at table and at the cost of her figure. Extravagant, loyal, outspoken (in a broad Cheshire accent) and generous, Emma Hamilton doted on Nelson to the point of mania. She even celebrated him in her dress, devising nautical fantasies of sea blue, golden anchors and saucy sailor hats. How she would have revelled in Sel de Marin by Heeley Parfums – the sun, the sea, the salt spray…alas! Too late for her – but a unique opportunity for you. Why not pop round to Les Senteurs this afternoon?

 

And you have the chance to meet Mr. Heeley, creator of sel Marin, himself! Please join us at our Seymour Place branch on May 8th from 17:30 to meet James Heeley, as well as the creative minds behind Eau d’Italie and Nu_be.

RSVP to pr@lessenteurs.com

Image: Wikimedia commons

Kiss me, my fool.

ThedaBarawikimedia

To celebrate the centenary of its release I sat down and watched ‘A Fool There Was’ on the You Tube: the great sex shocker of 1914 which propelled Theda Bara upon the world, the first screen femme fatale: The Vamp. Hard to believe that an almost mythic movie has played for 100 years. Bara (nee Goodman) died, not old, the year I was born. Refused a certificate in Great Britain, the movie still retains the power to shock, not by its prurience but in the final shots of a man reduced to human wreckage and total physical & psychological degradation. I squeaked aloud in my chair. ‘Some of him lived / but the most of him died’ reads the title card. It’s a theme that von Sternberg and Dietrich returned to with even greater effect some 15 years later: a pillar of society reduced by sex to a baying, dying beast.

Theda Bara has less to do in the film than I had imagined: she is taller, too, and rather more attractive. She was probably the cinema’s first brunette leading lady, the original wicked dark-haired temptress, a creature of the Night destroying the daughters of Light and their lawful wedded husbands. Her wide mouth is covered in lip rouge which photographs as black, and her huge inky eyes are liberally smeared with Vaseline and candle smoke. She is heaped with clothes in the especially hideous styles of the day; in one sequence her feet become entangled in her fish tail train. I can’t decide whether this is a cute device to give the viewer an eyeful of her ankles or whether the director either didn’t notice or couldn’t be bothered to cut.

Roses, cruelly used, are her leit motif. We first see the Vamp smelling two flowers, then tearing them to pieces: the destruction of her prey, the denial of her own femininity, the end of innocence. In one sequence of startling phaliic symbolism she disarms a rejected admirer who draws a gun on her by stroking the the revolver – now detumescent and redundant – with the rose she carries. Whereat the wretched man shoots himself.

The Vamp and her confreres play cards, loll around half-dressed, let down their back hair and indulge in a lot of what my mother used to call ‘posturing’. But interestingly perfume is not part of the picture. Scent does not appear though the viewer rather anticipates shots of atomisers and drenching showers of musky fragrance as an additional sign of shameless sin. After all this film was made in a Golden Age of perfume: L’Heure Bleue, Jicky, Quelques Fleurs, Narcisse Noir, Phul Nana, Shem-El-Nessim and the early Coty repertoire were all by then on the dressing tables of the rich & fashionable.

Maybe Theda Bara’s director – Frank Powell – felt that his Vamp should exude her own seductive and noxious aroma, like a night-blooming flesh-eating flower; that she should lure men to their doom by an involuntarily secreted deadly & delectable unnatural odour. Writings and novels of this period describe scent as being emitted by hair, clothing, furs, fabrics and furnishings rather than by the skin …” a faint delicious fragrance hung about her..”. But perfume actually poured onto the skin? Or oozing from it? A subject then ‘too difficult even to talk about’ as the adverts used to say. Too animal, too raw, too downright carnal: ideal for Theda Bara.

Now all you have to do is run the movie!

Image: Wikimedia Commons