Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A perfumed walk through Narnia

In last year's Christmas Perfumes blog - A Perfume for Christmas  - I covered many of my favourite Christmasy perfume themes; gourmet or incense themed perfumes, cosy/fiery perfumes, perfumes that remind us of red berries and cinnamon and so on. So I was wondering what I could suggest that might be a bit different this year, then I had it;  a perfumed walk through Narnia!

So without further ado, let's begin our journey with Lucy into the wintery magical land of Narnia..

Winter forest
Lucy's first foray into Narnia is of course into the woods through the wardrobe, and what could be more apt than Enchanted Forest!

Enchanted Forest by the Vagabond Prince
With this title and the Russia - inspired porcelain bottle I already feel like I'm entering a Narnian forest.

Enchanted Forest was released just last year. It's by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, known for his unique take on perfume compositions.

At first sniff, Enchanted Forest is like Christmas in a bottle - a very uplifting scent of resinous green fir cones and juicy blackcurrant (actually a bit like cassis liqueur). Like most Duchaufour perfumes though, it has complexity, and includes among many notes - rose, pepper and civet, creating an abstract, rich backdrop to the fresh intensity of fir-tree and blackcurrant.
Into drydown, a warm, slightly dusty (not mouldy) patchouli mingles with resinous pine needles, evoking forest floor and a grounded feeling, more unisex than the slightly sweet berry/green opening...

...and is that a touch of animal in the dry down, or is it the the scent of approaching faun?

The Afternoon of a Faun by Etat Libre d'Orange
How literal can it get? Except fauns aren't real (or so we like to think). This perfume does actually smell quite goaty or faun-like into dry-down.

It has slightly singed notes of wood resin, there's a wisp of sweet rose in there, mingling with immortelle (spicy/warm maple syrup like scent) a nostalgic inky iris and cosy benzoin. But I definitely get goaty musk from this. It reminds me of Labdanum (resin from the rock rose plant) which can often smell like horse hair - quite earthy.

I envisage herbs, flowers and the remains of a bonfire, trampled into the damp earth by the cloven hooves of a dancing faun who's danced all night, then awoke at dawn with the scent of  musky sweat and fire-smoke clinging to his goaty/hairy body!

Not for everyone, and definitely more masculine than feminine to my nose, I love the creativity of this perfume.

Ah, I hear sleigh bells and sense a hint of evil in the air, it must be the White Witch with her dangerously tasty Turkish Delight...

Rose Otto Lotion by Dr Organic
This is the first time I've recommended a lotion rather than perfume, but Rose Otto Lotion by Dr Organic is as close as it gets to a Turkish Delight rose for me, it's very authentic and surprisingly long-lasting as a perfume. Rose Otto is made from the Bulgarian rose - and has a rich, sweet rose-scent rather than a lemony tea rose scent. I often use this as a base for other perfumes, especially those with smoky notes as there's something very classic about smoky sweet rose notes, to my nose.

Alternatively you might want to try  Keiko Mecheiri's Loukoum or Montale's Sweet Oriental Dream, but in my experience these smell more like almonds than rose-scented Turkish Delight

I doubt the White Witch would smell of sweet roses though, I'd imagine her scent as dark and dangerous, which to me conjures up -

Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle, an earthy patchouli/intense rose perfume with notes of dry incense. It's definitely a wild and slightly Gothic perfume, beautiful, but not necessarily comfortable. I tend to wear it on only the most dramatic occasions, and as it's so intense I've never needed to buy more than a 5ml roller ball decant, findable on the Perfumed Court.com (see links to right).

As the White Witch sends the enchanted Edmund on his way, it's almost time for Mr and Mrs Beaver to make their appearance..

Winter Woods by Sonoma Scent Studio
Sonoma Scent Studio is an independent one-woman perfumery, run by Laurie Erikson. With Winter Woods Laurie was inspired by the woodlands of the Sonoma Valley near California. 

She uses predominantly natural absolutes in her perfumes, so Winter Woods is a bouquet of beautifully natural oak, cedar and birch with wood resins and tangy green vetiver. What brings beavers to mind is the note of castoerum, a musky note that smells slightly urinous but in small amounts adds a furry warmth to perfumes. 

I definitely notice it in Winter Woods, but where it can be sickly in another perfume composition, here it lends animal warmth to a perfume that smells very outdoorsy and grounded. This is definitely the scent of the Beaversdam abode (minus the fish)!

But do I hear Sleigh bells again? Someone's hear to see you, but this time it's St Nicolas! Father Christmas, or Santa if you like..

He would probably smell a bit sooty and smoky, possibly slightly boozy too, so I'm going to go for another Sonoma Scent Studio creation -

Fireside Intense 
This is definitely the intense version of SSS's Fireside. You can take your pick from warm, cosy and smoky, or charcoal grilled and flambéd in whisky! Fireside Intense has notes of birch tar (a leathery scent slightly reminscent of coaltar), whisky and sandalwood. There's something very cosy about it, but it takes a while to dry down into its more mellow, slightly buttery heart notes. It's probably perceived as more masculine than feminine, but I find it a comfort scent in cold weather.

Prepare yourself...the velvety paws of Aslan approach..

Let Me Play the Lion by Les Nez
Let Me Play the Lion is a tawny, warm perfume by Isabelle Doyen who's usually the in-house perfumer for niche French company Annick Goutal.
She has a wonderful way with resinous and woody notes and Let Me Play the Lion has a characteristically natural feel -

warmly spicy and resinous, with a touch of immortelle that turns slightly burnt-caramel-like into the heart notes. This is more medicinal - slightly more challenging than her usual style. (he's not a tame lion after all).

I'm tempted to skip the dark and tragic scene where Aslan is sacrificed by the shadier characters in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, but we must face the darkness before light, and in fact the air of primeval ritual might be conjured up by Parfum Sacre Intense!

Parfum Sacre Intense by Caron
This is, as the name suggests, the more intense version of Parfum Sacre. Where the original's spicy nutmeg, myrrh and peppery opening becomes a gently salty sweet incense/rose, the intense version ramps up the rose, incense and pepper more at first, but then actuually becomes more gentle, even sweet into dry-down..

Heralding the dawn (and probably the most obviously Christian scene of the Narnia Chronicles) is the scene where Aslan is reborn..

Whether religious or not, an uplifting perfume that reminds us of sunrise can't be a bad thing, and to me that light touch is captured by Baiser Vole..

Baiser Vole by Cartier 
I've reviewed this several times, so suffice to say it's a fresh, dewy perfume which combines a peppery green lily with subtle vanilla that gives it a floaty, silky quality. 

The opening notes are almost clean and shampoo-like, but as it dries down it becomes more comfortable, and it's surprisingly lasting. I always feel uplifted by this perfume and although I associate it more with spring, I see no reason not to wear it on a crisp sunny winter's morning in the snow.

And as a reference to the swiftly concluded battle scene, as we approach the end of our perfumed journey...

La Vierge De Fer by Serge Lutens
Continuing with lily white floral theme,  in this perfume there's a subtle hint of sharpness with the addition of a slightly metallic lemony frankincense. This Lutens creation was inspired by the story of the Maid of Orleans, or Joan of Arc. The overall sense is of steely, yet delicate purity, like a cystal-clear drop from Lucy's healing elixir.

Lastly we have the happy scenes at Cair Paravel (not long before Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund return to Professor Kirk's house and WW2) so let's leave them in their seaside castle, celebrating and dining sumptuously with Mr Tumnus and the Beavers. 

Their feast might include dates, spices and citrus sherbets from exotic lands, or delicious vanilla-scented puddings, conjured up by scents such as Cimabue by DSH Perfumes - a comforting saffron, citrus, lightly spicy, vanilla perfume, or, since this is their coronation ceremony, the noble Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens - a delicious concoction of chocolate and rose-scented sandalwood...like relaxing into soft golden cushions...
Wishing you all fragrant Christmas holidays!


  1. You have got a great blog, I enjoyed this little Narnia journey a lot :)


  2. Thanks Marie, I enjoyed writing it, what could be more 'Christmasy' than a walk through Narnia?!