Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Kusunoki necklace...

Kusunoki is the Japanese name for "camphor tree". I made this necklace as a little tribute to the magnificent camphor tree in the anime "My Neighbour Totoro" (Tonari no Totoro), by Hayao Miyazaki. The camphor tree in the film was indeed one of the main characters, majestic, dark and fragrant. The soundtrack, beautifully composed by Joe Hisaishi, captured the night, the garden and the tree with its whistling leaves amazingly well. So well that, when listening to it, one cannot prevent oneself from smelling the pungent, refreshing scent of camphor at night.

The smell of camphor is a very dear smell to me. Since I was a little girl back in my old house, I learnt to love it. Not the camphor of moth balls (although I must say I don't dislike it!), but the pure smell of the camphor wood. We have two big old carved trunks from China, made of camphor wood. Very pretty they are, and my Mom used to keep the bedlinen inside it. When they were opened, the smell of the camphor wood - still very minty and fresh after who knows how many years - would waft through the house and, at night, permeate my dreams with its distant mystery. I loved it. I loved it so much that managed to procure myself some time ago a scent that, in many ways, duplicates that long lost sensation. The scent is called "Un Parfum de Charmes et Feuilles", by The Different Company.

In this necklace, I tried to depict many things: the colours of camphor trees at night and how do they look like in a Miyazaki film, dark night green with flecks of ancient gold. I tried at the same time, to give it a scent and a memory. A scent I love, and a memory of my early days that will no longer come back.

For Kuzunoki I have used:

- Four flat oval deep green dragon vein beads;
- Three large round gold-speckled malachite beads;
- Six medium round dark green dragon vein beads;
- Several Swarovski pearls in powder green and two different sizes;
- Several Swarovski bicones in Chrysolite Dorado, Crystal AB Satin and small Swarovski rondelle beads in Rosaline Gold;
- Two Czech Fire faceted beads in shades of antique gold and pink;
- Several green jasper small beads;
- Two tiny stardust spacers in ancient gold;
- One set of Tibetan hook clasps and links.

Some close-ups below...

A detail of the S-hook clasp in antique gold. I used a copper wire to string the necklace and it can be seen in the first picture, followed by a bronze crimp, a stardust spacer and the green jasper beads. The 2nd picture shows the Swarovski crystal pearls, some of the bicones and round dragon veins in more detail.

Details of the jasper beads, Swarovski pearls and bicones, round dragon veins and also the two faceted Czech Fire beads I used as an accent.

These two pictures show the malachite beads in some detail. The gold spots are real gold, ie, impurities accumulated in the mineral. They look quite nice, but are hardly discernible in the pictures. Tried my best though!

These shots show two of the dragon vein flat beads. I always use them (it is a type of agate) because their shine and texture are so unique. No bead is the same, there is always some little mark or vein to differentiate them. The colours are also magic. Dragon veins come in such a variety of shades that you really want to use them all. This one has black veins and the shade varies between dark green and teal. It's like a forest at night, thus my choice of stone for this piece.

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 12:31 AM 0 comments

Friday, July 04, 2008

Little Fragrance test (just for fun)...

Your Fragrance Profile

The best calming fragrance: basil

The best fragrance for everyday wear: cinnamon

The best fragrance to boost your sex appeal: musk

The best fragrance for energy: eucalyptus


posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 12:09 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Vivara by Emilio Pucci

What really made me buy this scent was my memory of the original Vivara in the 60's, which my Mother used to wear and whose box and bottle I loved. I still remember how beautiful those flacons used to be - much nicer than the ones nowadays - and a real treasure for any curious little brat (as I used to be, easily amused - and enchanted).

Alas, I cannot quite remember the smell though. I try and try, but I cannot.

A soft Chypre, it is described as, and also as a lighter version of the original, a more modern approach to that concept.

I was absolutely attracted to the lovely flacon, which reminds me of some retro Murano paperweights - another cherished childhood memory. As one can see, I had some really subjective reasons to buy it, and I don't regret it. Not one bit.

This will certainly be one of those memorable scents (for me at least) of 2007. It is fresh, elegant, subtle, and sometimes I can smell some green pears and limes mixed to narcissus, orange blossom and jasmine in the heart notes. The bergamot in the head also reminds me of beautiful Amalfi, one of my favourite places in this world. A sudden whiff of Southern Italy, warm sunsets and deep teal seas.

As for the base notes, I can smell some very familiar accords, something that I really have smelled before, a long time ago, perhaps the remains of the original Vivara: rounded patchouli, a hint of silvery iris (or maybe violet, hard to tell) and a tamed and feminine vétiver note, lingering and striving to live forever.

It sometimes brings me to mind the lovely sweetness of the citrussy notes in Hierbas de Ibiza, and some almost Penhaligon-ish freshness also seems to try and make an appearance - but then again, I think it's only my mind playing tricks. Maybe. Maybe not! Smell of good things that I try to locate somewhere, and some time ago.

Vivara is a happy yet restrained little gem, a green fragrance that is sure to bring you many happy moments and fragrant memories.

To be cherished...

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 7:45 PM 0 comments

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Current objects of desire (scents)

Inspired by a trip into town today, I have compiled a little wish list of my current mainstream fragrances. I say "mainstream" because I normally don't go for department store or duty free stuff. I prefer creations from the more "obscure" houses, such as L'Artisan Parfumeur, Serge Lutens, Ormonde Jayne, Editions de Parfums, The Different Company and so on. They smell different, unique most of the times. Some would call that "niche" but, for some reason, I hate that term - it sounds snobbish and unnecessarily elitist. I would rather call it fragrances from "less popular" houses. Seriously. After all, it's not like they are hidden somewhere from the noses of the non-initiated souls or something wacky like that. They have been there for some time, and are not a well-kept Masonic secret nor a mysterious Harry Potterish formula, right? That's how I see it and why I dislike the "niche" term.

Well, then here is my list of those mainstream gems:

- Estée Lauder "Pleasures Delight";
- Dior "Midnight Poison";
- Marc Jacobs' "Daisy";
- Sarah Jessica Parker "Lovely";
- Fresh "Cannabis Santal";
- Kenzo's "Tokyo".

I tried most of them and really liked it. I haven't tried "Tokyo" though, but for me it's a hit always. I mean, Kenzo is a sure hit (no miss!). Always. And the concept of "Tokyo" surely attracts me lots: because I favour "men's" scents (note I don't believe fragrance has something like a gender, really, that's why I wear them all - men and women alike), and because I love Japan. That's why wearing Kenzo's idea of how Tokyo smells like seems like a must to me.


posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 9:49 PM 0 comments

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Gaultier 2

We've been shopping today. I was looking for the new Jean-Paul Gaultier scent, Gaultier 2, since Mark brought me a sample this week from Newcastle's duty free. He used it some days ago, and it was perfect on him, however he claims it's much too sweet for his tastes. I used the other half and simply loved it. Reminds me a lot of Joop women, lauched years and years ago (something around 1987, maybe?).

I must say Gaultier 2 is a toned-down version of Joop though. While this one may be classified as an oriental, woody scent, and quite characteristic of the "strength" and power of the 80's perfumery, G2 is what we call nowadays a "skin scent": something warmer, subtler, much less blatant, but still making use of the same distinctive notes - amber, musk and vanilla - kind of a "sacred triad" for the genre.

Let's say that where Joop proclaims and asserts, G2 whispers and gently seduces. A calm, relaxing, self-reassuring fragrance.

I loved it and thought it would be perfect for Autumn: warmly comfortable, a real feel-good scent. I bought a 40ml bottle, since I still have too much perfume to go through these days.

When Gaultier created it, he had it in mind a couple, the encounter of two people, to be used by both - male/female, male/male, female/female (any kind of couple). An androgynous composition, really, and one can in fact perceive that: impossible to categorise it as a "man's" or "woman's". Just the way it should be, and has been intended. Genderless.


posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 10:31 PM 0 comments

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Terre d'Hermès

Mark was in Spain since Sunday and arrived yesterday. He bought me the most adorable scent while there, Hermès "Terre d'Hermès" created by one of my favourite noses, Jean-Claude Ellena.

The scent is an ode to Vétiver, one of my favourite fragrance notes. Vétiver lends a rooty, earthy, rainy character to fragrances. "Elemental" would be the word to describe it. And no wonder this one is called "Terre". That's indeed what it is: the smell of earth at its best. Wet earth after a rainshower in Brazil. A very pungent, tropical aroma, almost metallic, and somehow sharp - in a most pleasant way though! One of the nicest smells for me... Full of memories, fragrant memories of childhood, and growing-up years.

It is mostly used in fragrances classified as "masculine", however I do not agree very much with such classifications. I believe fragrances are genderless. You wear what you love, doesn't matter if intended for a man, a woman, or a baby even. But that's my point-of-view. No wonder I've been wearing Guerlain's "Vétiver" for years now. Still some people see it as "weird", believe it or not.

"Terre d'Hermès" is a fantastic alternative to my beloved "Vétiver", mixing its dominant notes with patchouli and woods. One can distinguish a hint of citrus (a bit like lemongrass maybe) right in the top and middle notes, which confers a crystalline, sunny trait to a primarily "harsh" and very distinctive note, smoothing down the overall composition. Think about a little Murano glass leaf filtering the sun rays and shattering into a million of tiny, delicate rainbows. The drydown melts into a pleasant, woody and almost sparkly mix of wonders, like those fragrant tiny rainbows. Its "final" colour? Emerald green, like the Rain Forest, with some gold foil patches here and there. Transparent. Aqueous. Refreshing.

This makes a great scent for all seasons: Summer, Winter, anytime. Staying power is great too; it literally lasts for hours on end. If you love this kind of earthy, clean smell, this is definitely worth a sniff.


posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 9:57 PM 0 comments

Friday, December 30, 2005

Shiseido Forever...

We are just back from our Christmas holidays in Ballina. Actually, we came back on Tuesday the 27th. Unfortunately, I got (another) cold there and was quite bad since then. I did not come to the office this week, i.e., from Wednesday until today and stayed in bed most of this time. I have been having lots of colds lately, and this time it was quite bad. The worse for me is the cough. Besides that I managed to burn my tummy once again while preparing for the injections! It looks horrible and I need to change the dressing every so often. It doesn't seem to be healing very well this time and, if it's still bad next week, I will probably need to go to Dr. Kavanagh again.

Christmas, apart from the cold, was fine, and relaxing. I had the chance of starting my new Murakami book, "Wind-up Bird Chronicles" and, once again, it's a book that I cannot put down. What I love about him (Murakami and, of course, his translator) is the way he describes things so well. You can easily picture locations, characters, smells, everything. Sometimes when you are reading other books it is not so easy, but with his work it just flows and everything is pictured so vividly and perfectly. He doesn't cease to amaze me in this regard. I love this book now because it is funny, poetic and very surreal.

Mark gave me some wonderful gifts, as always. He is just great to get the right things for me! I got a fantastic Canon scanner that virtually does everything: scans negatives, can be used as a copier, is super-fast and comes with a great little software package. The model, in case you are interested is CanoScan Lide 500F. Perfect! I don't know how I survived for all these without a scanner, really...

And he also gave me the new Shiseido perfume, available in Japan only. Rose Rouge. It is pure parfum and comes in a very exquisite box and a lovely iridescent red bottle (32ml to be precise). Mark also got from the sales person a beautiful enameled purse atomiser, black metal with tiny roses, same design as the box. It came with a pipette to make decanting easier. The bottle as you may have guessed is not a spray one - which I prefer when it comes to pure parfum anyway.

The perfume itself is a joy: it's got great staying power and the main note (or should I say "theme") is the red Bulgarian rose. It is sparkly and comfortable, starting up with that lovely rose note and some other fruity accords, like blackberries and raspberries as far as I can tell. Then it settles into a subtly powdery heart of Moroccan rose, heliotropin and irises. In the end, I am left with the evanescent, faint aroma of a million roses, laying on a persistent base of velvety musk and sandalwood. It reminds me of the delectable Bulgarian rose jams, that I used to buy in Rio some years ago (and cannot find anymore). It had a lovely, very deep rose colour and you could see the transparent tiny petals of delicate roses floating on it. The Fauchon jam is quite good, but doesn't compare to that Bulgarian delicacy! Pity I cannot remember the brand now. Here is a picture of my Rose Rouge:

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posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 11:26 PM 4 comments

Monday, August 22, 2005

Bornéo 1834: Falling in Love...

Today, I have received a card from Les Salons Shiseido, in Paris. The usual lovely message from Amélie, directrice, and the announcement of their new fragrance, being released this coming September for their Eaux Anciennes series. The 1st, to be precise.

As usual, it included a card with the wax sample: Bornéo 1834. The wax smells gorgeous, I cannot wait to get the juice! Bornéo is pure magic, conjuring old memories of distant places - imaginary places, fairy tales, all dreamy and beautiful things under an autumnal, dusky light. A blast of camphor in the head notes, then patchouly, sweet cocoa accords and something mildly spicy - which I cannot quite identify. I detect dark woods starting to make an appearance in the middle notes and becoming quite prominent in the almost smoky, chocolate-ish drydown. But that chocolate, cocoa powder, whatever... It gives the composition smoothness and douceur. Bornéo 1834 is a forest out of a good dream, dark and comforting.

The initial camphor notes remind me of our ancient Chinese carved blanket boxes back home in Rio - which still nowadays let that delicious scent waft all over the place when we open them. I am wondering how it might smell like once layered with some Vétiver Oriental, which also contains patchouly and dark chocolate notes. But that experiment, only when I have the real concoction here!

Finally, here is what the card says about it:

"Bornéo 1834: on patchouly leaves, a dry and soothing perfume. The smoothness of a waltz, in a long forgotten Paris."


posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 11:48 PM 0 comments

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Nahéma, Guerlain (pure parfum)

Creamy, almost edible dark red roses enveloped by sheer, delicate lace, on a base of soft vanilla and precious sandalwood.
Use it sparingly. Light-handedly. Never too loud.
Just a whisper.


posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 7:12 PM 0 comments

Thursday, May 12, 2005

New Perfume Today!

Today I received a beautiful perfume, from Les Salons Shiseido, in Paris. It's Un Bois Sépia, and it was already in my Wish List for some time. Bought it unsniffed, because I knew I would love it, since I had a wax sample from Les Salons and was quite impressed by the scent. It's been conceived by the genial Serge Lutens (the above website includes a mini-biography) and contains some of my favourite notes:
  • Precious woods - cypress, oakmoss, a hint of cedarwood perhaps, and sandalwood for sure...
  • Earthy tones - vétiver and patchouli roots...
  • Resinous, dark opoponax...
It is an almost masculine fragrance, which doesn't bother me at all, since I am not a "flowery" girl when it comes to perfume, favouring oriental or woody, earthy scents instead. Besides, the fragrance I use the most these days is Guerlain's Vétiver, which is a classic man's fragrance (with my beloved vétiver and again some patchouli alright!), so, not surprising...

I think this scent is pretty much related to Shiseido's Feminité du Bois, whose dominant note is cedarwood. This has a delicious, and almost nostalgic smell of colour pencils, a big box of colour pencils, pencil shaves everywhere! However, Un Bois Sépia would be a more discrete, and almost shy version perhaps, not nearly as pungent or strong as Feminité. It doesn't seem to have a very long lasting power by comparison, it simply melts onto your skin, slowly, graciously, a "solitaire" kind of scent, a scent for oneself - almost like an olfactory secret. Adagio.

There is another thing I love about it, which is the name. Un Bois Sépia. Like an old photograph, a distant memory, or something out of a Mishima's book. A tad bit melancholy perhaps, and I like to think it was probably raining on those woods. But I am digressing... It is a wonderful fragrance, subtle, and comfortable. There is also something sweet in the remnant, base notes, probably tonka beans? I am not quite sure, but it looks - or rather smells - like it to me. The tonka beans work as a "fixative" in a perfume, and are quite often found at the base notes. It also provides an almost sweet, nutty and sometimes "smokey" note, that we can sometimes detect in a number of fragrances.

Here is the new acquisition then!

(I received that today but... before you say anything... no, no, no, I did not use that much! Those missing 20ml I have decanted into a spray bottle, for the original one - as you may be able to see here - is a splash, traditional bottle, and I don't want to "harm" the fragrance with the constant skin contact, or even the air of course!)

These are the news for tonight. Need to go now! Good Night!


posted by Andrea Leite Marques at 12:11 AM 0 comments