Victoria: 1895 posts

Paper Passion

The most marvelous things are the ones we take for granted. Consider a sheet of paper. A plain white leaf. You may cover it with a print-out of this article, handwritten grocery lists, a sketch of the view outside your window or profound observations on life. One page contains much history–from the Han Dynasty China (the earliest piece of paper discovered dates to 179-41 BC) via the Muslim polymaths traveling the Silk Road to the glittering cities of Uzbekistan, and from there to the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe. In France, the first papermill was established in the 12th century AD. Nuremberg set up the production of paper in 1390. Sweden held out till 1612. So paper is of relatively recent vintage in the western world.

mulberry paper1

In high school we once had a papermaking class, an experience our art teacher insisted was essential for our understanding of the world. It turned my rather practical interest in paper into passion, because once you see the intricate process of creation, nothing is ever the same. The technique we used was remarkably similar to how the first sheets of paper were made in the Chinese Imperial court.

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Traveling Perfume Box : US, UK, Europe

Our traveling perfume boxes for the UK and Continental Europe (and now the USA too) are ready for their next destination. If you would like to participate, here is how you can do it. And whether you’re participating or not, please read the perfume descriptions below. Both Abbie, Ariel and Paulina did a great job capturing their impressions on different fragrances. Now I won’t think of Goutal’s Nuit Etoilée as anything but “a mojito in a warm forest.”


How does it work: To enter, please post a comment answer these questions: 1) where are you based (UK, USA or Continental Europe), and if you’re a winner, can I share your email address with the original sender? ; 2) do you agree to pass the box onto someone else within two weeks or so(add a couple of your own samples and share your sampling notes with the rest of us)? and 3) what perfume are you wearing today? I will pick the next person to receive the box via a random number generator. I will announce that person in this spot and contact them via email. The winner are: the UK– Marie-Sophie, the rest of Europe–aurora-r, the USA–Connie. 

Winners, please read this part closely: When you’re ready to pass the box onto someone else, please get in touch with me. Please include 2 things in your email: the full list of samples and your sampling notes (what you’ve discovered, what you’ve liked/disliked, any observations you care to include).

To check the progress of our boxes, please click on the Traveling Sample Box tag.

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Givenchy Live Irresistible : Perfume Review


Following a nefarious example set by Lancôme La Vie est Belle, perfume copywriters have assumed the role of social philosophers. “We live only once,” proclaims the press release for Givenchy’s Live Irrésistible, but I’m not sure why I’d fritter away my time on earth in the company of their fragrance.


Like many of the recent LVMH perfumes (Givenchy is controlled by the conglomerate), Live Irrésistible seems like a focus group driven creation, where the each component is augmented to be likable. Desperate to please, Live Irrésistible heaps together everything that women are thought to like–a sweet, juicy top note, clean florals, and sweet amber drydown accented with cotton candy, all tinted pink. The result should at least be cute, but somehow it ends up as dowdy and bland.

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Perfumes and Books : a scented story

Are scents really that difficult to translate into words? I don’t think so. We only lack practice. Moreover, if you explore literature and poetry, from Colette to Hafez, from Virginia Woolf to Gustav Flaubert, you can find many examples of writing in which aromas play an essential role. They can help us imagine the development of a plot, the emotions of characters or even the state of the divine.  My latest FT Magazine column Perfumes and Books is about such scented stories.


“Fragrances are intangible and evanescent – hence the assumption that they are beyond the linguistic capacity of humans. Such difficulties need not be the norm. Open Virgil, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Proust, Zola or Persian poets like Hafez and Nizami, and discover how aromas can be given form and language. Invisible though scents are, they become more powerful when captured in words. To continue, please click here.”

Any other favorite examples of sensory descriptions in poetry or literature?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2016

We have our “Recommend Me a Perfume” thread today. You can use this space to ask any questions about perfume, including fragrance recommendations.


How does it work: 1. Please post your requests or questions as comments here. You can also use this space to ask any fragrance related questions. To receive recommendations that are better tailored to your tastes, you can include details on what you like and don’t like, your signature perfumes, and your budget. And please let us know what you end up sampling. 2. Then please check the thread to see if there are other requests you can answer. Your responses are really valuable for navigating the big and sometimes confusing world of perfume, so let’s help each other!

To make this thread easier to read, when you reply to someone, please click on the blue “reply” link under their comment.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • Surbhi in Penhaligon’s Ostara : Fragrance Review: Not sure if this is the right post for this comment. If not please let me know and I will correct it next time. I usually spray perfume with bottle… February 6, 2016 at 2:52pm

  • limegreen in Paper Passion: I love that paper mash opening! Thanks for explaining the vanillin “production” :) February 6, 2016 at 2:32pm

  • girasole in Paper Passion: Thank you for a lovely post on another of my passions – I love paper and paper craft (although I still can’t bring myself to ‘repurpose’ books, despite the current… February 6, 2016 at 12:46pm

  • girasole in Paper Passion: I’ve also noticed this about some iris scents – although others seems to smell inky to me. I’m sure it’s just me, but L’Artisan’s Jour de Fete smells a little… February 6, 2016 at 12:41pm

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