Scent Gourmand

sinless pleasure for the perfume glutton

Month: March 2016

Rush by Gucci

gucci-rush

Get a whiff of this:

You’re inside the meth lab of Walter Hartwell White Sr., also known by his clandestine name Heisenberg in the hit TV series Breaking Bad. Only today he’s not cooking up his usual chemicals to concoct his almost 100% pure, beautifully blue, illegal, and very dangerous brand of methamphetamine.

No, today, he is in your dream, inhabited by the spirit of a master perfumer, and is working away on an assortment of plastics and flowers to create something monstrously unforgettable. There is a pretty French maid milking a cow in the corner of the lab, and a huge bowl of overripe peaches and other indistinct fruits is sitting in giant bowl on top of one of the chemical barrels. The maid starts scolding Heisenberg for not eating enough, and tries coax him into having some fresh milk and fruit to pack some meat on his old bones. Walt, however, is concentrating too hard and doesn’t want distractions. The maid reminds him that the fruit will start to attract flies if he doesn’t chow down, and that we all know how crazy he’ll get it a fly is found in the lab. She bares her full cleavage at him and pouts, and Heisenberg relents. After glancing at the her breasts, He peels off his plastic skins, gloves, and mask, and dives into the juicy bowl of fruit. Oils spray out of the peels and mingle with the chemicals in the air, and sweet juices roll off Heisenberg’s chin and dribble off onto the floor, where they somehow increase in volume and snake their way over the buckets of fresh milk nearby.

You, watching it all, feel slightly nauseous but also very giddy and inexplicably naughty as the plastic floral mix in bin number 2 starts overflowing a bit, spewing up spices, liquified sugar, white flower particles, and something very much like hair spray into the air, mixing with the creamy fruitiness already heavy in the immediate atmosphere. You feel you may soon faint into a state of pure bliss, perhaps after painlessly vomiting.

Rush, created in 1999, is like a poison you know may just kill you, but you cannot help being attracted to it anyway. It’s interesting to make the analogy with drugs, because the perfume itself seems to have been inspired by them – by so-called “poppers” to be exact, a slang term given to the chemical class called alkyl nitrites that are inhaled for recreational purposes, especially as an aphrodisiac. They started initially in the homosexual community and were very popular in the 70s, 80s, and 90s club scene, and cause light-headedness, giddiness, and heightened sensual awareness, all known together as a “headrush.” Yes, headRUSH. Umm, yes, I recall having had a sniff or two of some sort of popper early in my adulthood, though I never knew what it was called until recently.

Fortunately poppers are nowhere near as potentially deadly as methamphetamine, and neither is the fragrance that poppers inspired. Perfume experts have given Rush a lot of interesting commentary. Luca Turin once said that Gucci Rush smelled like “thanks to the milky lactone molecule… an infant’s breath mixed with his mother’s hair spray.” TS says Rush is an outer space creature with “a little bit of the shock of Dylan going electric.” Critic Chandler Burr describes the fragrance as “strong, loud, irresistible, a sultry wind fit to keep everyone stark awake and plotting indiscretions.”

The scent is highly unusual and beautifully constructed – a modernist perfume that is now a classic, even though its bright red, plastic, rectangular packaging was inspired by an outdated video cassette. Yes, this marvelously, explicitly and unapologetically‎ unnatural fragrance created by Michel Almairac and contained in the appropriately loud casing is flawless – indeed a 5-star perfume to me.

Rush is the perfect fragrance for a night out, but as this scent will unabashedly intrude upon its surrounding, it’s not recommend for the office or dinner outings. Rush races into the noses of those it sees in a jovial, confident, devil-may-care manner, indifferent to any other scents that may have been vying for the attention of those same noses. Woe to those smells, as Rush will recklessly and energetically steal the limelight.

I see it as peach fuzz dipped in milk and wood shavings rolled up in chopped jasmine petals and other synthetic florals, then gently pounded with a massage compress made of lycra, and placed temporarily into an unwashed empty yogurt container until ready for its lacquer casing. There is also a va va voom to Rush’s cuddly voice due to the undertones of patchouli, vanilla and vetiver. I’m not sure how this happens, but Rush manages to be clean and dirty at the same time. Astonishing, really, and the scent not only has decent longevity and projection, but can be had for better than a fair price.

From Fragrantica:

  • OLFACTORY GROUP: fruity chypre
  • MAIN ACCORDS: white floral, patchouli, aromatic, vanilla, fruity, earthy
  • TOP NOTES: gardenia, freesia, peach
  • MIDDLE NOTES: Damask (Turkish) rose, coriander, jasmine
  • BASE NOTES: vanilla, patchouli, vetiver

How to make your own solid perfume

Especially when I travel internationally, perfume can be a pain. There are strict liquid restrictions for carry on baggage, and more importantly, I worry that some of my bottling choices may not be the best. I have had a few glass atomizers break in the past, and some of my cheaper plastic ones aren’t exactly 100% leak-proof. It’s not like I am satisfied with bringing just one scent with me on a one-month vacation, either! (Yes, in my line of work I do get relatively long chunks of time off, and for that I am grateful.)

One option I sometimes use, especially when I have a particularly strong perfume or if I think I might need some moisturizer as well (don’t we all on long flights!), is to use solid perfume. In a previous post I wrote about some brands that sell them; but I sometimes create my own solid perfume. It’s incredibly easy, and here’s how:

DYI Solid Perfume Recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp beeswax (in the commonly sold tiny ball format – you can alternatively use soy, carnauba or candililla wax if you’d prefer to be bee-friendly)
  • 1 tbsp oil of choice (jojoba oil, coconut butter, and shea butter are my favs – or you can mix!)
  • 2~2 1/2 tsp (about 12 ml tops) of your perfume

This recipe makes a bit, so if you want to reduce the amount, cut to this:

  • 1/4 teaspoon wax
  • 1/4 teaspoon oil/butter
  • 1 ml (about 20 drops) of perfume

Directions:

1) In a double broiler (or just a deep pan with a glass bowl if you use caution), heat the wax until it has fully liquefied. Stir in the oil or butter until melted.

Note: By using an oil that stays solid at room temperature, your perfume base might turn out harder in consistency and obviously stay solid longer in the heat, but note that the more solid cacao, coconut and shea butters do carry their own particular scent. Some oils are stronger than others as well, such as argon oil, which carries a lovely nutty fragrance, but might interfere with your results. I don’t really want anything to interfere with my perfume, so I often use sweet almond oil, which is a more neutral, all-purpose carrier, or jojoba oil as it’s so moisturizing. However, using an “oiler” oil means that in intense heat my solid perfume may turn out to be more of a goopy paste. A higher ratio of wax is the key here.

Adding a drop of vitamin E oil will act as a preservative. I go through perfume before it could ever have a chance of going rancid, however.

2) Once the base has melted, remove from heat and add the perfume. Alternatively, you could nuke the oil and wax – but not to complete meltdown – in a glass jar in the microwave if you have one, and simply stir in remaining solids.

Note: You really don’t want to heavily cook the oil, as this may burn it and alter the consistency and scent – just heat enough to melt half or more of it. The rest can be stirred in.

3) At this point it’s time to add in you smelly stuff.

Note: If your oil/wax mixture is too hot when you add the scent, you’ll potentially burn off some of the scent’s top notes, which, depending on the fragrance, may be the most beautiful part of the perfume (Perfumes are said to have base, middle (heart), and top notes, with the base notes lasting the longest and becoming prominent near the end of the life of a fragrance, and the top notes appearing early, usually lasting a short time.).

It’s possible for you to just spray your perfume willy-nilly right into the melted wax and oil mixture, but if you want to be exact, I think 1 teaspoon would require 60 drops or so. Of course that depends on the size of your drops. In any case, I tend to measure out some perfume separately to add to the mix and then stir.

4) Pour the mixture into pill cases (or whatever container takes your fancy) and wait for them to set, which can take about two hours at room temperature, depending on amount of surface area in the mixture exposed to air and how deep your pot is. Sure, chuck it in the fridge if you don’t want to wait that long.

If you want cheap storage tins and the like, and don’t mind buying in bulk, I recommend Chinese retailer Aliexpress. You could feasibly pour your warm perfume into lip balm stick cases, too. I think such containers take up less packing space and are less fussy (no fingertips required to apply), but if your solid perfume does get a bit too warm, you might have to deal with seepage. Etsy is awesome for cases as well, and many of the individuals who sell their stuff on the platform usually offer way faster shipping that when you buy via Chinese wholesalers. For affordable, all-natural DYI products such as oils and butters, iHerb is my top pick.

Note that solid perfume definitely tends to be neither strong nor long-lasting, which is why I’d recommend adding a powerful scent to your wax and oil mixture. You could always choose to apply the crap out of it, however, and do so frequently. Also, note again that just because it’s solid does not mean it won’t melt. Have you ever left a lipstick on a car dashboard in the sun? Enough said. For that reason, think carefully about the cases or tins you use.

20 brands that make solid perfume

solid-perfume-brands

If the DYI route to making solid perfume is not your thing, there are plenty of manufactures of perfume in solid form. Commercially-available solid perfumes have a tendency to stem from natural perfumery companies, some of you might be happy to know. I get pretty excited when it comes to perfume, but most of the brands I know and love do not serve up scent in solid form. But here’s a list of 20 brands I enjoyed researching, half with which I was surprisingly unfamiliar.

1) Aroamas

This company has designed its scents exclusively with the traveler in mind. Small sized, lightweight, stick-shaped packaging means you can easily carry a few scents with you on your trip without perceptibly impacting your baggage weight or size. I haven’t yet tried any of their smellies, so I cannot give their line a thumbs up just yet, but I approve based just on their savvy concept. They’ve even given cleverly appropriate names to their fragrances, like Bermuda Triangle, My Thai, Parisian, and Journey. You can get all ten in their current collection for $80 (Australian dollars, I presume, as that is where they are made).

They have “man scents” as well, but please note that the male-female fragrance marketing concept done pretty much everywhere is a load of utter hogwash! Who says florals are feminine and musks are masculine? This irks me to no end, but I acknowledge that it does work for sales, if marketing research results are any indication. In any case, I hope they smell good and last more than a wee hour.

2) LUSH

UK company Lush Cosmetics seems to have a presence in a great many cities worldwide. The smells wafting out of their branch shops are overpowering (I get a headache just walking by a store, and the average schnoz can detect a retail presence a block away), but a few of the perfumes are actually half-decent and not unoriginal by any stretch, and yes, they are sold in solid form in light tin packaging as well. As Lush products are not high end, in my opinion, I feel their prices are inflated.

3) Pacifica

Pacifica offers a variety of natural perfume options – spray, roll-on, and solid. All are vegan and cruelty-free. Spray perfumes are made with corn-based alcohol and a blend of essential and natural oils. There are no parabens, gluten, or artificial colors. The solid perfumes in lightweight tins are made with a blend of coconut, soy, and apricot waxes. Nice! My favourite from the line is Mediterranean Fig, which is delightful for summer. I can confirm that the fragrances I’ve tried from their line are neither strong nor long-lasting, however.

4) L’Occitane en Provence

In major Japanese cities, L’Occitane is even more omnipresent than Lush. Japanese tend to go for the light, floral, and mainstream stuff, and this brand does not disappoint. In contrast, I don’t think Lush perfumes do as well here as some of them are little too original (though their bath stuff does well). I have bought several items from L’Occitane over the years, but the only bottle of fragrance I’ve ever happily purchased is their Verbena, which is a citrus scent great for particularly hot summers. Sadly, citrus notes don’t last long on the skin. Like Lush, I also feel L’Occitane is a tad pricey for what it is. In any case, although not always available online, they often sell solid versions of their fragrances.

5) Ganesha’s Garden

This small company handcrafts solid perfume that comes in a fair-trade, carved soapstone box from Agra, India. The perfume base is made of beeswax, coconut oil, and sweet almond oil, with vitamin E as a natural preservative. Yes, all natural! There are 12 exotic scents to choose from, such as patchouli, sandalwood, white lotus, and green tea. I have not tried any of their stuff, as the hippy image is not my style, and I imagine I’d be scooping out the buttery delights to smash into one of my uber lightweight tins if I did possess one of these, as their stone boxes look very weighty and impractical for travel, and travel is the only reason I use solid perfume (and I don’t really like how they look, either, to be honest).

6) Indah

Australian Indah Organics sells solid perfume balms made with a blend of coconut and castor seed oils, beeswax, and shea butter, and a variety of pure essential oils. The products are palm oil and cruelty-free, and the company is committed to being responsible and transparent. Although a bit less than Ganesha’s Garden, there still is a hippy vibe to this brand. Their tin packages appear to be practical for travel.

7) Crazylibellule and the Poppies

The creator of this perfume brand from France is the founder of the wildly popular Sephora beauty retailer (which she sold back in 1997). Translated, the company name means “crazy dragonfly and the poppies,” and its chief product is the Crazy Stick, or parfum solide en stick.

8) Sweet Anthem Perfumes

This company sells a total of 26 different affordable scents in solid twist stick in lightweight plastic. They also sell their solid perfumes in beautiful compact cases, which are course weightier, but very pretty. And their solid refill cartridges for these go for 12 USD. Can’t say I’d heard of them or tried them, or that I personally find the brand particularly enticing, but they might be good.

9) Mélange Perfume

French-inspired but out of LA, Mélange singles contain the companies most popular fragrance blends in a signature base of natural beeswax and jojoba oil. Mélange claims that their perfectly-formed solid perfume glides onto the skin and disperses the fragrance beautifully. They are double the size of many solid compact and are decent for travel, selling for 18 USD each.

10) Patch NCY

Soap and paper factory Patch NYC offers 12 fragrances in solid form, all with very trendy bespoke packaging. The company started off making hats, interestingly, and now has a whole line of lifestyle and home design products, including solid perfume. Again, I’ve no idea about the quality of their fragrances, but the their solid perfumes, which are all oil-based balms made from jojoba and beeswax, come in some seriously adorable little travel-size jars.

11) Ape to Gentleman

Here’s something different. The retaW fragrance solid perfume option from Ape to Gentlemen is contained in an aluminium tube, which is compact and chock full of scent. It’s available in four popular fragrances that are evidently marketed toward men. Interestingly, the website automatically displayed the price in Japanese yen for me, which was 1800 (about 15 USD at the current exchange rate). This is definitely a great one for travel, as you can roll it down to save space as you use it up. Knowing me, I’d loose the bloody cap as it’s so little…

12) Tokyo Milk

No, the brand does not hail from Tokyo, let me assure you. But the company is trendy in its vintage appeal, and I’ve been tempted to buy from them many times before. On occasion, they offer solid forms of their perfumes, but last I checked they were only offering one – their Sugar Plum scent, selling for 18 USD.

13) Roots Rose Radish

This California brand has a very high-quality, all-natural bespoke feel to it. Their solid, apothecary perfumes are sold in beautifully hand-crafted shells that are not exactly practical, but rather stunning, I think. The company is “dedicated to creating sustainable health and beauty care with the highest quality ingredients.” The ingredients used are handpicked (therefore local) and all are handmade. The fragrances are beautifully simple in composition as well.

14) True Nature Botanicals

True Nature Botanicals boasts a toxins-free approach to perfumery. They only sell 3 scents – Noble Citrus, Noble Woods, and Noble Foral – and they are only available in solid form. What’s more, they are only available online. Their scents are not cheap, but that’s likely because they “spare no expense when it comes to ingredients.” They claim they spend at least 5 times more on ingredients than the leading luxury skin care and perfume brands. I think the canisters are metal however, which are likely heavy.

It’s not surprising that they would spend more on ingredients to justify their pricing. Mainstream designer brands of perfume, like those you find at duty-free shops, are notorious for using cheap synthetics; the money they do use goes into heavy fashion marketing techniques. I don’t personally mind spending money on fragrance (Geez, if I think about the money I’ve put into scent sensations over years past…), nor am I 100% averse to the use of synthetics, to be frank. But I tend to favor niche brands, which are also expensive, but that’s often a result of their typically quality ingredients and more often occurring fragrance artistry.

15) Frazer Parfum

Perfumer Tammy Violet Frazer “works only with the finest quality raw materials celebrates art and design while spearheading African luxury.” While the organic and natural perfume products produced in a sustainable manner, and while the perfumes themselves seem exquisite, this brand’s biggest and most obvious appeal to travelers are the containers, most of beautifully carved wood, handcrafted in collaboration with local artists. Check out the company’s YouTube channel. Caveat emptor: this will definitely leak if allowed to melt!

16) Diptyque

Moving away from the wallet-friendly smellies, Diptyque is 4-5 times pricier than most of the previous brands on this list and more mainstream in its ingredient choices. However, their stuff smells pretty frickin’ amazing, and they are one of my favourite brands, though I do have many favourites when it comes to perfume. Paris-based Diptyque has been developing their sophisticated collection of personal fragrances for over 40 years. However, their beautiful containers for the solid versions of their perfumes are too heavy. I have a little bit of their best-selling Philosykos (another fig concoction) left, so I may make my own solid perfume out of it. Wait, who am I kidding? It’ll be gone in a week.

17) Aftelier

Aftelier Perfumes is another one of my high-end favs, and this French line boasts all-natural ingredients. I believe all the company’s scents are all available in a solid base of organic unfiltered beeswax and jojoba oil. They come in a variety of gorgeous custom cases that will dig deeply into your travel budget, however. But if you are in love the cases, which although metal do not appear too weighty, it’s quite possible she’ll sell them empty so you can add in your own concoctions.

18) Le LABO

Le Labo fragrances of New York (and Grasse – the French center of perfume, of course!) sells its classic collection in solid form, and you can buy refills separately. The container is heavy-looking, but two refills will cost less than half of the original in its fancy-pants metallic container. Why is it that luxury needs to be translated by having such weighty packaging? This is annoying for travel.

19) Bond No. 9

Bond No. 9 is a NY house that names all its fragrances after New York City neighborhoods, which is a winning marketing concept. One of their scents, China Town, has been acclaimed as a masterpiece, and I also really love New Harlem, which smells like maple syrup, coffee, french toast and a touch of tobacco. It’s pretty frickin’ lush, and I still have a decanter left in my collection. A few of their scents are available in solid form, but the often crystal-embossed, beautiful metal containers do look heavy.

20) Amouage

Amouage, I would say, is one of the most refined of international brands, and many of this house’s fragrances appeal to my senses, though not my wallet. I have never owned a bottle from Amouage, but I have gone through many samples. Their solid versions, although far from cheap, are a lot more affordable. As you would guess, the compact case is made of a weighty metal, but it is divine, and if I owned a compact I would use and recycle it for my DYI perfumes after its contents depleted. When I was in Dubai, I must have accumulated hours in the malls browsing in boutiques like Amouage. Middle Easterners love their fragrances, and they like them powerful and rich, too. Here in Japan, the custom is to perfume the air, not the body, and the preferred olfactory stimulation is light and unobtrusive. I am most definitely someone who lives in the former camp.

Whether you make your own or buy a brand, here’s to smelling good on the move! Did I miss any solid fragrance brands you would recommend?

© 2017 Scent Gourmand

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑