Katie Puckrik Smells London Part 2

Okay, so there's been a seven MONTH break between London Part 1 and this, the second and final installment. And the only reason why my dithering isn't dragging on any longer is that I've got another London visit coming up...uh...tomorrow. So I'm going to blend my last trip's recap into my next trip's precap, and pretend that I planned to do it this way all along.

I did go a little crazy-ape with fragrance acquisitions on that last trip, and I hope that I've learned something from the bad example I set for myself in February. I perfume binge-shopped like never before -- like the rapture was upon us and all those helpless bottles of fragrance were about to be swallowed by the fires of damnation. Unless I rescued them by the power of my pocketbook. 'Tis a merciful thing I did, truly.

Here's the whole haul:

Agent Provocateur Diamond Dust
Amouage Asrar Attar
Arabian Oud Hajar Al Aswad
Comme des Garçons Daphne
Mona d’Orio Nuit Noir
Ormond Jayne Tolu parfum
Parfumerie Generale Intrigant Patchouli
Parfumerie Generale L’Oiseau de Nuit
Rosine Rose Kashmerie
Rosine Secrets de Rose
Solange Azagury Partridge Cosmic
Solange Azagury Partridge Stoned

The frenzy was somewhat justified by the fact that some of the fragrances weren't available back home, and if they were, it worked out cheaper to buy them in London. But frankly, the word “justified” is pretty flimsy in any context that brings together Katie and another bottle of perfume.

That's why I'm happy that a few of them, at least, were gifts from folks whose brands are on the bottles. Perfumer Linda Pilkington kindly gave me my favorite flavor of Ormonde Jayne, Tolu, and boho-luxe jeweler Solange Azagury Partridge laid Cosmic and Stoned on me, in their fantasy bauble bottles. These were delightful treats, and I received them with the slathering gratitude of a luxury-deprived factory worker in Soviet-era Novosibirsk.
Katya was the best-smelling worker at assembly station 7.
An even more delightful treat was lunch with Linda Pilkington, which fully ensured that I'd never be able to go back to that Lada assembly line in Novosibirsk ever again. Not with any sense of contentment, at least.

Linda shared a documentary's worth of fascinating stories about her path to perfumery, as well as her creative process. I practically forgot to chew as Linda described how a background as a self-taught candlemaker led to a job creating Chanel-scented candles expressly for the London Chanel boutique, which led to studying perfume, which led to traveling the world to personally source ingredients, which led to opening her bijou Mayfair shop...all interspersed with tangents involving exciting but bad boyfriends in glamorous locations, a stint as a soy farmer in South America, and inadvertent Nazi hunting in Uruguay, where the odd elderly war criminal can still be found lurking in the forests.

Um, I'm finding it hard to make a smooth transition from Nazis back to perfume, so I'll just awkwardly jump-cut to my visit to Roja Dove's top floor fragrance salon at Harrods. Here's where hard-to-find Diors, Guerlains and Carons nestle in the opulent splendor of what looks to be a Tsarina's boudoir. There's lots of black and gold and velvet gussying up the joint, and I found myself compelled to whisper for no apparent reason.

I whispered to the sales assistant that I wanted to revisit Les Larmes Sacrées de Thèbes, the $3,000 perfume (the cost mostly attributable to the ugly Baccarat 1980s-style crystal pyramid encasing it) that I'd tried on a previous trip. The back story sounded like horse-pucky -- something along the lines of “they cracked open King Tut's tomb, and wouldn't you know it, there on the kitchen table lay the recipe for his favorite perfume” -- but I liked the fairy tale anyway.
Bad bottle, but perfectly good UFO.
And loved the perfume! Dense jasmine and rose supplying the feathers in the pillow beneath sharp and woody resins -- frankincense, myrrh -- all that old-time sacred stuff. I wanted to try it again, thinking I might shell out for the cheaper refill version, but was out of luck. “The Sacred Tears of Thebes” had been discontinued, and I was reduced to smearing a bit of crusty resin on my wrists that the SA had managed to dig up from the bottom from an old bottle.

This time in London, I'll try to strike a balance between perfume binging and being frozen with the kind of indecision that results in begging SAs for leftover goo.

My wish list is short and specific:

Prada No. 10 Myrrh (from the Exclusive line)
Amouage Ayoon al-Maha Attar

I'm cracking up looking at this list, because I've just realized that between Myrrh's myrrh and Ayoon al-Maha's frankincense, rose and oud, I seem to be subconsciously recreating Les Larmes Sacrées de Thèbes. Who's controlling the dials inside my robot head, anyway? King Tut?

Fumies, any other perfume marvels I need to explore while in London? (I will be checking out the Perfume Diaries exhibit at Harrods, including the "Science of Scent" presentation on September 23rd.)

Read Part 1 of my London post here.

Russian Factory Worker photo from Stalinism as a Way of Life


  1. No suggestions. I am only insanely envious that you are going to England! Since I am 32 and still single, I have this idea in my mind that I could find "the one" in the UK...as it seems that these Americans simply cannot appreciate what I am workin' with! haha...That, and I have a very healthy obsession with Queen and all things Freddie Mercury. Brian May and Roger Taylor have some sons that are right around my age. Just sayin'...

    At any rate, I wish you the best trip and may you enjoy the rainy weather, hit a few pubs and sniff to your heart's content!

  2. Katie,

    Enjoy your trip. I see Amouage is on that list, don't forget to try Amouage Molook Attar. And no one on here really believes your list will stay at 2. I had 2 on my list for Vegas and ended up with more then that. Anyone want to take bets on how many Katie ends up buying?

  3. I'm dying to try those prada exclusives. I've been on a leather kick recently. And I was thinking... wouldn't it be spectacular to smell a Linda Pilkington leather frag? Put the bug in her ear!

    In the meantime, I'm dying to try Cuir Ambre and a few of the other prada exclusives. Why o why can't I live in London? I heard that the iris is too similar to Infusion (and to save the money) but I'm also interested in Iris now, after smelling Odin Petrana this week. Lovely stuff after the first hour (the first hour... not so much).

    Take photos!

  4. When you are at Harrods, could you nick one of the bottles of the L'Art et la Matière line for me? I'd really appreciate that...

  5. I know of an AMAZINGLY inexpensive fragrance shop in the depths of Stoke Newington, North London. Not much in the way of niche scents but a great place to stock up on 'staples' and the odd tester...

  6. Haha, Andrew: "First stop Big Ben? Tower of London? The London Eye? NO! Stoke Newington!" Lucky north London residents for having a handy fume shop in their midst.

    Max, I have seen Guerlain's L'Art et la Matière at various high end dept stores in the US, if that's any help to you...

    Gator Grad, I felt sure that I was going to adore Prada Cuir Ambre (leather? amber? What's not to like?), and while it *was* nice, it did seem a bit too retro pre-Youth Dew-ish for me to want to wear it personally. Its operating mode is set to "vintage".

    I've seen the Exclusive line at Prada boutiques around the US, so if you get to one, you can try the line. But as for my Myrrhe needs, they all seemed to be sold out of it. Hence continuing the quest in London.

    BTW, good notion re the Ormonde Jayne leather frag!

  7. Gojira, hah! You see right through my flimsy pronouncements - 2 perfumes? Really? Well, we'll see what I end up with when I get back.

    And yes, I certainly will give a sniff to all Amouage attars within nasal distance.

    Casihart, funny you should mention sons of British pop stars - the last time I was in London, Bryan Ferry was sitting with his son at the table next to mine in a restaurant. But I was still more interested in Bryan....

  8. Katie, have a wonderful time in London with your hubby! And I am sure a faithful sister would welcome and love any and all samples you happen to pick up. (one for you, two for me...) Just saying...

    La la la...

  9. ScentsofSmell - what was that that just dropped on my head? Oh, I believe it was a Road Runner anvil! Thanks for the subtle hint!

  10. Oh, you're going to be there for London Fashion Week! Perfume hunters and fashion obsessed hounds baying in the streets -- I smell a riot brewing.

  11. Nathan, I do hope to be able to get in to a runway show or 2. I'm annoyed because my plane lands at Heathrow just before Vivienne Westwood's show starts, and that is one I would've loved to have seen!

  12. Travel safely - and ENJOY! And afterwards - whilst still enjoying - do write lavish descriptions that will inspire vivid journeys of the imagaination in the rest of us.

  13. ...as well as better typing skills.....

  14. Katie,

    Hava a safe trip and a wonderful time! My suggestion will be Caron Secret Oud (but it could be Paris exclusive). Looking forward to hearing all about your perfume adventures in London.

  15. Thanks for the well wishes, all! Caron Secret Oud, Natalia? Thanks for the tip!

  16. Of your haul last time, the only overlap with my collection is Rose Kashmirie! I must say I have very lily livered tastes compared to you...

    Hope you have a fab time in London. Were you thinking of popping in to see Claire at Les Senteurs? Or visiting one of the more characterful branches of Penhaligon's?

    Am most envious of your catching The Perfume Diaries exhibit. Hmmm...sound of brain whirring into gear... I wonder whether there are any places left, whether I could finish my work in time - and (perhaps trickiest of all) persuade my other half to take the cat to the vet's that day?

  17. Oh,... and I thought you were rushing over to have an audience with the Pope.... well, enjoy the fashion and scents! Priorities, after all!

  18. Speaking of the Pope's visit, there was a great headline in yesterday's Times, describing his Popemobile as an "immaculate contraption".

  19. Hmmmm.... I believe Parfums de Nicolai has a shop in London.

  20. Parfums de Nicolai is an excellent notion, aparatchick!

    flittersniffer, I'm now wondering if it's too ambitious to try to catch the Science of Scent exhibit, as I have theatre tix for that p.m. I was thinking it was something I could pop in early to, but am now realizing that it's a sit-down presentation...

    Will certainly be visiting Les Senteurs, though!

  21. Can you go to Abdul Samad Al Qurashi? I think it is across the street from Harrods. They sell costly attars (yours for the price of 1 arm + 1 leg). (ie this place looks like heaven for perfumistas) Just to go in there and smell?

  22. Abdul Samad Al Quarshi are amazing. Katie you have to check them out. And don't be afraid to ask for some Cambodi Oudh. You won't be disappointed. Dhen Al Oud KALAKASSI 50+ is one you have to ask to try. Oh don't forget to look for that Harrods Amouage Exclusive.

  23. Katie, I think the exhibition itself is a static fixture which is open throughout the event period, and then between 6.30pm-8pm is the actual talk bit by P & G and Givaudan, which is indeed a sit down event.

    I now have a plan of action on Thursday, namely to take back a pair of Zara trousers to the Brompton Road store (bought in Germany the other week and since discovered to have three holes(!), which are not the waist and legs respectively in case anyone is wondering...), then mosey round the exhibition, take copious photos if permitted, meet up with fumehead friend Farah, and attend talk.

    Am most curious to hear how much they are prepared to give away about the development process of mainstream fragrances... : - )

    Have been advised to wear best earrings and no denim. Still wrestling with definition of "best"...

  24. Good idea, Cheryl and Gojira - Abdul Samad Al Qurashi is a hop across from Harrod's where I'll already be at least a few times to check out Roja Dove and the Perfume Diaries exhibition.

    Flittersniffer, if you see me lurking and huffing at the exhibition before the talk on Thursday, please do come on over for a chat!

  25. You're a BAD BAD girl, Katie!

    Go & spritz some Shalimar on yourself...

  26. Okay, great - will keep an eye out for you.
    Indeed, if you have just been on an oud bender over the road you may be even easier to locate! : - )

    I will be sporting a dismally flat version of "the Puckrik" (as in the hair) and may or may not be carrying a Zara bag.

  27. @Katie,
    Awww, you acknowledged my whimsical love for British pop stars! Bryan Ferry! Really? That is fabulous! I must admit...If I were to run into Brian May and his son, I just know that I would be most intrigued with Brian...at 63 years young, the man has still got "it!" He is like a perfect vintage, uber talented and he is literally a genious! He is married, though. :( haha...

    All fun and joking aside, I really hope that you have a wonderful holiday in the UK. I love it there!

  28. Thanks casihart - having a marvelous time so far - no pop stars, though...just Roja Dove at his perfume domain in Harrods. A perfume pasha, perhaps?

    flittersniffer, my "Puckrik" is looking quite flat these days in the London grime, humidity and hard water. But I won't be carrying a Zara bag. I don't think...

    Gojira - t'was at Harrods today, and #%!*$! -- no Salalah Green -- sold out and discon-fricking-tinued!

  29. Hi Katie,

    It was great - and slightly unreal! - to meet you the other night. I hope you enjoyed the theatre and the rest of your stay. Sorry the inclement weather played havoc with the Original & Authentic "Puckrik" - it still looked pretty bouffant by my standards. Perhaps I am still in thrall to my old school's rules on uniform, which specified skirt length, forbade knee crossing and (crucially) outlawed the "titivating of hair into blowsy styles". "Technicoloured underwear" was also banned, and ice creams could not be consumed in public unless the temperature was 70F or above. No risk last week of that particular infraction, at least. I did get hummus on my dress on the train home, but the pressure was off at that point...

  30. f-sniffer: so marvelous to meet you (and Farah) the other night as well! You exist!

    And "titivating" is now my new favorite word. A cross between "titillating" and "captivating", perhaps? Whatever, it sounds good. Is publicly consuming ice-cream considered lascivious behavior? Or merely decadent in cool weather.