6-ish Fragrances You Should Try

The best kind of writing stems from passion so deep it becomes infectious. Rachel Syme, whose 2015 piece on the selfie is one of my favourite (and most referenced) essays, knows how to excite you about something purely because she's passionate about it.

Case in point: I bit the bullet and ordered eight perfume samples after reading her NYT piece on animalic fragrances. Then I ordered a further 10 after reading The Dry Down, a newsletter Syme and Helena Fitzgerald co-write.

Over the last two weeks I've paid repeat visits to the fragrance section at every MECCA store within arm's reach, and sniffed samples until I grew nauseous. I'm keeping notes on everything I catch a whiff off, but that hasn't stopped me from talking everyone around me into a headache. I quickly learned that nobody likes you enough to justify smelling the perfume on your wrist before you ramble about it for the next five minutes. In fact, they'll often tell you, politely or otherwise, to go away.

If anything has come of this, I've opened my eyes to a world I hadn't considered before. I'm still new to perfume but I wanted to share some of the scents that have been, for better or for worse, driving me crazy. I encourage you to try anything that tickles your fancy.

 

 
 

A Contemporary Classic

Floriental, Comme des Garçons

Unisex fragrances are in no short supply, but few are able to strike a perfect balance between archetypal masculinity and femininity the way Floriental does. It's a spicy floral scent in the truest sense; neither side overpowers, but the two melt into an overall sweet but never saccharine aroma. Though not as creative or boundary-pushing as a Kawakubo collection, Floriental is a contemporary classic for anyone — familiar and inoffensive, but unique enough to intrigue.


 
 

Disarmingly Different

Bell'Antonio, Hilde Soliani

This smoky number from Hilde Soliani's theatre-inspired fragrance line has only two notes: coffee and tobacco. Worn on the skin, Bell'Antonio is oddly enchanting; there's a faint sweetness to it, but for the most part it smells strong and organic. I love Bell'Antonio because it conjures very intimate memories. It smells like a secondhand scent, as if you're smelling the coffee and tobacco as remnants on an old sweater. The fragrance itself is devoted to Soliani's father, and it reminds a lot of people of their grandfathers. I can't imagine most people would want to smell like tobacco, or old men for that matter, but this is an interesting introduction to tobacco fragrances that, on the right person, can conjure vivid emotions.


 
 

Light + Fresh

Aqua Universalis, Maison Francis Kurkdjian

You should never judge a book by its cover, nor a fragrance by its bottle, but I have to start by noting that a Kurkdjian perfume is a thing of beauty right from the start. My encounter with Aqua Universalis was fleeting but it left a lasting impression. If you want to smell clean — squeaky clean, as if you were just washed and hung out to dry — this is the scent for you. Fresh, citrusy and floral, this unisex scent is bright and inoffensive — textbook office-appropriate. Compared to the other fragrances in this list, it's unremarkable, but it works, and it works so well that it deserves recognition. And it lives up to its name; it really is universally suitable.

Side note: if you're looking for something so light you almost can't tell it exists, OdeJo's single eponymous scent, which comes in an EDT and rollerball oil form, gets an honourable mention as the perfect summer scent for people who hate perfume. It smells like cucumber water, which is a plus if you're trying to convince people you're on a juice cleanse or something.


 
 

Dark + Mysterious

Bass Solo, The Vagabond Prince

Often the inspiration behind a perfume isn't olfactory, but rather the result of some other sensory experience. Floriental, for example, was inspired by a flower with no scent of its own. Bass Solo, a recent release from The Vagabond Prince, draws its inspiration from an African tree whose dense timber is used to create musical instruments. Bass Solo is, like its musical namesake, dense and dry. There's a slight saltiness to it, intermingled with zesty and spicy notes of lime, cardamom and lavender that keep this woody fragrance from smelling like two-by-four. Somehow, Bass Solo is an infinitely more appealing, refined version of that standard men's aftershave smell I've never been able to stand.


 
 

Animal Instinct

Civet, Zoologist

Zoologist is the line that sparked my newfound infatuation with fragrance. Try to imagine an animal-inspired perfume without suddenly becoming very curious. Bat was one of the first scents I tried and I'll be upfront: it's nauseating. It smells of wet, overripe fruit, with 'furry musk' and leather notes that call to mind an actual bat. It mellows after a while, but it's polarising. Bat is unlike anything I've ever smelled, and worth trying just for the olfactory experience, though I wouldn't rush to buy a full bottle.

Civet is different. It's warm, rich and sweet — altogether more wearable than Bat, though I can't emphasise enough that this is rich. It's a spicy floral that the brand aptly describes as sultry and moody. Civet skews feminine (if you care about that sort of thing) but its complexity evades the trappings of binary gender. Wear this on a night out in winter and the scent will envelop you like a warm hug.

Chances are at least one of the Zoologist eaux des parfums will click with you. I would recommend trying their full range sample set like I did, before you consider upgrading to a travel- or full-size bottle.


 
 

A Classic with Character

Oud Immortel, Byredo

Oud is very big in the middle east, and it's become something of a fad note in perfume. Byredo's Oud Immortel shakes things up with a unique limoncello note. It opens bright and citrusy, but soon settles into a melange of smokier, earthy notes, the likes of which have become a signature of sorts for the brand. Oud scents may be a fad in western perfumery, but this oud's unique character ensures it is, indeed, immortal.

BeautyNusardel Oshana
9 Oldies but Goodies

It’s been ten months since I last compiled a list of cultural recommendations (for want of a better phrase) and, to be truthful, I haven’t read, watched or listened to very much in that time — nothing new, at least. It’s surprising how quickly your musical repertoire begins to resemble Erykah Badu’s discography when all you do is read serious journal articles and half-heartedly write essays. (What isn’t surprising is how relaxed you feel after listening to Linslee Campbell’s remix of Next Lifetime. Every. Time.)

After ten minutes of digital spring cleaning, I figured the best way to get back into the habit would be to revisit some gems from the past. For this edition of Internet Stranger Recommends Things, I went as far back as my irrational tendency to delete things would permit. Enjoy.

 

Gucci Pre-Fall 2016 by Glen Luchford

Gucci Pre-Fall 2016 by Glen Luchford


 

Read


Watch

  • Sit, Roll Over, Play Dead. Edgard F. Grima’s 2011 short film packs a unexpected punch. The final twist is far from gimmicky; I almost didn’t see it coming.
  • Peter Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock makes for perfect summer viewing, when all you want is to sprawl on a sofa while listening to Gheorghe Zamfir’s panpipe.
  • There’s an art to the ‘no-makeup makeup’ look, and nothing matches the feeling of watching someone execute it well. If you’re looking for a guilty pleasure, might I suggest watching Tamira Jarrel?

Listen

  • Björk’s Crystalline. Listen to the original, the Matthew Herbert remix, Omar Souleyman’s take on the song, and repeat. If you’re feeling particularly uninspired, you should probably watch the music video a few times too.
  • These six songs by Lykke Li (playlist). Starting with the infectious chorus on I Follow Rivers and ending with the heartbreaking ballad, Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone, it’s a mindfulness exercise for your heart. Bonus: the G.O.A.T. of lyrics (“I’m your prostitute, you gon’ get some”) on Get Some.
  • Mary. J. Blige. Hit shuffle. That’s all.
Mon Purse is a True Fashion/Tech Love Child

At a reductive glance, 2015 was the year fashion and tech finally consummated their on-again, off-again relationship.

The release of the Apple Watch Hermès and the announcement of next year’s Apple-sponsored ‘Manus x Machina’ themed Met Gala are two prominent instances of fashion-tech symbiosis that spring to mind. Simultaneously, within the fashion industry 2015 was the year we reached peak monogram mania. While monogramming services are nothing new, this year they entered the mainstream — monograms for the masses, if you will. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense that Lana Hopkins should put two and two together, and found Mon Purse — a leather accessories label that can do it your way, do get crazy.

 

Under the ethos of ‘your purse, your way’ the label offers three levels of customisation: monogramming, custom leather textures and colours, and finer adjustments to buckles, zippers and other details. The customisation takes place online, using the brand's '3D bag-builder technology', which Hopkins is looking to develop further. Despite the accessible price point, little is spared to ensure a luxury-like brand experience — even the enclosing dust bag is made of liquid-like silk.

While there is certainly no shortage of customisable accessory labels, Mon Purse stands out largely due to its effectiveness as what its co-founding CEO describes as an, “omni-channel platform.” Unlike its competitors, Mon Purse has achieved remarkable synergy between online and bricks-and-mortar retail, with two concession stands at the Myer flagship stores in Sydney and Melbourne, and a standalone Paddington store in addition to its already booming online store. Although the business is technically run online, the aforementioned points of sale serve as a tangible connection to the brand’s inventory — a way of trying before you buy. It’s a method of gaining customer confidence that seems to be working for the brand.

More recently, it was announced that actress Jodi Anasta (née Gordon) has joined the brand as an ambassador. In her hands-on role, which will involve the eventual release of a collaborative capsule collection, Anasta brings to Mon Purse a social relevance tailored to the brand’s demographic. That Anasta is also very excited about the partnership, describing an eagerness to involve herself in the process and move towards design-centric roles, is certainly positive for the brand.

Given the significant launching year Mon Purse has had, 2016 looks incredibly promising.

Mon Purse products are available online, with a limited range available at their aforementioned stores. Live in-store monogramming is available on weekends.

FashionNusardel Oshana
10 Things You Should Read, Watch and Listen to This Weekend
 
 

Here I am, back with a post that seems to have become a habit, albeit a sporadic one.

With the addition of a title inspired by Ms Vreeland herself, and an extension beyond my Instapaper archive, I offer thee a brief list of things to read, watch and listen to from your cocoon of comfort -- pre holiday-induced anxiety -- at home.

Consider your weekend sorted.


Read


Watch

  • Two words: Machete Order.
  • Season 2 of Transparent. Do it for the cameos -- Petra Collins, Hari Nef, et al -- if not for the great writing and stellar main cast.
  • Lee McQueen was the first designer I really obsessed over; I've made a habit of revisiting his past work whenever I'm feeling particularly uninspired. His Fall/Winter 1999 haute couture collection at Givenchy is really doing it for me at the moment.
  • A Very Murray Christmas. Save this one for your post-Christmas dinner lie-down. Netflix and Chill in the purest sense.

Listen

  • Serial is back, but you already knew that.
  • Erykah Badu's 'But You Caint Use My Phone' mixtape. Just hit play and watch yourself morph into the most relaxed, easygoing version of yourself. Name your new alter ego if you so wish. (Side note: was 2015 the year of the phone? Looking at you, Drake and Adele.)
  • Semi-oldie but a goodie, Willow's '3' is the perfect summer zen trio. Slow sway-dance optional.
Art & CultureNusardel Oshana
By the Beach
 
nusardel-com-lois-river-island-3.jpg
 

Lois @ Jaz Daly Management

Photos + Styling by Nusardel Oshana

Hair + Makeup by Cherrie Anne Buraga

Tame Impala were onto something; aside from being a bloody great song, 'Let It Happen' works equally well as a creative mantra.

At any rate, it was my mantra as I attempted to cheat fate (the weather) and shoot a silk dress by the beach. Sadly, that effort failed. (Mother Nature: 1. Nusardel: 0.)

Early call times and meteorological frustrations aside, it's always a pleasure to work on shoots -- not least when you're working with a talented lot who accommodate your early call time and your desire to shoot an almost paper-thin slip dress on the windiest morning in November. (Thank you! Sorry!)

As for the editorial itself, the concept, if any, was something along these lines: beached mermaid à la Sofia Coppola wanders about the shore. Although it all started with a photo of a sequin-clad Kate Moss emerging from the Thames, the end product leans somewhere closer towards hipster Ariel in a normcore phase. Or as normcore as a beaded, open-backed fishtail gown with a plunging neckline can be.

I know, just shut up and get to the photos. I hear you.

Still, I promised content, and content I shall deliver. Getting behind the camera and styling are two activities that I've missed sorely over the last two years, so naturally I rectified the absence of both all in one go. I'm excited to share with you a test-shoot-turned-micro-editorial I shot and styled a couple of weeks ago.



Beaded mesh top by Ae'lkemiRipped boyfriend jeans by Caslazur.



Deep V embellished fishtail gown by Ae'lkemi.


Denim jacket by River IslandRibbed cami dress by Third Form. Model's own Converse sneakers.

FashionNusardel Oshana