An agglomeration of travel – Part 3 (samples)

So, third iteration of travelogue related to recent trip to London.

I think I mentioned that for most of the things I sampled, I chose based on name – except for the Jul et Mad fragrances. Regarding those, the SA parked me in front of the JeM set-up and gave me blotters. I then went through the line on paper and chose three as samples.


I did the Jul et Mad at Jovoy, a shop on Conduit Street off Regent Street. Regent has Liberty, which is the other place I went for sampling on the Wednesday I arrived in London.

I did Jovoy first, as I got into central London late afternoon and Liberty is open later.

This is my first experience with Jovoy which originated in Paris. It’s on the ground and lower ground floors of a building, is very dark inside, and when I was there I was the only customer, along with two SAs. I very much appreciated that I was left alone to do my thing rather than someone hovering.

Portia wrote about a Jul et Mad a bit ago which is what spurred this. I came away from my sniffage with three JeM samples, a Liquides Imaginaires, and the freebie was an M Micaleff.

Jul et Mad Secrets du Paradis Rouge (orange, mandarin, davana, neroli, cloves, orange blossom, rose, bees wax, almond, patchouli, timber silk (??), tonka, vanilla, benzoin, amber, musk). Starts caramel gourmand. Gets a bit floral and then spicy into amber spicy. Warm, delectable, no sourness. Doesn’t develop much (which was the case with all three on my skin) – just gets deeper and sweeter. Very pleasant.

Jul et Mad Nea (date, davana, pomegranate, palm leaf, black pepper, jasmine, rose, dry plum, patchouli, cashmeran, vanilla, benzoin, caramel, tonka, ambroxan, musk). Weird sweet up top. Definitely dried fruit, caramel and vanilla. Then stewed fruit. I put it next to SL Arabie. The JeM is much gentler and ‘easier’, lacking the cumin of Arabie. And the stewed fruit aspect is softer. If Arabie feels like too much this might be of interest. There is a sweat note but it’s not serious.

Jul et Ma Bella Donna (bergamot, ginger, mulberry, magnolia, jasmine, rose, orris, ylang, sandalwood, saffron, benzoin, opoponax, labdanum, musk). Slightly soapy (the text references magnolia flower), a bit marine floral. Does definitely smell like the magnolia grandiflora in the next village over. However, there is a slightly weird green aspect. Overall, nice.

All the JeM do something really lovely up top and that’s it. Not much development on my skin. But as ever that may be because of my low body temperature.

Liquides Imaginaires Bloody Wood (white wine lees, fruity red wine accord, oak barrel accord). This was also from Jovoy. First thing I wrote in my notes is “just yuck”. I picked this for the name. Definitely starts out smelling like fresh blood (sorry). The wine notes seem to do that very well. It has that metallic thing, with an undercurrent of sour. In the end it morphs into sweet metallic and then sweet amber. Made me twitchy.

M Micallef Stories of Love Soleil Passion (pomegranate, wild strawberry, mandarin, water lily, lily of the valley, rose, musk, ambergris, sandalwood). This was the free-be from Jovoy. More caramel up top, then fruity floral. I wore this on Saturday, when I felt slightly nauseous for some unknown reason. It made things worse. Dried down to a deeper fruity floral. It occurred to me as I was wearing it that I much preferred the Guerlain Aqua Allegorias that are fruity.

Onward to the two Liberty fragrances (I tried for the Kilian Dark Lord there but was only able to get a blotter at Harrods – I’m so taken with this that the next time I’m in London I will definitely try it on skin). I was given a freebie of Byredo Slow Dance and I caved and bought a purse spray of The Perfumer’s Story Old Books when I got home because I was so taken with the name I just needed to have a go (note: TPS only ships UK and US).

Byredo Slow Dance (opoponax, cognac, labdanum, violet, geranium, vanilla, patchouli, incense). This starts with that cardboard thing you can get with orris plus the powderiness of violet. It then moves into a vegetal period that’s actually really lovely, with gentle spicy undertones. It’s not sweet – and doesn’t even get sweet in the drydown. It ends up at resinous powder which is really pleasant. This is really well done.

The Perfumer’s Story Old Books (frankincense, olibanum, myrrh, elemi, patchouli, amber, vetiver, cedar). This is the real deal. I mean it smells like an old book shop in a very true way. I’ve smelled other fragrances and candles that say they smell of this but don’t. Too much bergamot up top; too much of an attempt to make the fragrance smell perfumy. This smells dry, musty, slightly sour – like walking through the stacks of a bookshop found in the backstreet of an old city. The frankincense and myrrh work to smell like crumbly book pages. At the very least this is worth smelling for how evocative it is.

The two days of sampling plus the small amount of smelling I did with my friend B on the Friday were the most sniffing I’d done in ages. It reminded me how much I enjoy doing it but also how annoyed I get with stuff I find meh.

So, there we go. Are any of these love for you? Do any pique your interest?

Pics: caramel Pexels, samples mine

  • Tom says:

    Secrets du Paradis Rouge reads right up my alley..

    • cinnamon says:

      They were all really ‘nice’ — just didn’t move much on me. Longevity was quite good.

  • March says:

    So, CLEARLY I have to smell “Old Books.” I would absolutely wear a fragrance that smelled of old books … it sounds lovely! It’s always fun to read about someone’s browse out in the real world. Mildly jealous of your ability to sniff while being left alone; I don’t find them intimidating but gosh do the SAs hover, I find it odd; they’re not standing by while I browse the sweaters or whatever else is there in the store.

    • cinnamon says:

      It was a nice surprise to be left to my own devices. However, in Liberty and at Harrods they were very hovery. At Harrods, no touching the bottles. How silly. Indeed, what does perfume have that really lovely sweaters don’t? Old Books really is the best iteration of this idea I’ve smelled.

  • Dina C. says:

    Great reviews, Cinnamon! It’s so fun to finally sniff in person after covid kept many of us locked down for the past couple of years. Those last two: Slow Dance and Old Books sound the best to me. My latest perfume crush is Imaginary Authors Soft Lawn. It’s a green grass tennis court including the tennis balls. Amazingly lifelike.

    • cinnamon says:

      Indeed, the last two were both good surprises to me. I had tried some Imaginary Authors things years ago, when the house first launched, and wasn’t hugely impressed. Maybe I need to look again.

  • Portia says:

    Ohhh Cinnamon,
    It sounds like you sniffed yourself silly.
    So though the JeMs don’t have much of a story for you, did you like what they gave you in general?
    Liquides Imaginaires do some fabulously weird and challenging stuff. I always have to set myself for nasal outrage when testing but the winners are worth the commitment.
    You know I was always a bit meh about the name Slow dance. NOW I want to find some and get it on me.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      Yes, I sort of guessed that the LIs are meant to be challenging 🙂 This really did smell awful though. Slow Dance was a very nice surprise, particularly as it was the last of the samples I tried.

  • Musette says:

    Welp! Glad you got to do some sniffage. That being said, the Bloody Wood review reminds me of the cubs’ teen years. They were big cubs who loved to fight. So. Much. Blood. Don’t really need to smell that, ever again, thanks!


    • cinnamon says:

      Oh, Lordy, the smell of blood. There are others that have tried this but this one is just a bit too true to the original. I can’t imagine having to deal with large young men who like to fight. Just. No. Thanks.

  • Maya says:

    It’s nice that you were able to have some fun sampling. I love it too.
    I want to try more of Jul et Mad. Recently I tried Stilettos on Lex and like it very much! I will sample it some more and it will possibly/probably be on my “to buy” list. I have never sampled any of The Perfumer’s Story and M Micallef and Byredo are not for me. I tried several from Liquides Imaginaires and your ‘just yuck’ is the nicest thing I would say about them.

    • cinnamon says:

      It was fun. I think it’s actually more fun to do a lot at one go. I can’t recall if I did the Stilettos one on paper. The Old Books is really worth a look.