Daniel Barros’ Perfumes

Daniel Barros Perfumes
Daniel Barros’ Cuir Mojito, Yuzucello, Sex on the Peach and Gincenso (9ml, 2016) © Victor Wong

After all those years, I can vividly remember two things that happened in my sister’s econo-lite wedding – she served raw cauliflower florets on a platter with some ranch sauce on a buffet table. Who eats cauliflowers in a wedding party? Might as well serve just one head of cauliflower; there might come someone who really wants to eat it and says, “excuse me, I hope you don’t mind, I really like cauliflowers” and takes the whole thing and starts chomping it away in a corner.

The second thing was that my sister asked me to be a bartender at the wedding party. She casually said, “Just mix vodka and orange juice together, I think it’s called a screwdriver.” I was really glad that none of her guests went blind after drinking my concoctions, for I had mixed them big plastic cups full of orange juice with a few drops of vodka, and vodka with a few drops of orange juice as the night started to drag. I really had no clue what I was doing, for I don’t drink beer or any cocktails at all.

So I guess my total ignorance and disinterest in alcohol is useful when I test my friend Daniel Barros’ brand new line of cocktail/drinks inspired perfumes – I don’t have any perceived idea whether the perfume is a successful reinterpretation of the cocktail that it is supposed to represent.

Currently his line consists of 12 scents, and he has sent me four.

After testing them, I have come up with this silly conclusion: his perfumes are like South Park episodes – super outrageous, creative, crazy, but all somehow end with a moral redemption, in a form of traditional, proper perfume dry down, for he knows what he is doing, but somehow the theme of the perfumes that he has chosen confines what the perfume should smell like.

Yuzucello – probably my favourite. The opening is like you have won the Superbowl and your teammates dumps a barrel of Limoncello over your head. Crazy strong lemon candy opening, surprisingly non-sticky, if you let the opening subsides a bit, you are rewarded with a very addictive great sandalwood/tonka/lily of the valley dry down.

Gincenso – A gin fragrance that’s actually more like an incense fragrance but somehow smells like a latex fragrance to me? This incense fragrance is masculine, respectful, and sparsely aromatic. Actually it is not at all a comedy fragrance, it’s a proper and properly made fragrance, but if it is a real drink, it is garnished with one blue plastic flip flop on a toothpick. I have said it many times, a lot of leather perfumes smell like plastic flip flops to me. I remember it was a group favourite.

Cuir Mojito – It’s refreshing like mint but rustic like brown leather hide; it’s clean like lime but damp like oakmoss and vetiver; Cuir Mojito is full of contradictions, the movie Cowboys vs Aliens, despite a bit confusing, it’s entertaining.

Sex on the Peach – there is a salty note in this fragrance that reminds me of the beach, and the peach accord is supposed to represent peach schnapps. So far so good, but I must confess I wish the cumin and black pepper isn’t that strong in this fragrance for it gives me a bit of seasickness.

Etat Libre d’Orange’s Secretions Magnifiques (2006)

Etat Libre d’Orange's Secretions Magnifiques (2006)
Etat Libre d’Orange’s Secretions Magnifiques (2006) © Victor Wong

Note: The piece of writing contains adult subject matter, reader’s discretion is advised. ‪#‎hehe‬

Dismissing or making fun of Secretions Magnifiques is easy. Trashing it entertainingly requires some flair and effort. But I am here to say why I like this fragrance, as you know, like for every thousand haters of John Water’s movies there’s at least a fan. (A friend told me that I was the second person he knew who liked Secretions Magnifiques and I asked if he was the first one and he said yes.)

But first, I want to say something about the smell of human secretions, particularly semen.

When I was studying in university, I lived in a dormitory. I had two very good friends who also lived in the same wing of the complex, and we frequented each other’s rooms for instant noodles and study notes. One evening Dave wanted to return a computer game he had borrowed from Tony and go to the cafeteria together afterwards. We knocked on Tony’s door a few times, and many minutes later he let us in. Dave put down the computer game on his desk and started sniffing, “wow, what smells so fragrant here?” Tony immediately said in an annoying voice, “hey, let’s go.”

Well, I was pretty certain we had just smelled Tony’s secretion magnifique – post-masturbation paper tissue clean up in the waste basket next to his desk. It was very awkward, of course, but now I think about it, isn’t it amusing that Dave’s candid reaction of Tony’s secretion was “what smells so fragrant”?

I have never given much thought about the smell of semen, but now I think it has two aspects – the easily spoiled milky smell of protein, and something that smells fragrant and musky. And this is why I think the perfumer of Secretions Magnifiques, Antonie Lie, has successfully captured the essence of the smell of bodily secretions and reinterpreted it in an artful way in the form of a perfume – a mix of something fragrant (iris aldehyde floral accord) and something repulsive (seaweed / coconut milk / metallic accord).

Some reviewers say that Secretions Magnifiques smells like semen but I think that’s just their imagination. No, it doesn’t smell like semen. It’s a floral perfume with a disturbing high dosage of metallic accord. Luca Turin praised Secretions Magnifiques in his 5-star review (which I thought was over-blown) and he described it as a “nautical floral”, which to a certain degree I agree. (The nautical part probably comes from seaweed.)

I fell deeply in love with the coconut iris accord of Secretions Magnifiques, which is absolutely beautiful and powdery. If that accord is to be extracted and released as a perfume I would instantly buy it, only until a few weeks later I would be bored with it. It is this crazy combination of floral and metallic notes that make this perfume a fun challenge to wear. This is not a beginner’s perfume; (similar examples such as Serge Lutens’ Tubereuse Criminelle, Amouage’s Opus VIII) it is for those who have a broad palette for unusual perfumes and challenging accords. When I am bored, I crave for a spray of Secretions Magnifiques on the back of my hand. But never more than three sprays. Never.

Hendley Perfumes Samples Quick Impression (2015)

Hendley Perfume Samples © Victor Wong
Hendley Perfume Samples © Victor Wong

Perfumer Hans Hendley Perfumes has created a marvellous set of perfumes – none of them feels out of place, it’s like a small box of crayons with very carefully selected colours that are not simple primaries. All smell sophisticated and polished. They never ever give me a WTF moment but they make me think a bit for they all give respect to existing perfume genres with his own style infused. Peacefully positioned in the grey zone of classic French perfumes and indie perfumes.

Here are my impressions (there’s no Fragrantica.com cheat sheet available, so the notes could be wrong.)

  • Auric: Resinous with hints of chocolate? A meditative scent with smells of incense…
  • Bourbon: The only thing simple about this perfume is its name. Yes, there’s bourbon, but there’s also leather, incense and herbs. The smell of a gentlemen’s club, or the smell of a luxury goods shop.
  • Fume: Leathery, herbaceous and smoky. Also slightly sweet, maybe from immortelle flower? I feel like it’s perfect for Chris Pratt of Jurassic World. Manly but also a sweet guy.
  • Jade: Opens with fresh citrus and mint, it starts off green and watery, and evolves into a beautiful creamy floral. First time smelling a perfume like this.
  • Gia: Unisex, abstract, with hints of citrus, earthy notes and ancient resins, mysterious and somehow it’s also fizzy, maybe there’s aldehyde in it.
  • Rosenthal: A oriental rose that doesn’t bury the bouquet with shovels of spice. Reminiscent of some vintage French perfumes, it’s calm, resinous, but never a show-off.

Neil Morris Fragrances’ Izmir (2009)

Ephesus of Izmir, Turkey © Victor Wong
Ephesus of Izmir, Turkey © Victor Wong

I had had such a good time in Turkey that I swore I would visit it one more time before I die. I had only spent three days in Istanbul and Izmir, but the culture, history and people left a lasting impression on me. The ancient temples and ruins were definitely magnificent, but the local people were so friendly that almost made me feel a bit uneasy. (My taxi driver insisted on sharing his lunch with me but I thought it was his meal of the day and I declined his generous offer making him quite upset!)

Time in Turkey went by very fast – I was dashing from one landmark to another that I had forgotten to relax and enjoy the little things, like sitting down in a coffee house and enjoy a cup of famous Turkish coffee. I remember as I was leaving the Ephesus ruins in Izmir, I saw a street vendor selling Turkish figs. He was selling them in a bouquet, instead of big blooming flowers, you have giant Arnold Schwarzenegger figs, so ripe and colourful that looked they were about to burst. I wished I had bought a bunch and tried some, or at least took a picture, but regrettably I didn’t.

When I found out Neil Morris Fragrances had a perfume called Izmir and the main notes contained coffee and figs, I thought, what a coincident, as if this perfume could fill in the missing parts of my trip! If I have never visited Izmir, Neil Morris’ Izmir is a very nice, well blended perfume with coffee as the dominant note. But when you have unexpected figs and papayas in a coffee perfume, you realize it is not exactly a regular gourmand perfume, but a creative interpretation of a city through its local culinary delights.

Top notes are papaya, orange and cinnamon; middle notes are fig, rose, geranium and coffee; base notes are vanilla, agarwood (oud), sea notes and patchouli.

Neil Morris Fragrances' Izmir © Victor Wong
Neil Morris Fragrances’ Izmir © Victor Wong