Mini-Review Roundup, late January 2016

I’ve been testing a few things new to me and trying to work my way through the Sample Stash, having becoming interested again in sniffing things other than my favorites. So here goes!roundup

l'wren scottL’Wren Scott (for Barneys): This perfume, released by the model and designer in 2009, in conjunction with her design label, generated some buzz around the time of its introduction with the then-staggering price of $195 per 100ml bottle. It’s a price that certainly seems less staggering now, given the price hikes we’ve seen across the board, but it was a shocker at the time. Scott, who was dating Mick Jagger for a time, died in 2014 and her business folded, of course. I’ve recently seen bottles on eBay for $50, so it’s within reach now of those of us not able (or willing) to drop big bucks on our fragrance.

Ms. Scott said in interviews that she mixed her own oils and was highly involved in the creation of her fragrance, from the notes to the packaging. This I believe – celebrities who are interested in fragrance for itself tend to release fragrances that are interesting, at least.

This one is downright quirky. First, it’s a spicy floral modern chypre. And when I say “spicy,” I don’t mean cozy baked-goods spices like cinnamon. I mean anise, artemisia, curry tree, coriander and cloves. The anise seems prominent to me, but the effect is highly aromatic in an unusual way. There’s a ton of patchouli, and lots of jasmine and geranium – very little oakmoss, but this is a chypre in the modern style. It’s big, bold, and in character something like that 80s beast, Ungaro Diva. Oddly for something so bold, it doesn’t last very long on my skin. It’s aromatic and woody enough that I would think it would be perfectly comfortable for a man to wear.

Here’s a masculine take on L’Wren Scott, at CaFleureBon.

I would have liked this bottle were it not for the plug-ugly lettering. Bleah.
I would have liked this bottle were it not for the plug-ugly lettering. Bleah.

Comme des Garcons Blue Encens: I went through a brief period of wanting to smell all the incense fragrances I could, after finding the smell of high-church incense very pleasant. (Hey. The Baptist church I grew up in had cinderblock walls, and although I visited St. Andrew’s several times to admire its beautiful jewelbox interior, I never went to services there. It took a visit to Malta five years ago to introduce me to church incense.)

Blue Encens has the traditional incensey mix atop a dry (not sweet) amber, with cool spices. It reminds me a good deal of the late, lamented Comptoir Sud Pacifique Eau du Gouverneur – all that pepper and sheer spice! It’s not particularly ashy, nor very woody. Nor is it groundbreaking; it’s just nice. I enjoyed this one. Perhaps it’s not a surprise that I did – its composer, Evelyne Boulanger, also worked on CdG Zagorsk (speaking of which, I like it again).

A few more reviews: Ann at Perfume Posse; Katie Puckrik Smells; Bois de Jasmin.

l'air de rienMiller Harris L’Air de Rien: Luca Turin’s review of this one in Perfumes: The Guide doesn’t make it sound like anything I would want to wear. However, there’s a regular commenter on Now Smell This who loves it and finds it comforting. I can’t remember which of her mentions of it convinced me that I needed to try it, but I’m pretty sure she talked me into it.

The notes listed are simply neroli, patchouli, oakmoss, amber, musk and vanilla. Of this one, Turin says, “It smells of boozy kisses, stale joss sticks, rising damp, and soiled underwear. I love it,” and gives it four stars.

Eww. To me, however, it simply smells like “skin musk,” with perhaps a veil of that “old books” smell.  I mean, I can smell it, but it sort of melts into the skin and becomes a pleasant ambient scent. I don’t get a lot of patchouli in this, though I expected to. Would I wear it? Probably not, but that’s more a matter of finding it unexciting than finding it dirty.

Okay, so it’s MUSK. We know what happens with musks – they’re large molecules right at the edge of human perception, and many people are anosmic to (they can’t smell) several musks but can smell others. I suspect this is what happened to me with Smell Bent’s Commando, a fragrance recommended by Tom of Perfume Posse and Perfume-Smellin’ Things as smelling like the “impeccably clean skin of a child.” Um, nope. Nope. That thing is crowded locker room all the way, dude. And Patty at Perfume Posse calls L’Air de Rien “the huge catbutt perfume that skanked its way across the perfume universe,” at first, before deciding it was a lovely musky leather.

Other takes on L’Air de Rien: an excellent, informative double review from Denyse Beaulieu and Elena Vosnaki at Perfume Shrine, Victoria at Bois de Jasmin, and a rather negative one from Katie Puckrik Smells. Bonkers about Perfume and EauMG got much the same out of it as I did. Dirty? You’ll have to try it yourself.

burberry weekendBurberry Weekend for Women: According to Fragrantica, it’s a fruity floral with some powdery notes. I thought it might be safe to test it when going to the salon for a haircut-and-highlights, but wound up having to scrub it off. Why? It smells of adult diapers to me – that is, stale urine. It’s horrible.

With notes of citrus, peach, and your quieter floral elements of hyacinth, peach blossom and mignonette, it sounds completely inoffensive, right? Well, somewhere down the list of notes, there is sage. Sage, in perfumery, is straight-up pee to my nose, and there’s the culprit. Aromatics Elixir smells urinous to me, too. (Sorry. It is what it is.)

Victoria over at EauMG has a different opinion on it, and I’m betting that hers is the more common reaction.  (How about that? The inoffensive one offends, and the skanky-catbutt one smells fine to me. You never know.)

More mini-reviews coming soon – I’d forgotten how much fun this is!

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Where is the love?

where is the loveI can’t be the only person whose parents kept the radio station on the Easy Listening frequency, can I? I grew up on Roberta Flack’s recording of this song, about love that was promised and then came to nothing. (Hear it here on Youtube.)

And no, I’m not talking about the Black Eyed Peas version, which is a completely different song and which I did not know existed until I went looking for Roberta. I would feel hopelessly out of date, except that the BEPs are not a group/genre that I tend to follow. I listen to the Alternative station, myself. 🙂

Annnnyway… I recently opened and used a decant of a fragrance that I had had on my wishlist for a long time, and when one of the decanting services had a 20% off sale recently, I bought an 8ml spray.  When it arrived I set it aside because I was in one of my mini-obsessions with RL Safari, but the other day I decided I was ready for that CdG Zagorsk which I had craved for so long. I sprayed it on… and I no longer love it.

joe-petersburger-a-church-surrounded-by-pine-trees-in-a-hillside-meadowThe several wearings I gave my sample vial took me to an imagined church in a snowy city, where the sky is a pale wintry blue and the church is surrounded by balsams and junipers, the cold stone and the wooden pews combining with the incense to be cool and invigorating. It was whole, all of a piece, a complete sense journey.

Today, I’m getting a piecemeal sort of experience, like this: “Iris. That’s a weird celery-like iris,” followed by “Yeah, there’s that cold stone thing, I still like that,” and “Is that gin?” Then, later, “Okay, yeah, wood. And incense. Knew that’d show up.” But it isn’t the whole church-in-snowy-woods thing that it was in my sample, and I am disappointed.

So I’m sitting here with this thing on my wrist and thinking, What is wrong with me? Is it the wrong day/weather/venue for this scent? Has it changed? Did I only like it dabbed from a sample, did spraying change its qualities? Where is the love, y’all?

My original sample vial (ordered from The Perfumed Court, not affiliated, in 2012) is empty, so I can’t check to see if there’s been a reformulation. But it occurs to me that it’s happened to me before, that I loooooved something from a sample and then found that a decant, or a full bottle, didn’t satisfy.

Has that ever happened to you?

And what do you do about it?

I will probably hang on to Zagorsk and try it again at a different time/in different weather. Mind you, it wasn’t awful, it was just… meh, and I can’t remember why I wanted it instead of the half-dozen other things I considered purchasing in a decant. But I confess, I’m rather cranky about it.

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Mini-review Roundup, Jan. 25, 2013

Whoops. Found this mini-review roundup in the “in progress” folder, and as far as I can tell, I never published it.  (If I’m wrong and my search function is failing me, please let me know.)

Edit, Jan. 28: Due to some strange database issue with my web server, this may never have been posted at all, or posted wonky, or something.  I know at least one person attempted to comment and wasn’t able to. BIG WHOOPS.  So anyway, I deleted the article and reposted it.  Sorry for any confusion.

Comme des Garcons PLAY Red – rhubarb-cherry, followed by a mushy floral thing and some thin heliotrope. Robin at NST liked this one and thought it was fun, but I disagree. Booorrrriing. I’m getting a citrusy tart fruit out of it and it seems fairly linear – pleasant, but not something I want to smell like, and certainly not at CdG prices. In the drugstore it might be a different story.

Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia – drawn by Robin’s review on NST and the mention of cardamom and incense, I bought a small 30ml bottle during a sale at the JM website. Then I had second thoughts, and didn’t even open the bottle to spray it. Left it alone for some time, then sold it at cost to a fellow fumie… and began to wonder whether I’d done the right thing. Got a sample to check – and yes, I did the right thing. This is a lot of that Giorgio-esque tuberose, with its grapey-berry quality (this is an aromachemical that occurs naturally in some white flowers, such as tuberose and jasmine, and which belongs with said white flowers, but which is often isolated and used as a flavor booster for grape products like Kool-Aid and candy in the US, which would explain why the grape-berry thing seems very artificial to Americans). I accidentally dumped the ENTIRE vial, oopsie, down my arms and cleavage by being clumsy, but it didn’t overpower me. Thank goodness I didn’t do that with vintage Giorgio! In any case, I kept sniffing and re-sniffing for the cardamom but never found it. The incense and a very light woody note eventually come out in the drydown, but I never stopped getting tuberose. This fragrance is pretty and pleasant but kinda dopey and unoriginal, like that one girl back in high school who was selected as a cheerleader and from that point on never did anything without consulting and following the dictates of the (smarter, meaner) Queen Bees. Amanda P, this one’s for you.

TokyoMilk Dark La Vie La Mort (Life Death) – Tuberose. Synthetic, I think, or a cleaned-up version: sweetish, no camphor, no weird. Hint of grape, but not nearly so much as the JM Vtg Gardenia. Also, a sort of milky quality. There’s something green in here as well, and an earthy-fruity quality. Fig? Vetiver? Both? Not sure. I don’t think I like it. Official notes include gardenia, hibiscus leaf, cardamom (WHAT cardamom?) and jasmine.  Not lovin’ it.

 

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