Mini-Reviews Roundup, Feb. 2017

Le Galion La Rose – a 2014 reorchestration of a 1950 fragrance, La Rose is not the soliflore I’d thought it would be. It is warm and woody, and yes, rosy. Very attractive, comfortable, pleasant; more interesting than a plain rosewater scent but I find it quite comforting.

Head notes | Bergamot, Violet Leaf
Heart notes | Rose, Ylang Ylang, Water Peach, Royal Lily
Base notes | Cedar, Patchouli, Vanilla, Musk

I have no idea what “water peach” is, but La Rose doesn’t accent any peachy notes. It’s not particularly vanilla-y either, which is refreshing. I mean, a gourmandy rose-vanilla is always nice (Rochas Tocade, Lush Rose Jam, Montale White Aoud, etc., etc.), but this one is mainly fresh pink rose and soft woods. Very lovely. Lasting power is about average for an eau de parfum on me, 4-5 hours, and the sillage is mild to moderate. €140 for 100ml, €9 for a 6.5ml mini at the Le Galion website.

Short reviews at What Men Should Smell Like and Colognoisseur.

Dame Perfumery Desert Rose – A bit of overlap here with the Le Galion, but… you know. Rose. Duh. I’m always a sucker.

Dame Perfumery says this about it: “A blend of Turkish rose otto and Damascenia Rose with touches of peach, Sicilian lemon, Egyptian jasmine, geranium, carnation, heliotrope, sandalwood, musk, amber and vanilla.  For a woman, mostly.”

I suppose in my mind, a desert rose would be dry, but Desert Rose is quite pleasantly fresh and dewy, at least for the first half. I was thinking that “Damascenia Rose” was a typo, since I had only ever seen it written “damascena.” Turns out that Damascenia is a Firminich molecule. Whatever it is, it’s really pretty in this fragrance, which does smell fairly natural. I get little touches of peach in it, as well as carnation, but as it wears on, the whole thing goes a bit soapy. $85 for 100ml edp spray, $35 for 10ml oil rollerball, $10 for $5ml edp spray.

Short reviews at The Scented Hound and Scent of Abricots.

The fancy engraved bell jar, which is even pricier than the regular $300 one.

Serge Lutens De Profundis – I had only a vague memory of testing this one before — you know me, not the biggest Serge Fangrrl — and wanted to retry it. I am completely ignoring the wacko Serge description (death, chrysanthemums, carnality at the graveside ew ew ew, no, I’m not quoting it here) and the letter Oscar Wilde wrote to his bosom buddy Lord Alfred Douglas from prison, which is the purported inspiration for the fragrance. And maybe the Fleurs du Mal Baudelaire reference too.

To be honest, the backstory put me off trying the fragrance seriously for a long time. Instead, I have focused on the “Out of the deep” movement from John Rutter’s Requiem. The Rutter is one of my favorite choral pieces, and it is somber and gorgeous and ethereal. And then there’s the J.S. Bach setting of Psalm 130, also wonderful. (FYI, there are two Bach settings of this text, and it’s not Cantata BWV 131 but BWV 38 that I remember.)

“Life!” by Mohan Nellore at Flickr, some rights reserved.

De Profundis the fragrance does not move me the way the Rutter does, but it is very very pretty. Yes, I just called a Lutens “pretty,” and I’m not takin’ it back. It’s pretty, y’all. Shaddup. It is both bold and tender at the same time, quite floral and cool and meditative, and while that may be because I don’t associate any particular flower with funerals, still. I like chrysanthemums in flower, and I like them in this fragrance along with the carnation and the violets and the incense.

I could wish for better projection and longevity from this one, at least from a heftily-dabbed sample. Maybe it’s better with a spray application, but I got about three hours’ wear and very little sillage.

De Profundis will run you $300 for a 75ml bell jar at the Serge Lutens website.  (Ow. And that’s for the plain one, so nope.)

Other reviews: Grain de Musc, Kafkaesque, Bois de Jasmin, Scents of Self, Patty at Perfume Posse.

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Perfume Review: Dame Perfumery Scottsdale Black Flower Mexican Vanilla

Artwork for Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, by V. Dave Dame. From Dame Perfumery website.
Artwork for Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, by V. Dave Dame. From Dame Perfumery website.

The Aztecs called vanilla tlilxóchitl, meaning black flower.  The origin myth explaining the existence of vanilla springs from the Totonac people, who live on the eastern coast of Mexico, and may have been the first to cultivate the vanilla orchid.  From Dame Perfumery’s website:

According to Totonac mythology, the tropical orchid was born when Princess Xanat, forbidden by her father from marrying a mortal, fled to the forest with her lover. The lovers were captured and beheaded. Where their blood touched the ground, the vine of the tropical orchid grew.

I’ll be honest, I have never been the biggest fan of oriental vanilla fragrances for myself.  I did love Emeraude, back in the 80s, at first sniff, and even though it is now an absolute disaster (seriously, don’t sniff the current stuff. This has been a Public Service Announcement), it has a very definite vanilla focus and at one time was a pure-genius sort of fragrance, the kind of thing that belongs on cleavage.  Rumor has it that famously-vanilla Shalimar is a riff on Emeraude.  Other vanilla fragrances often either have a “vanilla-and” character, or can be ridiculously simple to the point of dopiness.  Either way, I have yet to really love a vanilla scent the way I love vintage Emeraude.  (See my Sexy Cake post for an elaboration on the subject.)  The short version is, I like my gourmandy vanillas (berry-vanilla, or caramel vanilla), or my white-floral vanillas.

I will say that I loved the drydown of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Havane Vanille (renamed Vanille Absolument) – after the boozy, fruity, pipe-tobacco parts faded off, about eight hours into wearing HV, the vanilla appeared on stage solo, so clear and intoxicating. No hint of powder.  I sometimes had difficulty waiting out the early stages to get to the part I really liked.  What was really super-awesome about that clear, intense vanilla drydown was putting a dab of By Kilian’s Beyond Love on top of it. Tuberose-vanilla, yum, a do-it-yourself floral vanilla that I loved.

So I admit that I was sort of hoping that Black Flower Mexican Vanilla would be something like the drydown of HV, particularly when reading the description of it on the Dame Perfumery website: “A perfect vanilla is simply vanilla without added accents, and its creation is a task of restraint and avoiding misguided add-ons of ‘vanilla + such and such’.” 

The notes list for BFMV is more complicated than “simply vanilla.”  Fragrantica‘s list is as follows: lemon, grapefruit, caramel, nutmeg, gardenia, jasmine, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, musk, tonka. Fragranticans smell mostly vanilla in it, plus tonka bean; the other elements seem to be noted as present but not a large portion of the scent. I’d agree: vanilla and tonka, primarily. It’s not particularly sweet, either, which is nice in a vanilla fragrance.  I was expecting a floral cast, but there isn’t one: it’s mostly just vanilla-tonka.

What I don’t understand is what smells so powdery in it.  On my skin, BFMV has a good bit of powder, following its barely-citrusy opening. I do not smell much in the way of white florals or woody notes, and I don’t notice vetiver or nutmeg at all. The caramel shows up, but if I’m being honest, all it does is make me want to go buy a mini of Prada Candy.  Perhaps the powder is due to a dusty-quality patchouli making itself noticeable; whatever it is, I’m not enjoying that bit.

There is a similar dusty/powdery quality to another one of my “vanilla” fragrances, Givenchy Organza Indecence.  But OI has so much else going on (the orange, the spices, the woods) that I can forgive it a smidge of powder.  Black Flower Mexican Vanilla – not, I emphasize, very floral on me, despite its name – has placed the vanilla front and center, so there isn’t anything to distract me from the dusty qualities.  The aspect of the drydown of Havana Vanille (which does, yes, have a dusty quality in its heart) that I loved so much was its clarity and its complete lack of powderiness; it is much more like vanilla liqueur than the powdery stuff.*

Sillage is gentle and lasting power is quite good, 6-8 hours on me where I typically get 3-5 hours’ wear out of an eau de parfum.  If you are looking for a nicely-done, unsweetened vanilla fragrance, test this one. It might be what you’re looking for.  It’s decently priced, as well: you can still pick up a 7ml spray sample for $10 including shipping, and it’s worth it if you ask me.

*Habanita nearly killed me, if you’re wondering about my tolerance for that version of “powdery.”

Well done, Dame Perfumery. It’s still not my sort of thing, but it’s competent and pleasant and engaging to wear, all the same.

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