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!


9 thoughts on “Mini-Review Roundup, late January 2016”

  1. L’Wren Scott is one of the few perfumes I’ve scrubbed off in the last couple of years. It just completely failed on my skin — dry, dusty wood chips and curry powder and not in a “oh, some people would like smelling like this” kind of way; I don’t know why it went so bad.

    1. Well, it’s weird, I grant you that. But you know, the funny thing about it is that it although I don’t think I would wear it myself, I might enjoy smelling it on someone else, particularly on a man. There are scents that strike me that way – TF Black Orchid being one, for example. I hate Black Orchid on me, I mean I really really hate it. That cucumber-dirt-big-floral thing just breaks down into components and is, dare I say, a real stinker. But I’ve smelled it on two different men now, and it was really great on them. L’Wren Scott has that same sort of bold, almost cubist effect that I think it might be similar.

  2. Weekend was the only Burberry I’ve tried that I liked, but not enough to wear routinely. Glad I got none of the pee! Too funny. But your comments raise an interesting conundrum. When I wear perfume, I wear what I love. But I also don’t want to smell terrible to those around me. I don’t mind if they don’t particularly like what I’m wearing. But I certainly don’t want to smell of urine, or fecal matter. So now I’m wondering if my family and co-workers should be questioned on the things I wear the most often to make sure I’m not offensive? Most of them are, I think, too polite to confront me without invitation. Hmmmm.

    1. I think I first noticed the urine aspect in a perfume with Aromatics Elixir, which is just GAH a huge scary beast. Every time I go to the mall (our local mall is lame-o in terms of perfume – it’s Lauder, CLinique, and every celubuscent ever, plus a very few Chanels) I resniff AE, just to frighten myself a little bit. It always smells like somebody peed all over a thorny rose hedge. I did once spray it on paper, and two days later it smelled absolutely wonderful.
      In any case, I think I’m going off one of Luca Turin’s reviews in P:TG (Dior Jules, maybe?), where he claims that sage smells urinous to a small subset of people. Clearly I’m one of them, though I admit that I cook with sage and have never noticed the leaves smelling like diaper.
      My point was, if it smells good to you, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. Unless you’re trailing a cloud like Pepe Le Pew, only people who are right up in your space are going to notice anyway. You *could* ask family to let you know in the event that you’re wearing something they really don’t like.

  3. I get the same type of thing with L’Air de Rien – a pretty orange blossom on a soft amber base. Not an atom of skank anywhere. I was a bit disappointed after reading Luca Turin’s review!

    I don’t get anything urinous from Aromatics Elixir, but on me it smells like someone threw a jar of poultry seasoning into the La Brea tar pits. The tar is so strong and bitter that I feel like a newly paved road surface on a hot day in August (not the effect I look for in a perfume).

    Love the mini-reviews!

    1. Well, I did get the musk, and a tiny hint of costus (the dirty-hair bit, which I don’t mind in small quantities). But no unwashed underwear, as LT suggests. Patou Joy has plenty of THAT. 😉

      Poultry seasoning and tar!!! aha ha ha ha! That’s funny. Maybe it’s the sage, being literal… wish I got “cooking herb” out of it rather than pee. I totally get the rose in AE, and that honkin’ ton of patchouli too, but tar is Shalimar, to me.

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