Mini-Review Roundup: Spadaro Sole Nero, Noche del Fuego, Doux Amour

Okay, so it’s been several weeks since the so-called Tuesday Roundup has actually been ON Tuesday. I hereby rename it the Mini-review Roundup, thereby allowing me to toss it up on the blog on any day of the week without guilt. I’ll still try to get one of these babies posted each week.

Oh, and by the way? Today, May 9, 2012, marks the twentieth anniversary of the day I married The CEO. Congrats to us, with my sincere wish that the second twenty years be better than the first. We’re for the long haul.

Today I’m reviewing three Spadaro fragrances which the company’s PR rep was so kind as to offer to send me. I promised honest reviews, not automatic raves, and PR was happy with that, so that’s a win-win all around, I think. It speaks well of a company when they’re willing to let the quality of their products show itself.

I had heard of these when they were released in late 2011, but didn’t have any way to sample and wasn’t familiar with founder Kate Spadaro. From the brochure accompanying these nicely-sized spray samples:

My mother’s free spirit led us to explore all forms of creativity, from concocting facial masks using ingredients found in the garden to customizing our perfumes with fragrant oils… this led to my career in aromatherapy and home design, where I transform environments through scent, lighting and music. The fragrances I create are inspired by my travels to far away destinations and the people I meet along the way. Each is infused with soul, love and passion.”

Photo courtesy Now Smell This

Sole Nero (Black Sun) was first up. I thought I might be least moved by this one, because I am just Not A Citrus Person. (I’m just not. Honestly, it seems like I’m forever having to confess that I don’t care much for traditional colognes, not even the Chanel one that everybody loves. Why? Citrus. I like to eat it. I like to cook with it. I like to smell it. Wear it, not-so-much.* Don’t know why. Let’s move on.) The notes include grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime, musk, sandalwood and precious spices, and the scent was inspired by a visit to Sicily with family.

Guess what? I like this. I do. It strikes me as being much in the same line as Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely – which I can’t wear because of that blasted patchouli overdose – or Estee Lauder Sensuous – which I can’t wear because of whatever that is in the Lauder base that makes me feel nauseated, even though the fragrances smell just fine. It is primarily a soft, cozy musk fragrance with a touch of citrus up top, a hint of florals (I think I’m getting rose and possibly jasmine), some pepper, and a very pleasant creamy sandalwood. It’s not the Real Deal Mysore stuff, but pretty much nobody’s getting any of THAT out of India these days, so I’m not whining.

Sole Nero doesn’t smell much like my admittedly-brief visit to the Mediterranean, but that’s okay. It’s very, very attractive and pleasant. The musk is what I usually refer to as “skin” musk, all soft and warm and huggable, as opposed to white “laundry” musk, which I generally find a little industrial in its overtones of Hotel Towels. And the woody notes keep it sweet and cozy. Nice. I’d wear it. I think it would wear just fine on a man, too.

(*Okay, fine, fine, I do love Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune, but I say that one’s as much about the pink florals as it is about that gorgeous freshly-squeezed grapefruit.)

Noche del Fuego (Night of Fire) was next on my test schedule. I love the description of the inspiration for this scent, which involves dancers, drummers and fire throwers – apparently, good-looking bronzed Spanish men, and who couldn’t use more of that? – on Majorca. The notes list includes bergamot, patchouli, sandalwood, and black pepper. Also, I’d heard from some perfumista friends that this one was good.

It opens up with a very, very bright bergamot and something that makes me think of lemon verbena, quite sparkly. The pepper makes a brief appearance – honestly, I think I noticed more pepper in Sole Nero – and then some woody notes. I could swear that I smell some amber flattening the whole thing out. In fact, I’m also getting an almost play-doh accord in here, and that usually indicates a hint of heliotrope although it could just be the amber. I’m not a big patchouli fan, being pretty sensitive to it, and although this patchouli seems to be the aged stuff that I get along better with, it’s still just a little too much patch for my personal taste. Noche del Fuego eventually pulls up something that might be a leather note, and once out of that flat amber, it becomes more interesting again.

I like the way the citrus sparkles over the darker qualities of the basenotes, and in that way, the scent is a pretty good interpretation of its name and inspiration. It’s not very “me,” and I think it would wear better on a man or on someone who likes woody scents. (Come to think of it, the particular perfumista friends who recommended this happen to be my Almost Evil Scent Twins. Silly of me to have not noticed.)

Doux Amour (Sweet Love) I tested last because I thought it was most closely aligned with my usual tastes, and this turned out to be so. It’s a floriental inspired by an “Arabian fantasy” of a hotel in Marrakech, with cedar and fig in the halls, and citrus and flowers in the garden, and mint tea and Moroccan wines on the tables. The notes list highlights ylang-ylang, Casablanca lily, jasmine, patchouli, amber, sandalwood and vanilla.

Now, I lurve me some ylang and Casablanca lily. This is a floral extravaganza sitting atop a very rich, sweet oriental base. I seem to be picking up a little bit of rose in this as well, which fits in just fine with the floriental aspect. The vanilla comes through pretty strongly, and so does the amber and sandalwood. Doux Amour reminds me fairly strongly of Samsara, which I like but often find too sweet, and also of the long-discontinued Revlon Xia Xi’ang (rose-jasmine-sandalwood), which I wore my senior year of college and associate pretty strongly with our college choir’s singing tour through Poland, Czechoslovakia as it was called at the time, and Austria. In fact, upon first spray I had an immediate flashback to the little hotel just outside Vienna that our group stayed in for three days.

(Wait, here’s a pic from the tour! This is across the street from the Esterhazy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria, in May of 1990, and that’s me on the right, in my Sun-In days… ah, sweet youth. Thanks for posting this one on Facebook, Brent!)

Sharon, Mike, Karen, Jerry and me

Doux Amour is insistently feminine – just the way I like my fragrances! – and quite attractive. It does eventually lose its beautiful floral accent and fall into sweet vanilla-amber territory, with a clean musk, but for at least a couple of hours, it’s just the kind of thing I love.

All three scents are eau de parfum and have good lasting power – about 5 to 8 hours on me. They’re available at the Spadaro website and Nordstrom, at $135 per 100ml bottle. (At the Spadaro website, there’s a coupon for $20 off, MOM003, and I’m assuming that runs through this Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day in the US.) And speaking of the bottles – those are gorgeous things, aren’t they? I love the etched look. They’re reminding me of the lovely limited-edition Grossmith and Serge Lutens bottles, but at much lower prices than those. Noche Del Fuego might be the most unusual of the three, and although I like the other two better, they are similar enough to some other fragrances that I’m wondering if I might better just haunt ebay for some Xia Xi’ang, and haul out my Jovan Musk for Women more often. I hardly ever jump at that price point, though I would probably consider a much smaller bottle at a comparable unit price – such as 15ml for, say, $25.


19 thoughts on “Mini-Review Roundup: Spadaro Sole Nero, Noche del Fuego, Doux Amour”

  1. Love the bottles on these. Love like crazy, and you’re right that they’re more affordable than the comparable Grossmiths or SL bottles. Honestly, though, maybe I’m just a bitter/angry person, but these brands that are all about the founder’s glamorous, privileged lifestyle kind of bug me. That said, I am a citrus/cologne fan, so I imagine I’d like at least Sole Nero and Doux Amour.

    Funny thing about Sole Nero, though… “Black Sun” is the name of a crime syndicate in the Star Wars novels. HAHA, geek-out!

    1. They are pretty bottles, at least in the pix. I LIKE a nice bottle, but not enough to pay big bucks for one if I don’t absolutely love what’s inside it. (Another pretty one with etching-like decoration is my Teo Cabanel Alahine. I adore Alahine… uh-oh, now getting a craving for it. Better stomp on that right now, the weather’s too warm.)

      Yeeeah, I’m not big on the “hype-up-the-creator’s-lifestyle” brands. I love Food Network but I can’t stand Sandra Lee simply because of the “MY recipe is so awesome” things she can’t, apparently, stop herself from saying. I figure that these are at least worth smelling.

      I didn’t get as much citrus out of Sole Nero as I’d expected. It definitely does not smell like something that *I* would have called Black Sun, it’s too cozy and safe. (And I’m not familiar with the Star Wars novels as a whole, though I think I may have read at least one or two. 20 years ago, I was still reading Star TREK novels. Haven’t read any of those lately either.)

  2. Congratulations on your anniversary! These bottles are lovely and Doux Amore does sound like something I would like. I get to Nordstrom every once in a while and, hopefully, will be able to smell them there.

    1. Thanks! And yes, Nordie’s would probably be the best place to go smell for free (I can only get to Nordstrom’s by driving four hours).

  3. First off, Happy Anniversary! And I laughed at your Sun-In reference. Yup, did that myself.

    Very nice reviews of this line, it’s one I haven’t heard of yet. (And I checked out the website – $10 and free shipping for the 3 samples, you have to love that).

    If the PR person sent you these to review, maybe there’s the possibility they will read your post and our reviews. Just in case: WE’D LOVE THIS IN A 15ml BOTTLE! OR BARRING THAT, AT LEAST 50ml. PLEASE OH PLEASE!

    1. Thanks very much for the anniversary wishes! (Two years after this pic was taken, I got married. My hair was longer then, but you could still see the demarcation where the Sun-In had been. TWO. YEARS. LATER.)

      I didn’t check out the website enough to see the samples – that’s a pretty good deal for the set, I think. They’re worth smelling.

      I think I’ll send a thank-you email to Spadaro PR and mention that smaller bottles might be a good idea. No idea whether they’ll do anything with it or not…

  4. Congratulations to you and The CEO on your anniversary! My DH and I celebrated our 20th in mid-March, and we’re also in it for The Long Run (a la The Eagles, appropos since we met in Houston). Hope you have 20 more, and 20 more, and more after that!

  5. I’m glad you reviewed these C – I’ve never heard of the line and they sound very well constructed. And. Those. Bottles. They would look mighty fine displayed in a collection. Yes indeed.

    I hope you have a wonderful anniversary celebration dear Mals. Congrats on the 20 year mark. And yes, best wishes for the next 20. And beyond. XOXO

  6. We got to smell these at Sniffapalooza this past weekend; few had heard of them. The bottles are indeed gorgeous (the caps are not quite what I would want in a plastic, but otherwise, lovely.) Each one was inspired by a touching event in the creator’s life, so they clearly mean a lot to her. Nordstrom’s is the only place that is distributing it and the creator is an aromatherapist with a small business who was able to get together with a professional formulator/bottler to make these available. So they don’t have a lot of marketing dollars behind them. But hopefully if these get their own faithful fans, they’ll be able to do smaller bottles. (I have a lot less patience when a much more flush-with-capital distributor doesn’t do smaller bottles, but I can see why Spadaro hasn’t yet – and I hope they will.)

    1. Oh drats – but more importantly, HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! And congratulations to both of you and yes, I hope the next decades are even better than the ones you’ve had!

    2. Glad to hear that the bottles are pretty in person.

      I didn’t think about it being a small company and various bottle sizes unavailable… I’m probably too used to indie perfumers like SSS and DSH, who usually have multiple sizes, but it’s a completely, completely different marketing plan than theirs.

      They are quite nice scents.

  7. Happy happy happy anniversary to you and the CEO! I wish you two many more wonderful years together with your absolutely beautiful children and very happy goggeh.

  8. Happy 12th Anniversary to you! I too am celebrating this month, 25 years. Thank you for this review. I was scanning the computer and found this, I did not know it was written. I appreciate your honesty and loved your comments. I hope you don’t mind, but I would like to defend one particular comment. I do not come from a privilege lifestyle. My family was a middle class working family. My father was paralyzed while I was in high school, so I went to work at 15 and have been working ever since. I married an amazing man, whom works extremely hard. Through his work, we have had the incredible opportunity to visit abroad. Learning about essential oils so I could assist cancer and depression patients was what catapulted me into the perfume industry. I use 20% oil in the fragrances (18% in NDF). I can’t wait to launch smaller bottles and am currently working on 10mL purse roller bottles. And a number of other goodies in the line. Scent #4 will launch next spring! 4% of my sales goes to “The Spadaro Foundation” for donations to charities both domestic and abroad. This foundation was formed in memory of the sudden death of my “angel” mom. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions or I can provide any a sample. Warmly . . . Kim Spadaro

    1. Returning the anniversary wishes!

      Thank you for clearing up my assumptions about your company. There seem to be a number of “lifestyle” brands flowering into existence in the perfume market, and I had gotten the impression that Spadaro was one of them. My preference is to make judgments based on the quality of the fragrances (though I admit, I sometimes find it hard to take Etat Libre d’Orange seriously), and on that count I wish you much success. These are very lovely, wearable scents.

      It’s very kind of you to offer a comment! Thank you very much.

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