O Tannenbaum – a joint blogging project

Image from Amazon.com

O Tannenbaum!   As Christmas approaches, Muse in Wooden Shoes wishes you and yours a happy holiday season.

This post is part of a joint blogging project concerning wood-focused fragrances, in honor of the approaching holiday. Bloggers were to review or discuss three perfumes highlighting woody notes. I’m not a woody kind of gal – regular readers know that I love green fragrances and florals of all stripes, from white floral to floral oriental and floral chypre – so I looked on the project as an opportunity to educate myself with a few woody fragrances.

Woody scents can vary from dry to sweet, from austere to lush, and I took a scattershot approach, picking one well-known agarwood-sandalwood scent, one highlighting oak, one focused on pine and spruce notes, and a backup scent composed of rosewood.

10 Corso Como

This fragrance is from the house of Italian designer Carla Sozzani, and was composed more than a decade ago by nose Olivier Gillotin. It’s pretty famous for being a sandalwood-rich scent, but I hear it’s been reformulated due to the drastic shortage of real sandalwood.

This one opens up with the unmistakeably plastic-bandage accord of agarwood (oud), which I admit to liking a lot. Due to time-and-space limitations – and in all honesty, limitations on my knowledge of the subject – I’m not going to get into a discussion of how there are many different grades of oud, including at least one synthetic one in wide usage, and big variations in smell. This one is nice, and that’s all I’m going to say about it. For use as a yardstick, my take on the Montale ouds is that I tend to like the rose-oud combos and could even wish for a bit more oud in them, as they usually go “10 minutes of Band-aid, half an hour of something indefinably gorgeous, and then three hours of insistent rose.” (Except for Montale White Aoud, which starts out with the Band-aid and the indefinably gorgeous and then goes into “two hours of insistent rose-vanilla, followed by several nerve-wracking hours of the dreaded Youth Dew accord.” Because of the Youth Dew bit, I don’t love White Aoud, but I like everything up until then.)

After five to ten minutes of that beautifully medicinal oudy thing, 10 Corso Como settles into a sweet, rich sandalwood. And there it stays for four hours, eventually shedding a little of its sweetness and becoming drier, but staying warm and friendly and approachable. I don’t smell much else other than oud, sandalwood, and vetiver, although I think there might be a bit of rose in there somewhere. It’s not identifiably floral.

How you feel about it depends very much on how you feel about sandalwood. I like it myself, but my favorite sandalwood fragrances remain Tableau de Parfums Miriam, SSS Champagne de Bois, and vintage Arpege parfum, with the current version of Bois des Iles running just behind. All of those have both aldehydes and prominent floral notes, and it’s not difficult to see where my preferences tend to lie. 10 Corso Como is very comfortable and attractive, and I enjoy it very much. It’s easily wearable by either gender.

My sample is a boxed manufacturer’s sample purchased from The Perfumed Court, and I don’t know how old it is. However, it is a manufacturer’s sample, which leads me to believe that it might be an older one. I’m not sure that 10 Corso Como still smells like this, which is a shame because it’s lovely. On the other hand, it’s on the sweet side and I would have liked it to be a little drier, a little bit more oud-y. I have heard the reformulation is still very nice.

Notes, from Now Smell This: Rose, geranium, vetiver, musk, sandalwood, and Malay oud-wood oil. Other notes lists I’ve seen include frankincense.

Napa Valley Cielo

Cielo,” in Spanish, can mean “sky,” or “heaven,” and I’m not sure which is meant by the title of this fragrance, from a company located in the Napa Valley in California, which is famous for its wines and its lovely landscape. This scent, according to The Perfumed Court, has an oak wood note and is described as being “lovely and distinctive, evocative of Napa Valley vineyards.” I enjoy Serge Lutens’ oaky Chene and the beautiful oakwood opening of Sonoma Scent Studio’s To Dream, so I picked Cielo as a fragrance to highlight for this project for its oak note.

Notes: Sweet daphne, grape leaf, honeysuckle, fig leaf, honey, oak, and sandalwood.

Cielo opens up with a turpentiney-pinewood-celery-varnish accord that smells like anything but perfume. Actually, it doesn’t just “open up” with that, but it stays in that zone on my skin for hooooouuuuurs, not morphing into anything else, and I’m a little puzzled as to why this thing was bottled in the first place. It doesn’t smell like oak, it doesn’t smell like forest or wood or anything other than turpentine. It’s possible that it reacts badly to my skin; however, I didn’t like it on paper, either. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to smell like this at all. For what it’s worth, I do not enjoy scents with fig leaf, and I imagine that’s the issue here.

FAIL. And since this one was such a disaster, I’m going to move on to another scent.

DSH Perfumes Festive

Festive is one of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ holiday offerings – in years past she’s offered one new creation each holiday season. I’m not sure whether she’s still doing that or not, but past holiday scents have included Ma Folie de Noel, Winter White, Marzipan, Three Kings, and many others. I had intended to review December, with its notes of “aromatic wood” and “pine cone accord,” but when push came to shove I couldn’t find my sample. However, in the scramble through my DSH samples, I found Festive, which I remembered liking, so I pulled it out instead. Glad I did!

Festive was actually the first holiday release, if I’m reading the website correctly, and includes notes of bergamot, bitter orange, spice notes, fir needle, spruce, incense, and sandalwood. My sample is oil format, which of course doesn’t radiate far but sticks around a fairly long time. I never smell the carrier oil in any of Dawn’s oil samples, and the oil absorbs quickly into the skin so I don’t feel greasy.

This scent opens up with a relaxed, smiling citrus-pine accord that could go wrong and smell like cleaning products, but doesn’t. I’m not a big citrus fan, and if you’re looking for that kind of thing you’ll be disappointed; the citrus here is muted and reminds me of dried orange peel rather than big bright lemony bergamot. Instead, you get an invigorating hint of the way your house, decorated for Christmas, might smell right after you’ve brought in a fresh-cut fir tree. Traditionally, people in this area used to cut fresh cedars (which, here, are something like overgrown weeds) and although cedars are prickly, dry out easily and leave plenty of dropped needles behind, for the first week or so they can make a house smell truly wonderful.

Gradually, Festive’s lovely dried orange peel-and-Christmas tree smell gains some well-blended spicy notes before settling into a sandalwood and amber accord, rich without being too sweet. It lasts for about four hours on me when dabbed sparingly, and it’s a very snuggly sort of scent.

I just heard from Dawn yesterday that she’ll be offering home fragrances in some of her scents. Festive would be terrific as a room spray. It’s aromatic in a coniferous-spice way without smacking you over the head like so many so-called “pine” home scents do. It’s nice on skin, too.

Abdes Salaam Attar Rosewood

I like rosewood. It’s a note found in several beloved fragrances, including Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel, Caron Parfum Sacre, (vintage) Coty Emeraude, Diorissimo, Chanel Cristalle, and the first Ines de la Fressange.

Unlike many woody notes, which are most prominent in basenotes, rosewood has a bright, aromatic presence that seems most noticeable in the top notes of a perfume. It contains linalool (the distinctive aroma of lavender) and is related to geraniol; it has a lot of the sunny chipper quality of good rose oil. There are many varieties of rosewood, but Brazilian rosewood is the varietal most commonly used in perfumery.

This scent called Rosewood seems fairly linear; it does start with a highly aromatic, almost piercing character. I am not sure whether it is a composition or straight-up rosewood: I could swear I smell geranium and rose as well as sandalwood and perhaps a little bit of vanilla as the fragrance develops. It lasts about two and a half or three hours, eventually settling into a quiet woody hum before lifting off my skin completely.

I’m a little puzzled about the origin of this particular fragrance. The Perfumed Court lists it as “SCENTS OF AROMATIC RESINS – Rosewood,” but nothing under that name is to be found at profumo.it (the Abdes Salaam Attar website). There is a listing for Scents of Aromatic Resins, but it is a kit for the amateur perfumer and does not include rosewood. It may now be discontinued, or it may be the diluted natural oil of rosewood sold in the Aromatherapy section. The information on the profumo.it website about essence of rosewood says, “Its aroma is calming and antistress; its aroma is harmonizing and stimulant. Therefore it is used in perfumery as an element able to tie ingredients with big differences between them and to smooth the angles of one composition.”  Well, whatever this sample vial I have is, whether single ingredient or composition, it’s interesting and pleasant.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Tannenbaum project, and please check out my blogging partners’ posts here:

All I am….is a redhead
Another Perfume Blog
Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies
Beauty on the Outside
Daly Beauty
Eyeliner on a cat
Fragrant Reviews
Olfactoria’s Travels
Redolent of Spices
Scent of the Day
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
The Candy Perfume Boy
Undina’s Looking Glass


25 thoughts on “O Tannenbaum – a joint blogging project”

  1. As a professed sandalwood worshiper, I am ashamed to say that I have not yet tried 10 Corso Como (though I do own a few pairs of their shoes…). The thing is, the sandalwood in Champagne de Bois is *so* perfect, Full Stop, that I see no reason to try anything else. And when I do feel the urge to wear a different one, I have Bois des Iles… Lazy, lazy me! I think I would like 10CC though, the way you describe it.

    Festive too sounds wonderful, and I love the combination of notes listed—what a room spray that would make!


    1. 10 CC is very nice! I prefer Champagne de Bois, though.

      Festive is really enjoyable – I’m thinking about getting some if it shows up as room spray on the DSH website, as Dawn intimated it might.

  2. Wow! You went all out – 4 reviews!
    I wish I could smell the fir in Festive. Darn specific anosmia!

    As much as I like oak, I think I’ll stay away from Napa Valley Cielo. As much as I like “turpentiney-pinewood”, I have to stop at celery. Gag-o-rama!

    If you like rosewood, you might like IUNX L’Ether. It’s all roses and myrrh to me, but even that is nice enough!

    1. I only did four because that one was really negative… Good thing I planned on having a backup, hmm?

      I know, that anosmia thing really stinks. (HA.) I can’t smell Nahema.

      I haven’t tried any IUNX scents, probably because they’re hard to get and, you know, $$$. But L’Ether sounds so nice! Love rose+myrrh.

  3. Mals, you know, I never would have pegged you as someone who enjoys oud. Because you favor aldehydic perfumes, greens and big florals, I figured oud would be too masculine/medicinal for you. Well, now I know that your tastes are even more like mine than I originally thought. Don’t think we’re scent twins, but we definitely have a lot of overlap. 🙂

    I particularly enjoyed your review of 10 Corso Como, because I love sandalwood ~ but after reading that you love Champagne de Bois more, I feel like there’s no need to track down the Corso Como scent, thank goodness. 🙂

    1. I know! I’m so not an oud customer, on the surface – I was surprised to like it. I would probably feel very differently about it if it weren’t so frequently paired with rose.

      Champagne de Bois is so excellent. I need to get that out and wear it.

  4. You’ve reviewed some great ones (but I haven’t tried the attar).
    I have an older bottle of 10 Corso Como and it’s wonderful stuff. My feeling is that you have an older sample.
    Cielo wears nicely on me but I have sniffed it on others and it was horrible. How does your skin do with honey? The honey in this scent is prominent on me.
    Festive would be a great home fragrance.

    Great post!

    1. Oh, that’s good to know about the 10CC, Victoria. I liked it a great deal, but I probably don’t need a bottle, especially if it’s different now.

      Honey – hmm. Sometimes honey can go awfully “body smell” on me, especially paired with a lot of jasmine (Quelques Fleurs Royale, I Profumo Miele Rose), but sometimes not. I do love Amoureuse a lot. I wasn’t getting that overripe thing out of Cielo, though, it was just so harsh and sour. I’m still thinking it’s fig leaf that’s bothering me.

  5. Wonderful reviews– your piece on Attar Rosewood had me pulling out my box of essential oils and scrabbling for the Brazilian rosewood. And maybe it was the power of suggestion, but I did think I detected all those notes morphing into one another– bright geranium, prickly, rose, buttery sandalwood. I’m sure Abdes Salaam’s is of a much higher grade than my “herb shop” rosewood could ever be– I’ll definitely seek it out.

  6. It was interesting to read your take as a non-wood lover. I think one thing that has been established is that Champagne de Bois is a universal crowd pleaser. 🙂 Glad you’re feeling better!

  7. Your assessment of the Montale ouds is absolutely spot on, although I have to admit that despite the insistent vanilla/youth dew/bandaid thing that White Aoud has going on I absolutely love it, it’s definitely Montale’s best.

    10 Corso Como sounds like something I would like, thank you for the review, I shall be seeking it out 😀

  8. 10CC I must instantly go and find my sample, which I am pretty sure is untouched. Normally not an oud person, you completely sold this one to me.
    And about the anosmia, how happy I am, that mine (as far as I am aware) only extends to Iso E super, which means I can never smell Escentric Molecule 1. Thank you for the generous 4 reviews 🙂

  9. Cielo went indolic on me as I recall – there was something up with it and I think it was that. I don’t really care for 10 Corso Como – it is along similar lines to Gres Cabaret to my nose, which isn’t a favourite style. But it is well regarded and I have tried it a few times to no avail.

    1. Indolic!! Oh my goodness. I swear, I think it’s the fig leaf that I hate.

      Now, I like Gres Cabaret, which I perceive as being more rosewater-musk-light incense than woody, but perhaps there is a bit of congruence along the light incense-and rose line…

  10. I love Corso Como, it’s one of my favourites! I’d really like to try the DSH Festive, it sounds perfect for the holidays. Thanks for joining us in O Tannenbaum this year!

  11. Hm… I had a plan to try all perfumes from this project. But I made this decision whrn I thought that participants will be talking about those perfumes which they like not just reviewing perfumes which fall into a category… So, I hope, it won’t be cheating if I don’t try Cielo, right? 🙂

    Happy Holidays, Mals, to you, your family and PETBoy!

    1. Nope, not cheating.

      I suppose I could have reviewed just woody fragrances I like, since that isn’t a crowded field for me, but many of those that I do like were already “taken” by other bloggers.

      Happy holidays to you, too!

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