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
Eyeliner on a cat
Redolent of Spices
Scent of the Day
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
The Candy Perfume Boy
Undina’s Looking Glass