Mini-review Roundup, March 6, 2015

roundupCaron Pour une Femme – I’ve been interested in trying this for some time now. C’mon, I know that I don’t typically get on with the classic Caron fragrances (oh, don’t get me started), but this one is typically labeled a floral chypre. Okay, maybe we could be quibbling over whether it’s a floral chypre or a chypre floral – that is, whether it is primarily a chypre with a strong floral angle, or primarily a floral with chypre undertones. That’s a distinction I don’t feel myself particularly qualified to answer.

pour une femeHowever, Pour une Femme, originally released in 1934 and reformulated who knows how many times (definitely in 2001, when it was reorchestrated by Richard Fraysse) is actually one of those modern chypres. I smell very little oakmoss in here. Plenty of dark marmalade-y orange to start with (as with many Carons, the topnotes are not particularly nice), plus a deep rose and some orange blossom. Lots of patchouli, lots of amber. Deep into the drydown there’s a bit of incense. It’s pleasant. If you’re a Coco Mademoiselle/modern floral-chypre fan, it might suit you well. I’m glad I sampled rather than springing for one of those adorable silhouette bottles – seriously, is this not a fabulous bottle? I love it. It goes more ambery the longer it’s on skin and I like it less.

Notes (via Fragrantica): Orange blossom, mandarin, orange, incense, rose, vetiver, musk, sandalwood, amber. The patchouli isn’t listed, but it’s there.
Another review: Victoria at EauMG.

satin dollUzac Satin Doll – yes, another one of those modern floral chypres. There’s quite a bit of raw-carroty iris root in the topnotes of this one, though, and I rather like it. Can’t help being unimpressed in the first half hour, though, because where’s the tuberose? I was promised tuberose. And rose. And incense.

It was named for Duke Ellington’s jazz standard (listen to Ella Fitzgerald sing it here on Youtube.)

This one, I like more and more the longer it’s on skin. Oddly, the florals show up deeper into the base than they typically do, and they stick around awhile. It’s really lovely; I find myself thinking of Penhaligon’s Eau Sans Pareil (the new one – I never smelled the older version) and how refreshing and elegant it is.
Iris can sometimes feel satiny to me, and I like its presence here in Satin Doll. There is actually a bit of oakmoss in here, though I find myself wondering if it’s the atranol-free version. Not that that’s bad, necessarily – it just doesn’t feel like an old-school powerhouse chypre. Which is not a dealbreaker for me. The patchouli, too, is the heart-note stuff, very green and austere, no powdery dirt mess. There’s a good bit of wood in here, and a bunch of black pepper. I seem to have gotten more iris out of it than some other reviewers did, but since I’m not particularly fond of rooty iris, that isn’t really an enthusiastic recommendation. This is a nice smell. Not shelling out for it – and it doesn’t smell much like the song sounds to me – but it’s nice.

Two more reviews for you: The Silver Fox at Ca Fleure Bon and Angela at NST.
Notes (Fragrantica): elemi, pink pepper, black pepper, iris, tuberose, jasmine, rose, myrrh, incense, patchouli, opoponax, oakmoss.

I had also planned to include a review of Bogue Maai, but my reactions to that one were… um… unconventional, to say the least, so I’ll be putting that review up later.  I’ve also got reviews for Hiram Green Moon Bloom and Shangri-La written, as well. Watch this space for those.

Share

Mini-Reviews Roundup, October 4, 2012

roundup

Vintage Rochas Femme parfum de toilette – I have tried the reformulated Femme from the 2000s and enjoyed it. Yes, even that cuminy stuff some people say smells like B.O.? Just smells like spice-cabinet, Mexican-food cumin to me. I like it. I like it with the peachy-plummy stuff and the ambery-woodsy stuff. So I figured I’d do great with vintage Femme.

Uhhh, nope. Big FAIL. Stewed MESS. Remember Kevin’s hilarious post on NST reviewing Serge Noire (which, for the record, I like)? Well, that’s how this vintage Femme comes across to me: a big ol’ witches’ brew of way-past-ripe. Stinky, even.

Weird, huh? I mean, I’m perfectly used to vintage perfumes, how dense they can sometimes be, and how patient you have to be to let them settle in and get comfortable and bloom on your skin. And sometimes they might look just fine in the bottle, and still be age-damaged. However, when that happens and age has damaged a perfume, there’s usually a sense that something smells wrong, or there’s a “hole” in what you’re smelling, or a fadedness, a sense of something missing. This bottle has none of that. Nothing about it seems age-damaged: no nail-polish, no maple syrup, no holes or fadings or erasures, no sense that it’s moldered. No mustiness.

It’s just doing the same sort of thing that fruity chypres usually do on my skin: curdle. The comment that people usually make about older Femme is that it smells like warm skin. (Sometimes they say it smells like post-coital skin.) But this is more like a vat of stewed fruit that has rotted and gone garbagey. There is just something about fruit + oakmoss that goes really horrid on me, I confess. I did okay with that ONE 1990s Mitsouko parfum, but the fruity-chypre genre really disturbs me in general.

I’ve already found a new home for this little bottle of vintage Femme, and I hope both the bottle and its new owner will be very happy.

Esteban Classic Chypre – This one started off really lovely, a bergamotty rose-jasmine accord made serious with oakmoss and woods and patchouli, very classic, very pretty. Eventually it settled into something that smelled most horrifyingly of Calvin Klein Obsession, which I hate almost as much as I hate Opium and Youth Dew. I did not scrub it. But I wanted to.

Accord Parfait Chypre (Bergamot & Black Tea) – what can I say? The bergamot’s pretty obvious, and so is the black tea. Did I ever mention that I love the smell of brewed black tea? Or black tea leaves, for that matter. I do. I make a gallon of sweet iced tea every other day (The CEO mainlines the stuff, and I might have a glass every couple of days myself), so I know what plain black tea smells like, and I like it. This smells delightfully like strong, unsweetened black tea… for about twenty minutes. Then it’s gone, leaving behind a faintly mossy-woody drydown. Honestly, I think this fragrance is more like a strongish tea cologne. Might be truly wonderful in summer heat.

Accord Parfait Boisé (Heliotrope & Santal) – well, this is very pleasant. It’s built along the same woody-vanilla lines as Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille and Smell Bent One, but instead of the dark roasted effect of UBV or the chai-tea spices of One, it has a delicious lacing of heliotrope (and not the Play-doh variety), and I think I’m also getting a hint of cedar and a sprinkling of pink pepper too. This was another Surrender to Chance sample, and the brand’s perfumes are apparently not sold in the US – apparently this is another set of niche perfumes that are not too complex but very attractive anyway, probably due to some a) decent raw materials and b) restraint.

Accord Parfait Famille Fleurie (Mirabelle & Gardenia)– again, what an attractive fragrance this is. Nothing earth-shaking, nothing strikingly unusual… just pretty. It is, to be honest, like a little piece of Mary Greenwell Plum or the top/heart of Juicy Couture parfum, without the different drydowns of those fragrances (modern chypre or caramel wood, respectively). There may be a very quiet woody-musk base in Famille Fleurie which serves to extend the pretty floral heart, in which I smell tuberose, jasmine and a hint of rose. It doesn’t seem particularly gardenia-specific, lacking the overripe and heady aspects of the flower, but most “gardenia” fragrances do, anyway. The fruit is tangy and unsweetened but quite present. Really nice

Tom Ford Jardin Noir Ombre de Hyacinth – on the opening, I’m reminded of Bas de Soie and Penhaligon’s Bluebell, only less strident. There’s a really nice quality to it that makes me think of dirt in spring, damp and just waiting to start growing stuff. Metallic dirt, does that explain anything? They could have called it “Silver Shadow,” that would have been appropriate.

After awhile, it begins to smell a little bit like Prada Infusion d’Iris, without that silky-powdery musk thing that Id’I does so well. After that, it goes thin and slitty-eyed. Having gotten me into a mood calling for “green and iris,” it got all stabby, so I went and covered it up with a goodly spritz of Jacomo Silences parfum de toilette, which was completely delightful.

You should just go buy Silences instead. Or wait for the revamped version, Silences eau de parfum sublime, instead – Chaya Ruchama mentioned the EdP Sublime on her Facebook page, commenting that the new one is actually nice and she might even call it full-bottle-worthy. (I mean, it isn’t as if Tom Ford really needs my cash to fund his lifestyle.)

Vintage Caron Bellodgia parfum de cologne – oh, this is niiiiiiice. Very nice. After a ten-minute soapy stage, it’s all beautiful carnation floral. I get the jasmine and rose in here, too, but carnation is center stage. So pretty. (Thanks, Shelley!!) The downside to wearing this is the recognition that Caron has Totally Screwed This One Up. I suppose all perfume carnations are doomed at this point, due to IFRA restrictions on eugenol, but I for one am kinda ticked off about it. Carnation fans are all in mourning.

Malmaison! The original Metallica (stupid name anyway)! Old-school Old Spice! Bellodgia! All gone or messed with. Grrrr. I do still have Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s really beautiful Oeillets Rouges. And Fragonard’s pretty-pretty Billet Doux was available on the website last time I looked. (Why do I not have a bottle of that? I’d probably wear the heck out of it.)

But do not even talk to me about Vitriol d’Oeillet. I think that’s a good fragrance, but it doesn’t smell much like real carnations, ergo I am Not That Interested.

Share

A Week of Violets, Part I: Caron Aimez-Moi

Today kicks off A Week of Violets, a joint blog project at Redolent of Spices and Scent of the Day.  We’re each reviewing three violet scents this week, so be sure to go read their reviews today, and then check back later in the week for more reviews.   First up here: Caron Aimez-Moi.

In general, I haven’t been a big fan of Caron scents so far.  It’s true that I’ve largely limited my Caron testing to the currently-available fare, without resorting to the vintage ebay finds that make up most of my vintage experience, so I’ve never smelled, say, Narcisse Noir or Tabac Blond as they were before the current round of Richard Fraysse reformulations.  Those classic Caron scents are fairly rare and sometimes available, but at long-lost-love prices.  It’s true that, with a few exceptions, I haven’t been all that impressed with the current Caron offerings.

Aimez-Moi is one of the exceptions.  Two years ago, I was trolling along looking for recommendations for violet scents, and ran across a review of Aimez-Moi by Robin at Now Smell This.  It would eventually become clear to me that Robin’s tastes and mine share a very small area of overlap, but I didn’t know that at the time, and her description of Aimez-Moi as “deep, cool and mysterious” pulled me in.  Shortly after that, a sample became available to me via swap – and I was hooked.

The scent opens with a dry, almost nail-polish-y overlay, which is more noticeable on fabric than on skin, and which might be a bergamot note beginning to go off.  It doesn’t matter, because very quickly, AM blooms into an anise-violet accord which is both sweet and pungent.  If you think of candy at all – you may – you’ll think of those odd, old-fashioned British candies called Liquorice Allsorts, which are bits of stiff, chewy licorice, tougher and less sweet than the American stuff, encased in thick, chalky-tasting pink, orange, or green candy coating. 

Shortly after that, a pleasant rose note appears, staying to hang out with the anise and violet for at least an hour or two, while gradually a dry, powdery vanilla-heliotrope accord surfaces under that.  It actually reminds me a good deal of Apres l’Ondee, if Al’O were less misty and ephemeral.  Aimez-Moi becomes cheerful and friendly, a sort of perky, quirky yet wholesome ingenue version of Apres l’Ondee’s ethereal, wispy poetry-writing maiden.  Think Emma Woodhouse, from the Jane Austen novel, and you’ve got a pretty good idea.  She’s known some sadness in her life, but generally things go her way, and since all she really wants is to make all the people in her life happy, she’s optimistic and rather naive.

The first time I wore Aimez-Moi, I thoroughly enjoyed it, only realizing toward the end of the four-hour ride that I wished that I’d known of it when I was young and optimistic myself.  I thought it was the perfect scent for falling in love – and then the moment that thought occurred to me, I became terribly sad that I was no longer that young, optimistic, in-love person.

Heliotrope tends to make me unaccountably wistful. 

The second time I wore Aimez-Moi, and every time since then, the entire experience was cheerful.  No sadness – which after all had more to do with my life than with this scent – at all. 

 If Apres l’Ondee is a silk chiffon scarf in lavender and silver, Aimez-Moi is a fluffy, girly sweater in mauve and pale silvery purple, cuddly as a basketful of blue-eyed kittens.  It is a fairly quiet scent, and not very sweet beyond the brief initial blast of weirdness.  It’s also good for what I like to call a “handkerchief scent,” one that’s feminine and unobtrusive enough for spritzing your linen handkerchief before tucking it into your purse.  If you just said to yourself, “Tucking a what into my what?” then it’s possible that Aimez-Moi may not be for you.  But, of course, I might be wrong, and who am I to say that biker chicks in black leather who carry wallets chained to their belt loops might not love it? 

Notes for Aimez-Moi, which was composed by Dominique Ropion (Dominique, will you marry me? I’d at least like to thank you for Carnal Flower, Alien, Ysatis, Jungle L’Elephant, Safari and Une Fleur de Cassie, as well as Aimez-Moi) and released in 1996:   Top notes include bergamot, star anise, mint, and violet.  Middle notes are jasmine, iris, magnolia, vanilla, peach, rose.  Basenotes are musk, amber, woody notes and heliotrope.  What I mostly smell, as I mentioned, is anise, violet, rose, vanilla and heliotrope. 

I bought a small 1-ounce bottle for about $17 at one of the discounters, and I’ve been very happy with it.  I was lucky enough to discover one of the pretty, original-release bottles; it looks like an ornate Victorian cushion with tassels on each corner, interpreted in cut glass.  I don’t care much for the standard Caron bottles, and have been known to call them “butt-ugly,” but who cares about ugly bottles when the scent inside them is so pretty?

A few more reviews for your consideration: Robin at Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Marina at Perfume-Smellin’ Things .  Tania Sanchez, in Perfumes: The Guide, says of Aimez-Moi (****)  that it “begins with a pretty fresh violet and ends in sweet powdery vanilla, and has a humor and cheer largely missing from Caron’s current lineup of feminines.”

Images of Aimez-Moi ad and bottle from Fragrantica.  Image of Liquorice Allsorts from Wikimedia Commons.

Share