Mini-Reviews Roundup, Feb. 2017

Le Galion La Rose – a 2014 reorchestration of a 1950 fragrance, La Rose is not the soliflore I’d thought it would be. It is warm and woody, and yes, rosy. Very attractive, comfortable, pleasant; more interesting than a plain rosewater scent but I find it quite comforting.

Head notes | Bergamot, Violet Leaf
Heart notes | Rose, Ylang Ylang, Water Peach, Royal Lily
Base notes | Cedar, Patchouli, Vanilla, Musk

I have no idea what “water peach” is, but La Rose doesn’t accent any peachy notes. It’s not particularly vanilla-y either, which is refreshing. I mean, a gourmandy rose-vanilla is always nice (Rochas Tocade, Lush Rose Jam, Montale White Aoud, etc., etc.), but this one is mainly fresh pink rose and soft woods. Very lovely. Lasting power is about average for an eau de parfum on me, 4-5 hours, and the sillage is mild to moderate. €140 for 100ml, €9 for a 6.5ml mini at the Le Galion website.

Short reviews at What Men Should Smell Like and Colognoisseur.

Dame Perfumery Desert Rose – A bit of overlap here with the Le Galion, but… you know. Rose. Duh. I’m always a sucker.

Dame Perfumery says this about it: “A blend of Turkish rose otto and Damascenia Rose with touches of peach, Sicilian lemon, Egyptian jasmine, geranium, carnation, heliotrope, sandalwood, musk, amber and vanilla.  For a woman, mostly.”

I suppose in my mind, a desert rose would be dry, but Desert Rose is quite pleasantly fresh and dewy, at least for the first half. I was thinking that “Damascenia Rose” was a typo, since I had only ever seen it written “damascena.” Turns out that Damascenia is a Firminich molecule. Whatever it is, it’s really pretty in this fragrance, which does smell fairly natural. I get little touches of peach in it, as well as carnation, but as it wears on, the whole thing goes a bit soapy. $85 for 100ml edp spray, $35 for 10ml oil rollerball, $10 for $5ml edp spray.

Short reviews at The Scented Hound and Scent of Abricots.

The fancy engraved bell jar, which is even pricier than the regular $300 one.

Serge Lutens De Profundis – I had only a vague memory of testing this one before — you know me, not the biggest Serge Fangrrl — and wanted to retry it. I am completely ignoring the wacko Serge description (death, chrysanthemums, carnality at the graveside ew ew ew, no, I’m not quoting it here) and the letter Oscar Wilde wrote to his bosom buddy Lord Alfred Douglas from prison, which is the purported inspiration for the fragrance. And maybe the Fleurs du Mal Baudelaire reference too.

To be honest, the backstory put me off trying the fragrance seriously for a long time. Instead, I have focused on the “Out of the deep” movement from John Rutter’s Requiem. The Rutter is one of my favorite choral pieces, and it is somber and gorgeous and ethereal. And then there’s the J.S. Bach setting of Psalm 130, also wonderful. (FYI, there are two Bach settings of this text, and it’s not Cantata BWV 131 but BWV 38 that I remember.)

“Life!” by Mohan Nellore at Flickr, some rights reserved.

De Profundis the fragrance does not move me the way the Rutter does, but it is very very pretty. Yes, I just called a Lutens “pretty,” and I’m not takin’ it back. It’s pretty, y’all. Shaddup. It is both bold and tender at the same time, quite floral and cool and meditative, and while that may be because I don’t associate any particular flower with funerals, still. I like chrysanthemums in flower, and I like them in this fragrance along with the carnation and the violets and the incense.

I could wish for better projection and longevity from this one, at least from a heftily-dabbed sample. Maybe it’s better with a spray application, but I got about three hours’ wear and very little sillage.

De Profundis will run you $300 for a 75ml bell jar at the Serge Lutens website.  (Ow. And that’s for the plain one, so nope.)

Other reviews: Grain de Musc, Kafkaesque, Bois de Jasmin, Scents of Self, Patty at Perfume Posse.

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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!

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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.

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The Return of Mini-Review Roundup!! June 4, 2013

YAY! I finally feel like writing mini-reviews.

Osmanthus fragrans 'Fudingzhu'Parfums d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite – Sadly, I cannot remember who sent me this lovely decant (scatterbrain!), but I am enjoying it in this warm weather.  I have only smelled live osmanthus/tea olive blossoms once, and that was briefly, when we visited South Carolina a few years ago, in swellllltering heat.  I only recall that they smelled wonderful.  Osmanthus Interdite contains a good slug of rose as well as apricotty osmanthus, and it is primarily floral with a fruity overtone.  Fragrantica says the notes are : Fruity accord, apricot, tea, osmanthus, jasmine, rose, leather and musk. There’s nothing of Luca Turin’s vaunted “apricot/suede/soap/tea” accord here – well, maybe a hint of tea, but no soap (and I get soap out of a lot of fragrances, many more than I’d like) and no leather.  Oh well. Because this is very beautiful, and lasts several hours on me.  I’m still trying to find something that smelled like a shower gel I had in the late 80s called “Peach Rose Hyacinth” – and this is not quite it, but it’s close.

Isn't this a delightful montage?
Isn’t this a delightful montage?

Vero Profumo Mito – this is my first foray into the world of Vero Kern’s highly personal and well-regarded fragrances. Bloggers and fumeheads of my acquaintance raved about this scent when it was first released, and I thought, “Hey, good for Vero, everybody loves it, doesn’t sound like my cuppa.” I heard “woody” and “citrusy” and “mossy,” and I knew that didn’t even vaguely resemble something I’d wear.  But here’s the full notes list: Citruses, galbanum, champaca, jasmine, magnolia, hyacinth, cypress, moss.  Toss the galbanum and all those white flowers in, and you come closer to something I find compatible – and thank goodness, that’s what I get. Yes, there is citrus, but it burns off pretty quickly for me. Lots of white florals, lots of moss, some galbanum and a resiny fir thing, and the entire scent seems so very retro-1970s in such a lovely way. The scent seems to call for white gloves and a sheath dress, and it isn’t something I’d be terribly comfortable in, but it really is wonderful. Calls up the ghost of Miss Dior and just smells so nice. Would be great on men as well.

(Image from "This Means War." Stolen from somewhere online, can't find it now, sorry.)
(Image from “This Means War.” Stolen from somewhere online and cropped, can’t find it now, sorry.)

Amouage Memoir Woman EXTRAIT – Yes, they make some Amouages in extrait, be still my beating heart. My wallet is running and hiding now – I think they go for something like $700 per 50ml, way way way out of my budget. Whoa. Y’all know I love Memoir W in edp (see my original long-winded review here), and when Dear Daisy the Queen Enabler sent me a bit of the extrait and I put a dab on my thumb, it put paid to my getting anything productive done the rest of the day. Because this thing damps down the Serge-Noire-y herbal stuff and the gorgeous white florals (which I do love, really) in favor of the rugged basenotes, like leather and moss and styrax and labdanum. And leather. Did I say leather? Honey, this thang is like Tom Hardy in a leather jacket.  I mean, stop the horses.  Overall I prefer the edp, but the extrait is another beast entirely.

Okay, Rose de Siwa smells like rose. But it also smells like the Sarah Bernhardt peonies I love. I have a huge bouquet on my table right NOW.
Okay, Rose de Siwa smells like rose. But it also smells like the Sarah Bernhardt peonies I love. I have a huge bouquet on my table right NOW.

Parfums MDCI Rose de Siwa – Ahhh, pink roses. Pink dewy roses and peonies, in the morning, so fresh and pretty that you can’t help falling a little bit in love.  I have steadfastly ignored every MDCI that’s come down the pike – I originally said Amouage was too rich for my blood, and now I own a bottle of Memoir, a hefty decant of Lyric, and a small one of Ubar, having fallen hard, so I have insisted that I don’t need any more spendy loves. But this one could change my mind. For one thing, it’s composed by Francis Kurkdjian, and I generally have very good luck with his output. For another, this smells in spirit very much like my beloved Sarah Bernhardt peonies (I think all peonies should be light pink, because I am prejudiced!), which happen to be huuuuuge this year, blooms seven inches across and I’m not joking. They are gorgeous.  Peonies remind me of my grandmother Nell, who grew them, my grandmother Sarah Lou, who loved them and called them “pinies,” my sister, who used them in her wedding, and my daughter, whose birthday coincides with their blooming.  The notes list for Rose de Siwa includes, yes, peony, litchi, hawthorn, rose, violet, cedar, vetiver and musk.  I repeat, gorgeous. If a bottle of this fell from the sky I would give a bit of it to every woman in my family, so we could smell realistic peonies and sigh together.

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Mini-Review Roundup, Friday, March 22, 2013: three from Olympic Orchids

Woot! Two in a row. Guess that’s why it’s “random.”

Have been wearing rose chypres for the past few days, the louder the better: L’Arte di Gucci, Lumiere Noire pour femme, Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges. I only have a sample of the Ballets Rouges, and it’s almost gone, but I really like it.

I don’t think I’ve actually reviewed any of the Olympic Orchids samples I have on hand, and that’s probably because one of them sort of traumatized me. Remember my whining about Tauer Orange Star being Death by Tang Dust? Well, Olympic Orchids Golden Cattleya, despite being adored by a couple of fume bloggers I love to read – Portia Turbo of Australian Perfume Junkies and Victoria of EauMG – did its darndest to kill me, as a sort of Death By Tang Dust Plus Honey-Schweet Overdose.  And so, despite loving Ballets Rouges, I let the other OO samples languish. Skeered, you know?

red roses architectureBut I just got a couple of them out again and tried them on skin, so here are some mini-reviews. Ballets Rouges  is really lovely, a true old-school rose chypre with some labdanum in the base and a hint of something intensely fruity, like super-concentrated jam, streaking by at the speed of light from time to time throughout the duration of the scent experience.  It reminds me quite a bit of the wonderful Soivohle Centennial, but it’s clearer, without the angora soft-focus fuzz of Centennial, and it’s rosier, less of a floral mix.  I could live in this one, on days when I want to be luxuriously larger than life. Notes for this one: Bergamot, aldehydes, thyme, mandarin, fresh rose accord, rose de mai, ylang, musk, oakmoss, patchouli, labdanum.

golden cattleyaGolden Cattleya – and I should be clear here, I’m not familiar with varying orchid smells, except the Sharry Baby one that smells like milk chocolate, and that mostly because of the uber-girly LeLong Pour Femme – has notes of narcissus, orange fruit, orange blossom, honey, pollen, cream soda, amber, labdanum, vanilla, musks, and sandalwood. What it mostly smells like to me is a very very syrupy-sweet Creamsicle, extremely honeyed, and it wafts like crazy. Crazy, I tell you. Beeeeg sillage.  Also, big Tang Dust Effect, as I mentioned, and the longer it’s on, the more I start to feel like I’ve eaten too much midway food at the fair, so although a lot of people like this one it is just sort of frightening for me.

Pot. Miya's Radiance 'Red Beauty'Red Cattleya is a fruity-fruity-fruity floral – that is, it starts out very fruity, with honeydew melon and peach, and then gradually slides into a fresh springlike floral that still remains quite sweet.  I usually do quite well with fruity florals, and the fruit in this is not your fake-froot stuff, but the realistic fruit notes seem nevertheless to have been drenched in honey. Can’t do it. Notes for this one: citrus, peach, apricot, melon, hyacinth, gardenia, violets, lilac, musk, exotic wood, vanilla.

I still have Little Stars and Javanica to test, so we’ll see how those go.

Happy Friday to you!

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Mini-Review Roundup: Alkemia Fragrances, part 1

Alkemia Fragrances is an Etsy shop which I found recently when doing a search for “incense perfume.” Simple, eh? There were a few other perfumes listed, but Alkemia has several with prominent incense notes, and so I decided that a five-piece sample as well as a small 5ml bottle of the current special, Yuletide Blessing, might be a fun way to explore the business.

I hadn’t heard of Alkemia before, but then there are quite a number of small independent fragrance shops that have hung out their shingle at Etsy. JoAnne Bassett, A Wing and a Prayer Perfumes, Roxana Illuminated Perfumes, and Sweet Anthem are all indie perfumers who do a brisk business over on  Etsy, which is a haven for handcrafted and beautifully-made items, a marketplace for people who make terrific things out of their kitchens or sewing rooms or garages. Check it out – who knows what wonderful, unique items you might find?

Alkemia offers fragrance oils only, similar to Possets or Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (two indies the serious perfumista might already know). Even DSH Perfumes, which has in the last few years moved into what I’d call “higher-end indie” along with Tauer Perfumes and Aftelier, started out in Boston with scented oils. Dawn still makes tons of items in oil, too. I’ll be honest here and comment that I don’t generally prefer them, since they can be very reticent and close to the skin on me, and sometimes I want to waft just a little. Some people find longevity very good with oils; my skin tends to be drier, so I generally don’t get any more length of wear out of them than, say, a potent EdP, i.e., four to six hours.

I was immediately captivated by the lovely image attending Yuletide Blessing (currently on sale at $5 for 5ml, plus shipping, as a year-end thank-you to customers from Alkemia’s owner, Sharra – but hurry, the price is only good as long as supplies last). The description appealed to me, too:

An incantation of traditional Yuletide offerings to welcome the return of the sun and bring blessings for the coming year – bayberry for wealth, pine for health, cedar for protection, cinnamon for good luck, bay for wisdom, cloves for friendship, frankincense for gratitude, myrrh for material abundance, apple for love, and orange peel for a happy home.

It sounded like a really nice candle, to be honest. And that’s all right, because sometimes you just want a nice home fragrance, something that smells like Christmas. I love the smells of Christmas. Yuletide Blessing delivers on that front, too. It starts out a little heavy on the fruit – apple and orange can be a little overwhelming, and the orange does get a bit into that “Tang dust/baby aspirin” effect that I struggle with, but within about twenty minutes it’s calmed down and the spices and other woody notes come forth. I don’t smell frankincense distinctly; perhaps it’s dovetailing with that pine note, but the effect is nice. Definitely no Pine-Sol or fake pine-tree car air-freshener here. The myrrh, however, is prominent to my nose along with the spices.

When I asked for opinions from my kids, Gaze said, “Smells like gingerbread cake. I’m getting a lot of spices and vanilla. Do I smell cardamom?” And Bookworm said, “Hey, that smells like a candle! A really nice one.” Heh. Guess you know what kind of candles I like, now. As a matter of fact, I never bother with them in warm weather, so the ones I own tend to be things like “Frosted Gingerbread” and “Spiced Pumpkin” from places like Target or Wal-Mart, or the delightful “Winter” from Bath and Body Works. I also have a couple of cherished “Noel” candles from Annick Goutal, so you see that my candle scent choices focus on spices with citrus, pine, woods, and/or incense. And it may be this experience with candle fragrances affecting my perception, but Yuletide Blessing strikes me as being less a personal fragrance than one designed for the home.

But I say that’s perfectly fine. Sometimes you just want the house to smell like Christmas. I’ve been using a drop or two in simmering water, along with a clementine peel or two (yay, it’s clementine season! We’ll be eating them until they run out our ears!), to scent the house.

The longer this is on skin, the more delightful and dark and incensey it gets.  Niiiiice.

Les Mysteres is next up. Alkemia’s description: “Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward, Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness, Where everything happens invisible.” – D.H. Lawrence Les Mysteres is an opulent, resinous blend of aged frankincense, black figs, labdanum, dark amber, Russian tea, swirled with a trio of sensual musks.

Regular readers are thinking, “Waitaminnit, Mals hates fig perfumes.” And I do. I love eating figs, and I like fig fruit in perfumes, but fig leaf gives me hissy fits. There is something cold and poisonously green about fig leaf that I cannot stand, and cannot explain. I mean, I like galbanum and coconut, for heaven’s sake! Why fig leaf, with its bitter, milky-green aspect, bothers me is anybody’s guess. I scrubbed Philosykos. I walked around with Premier Figuier as far away from my nose as possible, until it wore off, and then I gave that sample away fast, baby. Sonoma Scent Studio’s Fig Tree, which Laurie Erickson was kind enough to send me a sample of along with one of her lovely Nostalgie, did not please me either, and quite a number of people loved that one. I didn’t mind B&BW Brown Sugar Fig, which my sister wore for some time, though I wouldn’t have worn it myself.

Les Mysteres appealed because it seemed from the description to concern itself with fig fruit, along with several deep rich notes that might counteract the effect of any wayward homicidal fig leaf. On skin? Well, yeah, fig leaf tried to pop out of the woodwork and throttle me, and things were a bit iffy for a good half an hour. With all those rich basenotes in there, I was expecting a warm decadent smell, a sensual heavy-lidded labdanum. But instead, it’s Lotsa Fig Leaf. I never got a strong labdanum presence in it, though the tea was there. And very little amber – instead of being sweet and rich, it’s green and (okay, yeah) mysterious. Not my cuppa fig tea, though if you like dry dark fragrances, it might be for you.

I just discovered that apparently Salma Hayek is fond of Les Mysteres, which is actually pretty interesting. Salma Hayek has probably got a bank account that could handle a multiple-bottle purchase of Amouage, or those exclusive boutiquey Guerlains like Vega (ooh, love Vega!), but instead she’s buying and wearing $12 fragrance oils from Etsy. How cool is that?

(Okay, full disclosure: if I could swing a multiple-bottle purchase of Amouage, I’d want… well, I already own Memoir Woman, and I’d love to back up my disappearing 15ml decant of Lyric Woman, but that’s it. And Guerlain? I already have Shalimar Light and Chamade and a mini of Pamplelune. I do want Vega. And maybe the pretty-but-overpriced Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique. And that’s all. Actually, I just disproved my own point, so nyevah mind.)

Falling Stars at Winter Solstice was the next one I tried. Alkemia’s description: Walking into a wooded clearing, you look up in wonder at thousands of stars across the darkened sky. Suddenly, a falling star streaks across the sky, so low you can almost touch it. Catch your breath. Make a wish. Aromatic balsam needles, a dab of dark musk, sweet myrrh, incense resins, melted snow and a touch of cabin woodstove smoke.

The balsam needles are prominent in the opening, as I’d thought they might be, and there is a whiff of something cold in there along with the woodsmoke. This reminds me of a more-outdoorsy CdG Zagorsk, or Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods, and it’s really delightful. Cold, smoky, woody, but warm underneath, the sort of thing that makes you want to breathe in the cold air a much as you can. There is a balsamy sweetness underneath, maybe the sweet myrrh (opoponax). Very nice. Very wintery, which you’d expect given the name. I think I’d leave it in the cabinet come March, and be dying to get it out again in October.

La Belle Epoque is sort of an outlier in this group, which I mostly chose in the hope of finding something daringly different. This one isn’t. That is, La Belle Epoque is very much my usual style, i.e., The Big Girly Floral. Alkemia’s description: A complex floriental homage to the opulent elegance of Gilded Age femininity. A glorious blend of precious florals including jasmine sambac, tuberose, iris, rose, and lily of the valley blended with plum, apricot, tahitian vanilla, blonde amber, bitter almond, and oakmoss on a soft bed of delightfully powdery musks. Outrageously romantic.

This could have been a big floofy mess, what with the fruity notes and the vanilla and all those big ol’ flirty florals. Instead, it’s lovely. Very Marie-Antoinette, very Petit Trianon, all rouge-cheeked shepherdesses with powdered wigs and yards of ribbon and gilded crooks, no sheep manure anywhere. If you just threw up in your mouth a little, La Belle Epoque is not for you. This one, though, seems to suffer a little from the influence of whatever’s being used as a carrier oil. There is a stale, waxy feeling to it that doesn’t seem connected to the fragrance notes, and I’m wishing for an EdP instead of oil format. Oh well. It might be pretty great used as bath oil.

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Scent Diary, Nov. 5-11, 2012

Sorry for the delay in posting – people have been sick here and I’m busy with other stuff… also, no photos or links today. They take TOO MUCH DANG TIME.

Monday, Nov. 5 – Gah, it is Monday. Gah, I am so far behind on NaNoWriMo that I don’t think I’m going to catch up, and I am strongly tempted to bail on the whole thing. Probably should. SOTD: Le Temps d’une Fete.

Tuesday, Nov. 6 – Another frosty day. I am really going to have to cut and cart away all the dead annuals in the front yard; they look terrible. SOTM: Comme des Garcons Eau de Parfum, the newish one in the bottle that looks like a melted light bulb and purports to contain notes of packaging tape (I love the smell of packaging tape). Actually, it is a) sort of nauseating, in that I-can’t-identify-this-but-it’s-making-me-sick sort of way, and b) boring. Essentially, it’s a dull floral. Reminds me somewhat of the dull floral hiding under the skeevy stuff in Secretions Magnifiques. And why bother with that? Bleargh.

I voted. It took me longer than it’s ever taken me before: 35 minutes from the time I walked out of the house until the time I walked back in. I had to wait in line for awhile. I’ll confess: I wasn’t happy with either one of the major-party candidates for President, and don’t feel compelled by any one of the minor parties on my ballot (Libertarian, Green, Conservative). I voted for the candidate who has slightly more in common with my values and stance on issues, according to my conscience. That’s all I can do.

Looking at the news on TV and Internet, and reading comments by friends on FB, it seems that the country is more divided than ever (well, since the Civil War, anyway, and see how much fun THAT was? At least SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND soldiers dead, not including civilians who starved to death) ideologically. And I’m wondering: is victory sweeter when the margin is closer? Is it more fun to win when there are so many people who disagree with you? You’d think so, given the gloating. (I already knew, from watching The CEO’s thirty-five-year devotion to the Red Sox, that losing stings worse when winning is juuust outside your grasp. And the losers are being pretty gosh-darned whiny about it.) #sosickofpolitics!!

SOTA: DSH Prophecy, a nice incense-amber thingy cushioned with Dawn’s usual soft musk base, which I tend to like. It’s in oil format, and I’m wondering if it would be more forthcoming in EdP. At least I smell good. Continue reading Scent Diary, Nov. 5-11, 2012

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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.

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More Serge testing

Un Bois Vanille Serge Lutens for women

This is the latest round of Serge Lutens testing, with results as follows. Blue, I love. Pink, I like. Orange, I’m neutral on. Green, I dislike. Purple, I despise. Beyond La Myrrhe, there’s not a single SL fragrance that I am dying to own – so far, anyway.

Daim Blonde – opens up very, verynicely – apricot jam and a bit of jasmine, and I can smell the suede note too. Unfortunately, it spends about an hour and a half smelling like shaving cream amber, which is a definite no-go for me, before settling for a light woody-suede drydown. I’m waffling between Like and Dislike on this one, so I think I’ll have to add a new category for “meh,” or neutral.

Douce Amere – “Bittersweet” is not usually my thing except in love stories and chocolate, so I was pleasantly surprised by Douce Amere. It’s sort of like a grown-up Caron Aimez-Moi, less floral and less girly, and since I have tired of the powdery vanilla at the bottom of Aimez-Moi while still liking the violet-anise-rose top of it, I’m finding that I enjoy Douce Amere’s stronger anise-tonka-wood accord much more.

Serge Noire – another one I was expecting to hate hate hate. I read the list of notes, and I read Kevin’s hilarious review at NST, and I just knew I was going to hate it.  (Tom at PST liked it much better.)  Well, snatch me baldheaded: I like it! I’m not sure I could actually wear the thing, but it reminds me very strongly of the opening of Memoir Woman, which I absolutely love (though I admit that without the gorgeous white floral heart, I would not like Memoir). I do actually find the whole medicinal, cold-hot, apothecary-shop cast of it very interesting, and I like smelling it. As a perfume, though, a smell to intentionally put on skin? Too weird, dude. I call it pink anyway.

Un Bois Vanille – this one’s pretty terrific, all woody and roasted and so very very comfortable.  Oddly, this is marketed to women (according to Fragrantica), but I’d call it unisex, myself.  Actually, UBV should be worn by awesomely-devoted-and-reliable men who are not exactly drop-dead sexy but very appealing anyway (Team Peeta, anyone? join me!).  Un Bois Vanille only suffers because I ran across Smell Bent One first. SB One is much spicier, not nearly as dark and roasty as UBV, but the thing is, if forced to choose, I would probably prefer spice to espresso. Especially when “spice” is $40 a bottle, and “espresso” is $180. However, if my fairy godmother wrapped a bottle of Un Bois Vanille in sparkly blue Cinderella satin and tulle and left it on the seat of my created-from-a-pumpkin minivan, I’d certainly wear it.

This was a good bunch.   In terms of my personal absolute loves, though? Patricia de Nicolai is STILL kicking Uncle Serge’s butt, even though Uncle Serge has many, many more wares for me to choose from, and even though they vary so widely and are so inventive, for which we must give him all massive due credit.

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Top 20 Bestselling Women’s Fragrances of 2011 in the US: part II of the mini-reviews

Here’s the second installment of mini-reviews of the most popular women’s fragrances in the US last year.  For Part I, click here, and for the description of the original project, click here.

Estee Lauder Knowing – I once owned a miniature bottle of Knowing parfum, and it was glorious for two hours: rosy-green chypre with plenty of moxie and plenty of waft. There is a ton of green stuff in here, with some sharp green bergamot, some rich patchouli, some galbanum and moss and woody notes, and there is a full delicious rose with some mimosa for depth.  After two hours, though, Knowing begins to make me feel physically ill. (I traded away that mini, feeling really happy about getting it into some appreciative hands.) Resmelling it in EdP on my skin, I had much the same experience – gorgeous for two hours, and then immediately nauseating.

My aunt wears this, and she smells wonderful, both elegant and warm. This is the aunt who just retired from a 35-year career as a chemist, and I always thought she smelled the way I would expect a “career woman” to smell: like she has good taste and won’t put up with any nonsense, even-tempered, secure in herself. I’m beginning to realize that if I apply Estee Lauder scents to fabric, they smell whole and coherent, rather than the sickening mess they degenerate into on my skin. Dear Estee, it’s not you, it’s me.

Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude – This is really lovely, if quiet, for about ten minutes. Continue reading Top 20 Bestselling Women’s Fragrances of 2011 in the US: part II of the mini-reviews

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