Tuesday Roundup on Wednesday

(Okay, I really have to stop kicking the poor Tuesday Roundup all over the week.  Sorryaboutthat.)  This week’s roundup is a collection of Liz Zorn Perfumes/Soivohle fragrances I sampled recently.

The first thing I have to say about Soivohle fragrances is that honestly, Liz comes up with some seriously great scent names. Daybreak Violin? Love Speaks Primeval? Writing Lyrical Poetry? Bottleneck Blues, Violets and Rainwater, Tobacco and Tulle, Harbinger? All wonderful, surprising, evocative, completely fabulous names. I love them.  Best. Names. Ever in the perfume world.

Lilas et Narcissus – Why this is not called ‘Lilas et Narcisse’ I do not know. I get a little disconcerted by mixed-language names, to be honest, and I’m not sure whether this is a deliberate mixing of French and English or something clever that I’m missing the point of.  The other lilac scents I’ve tried from Soivohle were called Lilacs and Heliotrope and Lilacs and Roses (the latter  unavailable at this point), so the reason for this one not being Lilacs and Narcissus escapes me.

So on to the scent: it’s a pretty lilac scent with some green notes and the sweet haylike aspect of narcissus. I love me some narcissus, but this scent doesn’t have enough of it to make a big impact. It’s not air-freshener, and it is a very pretty floral, but it didn’t move me.

Rosa sur Reuse – again, one with a name that confused me. “Sur” means “above” or “on top of” in French, but what does “reuse” mean in French? Nothing, that’s what. I finally made the connection that would have been apparent to me if there had been an apostrophe in front of the Reuse: it’s rose atop tubereuse, rose on ‘reuse, geddit? Clearly apparent from the notes, by the way, which include raspberry, rose, tuberose, violet, spicy notes and “light Oriental base.”

If you’re looking at that list of notes and thinking, “meh, fruity floral,” you’re dead wrong. Yes, there are fruit (an intensely jammy, rich berry note) and florals (deep rose and tuberose), but this thing is really, to my nose, a spicy, cinnamony Oriental decorated with a drizzle of raspberry coulis and a sprinkling of petals. You know me and spicy Orientals: I kinda really hate ’em. Opium, Cinnabar, Obsession, Youth Dew? GAH. Just Kill Me Now.

But this? This, I like. It’s rich and fuzzy and warm without all that muddiness, that tar-and-moldy-tarpaulin thing you get in those other orientals I mentioned. Rosa sur Reuse is all… hmm. If you saw the film “Chicago,” it’s Queen Latifah as Mama Morton, all dressed up to sing in the nightclub, complete with ostrich-feather fan and satin-framed cleavage: sassy, flirty, bigger than life, intentionally sexy. Yum.  For another take on Rosa sur Reuse, here’s a review courtesy of the Divine Miss Musette at Perfume Posse (with a side of Man Candy, if you like that sort of thing.)

Harbinger – I didn’t even look at the notes list for this when I ordered a sample, I loved the name so much. At the beginning, it seems to be a green-citrusy chypre, which is not really my thing, and then it goes really, um, dirty. Cumin and orchid? Gettin’ hot in here, gals. The longer it’s on skin, the riper it gets, to the point of I-need-a-shower-NOW.  Whoa. I mean, it’s beautiful. And really, really filthy. And beautiful.  Liz calls it a “lovely contradiction,” and that’s probably a good if enigmatic description.

Wild Ginger Chai – For once, a straightforwardly descriptive name. The scent? It’s nice, a spicy gourmand. It would probably really excite me in the fall, with all those lovely spicy notes, and it’s light enough that it doesn’t feel too heavy for warmer weather, but it didn’t seize me.

If you have a favorite Soivohle scent, please share. I’ve tried several and found them intriguing, quirky, charming, but so far the only one I really adore is Centennial (Historical Chypre). I could probably come to love Rosa sur Reuse, too.

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Tuesday Roundup Reviews on Friday (plus some random stuff)

Okay, so it’s Friday and I haven’t posted anything of substance this week. I have been horribly busy: the prom dress is done, save for some hand-sewing (look for pictures next week), and we’re having another international visitor this weekend so I’m cleaning the house. Eisenhower Fellowships is sending us a French financial guy named Pascal, and he’s a big Thomas Jefferson fan, so The CEO will be taking him around the University of Virginia and Monticello on Saturday. Don’t know what we’ll do on Sunday – I have a community chorus concert presenting Haydn’s “The Creation” Sunday afternoon and Monday evening, and I have a solo recitative (it’s the one that leads into The Heavens Are Telling, if you’re familiar), and The CEO has apparently given me his sniffles, so pray I don’t get any sicker between now and Sunday.

I’d love to write a review of The Hunger Games, both the book series and the movie (oooh, that Josh Hutcherson, such a cutie) but it will have to wait until I have time.

Taz spent his Christmas money on a new Nerf gun the other day – an N-Strike Longshot – and then Gaze spent his on a fully-automatic one called the N-Strike Stampede, which takes six D cells… I foresee that their cousin Curiosity may be in for an ambush the next time he visits. (Check out the Nerf website pictures here – these guys take their toy guns very, very seriously!

On to the mini-reviews:

Bond #9 Fire Island – this is the scent that was meant to smell of the classic French suntan lotion Ambre Solaire, and it does smell appropriately beachy. Jasmine, tuberose, that “solar musk,” and perhaps a bit of coconut. It doesn’t smell particularly perfumey, and I can see a certain type of customer really falling hard for this concoction. Really, what this reminds me of is Jennifer Aniston’s (in)famously not-perfumey perfume, except with a better grade of raw materials, and if you remember, I thought that was overpriced, so you better bet I think the Bond #9 is completely ridiculous on the price scale. I might like it better if I were more of a beach person, but I’m just not.

By Kilian Asian Tales collection: The other day, I received a lovely package from France with somebody else’s name above my address, and it seems that those lovely people at By Kilian have sent out preview samples of the latest releases (yay!) but somebody screwed up the mailing list (boo). Anyway, I was glad to see this nice little sample presentation explaining the idea behind each of these new scents.

By Kilian Bamboo Harmony – the description of this scent is “the olfactive impression of a subtle sip of white tea taken in the heart of a bamboo… a moment of spirituality.” I’m a little nonplussed at the idea of tea being spiritual, but hey, I’m not Japanese. One look at the notes list (bergamot, bigarade, neroli, white tea leaf, mimosa, spices, maté essence, fig leaf and oakmoss) and I knew that this one would just not suit me. I don’t really care for these pale green atmospheric unisex woody things, and I tend to hate fig leaf anyway. As far as these pale green atmospheric unisex woody things go, Bamboo Harmony isn’t bad. It smells nice. But like Hermes Jardin sur le Nil and Maison Martin Margiela Untitled, it bores me silly, and I suspect that I just don’t have the patience to smell Zen-like.

By Kilian Water Calligraphy – the packaging states, “Water Calligraphy is an olfactive impression of an aquatic flower sitting next to a pond of water lilies… a moment of delicacy.” I expected this one would be slightly more to my liking given its more floral character (grapefruit zest, reseda blossom, water lily, jasmine sambac, magnolia, cardamom, vetiver). I do like it. It smells nice. It is aquatic, but not in that heavily Calone-y way that we all seem to be sick of (and, really, what does that mean, an aquatic blossom next to water lilies?? water lilies are aquatic blossoms). But I also feel that I’ve smelled this, or something like it, many times before. Again, the raw materials smell somewhat natural, so it’s like the high-end version of something else.

Members of a Facebook perfume group were commenting the other day about these two that they are quite pleasant and also quite derivative. One person said they were “Kilian does Hermessences,” and someone else said they were “Kilian does Aqua Allegorias,” and my personal feeling is that they’re “Kilian does Jo Malones.” These are both very light, very spare and delicate, which is in keeping with the Asian Tales sensibility. But I find them uncompelling, and I’d like a little more character in my fragrances.

Photos from Fragrantica, except photo of the adorable Josh as Peeta Mellark from Yahoo Movies.

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

I went malling this week! Here’s the first installment of mini-reviews for the Top 20 Bestselling Women’s Fragrances in the US for 2011.  (Thanks again for the push, Ari.)  All images are from Fragrantica.

Chanel No. 5 – I have a long history of familiarity with No. 5, and reviewed the parfum here.  I have been wont to grab a spritz or two from the tester when I breeze through the mall (it’s not often, but that’s a whole ‘nother story). I tried the EdP last summer and was surprised that I did not like it much; there’s an odd plasticky sort of accord in the drydown that seems out of place and just plain wrong. In Perfumes: The Guide, Luca Turin says that the EdP composition contains Polysantol, described as “the oily and prodigiously durable sandalwood drydown of Samsara.” (I didn’t mind Samsara so much, but I do admit that it smelled cheap to me, which I declare to be unforgivable in a Guerlain.) My store doesn’t have a parfum tester, so I make do with the EdT, which is still lovely and instantly identifiable as No. 5. I begin to wonder whether so many people continue to buy it because it is a) Chanel, the epitome of “classy” to so many Americans, b) despite reformulation, still smells mostly like itself, thus c) recognizable. No. 5 still has its furious whirlwind of soapy-whooshy aldehydes, and its golden-glow floral heart of rose, jasmine and ylang. It’s still worth wearing.

Coco Mademoiselle – this, as regular readers might remember, is the other fragrance, besides Dune, that my younger sister has forever banned me from wearing because she’s claimed it as hers. What she hadn’t realized is that her Coco Mlle is safe from me: I don’t like it. I smell it on a lot of women our age (30s and 40s) in this area, and I don’t like it on them, and I sure don’t like it on me. It’s a patchouli bomb on me, with a sharp screechiness to the topnotes and a muddy indistinctness to the floral notes. I wore it every day for about two weeks in 2011, connecting with a character I was writing whose signature scent it was. (Would it surprise you to find that I took an intense dislike to the character and stalled out on writing her story?) Continue reading Top 20 Bestselling Women’s Fragrances of 2011 in the US, part I of the mini-reviews

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Tuesday Roundup: Serge Lutens Mini-reviews, Part 3

This is the latest round of Serge Lutens testing, with results as follows. Blue, I love. Pink, I like. 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.   Thanks again to everybody kind enough to send me samples… and you might have to remind me who you are, because my older emails are just buried in this insane pile…

Arabie – curry spices and amber and woods, very rich and almost edible but almost sweaty, too. I like smelling it, but not on my skin. I’d rather smell this smell in a house where I’ve been invited to dinner.

Continue reading Tuesday Roundup: Serge Lutens Mini-reviews, Part 3

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