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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Perfume Review: Rochas Tocadilly

 

I ran across the mention of this one back when I was doing that post on lilac scents, and since I couldn’t find a sample anywhere, I went ahead and sprang for a small 1 oz bottle at an online discounter.  Helg at Perfume Shrine loves this thing – here’s her review – and mentions it in comments to a post on wisteria notes by Octavian at 1000 Fragrances.  At the time I bought Tocadilly, my neighbor’s lilac and wisteria bushes were merrily blooming, and I was stopping my car in her driveway every day,  just to have a good sniff (thanks, Debbie!).

Despite the dire warnings of March at Perfume Posse, who calls herself a victim of that Perfume Shrine review, I yanked Tocadilly out of that garish box and sprayed it on.  Lavishly.  Which is not like me, but I had been terribly disappointed by the utter evanescence of En Passant the previous week, and I was determined to actually smell a lilac perfume before the lilac blooms fell.

Tocadilly, with notes of cucumber, lilac, coconut, hyacinth, jasmine and sandalwood, is actually very pleasant.  It is only like En Passant for a very brief moment in the opening, when I smell that watery-cucumbery note over the lilac, and then Tocadilly’s other components settle in.  Where En Passant is transparent and light as air, Tocadilly is clean but more opaque, like the frosted glass of its bottle.  The fragrance is quite congruent with the colors used in the packaging – lavender, blue and green, and although I still hate the cap as much as I hate it on That Slut Tocade, the colors are just right and the bottle feels wonderful in my hand.  There isn’t much relation to Tocade, by the way, other than a tiny tiny hint of Tocade’s smoky vanilla way down in the base of Tocadilly, and a similar light-hearted, “just for fun,” attitude.

If I hoover my wrist, I can detect a pretty lilac note that – miraculously! – does not make me think of air freshener, and a quiet jasmine.  There is also something else vaguely floral which I can only assume is the wisteria note (glycine).  The effect is of very muted, light florals with an aqueous cast.  Helg mentions pear in her review, but I don’t smell that note which I love so much in Goutal’s Petite Cherie.  I don’t smell Calone in there either, but I tend to like Calone in small quantities anyway, having missed the Calone Overdose Years in Perfumedom.  If you are sensitive to watery notes, you’ll probably want to give Tocadilly a miss.  I suspect this watery cast is what many perfumistas, being tired of the plethora of marine fragrances, dislike about it.  There’s also a faintly spicy flavor to the florals here, an almost clovey-anisey angle that I smell in live lilac and hyacinth blossoms.

In the base, and wafting up through the misty florals, is a milky, powdery musk.  I don’t smell the kind of oily sweet coconut I associate with suntan oil and pina coladas, but I am sure the coconut note is providing this smooth milky quality.  There’s also a light woody vanilla note; if there’s real sandalwood in there, I’ll eat my straw hat, but whatever synthetic sandalwood Tocadilly uses, it’s gentle and soft.  Most notable to me about the base is the quality of the musk.  It isn’t listed in the notes, but trust me, it’s there, and it seems to be the same kind of musk that I like so much in Gres Cabaret: cushiony and comfortable while managing never to make me think of detergent.  I have a special dislike for the flat harshness of “laundry musk,” which ruined Ineke’s lilac fragrance After My Own Heart for me, but Tocadilly’s musk I find very pleasant.

The general effect of Tocadilly is of a garden full of lilac and wisteria blooms, just after a rain, when the air is full of moisture and the wafting odors of the blossoms.  I like it very much.  It’s refreshing and gentle, and I have enjoyed wearing it to work several times this spring.  An informal poll indicates that my family, friends and coworkers find it attractive, with no one disliking it.  The descriptions ranged from “flowery” to “clean and fresh.”  Taz said “not bad,” an accolade from him, and Gaze said it was “not very exciting, but nice anyway.”  (I have high hopes for that boy’s tastes.) 

Lasting power is fairly good for an eau de toilette, probably due to that pillowy musk.  I get about four to five hours’ worth of ride, with the gentle type of sillage I like best.  Tocadilly’s getting hard to find, but it was well worth the $19 I paid for my small bottle.  I’ll be wearing it frequently.

Top image of Tocadilly via fragrantica.  Lower image is lilacs-clouds from JeremyOK at flickr.

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