Entertaining Statistics: January 2014

 

I know how it sounds to the most of my readers but I have to say it: we had an unpleasantly warm January. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the light jacket weather as much as the next freezing east coaster would but we really need at least some rain. And +22˚C (71˚F) isn’t a normal temperature for this month even in our region. So now I can’t even pretend that it’s winter and time to wear my winter perfumes.

For this month’s statistics post I asked you to name five niche brands that, in their opinion, are in the “need to know” category for anybody who’s interested in perfumes. I asked the same question in one of the perfume groups on Facebook.

29 people participated on FB and 19 in the blog. 49 brands were named, 26 of them more than once.

Since I know that some people participated both here and there I thought of splitting results by the source but it didn’t change the outcome: both groups, as well as the total, returned the same set of 5 brands, just in slightly different order (numbers in parenthesis – places FB/Blog):

Serge Lutens (1/1)

L’Artisan Parfumeur (4/2)

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle (2/3)

Amouage (3/4)

Parfumerie Générale (5/5)

Stats January 2014

The chart above shows actual number of votes for the top 10 recommended brands. From my original list only Ormonde Jayne didn’t make the cut and moved to the sixth place. I need to get more samples from Parfumerie Générale line and see why it made it to the fifth place.

Out of 52 perfumes I wore or tested in January 17 perfumes were from 5 out of these 10 brands. What was unusual: this month I tried only five perfumes for the first time. Did you come across anything interesting this year?

Rusty had nothing to do with any of the numbers but he has to requite all the compliments he got in the previous post – even without appearing in it! These are pictures of him with perfumes from the “need to know” list.

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Images: my own

N Niche Perfume Brands You Need to Know Right Now

 

Don’t ask me how but a couple of months ago I came across the article 20 Niche Perfume Brands You Need to Know Right Now. As it usually happens, while reading somebody else’s list of anything on a subject you’re interested in, I agreed with some of the choices, disagreed with others and thought of additional nominees. And then I started working on my list and realized that 20 were too many. Not because I can’t easily come up with at least three times as many brands but because even at 20 one starts including brands that are just personal favorites, do not exactly fit the definition or those that are so tiny that position on the list is too big for them.

So I decided to come up with my personal list of five brands. In my selection process I used the following considerations:

  1. The brand should be a true stand-alone brand, not a private/limited/boutique line of a big brand (so not Guerlain, Chanel, Dior or Hermes) or a spin-off under a bigger parent’s umbrella (Tom Ford and Jo Malone are out too).
  2. The brand should have enough perfumes in their range to potentially work for different people (so as much as I love Neela Vermeire Creations or respect vero profumo and Puredistance, these lines are too young to get a spot in the short “must” list).
  3. Brands should be available for testing (directly or through online services) both in the U.S. and Europe (so no tiny artisan brands for this list).

Five Brands

My list of Five Niche Brands You Need to Know (with a brief description of why – not for my regular readers but for future visitors who find my blog through some unexpected searches, e.g. “lily of the valley+cat”):

Serge Lutens (http://www.sergelutens.com/) is probably the ultimate niche perfume brand. It’s bold, unconventional but at the same time still perfumes that you want to wear and not just test, analyze and review. Kafka (Kafkaesque) covered the topic of Serge Lutens – both a persona and a brand – extensively and I urge you to read Part I and Part II of her story.

*

Amouage (http://www.amouage.com/) is an epitome of opulence, luxury and quality. These rich and mostly classic perfumes won’t suit everybody in the modern sheer-smelling world but the brand is worth knowing even just for educational purposes to see how perfumes can be anti-minimalistic and not transparent. Watch four short videos on now smell this in which Christopher Chong, creative director of Amouage, talks about perfume and the brand.

*

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle (http://www.fredericmalle.com/) is the first brand ever to put a perfumer’s name on a bottle. In the world in which a scent IP doesn’t exist it was a huge step towards promoting a creator, an artist and not a money purse. Read Natalie’s (Another Perfume Blog) interview with Frédéric Malle. (UPD: APB is closed now)

*

L’Artisan Parfumeur‘s (http://www.artisanparfumeur.com) perfumes might be not the most innovative (though over years they’ve created some very unusual perfumes) but very wearable, so it is a perfect starter house for anybody who wants to venture from the mainstream perfume market into the niche one. Read Luca Turin’s L’Artisan Parfumeur 30 years later for the tidbits of the house’s history.

*

Ormonde Jayne (http://www.ormondejayne.com/) has a whole line-up of very likable and distinct perfumes at reasonable (for modern niche market) prices. Ormonde Jayne’s perfumes smell modern and classic at the same time. Read a very warm and personable interview with Linda Pilkington by Sigrun (Riktig Parfym) and a recent Andrew Buck’s (Scentrist) chat with her for more information about the brand.

 

So these are my choices of the “need to know” niche perfume brands. Give me your five choices. Do not try to purposefully complement my list: if you agree with all or some of my choices – say so; but feel free to change any or even all brands if you have a different answer to my the question. I’ll try to do something with all the answers for my January statistics post.

 

Image: my own

“My” brand and “not my” brand

 

As I was updating My Perfume Portrait I looked closer at my favorite perfumes from the brands prospective.

In my pre-perfumista life I didn’t even think about brands. I would try all new mainstream perfumes, no matter who’d created them, choose those I wanted to get immediately and those for which I would wait to buy online discounted. Over years I wore Dior, Givenchy, Yves Rocher, Elizabeth Arden and YSL. I might have owned a couple of perfumes from the same brand at the same time but I’m not sure.

The first brand I recognized as such was Jo Malone. I can’t say that all of their perfumes immediately became my favorites but I kept finding more and more perfumes I liked and wanted to wear. Even today Jo Malone’s perfumes dominate my collection with at least 2:1 ratio to any other most popular brands.

Jo Malone in my collection

But while the number of bottles might be a sufficient condition to qualify a brand as “my“, it’s not a necessary one. Taking into the account prices of modern niche perfumes as well as bottle sizes and the size of my collection, a couple of samples or a small decant sometimes is all I need to enjoy the perfume I like. And sometimes I simply have the feeling that the brand is just right for me.

Do you remember how it was for you in the beginning? For me it was an enormous amount of information – names, notes, perfumers and brands.  The first brand I consciously approached three years ago, when I was just starting my voyage into the unknown world of niche perfumery, was Amouage. My first samples order consisted of seven perfumes from the brand; five of them were hits. Amouage is one of “my” brands ever since – even though I can’t add all the perfumes I like to my collection as full bottles.

Rusty and Amouage Memoir

Among other brands that I consider in the same category (not counting new(er) brands with less than five perfumes in the line) are Ormonde Jayne,  Annick Goutal, Atelier Cologne, Tom Ford, Chanel and Dior (exclusive lines from the last two). I do not love or want to wear all of the perfumes from these lines but on average these brands create more perfumes that I (at least) like. These are “my” brands.

On the other end of spectrum there are brands, work of which I respect, find interesting and sometimes even love but in general I feel like those brands are “not my.” By Kilian, Guerlain, Tauer Perfumes, Serge Lutens or Frederic Malle are good examples of such brands. Even though I own several bottles and decants from all these brands, their perfumes don’t work for me more often than they do.

Perfume bottles

If you were to name just two brands – one that is totally you and one that mostly leaves you cold – what would those be?

 

Images: my own

Entertaining Statistics: September, 2012

 

September was warm and pleasant but autumn is already in the air: I start looking at the direction of favorite amber perfumes.

I was swapping a lot of samples with Perfumeland friends so between that and several new releases from favorite brands my testing went up significantly. I included some of the personal stats in the post but this month I decided again to entertain you with some calculations I ran based on Birgit’s (Olfactoria’s Travels) recent Bottle of the Month article (and a generous giveaway). She asked participants to name a favorite flower and a perfume based on it. Picture below is a graphical representation of the choices.

Favorite flowers in perfumes

For those who prefers numbers (flower – number of votes): Rose – 20; Tuberose - 11; Jasmine – 10; Iris – 10 (it was my choice and it correlates to my personal stats numbers for notes below); Lily – 7; Gardenia – 7; Orange blossom – 4; Lilac – 3; Osmanthus – 3; Lily-of-the-valley – 3; Violet – 2; Narcissus – 2; Hyacinth – 2; Tulip – 2; Carnation – 2; other flowers – 11.

 

Quick September stats:

Numbers in parenthesis are comparison to the previous month’s numbers.

* Different perfumes worn1: 25 (+3) from 18 (+5) brands on 29 (+4) occasions;

* Different perfumes tested252 (+28) from 25 (+10) brands on 60 (+33) occasions;

* Perfumes I tried for the first time: 22 (+13);

* Perfume house I wore most often: Guerlain;

* Perfume house I tested the most: Dior and Guerlain;

* Most popular notes (only from perfumes I chose to wear): top – (not counting bergamot) neroli, galbanum and orange; middle – (not counting rose and jasmine) iris root and ylang ylang (stays
the same for the last several months
); base – musk, vetiver and sandalwood;

 

Are you surprised by the choices others made for a favorite flower?

 

1 For the testing I apply a perfume to one area on my arms easily available for the repetitive sniffing. But, most likely, I’m the only one who can smell it. I can test two, sometimes even more perfumes at the same time.

2 When I wear a perfume I apply it to at least three-four points and usually I plan to spend at least 4-8 hours with the same scent so I’m prepared to re-apply if the original application wears off.

 

Image: my own

Entertaining Statistics: August, 2012

 

August was nice: we had several hot days and the rest of the month was on the cooler side. But perfume wear/test-wise it was a strange month for me: as I was trying to figure out if perfumes contributed to my persistent cough (I think they didn’t) I took a break from any perfumes for a while; in addition to that, at least several perfumes I wore during the month had such staying power that testing anything else the same day was out of question. As a result, I both tested and wore fewer perfumes.

So I decided to entertain you with another type of statistics data.

Do you remember the fun question Birgit of Olfactoria’s Travels asked last year: Guerlain or Chanel? and the results we compiled? So when last Monday Birgit asked to choose ten “deserted island perfumes”, I got curious to see if answers to this question correlated to the previous results. But when I started I couldn’t stop just there.

Stats August 2012

Our deserted island will be populated by at least 45 perfumistas, though there was some dissension as to the climate choice: concerns were voiced that not all favorite perfumes were tropic-friendly.

Future settlers named 310 unique perfumes from 91 brands (when a concentration or vintage were mentioned I counted perfumes as unique). See the chart above for the total number of selected perfumes for top 15 brands.

Two most popular perfumes were Guerlain Shalimar and Frederic Malle Carnal Flower11 voices each; Chanel No 5 got 6 votes (including one for parfum); Amouage Lyric, Chanel Coromandel, Lancome Cuir de Lancome, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and Chanel No 19 (counting EdP, EdT, parfum and vintage) got 5 voices each. 79 perfumes were named by more than one perfumista. It means that we’ll have 231 unrepeated perfumes to enjoy ourselves or swap – not bad for a group of 45.

Only 4 out of 10 perfumes on my list were unique (Climat by Lancôme, Tiempe Passate by Antonia’s Flowers, Vert pour Madame by DSH Perfumes and Sweet Milk by Jo Malone). Only Chanel No 19 though was among the most popular selections. The other five were on two to three people’s lists.

Deserted Island Perfumes

I wonder how good my swapping chances would be.

Déjà vu, Episode 2: huge floral vs. abstract floral

For those … everybody who hasn’t read Episode 1  of my Déjà vu [supposed to be] series, I want to explain that the idea is to feature those perfumes that to my nose are very close smell-alike. Not just a feeling or an association, not just the same genre or several recognizable notes but really close scent resemblance.

What is a perfect starter house for a young perfumista? I’m not talking about a real estate to store all 3 bottles in the collection. A perfume house. If you ask me now, I’ll say L’Artisan, Hermess (Hermessance) or Chanel (Exclusifs). But I didn’t know it when I started my journey so the first niche brand that I tested intentionally on the onset of my hobby was … none of these. I placed my first ever samples order: seven 1 ml vials from the same brand.

The second perfume from the line that I tried was one of the most expensive perfumes I’d ever tried at the time. I read many great reviews and mentions of the house itself and of this perfume in particular. I was expecting a miracle. And it was a miracle… in a way.  In a couple of minutes of wearing it, with astonishment, I realized that to my nose that perfume smelled A LOT like another perfume I knew and liked. I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t at home so for several hours I kept smelling my wrist and thinking if it was possible. As soon as I could I applied my perfume to another wrist. My first impression: it wasn’t the same perfume but they smelled very similar. And I liked my perfume more.

I checked available information. Sure, there were some notes in common but it didn’t mean much. I needed somebody else to acknowledge and confirm my discovery. I ran multiple searches and couldn’t find any other mentioning of this similarity. I even tried to contact one of the bloggers who I noticed was familiar with my perfume and wore it but I’ve never heard back from her. When I asked my friend lyu what the perfume I tested reminded her of (if anything) she told me without thinking: “my perfume name>!” But I wanted more.

Rusty Testing

Almost a year later I asked several blogo-friends to participate in a blind testing and contribute their thoughts for this post. I sent each of them two vials. I needed to distinguish them but I was afraid that using numbers or letters would somehow reveal my attitude towards those perfumes or will suggest my preferences. So I wrapped vials with electrical tape – blue and yellow. Here are their thoughts. Keep in mind that these are fragments of e-mail exchanges and not finished reviews. I did some minimal editing trying not to introduce too many errors from me as I was selecting paragraphs to publish here. Emphases (bold, italic and color) mine.

Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume:

I have tried Yellow and Blue about four times now, and have more or less used the samples up, so I thought I should jot down my impressions while I have got them on again and they are relatively fresh on my skin and in my mind!

Firstly, I don’t think they are the same, but I think there are very similar all the same – a bit like the same perfume but with different facets accentuated in one vs. the other:

Both have a powdery (aldehydic?) retro feel, both are florals with a hint of green in them.

Blue has a smoother quality, is a little more green and less aldehydic.  It reminds me a bit of Antonia, but is more powdery and not as vanilla-y or ambery, so it never entered my head that it could BE that.  But the greenness reminds me somewhat of Antonia out of the few perfumes I know that are anything like these two samples.

Yellow, on account of its greater powderiness, reminds me of Chamade, though Chamade is sweeter and fruitier, and somehow a bit more approachable.  Yellow feels very old school, which is why – when I read the reviews and notes of the new SSS Nostalgie – I instantly wondered if it could be that though I haven’t smelt it.

And then the fact that you showed Climat to Natalie at your recent meeting made me think that maybe it [Yellow] could be that (having googled the notes), however on reflection neither of these scents are remotely animalic, whereas Climat has civet.  I like to think I have good radar for civet, but who knows?!  And Climat sounds like it might be a richer scent overall, based on the base, so possibly not such a good contender (plus I have never smelt it either!)  All of which goes to show how suggestible and easily led I can be by something topical, or which looks like it might count as “circumstantial evidence”.  : – )

The other perfume that Yellow and Blue both remind me of, Blue slightly more so, is Niki Saint Phalle.

What I learn from eyeballing all these note lists (Vanessa has included those for all the perfumes listed above but I’ve decided to omit them – Undina) is that the perfumes I think Yellow and Blue smell like, as well as being retro in style, and prickly aldehydic florals (in varying degrees), and green (in varying degrees), they all have LOTS OF NOTES, i.e. they are “busy” perfumes, quite big productions, as used to be the fashion.  These are not contemporary scents, of that I am fairly sure, unless it is a new launch inspired by an earlier era like a Miriam or Nostalgie, but not those (and I haven’t smelt Miriam either!).

(later)

Am at the far drydown stage now, some 7 hrs after application, and the two are not as similar at this point as I thought from previous trials. It could be that my nose cross contaminated the two sites by transferring traces of one perfume to the other hand or it may just be that I am more familiar with them now and hence able to spot differences more easily.

They are both smoother by far now, but Yellow remains markedly more powdery/aldehydic even at this late stage. Blue did get even closer to Antonia as it wore on but I still don’t think it is that, as it lacks the rich ambery vanilla warmth. The smooth green facet is very like it though.

It struck me […] that the more I tried them, the more distinct they became.  Yellow was more powdery and Blue more green – what confused me was the fact that they both felt from the same time, so that in itself was a point of similarity.  And as it is not a category of scent I am very familiar with, it is perhaps all the easier to lump things together.  Like young people’s “old lady”.

Rusty Testing

Suzanne of Eiderdown Press

Both of these smell like one of my very favorite categories of fragrance: rich, aldehydic-floral perfume with a complex bouquet, done in the classic French style.

I opened the blue vial first and my first thought was, this smells like Amouage Gold pour Femme.  Then I opened the yellow vial and things got very difficult because, though there is a difference between the two perfumes, they so smell very, very similar.

After much sniffing, I still think that the blue vial resembles Amouage Gold most closely. It smells a bit brighter in its florals than does the perfume in the yellow vial.  I feel like I can smell the silvery lift of lily-of-the-valley in the blue vial perfume. Not that it smells like a lily-of-the-valley perfume (not at all), but it smells “higher in octave” than the perfume in the yellow vial.  It has a little more lift, while the perfume in the yellow vial smells somewhat deeper to my nose.

To me, the yellow vial smells like it has more of a Chanel base when it dries down: I smell more of that warm jasmine that reminds me of a Chanel perfume (though I’m not necessarily saying this is a Chanel perfume).  A little more musk, too.  This perfume has a slightly more animalic drydown than the perfume in the blue vial.  It reminds me of vintage Chanel No. 5 in its drydown, but its top notes don’t smell quite the same as Chanel No. 5.

(a day later)

I kept thinking about the drydown on the perfume in the yellow vial: there is a urinous tinge to that drydown that I find rather appealing (sexy, even though it doesn’t sound sexy) that reminds me of vintage perfumes.  And I tried to think of other notes, besides jasmine, civet and musk, that can have an animalic tinge to them — and I thought of narcissus.  I don’t know if narcissus used as a perfume note smells urinous, but if you’ve ever smelled narcissus flowers — the ones they call paperwhites – they smell urinous.

Quite some time ago, JoanElaine had sent me a fragrance package that included a small dab vial of Lancome Climat edt. And I remembered that when I originally tested it, it reminded me of Amouage Gold, but the dry down was more animalic (on the urinous side, rather than on the indolic side) and I remember it had narcissus in the base.  So today I dabbed some on my skin and then dumped the remaining drops on a perfume blotter.  On skin, I couldn’t come to any solid conclusions, but on paper — oh my goodness!  The scent really matched up with what you sent me in that yellow vial.

My final assessment — I think the blue vial smells like Amouage Gold.  I think the yellow vial smells like Lancome Climat.  And I think both of them smell very much like one another.

Rusty Testing

Natalie of Another Perfume Blog:

I’m pretty sure the blue vial is Climat. I find it fuzzy, warm, like someone took the idea of Ivory soap and transformed it into a very luxurious-smelling perfume. At the very beginning, there is an animalic touch, but it is slight and does not last very long. On my skin, the whole life of the fragrance is peachy, warm, and golden. I can smell the florals (mostly jasmine and I think lily of the valley), but they are not “white floral diva” to me, because of the powderiness of the fragrance as a whole. The drydown is even more “golden” and I can smell a bit of the sandalwood, but it remains very peachy and powdery.

The yellow vial I don’t recognize. At times it smells very similar to Climat (or the blue vial, I should say) to me, so maybe it is another formulation or concentration of Climat? I suppose it could be, but really I don’t think it is. Although it has similar notes, it actually smells to me as if someone took the blue vial and said “Let’s do this perfume, but focus it on the animalic notes rather than the powdery peachy notes.” This one to me has an almost metallic musk that I find rather unpleasant, and I feel the civet is very prominent. It’s a bit too much for me at the beginning. As it dries down, it gets a lot prettier and more similar to the blue one, but I think I smell more iris in the drydown of this one. Once when I wore it, it almost reminded me of No. 19, but I haven’t ever experienced No. 19 having that metallic-animalic-civet thing going on. Maybe I would have liked this better if I had not always had the Climat/blue vial on the other wrist. :) But I would have to get through the first hour for sure!

I won’t keep you wondering any longer. Let’s see what perfumes Vanessa, Natalie and Suzanne tested.

Blue Vial contained Climat by Lancome (my first perfume love) – created in 1967 by Gerard Goupy, notes include violet, peach, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, bergamot, rose, narcissus, aldehydes, rosemary, tuberose, sandalwood, tonka bean, amber, musk, civet, bamboo and vetiver.

Lancome Climat

Yellow Vial contained Amouage Gold – created in 1983 by Guy Robert, notes include rose, lily of the valley, frankincense, myrrh, iris root, jasmine, ambergris, civet, musk, cedarwood and sandalwood.

Amouage Gold

I thought it was hilarious: Suzanne has identified both perfumes but switched them.

Even though Natalie hasn’t recognized Amouage Gold, she’s being very consistent in her not liking this perfume. And here’s is her review for Climat. (UPD: APB is closed now)

By now I’ve worn both of these perfumes on many occasions, I’ve tested them separately and in parallel again and again. I think that I can tell them apart, at least on some stages. But, in my opinion, they are so similar that could have been, as Vanessa pointed out, “same perfume but with different facets accentuated”.

Twins: Lancome Climat & Amouage Gold

Please give a link to your blog’s post(s) if you reviewed any of these perfumes.

If you’d like to be entered into the draw for two color-coded vials (red and green?) of these perfumes to do your own comparison, please mention it in your comment.

 

Images: my own.

New Year Resolutions, Part I: 2011 Round Up

New Year resolutions… Crowds in gyms and dance classes usually subside by mid-February allowing regulars to go back to their normal routines. Healthier eating habits get buried under stress of a “holiday-less” life and kitchen catch-all drawers stay in their natural state that makes finding any useful thing we put in there at some point an adventure.

In the beginning of 2011 I decided to see at least one of my New Year resolutions through. The resolution was: I will wear one of my favorite perfumes at least two times a week. By that time I’d created already a database to hold information about perfumes in my collection. So all I needed to add was a diary part where I could record my perfumes usage.

I’m proud to report that in all twelve months of 2011 I followed my NY resolution and gave perfumes in my permanent collection the attention they deserve. In addition to that, my numbers collecting provided me with a lot of interesting though probably not that useful data points which I’d shared with my readers in the Quick stats section of my monthly reports.

I was very curious to see the numbers for the whole year. So, here they are.

Quick 2011 stats:

* Different perfumes worn/tested: 376 (303 tested for the first time and 73 previously tested – see the chart by month) from 110 brands;

2011 statistics: perfumes worn by month* Perfumes I wore just once: 191;

* My Top 10 Brands (perfume house I wore/tested most often): see the chart, click on it for a full size;

My Top 10 Brands in 2011

* My Top 10 Perfumes (those that I wore the most often):

Perfume

Times Worn

№19 EdT by Chanel

16

Heure Exquise by Annick Goutal

13

Tiare by Ormonde Jayne

12

№19 Poudre by Chanel

10

Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder

9

Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle

9

Une Rose Vermeille by Tauer Perfumes

9

Antonia by Puredistance

8

Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens

8

Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne

8

.

Coming up in the next couple of days New Year Resolutions, Part II: Perfumed resolutions for 2012.

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Images: my own

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See also year end posts and Top N lists for 2011 from the friendly blogs:

Another Perfume Blog: Best Perfumes of 2011: A Joint Blogging Event

beauty on the outside: Highlights from 2011

EauMG: Best of 2011 – Perfume Blogging Event

eyeliner on a cat: Best Fragrances of 2011

From Top to Bottom: My 2011

Muse in Wooden Shoes: 2011: The Year’s Fragrance Releases in Review

Olfactoria’s Travels: The Best Of 2011 – My Favorite Perfumes Of The Year

Perfume in Progress: Some thoughts as the year ends

Persolaise – A Perfumer’s Blog: The Best Perfumes Of 2011 & Thoughts On Independence

Pieces of paper, squiggy lines: My Favorite Fragrant discoveries of 2011

Scent of the Day: My Favorites of 2011

Scents of Self: Forgotten Fragrances of 2011

The Alembicated Genie: Best of the Best 2011 – Perfumes and Perfumers and Best of the Best 2011 – Worn and Adored

The Candy Perfume Boy: The Candy Perfume Boy’s Best Picks of 2011

The Non-Blonde: 2011 In Perfume- Delights & Rants