Second Sunday Samples: YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums

I cannot believe it’s the second Sunday of December: where did the year go?! I was so busy recently that I skipped a couple of Sundays moving posts originally planned for this series to be just posts. Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) and Old Herbaceous (Serenity Now) were smarter about their Monday Quick Sniffs and Scent Sample Sunday correspondingly: they get 4 or sometimes even 5 days per month to choose from when it comes to running the next episode of their series. But since the second Sunday comes just once a month, all I can do is to either make it or wait for the next one. I decided to do the last episode this year, especially since perfumes about which I’m writing fit perfectly to this season – even though by the not observing the back to the Standard Time shift WP’s clock it’s technically Monday already.

When it comes to perfumes and perfumistas, there are luxury perfume brands existence of which we acknowledge and either splurge on from time to time (Tom Ford or By Kilian) or mostly ignore (Creed or Clive Christian). Then there are brands’ luxury divisions which, although added later in the brand’s life, were rather welcomed and appreciated: L’Art et La Matiere from Guerlain, Les Exclusifs de Chanel, Hermessence or Dior’s La Collection Privee (though, it seems that the most recent revamp/rename to the “Maison” collection didn’t get any enthusiasm from the part of Perfumeland that I know). Of course, most of the brands that released their “top shelf” collections were in perfume business probably from the time when their “regular” lines were luxury not easily affordable for most buyers, so with everything being “dumbed down” as well as priced down to fit mass market, it felt somewhat justified that high quality and creativity was elevated into a separate collection and price category.

But that was 2004 – 2007. And then the levees broke: not talking about an avalanche of new super-niche super-expensive brands with real, bought or invented history, but all luxury brands, with or without the regular perfume portfolio, forayed into the luxury perfume space. And most of them are being ignored by the “old guard” perfumistas. Have you tried any of Louis Vuitton or Bottega Veneta’s Parco Palladiano Collection?

Yves Saint Laurent, a brand that had all the reasons and pedigree to be among the first creators of a luxury perfume branch, came to the party really late: they released their first five perfumes in the Le Vestiaire des Parfums (the Perfume Wardrobe) Collection in 2015. The collection name explains individual perfume names: they represent pieces of clothes designed by the brand or, later, once they ran out of significant attire articles, fabric used for those creations.

YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums

I can’t tell you how many times I went by this stand at my local Neiman Marcus without even pausing. The reason was that on those rare occasions when I get to the NM’s perfume area, I usually have something else I want to try, and since I usually do not buy perfumes there, I try to minimize time I do the browsing since there’s only that many samples you can score from the same SAs without making a purchase. I mean, I can sniff my head out at any random place where I do not plan to come again but in the not that crowded local perfume “watering holes,” to which I keep coming back, I try to maintain some reasonable balance.

But recently when I finally decided to make a purchase (for the first time on my memory NM had 20% off, Beauty & Fragrances included, and there was something that I couldn’t buy elsewhere anyway). Can you imagine having all the possible good will from the SA and … absolutely nothing that I’d really want to try? (Our local store isn’t the most impressive in the perfume department.) I desperately looked around… and realized that I had never tried any perfumes in that 2015 YSL’s collection. So I asked and got generous 3.5 ml official samples for 3 perfumes from the original collection as well as small hand-made samples for two later additions.

Tuxedo

Three and Half Sea Stars

Tuxedo (2015, perfumer Juliette Karagueuzoglou – the name didn’t sound familiar to me so I checked: among mostly unfamiliar to me mass-market perfumes, last year she created Un Air de Bretagne for L’Artisan and Savoy Steam for Penhaligon’s) is described by the brand as “smoked patchouli blended with ambergris accord.” To my nose, it’s a warm amber-y perfume on a drier side with a dab of spices added. Based on the history of this garment, I’d expect some tobacco note but it’s not there – either listed or perceived.

Have you seen pictures of women in tuxedos? Even though they might look beautiful and sexy, looking at those pictures you still know that traditionally it’s a part of men’s wardrobe. Tuxedo perfume, in my opinion, is precisely like that: I can imagine a woman (maybe even myself) wearing this perfume but I think it leans masculine. Because of that I gave it just 3.5 sea stars but I plan to try it on my vSO to see if I 4-star-like-it on him.

Trench

Three Sea Stars

Trench (2015, perfumer Amandine Clerc-MarieMDCI’s Peche Cardinal, Mugler Angel EdT and Aura), “a citrus scent featuring dry cedarwood and white musk,” does start with a beautiful citrus that I’d love to keep smelling. Unfortunately, it subsides quickly into a more soap-y scent – still pleasant but not spectacular. Trench is supposed to feature fig and iris but my nose doesn’t catch either – even though these are some of a few notes that I usually easily recognize. Despite that as I said Trench is nice. Not its price-nice but good enough to try if you come across it without paying for it.

Caftan

Three and Half Sea Stars

Caftan (2015, perfumer Calice Baker) is a straight-forward amber perfume. It’s not Ambre Russe or Mitzah-type amber with resins punching you in the nose without warning, and it’s less sweet than, for example, Floris Honey Oud or EnVoyage Perfumes Captured in Amber, which makes it more unisex and easier to wear by a man. I wouldn’t refuse a travel spray of Caftan (it doesn’t come in one, I’m speaking theoretically) but I probably do not need this amber in addition to all the great ambers that I already have in my collection. But do try Caftan if you see it: it might work better for you, especially if you’re not a hardcore amber lover.

Velours

Four Sea Stars

Velours (2016, perfumer Carlos Benaim), yet another amber in this collection (can you even have too many ambers?) proved to be my favorite. I often get black tea note mistaken in perfumes for very supple leather, which happened here. Until I read notes, I was sure that this perfume, despite of the name, contains leather or at least suede note. But tea makes more sense. Velours is not a perfume to win any creativity or originality awards (well, the bottle is very nice – so, maybe for the packaging) but it’s easy to wear, smooth and refined. I saw several people comparing it to Dior Homme Parfum, which is supposed to be a good thing, I think, but since I’m not familiar with that Dior’s perfume, I don’t have that reference point to offer you. Too bad, unlike the original collection, the “de Nuit” addition to it (Velours being one of the three perfumes in it) comes only in 125 ml bottles, with is a lot even if not to consider the price.

Blouse

Four Sea Stars

The latest addition to the original collection – Blouse (2018, perfumer Quentin BischMandarin Corsica for L’Artisan, Mugler Angel Muse and Ambre Imperial for Van Cleef & Arpels) has won me by surprise. Being a floral perfume lover, I probably appreciated finally prominent floral notes in a slew of wood, amber and vanilla ingredients of perfumes I wore for the last month for my NovAmber project and tested from this collection. Despite the name that I find stupid (“Blouse” is such a non-descriptive name, and it’s completely out of sync with the rest of the collection.) and, again, stupid ad copy for the perfume on the brand’s site (they use words “sensual” and “sensuality” six times in a 7-sentences’ description), I like Blouse because it smells of a very natural and delicate (not sensual!) pink rose, and it lasts for a very long time for a light perfume. But I’m not buying 125 ml (again, the only size available now) of a pink (!) rose musk niceness.

– You smell nice. What are you wearing?
– YSL Blouse
– Duh!..

 Rusty and YSL Le Vestiaire des Parfums  

Images: my own

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Big Island Vacation, Episode II: Perfume Testing

Usually I try not to bring with me new samples for testing on a vacation. The idea is not to influence my first impression one way or the other as well as not to change my usual testing routine. But Regime des Fleurs arrived not long before we were to leave, and it was a Hawaii-themed collection, so I took it as a sign.

 

Regime Des Fleurs Oahu Collection Samples

 

Look at this official photo for the collection! These bottles bring to mind some exotic drinks taken out of the fridge a minute ago. Obviously,  perfumes were just made for a tropical vacation, right?!

Wrong! Regime des Fleurs’ Oahu Collection perfumes not only smelled chemically artificial in Big Island’s environment (Wrong island?) but also they had absolutely no tenacity in hot and humid weather. I was so disappointed that I didn’t write down any specific impressions from my testing: I had no intentions even to mention these perfumes on the blog.

But then I decided to do a write-up on them for my Second Sunday Samples post, so I had to test them again.

Suddenly, in our California warm Fall these perfumes behaved completely differently. I think that, similar to my experience with Selva Do Brazil by Parfums Berdoues that I mentioned in the previous post, these perfumes project the idea of Hawaii rather than are intended to be used there. I ended up being too busy and missed the intended posting schedule but not to waste the efforts, I transformed my quick impressions into the second episode of my vacation series.

Five perfumes in this collection are Shells, Falls, Vines, Waves and Leis.

 

Hawaii waves

 

The least favorite out of the five tested were Waves (crushed herbs, beachside buds, ti leaf, saltwater, ocean froth, lava rock, sea minerals, mango wood) and Falls (tropical spices, hapu’u tree ferns, rushing water, green mist, wet jungle moss, monkeypod bark, manoa red clay).

Waves, to my nose, in the opening smell as toothpaste. It settles down quickly and becomes just not too interesting: some aromatic herbs and something aquatic. Not a fan.

 

Hawaii fall

 

Falls, while not producing any immediate negative associations, just does nothing for me. Testing it I’m pressed to define what I smell and why I dislike it but I do.

So, as much as I like both ocean and waterfalls, these two perfumes were a miss.

Out of all, Leis (butterfly ginger lily, pua kini kini, frangipani, tuberose, jasmine sambac, black salt, ambergris) had the most theoretically recognizable notes and one unfamiliar but very intriguing – pua kini kini (Perfume Flower Tree).

While Leis is a quite pleasant light fruity floral perfume, it doesn’t showcase any of the declared notes (which might be not a bad thing for me when it comes to tuberose) and doesn’t satisfy my curiosity about pua kini kini.

 

Hawaii Vines

 

In Vines (healing herbs, overripe citrus, indigenous fig, stephanotis leaf, ambrette seed, forest musks) I don’t recognize fig (indigenous or not), can confirm some herbs (not sure about the “healing” part) and probably musk (“forest”?!), but beyond that I can’t say much: I’m not familiar with the rest of ingredients and not sure I have any reference points for describing what I smell. But the composition is rather pleasant; I liked it the most and could see myself wearing this perfume once in a while.

Shells (Li hing, liliko’i, teak resin, macadamia seed, sandalwood, vanilla oleoresin), probably the most abstract inspiration image for perfume, was the biggest surprise when worn in cooler weather. I was upset though that I couldn’t smell passion fruit (liliko’i), not even because I especially love this note in perfumes (I would have gone with Arielle Shoshana perfume if I did) but because that scent is very distinct and I know it really well, which I can’t say about too many notes. But as an abstract idea of that part of Hawaii ecosystem Shells is pleasant enough to try – if you come across this brand.

 

Regime Des Fleurs Oahu Collection Samples

 

All-in-all, while I liked two perfumes from the collection, I’m opposed to the idea of perfumes that are designed for both “body and environment.” On more than one occasion I used an ambiance spray as a personal perfume but those were bought as such – room sprays – and were priced accordingly. $125 for a 100 ml bottle of summer cologne is not that outrageous, if you like the scent, but as room spray it seems a little too aspirational. But bottles are attractive, and colored juice looks playful (and reminds me the new Mugler Cologne collection), so I do not feel completely dismissive towards Oahu Collection.

As for samples, I got them free of charge (not as a blogger: the brand had offered them to NST’s readers in the comment to the announcement of this line release), so I shouldn’t look that horse in the mouth. But as a blogger I still want to comment that, in my opinion, both for the price they charge for the “Sampling Flight” ($25, credited towards a full bottle purchase) and to make justice to their perfumes, they should look into switching to spray format (even if with the same 1 ml volume): dabbed, these perfumes do not either project much or live long.

 

Images: All but the first official image – my own

Tom Ford Vert de Fleur

I really dislike the man. Well, at least his public persona, though I would be extremely surprised if he happened to be in RL a nice guy and the last boy scout. Nevertheless, I like perfumes that this brand creates.

I drew the line and refused to condone two most recent juvenile naming games, though I wasn’t offended enough to completely boycott the brand. But other than these two cases, I tend to like Tom Ford’s creations and still get excited with each new release.

Whenever I see a release of series of perfumes, from any brand, my first thought is that while working on the next perfume, the stakeholders couldn’t agree on which mod to choose and decided to go with several to ensure they didn’t make a mistake and covered all the bases. Of course, I’m not being completely serious, but I’m protesting against the avalanche of new releases.

All that didn’t prevent me from trying four perfumes in Les Extraits Vert series soon after it was released in 2016. Vert Boheme, Vert d’Encense, Vert de Fleur and Vert des Bois were all not bad at first sniff, so I got samples (tricking a couple of SAs in different stores), planned to test them properly and completely forgot about them for a while.

Recently it felt like green perfume days, so I went through the samples and found my favorite.

 

Tom Ford Vert de Fleur

 

Vert de Fleur starts with the most beautiful green accord – crisp, slightly bitter, slightly floral. Had it stayed in that phase for at least 20-30 minutes, I would have been telling you about a new bottle in my collection. But it doesn’t last settling into sweeter floral with undetectable to my nose individual notes – still very pleasant and refined but not as spectacular as I find it in the opening.

For a while I kept thinking of what other perfume I was reminded while wearing it, until suddenly I realized that it was very similar to my favorite Chanel No 19 but less austere than the EdT version… Think of No 19 EdP on a summer vacation on the Amalfi Coast.

Vert de Fleur is one of those perfumes that I like while I’m testing it but every time I ask myself whether I think I’d wear it often should I get it, my answer doesn’t sound convincing to me. So, for now I plan to see if I can finish the sample.

The other three perfumes in the line will probably get one more skin appearance and then will be passed on (if I can persuade myself to part with them: for some reason Tom Ford’s samples appeal to me even when perfume itself doesn’t). But if you were to try only one perfume from the series, try … all of them: unless you dislike the man even stronger than I do or avoid green perfumes altogether, most likely, one of the four will work for you.

Have you tried any of the perfumes in this series? Did you like any?

 

Image: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Out of nothing…

hajusuuri

I first encountered Ex Nihilo at Sniffapalooza in 2015. The company provided a travel spray of Fleur Narcotique in a dark blue satin bag. I was intrigued by the perfume name and decided to explore the brand’s offering at Bergdorf Goodman (BG). The one that got me hooked was Sweet Morphine, no pun intended. At over $300 for a 100mL bottle of a perfume with poor longevity, I demurred from forking over the Benjamins; however, a kind and generous perfumista who used to comment on NST saw my perfume wish list comment and gave me a travel spray of Sweet Morphine!

Three years later, at the April 2018 Sniffapalooza event, I once again checked out the nicely appointed Ex Nihilo alcove at BG. The SA was very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and generous. Having received duplicates of a number of atomizer perfume samples, I asked Undina if she wanted to do another joint post, and so here we are!

Undina

With the number of new brands and new releases that appear every year, it is surprising when you do know about some niche company. If it weren’t for hajusuuri who offered me samples from Ex Nihilo to test and compare notes, I could have easily missed this brand.

I think for any brand it would be hard to leave up to the claims Ex Nihilo makes on their website: ”An alternative to stereotyped luxury products, an alternative to the mass personalisation.” And, in my opinion, they don’t. But, boy, aren’t they milking it while they can: in four years from the inception they’ve created more than 20 perfumes. And if the official composition is not to your liking, and you think that you can do it better than those more or less famous noses they’ve employed to create their luxury perfumes collection, in their Paris boutique you can “personalize” any of the perfumes by requesting to add some of the notes to it (using some super-complex equipment). And on top of that you can customize the bottle: for modest EUR 50 you can choose one of the three standard caps options, or, if money is no object, you can get jeweled models embellished with diamonds and sapphires or 24 carat gold.

But enough snarks, should we talk about perfumes? As I mentioned, there were four samples (in the alphabetical order): Amber Sky, Citizen X, Rose Hubris and Viper Green. Hajusuuri and I decided to do a double-blind test reporting: each one of us chose the order in which we’d present our impressions. Neither of us knows which impression from another reviewer goes with which perfume. We invite you to try to guess… anything. You can try to identify perfume(s) we described. Or match any two of the description to each other, even if you don’t know for which perfume we wrote those descriptions.

 

Ex Nihilo Perfumes

 

hajusuuri

I tested these on my forearms and the first wearing was at least 3 hours long. I did not look at the notes during testing so my impressions were based on what I smelled.

Sample H1 – minty bug spray

Two Sea Stars

The top notes reminded me of bug spray but it evolved to soft greenish vetiver. In hindsight, the name of this perfume fits it rather well.

Sample H2 – fruity lipstick

Two Sea Stars

With its name, I was expecting rose to stand out. Instead, it was propped up by what smelled like violets and a sweet fruit.

Sample H3 – spicy amber

Two Sea Stars

Even if I didn’t know the name of this perfume, I immediately recognized amber with a big dose of incense. It was spicy and I detected a hint of cumin when I smelled my arm up close. The dry-down was a soft blur of vanilla and tonka. I would have rated this higher were it not for a persistent bitterness lurking in the background.

Sample H4 – bitter cleanser

One Sea Star

This one offended me. Not only did it start out smelling like some kind of cleaning fluid (like Lemon Pledge without the lemon), it was nearly impossible to scrub off. I gave it its 3-hour life on my skin but when I tried to wash it off with TechNu, a cleanser used to remove poison ivy oil, it stuck despite multiple washing.

Overall, while I would not spring for a full bottle of any of these, I wouldn’t say no to a travel spray of 2 out of 4 of these perfumes. Wouldn’t it be nice if the company gave consumers the option of choosing which perfumes to include in the travel spray set?

Undina

Sample U1

Two Sea Stars

This perfume doesn’t smell for me as its name sounds. There is some disturbing note in the opening, but a couple of hours into the development it gets better. It contains both a flower and a fruit that smells like that flower (at least some of its cultivars) – and still for my nose it doesn’t smell much of that flower; maybe if I imagine it as candied petals. On the positive side, it’s a warm scent. And I think it becomes very beautiful in its last phase on skin.

Sample U2

Two and Half Sea Stars

This perfume is true to one of the two words of its name. I like the opening: it reminds me of Tom Ford’s Vert Boheme. But it develops differently – more floral less woody, which I like less. Several hours into drydown I like it again: if I bring my wrist very close to nose, it reminds me a smell in a florist’s fridge: a lot of greenery and some mixed flowers. I wish I would like it more: the color of the juice is beautiful.

Sample U3

One Sea Star

This is the most masculine perfume out of the four I’ve tested. It starts harsh with something that brings to mind citrus – even though there’s nothing to that effect in notes. My vSO who rarely volunteers opinion on any of my perfumes – positive or negative – commented on actively disliking it in the opening the first time I tested it (I didn’t even ask!).

Sample U4

Two Sea Stars

Opens slightly sweet and overall traditional for perfume of this type but then develops dry and woody. It’s not masculine but definitely unisex. Pleasant enough but not spectacular if you already have 10 other perfumes in this genre. As with all samples from this brand that I’ve tried, drydown is probably the best phase for this perfume. Interestingly, it’s marked as Sold Out on the brand’s site.

Overall, none of these four rose even to strong “like” for me. Ex nihilo … nihil fit.

 

Rusty Sitting

Rusty believes that treats could come from nothing

 

Would you like to try these to see if your impressions would be different? Leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for the set of my samples (they are more than half full; and I’ll add a couple more samples of something that I’ve recently tried and liked). The giveaway is open until 23:59 PDT on September 15th to anyone but you know risks with the overseas perfume packages. Random.org will be used to determine a winner.

 

Images: perfumes – from the brand’s site; Rusty – my own

Second Sunday Samples: Tigerlily Perfumery

As I’ve joked in conclusion of my recent post on sampling, it looks like these days I buy even samples only after sniffing them.

My first visit to Tigerlily Perfumery in San Francisco several years ago wasn’t a success, so for a long time I didn’t want to go there even though they were holding some interesting events and carrying perfume lines that aren’t available around here anywhere else. But as time passed, the negative impression had faded away, and I decided to give it another try.

This time my visit went really well, I spent probably 30 minutes sniffing everything I wanted to try. There were a couple of things that I especially liked about the store. First, in addition to “hard to find” niche brands, such as Neela Vermeire Creations, Papillon Artisan Perfumes or Tauer Perfumes, they carry local (SF Bay Area and Californian) brands – Ineke, Parfums DelRae, Bruno Fazzolari, Yosh and others. Then, people who work there are not push-y and allow customers to browse/sniff all they want without insisting on helping them but being close in case help is needed.

Finally, as I found out, Tigerlily offers at the store three free 1 ml dab samples of your choice. After that you can buy other samples at $3 per sample. I really like this approach: selling samples isn’t their business; they cover costs while providing customers a chance to try perfumes at home and, hopefully, come back for more.

After smelling about 40 perfumes from the nozzle first and then some of them on blotters, I ended up buying 3 samples in addition to 3 free ones to try them on skin at home. Even with the cost of parking in the area, price per sample turned out to be much better than it would have been had I bought them online – especially since I knew already that I didn’t dislike those perfumes. Today I’ll talk about three of the six.

 

Rusty and Tiger Lily Samples

 

Tauerville Vanilla Flash

Three and Half Sea Stars

I’ve previously smelled Tauerville Vanilla Flash but since I’m not a vanilla fan in general, I haven’t tried it on skin. This time I smelled it on paper again and decided that I had to properly test it.

I have a feeling that I’m the last one to try it and everybody else has done it by now. So I would be very curious to hear whether you’ve tried Vanilla Flash.

I like that it is not too sweet. I enjoy booziness of vanilla. But it feels a little too intense (like most of Tauer’s perfumes), I think I would have preferred it in the form of body oil, so probably I won’t go for a bottle – even though the price is more than reasonable. But if anyone has 5 ml decant to swap with me, I would love to wear it a couple of times.

Nishane Ambra Calabria

Four Sea Stars

I wasn’t completely new to Nishane Ambra Calabria as well: Lucas who did a very nice review for this perfume last year graciously sent me his sample. I tried and liked it but then something else distracted me and I forgot about it.

When I smelled it again at Twisted Lily, I decided that I wanted to give it another try. It is such unusual perfume! I don’t think I’ve smelled before such combination: very strong citrus developing into warm amber. I think it’s the most summery amber I’ve ever come across. And since I like ambers and do not have enough weather suitable for heavy heaters in my collection, I could see myself wearing Ambra Calabria. But why 50 ml?! Especially since they position it as extrait. I would love to be able to buy 10-15 ml bottle from the brand but not 50 ml.

BLOCKI in every season

Two Sea Stars

BLOCKI brand actually was the main reason I decided to go to Tiger Lily: a week earlier they had there a presentation of their new perfume – SANROVIA, which I was curious to try since I really liked and recently bought this grand affair (pictures below are those that I couldn’t include in that post 4 months ago since it had arrived only after I published it). I couldn’t make it to the event but decided to go the next week.

 

Rusty and Blocki This Grand Affair

 

Unfortunately, SANROVIA didn’t pass even paper test. I might go back and try it again one day but this time I decided to skip it. Instead, I got their earlier released perfume – in every season.

I tried to like it. I gave it all possible benefits of the doubt. I don’t know what to say: it is not nasty or unpleasant, but it is neither interesting nor even pleasant nor beautiful. It gets a little better a couple of hour into wearing but frankly speaking I would go for many of the mass-market perfumes before I would think of wearing in every season. In any season.

 

Rusty and Blocki This Grand Affair

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Parfums de Marly Meliora and Athalia

With the flood of new brands appearing every year now, it is almost impossible to even be aware of them – leave alone smell their offerings. Some brands make it to the perfume blogosphere, others stay under the radar.

I learned about Parfums de Marly not too long ago: during my visit to the Nordstrom’s flagship store in Seattle in summer of 2016 I saw this brand for the first time and even got some samples from the overly enthusiastic SA (with whom we chatted about our favorite Tom Ford’s perfumes).

After I acknowledged this brand existence, I realized that I must have seen it before in a couple of male-dominating perfume split/swap FB groups. But since other than Creed/Tom Ford/Amouage (with occasional Roja Dove and Xerjoff) rotation, the rest of what gets mentioned there are mostly designer perfumes, I think I was glazing over Parfums de Marly because their bottles reminded me of Ferrari perfumes, for which I didn’t care at all.

 

Parfums de Marly and Ferrari Perfumes

 

Of course, if you look closely, it is obvious that the quality of Parfum de Marly’s bottles is much higher. The same, I assume, goes for perfumes, though I still haven’t tried a single perfume from Ferrari.

Don’t get confused by the year on the bottles: according to Fragrantica, Parfums de Marly was created in 2009. 1743 was the year Guillaume Coustou created Chevaux de Marly (The Marley Horses), which became an inspiration for the creators of the brand. The positive side is that Parfums de Marley doesn’t claim any historical connections or secretly held through generations formulas. It’s a fantasy, a tale, a recreation of something that, even if existed, was probably completely different from what any of us can imagine.

Through its original concept, Parfums de Marly rekindles the spirit of fragrances from the splendour of the XVIIIth Century, when the finest perfumes were created for King Louis XV as a tribute of the prestigious horse races he so fervently admired.

Meliora

Two and Half Sea Stars

Created by Nathalie Lorson in 2013, Meliora opens with a believable black currant note. Does it have promised raspberry? Probably. Or some other berry that gives Meliora its sweetness and smothers tartness of black currant after the first 30 minutes. Rose, Lily, Ylang-Ylang, Vanilla, Wood and Musk are probably there since the scent is more complex than just two notes that I can smell but for me these are just a list. After black currant settles down, not much is happening with Meliora: it is surprisingly linear for the price level brand positions their perfumes. Of course, if you happen to like exactly what you smell, it might be not the worst trait.

I think I would have liked Meliora more if I haven’t found already black currant perfume that works for me better – Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince. Also, I read somebody mentioning that Meliora reminded them another perfume by the same nose – Lalique Amethyst. I couldn’t check it since my sample went AWOL but I do not remember it being that black currant-y.

 

Parfums de Marly Samples

 

Athalia

Three and Half Sea Stars

Athalia was created by Alexandra Kosinski in 2016. Notes (from the brand’s site) include orange blossom, iris, amber and musk. Sometimes I wonder how brands decide what notes to mention. I have no doubts that this perfume uses aroma chemicals. But usually when you read descriptions of those, each one often sounds like a finished perfume’s description, even if it mimics specific note. So why not to use a more nuanced description? I realize that whether you like the scent is the most important part. And I rather like Athalia. But somehow $290 for 75 ml for 4 ingredients seems not right. Luckyscent thought so as well, so their list sounds more traditional: Incense, rose, bitter orange, iris, suede, orange blossom, cashmeran, amber, vanilla, vetiver.

I liked Athalia even before Luckyscent’s attempt to save graces (both the story they tell and the perfume description are much more detailed than what brand provides on their own site), but I was puzzled by the promise of orange blossom: I can’t smell it in this perfume at all. It isn’t my favorite scent but I thought that I knew it well – at least how it’s usually represented in perfumery, be that natural or artificial ingredient. In general, it’s not surprising when some notes are not recognizable on their own in perfume (especially by my nose) but it’s a little unexpected when it’s one of four officially mentioned aromas in that perfume.

Since I liked Athalia, I’ll probably try to wear it once or twice from what is left in the sample – just to make sure that I do not need it in my collection.

 

Parfums De Marly

 

Parfums de Marly’s creations remind me of Mugler’s perfumes: loud, persistent and clearly not natural (which isn’t an issue for me). I like their masculine line much more (eventually, I’ll write about some of those), but if you were to try just one perfume from the feminine collection of this brand, I think Athalia is a good choice.

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Blocki

I’m not a big fan of resurrected perfume brands: in many cases there is nothing to really connect the reincarnated entity and the brand, from which the history was taken, other than a desire of new owners to have some history to show for the brand hoping that it’ll sell perfumes better.

I make some exception to brands reinvented by descendants of the original owners: my feeling is that there is something noble and romantic in bringing back to life parts of the family history, sharing with the world proud moments and achievements of one’s ancestors.

Blocki Perfumes is this kind of brand. You can look up this brand’s history milestones on the website (it’s quite interesting but I don not want to just regurgitate it here). What captured my imagination was their patent in 1907 for “novel method of placing a preserved natural flower within the perfume bottle.” They do not do it now – pity. I wouldn’t mind having a bottle of perfume with a real flower inside, though I completely understand why they cannot do it these days with perfumes being transported thousands of miles.

Previously I came across some reviews for this brand’s perfumes but it took me a while to get to testing some of them. I can’t remember what the turning point was, but I recently gave in and ordered a couple of samples.

This brand’s approach to naming their compositions is the opposite to the slightly annoying ALL CAPS take by my another favorite brand: Blocki does not use capital letters at all, which also annoys me. But since those names are supposed to be short passages, a couple of words from a sentence that landed on the bottle – without the beginning or the ending – I try to look at them as at something open to interpretation and leaving some space to our imagination rather than a nod to the modern World’s hasty messaging habits that I do not condone. And that thought reconciles me with them.

Both perfumes that I’m sampling today were created in 2015 by Kevin Verpsoor; and though they were inspired by the house’s history, they are not recreations of the previously existed perfumes.

 

for walks

Three and Half Sea Stars

for walks is a perfume for people who do not want to smell like they are wearing perfume. With the notes of violet leaf, mint, fir needle, violet, boronia flower, orris, vetiver, sandalwood and cedar, it presents like a completely unisex composition. I like fir in perfumes but in for walks I do not smell it at all. Neither can I smell iris or vetiver. Mint and violet are there, as well as some kind of wood (I’d say it is sandalwood sharpened by cedar wood). It is not linear, and develops over time, so you’ll have something to do if you decide to take it on a couple of hours’ walk.

While for walks is absolutely “not my” perfume (I take my unisex perfumes either citrus-y or dry amber-y), it is not boring or banal. It is not a perfume to gather compliments, but if you’re looking for a soft but present perfume that is not cologne or a quiet white musk number, give for walks a try.

 

Forest park

 

this grand affair

Four and Half Sea Stars

this grand affair fits its name very well: nobody would mistakenly assume that they smell your shampoo or a dryer sheet. It is unapologetically PERFUME, in the classic sense. Initially I thought of it as leaning feminine but since I think that Jicky Extract, about which I’m somehow reminded by this grand affair (not in the way it smells but in feeling it evokes), is also feminine, my perception might be off compared to conventional.

Official notes: grapefruit, neroli, davana, lavender, rose, petitgrain, lemon, mandarin, vanilla, musk, tonka bean and patchouli.

this grand affair smells like the most beloved today vintage perfumes must have smelled before they became vintage. One wouldn’t have to wear a gown to match this perfume but it would be a very appropriate combination.

I tend to like and buy this type of perfumes even though I do not have enough occasions to wear them (I’m working on that), so this grand affair has won me over from the first time I tried it. And since the brand smartly produces their perfumes in very reasonable 10 ml travel bottles, I could not think of a reason not to add it to my collection (but since it’s still in transit, I cannot bribe Rusty to pose with it for this post, so I’ll go with the floral composition that visually illustrates the name).

 

Flowers

 

Blocki line consists of four perfumes: 3 from 2015; and one more they released this year. I’m curious to try the remaining two.

Blocki perfumes come in 50 ml and 10 ml bottles. Also, you can buy samples from the brand’s site, which makes sense only if you want to try just one: you’ll be getting a 1.5-2 ml for $10, including S&H, which is the same price as you’d pay for a twice smaller dab vial delivered from perfume stores or decanter sites. Until April 1st, you can use the code AMOUR14 to get a 14% discount (no affiliation). Twisted Lily and Smallflower also carry these perfumes.

 

Have you heard about the brand? Have you tried any of their perfumes?

 

Images: my own