Second Sunday Sample: FRASSAÏ

Do you know how many countries are there in the World? 195. I had to look up the exact number, I didn’t remember off the top of my head.

Without using Internet or consulting your records, brands from how many countries can you recall? I did that exercise and came up with 11. I know that I have more in my perfume database (I checked: as of today – 22), I just couldn’t think of them.

I did that counting just recently but even before that I was wondering what was the state of the perfume industry (or whether it even existed) in those countries, about which we do not usually hear in perfume news. Those thoughts were at least partially responsible for my interest when I read about the upcoming release of perfumes from the Argentinian brand FRASSAÏ: until then I hadn’t tried any perfumes from this country.

Since I was following their ad campaign that was building up interest for the upcoming launch, I caught the newsletter that offered to request free samples. I did.

FRASSAÏ debuted this November with, as it became customary, the collection of three perfumes.

 

Frassai Blondine

 

Two and Half Sea Stars

BLONDINE – Floral Musky Gourmand, created by Yann Vasnier, includes notes (according to the brand’s website): Green mandarin, Pear Leaves, Salted Butter Caramel, Tiger Lily, Ashok flower, Cocoa, Tonka beans, Castoreum, and Blond Musks. Perfume was inspired by the early last century’s French fairy tale.

Testing Blondine was a strange experience for me: I don’t think I got the same result twice, and I’m not sure what influenced my perception of this perfume. The very first time I had an immediate association with a couple of Parfumerie Generale’s woodsy gourmands, but the next time when I tried Blondine in parallel with those, the “gourmand” part completely escaped me and instead perfume came out very floral. On the next go-round Blondine had more wood with some non-gourmand sweetness.

Blondine is a nice scent for those who prefer their perfumes to stay close to skin. The more you try it, the more it grows on you but I’m not sure I would recognize it if smelled blind.

 

Frassai Tian Di

 

One and Half Sea Stars

TIAN DI – Woody Oriental, created by Olivier Gillotin, includes notes: Ginger, Galbanum, Star Anise, Olibanum, Peach Elixir, Red Chrysanthemum, Orris, Sandalwood, Chinese Incense and Tonkin Musk.

Tian Di’s story plays on elements of Chinese mythology (peach tree, a cosmic ladder that connects heaven and earth, which bears fruit once every 3000 years, the scent of which grants immortality).

I’m not objective with this perfume since I really dislike peach note in perfumes – and it is definitely present in perfume and not just in the list of notes.

 

Frassai Verano Porteno

 

Three and Half Sea Stars

VERANO PORTEÑO – Floral Chypre, created by Rodrigo Flores-Roux, includes notes: Calabrian Bergamot, Cardamom, Clementine essence, Sicilian Cedrat, Southern Magnolia, Imperial Jasmine, Alhelí Vetyver, Ambrette Seed and Argentine Maté.

Verano Porteño supposedly evokes summer streets of Buenos Aires filled with the aroma of blooming jasmine.

While testing Verano Porteño, I had a strong feeling that I knew that scent. After some investigation I pinpointed my scent memory – By Kilian Love & Tears. Smelling them side-by-side, even I can see some dissimilarities, and I’m sure that people whose nose is better “tuned” might find them even less similar but I know that smelling Verano Porteño and Love & Tears separately I would most likely confuse one for the other. I also want to share with you a curious coincidence: Kilian started as a perfume brand and ventured into scented jewelry; and FRASSAÏ did it the other way around.

 

Frassai Perfumes

 

All in all, in my opinion, this whole enterprise looks rather like jumping on the bandwagon of the growing perfume market than genuine love of perfumes. With stories all over the place and three hired guns French perfumers, I did not get an impression that the brand actually had anything new or interesting to say. There is nothing wrong with running business and earning money, and these perfumes are better than current average mainstream launches, so I would rather people wear these three (even the one with peach). This brand also does a good job providing customers with fair choices that would allow them to decide whether they like these perfumes: before committing to a full bottle (I can’t find the size on the site or on the cards sent with samples), you can buy very reasonably priced samples set, individual roller-ball small bottles or a set of all three.

 

Images: my own

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Light and Shadows: Ineke Idyllwild

I’m a city person. I grew up in downtown of a big city, and I still would prefer to live in one of those. Moving to the Northern California suburbia wasn’t a conscious choice: work-related circumstances brought us here. But since we moved, San Francisco Bay Area became our home, and I love it.

There are many great things about this area but one of them that I want to mention in this post is that there are several great parks 30-90 minutes’ drive from where I live.

Idylwild, new perfume from the San Francisco-based brand INEKE, to my nose does not smell of any of the forests I’ve been to around here (and I’ve been to many different ones) but it perfectly evokes the image of California forest on a sunny day: as you follow the trail, you move from brightly sunlit areas through the mélange of light and shadows to dark patches and back to the bright openings.

 

 

Notes: rhubarb tea, grapefruit, lavender, Big Sur sagebrush, cypress, fir needle, cardamom, woods, oud and musk.

The moment I sprayed on Idyllwild, an unexpected association popped into my head: Christmas in July. Even if you’re familiar with the term, the association probably needs explaining.

This is one of those concepts, about which you are not aware until you either experience it yourself or come across it in some media. I grew up knowing about Christmas in the country that didn’t celebrate the “regular” one, let alone any other kind. After moving to the U.S., I embraced that holiday but until recently I haven’t heard about Christmas in July.

My knowledge about it came from the episode Murder Under the Mistletoe of the Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Not everybody who celebrates Christmas lives in areas that have winter, snow and everything else that accompanies Christmas celebration in Northern Hemisphere – for example, where I live it never snows – so for our winter-for-winter-holidays fix we usually drive to mountains but otherwise feel content with a single Christmas celebration. But it made some sense that living on the opposite side of the globe and having winter weather but offset 6 months related to Christmas, somebody would come up with the second celebration.

Back to my association. Idyllwild smells like Christmas in July but in the area where I live – meaning, a hot July Christmas. Why? All those evergreens and cardamom in the notes vividly conjure Christmas but unlike other Chistmas-y perfumes, for example, Fille en Aiguilles, Idyllwild starts so bright and light and cheerful that white and cold winter is the last thing that comes to mind. Grapefruit is as juicy as it can be and while it is citrus, I associate it more with summer than with Christmas (unlike oranges and mandarins). As it dries down, it transitions from the sunny territory into the shadowy wood full of fir needles – though you can still “see” glimpses of “light.” I can’t smell agarwood – real or not – but it is a plus for me. Idyllwild is not the most tenacious perfume I wear but it’s not the least either.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

Woody Aromatic perfumes aren’t “my thing”: until now I had just a travel bottle and a small decant in this genre. But somehow Idyllwild captured me from the first time I put it on. So soon after that a bottle has joined my collection.

Speaking of the bottle, this was my only disappointment about this perfume. Starting from the letter “E,” Ineke decorated each of the bottles so beautifully that I was looking forward to the arrival of my new bottle hoping for a nice forest-themed artwork. The bottle is still the same they used before but this time it’s back to “blank” bottle. Coupled with a slightly changed box – a generic box and a dust jacket with the perfume name on it instead of a “designated” printed box, it seems like the brand cheapened the packaging a little. But as long as they do not compromise on their scents quality, I won’t complain much.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

I was almost ready to publish this post yesterday but I couldn’t finish working with pictures in time. Last thing before going to bed I checked my inbox and was surprised by a coincidence: Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) published his review of the same perfume. He liked it as well. You might want to check it out if you’re curious what the perfumer told him about this perfume in a private conversation.

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Berdoues Collection Grands Crus

Until recently I was familiar with Parfums Berdoues only from a couple of samples graciously sent to me by hajusuuri and Lucas’s (The Chemist in the Bottle) review. I haven’t seen this brand in any of the stores around or come across it during my recent European trip.

I didn’t know about their history, and, to tell you the truth, I don’t believe all that “since 1902 family owned” PR BS. I mean, I have no doubts that the brand was something owned by the family since whatever year it says but I doubt it was any perfume-related successful business before the current parent company decided they needed a “legitimate” niche brand under their wing. Not that it means anything to me one way or the other. It’s just a little curious how many brands with a century history started appearing in the recent years once the perfume industry started booming.

Anyway, this brand could have stayed just a record in my database if it weren’t for chocolatemarzipan, who mentioned how much she loved perfumes from Berdoues… just several dozen of times on NST, my blog and other places. So when I saw that Sephora online had that extremely appealing Discovery Set, I gave in.

Berdoues Perfumes Sampler

(see my new Sea Star Ratings explanation here)

Assam of India

The first time I tried it I immediately thought of one of my favorites – Jo Malone Assam & Grapefruit, which isn’t too surprising looking at the list of notes (here and going forward I dropped geographical descriptors): lemon, tea and sandalwood (Assam of India) vs. grapefruit, rhubarb, violet, Assam, cardamom, rose, almond, musk and patchouli (Assam & Grapefruit).

I tested them in parallel several times, and can confirm that they do smell similar, especially in the opening. Many years ago when I got Assam & Grapefruit as a gift, I wasn’t super-thrilled with it. Since then I changed my mind, and enjoy wearing it from time to time. So while I have it, I won’t need Assam of India. But since Jo Malone’s perfume was a limited edition, once my bottle is finished (or spoils), I won’t grieve much since Berdoues offers a perfect replacement – and Assam of India is priced much more reasonably.

Three and Half Sea Stars
=====

Somei Yoshino

I didn’t care for this perfume at all: it smells either nice but too simple or overly sweet and even unpleasant. Somei Yoshino might work better for you, so do not take my word – try it if you get a chance.

Official notes: shiso, patchouli and jasmine

One and Half Sea Stars
=====

Arz El-Rab

As it happens often, smelling perfume with a prominent note one immediately thinks of another perfume known for the same note. So while trying Arz El-Rab, I started drawing parallels between it and Diptyque Tam Dao. But since I own the latter, the next time I tested Arz El-Rab, I ran a wrist-by-wrist testing. And how it usually happens, being tested together, perfumes reveal both similarities and individuality. Arz El-Rab has an extra citrus in the opening (though it’s not mentioned in the short list of notes), has less oily cedar in the development and is sweeter in the drydown. I cannot smell iris, so those notes are clearly just for the general idea about perfume. It’s not bad at all – if you like cedar wood-centered perfumes.

Official notes: cedar, iris and ginger.

Three and Half Sea Stars
=====

Oud Al Sahraa

Since I rarely like agarwood perfumes, I tried Oud Al Sahraa mostly because I wanted to go through the complete set. I was pleasantly surprised: I liked it. It means that, most likely, Oud Al Sahraa’s agarwood isn’t real, which is a plus in my book. I do not smell anything citrus-y in this perfume though an Italian mandarin is declared as one of three revealed notes, and I think that I can smell what they call myrrh. I could wear Oud Al Sahraa myself and wouldn’t mind smelling it on my vSO, but I’m not sure it interests me enough to actually pursue it.

Three Sea Stars
=====

Rusty and Berdoues Sampler

Scorza di Sicilia

It smells not bad, though completely not what I expected looking at the box: it is very flowery when I thought it would be all citrus-y. It is sweeter than I wanted it to be and reminds me a little of air freshener. I retested Scorza di Sicilia three times, and I’m positive that I wouldn’t want to wear it beyond this testing.

Official notes: citron, cedar and vetiver.

One and Half Sea Stars
=====

Selva Do Brazil

First of all, I like the bottle (on the picture) and the box, in which my sample came: I think I have a shirt with a similar print. Selva Do Brazil starts green, even grassy with a hint of citrus. It settles down to a pleasant slightly woody skin scent. It is not “interesting,” “challenging” or any other epithet to similar effect one might use describing perfume. But if it works for you in its simplicity, you’ll unexplainably like it. Or it will seem too boring – so no blind buys, please.

You have to read this short but sweet review of Selva Do Brazil at Perfume Shrine!

Official notes: petit grain, gaiac wood and tonka bean.

Four Sea Stars
=====

Vanira Moorea

I can’t help it: Vanira Moorea reminds me of a tooth paste from my childhood so I cannot think of it as of a perfume. Our tooth pastes weren’t that great, I’m sure Vanira Moorea has much nicer ingredients but… In drydown it becomes just a vanilla perfume – not too great but not too bad either.

Official notes: orange, petit grain and vanilla.

Two Sea Stars
=====

Russkaya Kozha

Since a lot of leather perfumes are not my cup of tea, I didn’t expect much from this one but, I think, the sheer style of the Collection Grands Crus helped: despite its name, Russkaya Kozha (Russian Leather) doesn’t have that concentrated birch tar scent that is used to represent leather in many perfumes but it still evokes leather. Later in development it becomes sweeter (but not too much). It stays on my skin for hours – sheer, slightly smoky and with a hint of sweetness. Russkaya Kozha is one of those perfumes that are “office-safe” in a good way: it doesn’t project much to be offensive for others while it is not completely boring for the wearer.

I liked Russkaya Kozha very much, and I expect it to join my collection soon.

Official notes: juniper, cardamom and benzoin.

Four and Half Sea Stars
=====

In general, I liked this collection and think it’s a good addition to the perfume world. I can’t say one way or the other based on what I smell, but I do not believe that they are using natural ingredients – because of the price of perfumes and them insisting on listing just three notes while naming those with the location markers (e.g., oud wood from Malaysia). Does it matter to me? Not at that price. I think that this collection is a nice alternative to overpriced Jo Malone and Atelier Cologne perfumes – even though I like both brands. What Berdoues should do, in my opinion, is to produce smaller bottles (15-30 ml) keeping the same bottle and box design: I would gladly pay $35-$40 for a 30 ml bottle of at least two more perfumes in this collection while it’s hard for me to justify adding another 200 ml of perfumes to my wardrobe.

Rusty and Berdoues Sampler

Images: my own

Vacation in a Bottle: Yosh Ginger Ciao

I love Hawaii: beautiful nature, relaxed atmosphere and great food. And for what I value in that type of vacation the most, the best time for visiting Hawaii is late September – early October: ocean is the warmest possible while the air and sun is already tolerable at least part of the day; many tropical fruit and vegetables are the best in that season; sunsets are around dinner time; and it is slightly less crowded since school has just started.

 

Sunset on Maui

 

It’s mid-September already, and I long for that leisure week of swimming, stargazing and eating tropical fruit and fish. Sadly, this year we didn’t get to go to a tropical. European vacation, especially its London part, was great but I miss Hawaii. So to cope with that I’ve been recently wearing Ginger Ciao by Yosh.

 

Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

When I first tried, liked and bought Ginger Ciao six years ago, I didn’t think of it as a tropical perfume. It was a beautiful perfume, which didn’t remind me of any other perfume I wore until then – but other than that I didn’t think about it much. And then Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) reviewed Ginger Ciao from the sample I sent her:

Made for warm summer nights, it exudes a tropical vibe that is at once relaxing and exciting.

Birgit has always had huge influence on me, so from that moment Ginger Ciao got its tropical designation and became my number two* Hawaiian vacation perfume. It accompanied me to several trips, and I discovered that it was equally beautiful in the breezy warmth of tropical night and in sunlit heat of lazy Hawaiian day.

Ginger Ciao notes include coconut, night blooming cereus, tiger lily, neroli, ylang ylang, ginger, basil and sandalwood. Coconut is not too sweet, sandalwood is creamy, and all the floral notes sing nicely together with neither of them doing solo. It is one of those perfumes that seems simpler when you think about it remembering than it proves to be when you wear it.

 

Rusty and Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

Recently I got a bit of a scare: there was a huge sale on Yosh perfumes at Hautelook. Combined with brand’s site being down and no new releases in a while, I feared the worst. So without thinking for too long I’ve bought a back-up bottle.

Since then I calmed down and did some research. It seems that many of the online retailers still stock Yosh perfumes, full priced. Yosh Han, the brand’s owner and perfumer, is still active in perfume industry: according to her FB posts, she’s just worked at Pitti Fragranze with INEKE. So who knows: maybe one day soon Yosh releases a new chapter in her brand’s story. But meanwhile I’m happy that I’ve got an extra bottle of perfume that I love. And I’m glad to report that perfume from the new bottle smells identical to what is left in my 6 years old bottle. So, for the next 6 years I’m covered for my future trips to Hawaii (I hope) or for surviving a lack thereof.

 

Rusty and Yosh Ginger Ciao

 

Have you tried Ginger Ciao? Do you have any perfumes that you associate with beach vacation?

 

Images: my own

* Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess is my #1 tropical vacation perfume.

Second Sunday Samples: Grossmith Diamond Jubilee Bouquet and Amouage Blossom Love

Grossmith is another brand, with which I wasn’t familiar other than knowing the name. I’m not sure how I feel about old houses resurrection: usually the “nose” is different, old perfumes – even if the formulas survived – cannot be recreated exactly as they were because of the new regulations, and the packaging is also new. So, I’m not sure what exactly is being restored other than the name. Since this brand re-appeared recently, it hasn’t been represented widely in the U.S., and I probably wouldn’t have tested it if it weren’t for my trial subscription to ScentTrunk a couple of years ago.

Diamond Jubilee Bouquet starts with a very prominent iris, not carrot-y but rather powdery. In about 10 minutes iris gets weaker, and I get distinct carnation note. After that for hours it is just a really creamy and muted floral bouquet (which is quite fitting given the name) plus musk and maybe vanilla. The complete list – just in case you’re curious, and your nose is better than my: narcissus, lily-of-the-valley, citruses, carnation, iris, jasmine, rose, violet, vetiver, musk, amber, tonka bean, vanilla and hawthorn.

Diamond Jubilee Bouquet is very charming and pleasant. It is not perfume to fall in love with but I can hardly imagine anybody disliking it. As you can also get from the name, Grossmith created that perfume in 2012 to commemorate the event. “Limited Edition of 500 – available in UK only” was proudly stated on the brand’s site and repeated (without the “UK” part) on sites of several online stores that still carry the remaining stock of those “limited 500.” So either Grossmith keeps producing that “limited” perfume or they are still selling the five-year-old stock. It is not a bad perfume but I think it is just too expensive for what it is – a nice quiet office-friendly scent.

Rusty and Amouage Blossom Love and Grossmith Diamond Jubilee Bouquet

There is nothing subdued about the second perfume I tested. Amouage Blossom Love is bright and loud. If I weren’t looking at the sample, I would have never been able to recognize it as Amouage perfume. It is not a scent of a blossom. It is neither airy enough for the light spring floral scent nor opulent enough for Amouage fame. Blossom Love is very straightforward, simple and artificial, which isn’t surprising when you look at the list of notes: cherry blossom nectar, rose liquor, ylang ylang, Amaretto accord, vanilla, tonka bean, cashmeran.

I know that tastes differ a lot but I find nauseating everything about this perfume: from the stupid pink bottle to the sickly sweet and boozy scent to Christopher Chong’s description of it:

Blossom Love is inspired by the sassy nature and loyal heart of the vivacious modern woman. She defies conventions as she unabashedly lives for love, romance and new adventure

Can you imagine reading something like that but with the word “man” used instead? Ughh!

I hate the fact that, instead of setting the bar high(er) for the industry and consumers, a great brand starts catering to the lowest denominator. And I just can’t believe that at $360 for 100 ml Amouage could not afford better ingredients or a perfumer who doesn’t produce more than one (mostly middle-tier mainstream) perfume per month.

Rusty in the backyard

As you might have already guessed, this Amouage won’t be joining my collection – even though I suspect it’ll be available at a heavy discount soon. But for those of you in the U.S. who would like to try it or do not share my impression of the scent and want to wear it for a while, I would suggest checking it on the ScentBird site: for $14.95 (that includes S&H) you can get a 8 ml decant of Blossom Love (and some other recent Amouage scents). If you used to be a subscriber, login to your old account, and they’ll offer you to re-subscribe at a discount (you can unsubscribe at any time). If you have never subscribed to their service, you can use this link, and both you and I will get the second month free subscription, which means that for $14.95 you can get 2 x 8 ml of Amouage perfumes (there are some other nice options there now – that’s why I re-subscribed a couple of days ago).

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Penhaligon’s Endymion and Savoy Steam

Most of my posts on this blog are stories related to perfumes. As I keep telling brands that offer me perfumes for reviews, even if I like perfume, I might never write about it if it doesn’t have a story to tell. Usually that does the trick – they do not send samples, I do not feel guilty not writing anything about those perfumes. But I spend a lot of time testing samples that I get either from stores or from fellow perfumistas. So I decided that once a month – the second Sunday – I will do a small feature, Second Sunday Samples, in which I’ll be sharing just short impressions of perfumes I tested.

Until a couple of years ago, Penhaligon’s was a brand, about which I knew and some perfumes from which I tested but at that time there were just a couple of not too accessible stores. But then Penhaligon’s moved into my area with several boutiques. And since they are new players on the local market, they are still in the phase of being not too close-fisted with the samples.

Penhaligon's Savoy Steam and Endymion Samples

I was curious to try Savoy Steam because of Cynthia’s (The Fragrant Journey) review of this perfume. She made it sound so appealing that the SA at Penhaligon’s saw right away that I needed that sample.

Savoy Steam has just been released. I tried the EdP concentration. From what I read, the EdC version is quite different – so make sure to try both. EdP is spicy and warm. I know that there’s citrus in it but it’s lost on my nose. I can smell rose and geranium but the rest of the notes I cannot identify (according to Fragrantica, top notes are bergamot, lemon, eucalyptus, mint, pink pepper and rosemary; middle notes are rose, geranium, cardamom, hedione and tea; base notes are benzoin, incense, vanilla and white musk). Savoy Steam stays right on the border where a proper gentleman might still wear it without feeling conscious that it’s too sweet, too feminine. But for me it is too sweet without being feminine enough. Also, I don’t know why but I keep calling it in my head Savoy Cream – not the kind you eat but the one you shave with. I like it the most in about 2 hours after the application but, in general, it is not perfume I would consider wearing.

I knew nothing about Endymion released in 2003 until it almost jumped at me yesterday. I mean, it was the last sample in the sample basket in front of the Penhaligon’s store – how could I pass by?

Endymion for me smells like a classic masculine perfume, which is not surprising with notes of lavender, sage, geranium and vetiver (other notes are mandarin orange, bergamot, coffee, leather, musk, myrhh, nutmeg, black pepper, cardamon, sandalwood, incense and olibanum). I do not smell any leather – at least not the kind you expect nowadays when you read “leather” as a note. Coffee? Not either. It is beautiful, elegant and well-blended perfume. There is nothing “unisex” about it; and it is probably not perfume I would consider wearing myself but I would love to smell it on a man.

Rusty and Penhaligon's Savoy Steam and Endymion Samples

Images: my own

Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 4: Perfumes I bought

More than three years ago, while describing my indecisiveness when it comes to buying perfumes, I wrote:

I have that dream of going into a perfume shop while on a vacation or at a fragrance event and finding perfume, without which I wouldn’t want to leave that store.

It hasn’t happen to me since then. If anything, I became even less spontaneous, which isn’t surprising taking into the consideration my steadily expanding collection and exponentially increasing number of new releases. But the dream lived on. So going on the vacation to London, Barcelona and Stockholm, I decided not only to take with me and wear perfumes created by the brands from the respective countries but also to bring back perfumes from each of the destinations – with the same caveat of the brand’s origin.

As I’ve described in the posts about each part of my trip, in our era of globalization it wasn’t easy to find perfumes that would fit the set criteria, even though I tried to cheat a little by bringing with me samples of perfumes that I’ve previously tried and… let’s put it this way – didn’t dislike.

After all the sniffing Tara, Vanessa and I and then Vanessa and I did in London, on the last evening in the city I was still hesitant. I might have ended up not buying anything at all if it weren’t for the serendipitous circumstances.

One of the most pleasant memories from our previous visit to London was a restaurant on the corner of the same street where we happened to stay then in a tiny hot room under the roof. For the whole week in London this time we kept planning to go there but something else would come up. So finally I reserved a table there for the last evening.

When you spend the day walking the city, it’s hard to plan perfectly. We arrived to the restaurant almost an hour earlier but since we weren’t hungry yet, instead of checking with them if they could seat us immediately, we decided just to walk around and see the area where we spent time seven years ago.

We went by the B&B where we stayed – it looked the same. We checked out a bakery that seemed very appealing back then – probably not the fairest comparison with it being after 5 P.M., but the selection of baked goods didn’t impress. We walked by the private park for the residents of one of the buildings – it was still very charming and inaccessible. Then we came across the second location of Les Senteurs. Since Vanessa and I went through everything at the other location the day before, I just sprayed again Tom Daxon’s Magnolia Heights to give it one last wear before going for a bottle. And then I saw it…

Jo Loves London Boutique

Of course, later I remembered Vanessa’s suggestions to the fellow-shoppers in Ormonde Jayne store to visit this area for Les Senteurs and Jo Loves boutiques. But it completely went by me at the time. Since I still kept my grudges against this brand for offering to send me scented blotters in response to my inquiry to purchase samples when the line had been launched (six years later I think I can safely reveal the brand, about which I wrote that post), I didn’t even think of visiting that store. But there we were – so I just couldn’t pass it by.

It wasn’t the first time I smelled Jo Loves’ perfumes: a year after the launch they had some limited promotion where you could request 2 samples. My friend and I each requested two – so we got to try four perfumes. “Nice but nothing special” was a verdict for three of them, and I liked but didn’t love the forth one (Gardenia). Several months ago I got hajusuuri’s “traveling samples set” – so I was able to try 7 more of their scents and really liked one of them.

Even though I came partially prepared, it took me some time to make a decision. In the end I decided to go with perfume that I liked from the hajusuuri’s set – No. 42 The Flower Shop.

Rusty and Jo Loves The Flower Shop

Most of you who have been around for a while saw on my blog many beautiful bouquets (usually in Rusty’s company). Those we created in one of the local florist shops, which both I and my vSO like. He usually goes there on his own (to order flowers for me, not trusting online ordering) but from time to time we visit it together – not to buy anything but just to check what they’re offering. There is a cold room in the shop – a walk-in floral refrigerator for pre-made floral arrangements and buckets of different flowers. No. 42 The Flower Shop smells exactly like that room: greenery with mixed floral bouquet, light and pleasant (Notes from Fragrantica: green leaves, mandarin orange, peony, lily of the valley, freesia, jasmine, narcissus, iris, white musk, moss and patchouli). I plan to put the bottle in the fridge and use on hot summer days. The name of this perfume was inspired by the flower shop, in which Ms. Malone worked as a girl. Many years later she opened her boutique on the same street where that flower shop used to be.

Jo Loves No. 42 The Flower Shop

There was a close second contender – Mango Thai Lime. But since I’ve never tried it before on skin, the store was closing, and we were getting late for dinner, I decided to go for the safer choice, but tried to get a sample of this one – to test later and see if I would want to get a bottle. Would you care to guess what I was offered?

Rusty and Jo Loves The Flower Shop

And if you were curious, dinner at the restaurant, which happened to be just one short block away from the Jo Loves shop, was just alright: the food was edible but much simpler than 7 years ago (and as I happen to still have a menu from that first time, I was able to confirm that my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me). But those memories brought me back to that street, that boutique and to that perfume. And the picture below is what I saw first today when I went to the Jo Loves site to look-up something for this post. A magical coincidence indeed.

Jo Loves 42 The Flower Shop

The story of the next perfume will be not as poetic and a little shorter.

In Barcelona, predictably, I didn’t have any “prospects” until the last day. When I got to La Basilica Galeria (the one with 1,000+ perfume), I told myself that if anywhere, I should be able to find there something to fit the criteria I imposed on this perfume hunt. Luckily for me, local perfumes were thoughtfully marked as such, so while methodically sniffing through all the shelves, I paid additional attention to those with “Made in Spain” labels.

Rusty and Ramon Molvizar Sun Sol

No, I didn’t bring back with me a toy for Rusty instead of perfume though I came close to that. Perfumes that I liked the most were in the case before the last. Before that day I have never heard of this brand – Ramon Molvizar, though the first fragrance in the Fragrantica’s database is dated as 1999. Probably, it was for the best because had I read the brand’s claims of “exquisite luxury” and “taking the perfumer’s art to its extreme where it becomes a masterpiece,” I would have felt much more skeptical. But since I was blissfully ignorant, I approached these perfumes practically with an open mind: I almost didn’t hold against them those strange shiny fragments inside the bottles.

Ramon Molvizar Sol Sun

After trying several of Molvizar’s perfumes on paper, I pared down my choices to two. Those went on my wrists, and we went to sleep eat on it. I tried to be discreet in the café, but since I spent equal time sniffing and chewing, I suspect I didn’t fully succeed. But I made up my mind.

Rusty and Ramon Molvizar Sol Sun

Sol Sun on my skin opens with a cheerful citrus – perfect for that summer day in Barcelona. In the development I recognize lotus (not as a real flower but as a note I know from other perfumes) and some hints of wood. Those of you who have better nose would probably be able to recognize other notes from the list: lemon, ginger, bergamot, rose, orchid, jasmine, musk, wood and sugar cane. It is not one of those perfumes that everybody needs to experience: there’s nothing groundbreaking, unique or even quirky about Sol Sun. But I like this bright and sweet floral perfume with warm amber-y drydown – despite of the slightly tacky, in my opinion, 23-karat gold flakes (c’mon, for $8 you can get Beverly Hills Gold with 24 (!) kt gold flakes). And, as an additional bonus, Sol Sun comes in a beautiful wooden box, also made in Spain (which impressed my vSO in our made-in-China century). That packaging will allow me to keep this perfume on my dresser, which is valuable given the aforementioned collection proliferation. Nothing else would fit into it though besides the bottle – Rusty has checked.

Rusty and Ramon Molvizar Sol Sun

As to the last leg of the trip: I drew a blank. By that time I tried and liked so many great perfumes that it didn’t feel right to buy anything less interesting than those perfumes from the “Perfumes I didn’t buy” sections of my travel posts only because it was local. But when I finish my La Tulipe decant, I’ll buy a bottle in memory of how wonderful this perfume was on a cold summer day in Stockholm.

 

Images: all but the one from the Jo Loves site, my own