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

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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

Monday Quick Sniffs, part 46

Undina: I think most of my readers know Lucas and his blog Chemist in the Bottle – but if no, Lucas is one of rare perfumistas who went beyond just perfume appreciation: he works in the industry, and one day, I’m sure, I will be wearing perfumes of his creation. While thinking about the ways to keep ourselves and our blogs even more entertaining, we thought it would be a good idea to swap blogs for a day. Yesterday he hosted my Second Sunday Samples on Chemist in the Bottle, and today I invite you to welcome him on Undina’s Looking Glass.

* * *

tears-of-eros

I am new to the brand of Paul Schütze and it seems I started discovering this brand from its bold side. Tears of Eros (yes, I chose the sample based on its name!) starts with a big hyacinth – it’s very floral at first but several minutes later it becomes very green, with a plant juice dripping all over the place. Plus it gets really earthy & vegetal. Kind of like a gloomy orris root. Woody notes of guaiac wood and cedar follow next, as they spread their scent. It’s dry, woodsy and has a rough feeling to it. It’s very solid and thanks to incense accord this perfume feels much darker and mysterious. It has a spiritual accents but to me this is how a dangerous forest from a fantasy book could smell like. Ambergris makes Tears of Eros more mineral, benzoin adds a resinous facet while cardamom makes it a little bit more spicy in a cool way. This is a daring perfume for perfume people with a lot of courage.

guilty-absolute-femme

In response to the success of Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Homme this renowned fashion brand recently introduced its counterpart for women. Guilty Absolute pour Femme opens with beautiful and mouth-watering blackberry note. I just love how nicely it incorporates juicy and sweet aspect of this red fruit with its more tart, tangy side. Through this balance it smells very realistic and super delicious. Gentle zing of bergamot guides us further to a cypress accord that has a green, slightly woody smell. It actually makes me think of a blackberry bush. Next there is a lovely Bulgarian rose than blends nicely with red fruity aroma making it much more feminine and sensual. Pink pepper provides something tingly, sparkling in the background. Amber and patchouli in the base make Guilty Absolute pour Femme more guilty and seductive through its warmth. There’s a bit more woodiness later (from Goldenwood® molecule). Well done Gucci, really well done! Thumbs up!

inavouable

Making Of, a niche brand based in Cannes debuted with 5 fragrances four years ago and this fact somehow slipped my mind. I haven’t tried them for all that time, despite having samples somewhere in the drawer. For today I picked Inavouable, a composition that sets off with tangy combination of lemon, bergamot and blood mandarin. What I noted is that there’s not much juiciness to them, they feel more dry (gin?) and aromatic. Aquatic and sheer magnolia follows next but it gets completely overwhelmed by a slightly indolic jasmine that appears shortly after. After some time tiare flowers gives Inavouable a tropical twist. Sweetness of vanilla blends with it and on my skin it smells like a lovely suntan lotion. It’s a little sultry too. Ambery facets appear after few hours introducing more warmth and sensuality to the fragrance. Benzoin makes Inavouable more balsamic while musk gives something animalic. It’s not a bad perfume, just not memorable one for me.

***

And now please join me in wishing Undina all the best for her birthday, which happens to be today! Everyone raise your glass for our beloved birthday girl. May all your wishes come true and may 2018 be filled with many wonderful things. We love having you around.

SSS: SSS B’sB and More

When I started my Second Sunday Samples series, I thought of referring to it as SSS Series but since in Perfumeland that abbreviation is usually used for Sonoma Scent Studio, I dropped the idea.

While writing about Sonoma Scent Studio’s samples for this month’s episode, I thought those abbreviations would look fabulous together – hence the title.

* * *

I grew up in a large city. Horses were either an attribute of a rural life, about which most of us, city kids, had little knowledge, or something from “other times,” about which we read books or watched films. So horses were almost mythical creatures, if you think about it.

The closest I’ve ever got to a horse riding was, probably, favoring Tal-y-Tara Tea & Polo Shoppe in San Francisco. While drinking tea with cute sandwiches and scones, we would look around trying to figure out the use for different unusual things on the shelves around us.

 

 

Probably because of all that Sonoma Scent Studio’s Equestrian did not attract my attention when it was launched last year, despite several very favorable reviews and year-end lists. But recently when I was placing an order for a couple of perfumes that I wanted to replenish, I decided to catch up on the newest Sonoma Scent Studio’s releases and bought samples.

If it weren’t for the name and Laurie Erikson’s Comments, I would have never guessed that this scent has anything to do with horses. The list of notes wouldn’t give it away either (at least to me): apple accord, grassy notes, hay absolute, leather accord, jasmine sambac absolute, violet, labdanum absolute, Virginia cedar, natural oakmoss absolute, patchouli, New Caledonia sandalwood and benzoin.

The first time I tried Equestrian, it reminded me Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau. I know that these two have almost no notes in common, and since then I’ve done them in parallel and proved to myself that they are very different. And still, every time I put on just Equestrian, I immediately think: Jeux de Peau. I wonder if I make some subconscious connection Equestrian –> Tal-y-Tara Tea & Polo Shoppe –> scones –> palmiers (which were my association for the SL’s perfume)?

But back to Equestrian. My nose didn’t identify “apple” initially but once I read it in the notes, I agreed that whatever I smelled might be interpreted as such. That accord and benzoin give perfume just enough sweetness to put Equestrian on the border of gourmand territory (another nod to JdP) or maybe even slightly into it but not overwhelmingly so. The leather is smooth and subtle. And the rest of ingredients together paint a harmonious picture.

The more I test Equestrian, the more I like it. I’m not sure yet If it gets to four sea stars but it is close to that, so I’ll be spending more time with the sample.

Three and Half Sea Stars

* * *

My impressions from the second sample from that recent order, Bee’s Bliss, were completely congruous with both the name and perfumer’s comments. You do not even need to read the notes list to conjure the late spring – early summer day with all the blossoms that would be considered a paradise by any self-respecting bee. But just in case you haven’t seen the list yet, here it is: bergamot, apricot and peach, orange blossom, jasmine, mimosa, lilac, heliotrope, beeswax, honey, iris, vetiver, green leaves, benzoin, amber, oakmoss, patchouli and musk.

Bee’s Bliss is a beautiful and joyful floral perfume. What is interesting about it: if you’re familiar with other Sonoma Scent Studio’s floral compositions, you’ll be surprised how light and airy this perfume is. Bee’s Bliss doesn’t have the darker woodsy and resinous base that one has come to expect from Ms. Erikson’s creations. At the same time, it has enough substance to feel like a traditional perfume rather than summery cologne.

 

 

I liked Bee’s Bliss from the first application so I decided not to wait and ordered a purse spray.

Four Sea Stars

SSS’s shopping cart will be up until December 19th, so those of my U.S. readers who were thinking about trying this perfume or ordering something else from the brand still have time to do that.

I realize that it is harder for readers from other parts of the World to obtain samples from SSS, so I want to offer my sample in a draw for those who are NOT in the U.S. To be entered, you do not need to do anything other than say in what country you live. The draw is open until 23:59 PST on December 17th. The winner will be selected randomly.

SSS does ship to at least some countries but the official shipping is prohibitively expensive. So if the winner of the sample, after trying it, decides to buy a travel spray or a bottle (you can do it over e-mail even after the cart is taken down), I can offer to receive the package and send it your way through the regular mail, which should be cheaper than to do it through the international UPS.

A reminder: hajusuuri’s guessing game and giveaway is still open.

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: 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

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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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