If it didn’t work the first time…

I read that this perfume was about to be released. I’m a little surprised to see it on the counter already, but since it’s there, of course I want to try it. I do not expect much but, against all odds, I still have a faint hope that it will be good…

“It’s a great new perfume featuring … “<here goes a list of notes> – announces an SA materializing at my side, –“It’s not available yet, you know. It’ll release next month. But I can pre-order it for you…”

I’ve heard a variation of this line a dozen of times. And every time I feel baffled: why?!! Why would I possibly want to pre-order the scent that I just smelled for the first time? It’s not something exclusive or limited. They do not offer any type of deal or a discount. So why to pre-order now if in a couple of weeks it’ll be in all the stores for me to buy on the spot or to spray in abundance and think until the next holidays if I want it?

My standard reply usually is: “I’ll think about it, but meanwhile could I get a sample of this great new perfume?” Not a single time I left without it.

Jo Malone Basil & Neroli is a typical Jo Malone perfume: it’s not unpleasant, not complicated, and becomes a skin scent within a couple of hours, leaving you free to choose whatever you want to wear next. I think it’s rather appealing for the opening five minutes: it’s juicy, moderately sweet and very uplifting. But then it gets just flat on my skin.

While Basil & Neroli still might be considered a unisex perfume, at least initially it is more feminine then Jo Malone’s staple and “a modern classic” (even if they say so themselves) Lime Basil & Mandarin, which is strange, if you think about it: shouldn’t the fruit (mandarin) be sweater than blossom oil? But 30-40 minutes into the development I’m not sure I can really tell them apart unless I smell them side by side.

Speaking of Lime Basil & Mandarin, being a Jo Malone fan, for years I tried that perfume again and again hoping I’d change my mind but kept on strongly disliking it – until I got Lime Basil & Mandarin soap as a part of a GWP. I simply love it! The combination that felt too masculine as perfume is just perfect for daily washing rituals. A couple of months ago I got anxious that there would be soon just a sliver left from my current then bar of LB&M – and hurried up to buy a replacement bar. Today I’m still using that first bar, and from the way it looks, there is another month or two in it. So if you were to wait for one of the brand site’s good deals, which happen from time to time (like 3 samples or, even better, a 9 ml travel bottle with any purchase), with free S&H that soap might be the best $20 spent.

Rusty and Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin Soap

As for Basil & Neroli, I can’t think of a reason to even try it – unless you’re looking for a citrus piece for your perfume wardrobe, or find yourself in a store or an airport’s Duty Free with absolutely nothing else interesting to test.

 

Image: my own

Advertisements

My First Niche Perfume: Tiempe Passate by Antonia’s Flowers

 

Ten years ago I knew nothing about the existence of a niche world in perfumery. When I got a sample of Tiempe Passate by Antonia’s Flowers among other samples with a perfume purchase, it was just that – another sample.

At the time I was arrogant enough to think that I knew most of the modern perfumes and could find online any of those for less than available from department stores. So I was a little surprised that I didn’t know the brand and never heard about that perfume.

The scent was very different from everything I knew and liked then but unlike many other fragrances  that left me indifferent or were resolutely classified “not for me” this one caught my attention and kept drawing me in.

Antonias Flowers Tiempe Passate

By the time I’d used up my Tiempe Passate sample I knew that I wanted more. That was when I found out that it could not be bought not only from those mass-market online discount sites but also from B&M stores.

Several years later I finally found Antonia’s Flowers website and ordered a set of samples. I was curious to try other perfumes from the line but the main purpose was to see if I still liked Tiempe Passate because $140 for 60 ml seemed totally unapproachable.

The minute I put Tiempe Passate on I felt an awful disappointment: not because it didn’t smell the way I remembered – it just didn’t smell at all! All other samples were fine but this one had just a faint smell of alcohol. I wrote to the company asking if it was possible that the sample just was off. They were surprised but sent me another one. This time it smelled great.

Three years ago my vSO got me a bottle of Tiempe Passate for my birthday. And it was the first niche perfume in my collection.

Rusty And Tiempe Passate

Tiempe Passate by Antonia’s Flowers – created by Norbert Bijaoui in 1999, notes include (I’ll go with NTS’s list) bergamot, clementine, sage, mimosa, cyclamen, Montauk rose, white orris, cedar, vetiver and amber.

Tiempe Passate starts really strong and almost unpleasant for the first minute. All I can smell is alcohol and something plastic-y or rubber-y. And then it settles and smells… just wonderful. For hours Tiempe Passate is a very pleasant skin scent with unexpected bursts of projection. I’ve got multiple compliments while wearing it.

In my two years anniversary post I mentioned that there were some personal posts that haven’t got as many readers as I’d want. One of such posts – Elusive Perfume – in addition to (hopefully) being entertaining, will explain what happened with me and the first Tiempe Passate sample vial.

Rusty and Tiempe Passate

I didn’t figure it out until today: though the list doesn’t mention Iso E Super, it is there, I’m sure. I tested two of my favorite perfumes in parallel – Molecule 01 by Escentric Molecules and Tiempe Passate by Antonia’s Flowers and I have to concede that the latter is just a nicely embellished variation of the former. And Iso E Super is exactly what I was enjoying in both (on those occasions when I could smell it). And now I know why I was having a hard time trying to describe what Tiempe Passate smelled like. Well, at least I’m being consistent in my fragrant crushes.

Even though I’m slightly disappointed I still think Tiempe Passate is worth trying. Barney’s carries Antonia’s Flowers line. Or you can order samples from the brand’s website for a more than reasonable price.

Rusty and Tiempe Passate

There are not too many reviews for this perfume. I was surprised that Robin (NST) liked it (though it was many years ago).

Do you remember your first niche perfume?

 

Images: my own

Déjà vu, Episode 4: des pairs, dis-pair, Despair

 

In the Episode 1 of the o Déjà vu series to explain how I see those scents that I feature in the series I cited Daphne du Maurier‘s book The Scapegoat. The plot concerns an Englishman who meets his double, a French aristocrat, while visiting France, and is forced into changing places with him… Today’s episode calls for another literature reference but I’ll get to it later.

Half a year ago, soon after I introduced my lemmings for the upcoming release of Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee in one of the Weekly round-up episodes, I was contacted by a person from Beauté Prestige International’s PR department. She asked for my address to send me press information and a sample. It was my first ever contact from PR people and it was about the perfume I was so anxious to try. Probably you can imagine my feelings. But being paranoid as I am, before responding I checked the name and the e-mail address. Everything was legit so I replied and started waiting… Well, the sample has never arrived but at least I felt thrilled for a while.

Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee

A month later Natalie (Another Perfume Blog) brought a small vial of Nuit Etoilee to our perfume sniffing rendezvous. I applied it to my wrist, inhaled – and immediately thought that it reminded me of another perfume that I already had in my collection.

As soon as I bought Nuit Etoilee I contacted my blogo-friends who previously helped me with similar projects and asked them to participate in another blind testing. They agreed and I sent them two color-coded spray vials – green and blue. The main question I asked was: Do you think these perfumes smell similar? I have an input from three bloggers so I recruited Rusty to help with visuals (click to enlarge).

Rusty and Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee

Natalie of Another Perfume Blog:

To start off, and hopefully this doesn’t matter, but I feel pretty sure I know both of these. I believe the blue one is Nuit Etoilee. It has that kind’ve minty orange feeling at first, and then it is sappy and piney and quickly dries down to a certain ingredient that I smell in a lot of things and cannot figure out what it is. I think I’ve mentioned it to you before. It smells to me like hot dry cleaned clothes. Whatever it is, this ingredient is very prominent in the blue one and in Chanel Jersey.

Wearing the blue one side by side with the green one makes me smell something in the blue one that I don’t think I would have otherwise (and if blue is Nuit Etoilee, I never smelled this before in it), and that is tobacco. I feel like I sense some tobacco in the blue one when I wear it next to the green one. The green one, though, to me is very much tobacco (and the blue one isn’t). And the green is very chewy and dense and sweet, with a thicker sweetness than the blue one.

I think they have something else in common as well for a little while. I don’t know what it is. The closest I can come to an association is very weird: maple and raisins. People sometimes speak about berry as a component of tobacco, and maybe this is what they are talking about. I don’t know. Then, it goes away and they are very different again.

Overall, they smell somewhat similar to me, but less so than Gold and Climat (the reference is to the Episode 2 – Undina).

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Judith of the unseen censer:

The answer to your question is yes, I do think that right at the beginning they have a similar green-galbanum-carnation-peppery thing that could be considered similar. The stuff in the green vial is so MUCH MORE than the stuff in the blue vial that even that first shot of peppery green is a lot more three-dimensional, to my nose, than the blue vial; but there is a similarity, enough that I would believe some of the same ingredients were used to get the effect, though the blue vial develops so much more simply and sheerly and the green vial develops immediately into the “swamp accord” that makes me think it must be Amouage Honour Woman or something in that line.

The blue vial turns into a VERY powdery iris, which for some reason reminds me of Prada Infusion d’Iris but I think must be Iris Silver Mist or another one of those very classic irises that I have smelled but do not wear and do not like. IT’S A LOT OF IRIS. The green vial has more of a general floral quality to it (which is why I think it might be Honour rather than Interlude Woman) and at the far drydown, where the blue vial is just trying to hit me over the head with powdery iris and makes me want to walk away, the green vial has settled into more of a clean woody base and what might very well be a bit of iris might be what is filling in the background of the wood and giving it that “clean” touch without there being a musk or something similar (I don’t think the clean note is musk but would be willing to hear that I am wrong). I think that it’s iris because it has something of the feel of Chanel No. 19 about the cleanness – it’s not a modern laundry clean, more of a soft/crisp vegetal clean that I associate with iris.

For the record, I don’t think these scents smell at all alike, but these two structural elements – the opening green, and the iris – seem to make them something like third cousins once removed, or something.

Rusty and Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilee

Suzanne of Eiderdown Press:

If I were a betting woman, I’d bet the farm that the perfume in the green vial is Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles.  The first words I wrote down on smelling the green vial fragrance were: “woody, spicy, amber, rum raisins, cedar or some kind of really dry wood … so dry and camphorous, it reminds me of oud.”  The first two fragrances it made me think of were Amouage Opus VI and Serge Lutens Borneo 1834.  In fact, it was hard for me to get off that track for a while … I kept thinking, deep, woody amber with patchouli.  But after a while, the camphor seemed more like the tingliness of pine, and the scent was so spicy that I began to focus in these two directions, which is what led to pull out a dab sample that Birgit once sent me of Fille en Aiguilles.  Funny thing is, when Birgit sent me that sample, I remember not liking the combination of sweetness and woods — and now, I am utterly infatuated.  If indeed the fragrance in the green vial is Fille en Aiguilles, then all I can say is, what a difference spraying makes!  In either case, I now madly want Fille en Aiguilles and whatever is in that green vial you sent.  Deep, sensuous, masculine leaning … I’d better stop there. ;-)

The fragrance in the blue vial has pretty much thrown me for a loop.  It smells so familiar, as if its name ought to be on the tip of my tongue, yet I can’t figure it out. To my nose, this is a very light and airy fragrance that smells of tea, citrus, hay-like greens, spice that leans heavily on anise (with hints of other spices I’ll mention in a minute) and lots of clean white musk.  It reminds me of Cartier L’Heure Fougueuse in some ways, but I know it’s not that one, as it lacks leather and is sweeter than L’Heure Fogueuse. I thought in some ways it resembled Annick Goutal Mandragore, but Mandragore is deeper.  The blue vial fragrance also strikes me as cologne-like, and I find some resemblance to the samples you once sent me from Atelier — Trefle Pur and Bois Blonds — as it has elements of both of those in it.  In the end, I can’t identify it and I can’t detect much in the way of resemblance (or smell-alike notes) with the green vial fragrance, except for this: mid-way through its development, it has a similar smell in terms of spice notes: in both fragrances, I get hints of anise, wormwood/absinthe (which is obvously not a spice, but I’m lumping it here anyway), ginger, bay leaf, and a faint trace of lavender.  I find the anise and absinthe smell — a very green-like spicy smell — the thing that seems most common to both fragrances (in the green and blue vials).

Rusty and Serge Lutens Fille Aiguilles

Natalie was right: the blue vial contained Nuit Etoilee – created in 2012 by Isabelle Doyen, notes include citron, sweet orange, peppermint, Siberian pine (balsam fir and everlasting absolutes) and angelica seeds. And Suzanne was right: in the green vial it was Fille en Aiguilles – created in 2009 by Christopher Sheldrake, notes include Pine needles, vetiver, sugary sap, laurel, fir balsam, frankincense, candied fruit and spice. And all three contributors did not think these two perfumes had too much in common.

As I said in the beginning, the situation reminds me of a fiction book. Despair. It’s a novel by Vladimir Nabokov. Hermann Karlovich, a Russian émigré businessman, meets a tramp in the city of Prague, whom he believes to be his exact double. […] After some time, Hermann shares with Felix a plan for both of them to profit off their shared likeness by having Felix briefly pretend to be Hermann. After that, though, Despair unwinds differently from The Scapegoat. After Felix is disguised as Hermann, Hermann kills Felix in order to collect the insurance money […]. But as it turns out, there is no resemblance whatsoever between the two men, the murder is not ‘perfect’, and the murderer is about to be captured by the police […]. If you keep reading Wikipedia article you’ll see from where I’ve got the idea of the title though I do not think they are correct: even though Nabokov is known for his love for playing with words in multiple languages, the novel was written in Russian and the English word used by him later in translation is just that – a translation the original title.

Nuit Etoilee and Fille en Aiguilles Twins

By now I wore both perfumes many times. I know that they aren’t identical. Perfumes I covered before in this series were much closer to each other than Nuit Etoilee and Fille en Aiguilles. I can tell one from the other and won’t mix them. I do not think owning both is redundant (did you see that beautiful blue bottle?!) But again and again when I test them in parallel I can’t help but thinking how much they have in common for my nose: they both smell of pine and fir – the scent I was looking for last year’s holiday season. This year I have two perfect perfumes for the upcoming season. I’m prepared.

 

Images: my own

Déjà vu, Episode 3: powdery fruit vs. peony oriental vs. sandalwood jasmine

When I was a child there was a sketch comedy TV show for kids – Yeralash. One of the episodes was titled Twins (it’s shorter than 2 minutes – start at 4:00 –  you can watch it for the idea, I didn’t find it with subtitles).

The plot: Two little boys (LBs) on a sled bump into an older boy (OB). He gets up to confront them when he notices that they look alike.

OB: Identical twins!
LBs (here and later they speak in unison): We are not identical twins!
OB: What do you mean “not twins”? Are you brothers?
LBs: Yes!
OB: Then you’re identical twins!
LBs: No, we told you, we are not identical twins!
OB:  Were you born the same day?
LBs: Yes!
OB: Then you are identical twins!
LBs: No, we are not!
OB: Why are you messing with me?! Let’s do it again. Were you born the same day? Are you brothers? Are you look-alike?
LBs: Yes! Yes! Yes!
OB: Then you are twins!
(the third little boy who looks exactly as the first two comes from behind and pushes OB away): Leave them alone! We are identical triplets!!! I went to pee!

 *

A year ago in one of the department stores I came across a stand with six or seven classic Guerlein fragrances. It was my first close encounter with those perfumes and since the only one I tried before – Shalimar – didn’t work for me I was reluctant to put anything on my skin. So I spent some time with all those bottles and paper strips. Have you ever tried keeping six unsigned blotters in order? I thought I was doing fine… Later, as I was going through those blotters in the car, the scent from one of them suddenly felt very familiar. A couple of minutes of intense sniffing later I conjured the answer: Estee Lauder’s Tuscany per Donna! The problem was that I didn’t know which perfume it was: blotters mixed in my hands and names did the same in my head.

I came home and went through the notes lists for those perfumes I suspected might be “it” – Mitsouko, Jicky, Jardins de Bagatelle and L’Heure Bleue. Each one of them had a potential but I couldn’t tell which one it was just from comparing notes. So the next week I went back to the store and sprayed those perfumes on new blotters (signed this time to avoid confusion). Nothing. None of them smelled like Tuscany per Donna. Since all that happen soon after I published the first episode in my o Déjà vu category I concluded that it was a wishful thinking on my part and thus wrapped up my experiments.

 *

During my Guerlain Quest in Las Vegas this February, following Suzanne’s recommendation, I tested Samsara in parfum concentration. I smelled it from a blotter that an SA handed to me and immediately thought of another perfume Samsara reminded me of. Actually, I thought of another two perfumes. But remembering reaction of the Specialist (I won’t repeat the link but you might want to look through the story from the Episode 1 linked above to understand what I’m referring to); I chose the “more niche” of two to mention to that SA. I told him that Samsara reminded me of Frederic Malle’s Iris Poudre. And that was where it was “déjà vu all over again”: his reaction was really similar to the one I got from Malle’s Specialist. I thought it was ironic.

*

A month ago at a grocery store I thought I recognized a scent on a woman. I’m never shy to approach people about perfumes (or shoes) they are wearing:

 – Are you wearing Tuscany per Donna? – I asked.
 – No, it’s Samsara – she answered.

The circle has closed.

*

Since this post is a follow-up to my older story I decided against a full-blown blind testing (which was, in my opinion, a complete success in my second Déjà vu episode) but I had a chance to solicit a quick blind sniffing participation from Susan (Fine Fragrants):

Based on my first tries of each of these perfumes, I agree that they are similar. Yet I can readily identify differences between each of them. Red (Iris Poudre) smells more “modern” to me than Blue (Tuscany per Donna) or Yellow (Samsara) – more like something that would be coming out on the market now. Yellow is quieter and closer to the skin than Red or Blue. Blue is the most assertive, classic, and sexiest, as well as the most animalic – it’s the one I’d want if I had to buy one of these perfumes. It’s the diva of the trio.

Triplets

Recently I tested all three perfumes – Tuscany per Donna, Iris Poudre and Samsara (both parfum and EdT) several times. Having five notes in common for all three (rose, carnation, jasmine, sandalwood and vanilla) and additional 2-3 between the most note-rich Iris Poudre and each of the other two, these three perfumes are distinct. I can definitely tell apart my favorite Iris Poudre: after more than a year of wearing it repeatedly I do not think any more that it’s identical to Tuscany per Donna. Testing Samsara and Tuscanny per Donna in parallel I can smell the difference. But all three have so much in common, especially on some stages of the development, that I’m not sure I won’t mix them up next time “in the wild” (©Dee, I think). Tuscany per Donna, Iris Poudre and Samsara  are not identical triplets but definitely fraternal ones.

By the way, Tania Sanchez gave this “sandalwood jasmine” ****

Read Suzanne’s (Eiderdown Press) real (and very beautiful) review of Samsara and Iris Poudre; Victoria’s (Bois de Jasmine) very informative article on new and vintage Samsara; Elisa’s not a review but an interesting layering idea for Tuscany per Donna and (thanks to Suzanne’s comment) Meg’s (parfumieren) review of Tuscuny per Donna.

Image: my own.

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

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

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

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

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

Rusty Testing

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

Vanessa of Bonkers about Perfume:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(later)

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

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

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

Rusty Testing

Suzanne of Eiderdown Press

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

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

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

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

(a day later)

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

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

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

Rusty Testing

Natalie of Another Perfume Blog:

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

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

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

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

Lancome Climat

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

Amouage Gold

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

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

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

Twins: Lancome Climat & Amouage Gold

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

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

 

Images: my own.

Déjà vu, Episode 1: powdery fruit vs. peony oriental

 

“Someone jolted my elbow as I drank and said, ‘Je vous demande pardon,’ and as I moved to give him space he turned and stared at me and I at him, and I realized, with a strange sense of shock and fear and nausea all combined, that his face and voice were known to me too well.
I was looking at myself.”
Daphne du Maurier, The Scapegoat

 

I find it amusing when I come across a perfume that reminds me of another one that I know. I’m talking not about a vague resemblance, a couple of common notes or a recognizable designer’s accord, but the situation when two completely unrelated fragrances smell so similar that I would have had a hard time telling them apart were they not compared side by side.

There is no practical use for these discoveries. But even though I remind myself of Joey from the Friends episode in Las Vegas where he gets excited about finding his “identical hand twin”, I can’t help discussing these resemblances with friends, colleagues and other unsuspected victims. So probably having an outlet in my blog for this weakness of mine is the lesser of evils.

Iris Poudre & Tuscany per Donna starring in TWINSDuring a very successful Christmas shopping and perfume counters scouting last December my girlfriends and I found ourselves on a desolate floor of Barney’s. Two guys in the fragrance department were very helpful and attentive. Too attentive. I really dislike when sales associates hover over you watching your every move. I don’t know if it works on anybody but on me it doesn’t. I cannot be bullied into buying anything before I’m ready. Even with two of them faithfully trying to catch my eye after each sniff. By the time we moved onto Frederic Malle’s section they’d probably realized that as well as the fact that they were outnumbered (there were three of us). So they proudly announced that we were in luck because there just happened to be a FM’s Specialist in the house. She appeared and under her watchful eye we tried several perfumes but there were too many words, too many bottles and too much pressure so I decided that it was worth paying money for samples online. But the last one I tried suddenly attracted my attention. “I like this one” – I told to my friends handing over a blotter. “Of course you like it!” – immediately responded one of them, – “It smells like Tuscany per Donna which you also like”. And she was right: it did strongly resembled TPD as I remembered it. I was so thrilled by that discovery that I just had to share it with the Specialist. You could tell how indignant she felt about my comparison of the Pierre Bourdon’s masterpiece to some perfume she didn’t even recognize (mentioning Estee Lauder didn’t help). Either she was eager to prove me wrong or just wanted to stop the torture but she agreed to make me a sample of Iris Poudre – so that I could compare it at home to that other perfume.

I did. On more than one occasion. Since then I’ve bought 10 ml travel spray of Iris Poudre – because I like the perfume and because I wanted to compare a spray to a spray. I still think that during many stages of their development on my skin they smell a lot alike. I know that official notes listings do not mean much but for what it’s worth, out of eleven notes listed for the Lauder’s perfume only three are not present in Malle’s one (honeysuckle, Mediterranean herbs and peony), seven notes are identical (amber, carnation, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, sandalwood and vanilla) and one note is in question (not specified citrus in TPD versus bergamot and orange in IP). Iris Poudre has extra ten notes listed. These two are not identical and have stages when I like one of them better than the other. But as far as my olfactory abilities go Tuscany per Donna and Iris Poudre are twins.

A curious fact: Luca Turin (who is not always right but still) in the Book gave Tuscuny per Donna ****. Iris Poudre got just ***. So that SA was snobbish for nothing.

Image: my own

I’m not alone in this quest. Muse in wooden shoes found another relative of Iris Poudre.

For a real review for Iris Poudre read: Olfactoria’s Travels. I couldn’t find a good review for Tuscany per Donna, so here’s a link to the page 343 from Luca Turin’s Perfumes: the Guide where he writes about this perfume.