I did it again: NovAmber 2018

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember that just a couple of years ago I did a whole month of amber perfumes… At least I thought so until I checked: I published a post about it 4 years ago to the day. Time seems to be even more fleeting than perfumes…

Since I have a penchant for cold weather perfumes and almost no cold weather where we live (it’s 14C/56F outside now), if I want to wear my favorites, I cannot just sit and wait for the proper weather. So I decided to do another NovAmber month.

Amber Autumn

I purposefully didn’t check which perfumes I’d chosen last time: while I still don’t have 30 bottles or decants of amber perfumes in my collection, since for such projects I allow myself to wear perfumes from samples (which I normally don’t do), combined number of all amber perfumes that I have access to would be sufficient for a couple of months, so I was curious which perfumes I’d choose for the line-up.

For thirty days I wore only amber perfumes. Not all of them were “amber forward” but they all had amber as a part of the composition.

Half of the perfumes that I chose were the same as I wore four years ago: Montale Blue Amber, L’Artisan L’eau d’Ambre Extreme, Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche, Bvlgari Black, Dior Ambre Nuit, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Armani Prive Ambre Orient, Ormonde Jayne Tolu, Dior Mitzah, By Kilian Amber Oud, Eau de Tommi Sooni II, Royal Apothic Dogwood Blossom, Amouage Ubar and L’Artisan Eau de Mandarine Ambrée.

I won’t repeat my impressions of these since they are not much different from what I described in the previous post. I just wanted to mention that Ubar, which many of the commenters didn’t associate with amber perfumes, is still one of my most favorite amber perfumes. Two other perfumes that I predicted would join my collection – By Kilian Amber Oud and Dior Ambre Nuit – did: the former as a refill bottle (see In the Search for the Perfect… By Kilian Perfume) and the latter as the next decant (I still plan to get a 40 ml real bottle one day, I just can’t do 120+ ml now).

Rusty and By Kilian Amber Oud

The next group consists of perfumes that, most likely, do not need an introduction (but I’ll still link to the stories that I told for some of them before): Chanel Coco EdP and Bois des Iles EdP, Serge Lutens Chergui and Jeux de Peau and Teo Cabanel Alahine. I enjoyed wearing all of them though I confirmed for myself my recent conclusion that I do not love Jeux des Peau enough to warrant a full bottle (I’m still not done with that first decant I bought 7 years ago).

Floris Honey Oud and En Voyage Perfumes Captured in Amber, both new to my collection compared to it four years ago, were perfect additions for this project. In the earlier post I promised to share a picture of Rusty sniffing Captured in Amber once I decide on the concentration and get a bottle. I ended up buying pure parfum but since the bottle is tiny, the best I could do was to capture a photo of Captured in Amber captured in amber-y Rusty’s fur.

Rusty and En Voyage Captured In Amber

This project brought a couple of personal discoveries. First, I finished my sample of Aedes de Venustas Cierge de Lune and realized that I want more. Probably not a bottle-worth more but I really hope Aedes will release it in travel spray format. Another surprise was Van Cleef & Arpels Ambre Imperial: while at a store, I allowed the SA who had just made me a couple of samples to spray my wrist with this perfume. I think I didn’t expect to like it so it was easier to just agree with her and be on my way. I should have been greedy and asked for the third sample! Either I just had amber on my mind, or it was actually as good as it seemed in the moment… Now I’ll have to go back and test it again.

I’ll skip mentioning several perfumes that I either didn’t like or, on the contrary, liked and plan to tell you more about them in future posts.

During November I wore more than 30 amber perfumes. And I’m not done yet. It probably means that I really like amber in my perfumes, right?

 

How about you? Do you like amber in your perfumes? What are your absolute favorites? Were there any recent discoveries?

 

Images: my own

Advertisements

Big Island Vacation, Episode I: Perfumes

Until recently I thought that Maui was my favorite island, so over the last many years that was our most frequent vacation destination. But this year we decided we wanted a change and, after a short hesitation, booked our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Just in case you were wondering, we hesitated because of the recent volcano eruption but then decided it would be fine. Luckily for us, many others were less adventurous, so … OK, I won’t say that we had the whole island to ourselves but it was much less crowded than it could have been.

Hawaii Big Island

We managed to pack a lot into six days we spent there, and I plan to cover some of the highlights in the next several posts. But I want to start with the most appropriate topic for this blog: perfumes.

Over years of going to Hawaii I collected a wardrobe of perfumes that I always bring with me.

The only full bottle of perfume that has ever traveled with me anywhere is Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder. I bring it with me to every tropical vacation (Big Island, Kauai and Maui). This time though I used it less often than I normally do because we shared the condo with our friends, and I couldn’t do my usual ritual of walking to the fridge (where I keep Bronze Goddess when in Hawaii), spraying it all over my body and putting on my clothes after that. But it still got several generous applications during the trip and enjoyed it every time.

Hawaii Big Island Perfumes

My “vacation in a bottle” perfume – Ginger Ciao by Yosh – was as great on actual vacation as I remembered. Tiare by Ormonde Jayne and I have rekindled our friendship after a recent cooling-off, and both Tiare and its sister Frangipani felt wonderfully appropriate for the place.

Unexpectedly, I came to the realization that I should stop bringing to Hawaii Bombay Bling! by Neela Vermeire Creations. For years I thought it was a very good fit and kept being slightly disappointed: it didn’t smell as great as I remembered and usually would disappear too quickly from my skin. This trip we stayed in for dinner more often than went out, so I got to wear Bombay Bling! in a well air-conditioned room. Under these circumstances, with little heat or humidity involved, this perfume bloomed wonderfully, and I could still smell it in my hair throughout the night. So, while I still love it, no more Hawaii vacations for Bombay Bling!

Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling!

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Traversee du Bosphore and Byredo’s Pulp both are perfumes that I wear only in hot and humid weather, and these both were predictably good though I would prefer to spray them more liberally, which I couldn’t do this time: since the Island is called “Big” not for nothing, and it takes a couple of hours one way to get almost anywhere besides the close-by beach, we often voted for going somewhere in one car. And while it allowed us to spend more time in each other’s company, I had to be mindful of having four people in closed quarters for hours – so I was very discreet with my perfume application.

One more perfume that has proved absolutely not suited for the tropical weather was Selva Do Brazil by Parfums Berdoues. I brought my ScentBird decant of it with me thinking it would be just perfect there. It smelled very nice indeed… all 15 minutes that I could smell it either on me or on my vSO. I guess, Selva Do Brazi is one of those perfumes that are great to convey the idea of tropics rather than to be used there. Though, with hindsight, maybe it wasn’t that bad considering long car rides… Nah, probably still no.

I also did some testing of new for me perfumes, but I’ll probably leave it for the next post.

Hawaii Big Island Sunset

Do you have any perfumes that you always use for something particular – an event, place or something along these lines?

Images: my own

… and I’ll be there…

A month ago Twitter’s meme “What 5 items would someone put in a salt circle to summon you?” got viral when J.K. Rowling answered it.

 Summonning JK Rowling

 

In other answers there were perfumes (that’s how I learned about it – from somebody’s mentioning it on the NST’s daily threads), books, snacks and a LOT of cats.

So of course I started playing this game in my head. My first thought was: “Rusty!” But then I realized that, first, Rusty wouldn’t sit still in any circle with or without other objects, and second, Rusty alone would be enough to summon me.

 

Rusty in a Circle

 

But since I still wanted to play this game, I decided to count Rusty out and go with inanimate objects. So, what would be a set of five things to summon me? I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone who reads this blog that Climat by Lancôme would be the first thing to go on the list. The next one would be probably that quirky blue Hello Sailor lipstick by Lipstick Queen and The Fifth Element – one of my all-time favorite movies. Now, when we took care of my mind and my look, let’s attend to my body: dark chocolate lava cake and a cup of cappuccino. Yeah, looks about right: put these five together, and I’ll be there.

 

 Summonning Undina

 

What should I put in a circle to summon you?

 

Images: the salt circle from here; DVD cover – don’t remember; the rest – my own.

Everything Has Its Time (and Place)

Soon after I’ve started this blog, I told a story of a newly found perfume friend – Tiare by Ormonde Jayne (A Friend in Need). At that point I had almost no followers, so not too many people read that post back then. In short: the traces of Tiare on my bath robe had supported me through hard time of being sick, and feeling grateful for that, I decided that I would bring that perfume with me when I go to a tropical vacation.

Later that year I fulfilled my promise and brought Tiare with me to Hawaii. As I wrote in the Scents of My Hawaii Vacation post:

In the evenings when an ocean breeze would put out a day heat, all dressed-up for dinner I would adorn myself with Tiare. I truly enjoyed her company. I think it is a perfect perfume for a tropical night out. It feels so right in place on the open terrace under the moonless starry sky, surrounded by palm trees and the sound of the invisible ocean just a hundred steps in front of you. And a slick travel spray will fit even into the smallest purse.

Since then Tiare had traveled with me to three different Hawaii islands – Maui, Kauai and Big Island. And every time it felt just right even though this tropical flower perfume doesn’t smell like a tropical-style perfume.

 

Maui 2014 Parfums

 

Last year instead of Hawaiian we went to Europe in summer and to Utah in winter, so Tiare stayed hidden away in my drawer. And since I wasn’t sure if we would go to Hawaii this year, I recently decided to wear it to the office. And it was a mistake.

My perfume wasn’t off or unpleasant. It wasn’t even NSFW. But in the office cubicle with blasting A/C and the fluorescent lights Tiare felt completely out of place. I was amazed by the dichotomy of the stern office environment and carefree perfume. We were in such different places that it was hard to stay friends…

That’s when I knew that I had to book the next trip to Hawaii – to restore our friendship, if nothing else.

 

Kawaii Perfumes 2013

 

Have you ever had that feeling that your favorite perfume wasn’t right for the place you wore it to?

 

Images: my own

Do You Thunk?

For those who do not follow NST’s daily SOTD threads, some time ago chocolatemarzipan8 announced she would not be pursuing new perfumes and would enjoy what she had in her collection already. Every time having finished something she would officially announce “Thunked it!” Over time many other participants joined her, and now almost every day somebody announces “THUNK.” Of course, most people do it with samples but sometimes they report decants or even bottles. It prompted me to look into my usage pattern.

Bottles are the hardest for me: once I decide that I want to have perfume in my collection, I never want to not have it. As a result, those perfumes that I like less stay in my collection because I do not use them often but do not want to part with; and with those that I do like I’m content… while I have more than one-fourth of a bottle. And as I approach that imaginary demarcation, I start feeling anxious and tend to use those perfumes less often or in an even more than usual office-friendly manner (1-2 tiny spritzes). But, in general, I’m fine with my attitude towards bottles: I keep using perfumes that I love on daily basis, even if I do not finish bottles. Alternatively, I end up buying a back-up bottle – and then feel better about finishing the previous one.

 

Les Perfumes De Rosine Roseberry

 

With decants I have a mixed case: I do finish some of them, though usually only those that graduate to a full bottle (at least in my plans). But decants that I plan to use and be done with rarely move below one-fourth volume left in a vial, whatever the size is. The reason, I think, is that I like having an option of wearing those perfumes more than actually wearing them. So I’m reluctant to finish those decants for the fear of losing that comfort of knowing that I have them. Used up 5-7 ml decant usually means I want a bottle. So, again, it looks like I wear perfumes that I like the most while “hoarding” those that I shouldn’t wear anyway since I don’t like them that much.

Samples. Since I do not usually wear perfumes from samples, I rarely finish them even if I liked them. Small vials might naturally get used up during a couple of testing sessions; or I would give perfume several wears before committing to a full bottle. But otherwise samples just stay in my “perfume library” for years – until they either evaporate or turn. It wasn’t an issue for me until recently when I decided that, going forward, those perfumes that I didn’t like I should pass on to others for testing, and those that I liked, I should try again to see if my opinion about them has changed…

 

Empty Samples

 

I’ve just emptied two samples I had forever: L’Artisan Parfumeur Mimosa pour moi and Arabian Oud Kalemat. Guess what. I’m upset that those are gone and already started questioning that “don’t need them” decision. So it seems safer not to “thunk” those perfumes that I liked but didn’t love enough to put on the mental “to buy” list.

 

Do you finish any of your perfumes?

 

Images: my own

Narciso [Rodriguez] Ed[P/T/Whatever]

I’m not much into fashion. Not that I do not care about the clothes I wear – I do, and I like clothes, – but I do not follow the trends and barely know luxury brands if I do not see them in stores where I shop.

Narciso Rodriguez is one of those brands that I knew only from peripherally seeing the name on bottles on perfume counters. I remember coming across people mentioning that they liked NR’s perfumes in FB and on other blogs. But as I’m not much interested in mainstream perfumes, I’m not sure if I’ve ever tried any of them until recently.

I was buying something at a cosmetics counter when a bottle with Narciso Rodriguez name on it attracted my attention. I sprayed it on a paper strip and went on shopping. As time was passing, I kept on sniffing the strip and I liked what I smelled.

The circus started once I got home and tried to figure out what exactly I tested and liked… Narciso Rodriguez For Her (EdT) – regular and anniversary editions, Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Parfum – regular and anniversary editions, Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Parfum Delicate Limited Edition, Narciso Rodriguez For Her Eau de Toilette Delicate Limited Edition, Narciso Rodriguez For Her in Color, Narciso Rodriguez For Her Iridescent, Narciso Rodriguez For Her L’Absolu, Narciso Rodriguez L’Eau For Her, Narciso, Narciso Eau de Toilette – and all that not counting several additional variations of these name with the additional “musk,” “Poudree,” “Rouge” and probably a couple more.

 

Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez

 

After going through all the pictures and comparing perfume names, bottle shapes and colors, I came to the conclusion that it was Narciso (EdP), a sample of which I happened to have (it was one of those “Take one” free samples you can get from time to time at Nordstrom) but had never come around trying.

Narciso, created in 2014 by Aurelien Guichard, is easy to like for those who are not into shy perfumes. Official notes are Bulgarian rose, gardenia, white and black cedar wood, musk and vetiver but I can’t say that I smell either of the floral notes. I mean, it is a floral perfume but flowers are rather abstract. Narciso is warm and powdery scent. It is feminine to the degree where it might be worn by a man who’s into bold perfumes.

I’m debating whether I want to get a bottle, or if I should go with a decant from ScentBird. On one side, I don’t think I’ll wear it often enough to warrant more than 7 ml ($14.95 including S&H). On the other, I find that white square bottle strangely appealing (especially since it can be found online at $45 for a 50 ml bottle).

 

Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez

Have you tried any perfumes from the brand?

 

Images: my own

Unique New Orleans Perfumes

Before leaving on a vacation I usually research honey holes for perfume sniffing at the destination, and then during the trip I keep my nose to the wind, figuratively speaking, not to miss any perfume shop, counter or corner.

For my New Orleans visit I’ve read hajusuuri’s post (can you believe it – it was almost 4 years ago!) but for some reason I wasn’t really looking forward to visiting any of the perfume places she described. So I decided that I would be probably fine without planning anything and would see how it goes.

My vSO was the one who spotted that shop not too far from the hotel we stayed on our evening stroll. It was already closed but we decided to come back the next day.

We all know those new brands that resurrect some ancient history, buy it from heirs of defunct brands or even invent it? So when you come across a brand with a genuine almost 90 years and 4 generation history, you can’t help feeling some admiration.

 

Hove Parfumeur

 

Hove Parfumeur is an interesting small store in French Quarter (434 Chartres St.) that sells perfumes, jewelry, soaps and other bath products. They carry about 50 (fifty!) perfumes available in perfume and cologne concentration as well as solids.

Same as it was when hajusuuri visited the store, they still have pre-dipped paper strips with printed names laid out on glass trays. I went through sniffing all of them in several iterations, noting those that I liked. Either I looked like I knew what I was doing (which might be), or the girl who manned the store wasn’t really interested in perfumes, or she misread me as not a potential buyer, but I was left alone to sniff all I wanted for probably half an hour. I’m not complaining, I prefer it this way but it felt a little unusual for any store of that size where I was the only customer.

 

Hove Parfumeur

 

Testing perfumes the way this shop offers is quite the opposite to what we usually do at most other places: you get to smell perfumes in their drydown phase first, so instead of judging them on the opening 15 minutes burst, you get to decide what you want to test on skin from liking the base notes. None of the two seem sufficient to make a final judgement on perfumes. But at the same time I wasn’t about to put even 2-3 perfumes on my skin and walk out into the 32C/90F humid street not knowing when I’d get to the shower.

The store sells perfumes in multiple sizes starting from a dram (~3.6 ml), but for the price of 3 you can get a set of 6 dram bottles – and that was what I went with.

For my set I got Bayou D’Amour, Diverti, Fascinator, Grandee, Mantrap and Rue Royale. Neither the brand’s site nor Fragrantica provides a detailed list of notes for these perfumes, and I’ve never been too good picking notes out – even when listed – so I’ll share brand’s descriptions for these perfumes and my impressions.

 

Hove Parfumeur

 

After testing them for several times, I can see how that paper testing works for the brand: all of their perfumes smell very good in drydown.

Rue Royale was my last pick for the set. It smelled good but mostly I was influenced by the description: “A hint of musk pervades this basically dry and light fragrance, selected most often by fair brunettes who wish a quiet elegance.”

Testing proved that “quiet” isn’t a thing that this fair brunette wishes for. Rue Royale has a beautiful opening (I smell strong rose), and then it’s quite pleasant in the 4th hour of drydown. But in between I get something slightly dusty and dull. I might try it once or twice under different weather but I do not expect to fall in love with it enough to wear it.

Diverti (“Light and refreshing, this blend of sandalwood, cedar and a mixture of floral notes creates a divertissement of its own”), Fascinator (“The rich warm notes of Oak Moss, blended with a hint of musk, this fragrance is sure to fascinate both men and women”) and Grandee (“An elegant and grand blending of floral notes topped by a fruity note to add a bit of happiness. For those who are outgoing and who like bright colors”) are rather unisex perfumes that from time to time suddenly veer masculine. All three are worth trying but I’m a little wary about perfumes that do not perform consistently on my skin: I do not want to be stuck with something I’m not enjoying for the whole day in the office.

My most favorite of the six is the one with the name that doesn’t resonate with me – Mantrap. For my not native English ear it sounds like a contrivance to catch men (even though I know that it’s a gender-neutral term). But nevertheless, I liked this perfume.

Official description: “Made provocative by its high resinous notes, made alluring by its underlying spice notes, this is truly a heavy Oriental fragrance.”

Mantrap reminds me of Alahine and maybe a little of Coco though I wouldn’t go as far as calling it “heavy oriental,” at least not in the dab format. But it is definitely a floral oriental perfume that smells like a classic perfume – well blended floral bouquet and warm spices. It wears nicely in hot weather, and I look forward to trying it in winter as well.

Bayou D’Amour, “An exotic blend of floral notes dominated by notes of the luscious fruit, mango,” is my second favorite in the brand’s line-up. I tried hard but I cannot detect mango. For me it’s a big white floral perfume. If I were to guess, I would say that I smell plumeria but I’m not sure, it might be some other tropical flower. Bayou D’Amour smells great in hot weather.

 

Hove Parfumeur

 

While I do not think that any of these perfumes are worth paying for blind testing (almost no perfumes these days are), but if you happen to visit New Orleans, I think stopping by Hove Parfumeur is a worthwhile diversion from main activities (such as eating and listening to music).

 

Images: my own