Saturday Question: What Are Your Top 3 Citrus Perfumes?

Following great tradition started by two wonderful bloggers, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies), once a week I or one of the guest writers will keep the lights on in this virtual leaving room, but I hope that you, my friends and readers, will engage in conversation not only with me or the other host, but also with each other.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #20:

What Are Your Top 3 Citrus Perfumes?

If ever it is time to wear citrus perfumes, July is it almost anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. So, what are your best citrus perfumes? Do you wear them only in summer, or are you a year-round citrus wearer?

In the interest of the idea of engaging in conversation with others, if you see somebody mentioning perfume that you also like, reply to their comment: not only it’ll add your vote to that perfume, but also it’ll allow you to name more than three perfumes total (usually everybody has issues with naming top N of anything, whatever that N is, whatever that “anything” is).

And a bonus question: what is your favorite citrus fruit to eat?

My Answer

I’ll start with a fruit: if I had to choose just one citrus to eat, even though it would be very hard (I love many of them), my choice would be grapefruit.

When it comes to citrus perfumes, there are not that many of them in my collection: when it’s hot, I tend to wear light florals rather than citruces. But I can do top three, I think: my long-time favorite grapefruit Guerlein Pamplelune, (though, I still haven’t moved beyond the second mini bottle), Atelier Cologne Clementine California that I’ve been enjoying for a while and my most recent discovery and a new love J-Scent Yuzu.

 

 

What Are Your 3 Top Citrus Perfumes?

 

Disclaimer: this blog doesn’t use any affiliated links or benefit from any of the G-d awful ads that some of you might see inserted tastelessly by the WP engine inside the post and/or between comments. Encouraging readers to post more comments does not serve any purpose other then getting pleasure from communicating with people who share same interests.

Portia and LE LION de CHANEL

Hello Crew,

We’ve had some excitement around here in Australia. The news breaks that CHANEL is releasing a new Les Exclusif, and only the Middle East are getting it. Dubai! Not even Paris by all reports. Oh CHANEL, how well you know us. Suddenly LE LION de CHANEL is hyped beyond the stratosphere. It’s this, it’s that, just wait, you’ll die, it’s their best offering since Coromandel, when can we get it? It’s been a long time since a release garnered so much interest, excitement and speculation. I was agog with lemmings.

The fact that the world has been going through trauma, we’ve been locked down, life has become a very small circle, yet we are attached by the computer & TV to everything that’s happening worldwide 24/7. Watching POC around the world with their friends, families and supporters marching for an equality long denied. Trans people being told, again, that they are not their gender (that doctors and psychologist have agreed they are), and that they deserve to be placed in the “OTHER” category, preferable far far away. A pandemic that threatens lives and livelihoods that no one can seem to get a handle on and that has different symptoms and virility in every person it touches.

We needed a ray of sunshine. 99 years on from the launch of CHANEL No 5. The perfume world has been given something to write home about.

LE LION de CHANEL 2020 by Olivier Polge

Parfumo gives these featured accords:
Top: Lemon, Bergamot
Heart: Labdanum, Madagascan vanilla
Base: Sandalwood, Patchouli

Imagine the love child of CHANEL Coromandel, Guerlain Shalimar and DIOR Mitzah.

The first day I tried LE LION de CHANEL there were a group of about eight perfumistas having our first get together since C19 lockdown. We all had a spritz within about a minute. Every person got a different enough ride that they could have been different perfumes. On some it read crunchy toffee, others got animal resins, there was smoky incense, creamy sandalwood, citrus gelato, caramel. For everyone the timings were different, the depth, warmth, heft and also interestingly, WE ALL LOVED IT! Not one person in the room was less than spellbound.

My personal ride goes something like this. A swirl of pine lime gelato. Labdanum rich amber with a distinctly animalic bent. Creamy sandalwood tempered by a vanilla rich amber that has strong hints of the crackly toffee on the top of a creme brûlée. All day I was getting wafts of the most incredible resinously sweet fragrance out of the blue, and I’d think it was someone walking ahead, on the bus or train or in the department store. NOPE! It was me. The life of the fragrance is unbelievable. I’m still smelling a lived in vanilla and humanity over 24 hours later after running around town all day yesterday and then sleeping till 11 am.

How did I get it? One of my buddies owns a perfume chain here in Australia. His family owns department stores in Dubai, and they are selling LE LION de CHANEL. My buddy saw an opportunity and jumped on it. He brought in as much from Dubai as he could, which wasn’t very much. Last time we spoke he was waiting on a second order. I grabbed two 200ml bottles, and another buddy Matt and I hosted a split. We sold 150ml in 10ml batches at our cost price plus decant bottles and postage from each bottle and kept what was left for ourselves. The spots sold out in less than an evening. That’s why my picture is of a 3/4 empty bottle already.

Have you a lemming?
Portia xx

 

Image: My own

Portia Reconnecting with Serge Lutens

Hey crew,

Last time we chatted I told you about bringing my Serge Lutens open, now old style, 50ml export bottles out of their box and onto my easy reach tray next to my desk. It’s been spritz changing, even in these few short weeks. With them lined up before me I think about them much more often and am revisiting long languished loves again. It’s like a fragrant voyage of rediscovery. It reminds me how deeply the brand changed the way I thought about scenting myself. The possibilities, choice and intricacies of scent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not fooling myself that every release or even favourite of mine is a boundary pushing masterpiece. Some are merely beautiful, easy wear interpretations of old tropes, but always with an interesting twist and/or perfectly balanced symmetry.

 

 

As luck would have it, I’ve had the opportunity to do two masterclasses in the Yellow Room upstairs in the Palais Royale store in Paris. The first was Jin and I with Elvire. Over the course of an hour or two we were introduced to the entire bell jar range, her favourite exports and the history of Féminité du Bois. It was an unbelievably jaw-dropping event. We already had some orders to fulfill from Aussies, and then I dropped a very large wad of cash on bell jars and travel sets for both Jin and myself. Jin fell madly in love with Muscs Koublaï Khän and is now on his second bell jar of it. He lovingly decants it into a beautiful black octagonal Serge Lutens travel spray and spritzes with gay abandon. I’ve never let him see how much it cost, he’d be horrified.

The second visit a couple of years ago was with a crew of perfume buddies. It was a much louder, more raucous affair and our hosts were not prepared at all to explain fragrance to frag nerds. BEDLAM! It was still fantastic though, and I was reintroduced to a couple of fragrances that I suddenly needed to own immediately. Chene and La Myrrhe. They sit in my collection, still in their cellophane. I don’t want to dab them, and I don’t want to decant them. What I do though is look at the boxes and reminisce. I wasn’t the only one to bust out the credit card and shop. I think there were 16 of us, and everyone purchased at least one bottle. Some people, who knew this might be their only visit to the grande purple emporium, splashed out on much more. While I didn’t learn much on this occasion, it is the one I smile to myself about so much more. Nothing compares to sharing the love of perfume with frag heads, made exponentially magic because we’d come from all over the world to meet in Paris.

 

 

So, I know you’re dying to know what’s been put up on the tray. I’d be chomping at the bit if I was reading your posts and it had gone this far without a list.

Arabie

I love the spicy opening that reminds me of ginger beer. When that settles down, I get a fruity, resinous melange that some days dips into apple pie territory and others into the scorch of spices sizzling in the pan in a sweet curry. Arabie lets me dream of Bedouin life from my comfortable couch.

Bas de Soie

I had been using a decant of this from Surrender To Chance, there was about 1ml left. I sprayed it all on and then wanted more. So I finally opened my bottle and gave myself a dousing. Something amazing happens to Bas de Soie at that level of heft. Suddenly it is a huge breath of spring. Even in our cold, rainy autumn here in Sydney I was transported to a springtime wonderland. Hyacinth, iris and musk blowing on a cool breeze.

Chergui

Chergui is the fragrance I most recognise as a Serge Lutens. It seems to capture and embody the spirit of the brand perfectly for me. Spicy and honeyed herbal opening, sweet tobacco and amber woods to close, and it runs the gamut of olfactory gorgeousness through its heart. It gives me visions of the legend travellers of the Middle East all the way down through Mongolia to the Far East.

Daim Blond

This was my favourite Serge for a while, but along came Bottega Veneta EdP, and I was like “Daim Blond who?” Fruity almonds and leather. It now smells dank and dated to me. Sad face. The dry down of softest, well loved leather is very nice next morning if you wear Daim Blond to bed.

Datura Noir

I wear Datura Noir quite a lot. First in decants and now in a bottle. I thought it wasn’t me. Too clean and fresh, a creamy white floral without the breath or skank seemed pointless. Yet, there I was/am, reaching and spritzing and loving it.

Féminité du Bois

My bottle has less than 10ml left. It’s got the Palais Royale logo on the label. Still smells fabulous, but I rarely wear it because I’m scared to not have it in this eras bottle. Spicy stewed fruits and woods. It’s absolutely heartbreakingly gorgeous.

Fille en Aiguilles

Also in the Palais Royale logo. More stewed fruit, but this time backed by incense and sharp pine. i love this so much for winter that I bought a few bottles and gave them out as gifts to various friends. Every one of them (non-perfumistas all) has re-bought it for themselves after using up that first bottle.

Five O’Clock au Gingembre

My favourite Serge Lutens fragrance so far. 10% into my second bottle. There is something about that opening zing of fruity ginger that I find so invigorating. You know I haven’t read the note list for years, and my nose tells me it is a ginger, tea, white flower and honey fragrance. I’m surprised to see no white flowers or tea mentioned, and find chocolate and patchouli there. WOW! My nose is clearly broken and has been for years.

L’Orpheline

The only notes given for L’Orpheline are incense and musk. To me they miss out on the smell of icy cold, snow filled winds in the monasteries of the Himalayas. Funnily, I get cold incense like you’re standing outside the temple shop, and the breeze is stealing most of the scent but it’s there.

Sa Majesté la Rose

This is not my favourite rose perfume. It does smell like you’ve stuck your nose in a particularly fragrant bloom early in the morning while it’s still got the dew on it and the scent hasn’t had time to burn off. The problem is that I find myself wanting a rose perfume to do a few more tricks than that. I need rose +++. This has rose. When the mood takes me, I look for and wear this but it’s a rare thing.

Santal Majuscule

That creamy, soapy sandalwood smell. So smooth and elegant. None of that rough, eucalyptus like opening of the Aussie stuff. This smells like the grown up, wealthy, settled down, gravitas version of Samsara. I have a really happy memory associated with Santal Majuscule. When it was first released I went in a split and bought 10ml. After wearing it twice I was about to write a review. As I reached for the decant, I knocked it over, and it smashed all over my desk. I was so upset at my clumsiness. Jin rushed in and saw the problem, after asking if I was OK and hearing the story, he said very calmly, “Well, you better buy a bottle. It smells fantastic” or some words to that effect. So I did.

Un Boise Vanille

The last of my Palais Royale label bottles. A thick, rich, crunchy vanilla that goes on strong and stays all day. Its simplicity hides depths and layers, if you bother to look, but for most non-perfumista wearers I imagine it just smells fabulous.

 

So that’s how I’ve been spending my lockdown time lately. Our restrictions ease gradually. One of my club groups got in touch, and they are hoping to reinstate trivia nights in late July. So, I’m a ways off working again. Maybe I’ll finally get to the mending pile on the floor in front of my sewing machine this week. It’s getting so big, I think it might take two full days.

 

What are your favourite Serge Lutens? Which bottles do you have open and use?
Portia xx

Does Good Packaging Make the Perfume?

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence.
Mark Twain

Ukiyo-e, shodō, ikebana, kimono, kabuki… I do not dislike culture of Japan, but I reject the awe some Europeans and Americans have towards it: yes, it is different and has interesting aspects. But by the same token as I do not think that being different means “inferior,” it doesn’t mean “superior” either. It is just different. So, usually I instinctively stay away from anything artificially Japonesque (I must admit, though, that I love California roll sushi that have nothing to do with traditional Japanese food).

Unrelated, I am usually skeptical when brands launch new sub-brands or lines under different names in parallel to their main brand: I see it as a plot to trick consumers into buying more because it’s something new and different.

So, how did it happen that I bought (!) a sample set from Floraiku – an “inspired by Japanese culture, traditions and ceremonies and named after haiku poetry” (©Fragrantica) brand created by the founders of Memo Paris?

In my defense, I can say that I was “vulnerable”: soon after my In the Search for the Perfect Magnolia post, I bought Magnolia Grandiflora Michel by Grandiflora – perfume that I found the most interesting during my magnolia note exploration quest. And, as much as I liked perfume itself, I thought that the bottle was hideous. The paper label looked extremely cheap, and today it seems to be pilling off that not even a year-old bottle. Which reminded me of new design for L’Artisan’s bottles that I saw recently at a department store: the testers were still probably half-full, but those paper labels were already in a dismal state. I have never seen anything like that happening to the original L’Artisan packaging. Greed is ugly.

So, while I was lamenting poor packaging of some nice niche brands, I read Cynthia’s (The Fragrant Journey) review of Floraiku set. I was curious about the line even before, but Cynthia’s praises for the presentation did it for me, and within days I placed my order.

 

Floraiku Sample Set

 

My impressions? Floraiku set is very beautiful, with a lot of attention to details. I’m not sure about names: I don’t like “I-s” and “My-s” in perfume names, so five out of 11 names using that form … is a little too personal. And most of the names seem not to have any connection to the notes used to compose them. I See the Clouds Go By featuring black currant leaves, cherry blossom and white musk – really? OK, maybe if I were to lay down in some garden watching the sky… though, when those cherries blossom, I would get cold quickly laying down.

I know that those note pyramids have very vague connection to what actually goes into those 15-20% of a volume of any given perfume. So I’d be fine with a brand not revealing the notes at all or giving just a general impression for the scent. But listing three notes?! Are they paying royalties to creators per an officially published note? At $350 for the set (50 ml full bottle plus 10 ml travel spray) I feel cheated.

I also do not care for pretend haiku. Actually, I’m not a big fan of haiku per se. I assume they sound better in Japanese, but English attempts usually rather perplex me: why to bother? It’s not poetry… But even more I’m annoyed by pseudo-haiku that do not even follow the formal rules of constructing those mini poems. And all that after naming the brand Floraiku!

The owl is watching
twilight
between two trees

Maybe if to think of them as of an abstract mood-setting description for these perfumes, they are not awful.

But what about the most important aspect – perfumes themselves?

You should read mentioned above Cynthia’s post for more detailed review on these perfumes. As for my impressions, Sound of a Ricochet and Cricket Song are my favorites, which isn’t surprising since they are oriental vanilla and floral (magnolia) woody musk respectively – and I usually like those. Three more – Sleeping on the Roof, Moon and I and My Shadow on the Wall I could probably wear. The remaining six – One Umbrella for Two, I Am Coming Home, I See the Clouds Go By, First Dream of the Year, My Love Has Color of the Night and Between Two Trees – are not something that I find interesting (though, none of them is unpleasant).

 

Floraiku Sample Set

 

Will any of these join my collection? Not unless I come across them at 70% off. I’m not discussing merits of selling these at $350 for 60 ml, it’s just that for me none of them is even close to be worth that price.

But I can wholeheartedly recommend getting the sample set because it is perfect for testing: it will be interesting to try the line, it’s aesthetically pleasing, none of the perfumes is challenging in any way, and, most likely, with any of them you won’t be tempted to get more than a 10 ml travel spray (which can be bought separately).

Eden Square (no affiliation, but I successfully ordered once from them – not this set though) offers the set for $25 + $5 S&H in the US (and you can get 10% off if you sign up for their newsletter).

 

Rusty and Floraiku Sample Set

Images: my own

Portia in the Looking Glass

Hello! My name is Portia, and Undina has invited me to come do some guest posting at Undina’s Looking Glass.

It’s very exciting, and nerve wracking, to jump into another person’s creation. They have worked so hard to produce a brand, and I hope that it’s a good fit for Undina, you and me. We all have perfume in common, and many of you I know already from around the scentblogoshere. Up till now, I have written for a few other blogs, including Olfactoria’s Travels, Perfume Posse, A Bottled Rose and Australian Perfume Junkies. Undina was the very first person I never met to subscribe to APJ, and we have been friends ever since, she has been also brains trust, confidant, blog rescuer and aspirational icon. We also bonded over the naming of her cat Rusty: my very first cat was a gorgeous ginger and white tom called Rusty. Synchronicity! Every time I see pics of him, it brings back some happy memories.

Continue reading

“Love won’t take no reservations…”

I can still remember times when the Perfumeland would buzz with an anticipation of the next release from a handful of niche brands everybody knew and loved. First there would be an announcement. Then discussions/speculations about what it was expected or hoped to be would follow. And then – the first reviews from lucky bloggers who managed to get a sample would create hordes of lemmings for anyone reading them.

After niche field has exploded, our collections saturated, and we spent small fortune on trying the latest new brand or new perfume from a favorite brand or perfumer, we barely register some of new releases, skim through articles and wait for the trip to a store … at some point in the next 12 months to maybe sniff a nozzle of the bottle while deciding if we even want to waste a paper strip.

In the last several years the only reviews for perfumes I read were predominantly those written by bloggers whom I consider friends: not because I am looking for more perfumes to introduce into my life, but mostly because from those people I’d read anything including a holiday menu or even a shopping list. (If you think about it, something like that coming from Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) or Portia (ex APJ) would be hilarious – maybe I should invite them to my blog with a guest post on the topic? But I digress).

Last December I chanced upon Angela’s (NST) review of the new Masque Milano fragrance Love Kills. I planned to quickly go through it, read a list of notes and be done: even though at the time I liked, owned and wore two perfumes from the brand, since none of the stores here carried it, a chance of trying their new perfume any time soon was seriously underfed. And then something unexpected happened: I got enchanted with… no, not with perfume – with Angela’s review:

What I do understand is this: Love Kills is a Birgit Nilsson of a rose soliflore. It’s a rich scarlet rose — maybe an old rose that clings to stone walls and blooms only once a summer. When it flowers, it’s like a full moon. Bees become town drunks, and afternoons in the garden should carry warnings against operating heavy machinery. Girls shut themselves in their rooms and cry, and grown women eye the pool boy with startling interest. Cakes won’t rise. Sinners repair to the confessional, but the priest is unexpectedly away.

Are you familiar with that desire to capture something beautiful with a photo? You see a magnificent rose or a spectacular sunset, and you take a dozen of pictures, even though you have no idea what you’d do with those. But you want to “own” it. I felt something similar when I read that passage. I decided that I needed to buy a sample – if for nothing else, to write about it on my blog and cite Angela’s review on my blog, a sort of “taking a picture” of a beautiful thing to make it mine.

I didn’t expect to love Love Kills. It was going to be a Second Sunday Sample feature (if I ever decide to revive the series) or, maybe, a part in my Single Note Exploration for the rose note. But the first time I put on Love Kills, I knew that it was love (despite of the name that I can tolerate only by reminding myself about the theatrical theme chosen by the brand as their inspiration). Read the rest of Angela’s review if you haven’t tried this perfume yet. But be warned: it’s very convincing. As a proof of that: a beautiful bottle has just recently joined my collection, and I’m amazed how much I enjoy it, even though I already have many exquisite roses in my perfume wardrobe.

 

Masque Milano Love Kills

Image: my own (one of the dozen taken)

Saturday Question: What Chanel Perfume Would You Wear Today?

Following great tradition started by two wonderful bloggers, Birgit (Olfactoria’s Travels) and Portia (Australian Perfume Junkies), once a week I or one of the guest writers will keep the lights on in this virtual leaving room, but I hope that you, my friends and readers, will engage in conversation not only with me or the other host, but also with each other.

 

Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass

 

Saturday Question #12:

What Chanel Perfume Would You Wear Today?

You have probably seen more than once what usually happens when anybody poses a question that requires people to make a choice. Ask perfumistas to name their top N of something or choose X perfumes to take to the afterlife, and everybody gets really creative trying to sneak in a couple of extra names in a manner Oscar winners “smallprint” everybody they need to thank for their winning – as if not mentioning one of the favorites will anger the Gods of Perfumeland.

So, I decided to try to do it differently. I’m not asking you to choose your absolute favorite, name the “best of” or subscribe to wearing it till death do you part. But if you were asked to choose Chanel perfume that speaks to you the most to wear today (tomorrow it might be something else), what would it be? Just one name (and, if you wish, why you made that choice).

My Answer

Chanel No 19 EdT. It was the first Chanel perfume that I fell in love with. For years I kept trying No 5 hoping to “get” it, but it never worked (and still doesn’t). Somehow that prevented me from trying any other classic Chanel perfumes, and Chance, which I tried, was just awful. And then one day, being in a good mood after a day trip to the wine country, on the way back home we stopped by Nordstrom, and a very nice SAs made me a couple of samples of different Chanel perfumes (it was long before Nordstrom introduced the DIY sampling program).

That was a turning point for me. I loved No 19 EdT! Since then added both EdT and extrait to my collection. I tried vintage EdT (nice, but I’m fine with the one I got 9 years ago). I have a small decant of the modern EdP (hajusuuri, thank you), which I like and enjoy wearing. I even bought No 19 Poudré when it was first released. Unsniffed. But No 19 EdT is still my favorite Chanel – and I’m wearing it today.

 

Rusty and Chanel 19 EdT

 

What Chanel Perfume Would You Wear Today?

 

Disclaimer: this blog doesn’t use any affiliated links or benefit from any of the G-d awful ads that some of you might see inserted tastelessly by the WP engine inside the post and/or between comments. Encouraging readers to post more comments does not serve any purpose other then getting pleasure from communicating with people who share same interests.

Got Milk?

This is not a post about COVID-19-related shortage of milk, though the last time I checked, my local store was out of condensed milk, and at least some of Amazon prices for it tripled recently.

* * *

From what I read, it’s international: children do not like milk. When I was growing up, I was a strange child (probably, more than in one respect, but for this story I’ll mention the one that matters): not only I liked milk, I liked hot milk and even milk skin. Besides keeping my mother and grandmothers happy, it made me popular in my class.

For the first three years of the elementary school, children were given hot milk after the second period. I suspect that it was an attempt to provide nutrition to everyone, so that children from poor families would not go hungry. Most of my classmates came not from those families, so after having a good breakfast at home a couple of hours earlier, by the time milk was served they weren’t hungry yet. And did I mention it was hot milk? So, most kids in my class hated it. But drinking milk was mandatory, and our teacher would pressure pupils to empty their glasses. And almost every day, after finishing my glass, I would drink at least one or two more instead of my classmates (and they would bribe me with cookies or candies that they were given by parents to go with milk). And since I almost never had anything with me (I’m not sure if there was a reason for that, or if my mom just didn’t think of doing that), both parties were quite happy with the arrangement.

In addition to regular milk that I liked, I loved condensed milk. Nine years ago, I told a couple of stories from my childhood and teenage years that had a strong olfactory connection to Jo Malone’s limited edition perfume Sweet Milk (“Here’s a photo I’ve been looking for…”: Sweet Milk by Jo Malone), and I still have a strong bond with that perfume.

 

Sweet Milk by Jo Malone

 

My bottle is almost empty, and all these years I was on a lookout for another milk scent. Thanks to my perfumista friends, not only I got to try many great perfumes, but I think I found several excellent replacements for my favorite perfume – or at least something that I enjoy wearing.

Neyronrose from NST was very kind to send me her sample of Demeter’s Condensed Milk. Fragrantica lists just 2 notes: milk and sugar. I’m positive it has more. If you are familiar with Yves Rocher’s Pur Desir de Rose, it has a similar artificial spicy note as I can smell in Condensed Milk; and I do not care for it in either perfume. Still, as an exercise it was interesting.

Brigitte shared with me samples of two perfumes that fit this Single Note Exploration topic: Fichi e Panna by Kyse and Milk oil by Ava Luxe.

Fichi e Panna (notes: fig, milk, sugar, vanilla and sandalwood) is more about fig than milk, but it’s so delicious that I couldn’t stop sniffing my wrist as I tested it. If you like fig in perfumes, do yourself a favor and try Fichi e Panna: it’s very warm and naturally smelling fig and vanilla custard. It comes in a variety of sizes and very reasonably priced. Now you see that I just had to get a travel spray.

But the second perfume, Ava Luxe’s Milk, was a clear winner: not identical, but it smells very close to Jo Malone’s Sweet Milk. Comparing them side by side, I think that Milk is slightly sweeter but otherwise – a perfect match. Since Brigitte’s sample was for oil, I decided to buy a small bottle of Milk oil perfume as well. But I was curious, so I also ordered a sample of EdP. I’m glad to report that they both smell identical. And both formulations have a good longevity. So, you can decide what you want to try based on your preferences for the medium without sacrificing the experience.

 

Ava Luxe Milk

 

I got a small decant of Fresh Cream Warm Cashmere by Philosophy from hajusuuri. Notes listed: coconut, cashmere wood, vanilla, sandalwood and musk. Initially I dismissed it because it didn’t smell like Sweet Milk. But it wasn’t intended to! And once I accepted that, I realized that I liked that warm vanilla scent with milky undertones. A small travel bottle of Fresh Cream Warm Cashmere is making its way to me as I’m writing this.

You would think I would have stopped after finding not one but three milk-related perfumes, while still having my favorite perfume. But no. As I was recently placing an order with DSH Perfumes, I just couldn’t resist ordering a sample of her Au Lait VdP (notes deconstructed from the brand’s site: ambrette seed, buttercream accord, French vanilla, sweet cream, tonka bean, milk). If to go just by the opening, I think, I like Au Lait more than all other perfumes covered in this post: to my nose, in the very beginning it has some boozy quality that I just love. Had it been even slightly more tenacious, I would have bought a bottle already. Alas, this wonderful stage lasts just a couple of minutes. What is left after that is still eminently enjoyable: a beautiful gourmand scent that doesn’t project much but warmly enfolds you. But what I get from it is very close to Ava Luxe’s Milk that I already have. And for some reason I’m still not completely on board with the new Voile de Parfum format. I still plan to get a 3 ml sample spray of Au Lait the next time I order something from DSH.

 

Milk Perfumes

 

And now I’m off to the store to see if they’ve restocked sweetened condensed milk. If no, I’ll have to drink my weekend coffee black while sniffing my wrist: luckily, as you can see, there’s no shortage of milk-inspired perfumes in my household.

 

Images: my own

Better than a New-Car Scent

Do you still remember those times when you could go to a department store, pick up a tester from a counter and spray it on a paper strip or on your skin? …

It was just a joke; I’m not practicing my March 2021 “A year in ‘shelter-in-place’” post. But when I started writing this post, I realized that I wasn’t sure what tense to use. Let’s pretend that life is (or very soon will be) what it used to.

In early days of getting acquainted with niche perfume world, as many of you probably did as well, on a single perfume shop trip I would use 4-5 spots on each arm to try multiple different perfumes after a quick sniff from a bottle or a test strip. But in the last 3-4 years I rarely test more than 2 perfumes at a time, and most days when I find myself at a store where I could try something, I am on my way to somewhere (a party, some theater or other performance or business trip) where I don’t want to reek of a cacophony of random perfumes.

So, what I normally do these days is: after sniffing from a nozzle (yeah, I know, extremely scientific approach), I identify perfumes that I want to try, spray those on paper, walk around, discard those that do not smell promising, try to get samples for a couple of those that I liked the most to test on skin at home and take away with me 5-6 paper strips with scents that I liked the most and want to check how they develop. If one day you happen to be around one of the “perfume centers” of San Francisco/Bay Area and see a woman walking the mall or adjacent streets with a fan of paper blotters in her hand who can care less how it must look like – there is a high chance it would be me. And then, when I get to my car, I use a vent grid to hold those strips separated until I get home.

 

Blotters in a Car Vent

 

That was exactly how it went last year when, on the spur of the moment, I went to Tigerlily Perfumery to try perfumes that are hard to get to test for free anywhere else around here. I went through, in my estimate, 40-50 bottles, bought several small samples (I love that they do that! I’d rather officially pay a small amount to take what I want to test at home than do all the dancing for maybe getting what I want) and left with 5 or 6 strips, mostly (but not all) of perfumes samples of which I bought.

At home I re-smelled the blotters and left them on the bathroom counter to re-visit the next day to see what remained from the scents. Samples went into the “to test” box but I wasn’t in a hurry to reach for them: I already smelled all of them in the store, I had them – so what is a month or two before I put them on skin?

But my car smelled wonderfully the next day. And the day after that. And probably for the next couple of weeks from time to time I kept catching a pleasant waft… It took me a while to realize that one of the paper strips fell into the vent and kept emitting an unknown aroma from the depth of my car. But which one was that? I hoped it was one of those that I bought a sample of, but I wasn’t sure. I went on testing, two at a time, waiting for that magnificent drydown.

I got lucky: it was one of the samples that I had. Naomi Goodsir Or du Serail, created in 2014 by Bertrand Duchaufour (BTW, have you noticed that he almost disappeared from the perfume scene last year? According to Fragrantica, there were just 7 perfumes he released for 4 brands – and I’ve never heard of 4 of them. In 2014 there were 15 and in later years there were even more). With Or du Serail it was one of those times when you know that you want that perfume. So, I bought it.

 

Naomi Goodsir Or Du Serail

 

Or du Serail is rich and very warm perfume. It’s not timid – it’s loud and strong and present. And I love wearing it. If you want a fuller review, read Kevin’s (Now Smell This) impression. But if you haven’t tried it yet, I think it’s one of those perfumes that is worth trying whether you end up liking it or not.

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Jo Malone Vetiver & Golden Vanilla

Years pass, I come across many new brands and new perfumes from old favorites, but it seems that Jo Malone (brand, not the person) still manages to produce, among the avalanche of new releases, something that attracts my attention.

Unfortunately, my attention span shrank recently, so unless I come to the store right when a new offering takes the central stage on the stand, I might completely miss it.

I remembered from reading an announcement on NST that new Jo Malone would be released. I even remembered that it was supposed to be vanilla. On my first visit to the store I looked around, tried reading multiple labels – and didn’t succeed. Since I couldn’t remember the name (and for whatever reason it’s almost impossible to get Internet connection from inside our Nordstrom store), I just left without even asking.

The next time I got to the store, I couldn’t spot anything new … and I couldn’t remember the name again. But I told myself it would be silly to go away without trying. So, I surprised the SA agreeing that I needed his help (you could see in his body language that he was already half-way turning away fully expecting my polite “I’m just browsing”). I said: “You are supposed to have a new vanilla perfume, but I seem not to be able to notice it.” He immediately resolved the mystery: Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is released in the Cologne Intense collection – I wasn’t even looking there.

The SA complimented me on being adventurous because I wasn’t afraid to try the Intense Collection, which “most women avoid.” Really? I was surprised: out of all the brands that ventures in the unisex perfume territory Jo Malone seemed like the one that leans more feminine. But since he works there, he might know better (or not), I’m not familiar with “civilian’s” tastes.

 

Jo Malone Vetiver and Golden Vanilla

 

Neither brand’s site nor Fragrantica are too generous with the notes: cardamom, grapefruit tea accord, vetiver bourbon and vanilla bourbon. Perfumer (according to NST): Mathilde Bijaoui, who previously created for Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka.

To my nose, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is all about vetiver. I don’t think I can smell cardamom, and vanilla is surprising in this composition: it’s much less sweet than you might expect both from the material and from the brand. But it’s not a bad thing, don’t read it as a criticism. It creates an interesting “adult” composition that keeps your mind far away from the cupcake territory. On my skin perfume has moderate to good projection and moderate tenacity (and I’d expect it to be even better if sprayed from a bottle instead of a small sample).

Since I like vetiver in perfumes, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla smells good to me but, unlike most of Jo Malone main collection’s offerings, it is not the one that everybody will either like or stay indifferent: I expect some people to actively dislike it or (virtually waving Hi to that SA) feel that it’s too masculine. But if you enjoy vetiver (and especially if you, as I, like but get tired of Hermes’s Vetiver Tonka), give Vetiver & Golden Vanilla a try: if not a bottle, it might be worth a 10 ml decant space in your collection.

I’m thinking that I still don’t have a single bottle from the Cologne Intense collection… I could probably take a closer look at one of those 50 ml black bottles (I’m glad Jo Malone finally moved away from 100 ml only, but I wish they’ve done them in 30 ml black bottles – I still remember how great the Dark Amber & Ginger Lily 30 ml bottle looked).

 

Images: from the brand’s site (my sample vial looked not interesting to warrant bribing Rusty; if I end up buying a bottle, I’ll find a reason to publish a picture of Rusty with it)