My Favorite Linden Perfumes and the Eternal Question: To Back Up or Not To Back Up?

Being a fan of floral perfumes, I like many flowers and blossoms and enjoy many perfumes in that genre. But if by some cruel turn of events I were to choose just a single floral note for my perfumes, it would probably be linden.

Partially it is the scent itself, partially an emotional response to memories associated with it, but linden holds a special place in my mental olfactory catalog.

Linden Blossom

Years ago I did a couple of posts on the topic (In the Search of the Perfect Linden linked to above and Take 2). I can’t say that I found an ultimate linden perfume then or since: real tree in full bloom smells so much better than any perfume I’ve ever tried, but until anything even more realistic is created, I have two perfumes that come close, about which I want to remind you and warn you.

Linden and Perfumes: Jo Malone French Lime Blossom and April Aromatics Unter den Linden

French Lime Blossom from Jo Malone is one of the oldest perfumes in my collection that I still love and wear. People who are not familiar with the smell of linden blossom often talk about citrus component and sweetness from the (provided by Fragrantica but not mentioned by the brand) beeswax note while both of the facets are characteristic of the true linden blossom.

I was very sad to learn that French Lime Blossom has been discontinued (a kind reader informed me and then an SA at Heathrow airport Jo Malone duty-free store confirmed the news). You can still buy a bottle online from large department stores’ sites but it is the remaining stock. Jo Malone website does not have it any longer, so once gone I doubt it’ll ever be resurrected: it’s not one of those anemic “blossoms” they’ve produced in the recent years and keep redressing in pretty bottles. I’ve got a back-up bottle of French Lime Blossom but I would have been much happier knowing that it is still in production.

Rusty and April Aromatics Unter den Linden

In the Take 2 post I mentioned the second linden-centric perfume I discovered – April Aromatics Unter den Linden. Since nobody usually checks links to older posts, I’ll cite what I wrote back then:

It’s a very pretty perfume and I take back my original impression that Unter den Linden smelled like a more lemon-y version on one of my favorites Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom. Unter den Linden is lighter, more refined and blended more seamlessly than French Lime Blossom (I still like the latter though). What makes me unhappy is the price: however beautiful, this perfume isn’t unique enough or using really expensive and rare ingredients to justify to me $7/ml price for EdP. But if it weren’t for that I’d love to add a bottle of Unter den Linden to my collection. I still might.

And I did: once April Aromatics started offering a smaller bottle (15 ml), I bought one a year ago. It was the first all-natural perfume in my collection. Unter den Linden has a recognizable linden note but I wish it had a bit more of that sweet floral component of the real blossom. I also have a concern that all-natural perfumes might not be for me even if I like them because even with proper storage (cool closet, out of light), just a year after I bought it, I can smell changes in Under den Linden: there is a hint of dry linden blossom – the one that is used for tea. I do not dislike it but I’m afraid it’s a sign that my perfume turns, and I do not wear it often enough. I guess back-up bottles of Unter den Linden would be out of question, no matter what. Interestingly, the remaining French Lime Blossom in my 10 years old bottle is still fine.

So if you are, like me, mostly used to mixed media perfumes, go check on anything all-natural you might have and start enjoying those perfumes before it’s too late.

Linden Tea

Images: my own

 

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Celebrating Missed Opportunities

As I’ve mentioned more than once, I live in the area where we have two seasons: summer and the rest of the year. I do not complain: I love our weather (even when I wish we’d have more rain) and think that our climate is one of the best possible. But from time to time, especially around winter holidays, I get a pang of nostalgia for real winter with snow, icicles and colder weather. Then we go to nearby mountains – and it cures those feelings for the next couple of years.

Since neither my vSO no I are into the downhill skiing, on our winter trips we usually enjoy snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Because of the drought we had in 2012-16, for several years we didn’t go “into winter”: while skiing resorts were making artificial snow for quite expensive downhill rides, our preferred winter activities were out of question. And without snow there wasn’t much sense in going there.

So when after five years of snowless New Year celebrations I wanted my snow fix, we decided not to rely on unpredictable California weather and planned a trip to Utah. Nobody in our “party of six” had ever been to there, and it was promising to be a perfect New Year getaway.

 

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Panoramic views from the dining room of the cabin where we stayed were spectacular, including what felt like a private viewing of the supermoon… And that was almost the full extent of my winter experience this time since, following my vSO’s steps (which almost never happens in these matters), I got extremely sick soon after the arrival.

 

Utah 2018 Supermoon

 

It was perfect winter outside: not too cold, fresh snow, sun during the day and full moon at night. And all I could manage was to crawl downstairs to the living room to spend time with our friends (when they weren’t outside), watch TV (re-watching Monk TV show was surprisingly comforting), work on a mystery puzzle (2 x 1000 pieces without a hint – and we solved the murder!) and eat great meals that our friends cooked. And these simple things would take up all of my strength and resolve.

 

 

Not long before the trip I bought two travel sprays from Sonoma Scent StudioWinter Woods and Fireside Intense. I had an idea that where we were going would be just the right setting for wearing both of those perfumes. I planned to take some appropriate pictures and make a post out of it once I got back.

Despite being sick, I wore some perfumes during this trip but none of the two SSS’s perfumes felt right to wear while being stuck in the cabin: both seemed too strong and intense. But what was even worse, I felt too weak to even try to put on warm clothes and try to go for a photo shoot outside. So my friend agreed to help and in between producing all that food pictured above spent 15 minutes outside taking pictures according to the general directions I gave her from my sick sofa.

 

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods and Fireside Intense

 

I was barely out of the woods (both literary and figuratively speaking), when I got the news that Laurie Erickson was retiring from the business. Combined with my failed vacation, it seemed strange to write about perfumes that nobody could either try or buy any longer. Then my blog’s anniversary, a Month of Irises and my birthday came, and I put all that out of my mind.

March is being great this year: we got a lot of rain that we needed. And with it cold weather came, which allowed me to wear many of my winter favorites that I didn’t get a chance to wear earlier in the year. Including Winter Woods and Fireside intense. And I enjoyed them both very much.

Many years ago I wrote about Winter Woods. It took me 6 years to go through my 2.5 ml sample. So, I think I’ll be fine for a while with these 5 ml travel sprays. So, as much as it makes me sad to see this brand go (or changing hands, which, in general, is the same thing), I’m glad that I got to know it, and there will be many more chances for me to wear these perfumes – with or without snow around me. It’s a pity that those of you who haven’t tried them (or my most recent favorite Bee’s Bliss), won’t get to. But there will be other winters, other perfumes and other opportunities. And I hope that Laurie Erickson who created perfumes that touched so many people will be successful in pursuing her new opportunities.

 

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods and Fireside Intense

 

Are there any perfumes that you wish you had bought before they disappeared?

 

Images: my own

Secret Admirer, or In the Search for the Perfect Narcissus

When I was growing up, International Women’s Day, March 8th, was a good holiday: unlike most other holidays, it was a non-political one (well, almost); it was a non-discriminatory celebration (it didn’t matter if you were young or old, single or in relationships, with or without kids); and it was a public holiday, so nobody had to work or go to school.

Back then this holiday was like a combination of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day but for women only. In days before the holiday, people would have a potluck lunch/happy hour at work; boys would bring sweets and flowers to girls in their class; there were special programs on TV and radio. On the day itself families or friends would have a celebratory dinner or a party. Husbands, sons, fathers, partners, male friends and co-workers would be presenting women in their lives with flowers and, sometimes, gifts. And did I mention it was a day off?

I was fourteen or fifteen. At that time I didn’t have a boyfriend, so on March 8 I spent half the day out with friends. When I came home, I found there a bouquet of narcissuses waiting for me. My mom told me that some boy dropped them off for me. She didn’t recognize him (it meant he wasn’t from my class since she knew all of them), he didn’t tell his name, and there was no card. Since flowers were expensive at that time of the year and not that easy to get, I was sure it wasn’t a practical joke of any kind. So I was intrigued and thrilled: I had an actual secret admirer out there! You normally read about it in books or see it in movies, it doesn’t happen in real life!

For the next month or so I was trying to figure out who that might be, waiting for him to make the next move, hoping it would be somebody I liked.

Narcissuses

This story doesn’t have an ending – happy or otherwise: nobody ever admitted bringing me that bouquet. But several decades later I still remember those flowers better than I remember many dozens of bouquets I got over years from people I knew and loved.

* * *

After I moved to the U.S., I stopped celebrating International Women’s Day. But since I enjoyed so much our recent Month of the Roses project, I decided to run on my own a mini-project for the first week of March – Week of Narcissuses.

I didn’t realize I liked narcissus in perfumes until I started noticing it again and again in the notes lists of my favorite perfumes. Climat, Miss Dior, Chanel No. 19 – these all have narcissus. But this week I focused on perfumes, in which I thought that note was more prominent.

Hermès Eau de Narcisse Bleu attracted my attention (see Birgit’s review) because it had galbanum and narcissus, and it came in a blue bottle. It is a true spring perfume with wonderful combination of greenness, blossoms and wood. My 15 ml bottle looks cute and will probably serve me for a while.

If Penhaligon’s The Revenge Of Lady Blanche perfume’s opening stage would hang around for at least 2-3 hours, I would have probably be contemplating the purchase of that 75 ml bottle – I love the opening that much (panther head top doesn’t hurt either). But [un]luckily, the opening gorgeousness disappears within the first 30 minutes, if not faster, which would probably justify the size of the bottle but not its price. But you should definitely try this perfume to experience a beautiful combination of iris and narcissus. Galbanum is not one of the notes either listed or mentioned by anybody else, so if I were you I wouldn’t trust my nose, but I smell galbanum there as well.

I sought and tried Parfums DelRae Wit because it had Daphne – my dream note in perfume. While it smelled nothing like Daphne odora blossom, in general it was pleasant enough for me to go for a decant. It’s a beautiful spring bouquet with narcissus prominent enough to fit into this quest for the perfect narcissus. I wish DelRae would finally release their perfumes in 15 ml bottles: I would buy Wit and at least one more perfume from the line in a heartbeat!

I have strange relationships with Tom Ford Jonquille de Nuit: when I wear it, I think that I like it – but then I never choose to wear it unless it’s for some special reason like comparing it to other perfumes, doing a brand week or, like now, for the Single Note Exploration series. Jonquille de Nuit is very floral, with a prominent narcissus note, but despite that it doesn’t read like early spring when blossom aroma interweaves with greenery and earthy scents but rather a warm pre-summer bouquet with everything in full bloom.

Both Yosh White Flowers and Jo Loves No. 42 The Flower Shop I wore from samples. I had White Flowers for years, tested it briefly and completely forgot about it. Recently when I decided to send one of the two vials of White Flowers to a parfumista friend, I tested them to make sure they didn’t turn and was amazed at how much I liked it. It smells beautifully of a lot of flowers, and so does The Flower Shop sample, which I have “on loan” (for testing) from another parfumista friend, and which, in my opinion, is one of the cases of the name perfectly fitting the scent. These two perfumes are different bunches of flowers – thus have different aromas but they both have a similar feeling of the presence of that bunch, and I like both scents. Enough to do anything about it? I’m not sure but I plan to do more testing.

It was Penhaligon’s Ostara that reminded me about my secret admirer and gave me the idea of doing post for this note. This perfume actually epitomizes narcissus flower for me: it’s sunny, and bright, and happy, and uncomplicated. It doesn’t come even close to be worth Penhaligon’s full price but last year’s sale deals invited Ostara into many homes, from what I’ve read on different perfume forums. I bought a bottle for myself. I bought another bottle as a present to my friend. I enjoy wearing Ostara as my spring perfume, and this year I wore it as an anti-#BeBoldForChange: even though it’s not my holiday any longer, I refuse to politicize it because it’s still a nice and loved holiday in my native country. I am a feminist the other 364 days of the year; I do not have anything to fight for on this one extra day.

Rusty And Narcissuses

Do you like narcissuses – in perfumes or in a vase? Did you ever have a secret admirer? Have you ever been one?

 

Images: my own

A Month of Roses: Week 1

First seven days of not only a specific theme but predefined set of perfumes. Surprisingly, it was much easier to do than I thought: I didn’t have to think about what I would wear the next day – it was already on the calendar.

I publish this post to sum up my impressions from the first seven perfumes and to remind you that for each comment, in which you tell us what rose perfume you wore that day (or any of the days before), you are getting one entry into the draw for two bars of chocolate from a local artisan brand (my choice) – milk, dark or mix (winner’s choice) sent anywhere in the world.

Just remember: one comment – one entry, even if you tell in it about multiple perfumes worn on different days. At the same time, two comments about the same perfume posted on two different days will give you two entries. What’s the catch? You’ve probably noticed that, other than standard WordPress’ ads, there are no ads or affiliated links on this blog, so I’m not trying to get any hits or clicks from my readers; I just enjoy your company and want you to come back more often – even if I do not publish a new post.

Red Roses

February 1: Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur Esprit de Parfum (Bertrand Duchaufour)

I know that it’s called officially Mohur Extrait now. But the sample I was wearing was from the period when it still had the old name that hadn’t become official. From the first trio of perfumes, Mohur was my least favorite: I didn’t dislike it but I didn’t feel I’d want to wear it. Mohur Extrait feels different than just a higher concentration of the EdP version: it’s deeper and smoother. And agarwood doesn’t jump out on me as it happened before with Mohur EdP. Just in case you’ve missed it somehow: Mohur Extrait is a limited edition, and I’m not sure if those gorgeous bottles will be available again once they are sold out.

February 2: Guerlain Rose Barbare (Francis Kurkdjian)

While I enjoy wearing this perfume from time to time, the small decant that I have is probably all I need. It is pleasant; it fits its Guerlain collection well; but, in my opinion, Rose Barbare is neither “barbare” (whichever English equivalent you choose) nor that much “rose.” I am not trying to say that there’s no rose in that perfume but smelling it blind, I would have never thought about it as a rose-centric perfume. But still, it’s a nice perfume to wear.

February 3: Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin (Christopher Sheldrake)

I think it is a beautiful perfume. It was the second time I’ve ever worn it properly, and I will not be doing it again: I have ideological grievances against it. I decided to wear it on that day because it served two purposes: while it was a beautiful rose perfume that fitted this Month of Roses project, I used it as an anti-lemming perfume in NST’s community project. I do not feel bad if you choose not to read [into] this perfume pedigree or think of Marlene Dietrich while wearing La Fille de Berlin, but for me this is where our relationship with this perfume ends.

February 4: Amouage Lyric (Daniel Maurel)

According to the calendar, I was supposed to wear Tauer Perfumes PHI – une rose de Kandahar. I didn’t realize that my sample was empty: probably, it’s time to buy a travel spray. And since it was a weekend, and we were invited to the friends’ house for dinner, I wanted to wear something special, not just a quickly found replacement out of all the perfumes that didn’t make it to the calendar in the first place. So I moved Lyric to the earlier date hoping to find a replacement for it later.

A couple of Valentine’s Days ago I paired Lyric with one of the stories from my childhood (Ax +By = A Genetic Mystery).

This is one of classic Amouage perfumes that is worth trying even if one doesn’t like rose or Amouage perfumes: it doesn’t work for everybody, it shouldn’t (and can’t) work for everybody but it is a great illustration for opulence in perfumery. I happen to love Lyric, and I feel joy every time I wear it. I wonder though, whether I actually smell this rose as a dark one or is it a power of suggestion from the packaging?

Deep Red Rose

February 5: By Kilian Rose Oud (Calice Becker)

Agarwood and I are not really friends. There is a handful of perfumes with this note that work for my skin (or at least for my nose when I smell them on my vSO) but most of them I rather dislike. Rose Oud is one of a few that are not bad, which brings me to the conclusion that it’s not real agarwood that makes up for this perfume’s price. No, I haven’t suddenly developed better olfaction abilities. But I remember that every time I thought I liked perfumes with agarwood, those were perfumes based on the “oud accord” (if any at all). I won’t probably go beyond the sample I have but I liked wearing it for the project.

February 6: Sonoma Scent Studio Velvet Rose (Laurie Erickson)

As with all Laurie’s perfumes, there is no doubt that it is a real rose you smell. More is going on in this perfume, but rose is at center stage from the big opening until the last curtain call, if I were to stretch that theater metaphor. Velvet Rose is very Sonoma Scent Studio perfume so if you like their floral perfumes, this one should work well for you. My bottle of this perfume is slowly nearing the end (so, 3-4 more years, and it’ll be done) – ask me then if I’m replenishing it.

February 7: Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Vermeille (Andy Tauer)

As I wrote in the post In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Raspberry, I cannot say that I love Une Rose Vermeille but I like it very much. It is fruity-floral perfume that is done the way this genre of perfumes should be done. It is a very strong and unapologetic lemony rose with the added raspberry sweetness. But unless you’re a [serial] monogamist when it comes to perfumes, do not go for anything more than 15 ml travel spray of this perfume: it is so potent that even that amount will serve you a decade.

Rusty and Une Rose Vermeire

I will be back in a week with a write-up on the next seven perfumes on my calendar. I hope you like rose perfumes (and chocolate).

 

Images: my own

My First Celebuscent

Celebuscents have that stigma in the Perfumeland: many perfumistas try to distance themselves from these concoctions; they become the butt of easy jokes; and just from time to time somebody almost apologetically concedes liking one of them despite it being a celebuscent.

Until recently I stayed more or less immune to all of those releases: the only two perfumes I’ve ever tried on skin were Dita Von Teese’s first perfume (a perfumista friend sent me a decant of it because she liked it; I vaguely remember that it wasn’t bad but not good enough to justify even the adorable bottle) and Etat Libre d’Orange Like This (it was a part of one of the LuckyScent’s sample packs – when I was still buying those; I think I rather liked it but since I do not support that brand, sampling was the end of it).

A couple more celebrity perfumes – one from Jennifer Aninston and one from Madonna – I tried on paper but don’t remember anything other than the latter looked like a coffin and had tuberose, which I usually do not like. I would have probably tried CB I Hate Perfume 2nd Cumming (I love that actor, and all the proceeds go to charities), but I’ve never came across that line. And I haven’t tried Boyfriend from Kate Walsh, even though it was widely liked at the time.

Celebuscents

The only perfume that can be classified as celebrity perfume that I like, own (a decant – thanks to Suzanne of Suzanne’s Perfume Journal) and wear is Deneuve by Catherine Deneuve. But it is classic perfume already (and regretfully discontinued) so I probably do not even have to be apologetic while admitting that.

When I started coming across multiple mentions of the new Sarah Jessica Parker’s perfume Stash, I wasn’t even tempted: I’m not interested in celebuscents in general, I’m not a fan of SJP, and I don’t like the name (it has drugs connotation for me, which I do not condone).

When hajusuuri asked me if I wanted to get a sample of Stash, I told her that I would test it at a store (how hard can it be to test something like that, right?), which I tried to do on my next trip to the mall – just to discover that none of the stores carried it. There is a chance that I would have eventually visited Ulta, the only store that currently has that perfume, but I’m not sure since I don’t like Ulta as well.

You can see how everything was against our encounter. But then hajusuuri just went ahead and, without waiting for the report on the success or failure of my shopping trip, included the sample into the package she was sending me.

The first minute I applied it, I immediately liked it (and that was my #10, undisclosed, perfume on my Best of 2016 list). I liked Stash on its own merit but also because I was reminded of another perfume I used to like – Gucci Rush for Men. These two perfumes aren’t identical (especially since I’m comparing Stash to “vintage” remains of the Rush) but the resemblance was close enough for me to rush (no pun) to ulta.com, which just happen to have a sale…

SJP Stash Set

I enjoy the woodiness and dryness of Stash, and I don’t smell any sweetness in it (I read that some people did). The most prominent note to my nose is cedar but if your nose better than mine in identifying notes, a list of those looks promising: grapefruit, black pepper, sage, cedar, patchouli, white ginger lily, pistachio, olibanum, Massoia wood, vetiver and musk. It is unisex with slight leaning towards masculine perfumes but not so drastically to scare away rabbit hole travelers, though I’m not sure about “civilians” (© Tara).

I didn’t need another 50 ml of any perfume, let alone 50 ml of perfume, another 30 ml of elixir oil and a 10 ml perfume rollerball. But the complete set was on sale for less than the smallest full bottle’s price. How could I resist? Besides, I was curious about the Stash oil, which I would not have tried (or bought) otherwise. I like it but I’m not clear on the body application: after I drop some oil on my skin, what am I supposed to do? Leave it to absorb? That can take forever. Rub in with my fingers? But then everything I touch in the next hour will smell like that perfume. Wash my hands afterwards? Not sure if that would help, but even if it did, I’ll need to add the next step – using a hand cream – to an already getting too laborious application routine… Do you have any other suggestions?

Rusty and SJP Stash

Do you own any celebrity perfumes? Do you wear them?

A giveaway: 10 ml Stash EdP rollerball needs another loving home before Rusty gets to it. If you’d like to be entered into the draw, just say so in your comment – there are no other requirements. The giveaway will be open until 11:59 PST on January 21, 2017. The winner will be chosen through random.org. I’ll ship the prize to any country (with usual disclaimers).

Images: the collage made from official images; the rest – my own

Nature vs. …

The first thought I had while testing Puredistance Sheiduna was: it’s beautiful, I really like it! And the next one: Whatever I smell, it just cannot be natural…

Earlier this year Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) reviewed a couple of perfumes by Nomenclature – a project by Aedes de Venustas‘ founder Karl Bradl and an interior designer Carlos Quintero. The project showcases some aroma chemicals. I’m not sure why they felt compelled to do it: not only has it been done before (as a concept) – all of Escentric Molecules‘ perfumes, Not a Perfume by Juliette has a Gun or Tauer‘s Pentachords – but also all of the above-mentioned perfumes had a much more appealing packaging. Nevertheless, they did it, and I’ve got to try four out of five perfumes from the line recently (thank you, hajusuuri). The verdict? I thought they were rather nice, but I had to agree with Steve’s (The Scented Hound) comment on that Lucas’ post:

I have no problem with synthetics and their use. Actually, the natural perfumes for the most part aren’t to my liking. That said, I have a hard time rallying around a conceptual perfume that is marketed to look like a chemistry set. Wrap it up in a pretty bottle with a pretty name and maybe I’ll come running.

Rusty and Nomenclature perfume samples

That was exactly what I was thinking. While I usually prefer everything natural in other areas of life (I recently touched it in the topic of the clothes’ fabric), when it comes to perfumes, I’m not so sure. No, actually strike that: I am sure that “all-natural” doesn’t work for me in perfume form. So far, I came across a single all-natural perfume that I really liked: Unter den Linden from April Aromatics (I did a mini-review of it in one of my Single Note Exploration posts). Absolutely all other all-natural perfumes that I’ve tried were “OK” at best…

But back to Sheiduna. I want to clarify that my thinking about it not being natural wasn’t a criticism – I was just stating the fact. The third though that was an organic continuation of those two, with which I started this post, was: I don’t really care about that fact.

I know bloggers who take offense at brands using aroma chemicals, especially when it’s done in excess, in their opinion. I’m a wrong person to judge: Molecule 01 – a pure Iso E Super – is still one of my favorite perfumes (and I fell in love with it without even knowing what I smelled). But my opinion is: if I like what I smell, I do not care about the origin of the scent I like – as long as it is… well, original.

Angel Perfumes

While I loved (and still do) Angel (I challenge anyone to tell me, which natural ingredients made it an icon – and while you’re at it, you might also try persuading me that Marilyn Monroe was a natural blonde), I never cared for all angel-wannabes that came after. The same goes for other ingredients: once they become ubiquitous, I lose my interest. But I do not hold it against those perfumes that used them first: before something has become a cliché, at some point it must have been original and … catchy.

Amber Xtreme or not, I enjoy Sheiduna and think that it’s more beautiful than hundreds of other perfumes I’ve tried – and I’m not talking only about natural perfumes. And Puredistance’s packaging is truly exceptional. I’ll happily wear Sheiduna this winter.

Rusty and Puredistance Sheiduna

Images: my own

Song of the Sea

There is a term “false friend of a translator” – words in two languages that look or sound similar, but differ significantly in meaning (see Wikipedia). These words do not even have to look/sound exactly the same but as long as they somehow “click”, one’s mind does the rest.

My first encounter with this phenomenon was a word “complexion”: it sounds similar to the word in Russian “комплекция” that means “build” (as in “the dimensions or proportions of a person’s or animal’s body”). The next one was even more drastic: English “pathetic” just begs to be used as a translation for Russian “патетический” (“grandiloquent”).

As I’ve discovered, it doesn’t even have to be a foreign-native pair; foreign-foreign works as well. For a while in my mind “Sogni del Mare” was associated with “Song of the See.” I don’t know if for a native speaker (reader?) “sogni” looks anything like “song”, but for my eye it was (and is) close enough – even now when I know that it means “dreams.”

I tried Sogni del Mare (Dreams of the Sea) by Antonia’s Flowers for the first time many years ago from a dab vial that I bought from the brand’s site as a part of a sample set*. I liked it very much and was even considering a bottle purchase (in my regular “think ten times” manner). Then one day I saw Sogni del Mare at Barneys and was about to buy it but decided to spray it first – just to see how I like it in that form.

It was awful! Not just different from how I remembered or less interesting but plainly awful. There were some very unpleasant herbal notes I never smelled in it before… Of course, I didn’t buy it then.

At some point later at home, when I remembered about the incident, I re-tested my old sample: I still liked it. I couldn’t believe it was the same perfume! “Maybe they’ve reformulated it since I got my sample?” – I asked myself and ordered another set of samples. Reformulation wasn’t the case: I still liked Sogni del Mare from the new vial. Then the only explanation I could think of was that Barneys had a turned tester bottle.

A year later, while at Barneys again, I decided to try Sogni del Mare again – with the same result, believe it or not. I was amazed and I couldn’t explain how it could happen (it couldn’t have been the same tester, could it?). But I asked for a sample, which I brought, together with the other two, to my recent Maui vacation.

Antonia's Flowers Sogni del Mare

I wasn’t imagining things: the sample from Barneys’ bottle was clearly off. I do not know how exactly they managed to do that, but even remains of my ancient first sample (from 2007!), though slightly changed, smells closer to the newer sample than what I smelled twice at Barneys (a year apart).

Sogni del Mare isn’t a statement perfume: it’s soft, tender and … dreamy. I’m not a big fan of colognes but this perfume’s citrus opening charms me. I do not like rhubarb in any of its uses but it doesn’t bother me here. I love black currant and like lotus note in perfumes but I do not distinguish them in Sogni del Mare. All that said, every time I try Sogni del Mare, I realize that I still like it. The only reason I haven’t bought it yet is my fear that samples were from the “old batch” while the perfume was reformulated and “what you smell [at Barneys] is what you get.” But maybe I should still risk it?..

I’m not sure I have a notion about how exactly dreams of the sea might smell, but if you would tell me they smell like Sogni del Mare, I would say: I don’t see why not…

Maui: Dreams of the Sea

Images: my own

* It looks like the sample set is still offered from the brand’s site for a nominal price. They do not ship to Europe but if you’re in the U.S. and haven’t tried their perfumes, you have to!