In the Search for the Perfect Mimosa, Take 6

Even if you were new to my blog (which not too many of my current readers are), just from the post’s title you could guess that I like mimosa in perfumes. Correction: I like mimosa. Period.

 

Mimosa

 

My perfumista friends clearly made that connection, and in the last couple of years I’ve been getting different mimosa-related gifts from them.

Previously, I wrote about the shower gel Cotton Flower & Mimosa (Yves Rocher) that my perfume twin Lucas (Chemist in the Bottle) sent to me when it wasn’t yet available in the U.S. and Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea Mimosa perfume that hajusuury, my other perfume sibling, gifted to me.

Last year in London, Tara (A Bottled Rose) gave me a beautiful Mimosa soap by Molinard that she brought back from her trip to France. It smells so wonderful that I did something I haven’t done before but remembered from decades back – a custom from my childhood to keep fragrant soaps in a drawer to scent lingerie. But I plan to start using it soon, before it loses its aroma.

 

Molinard Mimosa Soap

 

Then last Christmas I got another unexpected gift from Lucas: Mimosa perfume by Monotheme Fine Fragrnces Venezia. Before then I had never heard about that brand, though Fragrantica has 72 (!) perfumes listed for it. Even without it being a gift from a friend, Mimosa is quite nice. Simple, uncomplicated but nice and surprisingly wearable.

 

Rusty and Monotheme Mimosa

 

But this is not all the “damage” Lucas has done recently: first he shared with me a sample of Amouage Love Mimosa, and later he found a bottle at a great price, and he, hajusuri and I split it. If you haven’t tried Love Mimosa yet, read Lucas’s great review.

 

Amouage Shop in London

 

The picture above is from my last year’s trip to London. [Un]fortunately, that day the store was closed – or I could have left it with a full-price bottle of Love Mimosa. I didn’t get that cute yellow bottle, but I got more than enough perfume to wear for the next many upcoming mimosa seasons, especially considering all other great mimosa perfumes that I accumulated over the years and previous five takes on this single note exploration. I like, own and wear Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom, Givenchy Amarige Mimosa, Sonoma Scent Studio Bee’s Bliss, Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie, Atelier Cologne Mimosa Indigo and Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Mimosa. And I’m extremely close to needing a replacement for the decant of Prada Infusion de Mimosa.

 

Images: my own

In the Search for the Perfect Yuzu

Last year, when I published my Yuzu Overload post, in which I told my story of liking yuzu marmalade (as in “food”) but being disappointed by Demeter’s eponymous perfume, asked for recommendations on other yuzu-centric perfumes, I didn’t realize how many of those were out there.

I wasn’t sure where to start, but I got an unexpected help from a kind NST reader, Perfumelover67. As I was passing onto her a couple of samples that she wanted to try, she asked if there was anything I’d like to get in return. I mentioned that the only thing I was looking for at the time was yuzu… And she just happened to have 4 samples she could share with me.

That was how it all started. After that yuzu seemed to be jumping at me from all possible places, without me even trying. So, I decided to share with you my findings.

I will not do the usual “runner-up” sequence leading to the best. Instead, I want to start with introducing to you my perfect yuzu scent that I found. It was one of the PL67’s samples, and after testing it for a while, I decided that I wanted it in my collection.

 

Rusty and J-Scent Yuzu

 

Yuzu by J-Scent. I don’t think I should be surprised by the fact that a Japanese brand did the best job out of everything I tried so far. With notes lemon, bergamot, orange, thyme, grapefruit, lime, yuzu, rose and mandarin, it is an extremely believable yuzu scent, at least the way I know that smell from enjoying yuzu marmalade, jar after jar. If I were to smell it with my eyes closed, I’m not sure I would be able to tell whether I smell the first minute of J-Scent’s Yuzu development or an open jar of the preserve. It starts slightly sweet and very juicy, then develops into a tart scent that stays on my skin surprisingly long for that type of perfume. I have never been a big citrus perfume fan. But J-Scent’s Yuzu is just perfect for me, and I look forward to wearing it this summer.

* * *

All other perfumes that I tested for this Single Note Exploration project can be placed into one of the two categories: “I can smell yuzu note” and “If you say so…”

Most perfumes in the latter category do not deserve even a paragraph in this post – not because they are bad perfumes, but because that note is in their only nominally, they shouldn’t be considered as examples of this note in perfumery. And because of that I will just list them – so that whoever decides to run their own search for this note knows what not to test (though, otherwise than not having enough yuzu in them, these perfumes might be good on their own): Diptyque Oyedo, Gallivant Tokyo and Sylvaine Delacourte Smeraldo.

One more perfume from the same category I will single out – just because with that name I expected more.

Yuzu Rouge by Parfums 06130 – flat and slightly artificial abstract citrus in the opening, some pale rose on a good day after that. If you were to a read notes list, you’d expect this perfume to be fabulous. It’s not. For the sake of all the great ingredients listed, I hope they were either artificial or used in homeopathic doses. Sooo not interesting.

* * *

From perfumes in which I could smell yuzu I got mixed results, but they all are worth trying if you are interested in this note.

I knew nothing about this, also Japanese, brand, but I ordered a sample of Kazehikaru by Di Ser on a whim (I should have read first!). It’s all-natural perfume, astringent and slightly herbal (a very recognizable green bitterness I smelled often in all-natural perfumes). Notes: yuzu, neroli, lavender, shiso, Japanese rose and vetiver. I’ll pass, but be warned that, as a rule, I tend to dislike all-natural perfumes. If your experience is different, please give Kazehikaru a try.

* * *

Yuzu by Acqua Di Parma has a divine and very realistic yuzu opening. Unfortunately, it’s gone within seconds. I’m not exaggerating I re-tested several times because I couldn’t believe it was happening. It disappears quickly and becomes just a pleasant floral bouquet. Notes include yuzu, bergamot, Sichuan pepper, lotus, mimosa, violet leaves, jasmine, musk, liquorice and sandalwood. If you like any of AdP’s perfumes, try this one, whether you’re looking for yuzu or not. That opening!

 

Yuzu Perfume Samples

* * *

Tacit by Aesop is more astringent than some other scents I tested, but it’s not too bitter. Notes: Citrus, yuzu, basil, clove and vetiver (which is probably responsible for some woodiness I smell in development). I like it, and I could wear something like that if I needed more summer citruses: it is very pleasant, refreshing and not banal, even though for my taste it doesn’t have enough yuzu.

* * *

Peche au Yuzu by Kyse – mouthwatering yuzu/peach combination in the opening, but then it gets too … peach-y (?). It’s the sweetest perfume of all I tried for this post, and I think it’s quite pleasant if someone likes a peach note in perfumes. I don’t.

* * *

Note de Yuzu by Heeley – opens beautifully: juicy, sweet, slightly tart. It’s not too complex but bright and pleasant. My complaint is: it subsides too quickly on my skin. Nevertheless, I think it’s a beautiful summer perfume. I just don’t need more than 10-15 ml of it, otherwise, I wouldn’t mind adding it to my collection.

* * *

When I read it, I couldn’t believe that Jo Malone also released a yuzu-centric perfume. With quarantine going on, there was no chance I could get to try it for free, so for the first time… ever I paid for a Jo Malone sample. OK, it wasn’t exactly a sample: I got a mini bottle on eBay.

Hadn’t I found my perfect yuzu perfume, I would have been quite content with Yuja by Jo Malone this summer. A pleasant opening burst of yuzu (do you see a pattern?), and then it calms down quickly and reminds of many other Jo Malone “blossoms” from their limited editions. I will wear what I have (cute bottle, it’s very convenient for re-application), but I don’t think I’ll need more.

 

Rusty and Jo Malone Yuja

 

I found my perfect yuzu perfume (and at least one second best). Does it mean my search is over? I thought so until I read recently that Parfums de Nicolai has just released Eau de Yuzu. Of course, now I want to try it.

 

Images: my own

A Magical Greenery Tour

Hello friends!

I have had a very exciting week: after my post, in which I talked about how green and I don’t always get along in perfume, Portia sent me 11 numbered samples of some of his favourite greens. I tested two a day and journaled my immediate feelings and impressions. When I began, I had no intention of trying to guess what they were, but the allure of numbered mystery vials was too much for my brain. Often an immediate association came to mind, whether fragrance or house. Some might find this useful, and though none of my speculations were correct, I think you could take them as “in the style of” recommendations.

And now, to the perfumes!

 

Green Samples

 

Green No. 1

A lovely melon note under fresh green spiciness. Ma Griffe? Something of that era. Very gentle, reminds me of humid spring day. And I love humidity.

Peau d’Ailleurs by Starck (2016, Annick Menardo). I had never heard of this house, but I’m looking forward to wearing my sample again, as apparently it features geosmin heavily. Perhaps that was the humidity?

Green No. 2

While it begins light and crisp, the drydown is potent and long-lasting. Quite stiff and proper though sweet. Too high pitched for me, but a crowd pleaser, I suspect. O de Lancome-esque.

Sampaquita by Ormonde Jayne (2004, Geza Schoen). Oh my! I have tried to like this so many times due to its name and being on sale rather often. I’ve always found Ormonde Jayne to be too proper for me, I like them, but I feel I cannot love them. And no, I don’t just like the wild ones, but my proper quota has been fulfilled by quite a few classics. I’d recommend Ormonde Jayne as a house to others, but it seems we are not to be.

Green No. 3

Sweet like a green apple. Fruity, galbanum on a pillow of musk. It reminds me of Fidji, or rather my image of Fidji, which I haven’t smelled in 15 years. Very charming and young, the youth of another era before the invention of fruitchoulis.

A Scent by Issey Miyake (2009, Daphne Bugey). I remember trying this when it came out as the bottle was so appealingly minimalist. I liked it, but having little interest in greens or fresh at that point (I was deep into gothic orientals) a quick spray was as far as we went. Now I’m thinking this is a fun one to keep an eye out for, if it is still around.

 

Greenery

 

Green No. 4

I feel this one is thoroughly modern and playing homage to vintage. There’s a definite touch of cumin in there under the mossy forest floor. I would like very much to wear this scent, it has many secret qualities that appeal to my imagination.

Eau de Gloire by Parfum d’Empire (2003, Marc-Antoine Corticchiato). And straight to the top of the want list this goes! I would like to carry Eau de Gloire in my purse, always at the ready to secretly bolster the day. This was one of two standout favourites during my magical greenery tour. I was so enthralled with it that I emailed Portia begging to know what it was, but he held out until I had sampled everything!

Green No. 5

Chanel No. 19?

Futur by Robert Piguet (1960, presumably reformulated since then; Aurelien Guichard). It was a little sweeter than No. 19, but if you’re a No 19 fan you might like to spend some time with this one to see if you also love it.

Green No. 6

A tart fuzzy green with a touch of heliotrope to begin with. I immediately thought “Zoologist”, though not one I’ve smelled. Strong black tea. Smoke. Absolutely charming and interesting, reminds me of a great reading experience. 6 is the stand-out for me, it’s just so drinkable and fine. It made me a little emotional, the play of tea and fruit and smoke.

Eau de Givenchy, vintage (1980, Daniel Moliere and Daniel Hoffman). This was my favourite of the whole collection. I absolutely loved it. Looking up reviews, there’s a lot of talk about “a perfect spring day” and no talk of tea and tartness. Perhaps trying things without reading about them first has a lot of merit. This one I tested for two days.

 

Greenery

 

Green No. 7

A vile and antiseptic concoction infiltrated by sweaty cumin. A sweetness develops. By the drydown, it’s quite rich and acceptable. Amouage?

#2 Spiritus/Land by Miller et Bertaux (2006). I had quite a visceral dislike for this, but by the drydown it had mellowed into a well thought out fragrance, but not something I enjoyed. I see it has teak in it, which may contribute to my antiseptic response. Amouage and I have a troubled relationship, but one factor that brought Amouage to mind with Spiritus/Land was the high quality of the ingredients.

Green No. 8

Oh my! I want to say Cristalle, or rather the fantasy of Cristalle that I had when I began my perfume journey. It’s luminous! It reminds me of a beautiful yellow wine. I’m wondering why I don’t have whatever this is in my collection!

Cœur de Vétiver Sacré by L’Artisan Parfumeur (2010, Karine Vinchon-Spehn). One of the few L’Artisans I have not tried and yet another reason to adore the early L’Artisans, full of quirky masterpieces. I will be tracking down this sadly discontinued wonder to join my L’Artisan beloveds. I am quite thrilled to have tried this beauty, since it has always been on my radar as a L’Artisan I had missed out on.

Green No. 9

Guerlain Vetiver?

Tzora by Anat Fritz (2012, Geza Schoen). Well, isn’t that interesting. I was very careful during our green tour to only test two a day and not confuse my nose. I wore nothing else. Being in lockdown helped, as there are no other scents in the air, and the mood and temperature plodded on at a steady sameness. I’ve tried Tzora before, and I own Guerlain Vetiver. I ended up testing both side by side. Other than Tzora being a little richer and missing that delicate nutmeg, they were so close I thought it was my imagination that they were even different scents.

Green No. 10

Minty. Camphor. Sugar. Heeley Esprit du Tiger? It’s lovely, I could bathe in it! It is sugared in the most delicate and lovely way.

Oriental Mint by Phaedon (2011, Pierre Guillaume). This features “resins”, which, I suspect, is where the tiger balm accord comes in. I think it’s better than the Esprit du Tiger, not as simple. A very fun scent! I could see this being a bottle I wore excessively for a summer.

Green No. 11

I have spent some hours thinking on what this reminds me of. Lovely lemon, very fresh and bright to begin with. It then magically develops into a delicious sherbet! It’s as if a gelato maker sniffed the orchard air and rushed to capture the wonderful citrus and springtime scent in a gelato. I think this is a Hermetica, it feels like Hermetica DNA.

Granville by Dior (2010, Francoise Demachy). Oh my, how fantastic this is. I hope you all are able to try Granville, especially if you love lemon. Vividly natural ingredients.

And so we end our magical greenery tour. Through the testing phase and the reveal, I’ve been inspired, besotted, perplexed and gobsmacked. It has been a very enjoyable journey during this time of no travel (one of perfume’s secret powers). Thank you, Portia, for your samples and your wonderful enthusiasm to share your loves.

 

Greenery

 

Images: samples (Narth), greenery (Undina)

In the Search for the Perfect Lavender, Take III

As I’ve told in one of my stories before, I had found my perfect lavender perfume – Lieber Gustav by Krigler. But my love to this plant in general and my hand-made sachet losing its scent after a while, keeps me on a lookout for more lavender-based perfumes and other products.

When I read that Jo Malone was about to release a new limited-edition collection based on lavender, I could barely hold myself till it was available in a store: I like lavender, I have a soft spot for the brand, and have you seen those purple tops for the bottles in that collection?

Had the brand released this collection as a set of three 9 ml bottles, I would have bought it. But I’m yet to see any of their limited editions done in that manner. Silver Birch & Lavender didn’t work for me (I would have still wanted it as a part of a set though). The other two smelled nice, but Wisteria & Lavender disappeared from my skin within 30 minutes, which isn’t acceptable even for Jo Malone. So, on my request, a friend bought for me Lavender & Coriander in a Duty-free in Heathrow airport, which, in combination with a nice purple cup, made that bottle even more attractive than it was four years ago when it was released first as a part of their garden herbs collection (though, the green bottle they put it in then was also quite appealing).

But the item that attracted my attention was the fourth item in the collection – Lavender & Musk Pillow Mist. I know that Jo Malone previously had linen sprays and ambiance scents, but this was something new and interesting. And I wasn’t the only one who thought so, I discovered while looking for it: not only it was gone from the Duty-free, but it was sold out in most online stores.

But I persevered, found and ordered it. And then the lock-down happened, and the package, which couldn’t be delivered to the closed office, went back to the seller (and it has never re-appeared on their site, so I couldn’t reorder it).

Since I wasn’t prepared to pay almost twice the price for it on eBay, I accepted that it wasn’t meant to be. (Who are those people who would?! It’s not a discontinued perfume that someone got to love and cannot buy any longer – so, why to pay that much for something you have no emotional attachment to?!) And then brand’s site restocked the complete collection – so, now I’m a happy owner of a bottle of Lavender & Musk Pillow Mist.

 

Rusty and Jo Malone Lavender and Musk Pillow Mist

 

It’s not an overpowering lavender (I wouldn’t mind it to be stronger). Lavender & Musk Pillow Mist is soft and warm and cuddling – just what you’d expect from a pillow spray. It is completely unnecessary – and probably it’s a part of its appeal. I don’t think I’ll ever repurchase it, even if it is re-released. But I’ll be using it while waiting for this year’s lavender season: if I manage not to miss it, maybe I’ll try to recreate that Diptyque’s magic wand.

 

Images: my own

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

Linden Week

I planned to do this mini-project for the first week of July, a month a name of which, as we discovered, in several Slavic languages is connected to linden. But first it was my mini-vacation, then I was too busy, then something else came up. But I still did it!

I love linden, and I wouldn’t mind wearing perfumes with this prominent note for 7 days in a row or even longer but I didn’t have enough to cover the whole week.

 

Linden Blossom

 

From my two previous Single Note Exploration posts (Take 1 and Take 2) I found only three perfumes that I like, own and wear: my two absolute favorites Jo Malone French Lime Blossom and April Aromatics Under den Linden. I also wore Tauer Perfumes Zeta, which still didn’t smell like linden to my nose but since otherwise it’s a pleasant green perfume, I will finish the bottle eventually.

In addition to these three that I wore, I tested two more linden-centric perfumes.

One of the readers shared with me a sample of Frau Tonis Parfum No. 10 Linde Berlin. Until she mentioned it, I haven’t even heard of the brand. Notes for this perfume are not too complex: green notes, honey and linden. A couple of times when I tested it, it smelled a little too sweet while on other occasions I thought it was rather bitter and acidic, which I liked more. It is not my favorite linden perfume but had I traveled to Berlin, I would have picked up at least a travel bottle of it. Maybe one day I will.

Schone Linden 05 by Krigler (seriously, what is it with all these brands and numbers?!) got to me by pure chance: a friend who was shopping at the boutique managed to get this free (!) sample for me.

Do you know of this brand? I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for that friend who introduced me to the best lavender perfume I found so far – Lieber Gustav 14.

Schone Linden is a beautiful-beautiful perfume. Despite the name though, it is not a linden perfume. Rather it smells of the whole bouquet: camellia, carnation, gardenia, lilac, linden, tuberose and violet (additional two notes mentioned vanilla and musk). I would love to give it some more skin time but unfortunately my small sample is empty.

Despite my love to Lieber Gustav and some infatuation with Schone Linden, the brand irritates me: they keep spinning that BS about perfumes for royals and stars but for me it feels like they could take some lessons in sticking their pinky out (I won’t name names). Nowadays, at $365 for 100 ml and availability for online purchase, their perfumes are hardly that exclusive or special but they carry themselves as if they were. Their samples are $20-$31 for a single 2ml plastic vial (or $105-$165 for 5 x 2 ml). Not even redeemable against a full bottle purchase.

Krigler currently has 4 stores Worldwide with 2 more opening this Fall. One of them – in San Francisco, where I plan to visit it to try Schone Linden sprayed lavishly (I guess, should go for at least $5-worth spraying spree).

In my search, I discovered one more beautiful linden perfume, thanks to Asali (The Sounds of Scent). First she sent me a “blind sample” for testing. It smelled pleasant, I liked it. But what I liked about it probably even more was that not only I recognized several notes that actually were present in it – linden and mimosa, but I guessed the brand (it reminded me of Tiare Mimosa, which I didn’t know well but smelled earlier), which is not something ordinary for me and excites me every time it happens.

As it was revealed, the sample was of Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Aromaparfum Apaisant launched in 2002 but sadly discontinued long before I got to try it. Asali was very kind and shared with me a decant from her bottle. I used it up and liked so much that I kept rummaging through eBay listings until several years later I found a partial bottle.

 

Guerlaine Aromaparfum Apaisant

 

Aroma Allegoria Aromaparfum Apaisant’s notes: freesia, wormwood, linden, mimosa, chamomile ylang-ylang and vanilla. If you look at this perfume’s entry on Fragrantica you’ll notice how “yellow” the scent description in notes pictures looks – and this is exactly how it smells! It is an uncomplicated and indeed soothing spring/summer perfume with an unusual longevity: applied in the morning, it stayed noticeable on me until the end of the work day (in an AC’d office though). It is not a masterpiece the loss of which we should lament but it is very pleasant to wear, and I could think of other perfumes that should have rather been on a chopping block.

Have you come across any good linden perfumes recently?

 

Images: my own

Yuzu Overload

I came across Demeter Fragrance Library more than 10 years ago while searching for a linden perfume. First I was inspired by the number of different perfumes they offered (as I was researching the brand online) and then completely disappointed by the simplicity of their creations, once I tried some of them at Sephora. Since then I tried several of them, even bought a couple (they were $5/30 ml at TJ Max, so I couldn’t resist but I use them as a room spray), but since then I never considered that brand again for personal perfume.

I’ve never been a huge marmalade fan. Most likely, because those that I tried were too over-processed to the degree where it was just sugar syrup soured by citric acid. But also because it was so far from what I used to love as a child. When I was growing up, lemons were scarce: as with a lot of other things and produce, one had to be in the right place at the right time to buy some. So, of course, nobody would be buying just one or two lemons if they were to happen upon them. But since lemons did not keep well for too long, I remember my grandmother slicing them, mixing with sugar and storing in a jar. And since no heat was involved into creating these preserves, they still smelled and tasted very natural.

 

Citrus and Honey Tea

 

So when a friend offered something that was called Yuzu Hot & Cold Tea and looked like most citrus store-bought marmalade I’d tried before, I was skeptical, but being a polite guest I got a couple of spoons… WOW. I’ve never eaten or smelled a real yuzu fruit before, so I have no comparison point, but that Yuzu “tea” was so fragrant that I wasn’t sure whether I should eat it or slather over my pulse points.

Since then couple of times my friend managed to get me that “tea” from some San Francisco store, but we don’t see each other often enough to make it a steady delivery channel, so I tried to find it around where I live first and then online – without much luck. I don’t remember how exactly I came across Yuzu Marmalade on Amazon, but I decided to give it a try – even though it was a different jar (much smaller) and it wasn’t “tea.” Luckily for me, it was exactly the same taste and aroma. So now I keep ordering it online, even though $11-12 for a 10oz (300g) jar seems a little steep.

Recently, while running a search to see if any other online retailers had it cheaper or in a bigger jar, I discovered that Demeter had perfume called Yuzu Marmalade. Of course I wanted to try it! While I was thinking of checking if Sephora still carried the line, a kind NST’er offered to send me her small spray bottle of this perfume, with which she wasn’t that enamored. From her I got also the idea of the post title, as she wrote in her note:

Not my favorite frag, but I like the experiment of yuzu marmalade overload–in fragrance and on toast.

Despite not that glowing recommendation, I had high hopes: not because Demeter makes great perfumes, but because how hard could it be to create an artificial citrus scent representing just one note, right? Demeter did it so many times to other notes, often relatively convincing even if not the most naturally smelling. I’m surprised to report that Demeter failed miserably: not only Yuzu Marmalade wasn’t even close to that zesty and aromatic marmalade that I had in my mind’s nose, but it barely might be classified as a citrus scent. All I can smell is that over-processed orange marmalade’s flat sweetness. Extremely disappointing.

I’m not even sure if I really want to wear yuzu soliflore, but I would love to find perfume where it’s recognizable. Any recommendations?

 

 

Images: Lemons from my friend’s recipe, (if you’re into cooking, I highly recommend looking through her blog); the rest – my own

Feeling Li-lucky

I want to start with the story that was told to me by a friend who came to the US a couple of years before we did. In the first year of living here, when not only one’s vocabulary and pronunciation but also lack of familiarity with mundane things make communications with locals difficult for both parties, one evening while buying something at a grocery store, my friends asked the cashier:

– Do you sell XXXXXXX?
– What?
– Do you sell XXXXXXX?
– Sorry, I don’t understand…
– I need these things to light up a cigarette.
– Ah, you mean < XXXXXXX>… You need to go to the Customer Service.

As you have probably guessed, my friend was trying to buy matches. He swears that the way that clerk pronounced it was, to his ear, exactly the same way he asked. Since then that “Ah, you mean “matches” became an internal joke we use every time we find ourselves in a similar situation.

If you were wondering why I shared this story with you – I was trying to explain the title. When it came to me (the play on words “lilac” and “luck” that, to my ear, sounded similar enough to use them like that), I was positive somebody else has already used it. It wouldn’t have prevented me from doing it as well (after all, it’s just a blog, I wasn’t concerned with a copyright), but I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t a real cliché. “Feeling lilacy” returned me “whopping” 3 (three) hits. “Feeling lilac-y” produced 7, and out of the 10 combined only one person was actually referring to flowers. That brought the realization that for the native English speakers these two words don’t really have a similar auditory pattern. But since my mind had been already set on that title (it really described how I felt!), I decided to modify it even further – so that even the almighty Google gave up.

 

Rusty and Lilacs

 

Work life has been hectic and tiresomely busy for a long time now with work days quietly encroaching on evenings and weekends, so one day we just declared a day off and ran away to the close-by wine country. Just the act of ditching work to visit our favorite wineries made me feel good. Combined with warm but not hot sunny day, much better than feared traffic and good wine the feeling was promoted to ”great.” And unexpectedly coming across a bush with a very modest by the standards of those areas where this plant blossoms more willingly but still fragrant and beautiful lilac flowers elevated the status of my experience to “perfect.” I felt wonderful. I felt lucky. I felt… li-lucky.

 

Lilacs in Sonoma 2019

 

And that’s when I got the idea to do a Lilacs Week. As I was mentally choosing perfumes to wear, I was sure that those would be perfumes I previously covered in two posts of the In the Search for the Perfect Lilac series – Episode 1 and Episode 2. And partially I was right: I wore three of the perfumes that I mentioned in those posts. But to my surprise I had two more perfumes to add to the list.

Whenever lilac perfumes come into conversation, inevitably somebody mentions Jean Patou Vacances. If it’s not to lilac what Diorissimo is to lily-of-the valley exactly, it’s close to that. But Patou is one of those brands that exist somewhere in the parallel universe: I know it exists but I don’t think I saw anything but Joy or 1000 in real life. And since it’s not the most popular brand these days, I’ve never thought of seeking out any of the perfumes. But then a perfumista friend sent me a vintage mini (not sure of the age) of Vacancies. It must have been beautiful while it was younger. If to put aside the “vintage” vibe that I do not like in any perfumes, it is still beautiful. It’s more than just lilac, even though that flower supposedly plays an important role in the perfume: hyacinth, galbanum and mimosa keep it a good company. But since I’ve never knew it in its heydays, I won’t scavenge eBay for vintage treasure or even attempt to find a more modern take on that perfume. But I wish I tried it 30+ years ago.

Last weekend there was a haiku contest at the NST blog. Coincidentally, one of the commenters, Aurora, wrote a haiku about Vacances, and she allowed me to share it with my readers:

Mauve and white shower
Lilacs, sweet heralds of spring
Their scent in the breeze

Lilacis

 

Last year I got curious about Lilas de Minuit (Midnight Lilac) from DSH Perfumes – inspired by Coty’s Chypre perfume from the Flowers for Men series. I don’t remember why it attracted my attention (most likely, it was spring, and I was in a similar mood for lilacs), but I requested this sample with my order.

When I tried two lilac perfumes from DSH for the second of the posts linked to above, I thought that those were lovely but didn’t seem like a finished product. Lilas de Minuit is the opposite: the composition is so complex that I can’t really say that I can smell lilacs in it, which isn’t really surprising with everything that went into it. Notes from the brand’s site: civet, East Indian patchouli, green oakmoss, incense notes, labdanum, musk, styrax, Bulgarian rose absolute, cinnamon bark, clove bud, Damask rose absolute, grandiflorum jasmine, summer lilac, ylang ylang, bergamot, black pepper and cassis bud.

If you like chypres, give Lilas de Minuit a try, and my recommendation would be to do it when your skin is warm: this perfume blooms with the body heat. I think it should be perfect for a warm late spring or early summer night after a hot day.

 

DSH Lilas de Minuit

 

Other perfumes that I wore that week – Phaedon Rue des Lilas and Puredistance Opardu I described in my previous posts, so I won’t repeat myself since I haven’t changed my opinion about them. But one more perfume I want to mention separately even though I wrote about it before: French Lilac by Pacifica. Whoever is looking for a lilac soliflore should look no further: since lilac is not reproducible naturally (at least not in a stable form), there is no good reason for such perfume to be as expensive as some of them are; and French Lilac is unbelievably cheap while being very beautiful. And from my experience French Lilac is better from a roller ball bottle than from a spray. And it’s surprisingly tenacious, so that small bottle should satisfy periodic lilac cravings for months if not years.

 

Pacifica French Lilac

 

P.S. I’ve lived in the U.S. for many-many-many years. People who know me or work with me got used to my accent, and I often forget how difficult it is for an “untrained ear.” But just last week during my trip back into winter I was reminded about it while on the morning ride to the conference trying to tell my co-worker who I met just a day before that I was dying to get XXXXX before we start.

– To get what?

– XXXX

– Sorry, what?

– A coffee drink that you had yesterday

– Ah, latte….

 

Rusty and Lilacs

 

Images: my own

Second Sunday Samples: Sylvaine Delacourte Vanilla Collection

Do you feel annoyed when brands suddenly come up with a flurry of new perfumes or even complete new lines? I usually do: not only there is no real need in that many new perfumes launched at the same time adding the next wave to the already flooded market, but is it even possible to do anything worth releasing in those quantities in the time frame between previous and next releases? Theoretically – maybe, but I doubt.

But what if it’s a new brand? Well, it seems that launching a brand with just 1 perfume would be a very risky enterprise. One could do it if it were a side line, an addition to an established fashion, cosmetics or perfume reseller business. But when launching a “stand-alone” perfume brand, one has to start with at least 3 perfumes. And most small brands do exactly that. Five perfumes? Still reasonable, though already pushing my personal limits.

When Sylvaine Delacourte, a perfumer behind my favorite Cruel Gardenia, among other things (such as being a Perfume Creative Director at Guerlain for 15 years) that made me distinguish that brand from dozens of others appearing every day, came out with her first set of five – Musk Collection, I got curious, ordered a set of samples, tried, shrugged my shoulders and moved on.

Why have I decided to go for the second 5 perfume collection two years later? Three reasons: I didn’t hate the first collection just didn’t find anything to love; it wasn’t expensive; and finally, I was going to Hawaii and I thought that Vanilla Collection was a perfect companion to accompany me there.

 

Sylvaine Delacourte Vanilla Collection

 

Since all perfumes are centered on the same main ingredient – natural Madagascar vanilla beans (at least this is the claim on the website), I didn’t expect to like them all: that would have been counter-productive to simultaneously release 5 perfumes that would cater to the same taste. I was right: Vanori, Vahina (an unfortunate name for perfume for either Spanish- or Russian-speaking audience) and Vangelis were all quite nice (2.5 to 3 sea stars) but none of them called for more than a couple of lines in my perfume diary. So here I’ll share impressions of the two that worked for me.

 

Three and Half Sea Stars

Virgile, with official notes: rose, rosemary, clary sage, geranium, vanilla, leather, mandarin, cedarwood and bergamot, being the fifth (as in its position in the box) perfume, kept slipping my attention: even though I tested it several times, somehow by the time I would come to the end of the set, I’d be distracted by something and wouldn’t record my impressions. Recently I finally got to test it properly, and while I wish it was “woodier” on my skin, I liked both herbal opening and dryer vanilla drydown enough to want to wear it.

 

Four Sea Stars

Had I checked notes for Valkyrie beforehand, I would have thought that it was the least likely candidate from the bunch to attract me. But I haven’t. Valkyrie and I clicked almost immediately, and it happened thanks to a completely unexpected association.

In my childhood, as I can remember, ambient scenting wasn’t something usual or customary. Life wasn’t scentless: women wore perfumes and deodorants (if they could get them); men wore colognes and aftershave; dwellings smelled pleasantly of food, baked goods, or sometimes cut flowers or unpleasantly of mothballs and doubtful bathroom fresheners; and I’ve previously mentioned a peculiar use of nicely smelling “imported” soaps as drawer sachet. But I can’t remember any scented candles, diffusers or room sprays – it just wasn’t a part of the culture.

In my mid-teens there was a surge of exotic and unusual products from India. It doesn’t mean that they were readily available (nothing good was), but if you “knew right people” or just happen to be at a store at the right time (store employees just had to sell at least some quantity of goods to the public before they could re-sell the rest for higher prices to people they knew), you could get lucky. Somehow my grandmother (the same one who introduced me to my all-time perfume love Lancôme Climat) got several boxes of incense cones and shared them with me.

 

Insence Cones

 

Those were precious and cherished objects: none of my friends or classmates had anything like that, so I felt really special when I would burn one or two of the cones for a birthday or some other gathering at my place. I loved how those incense cones smelled but have never experienced the same scent after they were gone, even though since then I’ve tried dozens of incense sticks, cones and spirals. I put it to the normal change of perception with age… until I sprayed on Valkyrie.

I suspect that it’s some particular combination of sandalwood and vanilla that is responsible for the olfactory hologram, but sans smoke, what I smell from my wrist when I put on Valkyrie takes me back to those special moments that combined sensory joy and pride of possession.

 

Sylvaine Delacourte Vanilla Collection

 

I do not think I need a full bottle of any of these perfumes but luckily Sylvaine Delacourte offers several great options: you can buy mix/match sets of refill travel sprays 2 x 7.5 ml or 4 x 7.5 ml (this one comes with a holder). I went with travel sprays of Valkyrie and Virgile. If you haven’t tried these collections yet, currently the site offers both sets for $15, including S&H, and that price can be deducted from your future purchase. When I placed the order, I got my personal link to share with friends: LINK . It’s the same offer as you can get directly from the site plus some extra in future if you decide to buy any of perfumes after you try the samples (if you do, contact me after you buy a bottle, so I could provide information you’ll need to get your free candle).

 

Images: discovery set – my own; incense cones – from some online store that sells them

Mimosa Week

Winter was uncharacteristically cold in our area this year, so we’ve got to experience almost real spring with warm rays of sun in cool air intervened by returning rains and cold spells. And since I was reminded of springs from my childhood, I got an urge to smell mimosa – blossom that used to encapsulate that time of the year for me.

Over years (and five posts in my Single Note Exploration series devoted to that note) I accumulated enough mimosa perfumes to cover more than a week, but I decided not to overdo it.

 

Mimosa

 

Jo Malone Mimosa & Cardamom is still one of my most favorite mimosa perfumes, though now I think that it is rather Fall than spring perfume: it’s too warm and spicy for the “life awakening” atmosphere. But I enjoy it every time I wear it. I think Mimosa & Cardamom was one of Jo Malone’s successes.

When I was thinking about perfumes to include into this project, I struggled to remember the name for Frederic Malle’s mimosa scent despite having it in my collection. For a while I got stuck between En Passant (“No, it’s lilac not mimosa,” I kept telling myself) and Mimosa pour moi (“No-no, it’s L’Artisan, I finished that sample already”). Une Fleur de Cassie (I had to look it up) this time didn’t work for me: it was too dirty. I think I like this perfume better when it’s warmer.

Once again I had a reason to bemoan the closing of Sonoma Scent Studio: Bee’s Bliss is such a sunny and joyful perfume with a nice prominent mimosa but with a lot more going on, it’s such a pity others won’t be able to experience it.

I finished my small decant of Prada Infusion de Mimosa: it’s a light and pleasant mimosa with some undertones from my favorite original Infusion d’Iris (though, I’m not sure if they even have a single note in common… alright, I checked – “orange mandarin” whatever it means). I think that it’s time to look for a reasonably priced bottle… unless I decide to go for…

Fragonard Mimosa. A friend of mine shared with me recently a sample from her bottle. I’ve never seen or tried it before, so it was a pleasant discovery. Official notes are bergamot, violet, gardenia, mimosa, orange blossom, heliotrope and musk, but for the price it sells I don’t expect or get much of anything but mimosa, which, ironically, in drydown to my nose is a dead ringer to drydown of Infusion de Mimosa. And since I do not suspect Prada in using too many natural ingredients, even at their price, I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually was the same aroma chemical.

What does surprise me is thatt Givenchy Harvest 2007 Amarige Mimosa still impresses me every time I wear it. Unlike many other old favorites that just evoke nostalgia, Amarige Mimosa is perfume that I enjoy wearing… whenever I remember to wear it. Rusty also looks somewhat surprised.

 

Rusty and Givenchy Harvest 2007 Amarige Mimosa

 

The last perfume I wore for the project was Atelier Cologne Mimosa Indigo: it’s a nice perfume with a good name quite fitting the topic, and in the end of the Mimosa Week I especially enjoyed wearing it since, to my nose, it doesn’t smell of mimosa (or of lilac to that matter). Interestingly, saffron in this perfume doesn’t bother me and works nicely with the soft leather and not too sweet vanilla.

 

 

Images: my own