WTD, Episode 4.2: In the Search for the Perfect Violet

If I look back and think about it, I always had two distinct associations for violets. They co-existed in my mind as if they belonged to the completely different subjects, not affecting each other.  A violet is a completely boring, slightly wilted small flower in the pot on a window sill. A violet is a tender flower somehow related to romantic love, Paris (street flower girls), Toulouse (violettes de Toulouse) and all such things that seem romantic when you’re young. But somehow neither of these two associations ever included a smell. I never thought of violets as of flowers that have a scent. Most likely, because the only variety I’ve ever been close to didn’t have any. So in this quest for the perfect violet perfume I’m not searching for the most realistic rendition of a violet since I still have no idea how that flower smells. I’m looking for the best implementation of the idea of a violet. Based on a commonality in all the violet perfumes I tested I reconstructed this note for myself.

Violets in a pot

As I did it before for lilac and linden I combine this episode of the Weeklong Test Drive (it features two Tom Ford’s violet-centered perfumes) with my periodic Single Note Exploration for the violet note in perfumes.

Blanc Violette by Histoires de Parfums – notes include violet, bergamot, iris, ylang-ylang, star anise, sandalwood, vanilla, musk and rice powder. It smells very clean and slightly powdery. There is some musk that feels too much from time to time but I do not smell it every time. Blanc Violette is an uncomplicated nice scent with medium sillage and tenacity (it stays on my skin for 3-4 hours). I can see a small bottle of this perfume in my collection after I’m done with the sample. I have to applaud Histoires de Parfumes for releasing small bottles (14 ml) for a reasonable price. For a real review of Blanc Violette read Eiderdown Press

Verte Violette by L’Artisan Parfumeur  – created in 2000 by Anne Flipo, notes include violet leaves, raspberry leaves, rose, heliotrope, cedar, iris, white musk. It’s fresh, very light, bright and happy fragrance with a nice violet note that starts a little dirty but then clears up and stays as a nice skin scent. Verte Violette is the easiest and lightest scent out of all I tried. Like many other L’Artisan’s perfumes it’s fleeting: I can barely smell it after an hour. I like Verte Violette but I think it’s too expensive to bathe in it. So, unless a bottle falls from the sky… For a real review read Now Smell This.

Violet Blonde by Tom Ford  – created in 2011, notes include violet leaf, Italian mandarin, pink pepper,  Tuscan iris absolute, Tuscan orris butter, Sambac jasmine, sampaquita, musk, suede, cedar, vetiver and benzoin. There is no personal story between me and Violet Blonde, everything happened very fast: I knew about the upcoming release, I went to the store, tried Violet Blond, liked it and jumped on a split as soon as I saw one. I enjoy wearing it. Violet Blond has a very good longevity – more than 8 hours on my skin. Had the juice (or at least a bottle) been purple, it would have been an immediate full bottle purchase. Now I plan to go through my small decant and if I still like it I’ll buy a bottle of Violet Blond for my collection. All the great reviews for Violet Blond that I read, I read after I made up my mind about this perfume (and I feel a little proud of myself because of that) but since they all are so recent I’ll skip even my “not-a-review” impressions part and just provide links to the reviews on friendly blogs: Olfactoria’s Travels, The Candy Perfume Boy, Bonkers About Perfumes.

Wood Violet by Sonoma Scent Studio – created in 2008 by Laurie Erickson, notes include violet, plum, cedar, cinnamon, clove, sandalwood, violet leaf and musk. I tried Wood Violet for the first time in winter (our Northern California winter, but still). I liked what I identified for myself as a “violet” component of the perfume in the opening and then in the dry down phases but in the middle something smelled too… dirty (?) and unpleasant. I put the sample aside for a while. One sunny warm day I decided to give Wood Violet another try; and this time the earthy smell felt right in place: it was a scent of spring. For a very short time in the beginning I smell some sweetness but then it goes away and the scent stays on my skin green and woodsy for the next 3-4 hours. Wood Violet is quiet and powerful at the same time. I do not need a full bottle of this perfume but a nice purse spray one day will find its way into my collection.

Violet Angel by Thierry Mugler – created in 2005 by Francoise Caron, notes include violet leaves, crystallized sugar, violet, woody note, patchouli and vanilla. Violet Angel smells as if original Angel ate a whole garden of violets. Wait… If I remember it correctly, it did eat the whole garden of different flowers – roses, peonies, violets and lilies. But let’s look just at this act of gluttony. Violet Angel is slightly less sweet than the original perfume, it has some woodsy note and, if you concentrate very hard or have another violet perfume for the reference on, let’s say, another wrist, you can smell some violets, sugared violets. But Angel’s signature caramel (in case of Angel Violet it’s called crystallized sugar – which is the same thing)-patchouli-vanilla is too prominent and too recognizable. I haven’t tried other flowers yet but, in my mind, violets are the least suited to be an Angel modifier. It isn’t different or special enough for either Angel fans or Angel haters. I’ll stick to my beloved Angel EdP.

Black Violet by Tom Ford – created in 2007 as a part of the original Private Blend collection, notes include bergamot, citruses, fruity notes, violet, oakmoss and woodsy notes. It opens a citrus scent blended into sweet fruity notes, then almost immediately citrus goes away leaving slightly dryer but still sweet enough floral scent with a nice wood note. For me Black Violet is not a transparent scent, it has substance. I think “dark” part suits it well (though I remember reading the opposite opinion from other reviewers). I like Black Violet it the most 2-3 hours into wearing. It lasts for 12+ hours on the skin. In the final phase (and only there) it smells similar to Violet Blonde.  I want to add Black Violet to my collection but, the same as Ines from All I am – a redhead, who recently reviewed Black Violet, I’m not ready to pay the price of a 50 ml bottle (and I do not need a bigger bottle – which would make price per ml much more tolerable). So if anybody comes across a friendly split of this perfume, please let me know.

Do you have a favorite violet perfume? If you’ve reviewed it on your blog, please share a link.

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 4: Tom Ford
WTD, Episode 4.1: Neroli Portofino and Jasmine Rouge by Tom Ford
WTD, Episode 4.3: Noir de Noir, Oud Wood and Arabian Wood by Tom Ford

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WTD, Episode 4.1: Neroli Portofino and Jasmin Rouge by Tom Ford

Lemon treeNeroli Portofino by Tom Ford – created in 2007, one of the original scents of Private Blend collection, it was re-launched in 2011 as a part of the Neroli Portofino bath & body collection. When I tried Neroli Portofino for the first time it developed unpleasantly on my skin. I put it aside and didn’t want to test it again. In my recent tests of a new sample for this episode (the things we do in the name of science!) I’ve never had the same unpleasant results again. I’m curious if Tom Ford has reformulated Neroli Portofino for the 2011 re-release.

In the opening I get an extreme burst of a juicy citrus. I know that it’s coming and still feel surprised every time. I enjoy that opening very much. When Neroli Portofino starts calming down the juiciness goes away. I do not smell any sweetness and I don’t register any floral notes (though I remember reading that other reviewers did). All I’m left with is a dry citrus scent – still strong but less prominent and less interesting.

I wore Neroli Portofino side by side with Neroli by Annick Goutal first and then with Grand Néroli by Atelier Cologne. Neroli Portofino is much dryer than both above mentioned perfumes. Neroli Portofino is more poised and tidy compared to Grand Néroli and feels dirtier than Neroli (I think I recognize this signature Tom Ford’s “dirtiness” in at least several perfumes in this line but I’m not sure I can explain properly now what exactly I smell). Neroli Portofino, though being unisex, in my opinion is the most masculine out of three perfumes I compared and it stays on my skin for 6-8 hours which is much longer than either of the other two scents.

I wouldn’t mind wearing Neroli Portofino in summer from time to time if I had it in my collection but I do not like it enough to justify a full bottle purchase at Private Blend’s price. Or maybe I’m just not the biggest fan of this genre.

For real reviews read EauMG and Bois de Jasmine

JasmineJasmin Rouge by Tom Ford – one of the two latest 2011 new releases in the Private Blend collection. I regret to admit it to myself but I do not like jasmine. It’s great in small doses, as a part of the usual floral bouquet, but as a leading note in a perfume it wears me off the same way tuberose does. I can appreciate its beauty, I just cannot wear it. Ironically, I like both the smell and the taste of jasmine tea but I cannot drink it.

In older days I used to just dismiss perfumes I didn’t like on the first sniff. Now I spend some time even with those perfumes I do not think will work out for me. And with both tuberose- and jasmine-heavy perfumes (good ones) it’s always the same story: I apply it, I sniff it, I think: “Not bad, it’s a very nice scent;” I keep smelling it and confirming my initial thoughts and then I would ask myself if I want to own it and wear, beyond just testing. And the answer is always a determined NO.

Jasmin Rouge played out exactly by that scenario: I got tired of it before it subsided into the less intense floral mix. It won’t be joining my collection even if a bottle falls from the sky.

For real reviews for Jasmin Rouge read Olfactoria’s Travel and Bois de Jasmine

As always, feel free to give a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

Images: my own

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 4: Tom Ford
WTD, Episode 4.2: In the Search for the Perfect Violet
WTD, Episode 4.3: Noir de Noir, Oud Wood and Arabian Wood by Tom Ford

Weeklong Test Drives, Season 4: Tom Ford

I started weeklong test drives (WTD) half a year ago when I realized that I had a tendency to collect perfumes by brand trying to accumulate the complete line if I liked some perfumes from it. Luckily for my budget those are mostly samples but still, with the number of new releases even in the niche market I should try to resist an urge to have a full set before I can meaningfully test that line and I need to accept that some perfumes which I still do not have in the collection will be tested eventually (or never). That’s how I decided to do “seasons” for different brands breaking out “not-a-review”s for different perfumes into “episodes”.

Tom Ford Private BlendI planned to do Tom Ford week from the very beginning but I didn’t want to wear in summer most of those perfumes that I had from the brand (during my WTDs I actually wear perfumes for 5-6 days in a row). In the recent month Tom Ford was “in the air”: releases of three new perfumes and a new cosmetics line definitely helped. So I decided not to wait longer and chime in with my new season.

I managed not to know anything about Tom Ford perfumes up until a year ago. I might have mixed it with some other brand I didn’t like or being disappointed in most current mainstream perfumes I’ve just overlooked one more brand but I completely missed Black Orchid even though it was out there for years. And since I liked it the first time I tried it a year ago I know that I just hadn’t smelled it before then.

The only store close to where I live that carries Tom Ford Private Blend line is Neiman Marcus and since I wasn’t frequenting it (to say the least) for my clothes shopping trips, during those several visits I ventured to the cosmetics department there I ignored Tom Ford section altogether.

Everything has changed when I became a proverbial card-holding member of the Perfumistas Society: even though the rest of the store is still completely out of my comfortable price range I don’t feel unease when I walk in there to try some new perfume I know they’ve got or even to ask for a sample.

On one of the first “changed me” visits to the store I suddenly spotted a stand with Tom Ford’s Private Blend perfumes. I sniffed a couple of bottles but since by that time I’d already tried many other perfumes I decided to postpone the real testing until the next time. As I was leaving the department a strange thing happened: an SA caught up with me and handed me a bag with four samples of perfumes from Tom Ford Private Blend collection. Just like that.

Have you ever got any perfume samples without asking, not as GWP or a part of a store-wide promotion but just because?

 

Since I’m not doing real reviews I plan to combine my impressions into two or three episodes in the upcoming days. Stay tuned!

See all episodes:
WTD, Episode 4.1: Neroli Portofino and Jasmine Rouge by Tom Ford
WTD, Episode 4.2: In the Search for the Perfect Violet
WTD, Episode 4.3: Noir de Noir, Oud Wood and Arabian Wood by Tom Ford

See previous seasons:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 1: Annick Goutal
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 2: Yves Rocher
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 3: Jo Malone

Image: talkingperfume.com

WTD, Episode 3.5: Orange Blossom by Jo Malone

Orange Blossom by Jo Malone – created in 2003, notes include clementine leaves, orange blossom and water lily.

CitrusesI got a sample of this perfume a while ago, tried it once, didn’t register either “like” or “dislike” and put it aside. Then last summer when we were having “themed” Fridays in my office, I decided to match my perfumes to the clothes I wore for each of those days. Deep Red by Hugo Boss went for the Red Friday, Pure White Linen by Estee Lauder – for the White Friday, Beyond Paradise by Estee Lauder I wore for the Hawaiian Friday, and when it came to the Orange Friday I chose Orange Blossom. There was just a little perfume left in the sample vial and I used it all up – just for the concept, without thinking about it. And unexpectedly I liked it very much. It starts sweet on the skin but then gets dryer and stays like that for hours. A friend of mine uses Orange Blossom cologne layered with Vanilla & Anise by Jo Malone and it smells very good on her but I still use it “straight”. I didn’t go for a full bottle (at least yet) but I bought several samples and it’ll do for now.

There are many other colognes in the line, I’ve tested more than I covered in my weeklong test drive but I decided to leave some of them for other stories I would tell one day. I’m sure that there is at least one perfume by Jo Malone for everybody.

I realize that Jo Malone brand doesn’t require my protection: it’s not a niche brand any more and Estee Lauder that owns it now will eventually kill whatever good there is in it. I’m looking forward to see what will come from the new company created by Jo Malone – Jo Loves. And still I feel bad when fellow perfumistas dismiss the brand completely.

Read a real review for Orange Blossom by Jo Malone at Bois de Jasmin.

Image: my own

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 3: Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.1: Kohdo Wood Collection by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.2: Tea Fragrance Blends by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.3: Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.4: In the Search for the Perfect Linden

WTD, Episode 3.4: In the Search for the Perfect Linden

Early summer of my High school graduation year. Blooming linden trees in the downtown of the city where I lived. Bitter-sweet scent fills the air. Bitter-sweet feelings overflow me: I’m done with all the tests and school is almost over; he doesn’t love me anymore and isn’t coming to my graduation party. Even though I asked him to do it as a favor from a friend; even though I wasn’t creating any drama and behaved very mature (well, that was how I imagined behaving mature): most of our mutual friends had no idea we broke up more than two months ago, we didn’t want to complicate the group’s dynamic.

My heart was broken; it felt like the end of the world. And at the same time I fully realized it wasn’t the end of the world. But I hurt and it felt lonely and empty at the moment.

I remember walking the streets, inhaling the bitter scent of linden blossom and wanting to be happy… It was a very abstract thought. I didn’t define what exactly “happy” would mean, I didn’t have any specific wishes; I just wanted to change that one component of my life. I was longing for a combination of a warm evening, problems left behind, wonderful bitter scent of linden and a feeling of a complete happiness.

Many years later, while I still knew almost nothing about perfumes other than that I enjoyed using them and a couple of the most known brands and names, I thought it would be great to get a perfume that smelled like linden. You can imagine how much luck I had in late nineties asking SAs in department stores for this specific note in perfumes. Several years later I tried running Internet searches for that scent and again didn’t succeed.

French Lime Blossom by Jo Malone – created in 2005, notes include bergamot, tarragon, French Lime Blossom and some generic “floral notes”. This was the first Jo Malone’s colognes with which I went beyond samples. I bought a small 9 ml bottle of it. I do not remember if I liked it the most out of all I tested then or if I just happened to get a good deal on it, but I got it and enjoyed it … for a year (or even more) before I learned that the perfume I liked was actually based on the note I was looking for. I had no idea that French lime blossom and linden blossom were synonyms. I won’t even claim English not being my mother tongue because as I’ve learned since then many natives think French Lime is just some variety of citrus. Does it smell citrus-y? Not at all. But I wasn’t analyzing the scent, I liked it and wore often. I didn’t recognize it but after I knew what it was supposed to be, I could agree that it somewhat reminded me of a linden blossom. French Lime Blossom has an average sillage and a surprising tenacity – it stays on my skin for more than 8 hours with a very distinct smell, not just the remaining base notes.

This month I again decided to combine my Weeklong Test Drive and Single Note Exploration posts, so here are several more linden-centered perfumes I had a chance to test.

Linden by Demeter – as many Demeter’s creations this one is a soliflore. I couldn’t find any information on when it was created. All I can say, it’s an uncomplicated, slightly chemical scent that survives for two-two and a half hours on my skin. It’s too simple for me to want to wear it alone but I found at least one interesting combination for it.

Tilleul by Provence Sante (EauMG – thank you for the sample) – no information on notes or creation date available. This perfume doesn’t work for me. On my skin it smells too sweet. For some reason when I smell it I think of pollen. Tilleul lasts for about three hours and then goes away leaving just that slightly nauseating sweet scent. Since I read many good reviews of the perfume I assume it’s my body chemistry to blame.

When I first read about the upcoming release of Andy Tauer’s linden blossom theme perfume I was very excited. I didn’t have a good reason to expect to like it (since so far I found just one Tauer’s perfumes that works for me out of five I tested) but I had a hope. I was lucky to win a sample from Scent less Sensibilities (Tarleisio, thank you – I enjoyed the excercise) and was waiting anxiously for it to arrive, I even postponed this post to allow myself to wear it two-three times before reaching a verdict.

Zeta by Tauer Perfumes – created in 2011, notes include lemon, bergamot, sweet orange, ylang, orange blossom, neroli, linden blossom, rose, iris root, sandalwood and vanilla. The first time I applied it I was very disappointed: it smelled nothing like linden blossom to me (I’m not sure why I was surprised since for the life of me I cannot smell lily-of-the-valley in Carillon pour un Ange). But I was insistent. I kept trying it again and again – alone and alongside with other linden perfumes. I still do not smell enough linden but I rather like the scent than not. It’s the best perfume – as a perfume – among all I tested for this post. It’s very complex, unique and fascinating. As many (all?) Andy’s perfumes are. I like it as a scent that I test. I’m not sure if I want to wear it as a perfume. And I am sad: I like that green pentagonal bottle and really hoped I would love the scent enough to warrant a full bottle purchase. I didn’t. In addition to everything said, Zeta completely dies on my skin after just four hours of wearing. All five previously tested Tauer’s creations “wore me” (I don’t remember who was the author of the phrase but when I read in some blog “I wasn’t wearing the perfume; the perfume was wearing me” I felt it described exactly how I felt for most Andy’s perfumes and especially those that didn’t work for me).

I haven’t found the perfect linden perfume yet and I’ll keep looking. But recently I bought a nice tea with linden. It reminds me of the linden flower tea that my grandmother used to harvest from the linden tree in her garden. In my childhood it was used as an herbal analog of Theraflu.

Read more: French Lime Blossom review at I Smell Therefore I Am, Tilleul review and Loving Linden from EauMG; reviews for Zeta at Perfume Shrine, the Non-Blonde, Perfume Posse and WAFT.

Image: my own

As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 3: Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.1: Kohdo Wood Collection by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.2: Tea Fragrance Blends by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.3: Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.5: Orange Blossom by Jo Malone

WTD, Episode 3.3: Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone

Nectarine Blossom & Honey by Jo Malone – created in 2005, notes include nectarine, peach, plum, blackcurrant, vetiver and acacia honey.

Jo MaloneThis perfumes plays tricks on me: there is at least three people on whom I like this perfume very much – I smell, recognize and enjoy it whenever one of them wears it, alone or in combination with other scents (it layers nicely with Vanilla & Anise or with Grapefruit). It smells so good on my co-worker, but on me… I tried it on multiple occasions hoping it would smell different. But time after time it’s too fruity, too sweet, too… I can’t stand it. And still, on others it smells great. So I encourage everybody to try it on your skin before making a final decision.

Lime Basil & Mandarin by Jo Malone – created in 1999, notes include lime, mandarin orange, bergamot, basil, caraway, lilac, iris, patchouli and vetiver. This is one of my least favorite colognes in the line. I do not think of it as of poorly done or unbalanced perfume. It’s very clean, citrus-y and inoffensive. But it’s too… masculine(?) for my taste. Not in the meaning of being strong, manly or assertive but rather of non-feminine, simple and perfume-shy character. A woman could easily wear it I just don’t see why she would want to do so. It’s said to be a good layering element so if you happen to get it somehow give it a try (Jo Malone’s site suggests, for example, to combine it with the cologne I’ll describe next) but I’m done with it and the remaining portion of a sample will probably just die in my collection.

Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone – created in 2005, notes include raspberry, plum, pink pepper, pomegranate, patchouli, frankincense and spicy woods. This was my first full bottle I bought from the brand. I like both the idea of a pomegranate in a perfume and this cologne’s scent. Unfortunately, these two aren’t connected in this creation. During the season usually I eat a half of a pomegranate a day so I think I’m very familiar with this fruit’s smell. I do not find it in the perfume at all. For me it smells like a combination of dried fruit and patchouli with woody undertones. I like it but I do not think it lives up to the name, to any of its two parts – neither it has a proper fruit, nor it’s really dark. It’s not as light and airy as many others Malone’s scents, but it’s still very sheer. It wears nicely in a colder weather. I have less than one fifth of the perfume left in my bottle. Will I go for the next one once it’s gone? I do not know.

Read real reviews at NST for Nectarine Blossom & Honey and Pomegranate Noir, at Perfume Smellin’ Things for Nectarine Blossom & Honey.

Image: my own

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 3: Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.1: Kohdo Wood Collection by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.2: Tea Fragrance Blends by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.4: In the Search for the Perfect Linden
WTD, Episode 3.5: Orange Blossom by Jo Malone

WTD, Episode 3.2: Tea Fragrance Blends by Jo Malone

Early this year (2011) Jo Malone introduced a limited edition collection Tea Fragrance Blends created by Christine Nagel.

“Five distinctive, contemporary scents, inspired by that most quintessential of British traditions – when everything stops for tea.” (Jo Malone official website).

English TeaI tried all five colognes from the collection and ended up buying three – Assam & Grapefruit, Earl Grey & Cucumber and Sweet Milk. Fresh Mint Leaf and Sweet Lemon both were nice but too simple. I wish Jo Malone released all five blends in a gift set of 9 ml each. Otherwise I had no use for 30 ml of a mint-centered cologne.

Earl Grey & Cucumber by Jo Malone – notes include bergamot, apple, jasmine, cucumber, angelica, davana, beeswax, vanilla, musk and cedarwood. I cannot smell any cucumber but I do get Earl Grey tea – not just a bergamot that is commonly used in many perfumes but the specific aroma you get from a freshly brewed Earl Grey tea. It wears very nicely on my skin, and I’m glad I bought it.

Assam & Grapefruit by Jo Malone – notes include grapefruit, black tea, cardamom, almond and patchouli (according to the official website; other sources mention also rhubarb, rose and musk). This one was an impulse buy. It smelled on paper much better than it smells on my skin. It’s a very subtle scent that turns too soapy on me half of the times I wear it. I tried to combine it with Sweet Milk and together they’ve created a nice spring scent but I’m not sure it needed to be a standalone cologne taking into the account that there is a very nice Grapefruit cologne in Jo Malone’s line. Robin at NST liked it much more so you might want to read her take on Assam & Grapefruit.

Earlier I’ve already told my story about Sweet Milk.

If you’ve tried colognes from the Tea Fragrance Blends collection do you think any of them are worth being brought back as a part of the permanent collection?

Image: my own

See all episodes:
Weeklong Test Drives, Season 3: Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.1: Kohdo Wood Collection by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.3: Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Lime Basil & Mandarin and Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone
WTD, Episode 3.4: In the Search for the Perfect Linden
WTD, Episode 3.5: Orange Blossom by Jo Malone