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

 

Advertisements

Perfumes, Wine and Ocean

This was planned for the previous week, but time just ran away from me. So, it’s a Second Sunday Samples post on the third Sunday of the month.

* * *

As we were planning a short getaway with friends, I was facing the usual perfumista’s dilemma: which perfumes to bring. Not only we had really vague plans that included wine and cheese tasting (not at the same time), eating oysters and beach walks, but also those activities were spread in two distinct temperature-wise areas – wine country (+32C/90F) and oceanside (23C/73F). Since I wasn’t sure how long each part of the trip would take, I didn’t want to subject any of my favorite perfumes to hours in a hot car trunk, so I didn’t consider either full bottles or even travel ones. At the same time, as a rule, I do not wear perfumes from samples that I test – unless I’m trying to decide whether to buy more. So I took with me samples for perfumes that I’ve either already included into my collection or considered for that.

 

Perfume Samples

 

I ended up wearing just one of the perfumes featured in the picture above – Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia: it was wonderful on a hot day and somehow managed not to clash with aromas from wines that we tasted that day, even though theoretically I wouldn’t recommend this perfume for the activity. I did a mini-review for it almost seven years ago in my post In the Search for the Perfect Pear, and I still enjoy wearing it but I still haven’t bought a bottle because I haven’t finished the decant and several samples that I got. It is though one of my strong favorites from this brand, and just in case you missed it in the sea of Jo Malone’s releases I encourage you to try English Pear & Freesia. Unless they change it beyond recognition, I see a bottle in my future.

 

 

One more Jo Malone perfume – Wood Sage & Sea Salt – I brought with me because it seemed like a good fit to the aquatic part of our trip. Created by Christine Nagel in 2014, with a short list of notes – ambrette seeds, sea salt, sage, seaweed and grapefruit, it felt right in place during our walk on the beach and later for the oysters and champagne dinner at the house that we rented with our friends. Wood Sage & Sea Salt wears nicely both on the tropical beach and on a cool NorCal shore (but I’m glad that I do not smell seaweed in the composition: even though I do not mind smelling it from time to time in nature, I wouldn’t want to smell of it). Will I buy a bottle once I finish my decant? I’m not sure but I might.

 

 

The biggest surprise for me was Mito EdP by vero profumo: I have tried it soon after the release and even remember liking it, but somehow I didn’t go through with the thorough testing – and the sample just stayed in my library for the last several years. It felt right for the occasion, so I took it with me, wore it on a sunny warm day for another round of wine tasting – and loved-loved-loved it.

Most of my readers had probably tested Mito before (and some even reviewed it), so I won’t go through the complete list of notes. But I want to mention my most favorite moments in this perfume development: prominent citrus opening that manages not to take this perfume into the summery cologne territory, slightly bitter greenness of galbanum in development and sweet warmth of … I have no idea what produces that effect but I keep bringing my wrist to my nose trying to figure it out… I think my almost empty sample isn’t enough to finish my study of this beautiful perfume, so I’ll just have to do something about it – in the interest of science, you know.

 

Vero Profumo Mito

 

Images: my own

Sniffapalooza Samples Draw Winners

I’m having some technical difficulties that prevent me from posting a screenshot that hajusuuri has sent me for this draw winners but I assume that you’ll believe me that I saw it. So I’ll just announce two winners:

crikey

Brigitte

Winners, please send me or hajusuuri your shipping addresses.

(I can’t believe how limited the WP mobile app is. If I had to use it regularly, I would have stopped blogging years ago.)

Know-how: The Wizard of Oz

Samples play an important role in our shared hobby: first, it’s the only way to experience perfumes that aren’t carried in stores close to where we live. But even for perfumes that we can find in B&M stores, paper test is not completely adequate even to get to the Yes/No/Maybe point – let alone form the final opinion; and skin “real estate” is too limited to get a proper wearing to more than maybe 4 perfumes during one visit even in summer time. It means that we need those precious fractions of ounces to do the testing without having to immediately share our delight, or lack thereof, with a helpful and eager SA.

I started writing this post in the second-person of view format “you should [not]” or “do <this>,” but quickly realized that I didn’t feel comfortable giving advice while I know that most of my readers could write all that themselves. Besides, I do not undertake step-by-step instructions but rather want to share my experience and thoughts on the subject. So I’ll stick to a first-person narration.

* * *

I try to buy as few samples as possible. On the onset of this hobby I went through the “initiation” phase when I wanted to test all the best perfumes created by that time and then try everything new. But as I reached some saturation point, on one hand, and the industry exploded on us, on the other, I realized that it didn’t make sense to keep paying to test more and more new perfumes while neglecting those for which I previously paid, sometimes even twice – first to try and then to add them to my perfume wardrobe. Besides, with my “success rate” (I like about 10-15% of new perfumes I try) I would be just wasting 85-90% of the costs that add up really quickly.

So, whenever possible, I sniff perfumes for free in stores. If I see any free manufacturer samples offered, I grab them and do not waste time on trying those perfumes in the store, unless there is nothing else to try at that time. I also try to resist temptation to “re-visiting” perfumes that I already know and/or have samples of, unless I want to try something sprayed (vs. a dab sample at home), or if I’m trying to decide on whether to buy it, or there is nothing else to try at that time.

 

Samples

 

Since I’m not trying to be the first to write about some new perfume (heh, I’m not writing much about any perfume), I never buy samples because perfume is not available yet in the store near me. I know that it will be there before I notice, and, most likely, I won’t like it anyway.

It helps to know stores’ policies and “habits” regarding perfume samples. Do they allow making your own samples (Nordstrom)? Will they make you several free samples whenever you ask (Sephora)? Do they have at least sometimes and give away samples or can make them if you ask (Neiman Marcus, Barneys)? Will they sic on you mental health social workers if you ask for a sample even with a purchase (Macy’s)? If there is anything of interest, and I know that the place, in principle, gives away samples, I always ask for them with confidence – and often get them.

 

Samples

 

The next best thing to getting samples for free is to obtain them almost for free: swapping. Costs: shipping and maybe some supplies if I want to make samples from my bottles (and the cost of perfume though it’s immaterial since I won’t use up all of those 1.7/3.4 oz bottles anyway). But it’s a tiny cost compared to other avenues for procuring samples. I prefer to exchange samples with people to whom I wouldn’t mind sending those samples “just because” even without the actual exchange (it takes away the pressure of negotiations), but I did some more formal swapping as well.

Not too often but from time to time I realize that if I want to try particular perfume, I have to buy a sample. First I check if a brand itself offers samples from their website, especially if it’s a small company: even if the price of a sample is the same as elsewhere, I want to cut off the middleman.

 

Samples

 

If the brand doesn’t sell samples, I look for a split on NST or one of the FB groups because for slightly more money than it would cost to buy a small sample from a decanter site, in a friendly split I can get a small decant. And since splits are usually done for new or very popular scents, even if I end up not liking that perfume, it’ll be easier to swap it for something else.

When all that fails, I’m trying to buy samples from real perfume stores that sell samples online – Luckyscent, Twisted Lily, Tiger Lily, Aedes, Osswald, etc. I prefer places that specialize in selling perfumes, not samples.

As a last resort, I go to The Perfumed Court or Surrender to Chance. I’m grateful that there are such businesses: without them I wouldn’t have been able to try at least several perfumes when I needed to (“needed” as in tried to decide, on a couple of occasions, if I wanted to buy perfume that I liked in the store but didn’t get a sample: as the result, I bought one of such and voted down the other one). But since it is their business, and they need to make money doing it, it is the least economically sound way of getting new perfumes to try.

 

Rusty and Samples

 

How do you sample? What was the last sample that you’ve bought?

Me? Naomi Goodsir Or du Serail. After smelling it in Tiger Lily perfumery first, I decided to buy a sample to try it on skin. So, it looks like I do not blind buy even samples any longer.

 

Images: my own

Skin-Deep [Red] Chemistry

Skin chemistry is a debatable topic: purists will explain that there is absolutely no merit to using that term in reference to perfume-skin interaction; while numerous perfume lovers constantly refer to “my perfume-eating (or loving) skin,” complain about some notes or perfumes being nasty on their skin, or tell how great perfume in question smells on somebody else.

I might have listened to those who object to that definition had we been talking about a scientific publication or a presentation for the industry symposium. But “skin chemistry” is a good enough label to describe in layman’s terms the complex interactions perfumes have with our “soft outer tissue.” Our skin type (oily/dry), body temperature, foods we eat, products we use during and after shower, stress level, how well we slept and maybe even our clothes choice – all that can seriously affect how perfumes smell and develop on our skin, and I don’t think it really matters what is the exact nature of those differences.

Every time I read about perfume something that seriously contradicts my experience with it, I start wondering if it’s my nose or my skin to blame. I know that with different ingredients it might be either, but I had at least one experience when the “skin chemistry” explanation seems to be the most fitting.

Many years ago, in the office where I worked two other co-workers were also avid perfume devotees. All three of us, among many other scents, owned Hugo Boss Deep Red. And almost every time one of us was wearing it, the same dialog would ensue:

– You smell great! What are you wearing?
– Deep Red
– Really?!

It would happen in some variation again and again between any two of us, in any direction. We all liked Deep Red – both on ourselves and on each other, but we could never recognize it “in the wild.” From my side, I can tell that it didn’t smell even familiar – the way when you know that you smelled it before but cannot pinpoint what it was. Not only didn’t it smell on them like I it did on my skin, I couldn’t even tell that they both were wearing the same perfume. And back then neither my co-workers nor I had dozens of perfumes to wear or hundreds of samples. Eventually, I started guessing that it was that perfume just by recognizing the pattern of my reaction (“I like it very much, I do not know what it is but it smells really good on J… Oh, wait! It must be Deep Red again”).

 

 

Deep Red is one of a few mainstream perfumes that survived in my collection from the pre-rabbit-hole days. It is much simpler than most of my current favorites but I still like and wear it. Seven years after I mentioned it first in my post In Search for the Perfect Pear, I finished my third bottle of it (the red one on the picture above) and would have been thinking about getting the next one (hoping to find the older stock – just in case it has been reformulated beyond recognition in the recent years; I bet it was), but Vanessa (Bonkers about Perfume) had rehomed with me her partial bottle of Deep Red (limited edition, in a silver bottle). So I’m probably all set for the next seven years.

 

Rusty and Hugo Boss Deep Red

 

Has anything like that ever happened to you?

 

Images: my own

Just a reminder: You still have until 11:59 PM PST today, May 20, 2018, to enter hajusuuri’s giveaway for samples from the recent Sniffapalooza.

Sniffapalooza: Samples, Glorious Samples

For this month’s Second Sunday Samples episode hajusuuri shares a short recap of the event she attended and gives you an opportunity to win your own mini-swag bag of fragrant goodies.

Undina

* * *

Before reading on, click on the link below, close your eyes, and listen to the beat of this 80s commercial:

 

 

What does cheese have to do with perfume? Nothing! The point is the joyful nature of the commercial jingle is how I feel about receiving scented product samples, perfume samples in particular. Imagine getting over 60 samples in one day! This is how I will always remember Sniffapalooza Spring Fling 2018.

This spring’s Sniffapalooza, held April 27-29, 2018, was quite the low-key affair, as compared with my first Sniffapalooza in 2014 (read all about it here); however, this did not diminish the delight of discovering new perfumes, revisiting old ones and meeting friends both new and old. Since my new iPhone 8 did not take very good pictures, you can see event photos at Sniffapalooza.com.

Here are some highlights of the event…and a few asides:

Sniffing at Bergdorf Goodman (BG) – While I can visit BG any day, sniffing during Sniffapalooza day feels special because the SAs seem to be more welcoming and generous. Among others, Ex-Nihilo (3 travel sprays and 8 atomizer samples) and Armani Prive (custom selected by me) were over-the-top generous. I ended up getting two shower gels from Kilian and I received the new Miami Vice sample set (Love the Way You Feel and Love the Way You Taste) and a travel spray of Gold Knight. I actually liked Woman in Gold better but they ran out of it. What’s a girl to do? I got one from eBay (thanks to the Unseen Censer’s sharp eyes) AND took advantage of a coupon and ebates special at Saks and got myself a travel spray set.

 

SniffaMay2018 By Kilian

 

Lunch at Mangia – Not quite up to the standards of Brasserie 8 1/2 across the street, but with the low attendance, the organizers could not justify booking the private dining room. In any case, the food at Mangia was good and the portions generous. My only complaint was the wait staff ran out of steam at the end and only took coffee/tea orders from a third of the group. Speaker highlights included:

  • Barbara Herman / Eris Parfums – she highlighted the gender neutral Mx., a sample of which was included in the goodie bag. No flowers were harmed in the making of Mx. It is office-friendly and, on first sniff, is likely to rise up to my FB list. I will wear my sample to see how it goes. For a review of Mx., visit Megan In Sainte Maxime.
  • Jon Bresler / Lafco New York – How closely do you read the ingredients list of your body products? If you are like me, probably not often enough. He practiced what he preached by including a 15 oz. “sample” of Lafco olive oil based liquid soap in the goodie bag. As you can see from the picture, I have already started to use it (I filled another soap dispenser with the soap). The scent I got was Mint Tisane and it has a pleasant minty smell. I am going to try the Champagne scent next.
  • Mary Ellen Lapsansky / The Perfume Plume Awards – She acknowledged the winners of the 2018 Perfumed Plume Awards announced on April 11, 2018. I encourage you to read the winners and finalists’ work and perhaps it will inspire you to write something perfume-related and/or nominate a well-written work.

 

Sniffa May 2018 BG Samples

 

Visiting the Diptyque Boutique – Located at 971 Madison Avenue, the Diptyque boutique is way uptown, between 75th and 76th Street. We were greeted with mimosas and mini cupcakes. After indulging in the refreshments, I got down to business with sniffing. I liked the newest fragrance (Tempo) enough to buy a bottle on the spot! Then I spotted 34 Boulevard Saint Germain soap and a tote bag and I bought those as well. With these purchases, I received a travel-sized spray of Fleur de Peau, 2 candles and a bunch of samples. I’m eyeing 34 Boulevard Saint Germain in Black for FB purchase but I will test the perfume on skin first before making a decision.

 

Sniffa May 2018 Diptyque

 

Cocktail Party / Antica Farmacista at Bergdorf Goodman – As often as I’ve been to BG, I have never gone beyond entering from the street level and heading down to the beauty floor at the lower level. The Decorative Home Décor 7th Floor is a visual and olfactory delight; I will spend more time there in the future, as there are many nooks and crannies to explore! As to the Cocktail Party, it was held in a nice alcove with home scents galore. The featured home fragrance was Daphne Flower, delicately scented. A special Daphne Flower cocktail1 was concocted for the occasion. I would have bought the newest product, a car diffuser, but my 4 year old car still has a new car smell, which is the best smell a car could have, in my opinion. My favorite from this line is what I am currently using at home year-round – Vanilla Bourbon Mandarin.

 

Sniffa May 2018 Samples

 

Shopping at Hermes – This was not on the itinerary but I wanted to smell the new Hermessence. There were only two available for sniffing: Agar Ebene and Cedre Sambac. The SA was uncharacteristically stingy even though I bought a bracelet, but nevertheless, I came home with said bracelet, a sample each of the two Hermessence and two each of Eau de Citron Noir and Twilly.

 

Sniffa May 2018 Hermes

 

That’s it for this edition of Sniffapalooza! To thank you for your readership, I am giving away 2 packs that include: manufacturers’ samples I received from the event, extras from other sniffing adventures AND a 5mL decant of the newest addition to my collection – Diptyque Tempo. All you have to do is leave a comment with the perfume that is on top of your To Buy List and the country where you live. Anyone in the world can enter. There will be one winner from the U.S. and one winner from the rest of the world. You have until 11:59 PM PST on May 20, 2018 to enter the draw. Neither Undina nor hajusuuri is responsible for lost packages.

 

1 Daphne Flower Cocktail: Stoli Orange Vodka, Grapefruit Liqueur and Raspberry Lime juice

 

Images: my own (hajusuuri)

Timeless Beauty

I have a friend whose hobby is to lead guided tours in San Francisco. Last weekend she invited us to join one of her tours – San Francisco Waterfront Walk. I had no idea what topic she had chosen but it didn’t matter because we went mostly for a walk itself and to spend some time with her and her husband later that day.

The tour started from The Palace of Fine Arts. It was designed by Bernard R. Maybeck and constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition as a temporary structure to exhibit works of art. It was intended to last for a year or so and be torn down after the exposition was over. But the Palace was so beloved by citizens of San Francisco that it was spared the demolition. Consistent with his design concept (it was supposed to evoke the impression of a Roman ruin), Maybeck had intended that the Palace should just fall into ruin, and so it did for a long time while serving all possible purposes – housing multiple exhibitions, lighted tennis courts (1934-1942), storage of trucks and jeeps (during the WWII), limousines motor pool for the UN representatives after the war, and other odd uses. By 50s “the simulated ruin was in fact a crumbling ruin” but in 60s it was rebuilt to its current state and is being maintained since then.

 

 

From the Palace we passed the streets that replaced the exhibit halls in the years that followed the exposition. We went by beautiful Art Deco buildings, through blooming jasmine, lilacs and irises, all the way to the Marina from where you can see one of the world’s largest examples of the Art Deco style – the Golden Gate Bridge on the left and Alcatraz Island on the right.

 

Up the hill, through the park and Fort Mason Community Garden, to the Haskell House and back down to the shore. It was a wonderful 3-hour walk on a sunny, breezy and, surprisingly for San Francisco, clear day.

What perfume does one choose for such tour?

 

Paris, 1926. ‘Art deco’ is all the rage, exoticism fascinates, and jazz stirs passions. People dream of faraway lands and precious woods. Once again, Coco Chanel shakes up the history of perfume by launching the first woody fragrance for women. An intoxicating, enveloping, warm, sensual, spiraling scent. It’s all there: the precious woods, the opiate scents and magnificent, languid flowers. The fragrance is a mysterious, faraway continent in itself.

 

That is an old quote from Chanel’s website. They’ve changed the description at least a couple of times over the last several years (I wonder if it coincided with reformulations) but you have probably guessed already that I chose Bois des Iles as my Waterfront Walk perfume. Since I didn’t know any details of that walk in advance, my perfume choice was just a serendipitous one. But it felt just right – airy, with a whiff of lilacs, jasmine, iris and rose, warm, slightly sweet and woody. Same as The Palace of Fine Arts and the Golden Gate Bridge, this beauty has survived all the years and reconstructions and is still mesmerizing and awe-inspiring.

Chanel Bois des Iles

 

Images: my own