I did it again: NovAmber 2018

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while might remember that just a couple of years ago I did a whole month of amber perfumes… At least I thought so until I checked: I published a post about it 4 years ago to the day. Time seems to be even more fleeting than perfumes…

Since I have a penchant for cold weather perfumes and almost no cold weather where we live (it’s 14C/56F outside now), if I want to wear my favorites, I cannot just sit and wait for the proper weather. So I decided to do another NovAmber month.

Amber Autumn

I purposefully didn’t check which perfumes I’d chosen last time: while I still don’t have 30 bottles or decants of amber perfumes in my collection, since for such projects I allow myself to wear perfumes from samples (which I normally don’t do), combined number of all amber perfumes that I have access to would be sufficient for a couple of months, so I was curious which perfumes I’d choose for the line-up.

For thirty days I wore only amber perfumes. Not all of them were “amber forward” but they all had amber as a part of the composition.

Half of the perfumes that I chose were the same as I wore four years ago: Montale Blue Amber, L’Artisan L’eau d’Ambre Extreme, Jo Malone Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, Annick Goutal Ambre Fétiche, Bvlgari Black, Dior Ambre Nuit, Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, Armani Prive Ambre Orient, Ormonde Jayne Tolu, Dior Mitzah, By Kilian Amber Oud, Eau de Tommi Sooni II, Royal Apothic Dogwood Blossom, Amouage Ubar and L’Artisan Eau de Mandarine Ambrée.

I won’t repeat my impressions of these since they are not much different from what I described in the previous post. I just wanted to mention that Ubar, which many of the commenters didn’t associate with amber perfumes, is still one of my most favorite amber perfumes. Two other perfumes that I predicted would join my collection – By Kilian Amber Oud and Dior Ambre Nuit – did: the former as a refill bottle (see In the Search for the Perfect… By Kilian Perfume) and the latter as the next decant (I still plan to get a 40 ml real bottle one day, I just can’t do 120+ ml now).

Rusty and By Kilian Amber Oud

The next group consists of perfumes that, most likely, do not need an introduction (but I’ll still link to the stories that I told for some of them before): Chanel Coco EdP and Bois des Iles EdP, Serge Lutens Chergui and Jeux de Peau and Teo Cabanel Alahine. I enjoyed wearing all of them though I confirmed for myself my recent conclusion that I do not love Jeux des Peau enough to warrant a full bottle (I’m still not done with that first decant I bought 7 years ago).

Floris Honey Oud and En Voyage Perfumes Captured in Amber, both new to my collection compared to it four years ago, were perfect additions for this project. In the earlier post I promised to share a picture of Rusty sniffing Captured in Amber once I decide on the concentration and get a bottle. I ended up buying pure parfum but since the bottle is tiny, the best I could do was to capture a photo of Captured in Amber captured in amber-y Rusty’s fur.

Rusty and En Voyage Captured In Amber

This project brought a couple of personal discoveries. First, I finished my sample of Aedes de Venustas Cierge de Lune and realized that I want more. Probably not a bottle-worth more but I really hope Aedes will release it in travel spray format. Another surprise was Van Cleef & Arpels Ambre Imperial: while at a store, I allowed the SA who had just made me a couple of samples to spray my wrist with this perfume. I think I didn’t expect to like it so it was easier to just agree with her and be on my way. I should have been greedy and asked for the third sample! Either I just had amber on my mind, or it was actually as good as it seemed in the moment… Now I’ll have to go back and test it again.

I’ll skip mentioning several perfumes that I either didn’t like or, on the contrary, liked and plan to tell you more about them in future posts.

During November I wore more than 30 amber perfumes. And I’m not done yet. It probably means that I really like amber in my perfumes, right?

 

How about you? Do you like amber in your perfumes? What are your absolute favorites? Were there any recent discoveries?

 

Images: my own

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In the Search for the Perfect… By Kilian Perfume

Ever since I met Killian Hennessy and fell under his spell, I tried to find a perfume in his line that I’d like to add to my collection.

Thanks to the brand’s generosity to their FB fans, I got a chance to test the complete L’Oeuvre Noire collection without any pressure from SAs. I really wanted to love one of the perfumes: I liked Mr. Hennessy’s passion for his perfumes; I liked perfumes names and their packaging. After a thorough testing I found two perfumes I thought I wanted to wear – Prelude to Love and Love & Tears. I’ve got decants and after wearing both realized that I didn’t love any of them enough to go for a bottle.

Later I liked Bamboo Harmony and Water Calligraphy, which I also got from the brand’s FB fans club, but those light and cologne-like perfumes just didn’t feel substantial enough to warrant the price of the bottle.

With In the Garden of Good and Evil I came extremely close to splurging for a bottle but I had to stop myself when I realized that I was talking myself into buying it because of the serpent-adorned clutch while liking but not loving any of the perfumes in the line. And while I occasionally pay $200+ for perfume, I’m yet to pay that much for a clutch. I still haven’t tried Voulez-vous coucher avec Moi (and that clutch looks even more appealing!) but for now these two series stay on my “watch list”: I might eventually get a clutch partial bottle if I find one.

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Amber Oud wasn’t love at first sniff most likely because of the name: I’ve never been an agarwood fan so I was very cautious approaching this perfume. But on the second or third approach I fell in love with it.

Amber Oud isn’t about oud at all – and that’s probably why I like it so much. It’s soft and creamy and amber-y. I don’t get a harsh opening as some other wearers do. For me it goes from very pleasant to simply amazing. And whatever stays on my clothes after I wear this perfume makes me want to wear it again the next day, which doesn’t happen to me too often.

So, has it become a bottle in my collection? Well… First I went through a sample, then used up a decant generously gifted to me by Birgit (read her extremely sensuous review for Amber Oud). And finally last December I decided to reward myself for the hard year I had.

As I had previously confessed, I do care about perfume bottles and even bought a couple of perfumes mostly for the bottle and one actually for its bottle. Also, even though I can’t find it now, I remember Birgit’s comment to the effect that she regretted not getting a real bottle (I think) of this perfume and going for a more economical refill option.

Taking all that into the consideration, I browsed around for the best possible deal for Amber Oud until a combination of cash back and GWP brought me to saks.com. Everything seemed to be coming together perfectly… but I just couldn’t. So while my answer to the Portia’s question from her recent review for Amber Oud is “Yes, for me this amber is much better than many other ambers I tried, liked and use” (and its place on “Perfumes I love and don’t ever want to be without” list of My Perfume Portrait speaks to it), I still couldn’t justify paying extra $200 (!) for the real bottle and beautiful box. So the official refill bottle it was! It’s still expensive but a more reasonably priced then the “full presentation.” Plus, “the refill bottles of Kilian perfumes are not exactly ugly, they are better than many regular bottles of other lines” (©Olfactoria).

By Kilian Amber Oud

What are your relationships with this brand? Do you like any of their perfumes? Do you own any?

Entertaining Statistics: 2014 Year Round-up

Year 2014 wasn’t the best year in my life, most of all because some of the negative events can’t be considered even educational. But still it wasn’t all bad and I’m grateful for the good things and look forward to more of those this year.

We’ve got some rain in the last two months of 2014. That hasn’t solved our drought problem but made it a bit less severe and gave us hope.

We got a chance to spend time with one of the friends from our youth whom we haven’t seen for many years. He hasn’t changed much and we already plan our future visits.

I had a relatively close encounter with charming Hugh Laurie.

I enjoyed many mini-trips to the surrounding wine regions; one of them with thoughtful and endlessly generous with her support Suzanne (Eiderdown Press) and her husband.

I received an extremely touching gift from Daisy (coolcookstyle) and hajusuuri (a spontaneous perfume lover who became a contributor on my blog).

I took an obscene number of perfumes to the Hawaii vacation (I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did).

I had good time perfume shopping with Natalie (Another Perfume Blog).

And, finally, despite all the work-related stress and busy schedule I had a wonderful holiday season, which culminated in the one of the most delightful New Year celebrations at our friends’ house in Austin.

NY 2014 Purrmaid

Now let’s see how my 2014 looks in perfume terms (numbers in parentheses are from 2013, for comparison where applicable).

Perfume Testing

In 2014 I tested1 even less perfumes than in years before. It isn’t a complaint, I think I’m testing enough: I pay attention not just to new releases or even perfumes new to me but also I’m revisiting some of the previously tested perfumes. I tested 299 (321) perfumes from 108 (107) brands on 391 (461) occasions. This year there were also fewer perfumes that I’ve tried for the first time – 147 (185) and only 55 (fifty-five!) of them were created in 2014. It’s less than, according to Parfumo, has been released by now from the beginning of this year. Probably I could add 15-20 mainstream perfumes that I smelled at a store on a paper strip and never went for a sample or skin test. But still it’ll barely scratch the surface of the last year’s new releases. 2,646! Can you believe it?! It’s a huge number of new releases and I tested 2% of them. Out of those 55, I liked – more or less – just 11 (20% of tested) but I would consider wearing only 6 (~10%) of them and, most likely, not from a full bottle purchase.

I have a feeling I’ll test even less in 2015: with endless new releases who can follow them?

Perfume Samples

Perfume Wearing

Since I usually end up not liking most of the perfumes I test and, at the same time, the number of perfumes I like and own is enough to wear a new one every day for several months, same as the year before, I mostly wore2 perfumes from my collection (bottles and decants) while using samples just for testing or the final decision stage before [not] buying the perfume I thought I liked. In 2014 I had a better rotation of perfumes than the year before – I wore 156 (142) perfumes from 61 (54) brands – but I used perfumes less often – just on 341 (355) occasions.

Stats 2014: Most Worn Brands

Eight out of twelve brands I wore the most this year are the same as for two previous years, which isn’t a big surprise: those are my favorite brands and I have those perfumes in my collection. More interesting are those brands that moved up. Two out of four got that high with a single perfume from each of the brands: Rajasthan by Etro (I told its story in the How many perfumistas does it take to … post) and Chic Shaik No 30 by Shaik (its story is still waiting to be written). The third brand, Lancome, made it also mostly thanks to one perfume – my first and everlasting perfume love Climat (I bought a back-up bottle and started wearing it more often) but there was one more perfume – Mille et Une Roses – that contributed to the statistics. The last new player on my yearly Wheel of Fortune chart is By Kilian. I finally found several perfumes in this line that I like to wear: Amber Oud, Prelude to Love and Love & Tears (and there are several more promising candidates).

Perfume Statistics

It’s getting harder to come up with new silly aspects of our hobby to present in numerical form for this monthly series. I realize that many of my current readers haven’t read all the previous posts and those who have, most likely, won’t remember each of them, but I still couldn’t bring myself to repeat exactly the same topic. Because of that there were fewer posts based just on my personal perfume-related habits (Perfumes Tested in 2014 by Year Released, How many perfumistas I met in RL, TwitterCounter’s Predictions vs. Reality) and more of those, input for which I asked from you (Ten Niche Brands You Need To Know, What is the main reason for your spontaneous perfume purchase?, 10 Most Popular Brands (based on Olfactoria’s Travels Monday Question), To Wear or Not to Wear a perfume you used to love but don’t any longer if there is no other choice?, Perfume Shopping Mecca, Favorite Amber Perfumes).

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Come back in a month to see if I could think of anything new to count. Hopefully, not sheep.

 

Images: my own

 

1 For the testing I apply a perfume to one area on my arms easily available for the repetitive sniffing. But, most likely, I’m the only one who can smell it. I can test two, sometimes even more perfumes at the same time.

2 When I wear a perfume I apply it to at least three-four points and usually I plan to spend at least 4-8 hours with the same scent so I’m prepared to re-apply if the original application wears off.

How Do You Take Your Amber?

We had a really strange winter this year*: it has never actually got cold. When I say “cold” I mean, of course, our Californian cold – something like 10C/50F. Instead of it the average high temperature in February, for example, was 16C/60F. I’m not really complaining especially after hearing about record levels of snow and cold weather all over the world. After all, no matter how much I realize that warm weather in absence of rain makes our drought situation even worse, objectively if feels nice.

But there was one serious negative consequence for me: this past winter I couldn’t wear almost any of my favorite amber perfumes. Even though I do not do a conscious season rotation of perfumes, my wearing habits gravitate towards the commonly accepted practice of lighter scents in summer and heavier members of my collection in winter. So the only amber I wear in hot weather is my amber necklace.

Amber Necklace

As winter approached I was eager to start wearing my favorite ambers again. The first disappointment came when I put on Ambre Russe by Parfum d’Empire. This perfume was on my “to buy” list for a couple of years so I decided to finish the sample I had and finally buy a bottle. Actually, I would have bought it not waiting for the last drop to leave the sample vial if it weren’t for an unavailability of more reasonable 50 ml bottles. Now I think that maybe it was a sign: the last time I wore it from the sample I felt almost like washing it off. Now I’m not sure any more if I even want it.

After that I was very careful approaching the rest of the usual suspects: Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens, Ambre Fetishe by Annick Gotal, Amber Absolute by Tom Ford and Mitzah by Dior – each got just one wear, if that. I didn’t dislike them but I didn’t get the same warm feeling I used to get from them before. Even L’eau d’Ambre Extreme by L’Artisan Parfumeur felt too heavy for the weather.

There were just a couple of ambers that worked better and didn’t scare me. Unexpectedly, two of those were Ambre Orient by Armani Prive and Amber Oud from By Kilian. I am surprised because both have agarwood – the note that is difficult for me. But this time amber + agarwood combination seemed exactly what I needed. One more perfume that suddenly came into favor was Calamity J by Juliette Has A Gun. After I deplete the decant I will consider adding a bottle to my collection.

Despite all that I had more amber in my life this winter than ever before: last New Year I’ve got a gift from my vSO – Black Orchid Diffuser Set from my favorite designer Michael Aram. I’ve never had a diffuser before but was glad to get this one since I have some other items from this collection. Official notes are citrus, floral notes, tropical fruits, cedar, sandalwood and musk but for my nose it smells like a light amber perfume. And for a while, until I realized from where that wonderful scent was coming, I tried to figure out which of my perfumes left those traces and, which was even more important, where?!

Michael Aram Black Orchid Diffuser

So this year I take my amber light or very light. And, it seems, with agarwood. But I really hope that next year I’ll be able to enjoy the “heavy hitters” (© Olfactoria, Queen of Amber) again.

 

How do you take your amber nowadays?

* Ines recently started her post with the exact phrase but I swear I had this part already written by the time I read her post.

 

Images: my own