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.

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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

Second Sunday Samples: Jo Malone Vetiver & Golden Vanilla

Years pass, I come across many new brands and new perfumes from old favorites, but it seems that Jo Malone (brand, not the person) still manages to produce, among the avalanche of new releases, something that attracts my attention.

Unfortunately, my attention span shrank recently, so unless I come to the store right when a new offering takes the central stage on the stand, I might completely miss it.

I remembered from reading an announcement on NST that new Jo Malone would be released. I even remembered that it was supposed to be vanilla. On my first visit to the store I looked around, tried reading multiple labels – and didn’t succeed. Since I couldn’t remember the name (and for whatever reason it’s almost impossible to get Internet connection from inside our Nordstrom store), I just left without even asking.

The next time I got to the store, I couldn’t spot anything new … and I couldn’t remember the name again. But I told myself it would be silly to go away without trying. So, I surprised the SA agreeing that I needed his help (you could see in his body language that he was already half-way turning away fully expecting my polite “I’m just browsing”). I said: “You are supposed to have a new vanilla perfume, but I seem not to be able to notice it.” He immediately resolved the mystery: Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is released in the Cologne Intense collection – I wasn’t even looking there.

The SA complimented me on being adventurous because I wasn’t afraid to try the Intense Collection, which “most women avoid.” Really? I was surprised: out of all the brands that ventures in the unisex perfume territory Jo Malone seemed like the one that leans more feminine. But since he works there, he might know better (or not), I’m not familiar with “civilian’s” tastes.

 

Jo Malone Vetiver and Golden Vanilla

 

Neither brand’s site nor Fragrantica are too generous with the notes: cardamom, grapefruit tea accord, vetiver bourbon and vanilla bourbon. Perfumer (according to NST): Mathilde Bijaoui, who previously created for Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka.

To my nose, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is all about vetiver. I don’t think I can smell cardamom, and vanilla is surprising in this composition: it’s much less sweet than you might expect both from the material and from the brand. But it’s not a bad thing, don’t read it as a criticism. It creates an interesting “adult” composition that keeps your mind far away from the cupcake territory. On my skin perfume has moderate to good projection and moderate tenacity (and I’d expect it to be even better if sprayed from a bottle instead of a small sample).

Since I like vetiver in perfumes, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla smells good to me but, unlike most of Jo Malone main collection’s offerings, it is not the one that everybody will either like or stay indifferent: I expect some people to actively dislike it or (virtually waving Hi to that SA) feel that it’s too masculine. But if you enjoy vetiver (and especially if you, as I, like but get tired of Hermes’s Vetiver Tonka), give Vetiver & Golden Vanilla a try: if not a bottle, it might be worth a 10 ml decant space in your collection.

I’m thinking that I still don’t have a single bottle from the Cologne Intense collection… I could probably take a closer look at one of those 50 ml black bottles (I’m glad Jo Malone finally moved away from 100 ml only, but I wish they’ve done them in 30 ml black bottles – I still remember how great the Dark Amber & Ginger Lily 30 ml bottle looked).

 

Images: from the brand’s site (my sample vial looked not interesting to warrant bribing Rusty; if I end up buying a bottle, I’ll find a reason to publish a picture of Rusty with it)

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

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

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

 

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.

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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