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

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Entertaining Statistics: January 2014

 

I know how it sounds to the most of my readers but I have to say it: we had an unpleasantly warm January. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the light jacket weather as much as the next freezing east coaster would but we really need at least some rain. And +22˚C (71˚F) isn’t a normal temperature for this month even in our region. So now I can’t even pretend that it’s winter and time to wear my winter perfumes.

For this month’s statistics post I asked you to name five niche brands that, in their opinion, are in the “need to know” category for anybody who’s interested in perfumes. I asked the same question in one of the perfume groups on Facebook.

29 people participated on FB and 19 in the blog. 49 brands were named, 26 of them more than once.

Since I know that some people participated both here and there I thought of splitting results by the source but it didn’t change the outcome: both groups, as well as the total, returned the same set of 5 brands, just in slightly different order (numbers in parenthesis – places FB/Blog):

Serge Lutens (1/1)

L’Artisan Parfumeur (4/2)

Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle (2/3)

Amouage (3/4)

Parfumerie Générale (5/5)

Stats January 2014

The chart above shows actual number of votes for the top 10 recommended brands. From my original list only Ormonde Jayne didn’t make the cut and moved to the sixth place. I need to get more samples from Parfumerie Générale line and see why it made it to the fifth place.

Out of 52 perfumes I wore or tested in January 17 perfumes were from 5 out of these 10 brands. What was unusual: this month I tried only five perfumes for the first time. Did you come across anything interesting this year?

Rusty had nothing to do with any of the numbers but he has to requite all the compliments he got in the previous post – even without appearing in it! These are pictures of him with perfumes from the “need to know” list.

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Images: my own

Entertaining Statistics: 2012 Year Round-up

 

Wearing and testing perfumes every day and getting monthly statistics numbers create some general feeling about where you stand on your likes and dislikes but nothing puts it into prospective better than the complete year data. As I was contemplating this post I was both excited and scared: what would I discover about myself when I compile all the results?

In 2012 I wore and tested more perfumes than in 2011: 414 vs. 376 perfumes from 119 vs. 110 brands. But since starting from December 2011 I was recording the type of use – wear1 vs. testing2 I’m able to get deeper into from where those numbers come.

 

Quick 2012 stats:

* Different perfumes worn1138 from 50 brands on 348 occasions;

Brands I wore in 2012

* Different perfumes tested2356 from 114 brands on 572 occasions;

Brands I tested in 2012

* Perfumes I tried for the first time: 245 (it was 303 in 2011);

I wear perfumes I like and own almost every day. Perfumes I reached for the most in 2012 (with times worn): Dior New Look 1947 (11), Chanel №19# EdT & parfum (10), Chanel Cuir de Russie (8), Guerlain Cruel Gardénia (8), Antonia’s Flowers Tiempe Passate (7), Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Vermeille# (7), Yosh Ginger Ciao (7), Hermès Voyage d’Hermès (6), Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Amour (6), Tom Ford Violet Blonde (6), Chanel Bois des Iles (5), Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient (5), Lancome Climat (5), Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling! (5), Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe (5), Tom Ford Amber Absolute (5).

 

Counting my Lemmings (don’t fall asleep!)

In the Weekly Roundup series this year I mentioned 46 perfumes I was looking forward to testing. I still haven’t tried 19 of those (5 haven’t been released yet). My most cherished lemmings are: Ann Gerard Perle de Mousse, Ramón Monegal Impossible Iris, Parfumerie Generale L’Ombre Fauve and Armaini Privé Cuir Noir. I’m still trying to avoid paying for samples so if you have any extras for those mentioned above – let’s swap!

Out of those 27 lemmings that I managed to try I liked 15 and thought that the rest were fine – so no big disappointments.

2012 in Statis Pictures

Seeing 2012 off

Speaking of disappointments, I was surprised to read on many blogs that 2012 wasn’t a good year perfume-wise for many perfumistas. My feeling was that there were many perfumes that I liked. I went through the list of perfumes from 2012 (only those that I’ve tried, not all 1,300+). I liked very much at least 25 perfumes released last year: Amouage Beloved and Opus VI; Annick Goutal Nuit Étoilée; By Kilian Amber Oud, Bamboo Harmony, Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin; Cognoscenti Scent No.16 – Tomato Leather and Scent No.19 – Warm Carrot; Dior Grand Bal; Diptyque Volutes; DSH Perfumes Euphorisme d’Opium, Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour and The Beat Look; Guerlain Encens Mythique d’Orient and Myrrhe et Délires; Ineke Hothouse Flower; Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay and White Lilac & Rhubarb; Jul et Mad Amour de Palazzo; L’Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l’aube; Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin; Serge Lutens Santal Majuscule; Six Scents Napa Noir and Tom Ford Ombre de Hyacinth. I have four full bottles and seven decants to show for these “likes” and I’m considering several more. Another 15 were not bad; I just didn’t love them.

I’ve done two full years of these monthly stats posts. I wonder if I can still find an interesting angle of analyzing data I collect. We’ll see.  

 

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.

# These were in the Top 10 of 2011 as well.

 

Images: my own

In the Search for the Perfect Leather

 

It was one of the first cool days of the last fall. We were driving home after a pleasant evening at our friends’ house. I kept sniffing the air thinking to myself: I haven’t noticed before that my leather jacket smells that nice… Too nice… What’s going on?

That’s when I realized that the smell was coming from a blotter sticking out of the vent grid where I affixed it several hours earlier.

 

Tom Ford Tuscan Leather

 

That evening before going to the party I stopped by Neiman Marcus to sniff several perfumes. I didn’t want to put anything on my skin to avoid arriving to the party smelling like a perfume counter. So after sniffing from a blotter Tom Ford’s Tuscan Leather (I missed it somehow in my previous tests) and talking for a while to the SA I asked him: “How does it develop on the skin?” thinking of asking next to make me a sample. In response he silently took a fresh blotter, sprayed it with Tuscan Leather and handed it to me… I was so amused that all I could do was to thank him and leave.

I think that Tuscan Leather is a gorgeous masculine fragrance. Can a woman pull it off? Of course! I would have worn it myself if I haven’t had somebody else to put it on. My vSO likes it so I’ll use a decant I have on him. And then I’ll want more.

I like leather perfumes but do not own too many of them. Cuir Ottoman by Parfum d’Empire – a bottle that I bought for my vSO (he likes it a lot) but he doesn’t mind sharing.

The only full bottle of a “leather” perfume that I have for myself is Cuir de Russie by Chanel. It’s such an elegant perfume!

 

Chanel Cuir De Russie PdE Cuir Ottoman

 

Tabac Aurea  by Sonoma Scent Studio doesn’t smell too much of leather but it’s a very pleasant dry woodsy scent that works well on my skin in cooler weather. Once I’m done with my 2.5 ml spray bottle I’ll probably get a purse spray.

Boxeuses by Serge Lutens – one of my Bikram yoga favorites and recently I discovered that I liked it as a sleep scent as well. I haven’t tried wearing Boxeuses sprayed but once my roll-on sample is empty I’ll want a decant of this strange and interesting perfume.

Another Serge Lutens’ leather perfume, of which I have a decant already, Cuir Mauresque unfortunately doesn’t work for me. I tried to wear it several times and still no. It smells harsh, dirty and somewhat unpleasant on me.

I reviewed Scent No.16 Tomato Leather by Cognoscenti a couple of months ago (You say ‘Tomato’, I say ‘Leather’). I still like it but I’ll wait for Cognoscenti to release their perfumes in a smaller bottle.

I didn’t like Traversee du Bosphore by L’Artisan Parfumeur when I first tried it but it grew on me. It wears nicely in warm weather and one day it might join my collection.

Another perfume I wasn’t a fan of initially – Bottega Veneta. Last year when everybody praised it I just shrugged my shoulders. What changed my mind was me testing recently Cuir Amethyste by Giorgio Armani. It started harsh and too leather-y to my taste but then mellowed down to a very smooth and buttery suede accord that reminded me of Bottega Veneta. I thought I found another smell-alike for my Déjà vu series but while I was trying to compare notes (there are just two in common among declared) I found out that the same nose, Michel Almairac, was behind both. I’ll see if I need more of Bottega Veneta Parfum once my mini bottle is gone.

Cuir de Lancome by Lancome – everybody seems to love this one. I want to like it but I’m not sure if I do. Sometimes I think that maybe my sample is off.  Nevertheless, I want this bottle in my collection – not that there was any logic in that.

 

Leather Perfumes Samples

 

Other perfumes with prominent leather that I’ve tried and liked: Cuir Beluga by Guerlain (it’s growing on me, I want to get a decant to test more), Cuirelle by Ramon Monegal (starts a little too sweet but develops nicely; needs more testing preferably from a spray bottle), Napa Noir by Six Scents (I had a tiny, one application sample, but I liked what I smelled), Lonestar Memories by Tauer Perfumes (have to get a new sample since the one I have become too concentrated as a result of evaporation) and Vanille Cuir by M.Micallef (something appeals to me in this fragrance; I’ll keep testing it and see if I want to werat it).

Perfumes that didn’t work for me: Leather Oud by Dior (it’s nice on my vSO but a little too much on me), Songe d’un Bois d’été by Guerlain (it’s too harsh on my skin; I find something pleasant two-three hours into the development but I won’t wait for that long to enjoy my perfume), Mon Cuir by Ramon Monegal (a strange combination of leather and what I think of as a traditional men cologne) and Kelly Calèche by Hermès (I can smell no leather at all. Do I have a wrong sample?)

What is your favorite leather perfume?

 

Images: my own.