Second Sunday Samples: All that Glitters is not Gold

Two samples that I’ve chosen for this SSS post were on my mind for the last couple of months. Originally I planned to write about them in December but then plans changed, and I moved these to January.

The reason I thought these two were suited for December is that both perfumes come with festive golden flakes in flacons, so Christmas or New Year celebrations naturally come to mind.


Atelier des Ors Iris Fauve

Three Sea Stars

I really looked forward to trying Atelier des Ors Iris Fauve after reading Lucas’s review: our perfume tastes are very similar, and he liked it enough to go for a bottle, a sample from which he graciously shared with me.

I was supposed to like this perfume: I like iris, I like vetiver, I like myrrh, and all other declared notes (bergamot, cinnamon, patchouli, cypriol, musk, labdanum and liatris) are among those that I do not mind in my perfumes. I wanted to like this perfume, and I kept trying it again and again after reading each next positive review (Portia liked it , Steve liked it, Gaia liked it, and even Kafka didn’t hate it).

I must be anosmic to some ingredients in Iris Fauve: while it is not unpleasant on my skin, I can barely smell anything. Some kind of iris is there in the opening but it’s not any of its facets that I usually enjoy in perfumes. Half an hour into the development I can smell cinnamon (as always, I’m amazed when I can actually recognize one of the notes). Woodiness I smell probably comes from vetiver – though it’s also less pronounced than in several vetiver perfumes that I like.

There are many perfumes that others like and I don’t, but usually with those I understand what others smell but just do not share the love. With Iris Fauve I just don’t see (smell) what one can love (or even dislike) in this perfume: it is kind of there but not really. For my nose it is quiet, inoffensive and not memorable. And it comes only in that stupid 100 ml bottle. Though maybe if one bathes in it, it is more pronounced?


Molvizar and Atelier des Ors Samples


Ramon Molvizar Musk Oriental Goldskin

Four Sea Stars

Ramon Molvizar Musk Oriental Goldskin was one of two contenders for my Barcelona trip perfume trophy. I liked it when I first smelled it, and I spent an hour sniffing it trying to decide if I wanted to get it.

As I keep repeating, I’m not good with discerning notes in perfumes. But I have good “perfume memory”: I recognize similarities in perfumes I’m trying and those that I smelled before. So sniffing Musk Oriental Goldskin, I immediately told myself that it reminded me of something I already knew. I wasn’t completely sure but because of those doubts in the end I went with another perfume from the same brand – Sol/Sun. But I brought back with me a sample of Musk Oriental Goldskin.


Ramon Molvizar Sol/Sun


At home I confirmed my initial impression: Musk Oriental Goldskin (2007) had a lot in common with Jo Malone’s limited edition from 2008 Lotus Blossom & Water Lily. As we know, notes lists do not mean much but still I couldn’t help noticing the intersection.

Lotus Blossom & Water Lily notes: mandarin, grapefruit, bergamot, honeysuckle, freesia, jasmine, water lily, lotus, sandalwood, amber, musk, guaiac wood and incense.

Musk Oriental Goldskin notes: bergamot, ginger, green notes, floral notes, jasmine, lotus, water lily and musk.

Musk Oriental Goldskin is a light floral oriental perfume – warm enough for winter wear but sheer enough not to be overwhelming in hot weather as well. Despite the completely unnecessary golden flakes, this perfume smells luxurious and elegant. It is not phenomenal, and nobody should run and test it, but if you come across it, give it a try: it might pleasantly surprise you.

When asking for that sample at the store, I hoped that I would be able to prove to myself that I didn’t need Musk Oriental Goldskin. Well, I do not need it (I don’t need any more perfumes in general) but since, unfortunately, my Lotus Blossom & Water Lily bottle turned (I bought it used so I don’t know how it was stored before coming to me), I’m thinking about getting a bottle of Musk Oriental Goldskin from Ramon Molvizar’s “pocket line” if I can figure out how not to pay the enormous delivery fee on a reasonably priced 30 ml bottle.


Rusty and Molvizar and Atelier des Ors Samples


Images: my own


Visiting Three Monarchies, Part 4: Perfumes I bought

More than three years ago, while describing my indecisiveness when it comes to buying perfumes, I wrote:

I have that dream of going into a perfume shop while on a vacation or at a fragrance event and finding perfume, without which I wouldn’t want to leave that store.

It hasn’t happen to me since then. If anything, I became even less spontaneous, which isn’t surprising taking into the consideration my steadily expanding collection and exponentially increasing number of new releases. But the dream lived on. So going on the vacation to London, Barcelona and Stockholm, I decided not only to take with me and wear perfumes created by the brands from the respective countries but also to bring back perfumes from each of the destinations – with the same caveat of the brand’s origin.

As I’ve described in the posts about each part of my trip, in our era of globalization it wasn’t easy to find perfumes that would fit the set criteria, even though I tried to cheat a little by bringing with me samples of perfumes that I’ve previously tried and… let’s put it this way – didn’t dislike.

After all the sniffing Tara, Vanessa and I and then Vanessa and I did in London, on the last evening in the city I was still hesitant. I might have ended up not buying anything at all if it weren’t for the serendipitous circumstances.

One of the most pleasant memories from our previous visit to London was a restaurant on the corner of the same street where we happened to stay then in a tiny hot room under the roof. For the whole week in London this time we kept planning to go there but something else would come up. So finally I reserved a table there for the last evening.

When you spend the day walking the city, it’s hard to plan perfectly. We arrived to the restaurant almost an hour earlier but since we weren’t hungry yet, instead of checking with them if they could seat us immediately, we decided just to walk around and see the area where we spent time seven years ago.

We went by the B&B where we stayed – it looked the same. We checked out a bakery that seemed very appealing back then – probably not the fairest comparison with it being after 5 P.M., but the selection of baked goods didn’t impress. We walked by the private park for the residents of one of the buildings – it was still very charming and inaccessible. Then we came across the second location of Les Senteurs. Since Vanessa and I went through everything at the other location the day before, I just sprayed again Tom Daxon’s Magnolia Heights to give it one last wear before going for a bottle. And then I saw it…

Jo Loves London Boutique

Of course, later I remembered Vanessa’s suggestions to the fellow-shoppers in Ormonde Jayne store to visit this area for Les Senteurs and Jo Loves boutiques. But it completely went by me at the time. Since I still kept my grudges against this brand for offering to send me scented blotters in response to my inquiry to purchase samples when the line had been launched (six years later I think I can safely reveal the brand, about which I wrote that post), I didn’t even think of visiting that store. But there we were – so I just couldn’t pass it by.

It wasn’t the first time I smelled Jo Loves’ perfumes: a year after the launch they had some limited promotion where you could request 2 samples. My friend and I each requested two – so we got to try four perfumes. “Nice but nothing special” was a verdict for three of them, and I liked but didn’t love the forth one (Gardenia). Several months ago I got hajusuuri’s “traveling samples set” – so I was able to try 7 more of their scents and really liked one of them.

Even though I came partially prepared, it took me some time to make a decision. In the end I decided to go with perfume that I liked from the hajusuuri’s set – No. 42 The Flower Shop.

Rusty and Jo Loves The Flower Shop

Most of you who have been around for a while saw on my blog many beautiful bouquets (usually in Rusty’s company). Those we created in one of the local florist shops, which both I and my vSO like. He usually goes there on his own (to order flowers for me, not trusting online ordering) but from time to time we visit it together – not to buy anything but just to check what they’re offering. There is a cold room in the shop – a walk-in floral refrigerator for pre-made floral arrangements and buckets of different flowers. No. 42 The Flower Shop smells exactly like that room: greenery with mixed floral bouquet, light and pleasant (Notes from Fragrantica: green leaves, mandarin orange, peony, lily of the valley, freesia, jasmine, narcissus, iris, white musk, moss and patchouli). I plan to put the bottle in the fridge and use on hot summer days. The name of this perfume was inspired by the flower shop, in which Ms. Malone worked as a girl. Many years later she opened her boutique on the same street where that flower shop used to be.

Jo Loves No. 42 The Flower Shop

There was a close second contender – Mango Thai Lime. But since I’ve never tried it before on skin, the store was closing, and we were getting late for dinner, I decided to go for the safer choice, but tried to get a sample of this one – to test later and see if I would want to get a bottle. Would you care to guess what I was offered?

Rusty and Jo Loves The Flower Shop

And if you were curious, dinner at the restaurant, which happened to be just one short block away from the Jo Loves shop, was just alright: the food was edible but much simpler than 7 years ago (and as I happen to still have a menu from that first time, I was able to confirm that my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me). But those memories brought me back to that street, that boutique and to that perfume. And the picture below is what I saw first today when I went to the Jo Loves site to look-up something for this post. A magical coincidence indeed.

Jo Loves 42 The Flower Shop

The story of the next perfume will be not as poetic and a little shorter.

In Barcelona, predictably, I didn’t have any “prospects” until the last day. When I got to La Basilica Galeria (the one with 1,000+ perfume), I told myself that if anywhere, I should be able to find there something to fit the criteria I imposed on this perfume hunt. Luckily for me, local perfumes were thoughtfully marked as such, so while methodically sniffing through all the shelves, I paid additional attention to those with “Made in Spain” labels.

Rusty and Ramon Molvizar Sun Sol

No, I didn’t bring back with me a toy for Rusty instead of perfume though I came close to that. Perfumes that I liked the most were in the case before the last. Before that day I have never heard of this brand – Ramon Molvizar, though the first fragrance in the Fragrantica’s database is dated as 1999. Probably, it was for the best because had I read the brand’s claims of “exquisite luxury” and “taking the perfumer’s art to its extreme where it becomes a masterpiece,” I would have felt much more skeptical. But since I was blissfully ignorant, I approached these perfumes practically with an open mind: I almost didn’t hold against them those strange shiny fragments inside the bottles.

Ramon Molvizar Sol Sun

After trying several of Molvizar’s perfumes on paper, I pared down my choices to two. Those went on my wrists, and we went to sleep eat on it. I tried to be discreet in the café, but since I spent equal time sniffing and chewing, I suspect I didn’t fully succeed. But I made up my mind.

Rusty and Ramon Molvizar Sol Sun

Sol Sun on my skin opens with a cheerful citrus – perfect for that summer day in Barcelona. In the development I recognize lotus (not as a real flower but as a note I know from other perfumes) and some hints of wood. Those of you who have better nose would probably be able to recognize other notes from the list: lemon, ginger, bergamot, rose, orchid, jasmine, musk, wood and sugar cane. It is not one of those perfumes that everybody needs to experience: there’s nothing groundbreaking, unique or even quirky about Sol Sun. But I like this bright and sweet floral perfume with warm amber-y drydown – despite of the slightly tacky, in my opinion, 23-karat gold flakes (c’mon, for $8 you can get Beverly Hills Gold with 24 (!) kt gold flakes). And, as an additional bonus, Sol Sun comes in a beautiful wooden box, also made in Spain (which impressed my vSO in our made-in-China century). That packaging will allow me to keep this perfume on my dresser, which is valuable given the aforementioned collection proliferation. Nothing else would fit into it though besides the bottle – Rusty has checked.

Rusty and Ramon Molvizar Sol Sun

As to the last leg of the trip: I drew a blank. By that time I tried and liked so many great perfumes that it didn’t feel right to buy anything less interesting than those perfumes from the “Perfumes I didn’t buy” sections of my travel posts only because it was local. But when I finish my La Tulipe decant, I’ll buy a bottle in memory of how wonderful this perfume was on a cold summer day in Stockholm.


Images: all but the one from the Jo Loves site, my own