Big Island Vacation, Episode I: Perfumes

Until recently I thought that Maui was my favorite island, so over the last many years that was our most frequent vacation destination. But this year we decided we wanted a change and, after a short hesitation, booked our trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. Just in case you were wondering, we hesitated because of the recent volcano eruption but then decided it would be fine. Luckily for us, many others were less adventurous, so … OK, I won’t say that we had the whole island to ourselves but it was much less crowded than it could have been.

Hawaii Big Island

We managed to pack a lot into six days we spent there, and I plan to cover some of the highlights in the next several posts. But I want to start with the most appropriate topic for this blog: perfumes.

Over years of going to Hawaii I collected a wardrobe of perfumes that I always bring with me.

The only full bottle of perfume that has ever traveled with me anywhere is Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder. I bring it with me to every tropical vacation (Big Island, Kauai and Maui). This time though I used it less often than I normally do because we shared the condo with our friends, and I couldn’t do my usual ritual of walking to the fridge (where I keep Bronze Goddess when in Hawaii), spraying it all over my body and putting on my clothes after that. But it still got several generous applications during the trip and enjoyed it every time.

Hawaii Big Island Perfumes

My “vacation in a bottle” perfume – Ginger Ciao by Yosh – was as great on actual vacation as I remembered. Tiare by Ormonde Jayne and I have rekindled our friendship after a recent cooling-off, and both Tiare and its sister Frangipani felt wonderfully appropriate for the place.

Unexpectedly, I came to the realization that I should stop bringing to Hawaii Bombay Bling! by Neela Vermeire Creations. For years I thought it was a very good fit and kept being slightly disappointed: it didn’t smell as great as I remembered and usually would disappear too quickly from my skin. This trip we stayed in for dinner more often than went out, so I got to wear Bombay Bling! in a well air-conditioned room. Under these circumstances, with little heat or humidity involved, this perfume bloomed wonderfully, and I could still smell it in my hair throughout the night. So, while I still love it, no more Hawaii vacations for Bombay Bling!

Neela Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling!

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Traversee du Bosphore and Byredo’s Pulp both are perfumes that I wear only in hot and humid weather, and these both were predictably good though I would prefer to spray them more liberally, which I couldn’t do this time: since the Island is called “Big” not for nothing, and it takes a couple of hours one way to get almost anywhere besides the close-by beach, we often voted for going somewhere in one car. And while it allowed us to spend more time in each other’s company, I had to be mindful of having four people in closed quarters for hours – so I was very discreet with my perfume application.

One more perfume that has proved absolutely not suited for the tropical weather was Selva Do Brazil by Parfums Berdoues. I brought my ScentBird decant of it with me thinking it would be just perfect there. It smelled very nice indeed… all 15 minutes that I could smell it either on me or on my vSO. I guess, Selva Do Brazi is one of those perfumes that are great to convey the idea of tropics rather than to be used there. Though, with hindsight, maybe it wasn’t that bad considering long car rides… Nah, probably still no.

I also did some testing of new for me perfumes, but I’ll probably leave it for the next post.

Hawaii Big Island Sunset

Do you have any perfumes that you always use for something particular – an event, place or something along these lines?

Images: my own

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Second Sunday Samples: Berdoues Collection Grands Crus

Until recently I was familiar with Parfums Berdoues only from a couple of samples graciously sent to me by hajusuuri and Lucas’s (The Chemist in the Bottle) review. I haven’t seen this brand in any of the stores around or come across it during my recent European trip.

I didn’t know about their history, and, to tell you the truth, I don’t believe all that “since 1902 family owned” PR BS. I mean, I have no doubts that the brand was something owned by the family since whatever year it says but I doubt it was any perfume-related successful business before the current parent company decided they needed a “legitimate” niche brand under their wing. Not that it means anything to me one way or the other. It’s just a little curious how many brands with a century history started appearing in the recent years once the perfume industry started booming.

Anyway, this brand could have stayed just a record in my database if it weren’t for chocolatemarzipan, who mentioned how much she loved perfumes from Berdoues… just several dozen of times on NST, my blog and other places. So when I saw that Sephora online had that extremely appealing Discovery Set, I gave in.

Berdoues Perfumes Sampler

(see my new Sea Star Ratings explanation here)

Assam of India

The first time I tried it I immediately thought of one of my favorites – Jo Malone Assam & Grapefruit, which isn’t too surprising looking at the list of notes (here and going forward I dropped geographical descriptors): lemon, tea and sandalwood (Assam of India) vs. grapefruit, rhubarb, violet, Assam, cardamom, rose, almond, musk and patchouli (Assam & Grapefruit).

I tested them in parallel several times, and can confirm that they do smell similar, especially in the opening. Many years ago when I got Assam & Grapefruit as a gift, I wasn’t super-thrilled with it. Since then I changed my mind, and enjoy wearing it from time to time. So while I have it, I won’t need Assam of India. But since Jo Malone’s perfume was a limited edition, once my bottle is finished (or spoils), I won’t grieve much since Berdoues offers a perfect replacement – and Assam of India is priced much more reasonably.

Three and Half Sea Stars
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Somei Yoshino

I didn’t care for this perfume at all: it smells either nice but too simple or overly sweet and even unpleasant. Somei Yoshino might work better for you, so do not take my word – try it if you get a chance.

Official notes: shiso, patchouli and jasmine

One and Half Sea Stars
=====

Arz El-Rab

As it happens often, smelling perfume with a prominent note one immediately thinks of another perfume known for the same note. So while trying Arz El-Rab, I started drawing parallels between it and Diptyque Tam Dao. But since I own the latter, the next time I tested Arz El-Rab, I ran a wrist-by-wrist testing. And how it usually happens, being tested together, perfumes reveal both similarities and individuality. Arz El-Rab has an extra citrus in the opening (though it’s not mentioned in the short list of notes), has less oily cedar in the development and is sweeter in the drydown. I cannot smell iris, so those notes are clearly just for the general idea about perfume. It’s not bad at all – if you like cedar wood-centered perfumes.

Official notes: cedar, iris and ginger.

Three and Half Sea Stars
=====

Oud Al Sahraa

Since I rarely like agarwood perfumes, I tried Oud Al Sahraa mostly because I wanted to go through the complete set. I was pleasantly surprised: I liked it. It means that, most likely, Oud Al Sahraa’s agarwood isn’t real, which is a plus in my book. I do not smell anything citrus-y in this perfume though an Italian mandarin is declared as one of three revealed notes, and I think that I can smell what they call myrrh. I could wear Oud Al Sahraa myself and wouldn’t mind smelling it on my vSO, but I’m not sure it interests me enough to actually pursue it.

Three Sea Stars
=====

Rusty and Berdoues Sampler

Scorza di Sicilia

It smells not bad, though completely not what I expected looking at the box: it is very flowery when I thought it would be all citrus-y. It is sweeter than I wanted it to be and reminds me a little of air freshener. I retested Scorza di Sicilia three times, and I’m positive that I wouldn’t want to wear it beyond this testing.

Official notes: citron, cedar and vetiver.

One and Half Sea Stars
=====

Selva Do Brazil

First of all, I like the bottle (on the picture) and the box, in which my sample came: I think I have a shirt with a similar print. Selva Do Brazil starts green, even grassy with a hint of citrus. It settles down to a pleasant slightly woody skin scent. It is not “interesting,” “challenging” or any other epithet to similar effect one might use describing perfume. But if it works for you in its simplicity, you’ll unexplainably like it. Or it will seem too boring – so no blind buys, please.

You have to read this short but sweet review of Selva Do Brazil at Perfume Shrine!

Official notes: petit grain, gaiac wood and tonka bean.

Four Sea Stars
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Vanira Moorea

I can’t help it: Vanira Moorea reminds me of a tooth paste from my childhood so I cannot think of it as of a perfume. Our tooth pastes weren’t that great, I’m sure Vanira Moorea has much nicer ingredients but… In drydown it becomes just a vanilla perfume – not too great but not too bad either.

Official notes: orange, petit grain and vanilla.

Two Sea Stars
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Russkaya Kozha

Since a lot of leather perfumes are not my cup of tea, I didn’t expect much from this one but, I think, the sheer style of the Collection Grands Crus helped: despite its name, Russkaya Kozha (Russian Leather) doesn’t have that concentrated birch tar scent that is used to represent leather in many perfumes but it still evokes leather. Later in development it becomes sweeter (but not too much). It stays on my skin for hours – sheer, slightly smoky and with a hint of sweetness. Russkaya Kozha is one of those perfumes that are “office-safe” in a good way: it doesn’t project much to be offensive for others while it is not completely boring for the wearer.

I liked Russkaya Kozha very much, and I expect it to join my collection soon.

Official notes: juniper, cardamom and benzoin.

Four and Half Sea Stars
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In general, I liked this collection and think it’s a good addition to the perfume world. I can’t say one way or the other based on what I smell, but I do not believe that they are using natural ingredients – because of the price of perfumes and them insisting on listing just three notes while naming those with the location markers (e.g., oud wood from Malaysia). Does it matter to me? Not at that price. I think that this collection is a nice alternative to overpriced Jo Malone and Atelier Cologne perfumes – even though I like both brands. What Berdoues should do, in my opinion, is to produce smaller bottles (15-30 ml) keeping the same bottle and box design: I would gladly pay $35-$40 for a 30 ml bottle of at least two more perfumes in this collection while it’s hard for me to justify adding another 200 ml of perfumes to my wardrobe.

Rusty and Berdoues Sampler

Images: my own