Second Sunday Sample: Tom Ford Soleil Brulant

As I’ve said many times before, I’m a Tom Ford fan. So, whenever the brand releases new perfume, I jump. And this weekend I drove to the nearby shopping mall to try the newest release from the brand – Soleil Brûlant. I’m glad that a friendly SA was there, so I managed to get a handmade sample (normally these days you cannot get any, because, “you know, we’re in pandemic,” and it’s not like take-out or even eat-in food that you put in your mouth, it’s much more dangerous if an SA would make you a sample of perfume that contains more alcohol than required by CDC for hand sanitizers).

New Soleil Brûlant releases sun-kissed florals warmed by amber – evoking the opulent, golden sun beaming over private islands. Your own private summer.

That was a quote from the brand’s advertising video. And, in my opinion, it sets up this perfume to fail. I do not mean globally or related to sales, but rather from the fan-base prospective (and since it doesn’t look like Tom Ford’s PR works with “Influencers,” it might backfire). What you smell is not what you’d expect to smell based on that description.

You know the type of reviews where the reviewers describe minute-by-minute how perfume smells on their skin? I never really understood that approach… until I smelled Soleil Brulant. Even for my nose, which isn’t the most accurate or educated, a lot is happening in this perfume within minutes.

Notes deciphered from the brand’s site: mandarin, bergamot, pink pepper, orange blossom, black honey, amber, resins, wood, vetiver, leather and incense.

Tom Ford Soleil Brulant

From the nozzle I smell mandarin, which I like very much and anticipate smelling on my skin, so when upon spraying I cannot detect it at all, I feel slightly disappointed. What I smell instead is some roasted nutty or maybe coffee note followed by slightly mentholated sweetness. It is replaced by scorched woodsy smell (maybe burning incense?). And resin. Then about 30 minutes into the development I can finally smell some citrus! Very briefly. Then wood returns. A couple of hours later, I can smell something that my nose qualifies as “tobacco,” but I know that sometimes that is how what is called “leather” smells to me. Since honey rarely works on my skin, and I do not like orange blossom, those are notes that I usually recognize. But not in Soleil Brulant. I don’t question their existence in this perfume, and I believe that some sweetness that I’m experiencing comes from it. But both those notes are not as prominent to me as I smell them in other perfumes, both when they work for me or don’t.

I don’t know in which Universe this would be considered summer perfume. OK, it is summer perfume in terms that its name describes summer (everywhere I see it translated as “Burning Sun,” in my head I call it “Scorching Sun”), but what I smell I wouldn’t either associate with that season or wear during it. But I will try to do it at least one – just out of curiosity.

As a conclusion, I do not think Soleil Brulant is bad perfume. I find it original and not boring. But I’m not in love with it, and I don’t think I would have been buying it even at the lower Private Blend’s price level, but definitely not as their premium tier price of $350 for 50 ml. I still think it will sell well, not in the least thanks to that golden bottle (I don’t like it, but I read many praises for it). I also wanted to note that if we all keep buying these perfumes and cosmetics, someone at Estee Lauder will be able to afford not just a private summer on a private island, but with a little effort maybe even a private sun. I, for one, has recently “contributed to the cause” by getting their new Sunlust Lip lip gloss from the same collection as this perfume. I do not need it. But in my mind it somehow was a precursor to my Hawaiian vacation that I really want to happen. Well, I’ve got the lip gloss – so, I’m half-way there, right?

Tom Ford Sunlust Lip glossImages: my own

In The Search For The Perfect Mandarin

How often do you see print ads for a fruit? I’m talking not about store fliers, delivery service leaflets or motivational magazine collages about healthy eating, but actual ads that promote fruits. Not too often if you ask me. So, when I saw the ad in The New Yorker magazine, I registered it as something unusual.

Sumo Citrus

I’ve been seeing so-called Sumo Citruses/Mandarins for at least a couple of years, but it wasn’t until my vSO told me its story that I decided to try it (before seeing that ad). If you’re up to reading, here’s an article in the Los Angeles Times from a decade ago that gives a lot of details. But in short: it’s a Japanese hybrid citrus fruit known as Dekopon. Due to the high susceptibility to “exotic pests and diseases,” this fruit is prohibited from being imported into the US. It took a private grower many years to get trees grafted with legally imported branches cleaned off diseases, in quarantine, before those could be planted, legally but in secrecy, on 430 acres in California. So, now these are legally produced locally Dekopon fruit given in the US name Sumo (I really hope Japanese are secure enough not to claim “cultural appropriation”).

I like Sumo Citruses, but since they are two-three times more expensive than regular mandarins, I won’t eat them casually but will be buying them several times during the season (January – April).

What makes me even more fond of Sumo mandarin is that this hybrid is a “grand-child” of my most favorite mandarin – Satsuma. And my quest for the perfect mandarin perfume is based on it since I know it the best.

Of course, when the perfume pyramid mentions “mandarin,” it doesn’t usually clarify its variety or origin. So, I went just by the note in my database and selected a bunch of perfumes that I either remembered had that note as a prominent one or I thought they might.

* * *

I’ll start with samples.

Mandarin Perfumes Samples

From time to time, Antica Farmacista decides to step up from their usual ambiance scents ampluá and produce “Fragrance for Home & Body” or even “Le Parfum” version of their scents. These appear for a short period and then disappear, never to be seen again. I’m not sure whether they are different from Antica Farmacista’s Room Sprays. But if it says “body,” I feel better about spraying them on the skin. Vanilla Bourbon & Mandarin was one of such scents. I got it as a part of the sample set offer a couple of years ago, and I’m not sure if I tested it before, but now it seemed like a good occasion to finally get to it. Notes (according to the brand’s site): Crisp Satsuma Mandarin, Sweet Clementine, Orange Peel, Heliotrope, Bright Verbena, Spicy Bourbon, Warm Amber, Bourbon Vanilla, Labdanum Balsam. It’s a nice ambiance scent with juicy citrus in the opening and not overly sweet but boozy vanilla. I think it would be perfect in a diffuser, but there is no good reason to wear Vanilla Bourbon & Mandarin as perfume.

* * *

I’m not sure whether Atelier Cologne still produces Mandarine Glaciale: it’s “out of stock” everywhere I checked. But even if it has been discontinued, I won’t be upset since I’ve never warmed up to their Collection Azur, as a part of which Mandarine Glaciale was released. I don’t know if subconsciously I thought less of the collection because it appeared at Sephora first, or if it actually was less interesting than Atelier Cologne’s earlier lines. But whatever it was, I’m done with the sample. It is not mandarin I am looking for.

* * *

Pont Des Arts A ce soir was a “false positive” in my list: the promised “green mangarin” note was completely indiscernible. I’m mentioning it here only because it got into the “group photo” before I decided it wasn’t a part of this exercise.

* * *

BDK Parfums Citrus Riviera has an impressive list of notes (from the brand’s site): Essence of Moroccan Neroli, Essence of Italian Mandarin, Essence of Italian Lemon, Fig Accord, Moroccan Orange Blossom Absolute, Jasmine, Strawberry Neo Jungle Essence, Eucalyptus Essence, Everlasting Flower Absolute, White Musk, Patchouli from Indonesia, Vetiver from Haiti and Tonka Bean Absolute. For my nose, it opens with a nice citrus accord – bright, juicy and happy. I don’t get any fig, which surprises me since usually it’s a note I easily recognize. Citrus Riviera settles down to a drier composition with recognizable vetiver, but it’s not too insistent, like, for example, it feels for me in Hermes’s Vetiver Tonka. All the announced florals are probably there but blended without any prominent outliers. I’m a little bit annoyed by the promise of the strawberry note: as much as I do not trust my nose, strawberry is one of the most ubiquitous and recognizable aromas, so why to even mention it if it’s not really noticeable? It’s not like they put in some natural and extremely rare/expensive strawberry enfleurage or strawberry butter and now want us to know that, right? All-in-all, I like this perfume but… I’ll explain it while talking about the next sample.

* * *

If it weren’t for the current situation, for this post I should have got a sample of Tom Ford’s Mandarino di Amalfi. But I don’t know when I get to the store next time, so I decided to go with Neroli Portofino, a sample of which I had at home: after all, it has a mandarin note listed. I like this perfume, same as many other Private Blend variations in “blue bottles.” But I always felt like all these aromatic, aquatic, etc. perfumes, while quite nice and not simple or linear, in my book were “lesser” perfumes than, let’s say, chypres, orientals or even florals. So, leaving aside the absolute price of each perfume (e.g., Citrus Riviera is much cheaper than Tom Ford’s offerings), I could never justify paying any luxury brand’s “standard” price for their citrus perfume. I know, it’s not rational, but this is how I feel.

* * *

For someone who proclaims herself not a citrus perfumes fan, I discovered that I had quite a few perfumes featuring mandarin in my collection.

Mandarin Perfums

I had a small bottle of Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien for the last 10 years, and I’m not done with it yet. I don’t think it has enough mandarin to be a contender in my search – it’s more lemony and rather astringent than sweet. But today when I smell it, I like it much more than I did back then. I blame the industry! Compared to hundreds of releases of similar genre perfumes in that period, this 40-years old creation seems like a masterpiece.

* * *

Jul et Mad Aqua Sextius was a wrong choice for this post since official notes on the brand’s site do not even claim mandarin, but that note got into this perfume description in my database from Fragrantica – and that’s how it ended up here. If you haven’t tried this perfume and are curious, read Lucas’s review. From me, I want to add that I find it a little bit on the masculine side (but not overly) and that I think it wears much better in warmer weather. And if you like the scent, the combination of its longevity with the available bottle formats (7 ml, 20 ml and 50 ml) makes the price almost tolerable.

* * *

Hermès Eau de Mandarine Ambrée is one of my most favorite Hermes perfumes. And it is a great mandarin. Recently I wore it “hajusuuri-style” – 8 sprays. It produces a pleasant burst of mandarin in the opening, and in a couple of hours, it’s just a sheer amber with a hint of the initial fruit. I do not mind: the cute bottle that I have can easily fit into the smallest purse for the re-application (in case I ever again need to go anywhere for longer than a couple of hours, that is).

Rusty and Hermes Mandarine Ambree

Prada Infusion Mandarine is probably my perfect mandarin perfume. It combines wonderfully juicy and very realistic mandarin with some recognizable aspects of the “Infusion” line, which makes it more interesting in the drydown than many other citrus-centric perfumes. I plan to finish this small (8 ml) bottle in the next couple of months and will probably buy a FB – luckily, it can be found for a very reasonable price online.

* * *

I previously published a post about Atelier Cologne Clementine California (When Life Gives You Clementines, Enjoy Them), but I want to mention it here again since, as I admitted then, I have no idea what fruit I smell – it can be either a mandarin, a clementine or both. But I enjoy it every time I wear it, and it’s one of those perfumes that I would consider repurchasing if I ever go through the bottle that I have. It is extremely juicy, bright and uplifting.

Mandarin Samples and Perfums

Have you tried Sumo citrus? Do you like mandarins? Do you have a favorite mandarin perfume?

 

Images: my own

A Rose By Any Other Name?..

Historically, I like Tom Ford. The brand, not Tom Ford as a person. I mean, I don’t know much about the man to have any feelings about him, and I prefer it this way. Though over the years seeing some of the provocative ads for his perfumes here and there, I thought that those were rather disparaging and misogynistic. But since usually I do not see them (I’m not even sure where exactly those were published in the US other than somewhere on the Internet), I was telling myself that those weren’t the worst images anyone (who would want to) might find on the Internet and didn’t allow it to affect my attitude towards Tom Ford’s perfumes.

And then he (a person, since all that rotated about his personality, not just the brand) came out with that juvenile stunt of a perfume name…

In my native culture, the use of explicit language had been reserved for “uncultured” and “uneducated” social strata. So, it was unacceptable and not expected from people of “our circle.” And seeing it in writing or hearing on TV was completely out of the reality realm.

Times changed, and these days it’s much less strict even in the country that I left decades ago. And it has been different from the beginning of my life in the U.S. with the “TV-MA” rating being an Indulgence to use all those taboo words on cable TV shows. But somehow there still was some resemblance of propriety: words frowned upon by the FCC, clothes (or the absence thereof) not expected during the Super Bowl, etc.

I know that the language is fluid, and norms change over time. But I didn’t see a good reason for this particular change. My main objection to that name was trivializing misbehavior. And I was right: if three years ago, when perfume in question just was released, department stores would “modestly” cover the first word by rubber bands over the bottle and shorten the name online to just “Fabulous,” now, three years later, nobody gives a second thought to flaunting said bottle in all its unadulterated glory in front of family shoppers and other unsuspecting audiences.

I tried that perfume once, thought it was quite nice but decided that I didn’t want to support that type of behavior. And I voted against writing anything, even negative, about it – not to propagate even bad publicity for that perfume (yeah, I know, my blog is such a significant blip on the scale of Tom Ford/Estee Lauder’s PR machine…).

The next one had a still juvenile and cringe-worthy but less offensive, in my opinion, name. I also liked it but decided still not to buy any, even a decant.

And then came THE ONE. Not being a native English speaker, in the case of Rose Prick, which had absolutely no connotations for me, good or bad, until I read some explanations. I don’t even know how common that slang is compared to the literal meaning of the phrase or what is its degree of vulgarity. And while this name didn’t offend or bother me, I just habitually expected to dismiss it after sniffing at a store. But it smelled nice… so, I asked for a sample.

What I especially like about Rose Prick is that for me, while being nice in the opening, it smells wonderful in drydown. And probably from the first time I realized how much I liked the drydown, I wanted to get this perfume. But I disliked the 50 ml pink bottle, didn’t need 50 ml of either this or any other perfume, and wanted to get a travel bottle… that wasn’t available anywhere at the time.

In the Saturday Question for Black Friday, I shared with my readers my conundrum, and several people advised me to wait. Which I did. So, a travel spray of Rose Prick that appeared at the end of January on the Sephora site became my first fragrance purchase of the year.

Tom Ford Rose Prick

It is a very likable perfume, and I’m sure it is doing well in sales. Should you try it if you haven’t yet? If you can do it without paying – definitely: as far as sampling goes, 9 out of 10 perfumes we regularly try are worse than this one. Will you want to buy it? Most likely, no: it’s too expensive for what if offers, and there are other great rose perfumes that cost less while not making you pause before answering a co-worker’s question: “What are you wearing today?” (though, with the current state of getting back to any kind of normal, that aspect might not be an issue for many of us for a while).

 

Image: my own

Entertaining Statistics: 2020 Year Round-up

We all said probably everything that could be said about the year we just saw out of the door. So, I’ll go straight to the perfume-related numbers.

Since I haven’t done a statistics post in a long while, I’ll remind the basic terms I use.

My Definitions

I wear perfumes and test perfumes. Both refer to applying perfume to my skin and staying with the scent for a while, observing its development over hours of its life. But I realize that different people understand different things under these terms. So, I prepared a short infographic that would explain what I mean when I say “wear” or “test.”

Perfumes Wear vs. Test Infograph

One more term that requires definition is Occasion. The continuation from the time I apply perfume (including continuous re-application) until it completely disappears is counted as one occasion.

Most days I wear one perfume and test two. But, theoretically, for one day I could record two occasions of wearing perfumes or up to eight occasions of testing.

So, let’s see my 2020 in numbers (in parentheses is a comparison to 2019).

Perfumes I Wore

In 2020, I wore more different perfumes (210 vs 190) from more brands (96 vs. 91) on more occasions (367 vs 351). I still didn’t reach a 2018 level when I wore perfumes on 372 occasions, but still, on average

I wore one perfume every single day of the year!

Last year I realized that the most popular brands for each year keep repeating with minor variations of the brands’ positions on the chart and 1-2 different brands temporarily replacing one another. I’m showing my standard Top 10 Brands chart but mostly to keep the tradition. The only surprise there was Byredo: it’s the first time ever the brand made it into the Top 10. It happened because I paired Ouai Super Dry Shampoo x Byredo Mojave Ghost with the same perfume, which I wore from the sample trying to figure out if I wanted to get a bottle. I haven’t decided yet.

My Stats Year 2020: Top 10 Brands

As always, with the number of perfumes I wore, I didn’t repeat the same perfume too often (my most worn perfume was worn on 9 occasions only – less than once per month). And the trend I observed for the last several years continues: the top 2 most frequently worn perfumes were 2 of my all-time favorites, Lancôme Climat (9) and Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (8). And the third place went to the new addition to my collection – Masque Milano Love Kills (6). In two previous years that place was taken by Houbigant Quelques Fleurs Royal Collection Privee (2019) and Chanel Bois des Iles (2018).

 

 

Perfumes I Tested

Staying at home, I tested more perfumes than in a year before – 327 perfumes (vs. 272 in 2019) but from slightly fewer brands – 126 brands (vs. 128). I still haven’t got to the numbers from 2018 (380 perfumes from 139 brands). Since access to new perfumes was even more limited than usual, a big chunk of my testing was done on perfumes I tested previously but decided to revisit to get one final impression before passing them on someone else, finishing them (“thunking”) or binning them. Still,

In 2020, I tested 103 perfumes new to me

Undina’s Top 10 Perfumes in 2020

In 2020 I managed to improve the number of new releases that I tested (thank you to all my friends who shared some of these): I tested 22 perfumes released in 2020 (vs. 16 in 2019). And, unlike a year ago, I even managed to count 10 that I liked, which allows me to do this “top 10” list. And what was even more surprising, I didn’t dislike a single 2020 release that I tested. So, my subjective top 10 releases of 2020 (in the order of my preferences):

Puredistance Rubikona

DSH Perfumes L’Or{ris}

Tom Ford Rose Prick

Ormonde Jayne Tanger

Jo Malone Yuja

Parfums MDCI L’Aimee

Ormonde Jayne Byzance

Hiram Green Vivacious

Jo Malone Vetiver & Golden Vanilla

Ormonde Jayne Damask

In green, are perfumes I already have in my collection; in blue, are those that I consider buying. But after more testing of the rest, I might decide to get one of Ormonde Jayne’s perfumes as well.

Pictures of Rusty

Finally, an important number – a count of pictures of Rusty that I posted in 2020: 61, the highest number for the last 3 years (and this is not counting Instagram pictures that appear on the sidebar or the bottom of the blog!).

Rusty and Yellow Submarine

How was your perfume year? Do you have any numbers to share?

 

Images: My own; infograph created using Venngage

Portia’s Gucci Timeline

Hey ULG Crew, What the hell is a Gucci timeline? I have long loved the word Gucci. Next year, 2021, Gucci is 100 years old! As I was growing up in the 1970/80s it was a fashion leader and the style magazines were full of it. Though the brand had survived to the 1980s it didn’t hold the same cachet and while I studied fashion it was held up as a “what NOT to do with your company.” They released Gucci No 3 and it never registered with me. Around 1988, my mate was working as a squirt bitch in town, putting himself through uni (University was still free in Australia at the time but he kept himself). While buying a bottle of CHANEL Antaeus from him he slipped a full tester bottle of Gucci No 3 in as a GWP! Well, my mind was officially blown. This was my first inkling that scent is totally unisex, even though I’d been nicking Mum’s Shalimar, No 5 and Samsara while living at home this felt different. A step towards something. My partner at the time and I drained that bottle. It also put Gucci back on my radar.

Through the late 1980s and early 1990s Gucci became a laughing stock. They lost their seat at the table and went into rapid decline. It seemed like they were chasing fashion, not creating it.

In the 1990s Tom Ford jumped into their womens fashion, then fashion director, then in 1994 he took over as Creative Director of Gucci. By 1994 we were already taking notice of the changes there. They still made fabulous shoes. My pair of 1995, bought in Rome, loafers are still going strong two half sole replacements later. They are comfortable, sturdy, beautiful and still hold pride of place on my shoe wall. I wore them non-stop for 15 years, they were my walking, dancing, business, travelling shoes of choice. Nothing said change like the release of Gucci Envy in 1997 and then in 1998 Gucci Envy Men. This was, and still is, one of the best ever mens fragrances. We all went absolutely apeshit for it. The clubs, malls, streets and restaurants were a coruscating mass of gorgeous people wearing this spicy woody oriental. WOW! Suddenly Kouros, Jazz, Le Male and Armani Pour Homme were so old fashioned and dated. You’ll notice I have a BNIC 100ml in the photo. I went through 100ml really quickly, then during another 50ml it got DCd. I panic bought this 100ml and haven’t had the heart to open it. I have also gone through another couple of bought from FB Sale Docs 50mls.

There were some other fine releases during this time. Who can forget the bottle and BWFness of Gucci Rush from 1999. What a perfume, so many happy memories. I also owned a bottle of Gucci Pour Homme, from 2003 with the brown juice, but it rarely got worn. I moved it on to someone who was really sad that they’d DCd it. He was grateful.

In 2007 Gucci by Gucci was released and I have loved its honeyed white floral fruitchouli wafts ever since. I went through a bottle but its replacement never got worn. In 2008 Gucci by Gucci Homme came out and flopped. I buy it for my business friends. It’s tobacco, pine and violet is unusual enough to be interesting but not overpowering or show pony-ish. It can be had for a song at the discounters nowadays and suits everyone I’ve given it to.

I have a bottle of 2010 Gucci Guilty. It was given to me by a friend who thought she was going to love it but it gave her headaches. Jasmine and lilacs set in a fruitchouli/vanillic amber diva of a fragrance. It’s a solid perfume, nothing earth shattering but pleasant and lasts all day into the night. Every time I wear it though people notice my fragrance and go out of their way to tell me how good I smell. Really good pick me up for blue days.

Gucci has been slowly diminishing again. It’s become a deplorable fashion circus and for years it released safe mainstream platitudes instead of perfume. I had given them up as an expensive, poorly timed joke and then in 2017 they release Gucci Guilty Absolute! Like, WTAF! Where did this cutting edge, niche like, behemoth of a fragrance come from. WOW! The 2018 Gucci Guilty Absolute pour Femme version is awesome too, grab some, it will blow your mind. Also in 2017, can we please have a chat about Gucci Bloom. SO GOOD! The bottle, the scent, even the flankers are clever and fun. Tuberose in myriad forms is always going to be a winner for me. Did someone at Gucci remember how to creative direct a perfume? YAY!

Now they’ve released their modern, aqueous, expensive line of cash grab elitist crap and I’m yawning. They’re not all awful but after suddenly getting back into the scent game so splendidly I was expecting a lot more. Loads of people love them, have at it I say.

You will also notice in my photo there is an Eau de Gucci Concentree from the early 1980s. I bought this not long ago from eBay. It’s an aldehydic floral leaning towards green bulbs, quite light compared to other offerings of its day but rich and tapestried like very little of today. So beautiful. WAY too precious to wear very much but I love it.

So that’s my love affair with Gucci in a rambling, ranty nutshell.
Which ones have you loved or loathed?
Portia xx

 

 

 

On Cloud Nine

It’s my blog’s ninth anniversary. As always, let’s do some stories and some perfumes (and probably some cat’s pictures).

* * *

I’m not a big drinker. My conundrum is: while I love the “taste” component of drinking, I do not enjoy being inebriated. Probably, it’s a control issue. But whatever the reason be, the fact is that I like drinking but hate feeling drunk. Despite all the cultural stereotypes, I do not ever drink vodka. Unless it’s a special occasion or a wine tasting trip, my usual drinking is limited to a glass of wine or a cocktail on the weekends.

Last year was very stressful at work (mostly due to the deadlines, not people-related, which is better, as far as work stresses go), so I found myself having a little wine (less than a glass) late in the evening 3-4 times a week. In this case, what I usually don’t like about alcohol would rather help me: I’d relax and fall asleep easier. But I knew that I didn’t really need those extra glass or two per week and could easily give them up.

That was before I got sick in December and had to take antibiotics that categorically couldn’t be combined with any alcohol (as in not just being less effective but being poisonous). So, I had to stop drinking. Period. I had a break between two courses around Christmas, so I had some wine for that celebration, but on the New Year Eve all I had was a sip of champagne at 12. That was my soberest New Year celebration in several decades! And it was hard: I wanted my glass of wine. Or two.

 

Barrels with wine

 

So, it’s fair to say that drinking was on my mind as I was thinking about the blog’s anniversary.

There are many beverages represented in perfumery, and I might do another post to cover some of them in future, but today I want to talk about what I missed the most in the last month – wine.

Sparkling wine/champagne/prosecco is usually associated with special events or leisure time. My favorite moment with this drink is the first couple of sips. So, when it’s just two of us, it feels almost wrong to open an expensive bottle: I rarely enjoy drinking more than a glass of champagne, and it doesn’t keep well. But when it comes to perfumes featuring this note, none of the two I want to mention will break the bank.

Antica Farmacista is a brand that is known for their ambient products – candles, diffusers and room sprays. From time to time they produce “Home and body” sprays that, as it’s clear from the name, can be used for either (last year I finally found an almost perfect Daphne scent done by the brand). Prosecco was their last year’s limited-edition scent. It’s light and sparkling, and it fits the name perfectly. While I still plan to finish the sample I’ve got, I think that as a diffuser or a candle scent or even as body products it should be even better. And they all are still available, so give it a sniff if you come across it.

Champagne de Bois from Sonoma Scent Studio was getting so much love when I was just starting the descend into the rabbit hole of niche perfumery. I stopped hearing (reading) much about it long before Laurie Erikson decided to move away from the business. And it’s a pity because it is a very good perfume, and I think that having a chance to try it, many more people would enjoy wearing it. My biggest complaint with many of SSS’s perfumes was… their concentration. In my opinion, the way they were created, they should have been used as extraits of the past – dabbed, not sprayed. And for spraying there should have been a much less concentrated version. Recently I was diluting some of the SSS’s perfumes with perfumer alcohol and using them like that. Champagne de Bois, in my opinion, is one of such perfumes. But otherwise, if dabbed or sprayed after being diluted, it is gorgeous. In my head I classified Champagne de Bois as a “winter champagne”: it’s sparkling and festive but not refreshing. I wonder if its formula stays the same under new ownership (I plan to check it out soon).

 

Sonoma Scent Studio Champagne de Bois

 

If you prefer something sweeter, may I interest you in Tokay wine?

Tom Ford Champaca Absolute is one of my favorite perfumes for the last 8 years. I’m not sure how Fragrantica comes up with their notes lists (and usually I do not question them), but Tokay (Tokajii) wine note isn’t in their pyramid, even though it was mentioned in the perfume’s description from the start, and TF’s website still lists it. Champaca Absolute is a big floral perfume that balances well between light and darkness. Similar to those versatile pieces in one’s wardrobe that can be dressed up or down, Champaca Absolute, applied with a lighter hand or sprayed with an abundance, would perfectly fit a business function or a big party. Exactly like Tokay wine would.

While I enjoy both champagne and white wine, having a choice between [expectedly] good white or good red wine, nine out of ten times I’d go for red (by the way, with [presumably] bad wines, I choose the opposite, because, as a rule, white cheap/bad wine is more drinkable than red one).

 

Les Liquides Imaginaires Bello Rabelo

 

Les Liquides Imaginaires was one of the brands that I’ve discovered on my own: before seeing and trying them for the first time at Barney’s, I’ve never read anything about their perfumes and had no expectations. Bello Rabelo was probably the most spontaneous purchases I’ve ever made. But I was in a good company (another perfumista who had left Perfume blogosphere since), I was buying this perfume rather for my vSO than myself (and he liked it, though he’s much less discriminatory against perfumes in general on account of allergy-induced stuffed nose), and I was “due” to buy something from the store (there are only that many times I feel comfortable trying perfumes/asking for samples without buying something when the store has the same SAs over years). Luckily, both my vSO and I still like it. Bello Rabelo is not phenomenal or groundbreaking, but I find it quite original – at least I don’t have anything like it in my collection. Different sources cite slightly different notes, but they all rotate around dried fruits, vanilla, benzoin and wood. I can equally imagine either a “red wine” (Fragrantica) or a “porto accord” (brand’s site) note in Bello Rabelo, and whatever it is, it smells good. And same as wine, it is quite gender neutral.

 

Rusty and Bello Rabelo

 

And now I’ll get a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and return to my cloud nine. It’s your turn.

Are you a wine drinker? What is your favorite wine? Do you have any of the favorite perfumes that either officially include champagne/wine/port/etc. or remind you of one of these drinks?

Also, if you’d like to be entered into a draw for a 5 ml decant of (one of your choice) Champagne de Bois (“new stock”), Champaca Absolute or Bello Rabelo, just state your choice in the comment. Otherwise, I’ll assume “DNEM.”

 

Images: my own

Tom Ford Vert de Fleur

I really dislike the man. Well, at least his public persona, though I would be extremely surprised if he happened to be in RL a nice guy and the last boy scout. Nevertheless, I like perfumes that this brand creates.

I drew the line and refused to condone two most recent juvenile naming games, though I wasn’t offended enough to completely boycott the brand. But other than these two cases, I tend to like Tom Ford’s creations and still get excited with each new release.

Whenever I see a release of series of perfumes, from any brand, my first thought is that while working on the next perfume, the stakeholders couldn’t agree on which mod to choose and decided to go with several to ensure they didn’t make a mistake and covered all the bases. Of course, I’m not being completely serious, but I’m protesting against the avalanche of new releases.

All that didn’t prevent me from trying four perfumes in Les Extraits Vert series soon after it was released in 2016. Vert Boheme, Vert d’Encense, Vert de Fleur and Vert des Bois were all not bad at first sniff, so I got samples (tricking a couple of SAs in different stores), planned to test them properly and completely forgot about them for a while.

Recently it felt like green perfume days, so I went through the samples and found my favorite.

 

Tom Ford Vert de Fleur

 

Vert de Fleur starts with the most beautiful green accord – crisp, slightly bitter, slightly floral. Had it stayed in that phase for at least 20-30 minutes, I would have been telling you about a new bottle in my collection. But it doesn’t last settling into sweeter floral with undetectable to my nose individual notes – still very pleasant and refined but not as spectacular as I find it in the opening.

For a while I kept thinking of what other perfume I was reminded while wearing it, until suddenly I realized that it was very similar to my favorite Chanel No 19 but less austere than the EdT version… Think of No 19 EdP on a summer vacation on the Amalfi Coast.

Vert de Fleur is one of those perfumes that I like while I’m testing it but every time I ask myself whether I think I’d wear it often should I get it, my answer doesn’t sound convincing to me. So, for now I plan to see if I can finish the sample.

The other three perfumes in the line will probably get one more skin appearance and then will be passed on (if I can persuade myself to part with them: for some reason Tom Ford’s samples appeal to me even when perfume itself doesn’t). But if you were to try only one perfume from the series, try … all of them: unless you dislike the man even stronger than I do or avoid green perfumes altogether, most likely, one of the four will work for you.

Have you tried any of the perfumes in this series? Did you like any?

 

Image: my own

Entertaining Statistics: 2017 Year Round-up

Strictly from the personal prospective, 2017 wasn’t a bad year: it had its share of unpleasantness and hardships but nothing to be really unhappy – so I won’t complain or even mention that. Instead, I would rather remember that year by good things that happened – short and long trips, wonderful time spent with my friends, successful projects at work and wonderful perfumes I got to test and wear in 2017.

As I usually do it in the beginning of the new year, I’m looking back to my perfume records and sharing with you my insights.

 

How I do it

Years ago I created a personal database (using MS Access) to hold information on all the perfumes I own or test. Whenever I get a new sample, I add it to the database – below I give an example of the entry form I use. I do not always get all the information but I add what I can find. Perfume name, launch year and notes are free-text entry; designer (brand), perfumers, notes and some other data points are coming from the pre-defined lists, so there can be no discrepancies.

 

Sample DB Record

 

Whenever I wear or test perfumes, I record it in the Perfume Diary. In the form below, “Purpose” is one of the choices for when/why I wore or tested that perfume, e.g., “office wear” or “weekend day” or “Work from home.” Type of use is either “wore” or “tested”; “Response” is a formalized evaluation of how I reacted to that perfume on that day – e.g., “Enjoyed it a lot” or “Mixed feelings” or “I hated it,” etc. And finally “My notes” contain a short free-form comment, whatever I want to write about that time I wore or tested perfume.

 

DB Diary Entry

 

For those readers who haven’t been around when I was doing this series regularly, I want to explain what I mean when I say “tested” or “wore”: for testing I apply perfume to one area on my arms easily available for the repetitive sniffing. I can test two, sometimes even more perfumes at the same time. I do most of my testing in the evenings or while working from home. When I wear 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. After wearing a less tenacious perfume in the morning I might wear another one later. I wear perfumes mostly from bottles and decants; I wear perfumes from samples only when I consider buying a bottle or decant.

So, now when I explained how I collect data, let’s take a look at my 2017 in numbers.

 

178 Perfumes Worn

This year I wore more different perfumes than the year before – 178 (vs. 164 in 2016) from more brands – 72 (vs. 61) but did it less often – on 314 occasions (vs. 333).

Second year in a row Jo Malone was a brand I wore the most. I think it’s because these are my most “office friendly” perfumes. Neela Vermeire Creations made its way back into the Top 10 chart (last time it was here in 2014); while Le Labo fell completely off. The rest of the group just moved around but stayed on the chart, which isn’t surprising since I do not either update or expand my collection significantly any longer and keep wearing my favorites.

 

My Stats Year 2017 Brands

 

I tend to rotate perfumes I wear daily so I usually do not wear the same perfume even twice the same months – that’s how I go through that many different perfumes in a year. But I still managed to wear 67 perfumes more than once during 2017. Five perfumes I wore the most – Chanel No 19 (EdT, EdP and extrait), Lancôme Climat, Ormonde Jayne Ta’if, Krigler Lieber Gustav 14 and Armani La Femme Bleue.

 

Testing: Recording 300 and “carrying over” 1,000

This year was remarkable in regards to testing: in addition to the cursory testing of about 1,000 perfumes during my LondonBarcelonaStockholm trip (those didn’t go into my database – unless I scored a sample to bring back with me), I recorded testing at home 300 perfumes (vs. 275 last year) from 103 (vs. 100) brands. 134 of them were completely new to me (the rest I had tested before). I really liked/loved 24 of them, liked 20, thought that 56 were just not interesting and disliked 34.

Out if the 134 new for me perfumes that I tested, only 45 were released in 2017. Two of the 45 I liked enough to buy – Ineke Idyllwild and Sonoma Scent Studio Bee’s Bliss.

 

Rusty and Ineke Idyllwild

 

Has any of the 2017 releases joined your collection?

 

Images: my own

Secret Admirer, or In the Search for the Perfect Narcissus

When I was growing up, International Women’s Day, March 8th, was a good holiday: unlike most other holidays, it was a non-political one (well, almost); it was a non-discriminatory celebration (it didn’t matter if you were young or old, single or in relationships, with or without kids); and it was a public holiday, so nobody had to work or go to school.

Back then this holiday was like a combination of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day but for women only. In days before the holiday, people would have a potluck lunch/happy hour at work; boys would bring sweets and flowers to girls in their class; there were special programs on TV and radio. On the day itself families or friends would have a celebratory dinner or a party. Husbands, sons, fathers, partners, male friends and co-workers would be presenting women in their lives with flowers and, sometimes, gifts. And did I mention it was a day off?

I was fourteen or fifteen. At that time I didn’t have a boyfriend, so on March 8 I spent half the day out with friends. When I came home, I found there a bouquet of narcissuses waiting for me. My mom told me that some boy dropped them off for me. She didn’t recognize him (it meant he wasn’t from my class since she knew all of them), he didn’t tell his name, and there was no card. Since flowers were expensive at that time of the year and not that easy to get, I was sure it wasn’t a practical joke of any kind. So I was intrigued and thrilled: I had an actual secret admirer out there! You normally read about it in books or see it in movies, it doesn’t happen in real life!

For the next month or so I was trying to figure out who that might be, waiting for him to make the next move, hoping it would be somebody I liked.

Narcissuses

This story doesn’t have an ending – happy or otherwise: nobody ever admitted bringing me that bouquet. But several decades later I still remember those flowers better than I remember many dozens of bouquets I got over years from people I knew and loved.

* * *

After I moved to the U.S., I stopped celebrating International Women’s Day. But since I enjoyed so much our recent Month of the Roses project, I decided to run on my own a mini-project for the first week of March – Week of Narcissuses.

I didn’t realize I liked narcissus in perfumes until I started noticing it again and again in the notes lists of my favorite perfumes. Climat, Miss Dior, Chanel No. 19 – these all have narcissus. But this week I focused on perfumes, in which I thought that note was more prominent.

Hermès Eau de Narcisse Bleu attracted my attention (see Birgit’s review) because it had galbanum and narcissus, and it came in a blue bottle. It is a true spring perfume with wonderful combination of greenness, blossoms and wood. My 15 ml bottle looks cute and will probably serve me for a while.

If Penhaligon’s The Revenge Of Lady Blanche perfume’s opening stage would hang around for at least 2-3 hours, I would have probably be contemplating the purchase of that 75 ml bottle – I love the opening that much (panther head top doesn’t hurt either). But [un]luckily, the opening gorgeousness disappears within the first 30 minutes, if not faster, which would probably justify the size of the bottle but not its price. But you should definitely try this perfume to experience a beautiful combination of iris and narcissus. Galbanum is not one of the notes either listed or mentioned by anybody else, so if I were you I wouldn’t trust my nose, but I smell galbanum there as well.

I sought and tried Parfums DelRae Wit because it had Daphne – my dream note in perfume. While it smelled nothing like Daphne odora blossom, in general it was pleasant enough for me to go for a decant. It’s a beautiful spring bouquet with narcissus prominent enough to fit into this quest for the perfect narcissus. I wish DelRae would finally release their perfumes in 15 ml bottles: I would buy Wit and at least one more perfume from the line in a heartbeat!

I have strange relationships with Tom Ford Jonquille de Nuit: when I wear it, I think that I like it – but then I never choose to wear it unless it’s for some special reason like comparing it to other perfumes, doing a brand week or, like now, for the Single Note Exploration series. Jonquille de Nuit is very floral, with a prominent narcissus note, but despite that it doesn’t read like early spring when blossom aroma interweaves with greenery and earthy scents but rather a warm pre-summer bouquet with everything in full bloom.

Both Yosh White Flowers and Jo Loves No. 42 The Flower Shop I wore from samples. I had White Flowers for years, tested it briefly and completely forgot about it. Recently when I decided to send one of the two vials of White Flowers to a parfumista friend, I tested them to make sure they didn’t turn and was amazed at how much I liked it. It smells beautifully of a lot of flowers, and so does The Flower Shop sample, which I have “on loan” (for testing) from another parfumista friend, and which, in my opinion, is one of the cases of the name perfectly fitting the scent. These two perfumes are different bunches of flowers – thus have different aromas but they both have a similar feeling of the presence of that bunch, and I like both scents. Enough to do anything about it? I’m not sure but I plan to do more testing.

It was Penhaligon’s Ostara that reminded me about my secret admirer and gave me the idea of doing post for this note. This perfume actually epitomizes narcissus flower for me: it’s sunny, and bright, and happy, and uncomplicated. It doesn’t come even close to be worth Penhaligon’s full price but last year’s sale deals invited Ostara into many homes, from what I’ve read on different perfume forums. I bought a bottle for myself. I bought another bottle as a present to my friend. I enjoy wearing Ostara as my spring perfume, and this year I wore it as an anti-#BeBoldForChange: even though it’s not my holiday any longer, I refuse to politicize it because it’s still a nice and loved holiday in my native country. I am a feminist the other 364 days of the year; I do not have anything to fight for on this one extra day.

Rusty And Narcissuses

Do you like narcissuses – in perfumes or in a vase? Did you ever have a secret admirer? Have you ever been one?

 

Images: my own

A Month of Roses: Week 3

Have you heard that it takes 21 days (3 weeks) to form a new habit? I wonder if I should start packing away my all other, not rose-heavy perfumes…

Did you wear any rose perfumes recently? Please share even if you are not interested in artisan chocolate, an entry into the draw for which each comment will secure for you. You have four more days – until the end of the month – to get four more entries for each comment about rose perfume you’re wearing. I’ll announce the winner in the Week 4 report post.

Chocolate Fountain

February 15: Le Labo Rose 31

I completely recovered from my olfactory fatigue with this perfume and now enjoy wearing it. I still think Le Labo’s bottles are ugly so when I’m done with my current decant I’ll go for the next one.

February 16: Tom Ford Café Rose

After wearing it one more time, I can confirm that it was as big of a disappointment as a rose scent as it was when I tested it for my In the Search for the Perfect Coffee post: it’s not unpleasant, it behaves well on my skin but it’s so not interesting… I don’t understand how this one stays in production while much more interesting perfumes from the line get discontinued.

February 17: Keiko Mecheri Mogador

Originally Amouage Lyric was scheduled for that day. But when earlier I ran out of PHI and decided to move Lyric to the first week, I got an empty spot, which I decided to fill in with Mogador – perfume, about which I completely forgot while arranging my calendar and about which I was reminded by rickyrebarco’s comment on the Lucas’ Month of Roses post. What can I say? I like it a lot. I will probably write more once my full bottle arrives.

Red Rose

February 18: Papillon Artisan Perfumes Tobacco Rose

This is one of perfumes that I wanted to love: these are “my” notes (rose, oakmoss, ambergris, beeswax and peru balsam); it’s a good brand, and Tara (A Bottled Rose) who generously sent me a sample of it loves it. But the heart… I mean, the nose wants what it wants, and while I appreciate Tobacco Rose, I don’t want to wear it.

February 19: Tauer Perfumes Rose Flash

I didn’t like the idea of the new line: I do not believe in “more affordable” versions of something that is good: usually it results in cheap knock-offs sold at half the price of something that was good but expensive. Besides, I disliked the previous experiment – Pentachords line. Thanks to hajusuuri, I got to try Rose Flash and I liked it. But I already have Rose Vermeille, which, in my opinion, is a better version of the same idea.

February 20: Dior Ambre Nuit

Ambre Nuit decant fulfilled its destiny: I wore the last of it for this project. I love this perfume – despite it being a misnomer: it is not amber perfume. But it is such a beautiful rose! Why do they have to produce it in those huge bottles?!! Who needs 125 ml of any single perfume?!  But if it weren’t for that small detail (there should be some pun in there), I would be buying a bottle at this point.

Amber Rose

February 21: Guerlain Rose Nacrée du Désert

I wasn’t thinking straight when I slotted this perfume for a work day: it is too strong for workplace. But since I didn’t want to change the plan (not that anybody would have noticed, I know), I applied just a tiny spritz from my small decant. I understand why many people like Rose Nacrée du Désert but for me it’s still only number two from The Déserts d’Orient line: unlike Songe d’un Bois d’Eté that just doesn’t work for me, I could wear this one if I didn’t have any other perfumes I love more.

Flowers

By the way, have you read that forming a habit in 21 days is a myth?

Images: my own