Category Archives: Perfume Reviews

Mx. by Eris Parfums

 

Top Notes: Ginger, Black Pepper, Saffron, Olibanum
Heart Notes: Sandalwood, Cedarwood
Base Notes: Vetiver, Patchouli, Benzoin, Birch Tar, Cacao, Castoreum

 

I was impressed with the initial collection of three fragrances launched by Eris Parfums last year. Creative Director, Barbara Herman, is a vintage perfume expert and author of Scent and Subversion. You can read my mini reviews of Ma Bête, Belle de Jour and Night Flower here.

The latest fragrance by Eris Parfums, Mx. (pronounced “Mix”) was launched this year and once again, was created with perfumer Antoine Lie.

I recently discovered the meaning of the word Mx. in the most prosaic way imaginable. I was placing an online order with a supermarket when I noticed one of the options in the contact details section was ‘Mx’. I correctly deduced that this is a new gender-neutral title, with the ultimate aim of replacing Mr, Mrs, Miss etc.

You may be thinking “Okay, but we’ve had unisex fragrances for a long time now”. However, Mx. rebels against the idea – prevalent in the mainstream at least – that gender-neutral perfumes have to be clean (read asexual) or lean masculine in style (presumably so as not to scare off the fellas).

 

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In sharp contrast to the cool and fresh unisex style that dates back to CK One, Mx. is warm and inviting.

I often find ginger notes tricky but the accord that forms the opening of Mx. is like gingerbread baked with a good deal of saffron and a sprinkling of pepper. Come in close and you may even be treated to a spike of incense.

This combination of gourmand spices over light, pliable woods brings to mind the excellent Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle. Both are comforting yet stylish, but unlike the Malle, Mx. completely bypasses florals. It also has an enticing dark twist in the base with vetiver, patchouli, a dusting of cacao powder and a shadow of smoky leather.

The animalic aspect here is very much of the soft and purring kind. The musk is at the furry end of the spectrum and adds to the luxurious feel. Mx. seeks to blur the gender boundaries and the whole feel of the fragrance is soft focus. It’s someone coming home late at night, lighting a fire and wrapping themselves in a faux fur blanket after an indulgent evening of excess.

It doesn’t have the retro stamp of the first three Eris perfumes, but it shares the same sophisticated, sensual character and may be more approachable for some. While Mx. seeks to challenge the binary nature of gender, the fragrance is easy to wear and fits like a second skin. It possesses intimate sillage and lasts incredibly well.

Gender politics aside, Mx. is cosy, comforting, chic and more than a little romantic. It works beautifully at this time of year as the temperature starts to dip and the nights are about to draw-in.

 

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Do you find gender distinctions in fragrance helpful or would you rather that we did away with them completely?

 

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Mood Scent 4 – Uplifting Perfumes

Welcome to the latest instalment in the Mood Scent 4. joint blogging project,

We are four perfume bloggers from France, Holland, England and Wales who post on a different joint subject every couple of months.  Each time we pick a selection of fragrances to fit a particular mood or occasion. You’ll find links to the other blogs at the end of the post.

Previous posts have been on the topics of Rainy Day Perfumes, Wedding Guest Perfumes and Mainstream Perfumes. Today the topic is Uplifting Perfumes.

 

 

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Really, any perfume you love can be uplifting but some types of fragrances can be  depended upon to raise most people’s spirits. Aromatherapy will tell you orange is the most mood-boosting aroma and I agree many perfumes in this citrus category can do the trick.

My personal favourite for an instant up-tick in outlook is Eau de Mandarine Ambrée by Hermès. The scent of mandarins is pure happiness to me, perhaps because I was given tinned mandarins segments in syrup as a dessert when a child.

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Eau de Mandarin Ambrée is from Les Cologne Collection but the citrus is supported by amber which prolongs its life significantly. Hermès are generally a good bet for classy orange scents with the classic Eau D’Orange Verte, the orange-tinted beach scent Eau des Merveilles and last year’s Eau de Néroli Doré.

Orange Sanguine by Atelier Cologne is like a morning class of fresh orange juice, while the mainstream have Clinique Happy and Boss Orange.

Related to citrus scents but fuller and obviously more floral, are the orange blossom perfumes. They feel like inhaling the scent of blossom on the breeze in early summer. It’s uplifting but in a more languid, sensual way.  For an added burst of zingy lemon in the opening and extra longevity, there’s the golden orange blossom of Cologne Indélébile by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle

The two I own though, are the limited edition Fleur d’Oranger and Seville a L’Aube, both by L’Artisan Perfumeur. The latter is a combination of honeyed orange blossom, caramelised lavender and a wisp of incense. If you fall for it you can read all about its development in The Perfume Lover by Denyse Beaulieu.

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Sometimes just the name of a perfume is enough to make you smile. Tart’s Knicker Drawer by 4160 Tuesdays is just as playful as its name. This is a vintage-style boudoir scent topped with raspberry. Put it on and enjoy that fun, flirty feeling. If someone asks you what you’re wearing, that’s an added bonus.

How about a perfume inspired by the glittering world of Bollywood that also has an exclamation mark at the end? Bombay Bling! by Neela Vermeire Creations is characterised by a fabulously joyous and super juicy mango note. Spray it and just see if you can resist the urge to smile

 

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Aldehydes are the party perfume ingredient with their bubbly spray of champagne foam. My favourite Vega is no longer available but there are some others out there including of course, the most recent youthful incarnation of the Chanel classic, No. 5 L’Eau.

Other easily obtainable old school aldehydic perfumes are Lanvin Arpege, Ivoire de Balmain and YSL’s Rive Gauche.

 

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Be sure to check out my fellow bloggers’ choices of Uplifting Perfumes at Megan In Sainte Maxine, L’Esperessence and I Scent You A Day.

 

What perfumes to you turn to when you need a bit of cheering up?

 

 

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Rose Omeyyade, Iris Fauve and Cuir Sacré by Atelier des Ors

My mate Megan of the excellent blog Megan in Sainte Maxime was kind enough to send me some samples from French niche brand, Atelier des Ors, which launched in 2015. As pleased as I was to receive them, for some reason I didn’t rush to spray.

The bottles are beautifully faceted and contain juice with floating flecks of gold leaf, but I leans more towards an artisan aesthetic. I also had the impression that the compositions were skewed towards the oriental, which I have a poor track record with. I finally got over myself and tried the three which focus on notes I gravitate towards: rose, iris and leather.

 

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Rose Omeyyade

Top notes: Raspberry, Rose, Pink Pepper
Middle notes: Patchouli, Brown Sugar, Guaiac Wood
Base notes: Amber, Sandalwood, Oud

I’d describe Rose Omeyyade is a slightly jammy, almost boozy, softly spiced, rose-centred fragrance.  Sweet but not sickeningly so, the raspberry brings out the fruity facet of the rose, placing it on the verge of gourmand. I keep noticing something like spicy incense, which I’m putting down to the pink pepper combined with guaiac wood.  This is very much a composition based around a prominent rose note, rather than a rose soliflore.

The oud is mildly skanky which makes a nice change from the plethora of sanitised versions out there. It also gives the fragrance a bit of edge. In the drydown the woods become a little too persistent for me, however if you are fond of ‘east meets west’ rosy perfumes, you should give Rose Omeyyade a spin.

 

Iris Fauve

Top notes: Bergamot, Cinnamon, Iris
Middle notes: Patchouli, Haitian Vetiver, Cypriol oil.
Base notes: Myrrh, Musk, Labdanum, Liatris (Deerstongue/Wild Vanilla)

Iris Fauve was released this year and turns out to be a pussy cat rather than the beast its name suggests. After a bright bergamot opening, it becomes smooth and fuzzy with pillowy iris atop a bed of ambrette-style musk.  Usually irises are cool and metallic, rooty or cosmetic but here it’s in my favourite mode; warm, sensual and somewhat doughy. The overall texture is suede-like but without any hint of leather present.

Cinnamon can be harsh and anti-social but here it plays nice and mixes well. There’s a lick of liquorice in the drydown from the myrrh but nothing forceful. It’s said to “drape the skin like a soft and reassuring caress” and it does indeed stay close to the body.  In short, Iris Fauve is a welcome addition to that small subset of warm iris fragrances.

 

Cuir Sacré

Top notes: Juniper Berries, Cypress, Cardamom
Middle notes: Incense, Saffron, Cedar Needles
Base notes: Leather, Vetiver

Not only do I generally love saffron notes in perfume but my favourite discontinued leather fragrance Cuir de Lancôme contains creamy saffron wrapped-up in buttery suede. Therefore it’s unsurprising that I really enjoy the strong saffron opening of Cuir Sacré. Most spices are not my friend but the orange-gold of saffron with its floralacy is something else entirely. It speaks of luxury and seems to pair brilliantly with more austere accords.

The leather is super smooth and refined rather than rough and tarry. It’s not all about sleek upholstered interiors though. There is a distinct aromatic accord unwinding throughout that is evocative of dark green pine forests which, along with the saffron, lifts it above most of the niche leathers currently available. If I wasn’t in the mood for my usual birch tar, smoky leather I’d certainly go for Cuir Sacré.

 

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Have you tried any of the fragrances from Atelier des Ors? What are your thoughts and favourites?

 

Photo credit: zastavki.com

 

 

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Eau de Rochas by Rochas

 

Notes: Lime, Mandarin, Bergamot, Orange, Grapefruit, Verbena, Coriander, Carnation, Jasmine, Narcissus, Patchouli, Vetiver, Oakmoss, Amber and Musk

 

I picked up Eau de Rochas in the Perfume Lovers London annual swap event last December. The bottle was full and although I had never tried it before, I vaguely remembered reading good things about it.

I first wore it when summer finally rolled around and I’ve hardly wanted to wear anything else since.

 

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I favour citrus fragrances with an aromatic facet because they have that bit of extra omph and complexity. When I began wearing Eau de Rochas my thoughts kept coming back to Diorella – released 2 years later. It’s similar in structure with citrus, herbs, flowers and a resinous base. Eau de Rochas may be in the cologne category but it reads more like an effervescent fruity chypre.

Most of the citrus burns off over time leaving a musty, mineral underlay. It’s that patchouli/vetiver backdrop which gives this summer Eau some weight and sex appeal. It may be buried in the midst of the notes list but the patch is the first thing I notice on spraying, just underneath the sparkling citrus tonic. It gives Eau de Rochas the slinky, lived-in feel that Diorella lacks.

The contrast between the prominent bright lime and subdued dry patchouli is enticing. I’m always looking out for summer fragrances with some sensuality and this has just the right amount of dirt under its polished fingernails. I’m drawn to fragrances which walk the line between clean and earthy (most recently exemplified by Superstitious). This combination gives a hint of something unwholesome and intriguing under a shiny surface.

Don’t be put off if you prefer coriander and basil in food to perfume. I’m not fond of those notes but I can’t pick them out here. The aromatic effect is that of a bouquet garni adding the background flavour of leafy herbs.

Eau de Rochas is not a vapid cologne but a fragrance with a languorous, old school feel that matches its pretty bottle perfectly. It’s well worth a try if you’re a fan of patchouli, retro perfumery and/or light fragrances with hidden depth. I don’t like paying a lot for summer spritzes and you can grab this online for a great price.

I find it lasts well for an EdT and can still notice it on my skin in the late afternoon, although it’s doubtful anyone else can. It’s completely gender neutral.

Eau de Rochas has the relaxed yet sexy vibe you’d expect from a French cologne-style fragrance released in 1970. It doesn’t have to try too hard.

 

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Was there a perfume you couldn’t get enough of over the summer?

 

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Holiday Sun, Skin and Hair

After sharing a photo of the inside of my suitcase the other week, I thought I’d talk about some of the many products I took with me on holiday.

We spent a week in Majorca with temperatures of 27 to 30 degrees C. I brought enough lotions and potions to cover myself, my sister and niece.

 

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Cleanser

I got Pixi’s Double Cleanse by Caroline Hirons in the re-issued Cult Beauty Box, just in time for my trip. It was handy to have a cream and balm cleanser in one container. I used the cream in the morning and the balm in the evening to take off my SPF. I liked the texture of both a lot. The cream is, well creamy, and the balm is nice and solid.

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Vitamin C

After cleansing in the morning I applied a layer of Vitamin C serum. This powerful antioxidant is a good way to counteract the damaging effects of sun exposure.  I took two from both ends of the price spectrum.

At home, I normally apply DCL’s C Scape High Potency Night Booster 30 in the evening because of its grainy texture. It contains 30% vitamin C (L ascorbic acid) and gives a sharp tingle on application.

As my skin got drier through the week, I switched to The Ordinary’s Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% vitamin C because it’s in oil form. I’m extremely curious about the new Vitamin C 30% Suspension in Silicone from The Ordinary. I suspect it stings pretty intensely. Let me know if you’ve tried it.

 

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Facial Sunscreen

For a base layer in the morning, I applied Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50 by La Roche-Posay. It was indeed very light and a pleasure to apply.

For re-application I took Bioderma Invisible Fresh Mist SPF 50 which was a revelation. The mist is so fine you barely feel it hit your skin. This makes topping up your sunscreen an absolute breeze.  I never broke out, even with my combination skin.

 

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Body Sunscreen

I knew we’d be spending a lot of time in the swimming pool so I looked for a sunscreen that would stick. I researched a lot of high-end brands and while most say they are “water resistant”, I went for Marks and Spencer Ultra Defense SPF 50 because it’s “very water resistant”.

I bought the cream for applying in the morning and the spray version for re-application. Not glamorous, but the best for our needs.

 

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Lip Protection

Lanolips Tinted Balm is very moisturing and contains SPF 30. I got it in Rhubarb which is a natural-looking pinky colour. Good for poolside or on the beach when you’re not not wearing lipstick.

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Body Moisturisers

I took my trusty La Roche-Posay Lipikar Baume as well as the E45 Intense Recovery spray in case my skin got too over-heated from the sun.

I finished with a little Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse for the oil sheen and tropical scent (which my sister is now obsessed with). I didn’t wear any of the handful of decants I took in the end.

 

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Hair

I took travels sizes of Bumble and Bumble’s sulphate free shampoo and conditioner but the conditioner wasn’t mosituring enough after a day in the sun and pool. Luckily, I had brought along a small tube of Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask by Briogeo and that worked wonders. I honestly think my hair came home in better condition that when I went.

I’m still experimenting with styling my hair using Wave Spray by Quai, so the jury’s out on that one.  I shared my sister’s great smelling Sun Care Protective Hair Veil spray by Aveda for a UV filter and covered my hair as much as possible.

 

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At Duty Free on the return leg we tried a lot of perfumes to pass the time. Both my sister and niece have great noses. My sister spritzed Eau de Pamplemousse Rose by Hermes for the flight home while my niece said Angel Muse was her favourite. The reason being “It smells like Daddy’s Christmas cookies”.

 

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Do you have vacation sun, skin or hair care products to recommend?

 

 

 

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Anna Zworykina Perfumes – Mini Reviews

To continue the all-natural theme of recent weeks, let me introduce you to Anna Zworykina, a Russian artisan perfumer with a Phd in Biochemistry. She has been making fragrances for 15 years and kindly sent me a selection of EdP samples to try, all of which I found to be distinctive and well-structured.

As you may be aware, Luca Turin isn’t exactly a fan of natural perfumery but even he was converted by Anna’s work.

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Shiny Amber

Notes: Ginger,  lemon, bergamot, yuzu, jasmine,  champaka, benzoin, labdanum, vanilla, tonka bean, ambergris

Ambers are usually for cosying up with in the winter but Shiny Amber is about the gifts of summer; bright sunshine and ripe fruit. It’s a lemony, citrus amber with lots of lift and radiance – not qualities you normally associate with amber fragrances. It makes for a nice twist on this classic genre and those fond of amber perfumes should welcome one that’s wearable in warmer weather.

 

Apple Orchard

Notes: Galbanum, blackcurrant bud, jasmine, neroli, champaka, roses, lavender, oregano, cognac, cardamom, angelica, oakmoss, vetiver, labdanum, vanilla.

An olfactory evocation of autumn, Apple Orchard is a fruity/smoky fragrance rather than a straight-up apple perfume (as you can see from the notes).   It speaks softly of dimming light, misty mornings and bonfires of fruitwood. It cleverly evokes that wistful feeling I often have in those months, with their long, leaning shadows. I find Apple Orchard  quietly enchanting.

 

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My Vanilla

Notes: Black pepper, clove, galbanum, elemi, juniper berry, nutmeg, jasmine, cumin, orange blossom, cardamom, cedarwood, vanilla, tonka bean, sandalwood, orris, agarwood.

It seems Anna prefers her vanilla to be tempered and low calorie which is no bad thing in my book. My Vanilla opens with green grass and settles into spice over vanilla.  Cumin is most prominent on my skin, but that is a note I’m sensitive to – probably because I have issues with it.

 

Winter Blush

Notes: Oranges, roses, jasmine, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, iris, balsam Peru, benzoin, rosewood, cedar, labdanum.

Winter Blush is a thoroughly joyful perfume. It has the aroma of the festive season but has been done in a fresher, brighter style than a lot of Christmassy fragrances. It’s a lightweight gourmand with lots of juicy tangerine which has enough tartness to cut through the gentler accords of chocolate and spice.  Winter Blush becomes pleasingly vanillic/balsamic in the base.

 

Cuir de Russie

Notes: Tar leather, tobacco, wormwood.

If you’re a leather fragrance fan you’re very likely to love this. Cuir de Russie is very much in the classic birch tar leather mold. It starts out with a blast of pine needles, thick tar and black smoke. While calming a little, it manages to retain those salty, meaty facets and chewy texture throughout. It’s easy to imagine the Russian forest where birch tree bark was melted into tar. This Cuir de Russie has plenty to get your teeth into, with a nice amount of throw and great lasting power.

 

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There are about 30 fragrances in all on the Anna Zworykina Perfumes website so if you your interest has been piqued by the above, do check out the sample sets. Anna divides her collections into Leather, Gothic, Floral, Warm & Enveloping and Landscape.

Are you drawn to any of the fragrances mentioned? Are you open to trying all-natural perfumes?

 

 

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Mainstream Perfumes – Mood Scent 4

Welcome to the latest instalment in the Mood Scent 4 blogging project. (If you missed the previous posts they were about Rainy Day Perfumes and Wedding Guest Perfumes). Today, my fellow bloggers and I are sharing our mainstream perfume picks.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I write about – and wear – fragrances other than those from the mainstream. When I fell down the rabbit-hole I snubbed my previous ‘duty free’ choices in favour of niche and high-end boutique fragrances such as Les Exclusifs de Chanel.

Now I’m coming full circle. The niche perfumes – generally starting at £150 for 50ml – are becoming more and more unremarkable. I’m starting to re-assess and re-appreciate what is available on the high street.

I’ve limited my choices below to the fragrances available at my local Beauty Base.

 

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Infusion d’Iris L’Absolue EDP by Prada

Notes: Neroli, orange blossom, iris, mastic, benzoin, tonka bean, vanilla and white musk.

The original Infustion d’Iris is great; a wash of light blue with a flash of orange and tints of green. However my preferred version is L’Absolue which takes it to whole other level. As the name suggests, the iris is beefed-up with a nice dose of rootiness and an improved amount of throw. I love iris but it’s hard to find high quality, straight-up versions at your local perfume emporium. This is a total winner.

 

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Agent Provocateur (AP Signature) by Agent Provocateur 

Notes: Saffron, rose, jasmine, magnolia, coriander, vetiver, amber and musk.

My sister used to wear this and it was fantastic on her. Agent Provocateur is a fresh, blush rose wrapped in a big, fluffy cloud. It’s pleasing when a perfume fits the brand perfectly, the way it does here. The scent is a boudoir mist of rosy powder and femininity. I don’t get anything animalistic from it. To me it’s a coquettish, girlie perfume, in the best way. If you search online, you can get it for a song.

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No.19 EdP by Chanel

Notes: Green notes, bergamot, rose, iris, vetiver, oakmoss and leather.

No.19 is old-school chic at its finest. Can you think of two more rarefied materials than iris and galbanum? The soft aldehydes at early doors settle down to a gently powdery finish. When you put this on, don’t be surprised to find yourself standing a little taller. I liked the Poudré version but it lasted all of 30 minutes on me. Apparently the EdP is not merely a different concentration but a reinterpretation. The high street doesn’t get much classier.

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Eau des Merveilles by Hermes

During summer, it’s tempting to reach for a fragrance which makes you feel like you’ve spent the day on the beach. Eau des Merveilles combines salty skin with joy inducing orange. The scent dries down to a hollowed-out woody amber which takes its lead from ambergris rather than oriental amber. I find its tenacity a little wearing after a while but it’s a good alternative to the usual coconut-heavy, ‘resort perfumes’.

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Encre Noire by Lalique

There are quite a few great mainstream fragrances aimed at men, such as Terre de Hermes and Dior’s Eau SauvageEncre Noire is a forest vetiver loved by women as well as men. It’s wonderfully aromatic, opening up in a glade of pine trees before letting the smoky vetiver take centre-stage. You can read my full review of this and the flanker Encre Noire A L’Extreme here.

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Don’t miss the mainstream scents chosen by my pals at L’Esperessence, Megan In Sainte Maxime and I Scent You A Day.

 

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Which mainstream perfumes do you think are of note?

 

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Moon Bloom, Shangri La and Dilettante by Hiram Green

When artisan perfumer Hiram Green kindly offered to send me fragrance samples from his home in The Netherlands, the first one I thought of was Arbolé Arbolé. I’d heard great things about it but as it turned out, this was the one that suited me the least (I find orientals tricky). Therefore I’ll refer you to Val the Cookie Queen’s wonderful post about it on APJ here.

Below are my thoughts on the other three, all-natural, Eau de Parfums.

 

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Shangri La 

Notes: Citrus, peach, jasmine, rose, iris, spices, vetiver, and oakmoss. 

Shangri La is Hiram Green’s interpretation of the classic chypre, a century after Coty started the genre with the original of the same name.

Of course this is a modern version but its genre is recognisable straight away.  There’s peachy citrus undercut by a background of oakmoss, which instantly reminds me of  Mitsouko.  You should give Shangri La a try if you already love the iconic Guerlain or you want to but don’t, because this is much more accessible.  It still has the humid feel and oakmoss of Mitsouko but the peach is much more juicy.  Shangri La possesses that full-bodied sophistication that is so characteristic of chypres.

 

Dilettante

Notes: Orange Flower, Petitgrain, Orange Essential Oil

I’m always hopeful when trying an orange blossom perfume but all too often they are overly soapy or indolic. However Dilettante is pitch perfect. Within the first few seconds alone I get all the aromatic aspects of the orange tree: zesty fruit, green leaves and lush blossom.

Orange blossom, pettigrain and orange essential oil are such fantastic natural materials that they are ideal for an all-natural perfume. You really don’t need much else. Dilettante is smooth, sunlit and full of orange flower goodness, becoming mellower yet richer over time.  It moves through all the shades of orange from bright flame through to burnished gold. It’s a simple composition that just works. Summer is exactly the right time to try it too: no other type of fragrance is so full of liquid sunshine. Yum.

 

Moon Bloom

Notes: Tuberose Absolute, Jasmine Absolute, Ylang Ylang, Coconut, Leafy Greens, Spices and Resins.

I own some tuberose absolute and I much prefer it to the often headache inducing synthetic version. It is fresh, narcotic, tropical, buttery and fleshy, as well as deeply sensual. You get all of that in Moon Bloom as well as the facet that smells like bubblegum. Admittedly tuberose is not my favourite material but I appreciate it for how incredibly striking and complex it is.  Here it’s complemented with other white florals and fresh green notes.

In contrast to most tuberose perfumes, Moon Boom hums at a low register, intensifying its sultry feel. The coconut is not immediately obvious but adds a creamy texture and rounds out the composition while also accentuating the exotic feel, stopping short of beachy. This is a nocturnal fragrance for hot and humid nights and a must-try for tuberose fans.

 

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None of these three fragrances suffer from the dual criticisms of flatness or short-life which are usually leveled at natural perfumery. All are available in a 50ml bottle and 10ml Travel Size (hurrah!).

Have you tired any of Hiram Green’s perfumes? If not, do any of the above pique your interest?

 

 

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Curious EdP and Perfume by Aftelier Perfumes

Notes: Tobacco, Hay, Smoke, Orange Leaf, Siam Wood and Dirty Orange.

 

A project that has been three years in the making has finally come to fruition: the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents is now open in Berkeley, California.  Here, artisan perfumer Mandy Aftel shares her personal and unique collection of aromatic materials and antique books.

Visitors can experience over three hundred natural essences and connect with the ingredients that have inspired people over centuries, but which are sadly used much less in perfumery today.

 

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The ambergris exhibit: Archive of Curious Scents

 

The atmosphere of the Archive was the inspiration behind Curious, the latest release from Aftelier Perfumes. There is even an exhibit that breaks down the fragrance note by note so that visitors can see how the essences weave together to create the finished scent.

 

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The camphor-like, leafy opening of Curious suggests bracing air and pine forests.  As it settles, there is the scent of green saplings and creamy white woods over a beguiling mixture of moss and ash. ‘Dirty orange’ is a great descriptor because while the orange leaf is verdant and fresh at the start, it later morphs into a spiral of peel rubbed with earth. I think it’s the orange nuances which lift Curious and give it an extra dimension.

The drydown is a smoky botanical musk; unlike anything I’ve tried before.  The smokiness isn’t tarry or rubbery the way it is in leather fragrances – or indeed the fantastic Vanilla Smoke.  Imagine instead slender grey plumes twisting skywards from a woodland fire.

Mandy thinks of tobacco absolute as nature’s musk and combined with hay absolute the way it is in Curious, creates an aromatic muskiness without the laundry sheet or skanky facets often present in synthetic musks. It drapes across the skin and melds with your own chemistry.

It’s redolent of the outdoors while possessing the texture of fur and the way it plays with the animal and the vegetal is compelling. As usual, Mandy has made a composition that is as clever as it is rewarding.

Unlike many smoky/musky perfumes, Curious has an enigmatic quality that makes it beautifully mysterious.

When comparing the EdP and the Perfume, I would say the EdP is airier with more swirling smoke, while the Perfume is more potent but sits closer to the skin. Out of the two, the EdP is more my style, but I can see plenty of people soaking up the depth of the Perfume.

In either formulation, it is a fascinating fragrance in the truest sense of the word. Its complexity and presence hold my attention with ease. It absolutely does trigger your curiosity as you try and get a handle on exactly what you’re inhaling.

If Curious is what the Archive smells like then it must be a feast for the senses as well as an enthralling exploration into the history of perfumery.

 

curious

 

Do you like the idea of a smoky musk perfume? Would you love to visit the Archive of Curious Scents one day?

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Encre Noire and Encre Noire A L’Extreme by Lalique

Notes: Cypress, Vetiver Bourbon, Vetiver Haiti, Woods and Musk.

I’ve never been one to wear ‘masculine fragrances’ or perfumes centred around veitver. However Encre Noire – black ink – has always held a certain fascination for me. I know  a lot of women love it and I like the way the bottle resembles a bottle of ink.

 

encre bottle

 

A little while ago I got samples of the original EdT (released in 2006) and one of the flankers, Encre Noire à l‘Extrême EdP (released last year).

 

Encre Noire EdT

 

The first half of Encre Noire is focused on cypress which is like being dropped into the midst of a dense, dark green grove. It has the feel of an aromatic incense perfume, like Armani’s Bois d’ Encens.  The veitver gently wafts up from underneath, like earth permeating a layer of pine needles lying on the forest floor. What’s great is that the cypress lasts right through to the base.

Swampy vetiver accords turn my stomach; a kind of grassy ditch water aroma that I can’t abide. Encre Noire thankfully doesn’t have that, even when the cypress eventually fades and the vetiver comes into full effect. It has more of the smoky kind of veitver, which is probably down to the inclusion of vetiver bourbon.

What I do like about vetiver is its strength.  Wearing Encre Noire, you can feel that characteristic certainty – an unshakeable self belief that will get you where you want to go. At the same time, it has a head-clearing quality which would indeed make it ideal to wear while writing or whenever you need to focus.

 

encre charcaol

 

Encre Noire à l’Extrême EdP

 

Encre Noire à l‘Extrême opens up at a much lower pitch without the deep green waft of cypress. It’s dark and dusty from the start, like an unexplored attic in a crumbling mansion.

While the original Encre Noire is centring yet expansive, Encre Noire à l‘Extrême is more intense. It’s also more intimate and rather seductive with its light veil of powdered musk. The hazy, dry woods present are just as soft and malleable.

The two iterations converge in the base where they are reduced to tones of grey, like a charcoal drawing.

Encre Noire à l’Extrême conjures up darkness in a way that is soothing and mysterious rather than alienating. Imagine being relieved when night falls because you can take off your mask and finally be your true self.  It’s a sophisticated vetiver which has been polished and stripped of its vegetal harshness. More than ink, it makes me think of grey mist; the outline of a stranger in the gloom.

 

encre image

 

Both incarnations of the fragrance have bucketfuls of atmosphere, especially for mainstream offerings. I’d recommend giving it a try if you like intriguing, dry scents which feel grounding. It’d make a good choice for those who want an alternative to the sugary confections filling up the shelves in the high street.

 

How you get along with vetiver? Have you tried any version of Encre Noire?

 

 

 

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