Tag Archives: Amber

DSH Perfumes: Mini Reviews – Poppy, French Lily, Foxy and Habibi

I was fortunate to receive a package from American artisan perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, containing a fabulous selection of her latest fragrances for me to try. All were released during 2017 and the samples come in the form of little glass roll-ons which work much better than dab vials.

I’ve recently wrote about the one that was my personal highlight, the vintage fur Une Robe de Zibeline.  Today, I’m posting mini reviews of four others that stood out to me.

 

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Poppy

Poppy is a nice surprise because from the name, I was expecting something cheery and lightweight. It’s actually a sophisticated floral oriental with a central carnation accord that isn’t too clove-heavy. Poppy is backed by the seductive kind of musk which I wish perfumers used more often. It’s that kind of muskiness which is reminiscent of the nape of the neck, drawing you closer. It feels sensuous rather than skanky.
French Lily

Now this is a lily to have a spring love affair with. I’ve never clicked with a lily perfume before this one. I can’t bear the scent of stargazer lilies and lily of the valley is usually pretty but a bit too innocent and simplistic for my tastes. French Lily has all the fresh green beauty of muguet but with a sexy Parisian twist.  The balance between purity and carnality is just right, with the lily accented rather than overwhelmed by the musk. Megan in Sainte Maxime felt the same and you can read her full review here.

 

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FOXY

Who doesn’t want to try a perfume called Foxy?! Amber fans may well swoon at this one. It’s a gently spiced amber with an apple whiskey accord and a furry feel. It’s in the same luxurious, gourmand amber category as Ambre Narguile by Hermes. I may not be an amber person but at this time of year I can really appreciate the warming, edible goodness of a well done amber fragrance such as this.

 

Habibi

Habibi is an Arabian term of endearment (‘my beloved’) while the fragrance is an uncommon orange blossom.  Where most perfumes in this category are joyful and sunlit, Habibi is candlelit and sets an exotic, even erotic, mood. Oud and saffron combine to create a leathery orange blossom scent with honeyed facets. Jasmine adds to the seductive, verging on narcotic, feel. The oud is smoothly animalic and it’s good to see it used in a composition where – for once – rose isn’t its counterpart.

 

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Have you tried any of DSH Perfume’s 2017 launches? Are there any past releases I should investigate?

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Amber Tapestry by Aftelier Perfumes

What the world needs now…

Top Notes: Heliotropin, Yellow Mandarin
Middle Notes: Jasmine Grandiforum, Jasmine Sambac, Pear, Cinnamon
Base Notes: Ambreine, Labdanum, Maltol, Benzoin, Castoreum, Ambergris, Coumarin

 

At the fabulous Scented Supper in October, I learnt that before becoming an accomplished artisan perfumer, Mandy Aftel trained as a weaver. She continues to intuitively apply this skill when working with natural aromatics; intertwining them to create balance in terms of aroma, texture, weight and vibrancy. She has certainly done a masterful job of weaving together the various fragrant strands in her new release, Amber Tapestry.

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There are so many leaden ambers in this classic oriental category however Mandy breathes new life and light into the form.  Ambers don’t normally sing on my skin but this one does. I find lift and luminosity where I normally find flatness and opacity.

The smooth yellow mandarin in the opening of the EdP is simply gorgeous and just as Mandy tells us, it is the most floral of all the citruses. The amber accord is an enticing combination of fuzzy labdanum,  ambreine (a derivative of labdanum resinoid) and the salty tang of ambergris.

The amber accord is liberally embroidered with jasmine from start to finish and it’s the silkiest jasmine I’ve come across. It’s never screechy or uncomfortably indolic. The two varieties used here interlace wonderfully with the amber, adding floral interest, contrast and radiance.

The cinnamon is super soft and I only pick up slivers of the pear if I lean in close. Amber Tapestry also contains maltol and benzoin but I don’t find it too sweet or gourmand.

Coumarin and heliotropin give it a plush, powdery finish. The texture feels like the fur of a rust coloured cat or even dusty golden suede, thanks to the inclusion of castoreum. It stays fairly close to the body, wrapping itself around my skin. However, when you’re within its sphere, it’s enveloping. I’m struck time and again by how meticulously well blended Amber Tapestry is. It feels seamless.

There are no pointy edges; all is softness and comfort. However the ambergris and castoreum prevent it from being too safe. Amber lovers will need a pillow to cushion their fall as they swoon but non-amber fans, such as me, are likely to be taken with it as well because it is so lustrous and floral.

We all need some warmth, beauty and light to console us in these dark days of winter (not to mention these troubled times) and it’s just the thing to lift our spirits as we go into the festive season.

Memento Mori came to jangle our senses but Amber Tapestry has come to soothe them. It’s just what the doctor ordered. Using perfume to self-medicate is a regular practice of mine and this is the perfect remedy for what ails many of us right now.

 

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Does the idea of a floral amber appeal to you?

 

 

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Tango, Terralba, Luci Ed Ombre and Montecristo by Masque Milano 

Welcome to the Masquerade Ball

It might not have met my high expectations but I did enjoy trying Russian Tea by Italian niche brand, Masque Milano. It had an atmospheric mood and an appealing (if fanciful) backstory. I liked it enough to become intrigued by the other releases from the brand.

Below are my impressions of the four other fragrances currently in the line-up.

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Tango 

Notes of amber, jasmine sambac, Turkish rose, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, tonka bean, benzoin, sandalwood, guaiac wood, cedar and melilotus.

Opening with a liqueur-like red rose, Tango settles into an incredibly smooth and silky amber. It’s not ground-breaking but it’s seamlessly well done and high quality. There’s a nice sprinkling of spice and just the right amount of vanilla.

Tango could be worth investigating if you’re still seeking a wearable, classy amber fragrance.

Terralba 

Notes of clary sage, lemon, green tangerine, myrtle, thyme, curry leaves, everlasting flower, lentisque, juniper, cypress and cedarwood

Terralba was created to invoke the aroma of a Mediterranean shoreline where the scent of coastal shrubbery mixes with sea salt. Unfortunately it reminds me more of the old school fougères which were popular with my father’s generation.

I’m sure I’m doing it a great disservice but I find the association hard to shake. You may have better luck if you are a fan of green, herbal fragrances.

Luci Ed Ombre 

Notes of incense, ginger, tuberose, jasmine, moss, cedarwood and patchouli

I really enjoyed testing Luci Ed Ombre because it’s rather novel and the idea behind it is so effectively realised. The wearer is transported to the border of a bright field and a gloomy forest where a sense of foreboding creeps over them.

It’s brought to life using patches of moss, earth, gently indolic flowers and a touch of musty incense (which intensifies in the base).

Luci ed Ombre is the kind of white floral I can get on board with – one shrouded in darkness. My only reservation is that it’s a touch reticent.

Montecristo 

Notes of cabreuva, ambrette seeds, rum, tobacco leaves, celery seeds, cistus, benzoin, golden stone, styrax gum, gaiac wood, cedar wood and patchouli

Whoa. An opening of booze and barbecue smoke, that’s got my attention.

Montecristo calms into a distinctive smoky leather with old dry wood and a burnt facet. It’s not as harsh and manly as it sounds. There is some sweet resin in the mix, probably from the styrax, which counterbalances it.  Over time, it becomes increasingly sensual.

Interestingly, it features hyraceum (“Golden Stone”) which helps make Papillon Perfumes’ Salome so gloriously carnal. Here it feels more like animal hide than human skin.  Montecristo is chic, striking and not a little addictive.

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Overall I’ve been impressed by the offerings from Masque Milano. The fragrances tend to have an intimate feel and plenty of character.

I particularly like that the line comes across as very Italian: stylish, sophisticated and sultry, with just a dash of machismo.

 

Do you own or admire any of the Masque Milano fragrances?

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