Tag Archives: Animalic

Une Robe de Zibeline by DSH Perfumes

Notes: aldehydes, bergamot, black pepper, lemon, spice notes; ylang ylang, Bulgarian rose absolute, carnation,  jasmine, orris, rosewood, tobacco absolute, coumarin, sable fur accord; ambergris, beeswax, brown oakmoss, castoreum, civet, patchouli, benzoin, labdanum, tolu balsam, leather

 

There are a number of fabulous American indie perfumes but thanks to the vagaries of the postal system, it’s usually not easy to get your hands on their fragrances outside the States. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is one such perfumer based in Boulder, Colorado. The good news is that her perfumes can now be shipped internationally via the website.

I was fortunate enough to receive a package of samples showcasing the 2017 releases from DSH Perfumes. I will do a post with mini reviews of some of the highlights but I did want to single one out for special mention.

Une Robe de Zibeline was released in September as another instalment of the ‘Retrograde Files’ series.  These perfumes were discontinued because of the limited availability of ingredients. However, thanks to renewed interest in Retro-Nouveau/Animalic perfumes, Une Robe de Zibeline has been re-worked as a grand, vintage-style scent.

Dawn describes it as a smouldering fragrance and it is exactly that. The sensuality is on a low burn rather than full blast. It’s relatively quiet on me and lasts about half a day but results from spraying are likely to vary from applying using the roller-ball sample.

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Une Robe de Zibeline is French for sable coat and the fur subgenre of fragrances is quickly becoming a favourite of mine. This vintage sable scent satisfies my love of subtle, old-school animalic style fragrances where the musk is close to the skin and under the radar.

The opening is full of aldehydes which are silky soft and give the perfume a milky glow.  They immediately put it in the vintage inspired category but also give it some lift. They feel like gossamer and momentarily conceal what is to come with their silvery, glistening web.

For some reason you don’t get a lot of ylang-ylang dominant perfumes which aren’t tropical and indeed Une Robe de Zieline is actually Dawn’s only perfume with this flower at its heart. The ylang-ylang may be prominent but it doesn’t dominate the other accords  but gives them a focal point and creates a beautiful contrast with the dry musk base. When the aldehydes melt away you can breathe in these gorgeously soft, creamy yellow blooms

The ylang-ylang flowers are of course, pinned to an antique fur, making this oriental fragrance more multi-faceted and floral than most in this genre. Some fur coat perfumes are all about the musk, which is fine but what I like about Une Robe de Zibeline, is that is so nicely balanced. The beauty of the flowers tames the beast just enough so it’s soft and pretty as well sophisticated and seductive. Here we have a floral animalic perfume with complexity and that’s what clinches it for me.

 

 

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Do you like retro-inspired fragrances?

 

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Miss Dior Vintage Parfum by Dior

Top: Aldehydes, Gardenia, Galbanum, Clary Sage, Bergamot
Heart: Carnation, Iris, Jasmine, Neroli, Lily-of-the-Valley, Rose, Narcissus
Base: Labdanum, Leather, Sandalwood, Amber, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Vetiver

 

I feel foolish because for years old-school Miss Dior never appealed to me enough to try it. It wasn’t just that there have been countless reformulations over the years or the risk of falling for a vintage gem. To be honest, I think it was the word ‘Miss’ in its name and the association with the ultra-feminine full skirts of Christian Dior’s ‘New Look’ of 1947 – the year of its release.  I assumed Miss Dior wasn’t for me, that it would be too prim and proper.

Now I’ve experienced the wonder that is vintage Miss Dior Parfum (thanks to Miss Portia) I couldn’t have been more wrong. I can see there is a kind of houndstooth smartness to classic Miss Dior but oh, there is so much more to this iconic chypre under its pristine surface.

It’s one of those perfumes that is incredibly cohesive, so tightly woven, that it has a distinct character and persona all its own. This makes it rather tricky to unpick and separate into its constituent parts, but we shall see…

 

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Vintage Miss Dior is glorious from the start. It’s all there; the green-veiled florals with that unmistakable backing of real-deal oakmoss which, along with labdanum and patchouli, give it that addictive chypre tang.

The aldehydes are whisper soft, no doubt because the juice is several decades old. Copious galbanum can make a fragrance come across as steely, but here the austere queen of green is softened by waxy garlands of gardenia flowers.

Perhaps what strikes me most is the fragrance’s texture.  The floral heart is set against a backdrop which Neil of The Black Narcissus described perfectly as “tweedy”. The weave and waft of the original Miss Dior has a cross-hatched grain that I see in shades of dark brown, slate grey and forest green, relieved by flecks of white.

It doesn’t take long – about an hour – for a thread of castoreum-style musk to unravel from the whole and make its presence known. There is a hidden filth scene behind the façade of respectability.  I covet this kind of contrast because it creates intrigue and true allure. This only deepens through its development.

Down in the base, a leather of the super strict variety is revealed. The provocative mixture of cool oakmoss, animalic musk and hard leather is the last thing you’d expect under that crisp, buttoned-up exterior.

Miss Dior never has to take her gloves off in order to put others in their place: just being around her makes everyone mind their manners and sit up a little straighter. It’s an irresistible combination of seductiveness and no-nonsense.

What may at first look appear to be schoolmarmish frigidity is actually leather-bound suggestiveness masked by a show of propriety.

Miss Dior is fragrant subversion of the most elegant kind.

 

 

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Do you adore vintage Miss Dior? How does the current Miss Dior Originale compare?

 

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Ma Bête, Night Flower and Belle de Jour By Eris Parfums

Bringing sexy back…

 

If you’re seriously into perfume, chances are you’ve visited Barbara Herman’s treasure trove of a blog, Yesterday’s Perfumes. It contains a wealth of information about vintage fragrances and was a great help to me when I was researching an eventual purchase of vintage Vol de Nuit extrait.

In 2013 Barbara released a book “Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume“. Earlier this year she launched Eris Parfums.  Working with perfumer Antonie Lie, the intention was to create luxury fragrances that would “celebrate unconventional beauty and subversive glamour” The first collection of three EdPs, La Belle Et La Bête (Beauty and the Beast) is a contemporary re-imagining of the striking and seductive floral animalic perfumes of the past.

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Ma te

Neroli, Aldehydes, Nutmeg, Cypriol, Stypras, Jasmin Sambac, Cedarwood, Patchouli and Animalic Accord

As you would expect from a perfume entitled “My Beast”, Ma Bête is an animalic. Although to start with, it’s not that variety of uncomfortably intimate skank. In the opening stage, it consists of a very sexy yet supple musk accented with neroli and a touch of spice. It has the soft texture of a vintage fur stole, wearing close to the body and giving it that second skin feel. There’s nothing invasive or TMI about it for now.  It’s sexual in the way an old Hollywood movie star could be sexual, with a certain look accompanied by the arch of an eyebrow.

Ma te has one aim and one aim only – to seduce. In the base the beast’s growl turns to a roar and you appreciate the fact that Lie used a 50% overdose of his own animalic cocktail. You could argue that it’s not very complex but I guess when you are in the mood for musk, you want it front and centre (as it were).

 

Night Flower

Bergamot, Cardamom, Leather, Suede, Indian Tuberose, Birch Tar, Patchouli, Cinnamon, Musk and Tonka

I approached Night Flower with some trepidation because I am not generally a tuberose perfume fan, to put it mildly. However, it actually turned out to be the one I enjoyed the most. The opening is a combination of bergamot, suede, cardamom and incredibly smooth tuberose. Instead of being the man-eater it usually is, here the de-fanged flower adds a layer of pink bubblegum sweetness. There’s nothing overblown or headache inducing about it.

Over time the suede turns to birch tar and Night Flower now resembles a pair of long leather gloves that hold just a trace of Fracas. It’s dark, warm and slightly powdery. I hope Lie and Herman won’t mind me saying this, but there’s an ambery muskiness present in the base that takes me back to the bottle of Obsession I owned and loved in my youth.

Belle de Jour

Orange Flower, Jasmine, Coriander, Pink Peppercorn, Ciste, Jasmine, Pimento Berries, Cedarwood Incense, Musks and Seaweed Absolute.

Compared to her two counterparts, Belle de Jour opens up surprisingly fresh, with orange and jasmine blossom petals twisting in a salty sea breeze. Here the requisite musk is white and buoyant. It stays at this elevated pitch for a couple of hours. Thereafter it smooths out, becoming floral scented, cashmere-like, clean musk. The texture is raw silk on clean skin.

Antoine Lie says “Belle de Jour is a study in contrasts: a very luminous floral that is salty, sexy and dirty.”  However, it never becomes dirty, or even naughty, on me which is a shame. I’m sure this is because I’m not picking up the type of musk used in the base, as regularly happens with me.

 

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Do you like this retro style? Have you tried any of these three?

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Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur

 

Bring on the dancing horses…

 

Notes: Leather, Ginger, Tonka Bean, Musk, White Woods, Caramel, Saffron,

Toffee, Candy Apple and Cotton Candy.

 

When I met up with lovely Esperanza of Esperessence a while back, she kindly gave me a decant of Dzing! I was really pleased with this because although I’ve found it a little too skanky in the past, I thought it was a fantastic perfume which I really wanted to write about.

Even when I didn’t think it was something I could wear, I still admired Dzing! from afar. I loved its brilliant “Ta-dah!” name and its novel circus concept.

 

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First released in 1999, it’s a brilliantly executed fragrance. This is down to perfumer Olivia Giacobetti who is a masterful ringmaster. She orchestrates this clever composition so that it is both cohesive and evolving.  To experience Dzing! is a thrill and more than likely to raise a smile of recognition.

When I sprayed my newly acquired decant, I held it close to the back of my hand, the way I usually do with samples and decants. As expected, the most prominent note on my skin was sawdust with eau de elephant. Not scrub-worthy but not something I’d want to spray properly.

The next day I sprayed it on the same place, but at a bit of a distance. The difference in scent was remarkable. This time, after a bright orange opening, I got soft creamy saffron, old books and a layer of sawdust concealing something only mildly animalic. There was also a hint of leather from the horses’ saddles and the lion-tamer’s whip.

In the base, Dzing! has a fabulous fur-like quality; warm and silkily textured.  The sweetness of the toffee, caramel and cotton candy (candy floss in the UK) comes through and the balance of this with the last traces of the departed animals is perfect for me during this final encore.  The sugary treats are also kept in check by hay and vanillic cardboard accords.

Lasting power is excellent and I’d put the projection at moderate.

Dzing! Is that rare beast; a truly unique fragrance. L’Artisan Parfumeur deserve a standing ovation for continuing to produce it.  It’s a good reminder of why we need niche perfumery and where it excels.

 

marilyn

 

Please let me know  your thoughts about Dzing! in the comments, or if there is a another quirky perfume which you really admire.

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Tabac Tabou by Parfum d’Empire

A roll in the hay

 

Notes: Immortelle, Tobacco, Narcissus, Honey, Grass and Musk

 

Most tobacco perfumes take a “smoking jacket and gentlemen’s club” approach. However, last year’s Tabac Tabou sought to take tobacco right back to a time when it was used in primitive spiritual practices.

When reading this, I got visions of the Carlos Castaneda books I consumed as a teen. I don’t get a mystical vibe from Tabac Tabou, although it’s none the worse for that. It’s more about golden fields and horses’ manes than Native American pipe ceremonies and Shamanic rituals.

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A few sprays on skin and I’m surrounded by giant heaps of hay. Not bone dry, neatly stacked bales of straw but moist, messy mounds of freshly cut hay with bits of green grass, wildflowers, clumps of earth and a touch of the barnyard hidden within.

I get lots of gorgeous narcissus, the proper stuff, which is more earthy than floral and redolent of cow pats.

In this initial stage, Tabac Tabou tips over into animalic but not quite enough to scare me off.  I’m easily spooked but even I am more than comfortable with this feral aspect, which feels right at home here in the countryside.

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This fragrance is much more about narcissus and hay than pipes and tobacco. It’s the Great Outdoors rather than an air-sealed smoking den.

The immortelle is there but it’s not nearly as prominent as it usually is. It’s a difficult note for me because I usually find Its spiced maple syrup character too gelatinous and overwhelming. To start with, it’s surprisingly sheer and restrained, adding a slight honeyed sweetness but without any weight.

After the opening half an hour Tabac Tabou becomes less green and more honeyed as the animalic note fades away. It warms up and becomes a little humid, as if we’ve moved from the field into the barn.  It is Extrait de Parfum strength and though it doesn’t project far on me, it does feel like an extrait in terms of longevity.

I may not find it smoky or remisicent of tobacco leaves, but I love narcissus as a material and am happy to see it highlighted here by perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato. It’s so deep, complex and full of nature wild and free, I can see this one appealing to horse lovers as much as tobacco lovers.

I’ve been on the look-out for the perfect narcissus perfume since forever. However, on balance, even if the honeyed sweetness is low-key and slow to develop, I’d still need it to be drier in order to invest in a bottle.

All the same, Tabac Tabou is a fabulous fragrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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