Tag Archives: Smoky

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.

anna z perfumes

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.

 

samples

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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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.

 

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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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Mood Scent 4 – Rainy Day Perfumes

Welcome to the first joint blogging project by Mood Scent 4! We are four perfume bloggers from France, Holland, England and Wales who will be posting on a different joint subject every couple of months.  Each time we will all pick a selection of five or so fragrances to fit a particular mood or occasion. You’ll find links to the other blogs at the end of the post.

We hope you have fun reading our different choices and adding your own in the comments.

Mood scent

I love it when it’s raining outside and I’m cosy indoors with little to do but listen to the raindrops patter against the window pane. Generally I don’t wear perfume on days like these unless I’m testing out a sample, but it’s fun to imagine what would be rainy day appropriate.

Silences by Jacomo

Notes: Orange blossom, Galbanum, Bergamot, Lemon, Green notes, Cassia;  Iris, Jasmine, Narcissus, Hyacinth, Rose, Lily-of-the-Valley,  Vetiver, Musk, Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Cedar and Ambrette.

This one feels just right for a rainy day in spring, both by name and scent. While most people have retreated indoors, you might want to take a peaceful walk in the rain. A soaking from an April shower seems to amplify the green aroma of vegetation in the air. Silences is a verdant green with a few flower petals and a little powder, that has a calming effect. It is also a bargain if you can find it online.

Celtic Fire by Union

Notes: Pine needles, Fir balsam, Marmite, Birch Tar, Peat and Bog Myrtle.

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My dream rainy day scenario would be eating toast by a roaring fire inside a cabin up in the Highlands of Scotland. The next best thing is Celtic Fire with its peaty, smoky aroma and quirky use of a salty Marmite accord. It’s a statement perfume with a certain meaty substance to it. There’s nothing quite like it.

Dzing! by L’Artisan Parfumeur

Notes: Leather, Ginger, Tonka Bean, Musk, White Woods, Caramel, Saffron, Toffee, Candy Apple and Cotton Candy

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If you do choose to spend your rainy day with a good book and it’s not the digital kind, then Dzing! would be a good accompaniment. It may recreate the smell of the circus but there’s also a whiff of old paperbacks in there, which have started to curl at the edges and smell of musty vanilla. It’s also a clever, completely unique scent and you don’t have to worry about the soupçon of skank if it’s just going to be you and your novel of choice.

L’Eau Froide by Serge Lutens

Notes: Olibanum, Sea Water, Musk, Vetiver, Mint, Incense, Pepper and Ginger.

I know there’s not a lot of love for the Serge Lutens L’Eau line but I like this one. I can’t handle big incense perfumes like the mighty Avignon by Commes des Garcons, so a gentle watery incense with aromatic touches suits me just fine. L’Eau Froide is a softly refreshing fragrance that wouldn’t be too distracting and could match a contemplative mood on a wet day.

Vanilla Smoke by Aftelier Perfumes

Notes: Yellow Mandarin, Siam Wood, Saffron Absolute, Vanillin, Vanilla Absolute, Lapsang Souchong, Ambergris and Coumarin

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Here you get gorgeous, soothing vanilla wrapped up in lovely, rubbery leather. Vanilla Smoke is my ideal comfort scent and will be particularly perfect when autumn rolls around and it starts to get cold and rainy. Enjoy it while taking a rain check – put your feet up and sip one of Mandy’s fabulous Fragranced Teas.

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Make sure you check out the other posts at Megan In Sainte Maxime, I Scent You A Day and L’Esperessence.

What are your own Rainy Day Perfumes?

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Iris Cendré by Naomi Goodsir

 

An iris rising from the ashes…

 

Notes: Bergamot, Tangerine, Orris Butter, Violet, Amber, Cistus, Tobacco

 

Earlier this year I ordered a sample of Iris Cendré from Surrender to Chance along with Vanilla Smoke by Aftelier Perfumes, which were  my two lemmings of the moment. Vanilla Smoke was a great success and is on my Full Bottle List but what about Iris Cendré? I’ve been mulling it over.

Seeing as I love the note so much, I feel there is definitely room for more than one iris in my collection and I like the atmospheric, striking style of Naomi Goodsir’s perfumes.  With so much positive feedback last year, Iris Cendré definitely got me intrigued. I was also interested to see what perfumer Julien Rasquinet’s take on iris would be as he does smoky scents so well (such as Bois d’Ascese by the same brand). I quite fancied an iris among the ashes.

 

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Iris Cendré starts a little vegetal and a little powdery, with a brief burst of chilled orange juice. As the iris comes into full focus, I’m reminded of why I love this material as much as I do. I read on The Candy Perfume Boy that one perfumer described orris as “a perfume in itself” and that sums it up its complexity perfectly.

Here, it strikes a nice balance being not too carroty, cosmetic or floral. The mood is subdued and candlelit. As iris often does, it evokes a wistful feeling in the wearer.

Iris Cendré is powdered but in a very gentle, smooth way and I’m relieved that it’s not sweet.  It’s true to iris’s nature but adds something new in its sprinkling of cinders. It doesn’t smell of billowing smoke or incense to me, but more like powdery charcoal which turns to dust at the slightest touch.  The effect is subtle and sophisticated.

As time goes on, to my surprise the backdrop turns from grey to green. I enjoy this transformation into mossy suede a great deal. In this way, Iris Cendré turns the typical perfume progression on its head. The deep, resinous, bold accords are at the start, moving into soft greenery as it develops. This makes it an unique iris fragrance. Although it may disappoint those who aren’t fans of green accords and who want those indigo/grey tones all the way through. 

The base sounds like it should be heavy, being made up of amber, cistus and tobacco but it’s not. As with other creations by Rasquinet, it’s a sheer, clean, woody/ambery blur.

The projection is weak but maybe that’s the result of dabbing rather than spraying. The other aspect that gives me pause is what I can best describe as a kind of persistent musky fuzziness. My mate and fellow blogger Tina G noticed something similar so at least I know I’m not imagining it.

Personal niggles aside, Iris Cendré is an original and distinctive take on the note and worth trying if you’re an iris fan.

 

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Please share your experience in the comments if you’ve tried Iris Cendré.

 

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Rhinoceros, Beaver and Panda by Zoologist

Zoologist is a Canadian niche house whose creations possesses two commodities that we could do with more of in Perfumeland – novelty and wit.  The man behind this concept is Victor Wong who cleverly decided to commission indie perfumers to author each animal inspired scent. However, it should be noted that no animal products were used in any of the fragrances.

I tried the inaugural three perfumes which were launched in 2014. My interest has been piqued enough to want to try the latest additions, being the delightful sounding Hummingbird by Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes and the intriguing – not to say award winning – Bat by Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids.

The bottles are fantastic with the illustrations being reminiscent of The Wind in the Willows.

 

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Rhinoceros

Top Notes: Rum, Bergamot, Lavender, Elemi, Sage, Armoise, Conifer Needles. Heart Notes: Pinewood, Tobacco, Immortelle, Geranium, Agarwood, Chinese Cedar Wood. Base Notes: Vetiver, Sandalwood, Amber, Smoke, Leather, Musks

I thought Rhinoceros would be too much of a beast for me to handle but while it’s not my usual style, I really enjoyed testing and wearing it. It’s a strange mix of booze, smoke, oud and pine which swirls across my skin and holds my attention. The subtle pine accord, along with the other aromatics, make an interesting contrast against the more  upfront combination of alcohol, tobacco, oud and leather.

The oud is the most pronounced component of Rhinoceros on me and while we are not short of oud frags to choose from, this one is particularly urbane, being nicely refined with sophisticated tobacco and leather.

The aromatics and rum recede in the base, but it remains as arid as the desert plain throughout.  It would be attractive to those who like the idea of a “gentlemen’s club” style scent with a twist.  In opposition to the tough hide of its inspiration, Rhinoceros is surprisingly smooth with a distinguished air.

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Rhinoceros was composed by Paul Kiler of PK Perfumes, as was Beaver.

 

Beaver

Top Notes: linden-blossom, Fresh Air, Musk, Light citrus. Heart Notes: (Synthetic) Castoreum, Iris, Vanilla, Smoke*, Undergrowth. Base Notes: (Synthetic) Animal Musks, Ash*, Cedar, Amber

*I have a sample of the original version but the website states that the formula has been modified this year with the removal of the smoke and ash notes, redesigning of the linden blossom and the addition of light leather and more musk.  A limited number of bottles of the original formula are still available.

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Composed by British perfumer Chris Bartlett of Pell Wall Perfumes, this fragrance was largely inspired by the beaver’s river habitat but also uses a castoreum-style base to represent the mammal’s musk.

First we get sparkling, juicy lime bringing to mind a rushing river in bright sunlight, but this is soon undercut by a light plume of smoke and something vaguely metallic.  I don’t get the dirty facet others seem to, so I’m guessing this is yet another case where my nose is failing to pick up a certain type of musk. The muskiness I do pick up in Beaver is of the sheer, woody musk variety and flows nicely with the aquatic citrus accord.

As time wears on the watery aspect fades to a faint backwash overlaid with a cottony musk drydown.  I find it subdued – especially compared to Rhinoceros – but no doubt this wouldn’t be the case if I got the intended “beaver musk”.

 

Panda

Top Notes: Buddha’s Hand Citron, Bamboo, Sichuan Pepper, Green Tea, Mandarin, Zisu Leaves. Heart Notes: Osmanthus, Orange Blossom, Lillies, Mimosa, Incense. Base Notes: Sandalwood, Pemou Root, Cedar, Fresh Musk, Bourbon, Haitian Vetiver, Damp Moss

Panda is a full of lush green vegetation filled with sap on the inside and dampened with rain on the outside. It makes me think of misty, verdant mountainsides and clean air. However, I’m thrown by something that verges on the medicinal.  I can best liken it to a drop of potent cleaning fluid on wet leaves.

This distracting facet calms down in the drydown when the whole scent becomes a darker shade of green, mimicking dense undergrowth.

 

Panda-60ml-Front_grande

 

I really admire what Victor Wong is doing with this house and all three fragrances exhibit a high level of quality and excellent longevity.

I would be very interested to read your own experience of any of the Zoologist perfumes in the comments.

 

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1805 Tonnerre by Beaufort

Twisted firestarter…

Notes: Lime, smoke, gunpowder, blood, brandy, sea water, amber, balsam fir and cedar.

 

These days when I hear about a new perfume house it tends to wash over me. That is unless it’s mentioned by a friend.

Tina G of Australian Perfume Junkies told me about Beaufort and specifically the scent 1805 Tonnerre. What especially got my attention was when she said the man behind the line, Leo Crabtree, had played drums with The Prodigy. Apparently he has had a life-long love of fragrance and his inspiration for Beaufort is the dark side of English history, particularly in relation to the sea.

The brand name comes from the Beaufort wind force scale of measuring the intensity of the wind: a system still in use today. The website states that it represents “a kind of framework within which we can understand ourselves: The wind is constant, enduring, but ultimately changeable and potentially destructive”.

So when I met up with fellow blogger Esperanza at Bloom perfumery during her recent trip to London, I suggested we try the line. We both enjoyed testing the three fragrances released last year in the inaugural Hell and High Water Collection because they were so distinctive. Whether they’re to your taste or not, it’s interesting to try something that isn’t bland or you’ve experienced a million times before.

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1805 was the year of the Battle of Trafalgar, which Admiral Nelson won but during which he lost his life. The fragrance, 1805 Tonnerre attempts to re-create the scent of the battle and is an arresting clash of lime and gunpowder. The lime is bright, fresh and tart while the gunpowder is smoky, leathery and almost meaty. The two are surprisingly well matched, with the lime slicing through the powdery smoke in the opening stage.

The citrus fades over about an hour leaving a woody/ashy drydown with a little salt spray and a pleasing handful of pine needles thrown in.

Of course there should be no gender restrictions in perfume but 1805 Tonnerre feels assuredly masculine to me and I can envisage it being attractive on a guy with a bit of an edge. I can also see women who like bold, smoky perfumes going for this one too.

Tina told me that as well as the Eau de Parfum, the scent is available as a candle and that medium appeals to me most.

Projection is explosive to begin with but mellows out.  I found it to be fiercely tenacious – as if it had seeped into the skin – even surviving a bath.

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It’s one of those fragrances that is best appreciated at a bit of distance. If you press your nose in close – as is our wont – it’s too intense and jarring, but that’s not how we experience fragrance in day to day life anyway.

Give it room to breathe and 1805 Tonnerre can become an uncommon pleasure.

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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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