The Advent of Scent, Weeks 20-23
I haven’t actually stopped testing perfumes; I just got waaaaaay behind on posting about them. So behind the cut lieth an ENORMOUS dump of thoughts on what I’ve been going through! Some of these are from Codex friends — including a bunch from different perfumers — while others are a couple of freebies from BPAL that came with me ordering Black Rose (because of course I had to try that one); then I’m off into some of Haus of Gloi’s summer collection. Yoon, I think you might be interested in some of these!
(Reminder to everybody else: you are more than welcome to request anything I don’t say I’m keeping. Do you realize how many samples are sitting around my house these days???)
* Ambra di Venezia (Ambra di Venezia)
Described as bergamot, lime, tangerine, jasmine, narcissus, mango, and sandalwood.” I didn’t take good notes on it beyond it starting off as a nice, clean lime with maybe a hint of jasmine, but judging by the pile I put it in, I liked it enough to keep it for later re-sampling.
* Hesperides Grapefruit (fresh)
Described as “mandarin, Italian lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, lotus flower, transperant jasmine, rhubarb, musk, and peach.” This was a very juicy citrus mix at first, mellowing into the peach and maybe the rhubarb. It’s nicely fruity, but not for me.
* Anima Dulcis (Arquiste)
Described as “sesame seed, cinnamon bark, oregano; clove buds, cumin, huele-de-noche (night-blooming jasmine), smoked chili infusion (ancho, guajillo, and chipotle); Mexican vanilla bean, cocoa bean absolute, and oriental-chypre accord.” I respect what this one is doing! After this many samples, there’s starting to be a same-ness to many of them, but this one is distinctly different: spicy without being the usual spices, foody without being the usual gourmand notes. I ultimately don’t like the smell of things like cumin or chili well enough to want this one, but it wins points for being interesting!
* Beautiful Times (Nanette Lepore)
Described as “bergamot, mandarin, orange; violet, ylang; sandalwood, and caramelized sugar.” Starts off in the mandarin/orange with deep sugar end, then goes to violet and what I think is the ylang (that’s apparently another fruity-smelling flower) before ending up on sweet sandalwood. Worth trying again!
* Aqua Decima (Maison Francis Kurkdjian)
Described as “tangerine, lemon, mint, neroli, petitgrain, vetiver, and white wood.” It’s a nice, astringent, clean scent, but it faded too fast. (Also, side note: I literally had to run a Romanian site through Google Translate to find out what’s in this one, because none of the English-language sites I found admitted this perfume even exists.)
* Petit Matin (Maison Francis Kurkdjian)
Described as “lavender, litsea cubeba, musk, ambroxan, hawthorn, lemon, and orange blossom.” Orange and lavender with a faint a woody note; then lavender and hawthorn; then it goes down to what I think is the ambroxan, which I really did not like.
* Indigo (NEST)
Described as “Italian lemon, orange bergamot, Moroccan tea, Kashmir wood, and wild figs from the south of France.” Citrus and something heavier (the wood or the fig) gave way very rapidly to something way too floral for my taste.
* Luxe de Venise (Catherine Malandrino)
Described as “grapefruit, apricot, raspberry, jasmine, rose, musk, amber, and geranium.” I took crap notes on this one and then apparently misplaced it entirely, so I guess I’m keeping it for later re-testing by dint of not having it on hand to give away?
* Black Saffron (Byredo)
Described as “juniper berries, pomelo, saffron, accord cuir, black violet, cristal rose, blonde woods, and vetiver.” This one was okay but not remarkable, swinging from a very sharp and astringent pomelo/juniper, through a sweeter violet-to-rose phase, ending on a slightly woody rose.
* Black Tulip (NEST)
Described as “Japanese violet, Indonesian jasmine, patchouli, pink peppercorn, black amber, plum, and cherry.” Cherry peppercorn floral, the by now expected violet bloom in the middle — and then it takes on that unpleasant floral edge I dislike so often.
* Wild Poppy (NEST)
Described as “Rose de Grasse and hints of Himalayan jasmine with the luscious aromas of pear, raspberry, and apricot.” I got a nice spectrum of the fruits at the outset — raspberry and apricot in the bottle, with pear once I applied it — then the rose started to assert itself with a little jasmine, but it kept the fruity undertone rather than just straight-up fading to floral. It went into the try-again pile!
* Amazing Grace (philosophy)
Described as “bergamot, lemon, neroli, muguet (lily of the valley), orange blossom, rose, jasmine, and musk blend.” I’m amused that some things go into my notes as “generic perfume” — a phase this one outgrew, but by way of a brief soapy phase before ROSE (and jasmine) and eventual rose musk. File under “I have better roses.”
Described as “amber, sandalwood, black patchouli, and cinnamon.” Thus was crafted the first half of the theory my sister and I formulated, which is that black patchouli = I should be selling crystals. Seriously, this made me smell like such a hippie — the cinnamon and sandalwood were in there, and I like both of those, but this is very much not me.
* Jazz Funeral
Described as “bittersweet bay rum, bourbon, and a host of funeral flowers with a touch of graveyard dirt, magnolia and Spanish moss.” Way back at the beginning of this experiment somebody warned me that when BPAL lists a “dirt” note, they mean it; well, now I have evidence of that. This initially had a sharp leading edge with something kind of fruity or herbal, but pretty soon it went to dirt with either a floral/spice (early drydown) or sweet layer over it. I . . . do not like dirt as a scent, thanks.
Described as “vetiver, dark woods, crumbling and burnt black sandalwood and a drop of lemon rind.” I’m still not super-clear on what vetiver smells like, but there was a sharp, medicinal note dominating here that I really didn’t like much. A woody note came through for a bit, but it didn’t compensate enough.
* Black Rose
Described as “a blend of roses, with a touch of amber and musk,” and bought entirely because of Rook and Rose. 🙂 I’m keeping this regardless, but if I try it again, maybe I won’t put on so much next time — it’s a very heavy, sweet rose.
Described as “red patchouli sweetened by orange blossom.” Here we formulated the second half of the theory, which is that red patchouli = I should be selling furniture with little mirrors in it, possibly at Pier One. Still smell like a hippie, just a different variety. And . . . yeah, yikes, I can cope with patchouli when it’s a minor element in a larger scent, but not when it’s the main note.
* Les Bijoux
Described as “skin musk and honey, blood-red rose, orange blossom, white peach, red apple, frankincense and myrrh.” Another one that’s not bad, but I have better. In the bottle, it’s honey apple underlaid with resin; wet it’s more sharply apple; then it balances out wit the resin and honey as it dries. It gets a bit of a chemical edge for a bit, before eventually settling down to a heavy honey musk.
Described as “bold, bright mandarin paired with the sweet, sensual earthiness of fig.” For once the mandarin lasted! But I found the fig a bit off-putting; to me, these don’t combine super well.
* The Great Sword of War
Described as “mandarin, tonka, saffron, black tea, cocoa, tobacco leaf, sanguine red musk and five classical herbs of conflict.” Bleh — this may be very fancy soap, but from start to finish it smells like soap, and do. not. want.
Described as “thick bitter almond and heady night-blooming jasmine with saffron, cinnamon leaf, red patchouli, river lilies, bergamot, fig leaf and the sacred incense of Inanna.” Dammit! I really liked this one at the outset, in ways I can’t describe very well, except to say that it was complex. But then . . . cinnamon soap. Stupid soap.
Described as “a Victorian fougere with three pale musks and dark, sugared vanilla tea.” I’m not sure if they mean the elements of a fougere are in here (the basic components of that being lavender, oakmoss, and coumarin), but all I ever smelled was vanilla musk, cut for a little while in the early stages by the tea. Not interesting.
Couldn’t find the ingredients for this one, but it was pretty much just straight-up patchouli. Something lighter or sharper came through briefly when I applied it, but the rest of the time? Patchouli.
Described as “white musk, lime, lilac and citron.” I’m not super familiar with lilac, but I assume that’s what I got alongside the citrus early on. And unlike most things with musk in them, traces of those persisted even into late drydown! Worth trying again.
* Vicomte de Valmont
Described as “ambergris, white musk, white sandalwood, Spanish moss, orange blossom, three mints, jasmine, rose geranium and a spike of rosemary.” For a change of pace, this one started off as supah fancy herbal soap, but shed that as it started to dry. Unfortunately, what it turned into was ambergris, and at this point I’m pretty sure I will never be fond of that.
Described as “white peach, amber, golden musk and patchouli.” The peach and amber help restrain the patchouli this time around, but there’s an unpleasant chemical tinge in the end, so nope.
Described as “sorrowful violet and chamomile with muguet, white geranium, calla lily and tea rose with a hint of autumn leaves.” I’m still not good enough with different floral scents to pick out what in here might have been the muguet (lily of the valley), geranium, or calla lily, but in late drydown I think something else came to join the violet and rose, those being what I smelled most of the way through. Meh.
* Boardwalk (Haus of Gloi)
Described as “sea air, tropical vanilla, dune grass, and pikake flower.” This was a nice beach scent, but it didn’t age as well as I’d like. It’s sort of a lot of things along the way — a faintly sweet, fruity suntan lotion kind of scent, then vanilla, and something grassier, and possibly the fruity floral almost coconut-like bit was the pikake? Who knows. But it didn’t quite keep it up in a way I want to hold onto.
* Lucky Cat (Haus of Gloi)
Described as “fresh ripe kumquat and mango with a touch of bamboo mint and a wisp of incense.” Another in the “orange Tic-Tac” family, though the mint helps rein the sweetness in, and then I think a bit of the mango shows up? Not for me, though.
* Easy Daisy (Haus of Gloi)
Described as “green grass, wild dandelion, a hint of lemon and a drop of chamomile in a base of soft Egyptian musk.” In the bottle: green, lemon, maaaaaaaaaybe some chamomile? Wet, it’s green and dandelion. Chamomile comes up for a bit in the drydown, and then the green sticks around to cut the musk. I’ll try it again!
* Driftwood (Haus of Gloi)
Described as “sun bleached driftwood, dry black musk, warm sand, dune grasses and a damp oceanic breeze,” and yeah, I got this one because of Driftwood. 🙂 I don’t think I’ll keep it, though. It’s kind of a musky, sandy grass at first, but it rapidly goes to woody musk, and I don’t like the woodiness enough.
* Beguiled (Haus of Gloi)
Described as “lemon cake made with the tang of fresh buttermilk and raspberry coulis — an otherwise innocent cake corrupted by cardamom and deceptive pink peppercorns.” (Haus of Gloi, have you been taking copy-writing lessons from BPAL?) This one’s tasty! Lemon buttermilk cardamom in the bottle, switching balance to buttermilk lemon cardamom when I apply it, but fortunately that butter note fades. Then it’s lemon trading off with raspberry as time goes on. I never really got the peppercorn, but that’s fine; everything else is delicious.