Monthly Archives: September 2012

Jarling – JAR

Jarling has one of the most exquisite openings I have smelt. I know I said that about Fermes Tes Yeux – but this is different. A medicinal, camphorous blast of clove and eucalyptus, maybe some candied lavender, becomes overbowled by a heavenly but intense heliotrope and star anise – giving off an almond/marzipan vibe that is violated by an almost calamine lotion image.

Is it a bitter citrus? I’m not sure. There’s something I can’t quite put my finger on – is it peach? There’s a fruity element to Jarling, like a soft puree – along with this medicated lotion like scent, with the almond and anise more intense than they should be – but better for it. It is completely bitter-sweet, with an almost acidic lemon rind in the heart – curdling the more creamy notes of marzipan.

A lilac comes to the foreground also, giving Jarling a slightly soapy edge, and dragging that hyper-clean medicinal smell throughout. The almond/heliotrope gives Jarling a hefty sprinkle of powder, which is enhanced a little more by some iris. At this point, the clove note begins to settle, the fragrance becomes more soft and powdery – the anise and heliotrope give off a cloud like texture and weight, but still with that bitter medicinal aroma fresh on the memory, but not so much on the skin.

The life of Jarling is not particularly long, as it does get softer and quieter as time goes on, retreating close to the skin – still clinging onto its challenging personality until it settles into a much more wearable powder. Jarling is a fantastic piece of work, the first few sniffs and all I got was the beautifully powdery marzipan, the sniff after and I was bowled over with its antispetic aroma – very different from the smoky Savlon of Tea by Comme Des Garcons – hence my reference to calamine lotion – it’s texture is different, almost sticky and overwhelming. It’s a challenging and unusual partnership to the sweet almond notes of heliotrope and the syrupy anise but it works wonderfully.
I really like this, and if I was to splash out on a JAR, this would probably be the one for me – it is however, very difficult to wear. Still, a perfumista’s must sniff – JAR is exceptionally overpriced, but I can’t fault them on creativity.

Jar Jarling 30ml – $$$$

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Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia – Guerlain

I’ve not reviewed this one before as I’ve always felt it didn’t really belong on my blog. But, I really enjoy Lys Soleia, and I wore it a ton over summer – I’d almost consider it my 2012 Summer signature fragrance, as I picked it up regularly when I couldn’t decide what else to wear, or if I just wanted to wear something comfortable, and lovely for the day.
The Aqua Allegoria range has a little bit of a cult following really, well, Pampelune being the most popular of course, closely followed by Herba Fresca. This however, I think is the best of the bunch.

Lys Soleia opens with a syrupy lemon, underlayed by the currently hidden white florals that give it a creamy quality similar to limoncello. Within seconds, the bergamot gives it a sharp, mouth-watering kick before the florals come on in full force.

At first there’s a glorious ylang-ylang, banana-ry and tropical, paired with a subtle tuberose that combined give off a slight “suntan lotion” vibe which I really love. Closely following is the lily which over time becomes the main-player. The spicy lily is thick and creamy, a hint of floral spice that’s extremely soft and comfortable. The tropical bunch of flowers all blend in to one lactonic accord that is heady, pollen rich, but with a rounded texture that sits beautifully on the skin.

The base also shows itself quickly in the heart – a rich vanilla, yet again, harmlessly sweet and creamy – nothing boozy or dry or pungent. There is a tropical fruit accord listed, but they merely provide a honeyed sweetness rather than a distinctively recognizable scent. The fragrance is all about the sun drenched lily’s, the banana cream of ylang-ylang and a creamy vanilla. It’s pure sunshine bottled, and whilst undoubtably feminine, has enough room to breathe between the notes that it doesn’t feel heavy and “perfumey”.

The creamy florals last until the end, with the vanilla settling into a smooth whipped cream, and a little bit of musk to keep it attached to your skin far longer than I initially expected.
This was a “buy on first sniff” for me, I just really enjoyed it as soon as I tried it. A harmless scent that’s so easy to wear, hugely comfortable and an instant spray and smile. I’m sure it sounds extremely boring in comparison to my usual taste, but there we go, sometimes things like this fit perfectly amongst the more statement fragrances in a collection and turn out to be just as necessary.
If it sounds appealing – I highly recommend it, and for the price, it’s a bargain! Despite the ugly bottle.

Guerlain Lys Soleia 75ml EDT – £37

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Sables – Annick Goutal

My bottle of Sables arrived the other day so I thought I’d write about it. I wouldn’t quite say Sables was a blind buy – but I had only gave it a passing sniff before, on paper, twice.

Sables comes out the bottle medicinal and boozy, before an instant uproar of hot, dry spice flies to the foreground, the curried scent of fenugreek blooming under the nose. Up close the immortelle is rich and syrupy, a hit of pepper gives it lift, some cinnamon adds heat, and I also get an unusual but prominent anise note which is an absolutely perfectly inclusion that I haven’t heard mentioned before…

If I spray it on lightly, the curried quality of immortelle comes out on top – spicy, with a savoury gourmand quality. If I spray it on heavy, I get a much more syrupy sweetness with the anise more prominent… I spray it on heavy! It’s gorgeously rich, the immortelle giving the anise a more dense, liquorice quality. The immortelle is the most prominent note from start to finish, and if you don’t like it’s aroma then it sounds more than obvious to say “stay away!” – it’s presented here in full flower, but in a perfect harmony between the sweet and savoury spices.

The notes of curry are uncomfortable if you’re not familiar with the note, but if you are – then Sables is actually tamer than expected. For a more full-blown curry fest, try Fareb by Huitieme Art… that’s gruesome. I do really enjoy the spice, it’s cosy, warm and just teeters on the edge of edible.

As it begins to settle it tames every so slightly; a golden amber joins in from the base, along with a dry sandalwood. At this point the syrupy quality dries out until the immortelle of Sables smells more like a scattering of heavily scented powder. It gives the fragrance a more spacial feel – losing it’s density and becoming more of a landscape than an up-close portrait. It’s aura and sillage is wonderfully ever-changing, flickering between a fragrant curry (but not so literally it could be mistaken for food residue), and sweetly spiced amber. Bone dry and dusty in the end, it’s power is still impressive – lasting hours and hours.

I find Sables easier to wear than I expected and am thrilled to have it in my collection for the coming cold seasons! Recommended :D

Annick Goutal Sables 100ml EDT – 85 Euros

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Tea – Comme Des Garcons

Since I tried Tea long ago, I have wanted it since, but have never felt the real need to buy it. The other day I recommended it to someone who emailed me from the blog, and I thought “Yeh I gotta get this now” – well, it arrived today and I remembered just how good it is!

Tea opens with a very bitter bergamot, before it very quickly becomes a hugely medicinal bomb of a fragrance. Now when I say “bomb” – it’s a bit overdramatic; it’s not particularly loud, but it’s a hellofa pungent smell. Instantly familiar, Tea brings to mind antiseptic cream and bundles of sterile bandages. It’s texture is also relatively creamy at first, but with an astringent kick throughout.

A smokiness from the stewed black tea creeps up underneath, entwining with the antiseptic medicine that smells smooth but clinical. It’s reasonably quiet pitch is appreciated, which isn’t something I’d normally say – but Tea would be without a doubt hugely overwhelming if presented at full volume.

I think I get a very subtle clove note, or it could be a mirage from the “Savlon”. As the smoky tea and antiseptic cream settle, a scattering of roses begins to creep up – very subtle, but adding an undeniable floral presence which slowly begins to make tea a lot more wearable if the opening is a little too much. The simple addition of rose needs nothing more or less, and there is nothing more or nothing less. Tea’s heart feels simplistic and minimal, relying on its strong personality to make it instantly identifiable and interesting – and it is.

Tea keeps changing, it’s ancient smelling, herbal blend getting more delicately floral, and its initial creaminess getting stronger as a nearly de-sweetened vanilla creeps in from the base. The smoky notes infuse the vanilla, and Tea becomes one of the few vanilla fragrances I am happy to wear – and thoroughly enjoy. Pitch black and slightly sticky, but not at all sugary and sweet, the vanilla smells bone dry and heavily distorted by the opening. The successful transition from the pungent smell of bandages from the opening to the delicate floral and smoky vanilla heart/base, is undoubtably impressive – a turnaround as great as Tubereuse Criminelle’s opening of menthol and camphor to creamy white floral.

In the very base is dry woods, made smoother by the vanilla. A safe but secure base that whilst not quite as unusual – doesn’t really need to be. It becomes quiet quickly, retreating close to your skin – ready for some spritzes later on in the day to capture the bizarrely compelling opening.
Tea is a standout in the Comme Des Garcons lineup in my opinion, and I recommend any perfumista to give it a sniff – my favourite tea scent by far, and a fantastic vanilla drydown unlike any other.

Tea 50ml EDT Comme Des Garcons – £48

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Bois D’Ombrie – Eau D’Italie

A sweet honeyed tobacco, a fruit-laden booze and rich leather open Bois D’Ombrie, initially bringing to mind CB I Hate Perfume’s Cumming. After just a few seconds of getting your head around the gloriously rich but subdued opening, a powdery but rooty iris comes forward, it instantly becomes a recognizable Duchaufour creation.

The leather and tobacco retreat in their intensity a little, whilst still adding a hint of smoke. The iris is joined by Bertrand’s signature incense, reminding me of both Dzongkha, and Sienne L’Hiver – but with a warmer, spicier colour. The spice – a dash of pepper, and what smells like maybe nutmeg? Smoothing out the composition is myrrh – giving off its usual “breathy”, resinous scent and adding a rubbery texture, calming the spices and joining the smooth iris.

The boozy scent of warm raisins trails throughout Bois D’Ombrie, but quiet, and not given a syrupy treatment like a Lutens’ creation for example – here it is more translucent, given depth by smoky leather and rich tobacco of the heart. The powdery iris and delicate spice are cut with an earthiness of subtle vetiver, and the fragrance whilst sounding like a complicated bag of textures is executed perfectly smooth and light – smelling like a smoky stain on the skin. The spicy vibe is thankfully not loud at all, and I’m sure I get a little bit of saffron in there as well which I really enjoy.

There’s a deep woodsy note and a bunch of patchouli in the base, but the fragrance never lets go of its initial personality of booze and leather. The Duchaufour signature splattered across it start to finish may be too obvious and familiar for some, but Bois D’Ombrie is a perfect partner to Sienne L’Hiver – they evoke similar reactions in me and I thoroughly enjoy them both but wouldn’t really want to wear either. Where Sienne L’Hiver is cold and briney (which I prefer), this is warm and slightly nostalgic – easier to wear and more masculine.
I think Bois D’Ombrie is a fantastic, original fragrance – it’s handsome and charming but with a slightly melancholy aura throughout, a perfect “mood” for a fragrance – go sniff it!

Sienne L’Hiver Bois D’Ombrie 50ml EDT – £87.00 Les Senteurs

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Pentachord Verdant – Tauer

Pentachord Verdant opens with a sweet snap of greenery – sweet like caramelized brown sugar that quickly brings forth a bitter, earthy vetiver. Relatively transparent almost instantly, Verdant glistens as though drenched in water – but not at all “thin”.
As the vetiver becomes more prominent and the “brown sugar” retreats, the sweetness is kept in the foreground by a candied mint note that gives the otherwise warm, rooty vetiver a cool feel – although I’d describe it as “refreshing” I don’t want that to be off-putting (as it would to me when I read that), but I can’t help it, it is a fresh, rejuvenating splash of fragrant juice.

A leafiness I guess comes from the listed “tobacco” – although it is unlike any other tobacco scent I have tried. The sweet, slightly smoky aroma that intermingles with the vetiver seems to give it an almost mineralic support – an earthiness that is given lift by its clever lack of weight.
A resinous base provides most of its depth, whether it is a hint of sweet amber (sorry for the overuse of the word sweet) or a hint of cool, smoky incense – it supports the mint, vetiver and crushed leaf notes very delicately, never overwhelming the heart of Verdant.

There is little development in Pentachord Verdant, it’s relatively linear – similarly to Pentachord White, but lasts nicely on the skin whilst remaining quite close. It is a very unusual fresh/green scent, and a great take on a mint/vetiver fragrance in a similar distortion to Dirty by Lush – where Dirty adds a stale/herbal/mineralic accord that’s incredibly potent, Verdant sweetens it with a bundle of earthy notes so that the mint adjusts the temperature rather than being the overriding smell – which often happens with mint.

Eventually when the mint evaporates, the vetiver becomes even more prominent, bringing with it a subtle tomato leaf aroma, much more subdued and easy to wear than say – Memory Of Kindness by CB I Hate Perfume. What remains until the end is this green leaf notes, the beautifully clear vetiver, a sweet resinous, subtely smoky base with a dry hit of cedar wood. Beautiful transparent perfumery – Ellena should learn a lesson from Tauer, this is how it’s done well.

Tauer Pentachord Verdant 50ml – 103.80 Euros

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Fermes Tes Yeux – JAR

A potent animalic rush opens Fermes Tes Yeux. A heavy castoreum and civet combo pack one hell of a hardcore punch just as the intense narcotics of florals underneath come forward with rich decay. The decayed note that fills the opening is topped with the cool, camphorous notes of eucalyptus, clove and maybe even a bit of mint and lavender? It’s cold, calculating, medicinal and herbal… and without a doubt, one of my favourite openings of all time.

The fragrance at first brings to mind the narcotic intensity of Tubereuse Criminelle, the decayed petals of Charogne, the powerful musk of Untitled No.8 by Brent Leonesio, and the medicinal high-pitched screech of Tea by Comme Des Garcons – all things I love.
As it begins to calm (only just), the most prominent floral to my nose is ylang-ylang. I get billows of old banana skin, with the tropical narcotics still almost white noise. The cloves are cold and medicinal, the eucalyptus smear bringing to mind a hidden smidge of tiger balm.

The bitter herbal opening also brings to mind numerous O’Driu and Santa Maria Novella fragrances… please excuse my constant comparisons – with no notes list given for these I’m trying to put forward this fragrance as blatantly as I can.
The rich leather underneath, scrubbed up to a point where is screams with chemical overload goodness. As the leather comes in more prominently as does a hit of indolic lily. The spicy kick that comes with lily is paired with its over-ripe “hammy” quality as Turin describes – it smells like cold, processed meat, ham in particular… this thing I’m sure sounds so unappetizing.
There are more florals though, and after smelling Zeta by Tauer today – I’m convinced I get linden blossom in this also, but only because it’s scent is fresh on my mind, but the honeyed, green twang is there that makes them so identifiable. Also orange blossom? There must be jasmine as well due to my initially association with Charogne.

As it begins to dry down, the muskiness is still killer strong, but now with the overpowering smell of beeswax, that grips ahold the remaining indoles and floral pollen. It’s rich, dark, leather – overloaded with textures and flavours is a real nose attack of the best kind. The lily settles into something much more appetizing and becomes the leading floral note for me. It’s lovely top to bottom, a real challenge, and another perfect example of how brilliant natural perfumery can be :)

Fermes Tes Yeux 30ml JAR – $$$$ (300 Euros+)

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Santal Majuscule – Serge Lutens

Santal Majuscule opens with a floral hit of clean rose before instantly giving way to the intense sweet, creaminess of Serge’s sandalwood. Immediately reminiscent of Jeux De Peau without the calorie laden butter note, the sandalwood is slightly drier with the inclusion of a dusty cocoa a la Borneo 1834. The sandalwood carries a slightly medicinal aroma at first, maybe camphorous is a better word, undoubtably “perfume-y” but still verging on edible.

The Jeux De Peau connection remains true throughout, and I see Santal Majuscule as it’s older sibling, a slightly more mature composition but retaining the youthful sweetness and playful character. The bitter cocoa adds texture and depth rather than sweetness, and the rose begins to emerge again after a few minutes – a clean, translucent rose that brings clarity a-top the overt sandalwood.

Rather than buttery sweetness, Santal Majuscule seems to glaze its sandalwood with a transparent honey, and a dash of cinnamon, almost taking it into pudding territory but thankfully not quite. The rose, whilst dominated by the more potent notes, still manages to stay present throughout, and surprisingly is the lead note that gives Santal Majuscule it’s personality – just swerving it away from being all too familiar territory. Whilst it is very similar to a mix-up of other Lutens’ fragrances, Santal Majuscule almost manages to be superior to other’s in the lineup that dance around the same sandalwood idea. It’s maturity is more apparent, it’s “perfume-y” presence taking it away from the gimmick of Jeux De Peau, the simplicity of Santal de Mysore and the unappetizing Santal Blanc.

Whilst I wish Serge Lutens had scrapped the sandalwood thing and done something new with this export release, it is still a very good fragrance, just nothing new and exciting – it’s smell is predictable if you are familiar with the rest of the Lutens’ line.
However, Santal Majuscule is an easy wear – obviously easy to get compliments with, and multi-seasonal, similarly to Ambre Sultan – I’d recommend this as an inoffensive introduction to the lineup. A good perfume.

Santal Majuscule 50ml EDP Serge Lutens – 92 Euros

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Jardenia – JAR

Thanks to a very generous friend, who I originally met on my one day intensive introduction to perfumery course run by Karen Gilbert back in the summer and then later discovered to be a Basenoter, I have small samples of the entire JAR range of fragrances.
I have heard a hell of a lot of gossip around these, rave reviews galore etc. If memory serves me well, they are all natural fragrances.
For anyone who has never heard of JAR – they have an exclusive boutique in Paris, and one in New York. When you go in store to sample the fragrances, they will not tell you the price (ranging from 220 – 500+ Euros for 30ml), or the notes, of any of their fragrances. You are to smell them all blind, and if you show an interest in one, then you will be told the facts… very mysterious. Becuase of that, I have no notes list to work off – so I’m going to start with the easiest one in the collection.

Jardenia is one of the most well-known in the lineup for being one of the most true to life renditions of a gardenia. You cannot extract the scent from a gardenia, so any time you see “gardenia” in a notes list, it is either a synthetic substitute, or it is made up of various other flowers to recreate its scent (normally unsuccessfully – see White Gardenia Petals by Illuminum”!

Jardenia initially opens with an over-dramatised gardenia. A medicinal, almost root-beer like smell rich in narcotics, verging on boozy, throttles in full force off your skin. The white florals are so rich in near decay that the gardenia association is slightly fuzzy at first. The freshness up top is cool and camphorous, with lavender and maybe even eucalyptus giving off a wonderful herbal vibe atop the florals.

As the herbals begin to evaporate and the medicinal smell fades, the gardenia comes into the foreground. The hype was right – it is perfect. I have a Cape Jasmine gardenia in my conservatory – a luscious white floral, creamy, with a prominent and overwhelming twang of mushrooms – earthy and decayed. That’s exactly what fills up the heart of Jardenia. The mushroom note is perfect, not overwhelming in an attempt to be controversial, but shocking enough as is the natural flower.
The creaminess of the petals has the ideal translucency, as although gardenia’s are so damn potent, there is a clarity to their otherwise dense smell that is replicated here by the inclusion of maybe a subtle tea rose. I’m guessing the components are the usual tuberose, orange blossom, rose – a slight medicinal aroma of extremely subtle clove and anise… I’m not sure.

I mention other flowers, but on a whole, Jardenia is what it is meant to be,  a single gardenia flower when your nose is pressed up against its head. Rich, indolic and beautifully natural, Jardenia is THE perfect gardenia.
My only complaint is – that is all there is to it. Yes, yes, it’s a brilliant rendition, but with no supporting notes or sharp angles (aside from the prominent mushroom), Jardenia is also THE definitive example of a soliflore. Whether that’s a good thing or not I’m not sure – once I’ve fully appreciated the floral heart, I want a little more and Jardenia doesn’t deliver any more for me until it fades out with little change.
A little dash of vetiver in the base I think, adds a much-needed green edge, or is it a hint of galbanum in the heart? You know I’m not good with green note identification…

Jardenia is really nice, and I could wear it with ease, but I wouldn’t consider it a special occasion scent – it is a summery floral of power and richness that like most naturals, begins to fade after a couple of hours. I do enjoy it, but it is not my favourite in the JAR lineup (which I thought it would be). Still, a great reference point and worthy of a sniff – I can now relax and say I’ve found the perfect gardenia note… but not the perfect gardenia fragrance.

JAR Jardenia 30ml – $$$$

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Royal Pavillon – Etro

Royal Pavillon has a dated, powdery floral opening with that acidic almost aldehydic intensity that old-fashioned fragrances often do.
Straight away the animalic power pushes forward, a blast of fecal civet underneath, paired with some hugely indolic jasmine and creamy white florals turns this opening into something I’d describe as “soiled suntan lotion”.

Pollen heavy, the tropical white florals bring to mind a much less lush, exotic version of Les Nez’ beautiful Manoumalia. I really didn’t expect a tropical floral fragrance from sampling this, but unfortunately the animalics underneath almost flatten the good parts of the flowers and leave behind this slightly sour residue of indole and fragrant powder.

As it begins to settle, I get a hint of rose and violet – the classic powdery, feminine combo, and I begin to enjoy Royal Pavillon a little bit more. The civet thankfully begins to calm down, although there is some nutty castoreum underneath, but much more subtle, and blended with some bitter oakmoss – much smoother but still “dated”. The jasmine becomes quieter until all the florals become harmonious, but still with that sprinkle of powder.

Once the florals are a mere memory, the sandalwood, vetiver and oakmoss base are still slightly soured and made musky by the animalic duo, but the base feels like a classic chypre, relatively rich, but not luxurious. I think the problem is, there is much better options out there for white florals and chypres, and when you’ve smelt something like Rubj by Vero Profumo which targets this genre and smashes it, it’s a little harder to appreciate something like this. Still, it’s an interesting enough, slightly soiled white floral fragrance with a nice, subtle drydown – in the style of a prim and proper Penhaligons, but with a little more “oomph”.

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