Jean Patou Joy Forever (with a Dior Grand Bal aside)

Jean Patou has always seemed like a brand that I should by rights adore, but don’t. The history, the BIG florals, etc. etc. Everything about the brand seems like “my thing.” Granted, I must confess that I haven’t spent a ton of time with their fragrances on skin – in part because smelling them on card doesn’t induce me to spray it on my skin. I’ve failed to enjoy Joy. Even though I love jasmine, Joy always just seemed sort of stuffy to me, at least in the near-recent iteration (the only I’ve smelled – I think it’s been reformulated again in the last year, since the last time I tried it), and 1000 struck me as really atrocious the one time I encountered it (so bad, in fact, that I wonder if the tester had spoiler under display lights).

Anyway, I love the IDEA of Jean Patou, and if I attempted at all to collect vintage perfume, I think it’s a house I’d explore. When I read about the release of a Joy flanker, Joy Forever, I thought, hmmm. Over the last year, I’ve discovered an increasing obsession with jasmine. Joy Forever seemed like possibly Just the Ticket. Now Smell This ran a draw for a 50mL bottle, and lo and behold… I won!

To be honest, I was hoping to find in Joy Forever something like Dior Grand Bal. I haven’t written about Grand Bal here, but I got a decant in a swap sometime late last spring and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. Grand Bal has in my mind only two drawbacks: 1. insufficient lasting power 2. an astronomical price tag. (EDIT: In the comments, Undina points out that the per-mL price of Grand Bal is actually lower than that of Joy Forever. It’s true! I’m not sure I realized that before. Still, buying 125 mLs of Grand Bal, the smallest size Dior offers, is a bit different than buying 30mLs of Joy Forever, the smallest size Patou offers. And I got my Joy Forever for free. However… perhaps Undina is talking me into buying Grand Bal!) I’ve been hoping to find some kind of ‘budget Grand Bal’ and as yet I haven’t found it. Perhaps it was unfair to approach Joy Forever from this angle – but I didn’t need Joy Forever to be Grand Bal. I just needed a superb little innocent (but REAL-smelling!) jasmine perfume.

Joy Forever starts with a blast of extremely clean citrus and green notes… I detect early on a green-smelling rose note that I feel is everywhere in contemporary perfumery, to the point of being tiresome… I pick up orange blossom as well. The overall effect is extremely clean, but quite pretty through the early stages. So you’ve got these soapy-clean greenish florals, well-blended. The first 30 minutes or so of Joy Forever are really quite nice… you almost think the florals are going to get dirty, as the jasmine asserts itself more, with a whisper of iris mucking things up… and then it’s white musk. The florals disappear and I’m left with a soapy memory.

Honestly, Grand Bal wears much this way on me, too, with the fade from modern floral! to disappearing MUSK, but the jasmine in Grand Bal, while still clean and not the remotely the indolic explosion of Mama Joy, seems richer and warmer. Joy Forever is definitely something I think I’ll continue to pull out, particularly during the sweltering Austin summer (it’s such a breezy fragrance!), but it doesn’t quite capture the “ultimate modern jasmine” prize I hoped it might.

Here’s hoping that unlike Joy Forever, the new reissue collection from Patou does blow my mind. Anyone want to send me a bottle of Chaldée?? :)

Tauer Advent 2013 Winner

The winner of Sunday’s Advent draw is Caroline! Caroline, please check your email!

Everyone else, thanks for playing and sorry for the delay in posting the winner. I’ll be back tomorrow with another post (GASP!).

Tauer Perfumes Phi & 2013 Advent draw!

Andy Tauer was nice enough to invite me to participate in his annual advent draw again this year (despite my months and months of not blogging this summer and fall), so I thought it would only be appropriate to discuss  his latest release in his main perfume line: Phi, Une Rose de Kandahar.

(No, I haven’t tried Tableau de Parfums Ingrid yet, which was release. I’m gonna order a sample soon.)

I’ve been wearing Phi quite a bit over the last few weeks, after winning a sample in a draw hosted by Perfume of Life. Phi goes on fruity and nutty. In fact, I commented to my husband that at the start it almost brings to mind a fruitcake or other holiday treat. That’s not quite right, though, because Phi is not truly sugary enough to resemble cake. On my skin, Phi starts with a blast of almond nuttiness, which was one of the most unexpected aspects of the scent to me and also one of my favorites. (Side note: a few years ago, 2009 I think, Bath and Body Works had this limited edition pistachio scent called Nutcracker Sweet… it was the bomb! I need more nutty scents in my life.) Andy has said two of the major ingredients in Phi are apricot extract and the namesake rose oil from Afghanistan. Honestly, it’s hard for me personally to tell where the fruity apricot line ends and where the rose begins… both of them blend into one through the heart of the scent. The drydown of the scent features a really warm, woody tobacco note.

Phi is really lovely, and sort of a fruity floriental. I’ve long thought that florientals are some of the most wearable scents, and I think that Phi is likely one of Andy’s most accessible, wearable scents ever. Now, I don’t know if this is good or bad. There are a number of Tauer Perfumes that are pretty polarizing, I think. This strikes me as something that is easy, comforting, and actually, very reminiscent of the holidays as well. To me, perhaps some of Andy’s more over-the-top scents pull on my heartstrings a bit more, but were it in my wardrobe, I have a feeling I’d pull Phi out a lot in November and December. Unfortunately for me, I tend to debate my purchases for a long time, and Phi is a limited edition… I guess I’ll just see how long it sticks around.

Now, for the draw! It’s open worldwide. All you have to do is leave a comment about anything that pleases you to comment about. The draw is for Andy’s new Explorer Set: three 15mL purse sprays chosen among the available scents: see here. I’ll announce the draw winner here tomorrow; winners will be chosen via Random.org! You can continue to play the Advent Calendar at Andy’s site through December 24!

M. Micallef Le Parfum Denis Durand Couture

Hello, world. I stopped blogging in April, my busiest season at my job, and never really picked back up. I kept waiting for something that seemed interesting enough to write about.

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Reading online reviews of M. Micallef Le Parfum Denis Durand Couture, the reviews all seem to have a lot of debate about specific notes. Is there oud? What’s animalis? etc etc.  I’ll refer you to Kafkaesque for that rundown. I don’t really want to get into the debate about notes in this perfume because the more I smell it, the less I seem to trust my nose. Let me talk a little about my feelings about this perfume and the M. Micallef brand in general.

The M. Micallef brand is very well-reviewed across the perfume blogosphere, in large part I believe because they give out lots of free samples. They get their stuff in the hands of the right people. I’m not exactly “the right people” as an occasional blogger, but even I have managed to grab a few of their samples via draws on blogs. In fact I got the Denis Durand (let’s just shorten the name, OK?) sample in a draw at Undina’s blog.

Honestly, the M. Micallef brand never appealed to me much, in part maybe because I wondered if all the reviews were in part due to the fact that free samples were being put out there. And sometimes the reviews weren’t even that good, even with free samples. The overall impression I got of the brand was really over the top – maybe like a French “Desperate Housewives” feel. The bottles were pretty blingy and over the top, a lot of the perfumes seemed to have oud… it seemed like the brand was really made for conspicuous consumers, not so much perfumistas… yet they clearly pursued perfumistas as customers.

Anyway, I thought Denis Durand seemed like one of their more interesting perfumes, so I took a chance on Undina’s draw. And then took forever to test the perfume.

My impressions of Denis Durand are of a largely linear perfume, with a few main notes… I definitely smell an over-the-top dark woods note. Call it out, call it animalis, whatever. Normally these types of perfumes just seem synthetic and hypermasculine to me, but it’s softened here with honey and orange blossom. At times I could swear I smell a dark chocolate in this perfume, which no one else has mentioned, so I’m guessing it’s an olfactory illusion of the woods and honey. But mostly I get these sweet dark woods throughout the development of the perfume, something that smells greater than the sum of its parts somehow. Perhaps it’s just being suggested to me by the bottle and marketing, but this perfume reminds me of late nights, drinking wine, wearing expensive lingerie. It’s a perfume that manages to seem both very cozy and and erotic at once. I’ve been wearing the heck of my sample. It’s the first addition to my “must have full bottle” list in some months. (And obviously it got me to write again!)

5 quick impressions of lesser-known Thierry Muglers

I have an appreciation for Thierry Mugler, but I often find I like house’s flankers better than its flagship perfumes. See: last winter’s leather flankers. I’m just waiting for the day those leather flankers show up at the discounters, and I’ll probably get both the Angel and the Alien at that point. Over the winter, I got samples of a few lesser-known Muglers that seemed intriguing, and I’ve been enjoying them since.

Angel Garden of Stars Peony: The Garden of Stars collection was a set of three initial flankers that took Angel and gave it a floral cast. Later, a fourth (Rose Angel) was added. As far as I can tell, the Garden of Stars is long-discontinued, at least here in the US. Since I’m a floral fan who appreciates but doesn’t really want to wear original Angel, I figured these might be good bets for me. Peony is probably my least favorite of the set. Three of the four Garden of Stars have, to my nose, a green-stemmy aspect, and it’s most pronounced in Peony. Other than that, Peony smells fairly spicy-rosy to my nose. As you might expect with an Angel flanker, the patchouli predominates on the drydown. Indeed, all of the Garden of Stars smell pretty recognizably Angel-ish on the drydown.  This one was done by Olivier Cresp, creator of the original Angel.

Angel Garden of Stars Rose: Rose is the Garden of Stars perfume I’d heard the most about and seemed to be the most beloved among perfumistas. I’d see it mentioned here and there in blog comments, although I don’t really think I’ve ever read a full-on review of it. I honestly find Rose quite similar to Peony… and I’ve now seen that Olivier Cresp is also credited with Rose, so there you go. It’s a rose over patchouli with fruit, with some of the greenness of Peony at the start, although not nearly as much. It’s maybe less spicy than Peony. I’m wondering if the reason I’m less enamored of Peony and Rose than the other two Garden of Stars is that the rose + patchouli combination is done so much in perfumery.

Angel Garden of Stars Violet: Violet was done by Francoise Caron… Violet also has a greenness to it, but it’s more that of violet leaves. There’s also candied violets. While original Angel has an over-the-top candy floss note, here the delicate candied violets stand in for cotton candy. It seems more sophisticated and “French” somehow. And then patchouli. Violet + patchouli doesn’t strike me as a common combination. I really, really enjoy this one.

Angel Garden of Stars Lily: This is far and away my favorite of the Garden of Stars. Just before writing this review, I found that Lily was done by Christine Nagel, which makes sense because I’m generally a fan of her work. In this perfume, the initial greenness of the other Garden of Stars is not as present. I smell spicy lily and what I would swear is honey. I have recently been trying Donna Karan Gold, which has so many fans, and I’m trying to love it. I don’t think I do. Garden of Stars Lily is a modern lily perfumer that’s more to my taste. Its lily aspect is much less intense than Gold’s, to be sure, but I far prefer its honey-patchouli drydown to Gold’s amber. I’ve put Garden of Stars Lily on my buy list, and there’s a bottle in my shopping bag at one of the big discounters… I probably won’t cave and buy it quite yet, though. But how much longer will I even  be able to find it?

Dis-Moi, Miroir: The Miroir, Miroir collection is (I think??) Thierry Mugler’s version of an exclusive collection. I don’t know how widely distributed it is. I’ve never seen it in person but I think it’s still for sale somewhere – they’ve added perfumes to the set in the last few years. A few months ago, when Perfume Posse started their single note series, and inspired by my love/hate of Seville a l’Aube (which has now pretty much given over to love), I ordered a bunch of Patty’s recommended orange blossom perfumes. This was among them. It’s actually not just orange blossom. It’s a mix of orange blossom and lily. It’s a really interesting heady-yet-clean floral perfume. The flowers are big and blooming, and not particularly sweet, but it also doesn’t smell like it would scare perfume haters off. There are supposed to be “milky notes” and while I don’t smell anything that overtly reads as “milk,” there’s sort of creamy lactonic aspect that blends the florals together really strongly, so I can barely tell where one ends and the other begins. I really want to like this and it strikes me that I’m almost on the verge of liking this. I sort of wish it were dirtier. It seems like an a pretty well-behaved perfume for the house of Mugler. Maybe that’s the shtick of the Miroir, Miroir collection? I haven’t tried any of the others. I’d like to get to them.

Oscar de la Renta Essential Luxuries Mi Corazon + By Kilian Beyond Love

If you like By Kilian Beyond Love, you’ll love Oscar de la Renta Essential Luxuries Mi Corazon.

No. Seriously, you will. Most likely.

I have an affinity for the Oscar de la Renta brand, and when they announced an exclusive collection, I didn’t know whether to cheer or roll my eyes. It seems like every brand is following Chanel’s lead and launching super-limited, super-expensive perfumes that are limited to their boutiques and maybe the biggest, fanciest department stores in the biggest cities. If exclusive collections always meant high-quality perfume, that would be awesome… but clearly, a lot of these brands are copying Chanel on price point and packaging more than anything else. (I mean, seriously, even Dior, a house with arguably a fragrance history equally storied as Chanel’s, basically ripped off the Les Exclusives packaging.)

Anyway, I guess I was more inclined to roll my eyes at Oscar’s exclusive collection, especially given its cheesy and oxymoronic name – Essential Luxuries? ugh. I held out hope though, because the perfumer was Calice Becker and I appreciate her work quite a bit. I tried to ask around about the perfumes, and got very little feedback – someone on Facebook Fragrance Friends said they were fabulous, someone in the NST comments said they were horrid… I figured I’d have to try for myself. So, Perfume Posse has been doing this perfume-fairy-godmother post monthly, and I asked for samples of any of the Essential Luxuries. I ended up with two Essential Luxuries, plus quite a few other goodies, in my fairy godmother package in February. I really like both of the Essential Luxuries, in fact, I pretty much adore Mi Corazon. But…

Mi Corazon is a tuberose-centric perfume by Calice Becker. Much like By Kilian’s Beyond Love. Luca Turin famously, and controversially, called Beyond Love the best-ever tuberose soliflore in Perfumes: The A-Z Guide. Well. Mi Corazon is very, very, very much like Beyond Love. The tuberose note is quite similar. Mi Corazon substitutes the coconut of Beyond Love for peach. Mi Corazon has a hit of ylang-ylang that I’m not sure is present in Beyond Love. Beyond Love, to my nose at least, is sweeter, more tropical, and on the drydown has a musky/warm skin scent effect. Mi Corazon, while sweet and still vaguely tropical, is not as sweet as Beyond Love, and the base notes seem quite different… not as beachy or as musky. Perhaps greener, more earthy? I’m having trouble naming these notes. I don’t think the lasting power of Mi Corazon is quite as good as that of Beyond Love, but it projects really well at the beginning – people noticed this one on me and I got compliments.

To be honest, while I really like Beyond Love, I may like Mi Corazon better. The tuberose note seems equally nice (well, pretty much the same) as in Beyond Love, but the whole thing seems somewhat drier and more glamorous, more bombshell. I really do appreciate Beyond Love, but the high pricepoint and tropical sweetness probably prevented me from adding it to my buy list – I already have a number of tropical florals in my collection. People who loved Beyond Love for its tropical, musky, easy-to-wear aspects might not like Mi Corazon as much, but if you like Calice Becker’s style, I think you should really check out Mi Corazon and the rest of the Essential Luxuries Collection. The other I’ve tried is Oriental Lace, which is a sweet fruity oriental very much in the Calice Becker style. I think I probably prefer Oriental Lace to any of her sweet orientals for By Kilian. In fact, as I think about it now, Oriental Lace is what I wished the Garden of Evil collection would have smelled like. So. Yeah. So far, the Essential Luxuries are pretty much rocking my world. Mi Corazon is on my wishlist.

One more note. Oscar de la Renta Essential Luxuries Mi Corazon is $150 for 100 mL. So not quite cheap. But. By Kilian Beyond Love is $235 for 50mL at LuckyScent. Yes, you’re paying somewhat for that fancy black bottle, and you can get the By Kilian refills much cheaper, but still… If you like Beyond Love but balked on the price or sweetness, try Mi Corazon.

Tauer Perfumes Noontide Petals: my thoughts, and a sample draw

So, I guess I’ve “made it” in the blogosphere. I can’t find time to blog, seemingly, but Andy Tauer offered to send me a sample of his newest perfume. Actually two samples. I’m keeping one and giving the other away.

Andy wrote about Noontide Petals as an aldehydic perfume with a floral heart and woody base. He’s symbolizing the perfume with a creamy yellow sunshine color. For once, I made a point not to read any other reviews of a perfume before writing this up. Inevitably, after this posts, I’m going to go to the other blogs that I know have reviewed this before me, and realize that I’m not smelling it right at all. Such is life.

Noontide Petals begins with a burst of citrus – it doesn’t smell particularly “fresh,” but thick, fizzy, zesty. If you’re scared of aldehydes, I don’t think you have a ton to worry about here – these are not the fatty, waxy aldehydes that I love in perfumes like Van Cleef & Arpels First, but the champagne-like ones that serve to thicken up the citrus a bit and make everything kind of bubble up. I smell patchouli, too, almost from the beginning. In the early moments of wear of Noontide Petals, I am reminded of Lush’s Karma, a favorite of mine. Karma is a more straight-on citrus-patchouli, not nearly as complex as Noontide, but they’re sort of cousins nonetheless.

As Noontide calms, I smell rose and ylang mostly in the heart. There are moments in the heart when this perfume reminds me of Tauer’s Une Rose Chypree. I like Une Rose Chypree a lot, but like a lot of rose chypres, it doesn’t totally move me… in the latter parts the rose/moss/spice can overwhelm me sometimes.  I don’t know that Noontide is a true chypre – there’s no moss – but if a “modern chypre” is one that substitutes patchouli for moss, then Noontide might qualify as a modern citrus chypre with a floral heart. It’s been forever since I smelled Clarins’s Eau Dynamisante, so I couldn’t really say that Noontide smells *like* Eau Dynamisante, but something about the feeling that Noontide gives me reminds me of how Dynamisante makes me feel… When I used to work fragrance retail, I would often head to the Clarins counter for a perk-me-up hit of Dynamisante sometime after lunch.

Noontide has great lasting power; on the far drydown, I smell a thread of the rose-ylang, and earthiness: patchouli for sure, maybe a bit of incense and a whiff of rootiness: the iris and vetiver together, I think. Much has been made of Andy’s “Tauerade” base. I sometimes think that “Tauerade” is just a way for people to describe why they don’t connect with his scents, and I’ve seen people claim “Tauerade” in scents that I don’t perceive to have it, but Noontide definitely has that thick, warm-incensey-woody base that many of Andy’s scents do. In contrast to many of the scents that are heavy on “Tauerade,” though, this feels springlike… I maybe wouldn’t wear this in the height of Austin summer, but I’d wear it in the very warm (we’ve been in the 80s for a week or so now) Austin spring, after I’ve already retired some of Andy’s orientals that I wore through the winter.

Andy says Noontide was inspired in part by the perfumes of the 1920s and art deco. Some of my favorite perfumes are from the 1920s… Noontide feels more contemporary to me than Arpege and No. 22, not to mention happier and sunnier, less severe, but it definitely has that abstract, transmogrified-through-aldehydes feel that those classics do. It feels perfumey.

So, I’m going to give away my extra sample here. Just leave a comment to be entered. I’ll leave the draw open for a week and will choose a winner through random.org next Monday.

Two from Atelier Cologne and a perfumista heresy

For Valentine’s Day this year, I ordered my husband Vétiver Fatal from Atelier Cologne. It’s quite interesting – I had initially received a sample of Vétiver Fatal and Rose Anonyme when the duo first came out, thanks to a draw from Ca Fleure Bon. On first try, I had thought neither scent was much to write home about, especially in comparison with the original five perfumes from the house. (Incidentally, those original five Atelier Colognes were the first samples I ever ordered from LuckyScent.) A few months ago, my husband wanted to try something new and asked if I had any samples that might work for him. (Introducing my husband to my perfume hobby has been one of the great surprises and pleasures of the last two years.) So I rummaged through my sample bin and saw Vétiver Fatal, thought, hmm, this might be good on a man, and surrendered it over to his possession.

Well, I was quite surprised when I spent the rest of that evening huffing the poor man’s chest. While I believe all perfume can be unisex, there are definitely perfumes that I think smell better or more appropriate on my husband than on me… Apparently Vétiver Fatal is one of those. Reading the notes of Vétiver Fatal really perplexes me, because it doesn’t smell at all how I might imagine based on the note list. The Atelier Cologne website lists the notes as: bergamot from Calabria, lemon from Sicily, heart of bigaradier from Paraguay, orange flower absolue from Tunisia, violet leaves from Grasse, fig, heart of vetiver from Haiti, cedarwood from Texas, and dark oud accord. I feel like I’m missing half the notes in this. I basically get: bitter orange, vetiver, and a dark woodsy smell that verges on mineral which I assume is the “oud.” Maybe I get the violet leaves too. I don’t know. On my husband, I think it smells really divine… sort of sultry and mysterious and dark, without feeling dirty. Vetiver and oud are obviously notes that can feel very grungey if used in certain ways, and both notes here are very cleaned up. What really attracts me to the scent is the way the vetiver kind of shimmers over the mineral facets of the oud… I would describe this perfume as dark-clean. I don’t know if that makes a hill of beans sense, but there you have it.

I ended up ordering a bottle of Vétiver Fatal for my husband for Valentine’s Day. But of course our incompetent postal carrier lost the package. (According to our apartment manager, the new carrier has been delivering lots of packages to the wrong complexes… I have some words for USPS these days. I used to love the postal service. I don’t know if it’s the specific carriers I’ve encountered in Austin the last few years, or if what I’ve experienced here is just a sign of the larger issues USPS is having, but… they are really incompetent here. I mean, in contrast, my parents, on the farm, have had the same postal carrier since we moved there in 1990, and he shows up like clockwork.)

Well, I want to give credit where credit is due: I called Atelier Cologne’s NYC boutique (I ordered direct from their website) and they were kind enough to ship me another package. Ross was even nice enough to 1) send it UPS 2) upgrade the two mini samples I’d also ordered to 7.5 mL vials and 3) throw in EVEN MORE samples to boot. So yeah, call Ross and make your Atelier Cologne orders!

The two samples I’d ordered were for the two new scents from the house I hadn’t tried: Ambre Nue and Mistral Patchouli.  (OK, I haven’t tried Sous le Toit de Paris yet either, and I’m dying to. But it’s so new that when I originally placed this order online, you couldn’t yet order samples of that one.) So now I have big-honking samples of Ambre and Patchouli. I decided to try Ambre Nue tonight, because I was thinking about amber.

In this weekend’s NST open thread, the commenter Lys asked if there was anyone else out there who dislikes amber in perfumery. I immediately responded with a resounding yes. Amber seems to be beloved among perfumistas, but it not an accord I love. I don’t mind sweetness in perfume – not if it’s via fruit or florals, anyway – but I often find amber sweet, cloying, and suffocating. I can think of only one amber perfume that I really, truly adore: Tauer Perfumes Orange Star. And I’m not sure that’s exactly amber in the traditional way. And I’ll also give some nostalgia points to the mimosa-amber-gourmand YSL Cinema, which I bought in my pre-perfumista days. That one now verges on too sweet for my taste in the later stages. But a lot, maybe most, amber-centric perfumes I just think are icky, sticky, sweet, and forgettable. So I don’t know why I even bothered to order a sample of Ambre Nue. Yet, I’m wearing it today for the first time and really loving it. It starts spicy and then I smell a really nice mandarin note – reminiscent, I think of Orange Star. It smells for all the world like holiday citrus – not exactly pomanders, because I don’t get full-on clove, but sweet, reduced orange juice with cinnamon and spices. There’s some spicy florals in there too – the notes list says tagetes and orchid, and I could buy that. Anyway, the sweet spicy citrus lingers into the drydown, which, honestly, I don’t find overly ambery. At least, it’s not in that choking amber way that I can’t stand.

To be honest, though, the similarities between this and Orange Star are striking. Let’s take Orange Star and make the following tweaks: replace the orange blossom with marigold. Replace the incense with cinnamon. Remove the lemongrass. Lighten the sillage up by about tenfold, and make the whole thing feel somehow sheer and more natural. That’s Ambre Nue. It feels like the cologne version of Orange Star. That sounds like I feel Ambre Nue isn’t essential, but I’d like to have both, to wear at different times and in different places. I could wear Ambre Nue at the peak of Austin summer; I’m not sure I could say the same of Orange Star, much though I love it. I will say that Orange Star makes me think more: it sits on the border between industrial-strength synthetic orange cleaner and painfully real mandarin, and makes me think about and question what I’m smelling, what is “natural” and what is “fake.” Ambre Nue is just really, really, nice. I don’t know that even those of us who love Orange Star would call it “nice.” Nonetheless, I’m really surprised, maybe flabbergasted by how much I am enjoying Ambre Nue. I wonder what true amber-lovers would have to say about it, though. How ambery is it, really? Am I liking it because it’s less ambery that its name would suggest?

One final note. Today after my shower I slathered on something that would probably horrify most perfumistas, so of course I’ve got to share it with you. Wait for it… Wait for it.

Bath and Body Works Rain Kissed Leaves lotion.

Oh yeah.

I’ve reviewed Bath and Body Works stuff on this blog before. I’ll make no bones about my appreciation for this company. Right now, their current offerings are pretty lousy – I haven’t really loved anything they’ve launched in quite some time. They’ve been launching berry gourmand after berry gourmand, and in the meantime discontinuing all of their scents I used to love. The only really safe bets in their store right now would probably be Moonlight Path, something from the Aromatherapy line, or a candle. (America apparently only wants sickeningly-sweet-fake-fruit body lotion, but will put up with nice-smelling candles. Go figure.) Anyway, I have a dark perfumista secret: I don’t like amber that much, but I do occasionally like aquatic and ozonic fragrances. I know, I know. You maybe should stop here.

Well, so Bath and Body Works has discontinued pretty much all of their aquatic fragrances in the last few years. Gone are Dancing Waters, Cotton Blossom, Rain Kissed Leaves, and even, can you believe it, the old workhouse Cucumber and Cantaloupe. (Most of these can still be purchased on the company’s website though.) The only one left standing in stores is Sea Island Cotton, which I think is fairly icky. A couple of years ago they launched a new aquatic, Deep Aqua, and promptly discontinued it only a month or two later. Anyway, I guess it shows that aquatics are pulling a much smaller share of the US women’s fragrance market these days.

In truth, I don’t like many aquatics but there are a select few that I like, particularly as shower gels and lotions. And Rain Kissed Leaves is one of those. It smells like water and leaves, with a vague floralcy.  I just went to the Bath and Body Works and it lists the notes as “Crisp Watercress, Lush Muguet, Transparent Woods, Fresh Raindrops.” Honestly, BBW notelists should probably be taken with a grain of salt, but this list makes sense. You’ve got the leaves, water, the muguet for the flowers (I wouldn’t have guessed muguet but we’ll go with it). I’m not really sure about the woods part but whatever. Three out of four ain’t bad. Anyway I find Rain Kissed Leaves exhilarating and refreshing. I love it in Austin’s July and August, when I struggle with many of my regular perfumes. I don’t think I would ever buy the eau de toilette; in fact, that idea seems almost repellent, but I’m really glad to have the lotion and shower gel.

Now get ready for the gross part: I think Ambre Nue smells ridiculously great over Rain Kissed Leaves. Don’t even ask. I know. I can’t explain.

By Kilian in the Garden of Good and Evil

I’ve had this post sitting in the backend, in various states of completion, for some time now. A couple of weeks, I think. The funny thing is that since I’ve started this post, several other bloggers have posted about this collection. I often find that after the intial wave of reviews, right after a collection launches, there is a flurry of reviews by people who want to try the newest of the new – and maybe a lot of them get privileged early access. Then, a few months later, more reviews start popping up, once people have started to process a bit more. It’s funny how that works. Anyway. Here goes.

The By Kilian brand gives me feelings. Except when it doesn’t.

On one hand, the brand has made some lovely things, has sleek packaging, and is very generous with its samples. So generous that I’ve actually had a chance to try the brand’s perfumes. Of course, this free-sample-train is largely due to Kilian’s ample finances, or at least I’d imagine so. While I gotta admit I’m jealous of brand owner Kilian Hennessy’s ability to self-fund a luxury perfume line, he seems to have a real passion for the business.

On the other hand… not many of By Kilian perfumes have truly moved me. The prices are high. While I admire the bottles to some degree, I don’t covet them as many others do… at least not the black ones. And for the price of By Kilian, I want to be moved. I want to covet the bottles. I want to be blown away.

So, I’m conflicted.

When I first heard about the In the Garden of Good and Evil collection, I was actually kind of excited. If the L’Oeuvre Noire collection was to build brand stability by focusing on classic French perfumery notes, the Arabian Nights collection was BECAUSE OUD, and the Asian Tales collection was to be as bland as possible, then In the Garden of Evil promised something like: YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED FRUITY FLORALS!!! ONLY BETTAH!! (Also, I can’t take credit for this, but I am in love with Victoria’s speculation that the Garden of Good and Evil perfumes are targeted to Las Vegas tourists.)

Well, honestly, I like fruity florals. I don’t care for most department store perfumes these days, and lord knows most of those are probably fruity florals (or their sister genres, the fruitchoulis and fruity orientals), but a fruity floral with a strong structure and something that actually smells remotely like natural fruit or flowers? I can dig that. I can dig that A LOT. Calice Becker, who is a frequent By Kilian collaborator, is a perfumer that I admire, and many of whose works I find appealing. And two of the Garden perfumes were done by Becker.

Good Girl Gone Bad

In the City of Sin was the perfume I expected to like the least from the collection. And I guess it shakes out that I probably did like it the least. The scent is supposed to be “a rich composition of fruits and spices, flowers and woods, in which the essence of fruit liquefies and melts onto the heady woods.” I don’t really know about that. Every time I hear the worlds “melt” and “wood” together, I think of Estee Lauder Sensuous, which was supposed to embody the scent of molten wood. In the City of Sin smells nothing like Sensuous. It’s basically red fruits that fade into cedar. Lots and lots and lots of cedar. It’s OK. The cedar smells real. The fruit definitely smells realistic too. But it just doesn’t do much for me. I struggle to say much about this scent. It does deliver on its promise of fruit and woods, I guess. I sort of wonder if this is “Kilian cleans up Serge Lutens for the Las Vegas audience.” Because…. cedar.

Good Girl Gone Bad was the scent I really, really, really wanted to love. The description promised to be the straight up fruity floral of the line. So I wanted to be very excited. The notes sounded wonderful. Jasmine sambac, tuberose, ostmanthus, violet, narcissus, plum… many, many notes that I love. But somehow it didn’t add up to much. It doesn’t feel naughty or silly to me. I’d really rather wear Juicy Couture. Something about the plum + floral aspect reminds of Liaisons Dangereuses, which I reckon is still my favorite Kilian… Liaisons Dangereuses just smells richer, realer. Good Girl Gone Bad smells well-done, but it’s not over the top at all. I wanted a naughty fruity-floral, the ur-fruity floral, with rich notes and an overpowering presences. I mean, I kind of struggle to pick out the individual floral notes in this one, which kind of upsets me in a line that I would expect to have distinctive natural notes. I can really detect osmanthus but not much else. Maybe I just built up what this scent could be in my head, but it just doesn’t do much for me.

Forbidden Games was the hardest to peg on what the feel would be from reading the description before I sampled. It seemed like a fruit and honey perfume. What it actually is, is an Applejacks perfume.

Yes, something in this one reminds me of Applejacks. It’s apple and cinnamon and sugar. I actually don’t hate this one. I don’t think. The apple and cinnamon and sugar are all way over the top. I find it amusing that we’re talking Adam, Eve, and the serpent, and we have LITERALLY an Applejacks perfume. It’s hilarious to me, kinda like Kilian is talking down to us a bit. I guess there is some other fruit in there with the apple, but this is definitely one of the most apple-centric perfumes I’ve smelled outside Bath and Body Works.  The drydown is supposedly honey, vanilla, opoponax, but in my estimation it just becomes a musk bomb, loads and loads of warmish but clean musk. The entire thing smells synthetic from top to bottom. In that way, it’s like many department store fruity florals, but this does smell better and more unique than those. But, like them, it blasts you, full force, from start to finish… with APPLEJACKS. I think it’s sort of in horribly bad taste, but I also kind of love it. I can’t believe that someone would have the gall to put this out and sell it for $245. Somehow, this manages to be my favorite from the collection, because it actually inspires an emotion in me. I’m not sure if the emotion is horror or amusement, but it’s an emotion.