Friday, September 30, 2011

RiverCali from Anya's Garden

As with everything, there are different types of perfume lovers out there. If I'd try to categorize myself I'd say I'm the analytical type. I spend a lot of time thinking about the notes I encounter in a perfume. Which ones are there, how do they get along, play each other up etc. I also think a lot about what type of person would wear a certain perfume and what associations in general a perfume brings. When I talk about perfumes I tend to describe them by the different characteristics I find in them, I might say they are woody, floral or "remind me of some old pervert I met once". The ones I like I tend to describe as "interesting". Surprisingly seldom I encounter a perfume that "just smells good", but RiverCali from Anya's Garden does just that.

The first time I tried it was on one of those days. The whole family was in a bad mood due to sleep deprivation and low blood sugar. Everybody was cranky and complaining. But somewhere in all that crankiness I did catch a whiff of something...else. Something happy and comforting that cut right through the drudgery. An unexpected little smile coming from my very own wrist. It made me lower my shoulders, relax, realize that I had a choice about letting all the stress get to me. I could take charge and make the best out of the situation. Which I did.

RiverCali starts with an uplifting leafy lemon note. As the citrus fades a soft, beautiful, creamy floral is revealed. It's hard to pick any one note as they come together near seamlessly but the main players are rose and orange, lingering on a bed of vanilla. When I read the list of official notes I was very surprised to see that there is pink pepper in there. Pink pepper, as well as black pepper, are notes I usually don't get along with. In RiverCali I first didn't notice it but when I really searched for it I realized that there is a hint of pink pepper and it's that tiny sharpness that somehow helps bring focus to the other notes, keeping them on their toes, adding character.

In all, I find RiverCali being calming and energizing at the same time. I tend to always have lots of threads of thought running in my head and it's very unusual for me to find any fragrance, good or bad, that I don't seem to think about all the time. It seems to give that part of my brain a rest but at the same time I don't get bored, which I do get if I don't wear anything (as in no perfume, duh). I reckon this is a very good thing. Like meditation. Really, if I had the chance to rename it, it would be "Blissful Meditation".

Official notes:

Top Notes: pink pepper, pink grapefruit

Middle Notes: petitgrain bigarade, jasmine, petitgrain lemon, neroli, orange, orange flr water,
turkish rose otto

Base Notes: bee goo tincture – tinctured beehive end caps and floor of the hive litter, mitti attar, ambrette seed tincture, vanilla, sandalwood from vanuat

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Le Labo - Labdanum 18

Some time ago I read Tarleisio review of Neil Morris Rumi. She wrote how she, in general, didn't like ambers as they are "so obvious", Rumi being one of the exceptions. I must say I didn't really understand what she was getting at. Amber is one of those notes I haven't given much thought. I don't reach out for them but I don't avoid them either. When a sample comes my way I dutifully try it on and think "this was nice" and then forget all about it.

But then I tried Le Labos Labdanum 18. My first thought was, "I can't believe I'm smelling like this. It's like 8 o'clock in the morning. On a weekday. I have to do lots of errands and meet people I barely know. And I smell so ... [eyes rolling] .... obvious."

I went on, thinking, who'd wear this? At first I pictured a young girl going out on the town, spraying on some Labdanum 18 in order to seem older and more "experienced". But a while later I thought, no, that's not it, there is just way too much skank in it. This is a middle aged mama going out and after a few drinks she thinks it's a good idea to rip open that leopard print blouse, tie it around under generous boobs, baring her midriff and dance like Britney in One More Time. When even this does not get her enough attention she starts rubbing herself up against everyone on the premises.

So what does it smell like? All the way through there are two sides of Labdanum 18. There is a soft and clean side, featuring lots of baby powder, chocolate, resins and creamy vanilla. That side does not change very much as the scents wears. Then there is another, utterly dirty, side. At first the dirtyness manifests itself as a small bitter harshness, a harshness that smells like unwashed hair. It's faint compared to the powder but it gives that eyebrow lifting "Did I just smell what I think I was smelling..." thing.

A while later civet enters the stage. Now Labdanum 18 smells like someone who has had a big workout but is to lazy to shower and tries to conceal this fact by  caking herself in vanilla baby powder. It's almost working. (And, I can see how this question might be arising at this point: I do take daily showers that include a hair wash, just so everybody knows...)

During the drydown there is that musk note that is somewhere between piss and pipe tobacco, the same one you get in Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Kahn or Bois et Musc. I'm intrigued about the fact that it feels so intensely perverse but I can't put my finger on exactly why.

So, what is my final verdict of Labdanum 18? After all, I do like it. But keeping some around the house worries me. Because I can very well imagine the following scenario. At some time me and my girlfriends manage to get babysitters on the same night and decide to have a grand night out. First we have some drinks at my place and when it's time to leave I just make that last trip to the bathroom and start thinking, oh, I really need some more perfume. Wasn't there this scent I reviewed that was such a smashing party scent, Labdööööch.... something? Oh yes, here it is, lets put some on, and then things are just going downhill in a straight like towards that bare midriff Britney scenario....


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Winner of the DSH Draw is.....

Winner of the DSH Draw for "Cuir et Champignon" and Celadon, decided by, is none other than...



I'll be sending over the samples as soon as I manage to get to the mailbox. Please just send me a email or comment making sure you haven't moved anywhere, will ya :)


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Le Labo - Neroli 36

Not as the other Nerolis

Once upon the time there was a big white house where all the Nerolis lived together. They were such a happy bunch, everywhere you looked there were sparkling smiles, cheerily bouncing corkscrew locks and dresses all the colors of the rainbow. Laughter chimed everywhere as the Nerolis played games as "Hide and seek" or "Catch" out in the sun.

And then there was little Labo. He was not as the others. Some even sayed that he wasn't a Neroli at all but no one would dare say that to his face as he had this way to glare at you that made your toes curl in discomfort. There were many rumors about him, that he liked to get earthworms to crawl up his nose so far that he could spit them out through his mouth again or that he liked to eat slugs. I don't know if any of that is true but what I do know is that most of the time Little Labo kept to himself. He liked to go to the beach and watch the sea. Especially on cold days when the sea looked all gray and there wasn't a speck of blue anywhere. He used to sit there and dream about how he would one day sail away to a better place. HIS kind of place. A place where  people would see him, and hopefully love him, for what he was and not just obsess over what was missing compared to the other Nerolis.

Le Labo Neroli 36 starts with lots of oceanic notes and fruit. For me, this was most unexpected, as I was expecting neroli (duh!). I was thinking, what, have they bottled some mainstream leftover from the 90-ies and hope I wouldn't notice??? But then I sniffed some more and realised, yes, there are oceanic notes and fruit but this is very far from any "attempt to be a crowd pleaser during the 90-ies frag" I know of.

At first I got salty sea, musc melon, bitter astringent orange peel and pink pepper. After a while there was mostly bitter orange zest, sweet, slightly cloying florals (jasmine, I think) and a hint of something medical. On Fragrantica there is one review mentioning a resemblance to the infamous Sécrétions Magnifiques. As I have the questionable luck to have recent experience of that one I must say that this is not entierly untrue. Yes, when you think about it you can detect bandages and bile in the background, but don't worry, it's just a fraction of what you get from SM.

So, what do I think of Neroli 36? First time I wore it was a disaster. I was throwing a birthday party for my son and managing sugar crazed kids, making sure everyone is having a good time and no one is left out is one of the most physically and mentally challenging things you can do. Really! I had hopes that Neroli 36 would help me maintain that cheery (if not entirely genuine) hostess-mom smile all day, no matter what. And I can tell you, Neroli 36 did not help.

Since then, I have tried it in other circumstances and Neroli 36 and me are slowly becoming friends. It's a great scent for days when you feel introvert and broody, when the rain is pouring down outside and you'd rather just stay at home, reading books and listening to music, not having to talk to anyone. On those kind of days I don't want to be cheered up. I want a scent that mirrors my mood for a while, acknowledging that "Ok, this is the way you feel right now". I want something that stays with me, holding my hand so I can experience whatever it is I'm experiencing so I can then be done with it and move on to whatever greater glories there are waiting down the road.

Picture disclaimer: This picture seems to be all over the net. I'm using it solely to visualize my perceptions of a scent, I do not know that person or mean that he is anything like the Little Labo I write about. If anyone is getting offended by me using it, please let me know and I'll remove the picture at once.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cuir et Champignon by DSH Perfumes - and a DRAW!!!

(Yes, I'm reusing this image, here is a reason for that, hang on and you'll see why!)

Lets do a bit of fantasy role play. Imagine it's a cool autumn day. You live somewhere in rural Britain where you're the lord or lady of a huge manor. Every now and then you saddle your fastest white stallion and take him for a ride to inspect your vast properties. As you gallop through the woods and over the fields you notice how the weather is getting colder by the day, soon holiday season will be here. After the ride you relax into your old leather armchair in front of the fireplace. Your butler brings you a cup of tea, a piece of gingerbread and your favorite pipe, stuffed just the way you want. He should know, after all his family has been serving yours for more than 3 generations.

These are the vibes I'm getting from "Cuir et Champignon". It starts out smoky in a big way. In the very beginning I'm getting salami, black pepper, smoked meats and animal. After half an hour CetC calms down into one of the nicest leather interpretations I've smelled, ever. I'm getting saddles and halters. The leather is just my type of leather, there is none of the cloyingness of Cuir Mauresque nor the perversity of Bandit (which I do love, but I couldn't wear it every day). It's comfy and wearable and perfectly accompanied by warm spices like cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. I also get wood and tobacco. The mushroom note does not stand out to me, but it's noticeable if you know it's there and it aids the general feeling of autumn.

In my last review I also wrote about a fragrance with mushroom notes, namely Aftelier Perfumes "Cepes and Tuberose". If I was to compare that one to CetC, "Cepes and Tuberose" happens on a sunny day in September while CetC takes place on a chilly day, late in November.

And what was that thing about the reused picture? Well, I did use it 2 weeks ago when I reviewing "Celadon - a Velvet Green", also from DSH Perfumes. In that post I described how Celadon took me back in time to when I was 8 years old, dreaming of a horse. Celadon had all the elements of that dream, well, everything except the actual horse. Therefore I was utterly astonished when I tried CetC and it turned out to be a another horse riding experience in a bottle. This one mirrored my adult fantasy of a life where horseback riding is an integral part. Totally different but still the same things from two different periods in my life.

And now to the really good news. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, perfumes and founder of DSH Perfumes, has been incredibly generous and sent me extra samples of both "Celadon - a Velvet Green" and "Cuir et Champignon" and they can become yours!!! All you have to do is comment on this blog post before Tuesday, September 20 and I'll announce the lucky winner sometime towards the end of next week. You may live anywhere in the world and I will not be responsible to damage or loss caused by the postal services. Don't miss this chance, these are great fragrances for fall!

Official Notes for Cuir et Champignon:
Top notes: Bergamot, Clary, Sage, Galbanum, Neroli, Wild Chamomile
Middle notes: Cepes (mushroom absolute), Clove Bud, Gardenia,Honey, Orris, Sandalwood, Tuberose Absolute
Base notes: Castoreum, Civet, Guiacwood, Hiba Cedarwood, Indonesian Vetiver, Leather, Peru Balsam, Tobacco Absolute

My samples were sent to me for review but they can also be bought on the DSHPerfumes website. They have a huge sale right now, don't miss it

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cepes and Tuberose by Aftelier Perfumes

The Trolls and the Tuberose

In order to describe Afteliers "Cepes and Tuberose" I'll retell you a short story I read a while ago. It's called "Border" and it's from a collection of stories named "Paper Walls" written by Swedish horror author John Ajvide Lindqvist.

The main character is a woman named Tina who hasn't got the happiest of lives. She married to a good-for-nothing guy who cheats on her and spends her money. Furthermore, she's big boned, scarred and, by most peoples standards, downright ugly. She works at the customers office but the only place where she feels at peace is in the forest.

One day, a man passes her at the customs counter and she just knows he's hiding something. He also smells incredibly good. During a routine customs search, nothing out of the ordinary is found, though.

Paper Walls
Later, it turns out that he's renting a room in the house next to hers. She gets more and more obsessed by him. She breaks in to his room, into his car and just sits there, breathing in his smell, at once musky, woody, beautiful, just RIGHT, somehow.

Now, at this time she might be sounding really creepy, but it turns out that the two of them are not really humans at all, they are trolls. He is one of the last ones to have been raised free. Tina was taken away from her parents at a young age, tail cut off, put up for adoption among humans in an attempt to integrate her into society. Her parents were institutionalized, driven insane from being deprived their peaceful existence in the forest.

I've had this story coming to mind ever since I first put on "Cepes and Tuberose". That is how I picture those trolls smelling. It starts off with boozy orange, chocolate and marzipan accord. When the orange wears off the cepes (=porcini) reveal themselves. A mushroom perfume might sound odd, but just think of the truffle pigs. The reason why they are so keen on finding those truffles is that truffles smell just like a female pig in heat. Ok, she seems to be hiding a few inches below the ground, never a good sign, but sometimes you don't ask any questions. Now, smelling of truffles would be a bit much, at least for me, but the earthiness of cepes are the second best thing on my internal mushroom sexiness ranking chart, and in "Cepes and Tuberose" - they smell good! 

There are other notes as well. I get woody cloves and cedar. Sometimes I get something musky. And there is the tuberose, flickering like an elusive forest fairy. Sometimes she's out in the open, sometimes not, but her glowing pixie dust helps  bringing the other notes to life.

To say that "Cepes and Tuberose" smells like an autumn forest would be true but it would not be the whole truth. This is one of those scents that sum up to a whole lot more than the individual notes in themselves. It IS an autumn forest, but it's a sunny one, a happy one, one that is chock full of pheromones, smiling at you, beckoning to enter.

Disclaimer: I read the story "Border" several years ago and I might not have all the details right. There is a lot more to it than what I tell here.
My sample of "Cepes and Tuberose" I bought at the Aftelier Perfumes Website.
Troll image is by Swedish artist John Bauer.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Doing the classics - YSL Opium

A while ago I was the lucky winner of "Perfumes, the A-Z guide" by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez in a draw on the lovely blog Feminine Things. "Perfumes", if you don't know of it, contain reviews of 1200 or so perfumes. The authors do not hold back on critisism, neither good nor bad, making it a very entertaining read.

There are several ways to read the book. The reviews I've found the most useful are the ones reviewing the classics. Even the saddest little perfume shop, among all the clelbrity scents and cheapo fruit blends there tend to be a few classics still hanging around. They might look sad and out dated but, when you think about it, the reason for them being there is that someone has dearly loved them, loved them so much they've gone back time and time again to buy them, in some cases during more that 50 years. And by reading "Perfumes" I've gained two pals to hold my hand and giving me a guided tour on what's so remarkable about those classics.
Yesterday, after delving into "Perfumes", I decided it was time to try on the legendary icon YSL Opium. It was originally launched in 1977 and, as far as I understand, pretty much dominated the scent scene during the years thereafter. How to describe it? Well, if Opium was a movie it would be from 1977 (duh!). The plot would take place in an old antique shop, specializing in intricate oriental wood carvings. It would also turn out that the owner is dabbling in Chinese medicine, in his bathtub he's trying to create a elixir of youth, based on equal part old school sun tan lotion and Nivea cream, spiked with a secret blend of oriental spices, resins and balsams. Main character is played by Linda Lovelace (seen on the left) and the plot itself (or lack thereof) I will leave to you, my dear readers, as an excercise.

Or, trying to be a bit serious here, Opium starts out very two sided. There is strong, freshly cut up, wood and a creamy generic sun tan lotion. After half an hour these merge into a malange of vanillia, cinnamon, balsam resiny goodness. It's soft, smooth and well integrated. I kept thining of Opium as a Ormonde Jayne Tolu, but everything golden is replaces by a 70-ies hue of mahogany brown (if that makes any sense to anyone). Opium also turned out to have remarkable staying power, I sparyed it on at 10 a.m. and it was still strong 12 hour later.

What surprised me most about Opium is that I fell in love with it. I thought this would be a little experiment, aiding to my general perfumista knowledge but I found I seriously enjoyed wearing it. So much I'll be getting a full bottle somewhere in the near future.

Disclaimer: I don't own a sample of Opium. This blog post is based on my one time experience, spraying some of the reformulated 2003 version of Opium on, at a store counter.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Cucumbers and horses - "Celadon, a Velvet Green" from DSH Perfumes

It's nothing new that I've been seriously into vegetable notes this summer and the first time I saw DSHs website I was in awe. So many perfumes, so many with vegetable notes in them. Where to start? What do I want? I went for cucumber.

Now, most people that have perfumes as a hobby know that what you get is not always what you had expected. With "Celadon, a Velvet Green" I had zoomed in on the cucumber note and somehow managed to ignore all the others. I was expecting something light, aquatic, green and fresh but what I got was completely different. Look at the picture below, I got that! Well, everything except the horse, that is.

Celadon took me back in time to when I was maybe 8 years old. All my friends went to riding school and the conversation topics that mattered was gossip from the stable; what horse was the cutest one, who would get to ride what horse during the next couple of lessons, that type of stuff. I badly wanted to attend riding school, but no. My dad is a plastic surgeon and he had met more horseback riders than you'd like to know - on the operating table trying to reconstruct various parts of their bodies after being kicked or fallen off. So this was a very "No Discussion"-type of no. But a girl can dream... I read books about horses, read magazines about horses and watched horseback riding shows on tv, thinking, one day, I'd wear one of those stylish riding outfits, have a horse of my horse and we'd be best friends forever.

Celadon is the scent representation of my childhood dream of a horse. There are two sides of this scent, one is green, containing clover, grass and lots of hay, complete with that slightly sour note that it tends to get by laying around in damp environments. All the stuff I'd be happily feeding my little horsie, the two of us hanging out in the barnyard. The other side is soft vanilla/tonka. Sometimes it's a dreamy marshmallow cloud to dwell in. Sometimes I get fabric softener, like riding outfits smell in fantasy land where no one ever has to clean out the stables or get horse sweat all over you.

Now, me and vanilla "are in a relationship and it's complicated", as you see on Facebook sometimes. There are some scents in which I like it, but in this one it's brushing me the wrong way. The green side of Celadon I like though. And I admire how it brings up memories that I thought I'd forgotten all about. Who needs a shrink when you have a perfume blog?

And, did I ever get that horse? No, it was not meant to be. Some years later my parents actually encouraged me to try horseback riding. At that time they probably had realised that one of the most likely pastime I'd chose would involve beer and boys with motorcycles. By then, horses had lost their appeal.

For other reviews of "Celadon - a Velvet Green", see:
Olfactorias Travels
I Smell Therefore I am 

Top notes: Clover Leaf, Cucumber, Lime Peel
Middle notes: Green Grass, Liatrix, Orris Root
Base notes:Balsam Fir, Hay absolute, Narcissus Absolute, Tonka Bean, Violet Leaf Absolute


This sample was sent to me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Winner of the Occult draw announcement has spoken and the winner of a bottle of Occult from Vessel Perfumes is......


Congratulations!!!! I hope you'll love the scent!

Please mail me your home address to solafsdottir (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll put the bottle it in the mail as soon as possible :)