Thursday, 30 September 2010

Eau d'Italie - Sienne l'Hiver

Sienne l'Hiver is one of those perfumes I've read a bit about, but felt very much on the fence as whether to order a sample or not. Reviews have been fairly polarising - it seems like people either love it or hate it. I therefore ordered a sample expecting either to be wowed, or revolted. As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised.

The notes include violet leaf, geranium, black olive, white truffle, smoke, woods, coal-roasted chestnuts, autumn leaves, french straw, iris root and white musk. Well, some of those notes seem much like marketing mulch to me, but in any event, the perfume does evoke some sort of winter or autumnal atmosphere. The opening is surprisingly fruity, smelling not generically fruity, but more like musty, slightly fermenting grapes. This fades quickly and a much greener note emerges, which smells, you guessed it, quite a lot like olives. However this is more the smell of the oil to me, rather than the fruit. It isn't sweet, but not exactly dry either. There is a herbaceous feel to it too, but not in a mossy or sappy way. I must admit that as the perfume develops I do not detect any chestnut or truffle accords, at least not in the way that I have experienced these culinary delights. The fragrance does not smell nutty and I don't detect that rich, yet pungent smell you get with say truffle-infused oil. There is a richness to the scent that I also get with Frederic Malle's Un Rose, which is meant to have a truffle accord as well, so maybe there is something there.

The development continues in much the same fashion, still staying quite green, but in a mediterranean undergrowth sort of way, if you know what I mean. In that sense it does smell quite leafy and dry, but I would not necessarily have called it the smell of autumn leaves. I don't detect much smoke, if at all. There's something about Sienne l"Hiver that reminds me of Comme des Garcon Monocle Laurel. This obviously came a long time before Laurel, and is smoother, perhaps more sophisticated than I was expecting. It's also not as oddball as I thought it would be, considering some of the reviews I read. Having said that, I don't think I have smelled anything else like it and I quite enjoyed it. I wouldn't say I fell head-over-heels in love, but I still think it was worth obtaining a sample of it. I think Sienne l'Hiver is quite unisex, but despite the use of notes like chestnuts and truffles, there is nothing gourmand about it to me.

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Saturday, 25 September 2010

And the winner is....

Cymbaline - congratulations. As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, the winner has been chosen randomly by a willing member of my household. As there were only four commenters, you each stood a 25% chance, which are pretty good odds.

Cymbaline, if you email me your name and postal details, I shall wing some selective samples to you. 

Friday, 24 September 2010

Autumn colds and smartphones

Not much posting from me this week I'm afraid. I've come down with one of those early autumn colds, passed on no doubt by my wonderful children, who have the sniffles too. With a bunged up nose and no sense of smell I've decided to give my olfactory senses a break for a few days.

My most exciting bit of news is that I got a new mobile phone this week, a smartphone HTC Wildfire. It's pretty cool I think. Ok, it's not an i-phone, or one of the high end phones like the HTC Desire or Samsung Galaxy, but for the contract price its actually quite nifty. I've become a bit of a gadget geek over the last few days and my obsession has been browsing the Android market for downloading apps. Sad, I know.

I hope to be back later this weekend, refreshed and ready to be a fumehead again. Oh yes, and I am going to announce the winner of my small draw. To those who entered, you stand a good chance of winning (a 25% chance to be precise...)!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

100th post musings, a tribute to Ambre Sultan and Vetiver Extraordinaire and a giveaway

Ok, so this is my 100th post. In a way I am almost surprised that I got here. When I first started blogging back in March this year I started with some trepidation. My main stumbling block was the nagging thought of how self-indulgent blogging can be, and I think I actually made mention of this in my 1st post. Thinking of where I am now, I still think my perfume musings are somewhat self-indulgent, but I can also honestly state that I love doing this. I try not to take myself too seriously - after all, I'm a bean counter, not Bertrand Duchafour. One thing that still worries me a little bit after six months of blogging is whether I am truly objective and unbiased, or for that matter, should I be? It's not as if I am a reviewer for the New York Times, with a paying audience. Having said this, I honestly do try to give every perfume I try a fair go, and to write about it as objectively as I can. Touching on that point in the first sentence of this post, I am a little surprised  I've stuck it out thus far. In this busy world, blogging is really quite low on my list of priorities, and I never wanted to get to the point where I felt anxious if I didn't manage to post an article each day, or something like it. In fact, I told myself that if I ever reach that state, I will pack it in, because this is not a job, it's recreation. And I'm not aiming for world peace (just a nice-smelling world ;-) ).

Moving on, I can't get this far and not make mention of two perfumes that changed my perfume life, and helped me experience a paradigm shift from simply viewing fragrance as something I wear to something I live. At the risk of coming across a bit melodramatic, Serge Luten's Ambre Sultan and Frederic Malle's Vetiver Extraordinaire revolutionised the concept of perfume and perfumery for me, making me realise that perfume is truly an art form, and that like any art, can lead you down a path of amazing discovery and self-realisation. I don't aim to review either of these perfumes today, but they both represent for me an ideal in perfume. I was thinking about this and realised that after 100 posts, I haven't reviewed either before. At first I was surprised, but after some reflection I realised that for me to reduce these two masterpieces to mere sentences would not do them justice. For me, to try and analyse these too much would be to risk spoiling their magic. Ambre Sultan and Vetiver Extraordinaire take me on a journey when I wear them and represent to me all that is good and magical and transcendent about perfume, a rare occurrence let it be said. Perfumes like these is one of the reasons I chose to start a perfume blog and this post is my chance to pay homage to them and their creators, Dominic Ropion and Christopher Sheldrake and to people like Frederic Malle and Serge Lutens, who have helped enable them.

I also want to say thank you to those of you who visit my blog, be it regularly or infrequently, and especially the kind comments I have received. I don't have a huge following and it is not my intention or drive to achieve this anyway. However, it is still gratifying to have built up some online contact with a few fellow perfume lovers out there in the ether and I love visiting your blogs too. 

Ok, so now for my giveaway. It's nothing stupendous, but I'd like you to mention two (or one, if you only have one) perfumes that transcend your concept or understanding of perfume, that induces in you some sort of profound emotion. The giveaway will be a small set of samples (about 5 -7, I haven't quite decided yet), covering hopefully a range of styles and houses. I'd prefer not to mention what the samples are, as I am not affiliated to any perfume house. The winner will be chosen randomly by a member of my household (probably excluding pets) and announced this coming Friday. The winner can then send me an email with their personal details.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Mark Buxton - Around Midnight

This is the first perfume I've tried from Mark Buxton's eponymous line. I'm relatively familiar with some of his other work, most notably for Comme des Garcon, Le Labo and Van Cleef & Arpels. The notes for Around Midnight include pepper, geranium, camomile, jasmine, styrax, patchouli, cistus and cedarwood. I must admit, the opening of Around Midnight left me feeling quite disappointed. It opens quite sweet and moderately spicy, the only interesting part being a noticeable patchouli note early on. Although not listed, the beginning felt quite citrusy, in a bergamot sort of way, but perhaps this is the interaction of geranium and camomile. I'm inclined to say this started rather generic smelling, like something I've smelled often. Fortunately it only got better from here on. Around Midnight stays fairly spicy through the heart, but for some reason the patchouli fades considerably to be replaced by a warm, smooth, almost tobacco-like note, with just a hint of leather and earth. At the risk of trying to analyse this too much, I wonder if the tobacco accord I get is caused by the combination of jasmine, patch and cistus? This perfume does not smell floral at all though, and comes across as quite sophisticated, with a hint of caramel toffee and spice that lends a certain gourmand feel.

The dry down becomes less sweet, with perhaps a hint of smokiness and much woodier, no doubt as the cedar comes to the fore. This ends up smelling very good - quite suave and smooth, with very few rough edges. I don't want to categorise this too much, but it does tend towards the masculine, but I think many women might be drawn to the sweeter elements in the composition. The most compelling phase for me is that brief interlude of sweet tobacco, spice and faint leather. On the whole, this is a decent fragrance, not groundbreaking by any means, but pleasant to wear.

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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Parfumerie Generale - L'eau Guerriere

Parfumerie Generale is a line that seldom fails to move me in some way. I haven't fallen in love with every single one I've tried, but each has at least made some sort of impression on me. I can honestly say that none I've tried has been generic or smelled like anything else out there, which is saying a lot in this saturated market. 

L'eau Guerriere means 'warrior water' apparently and the notes include cinchona bark, sky aldehydes, olibanum, aloe wood and musk. I'm not sure what cinchona bark is meant to smell like, although I read that quinine, a cure for malaria, is derived from the bark. Even more baffling to me is the term sky aldehydes. If any of you can shed light on that, please enlighten me! Aloe wood, if my understanding is correct, is another name for oud. Anyway, L'eau Guerriere has one of the most interesting and baffling openings I've smelled in a long time. It's hard to really describe, but to my nose there is an initial blast of metallic citrus and musk. There is nothing generic about this accord though. It is undercut by an intense nutty sweetness that is almost biscuity, suffused with dusty spices and what I perceive as an almost minty note. It reminds me ever so slightly of the intense sweet opening in other PG fragrances, most evident in Aomassai. It's wonderfully bizarre and original. It's also quite animalic, in a sly and subtle way. I think this might be the use of a heavy musk, which Pierre Guillaume likes to use in his perfumes. The opening is faintly disturbing. As the top fades, the fragrance becomes spicier and smoother, losing that animalic and musky edge. I can't quite identify an oud accord in this, but that isn't to say it's not here. The heart of L'eau Guerriere becomes quite woody, dry and incense-y. For a short while I can detect what I think is a hint of tobacco and leather, slightly sweetened, but this is fleeting. I think the dry woodiness might come from the cinchona bark, which together with the olibanum creates an incense accord that is not churchy in feel, but more like white smoke. It becomes more contemplative into the dry down, as the incense intensifies in feel. I'm not sure which phase I like the most in this perfume. I think I actually like each stage of progression, each of which is remarkably distinct and different to the next. Quite unusual in a way.

L'eau Guerriere has very good sillage and lasting power. I wouldn't call it a sillage monster, but it certainly has some presence and easily lasted a good ten hours on my skin. I don't find this overtly masculine, despite the incense and dry woods feel later on. I think it really is unisex. I can't really compare it to any other perfume I know, although for some reason I think this is what I wanted perfumes like 10 Corso Como and Let Me Play The Lion to smell like, but they never did. At the risk of coming across as overly enthusiastic, I can't recommend L'eau Guerriere highly enough. I love it and think it is a fantastic fragrance. A must try, if you can get your hands on it.

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Monday, 13 September 2010

London and the Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie

Last Friday I spent a day in London, mainly visiting and browsing a number of perfume 'shops', for want of a better word. This was a little treat to myself. Usually I only get up to London these days for work-related courses, squeezing in a hurried half-an-hour or so to pop into Liberty to spray on a few fragrances. As I was on holiday last week, I left the family behind (selfish, I know) and treated myself to a unhurried stroll through the grimy streets of the Capital. I used to live in London and worked in Piccadilly and later around Victoria Station. I started my day by strolling across St James' Park to the Army and Navy Stores in Victoria Street, now sadly just another outlet of the better-known House of Fraser chain of department stores. I think Army and Navy sounds much better - I can't remember which novel it was, but Graham Greene refers to this very store as does Somerset Maugham. Anyway, as far as perfume goes, this store has a decent, albeit fairly bog-standard selection of fragrances. I had bigger fish to fry, so after a quick stop at the wonderful Neo-Byzantine Westminster Cathedral, with its quirky red-and-white-brick towers and domes, I headed on to Elizabeth Street, in the heart of Belgravia. 

Belgravia is the preserve of new money mostly from the east, including Russian and Chinese billionaires who have a few spare million pounds to blow on a modest little pied-a-terre in Eaton Square. Elizabeth Street is home to the wonderful Les Senteurs, which stocks a brilliant selection of niche perfumes. As I've blogged a couple of times before about this perfume store, I won't go into much detail here, suffice to say that as usual, they were more than happy to decant some perfume samples for me. This is the one place in London that will literally offer to give you samples - in the big department stores you'd literally have to sell your mother to get even a sample of the most dreary recent release, in my experience. This time I picked up samples of Parfum D'Empire's Eau Suave and Fougere Bengale as well as three from the Parfumerie Generale line, Corps et Ames, Leau Guerriere and Harmatan Noir. I haven't tested any of these yet, but on paper Fougere Bengale initially reminds me of Arabie by Serge Lutens, with a weird curry note, while Corps et Ames smells like a very smooth, sophisticated chypre. Harmatan Noir is a curious, minty blend. Full reviews will eventually appear here at some point.

I wandered further up into some seriously hot retail districts, heading for Lowndes Street, where one can find the newly-opened Amouage boutique. I am a huge fan of Amouage and was thrilled to be able to visit. I am very familiar with their regular line, but my reason for visiting the boutique was to check out the attars, some 12-16 of them! The sales assistant was very friendly, but explained that he couldn't allow me to buy any attars that day as there have been recent complaints of skin irritations. Needless to say, I couldn't remotely afford to buy one of the attars anyway, but I bravely put on my most disappointed face - when in Rome (or Knightsbridge) do as the Romans do I say. He did provide me with paper strips dipped in a few of the bottles though - two of them were Tribute and Homage, both lovely, while the other two were Badr Al Badour and Al Shomuk. The intensity of these attars is quite astounding and  intoxicating. If only I had the bucks.... If any of you are ever in London, do look up the Amouage store. It is beautiful and the products are set out wonderfully. Incidentally, I also got to have a sneak-preview sniff of the latest release, set for the end of the month. Memoir Man and Woman are being released soon, inspired by Baudelaire, it is claimed. As I only smelled the men's version on paper, I can't quite comment yet, suffice to say that to my nose it represents a bit of a departure for Amouage. It's smelled quite leathery and woody, with a tinge of vetiver. I'm really looking forward to trying both of these at the end of the month.

My next stop on my perfume itinerary was that glitzy, gaudy temple of kitsch, Harrods. Not usually my favourite place, Harrods holds my interest a bit more than it used to since I became  more interested in perfume. It has a wonderful range of perfumes, not least the Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie on the top floor. The amazing thing is when you walk through the main perfume hall at Harrods, you are assaulted by a legion of spritzing sales associates. It represents my worst nightmare - I hate browsing knowing that every one of those people are bearing down on me, with the sole intention of making a sale. I did try a few of the Tom Ford Private Blends, namely Tuscan Leather, Arabian Wood and Oud Wood. To be honest, the only one that made sort of an impression on me was Oud Wood, which smelled very nice. The  other two were very subdued and fleeting really, considering their premium price tag. Once I eventually made it to the Roja Dove room at the top, it was like entering another world. I've got a picture of the room at the top left, which is a sanctuary of perfume like none you have seen before. These days I am quite used to visiting high end perfume shops and trying niche perfumes, but I was blown away by this place. Seriously. If you are ever in London, this is a must-stop, please. I was befriended by a charming man, whose name I can't remember, unfortunately (it wasn't Roja Dove...) and he must have spent about half an hour showing me around, allowing me to sniff various perfumes and explaining the origins of some of the more obscure stuff. This is not an exhaustive list, but some of the perfume contained in this one room includes the Caron Urns, Clive Christian (obscene), Xerjoff, Tom Ford Private Blend, Molinard, Amouage, Roja Dove, Guerlain, Creed, Jean Patou, Grossmith, Profumum Roma, Teo Cabanel, Puredistance, Mona di Orio, Pierre de Velay and Robert Piguet. The lovely thing is that many of these lines include the harder-to-find concentrations and some vintage formulations as well. I was particularly taken with Pierre de Velay, a line that Roja Dove apparently stumbled across in Grasse, managed to buy the formulas and tweaked them for modernisation (ie read exclude oakmoss). Most of these are gorgeous, warm chypres. My 'guide' also allowed me to sniff one of Roja's own chypres (no 5 I think) - preformulated and then the modern, no-oakmoss version. The amazing thing (and this is the first time I have experienced the effect of the oakmoss debacle firsthand) is that the older version, with real oakmoss, smelled totally different to the reformulated version. They literally were different perfumes. While the new version smelled slightly thin, fruity and almost fresh, the old version was peppery, warm, velvety and enveloping. Honestly, it was a real eye opener to me. I also got to smell the new Molinard single-note oils, trying the sandalwood, amber and musk oils, as well as the crystallised rose. This sounds weird, I know, but the assistant had to scrape out some crystals from the vial with the wand and smear them onto a paper strip for me. But the smell and potency! He did warn me. I have never smelled such an intense and forceful rose absolute note before. It literally made my eyes water. Five days later and the strip now smells of exquisite rose!

The rest of my day was spent popping into my favourite haunt, Liberty, where I tried the new L'artisan Coeur de Vetiver Sacre, on skin. I'm not sure what to say about this one. It's intriguing, and unlike any other vetiver perfume I've come across. I really need to try this again to do it justice. For ages it did not even smell like vetiver to me. Strange, but beguiling.

Finally, I spent a calm half an hour in the National Art Gallery in Trafalgar Square, enjoying some peace, before I got on the train and made my way home to the rather more mundane realm of West Kent. It was a thoroughly exhausting, yet fascinating day.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Anniversary reminiscence

Tomorrow (9 September) my wife and I (who else?) celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. The traditional anniversary gift for this year is tin, and although I did contemplate a tin of baked beans as a present, sense prevailed, as did the thought of trying to make it through the next ten years.... In some ways it seems literally like yesterday that I found myself on the verge of getting married. I was a bundle of nervous energy, excited yet also filled with trepidation at the thought of the immensity of what we were getting ourselves into. Ten years later I'm grateful for the great times my wife and I have had together. It hasn't all been plain sailing, but for the most part being married is something I wouldn't change for the world. Ten years ago we were naive, both twenty-somethings with hardly any possessions. Ten years later we have moved to another country, experienced drastic career changes, bought a house (with the crippling mortgage to boot) and somehow ended up with two kids. How did we manage that? Ten years ago perfume was but an afterthought in my life. Who would have thought that a decade later I would be obsessed by it and writing a blog? On a more serious note, for some reason thinking of my wedding day brings back some melancholy thoughts as well. One of my dear family friends, Barbara, who was at our wedding, died from cancer that year. She had breast cancer about ten years before that, went into a long remission, then it came back with a vengeance in 2000. On our wedding day she was already suffering again, probably well aware that this time it was the start of the end. We didn't know - no one did that day save for her husband. Such was the selflessness of Barbara that she was all smiles and happiness that day, putting on a brave face for our sake. Less than three months later I was sat at her bedside, saying my last farewells, staring at a haggard and lifeless face whose soul was probably already moving to the next life. On a lighter note, her husband Trevor was bitten by a goat on our wedding day. The reception was held at a farm and Trevor thought the goat needed some wedding cake. Suffice to say the goat thought otherwise and Trevor's thumb bore the brunt of its wrath!

Tomorrow night my wife and I are going out for a simple dinner at a local pub, one that serves some very good food. Perhaps we will share a bottle of wine and I'm sure, a few smiles, laughter and perhaps even a few tears. Instead of the usual 10-year traditional gift, we have decided rather to treat ourselves to something we each like. I am thinking of buying a full bottle of perfume, something that will perhaps remind me of this special day. I don't know what I want though. Such is the fate of a perfume addict that one loves so many different perfumes and it's hard to come up with one single item. On my initial shortlist are Serge Luten's Ambre Sultan, Creed's Bois de Portugal and Christian Dior Homme. I'm also not sure what to wear tomorrow night. Do any of you have any suggestions?

Here's to you Wendy, my love.

Mazzolari by Mazzolari

So far I have only sampled two perfumes from the Mazzolari line, Lui and the one I'm reviewing today, Mazzolari. I have to say, I'm not disappointed thus far. I think this is a very good perfume house. Lui for example, is an excellent, potent patchouli fragrance with an animalic twist to die for, in my opinion. Lovers of patchouli could do far worse than try it. The notes for Mazzolari include citrus, green notes, vetiver, sandalwood and spices. Fairly vague actually. What Mazzolari is to my nose is a green, spicy perfume reminiscent of Caron's Yatagan, without the fierce wormwood note. Having said that, I think the two are sufficiently different from each other to warrant at least sampling both. Mazzolari opens with a blast of green, herbal notes. There may be citrus in here but it is by no means dominant. I find it hard to identify exactly what the green notes are, but they are herbal and intense, with what I suspect is a hefty dose of galbanum and vetiver. There might be a wormwood note in here, with a touch of anise, but just as I think Mazzolari is going to ape Yatagan, a slightly creamy sandalwood enters, to shift it away in style, but not emphatically so. There is also a slight powderiness at this point, which surprised me and for a short while there were hints of Nicolai's New York, with perhaps a light touch of lavender. Thankfully for me this fades fairly quickly and the rest of the progression is mostly green and bracing, with some nice creamy woody undertones. I really like Mazzolari and think it is a well-constructed, interesting perfume. It becomes fairly linear through the heart and dry down, but is by no means boring. Although I suspect this might be preferred by men, I didn't think it was overpoweringly masculine and I can't see why a woman shouldn't wear this, particularly if she enjoys green notes in perfume. By the way, this perfume is not green as in a green chypre, and there are no mossy notes to my nose. This is green as in herbs, twigs, sticks and sap. Mazzolari is an eau de toilette, but has extremely good lasting power. I highly recommend this.

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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Honore des Pres - Love Coco and I Love les Carottes

Some of you may have read my post a couple of months ago on Vamp a NY, a tuberose-based fragrance by the organic perfume line Honore des Pres. I was in my local Space.NK today and noticed that they carry the entire line, including the latest three. Incidentally, Space.NK actually carries quite a nice line of fragrances, including Diptyque, Kiehls, Tom Ford, Acqua di Parma, Sisley and I understand that Francis Kurkdjian's eponymous line is to be stocked here shortly. Something to look forward to. Anyway, I tried Love Coco and I Love les Carottes on paper and they are rather intriguing. Although I haven't tested these on skin, they initially struck me as more original and interesting than Vamp a NY, which to my nose is really just a creamy, slightly tropical tuberose - nice, but hardly ground-breaking. Love Coco also has a slightly tropical vibe, thanks to it's green coconut note, which mixed with coriander leaf veers to my nose into Thai-style territory. The coco note, to me, is lost on paper, and thinking about it, I'm not quite sure what the New York connection is here. It strikes me far more like it should have been based on a south-east Asian city. It is compelling though and I'd really like to test this on my skin. I Love les Carottes is possibly even more interesting than Love Coco. The opening is rather fierce, with a strong, earthy accord that smells like carrot ground together with incense and pepper. It is quirky, to say the least. After this a fairly realistic carrot smell emerges and it becomes a little bit sweeter. Again, this is really interesting and I'd love to test this further. Both of these are relatively subdued on paper, yet definitely not weak, unlike some others in the line.

Domenico Caraceni 1913

Domenico Caraceni 1913 is one of those perfumes that appears to have a relatively subdued, yet almost cult-like following, yet receives very little review time. I'd been toying with the idea of purchasing a sample for some time, as the reviews, such as they are, were generally very positive and I liked the notes. This is an eau de toilette and the notes include petitgrain, styrax, geranium bourbon, neroli, rose, tobacco, cypress and frankincense. I don't know about you, but these notes are compelling, to say the least, at least for me. One thing that had stalled me for a while was some feedback that suggested 1913 bore a resemblance to No 88, by Czech & Speake, a geranium (and rose) dominated perfume that I don't really like. Luckily I needn't have feared, as 1913, certainly to my nose, doesn't bear any resemblance to No 88 at all. My initial testing of 1913 has left me feeling a little confused. The opening and heart are great - essentially a mild incense-and-rose combination, suffused with a bit of geranium and fir-like cypress, enough to add a bit of a twist to a well-known route. Where I feel a little let down is that after about a couple of hours the fragrance goes flat on me and fades away quickly. At one point I was really enjoying the incense and rose, very elegant and understated in this case, and then the next it was as if the ingredients had leaped off into a void and I was left with an indistinct, murky base on my skin. I don't detect tobacco at all. I haven't written off 1913 entirely - there is enough in the first half of the development to leave me wanting more and I suspect this is a perfume that needs to be sprayed rather than dabbed. Unfortunately I only have a vial, so perhaps I need to be more liberal with my application next time. Even so, this doesn't strike me as a fragrance that shouts. It is very sophisticated and understated. I wouldn't say it is a testosterone-touting terror at all, yet at the same time is definitely more masculine than feminine. I do think that a woman who likes her roses slightly darker (but I'm not talking roses such as Voleur de Roses, Un Rose, Rose Poivre, Rose 31, etc here, so don't get your hopes up too much) might like to try 1913. 

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Monday, 6 September 2010

Atelier Cologne - Orange Sanguine & Bois Blonds

I recently received two samples from the Atelier Cologne line, Orange Sanguine and Bois Blonds. The notes for Orange Sanguine include blood orange, bitter orange, jasmine, geranium, amber woods, sandalwood and tonka beans. The opening and heart of Orange Sanguine and pure and uplifting, as realistic orange notes as you are likely to find. I find the smell was like the whole grove - fruit, leaves and blossoms galore. The fragrance is simply constructed and all I detected in addition to the fruits was some light wood notes. Jasmine, Geranium, amber, sandalwood, tonka bean - they all escaped me. Lasting power is average, but for a cologne, albeit a slightly higher concentration I gather, par for the course. I like Orange Sanguine - the opening in particular is gorgeous and perfect for the summer months, and slightly different to the usual citrus suspects to warrant at least sampling. This is perfectly unisex.

The notes for Bois Blonds include neroli, pink pepper, orange flower, incense, light woods, musk and vetiver. I'll be honest with you - this to my nose is a dead ringer for Solo Loewe. I honestly don't think I could tell the two apart were I to wear them side by side. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. Just that if you happen to own one or the other, then there is no point in trying the other, in my opinion. As I already have a few samples of Solo Loewe, I was disappointed with Bois Blonds. It's essentially a slightly spicy (pink peppercorns - when will these go away?), slightly citrusy (neroli) and lightly woody (who knows) perfume that smells perfectly alright, without really knocking my socks off. It tends more towards the masculine, and anyone who has tried a multitude of men's perfumes with the ubiquitous pink pepper in it, paired with citrus, musk and light woods, will have a fairly good inkling of what to expect. Perhaps this is damning with faint praise. I'll be honest - there are far worse versions of this type of perfume around, but it doesn't show me anything original and had I known what to expect, I would have tried something else from the Atelier line.

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