Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Maison Martin Margiela - Replica - Funfair Evening (perfume review)

Growing up in Bonney Lake, Washington, there was one thing every kid did in the town next door. And that was the Puyallup Fair. (Do the Puyallup!) These days it's officially called the Washington State Fair and it draws more than 1 million attendees during its late summer run, making it one of the top 10 fairs in the whole country. I went every year, either performing with the school band or with friends and I still vividly remember the dizzying amount of rides and games and prizes to be won. 

True to it's name, Replica's Funfair Evening (by Maison Martin Margiela) evokes a carefree evening spent at the fair - as an adult - complete with screaming kids frolicking about and that twinge of nausea you experience after one too many funnel cakes or rides.

Upon first spray, Funfair Evening opens up almost brashly with a strong marshmallowy cotton candy vibe that's intensely sweet and powdery. I can't help but picture a puff of the pink stuff. You can almost feel the stickiness on your hands and lips and it's almost sweet enough to turn your stomach - a sign that I'm no longer the kid I used to be.

5 or 10 minutes in, the billowing clouds of cotton candy make way for a slightly sharp but still very sweet vanilla amber. This is like sunset at the game area of the fair. Your stomach is finally settling from the rides and cotton candy, but you're still enjoying a little bit of adrenaline as you try repeatedly to win the most giant stuffed panda in the world.

Within a couple of hours, the sharpness fades away and you're left with a more delicately sweet vanilla caramel. This is the final walk through the fairgrounds and to the car, with the dueling scents of deep fried snickers and powdered funnel cakes lingering on your clothing after a long night at the fair.

All in all, Funfair Evening did not strike me as a particularly complex scent - but I think it is successful in reproducing the "familiar scent" of a night at the fair.  It's intense powdery sweetness makes it feel like a very youthful scent, which may be why it felt a touch too sweet for me in my ripe old age of 31. I could see it being a simple and fun scent on a carefree individual that likes sweet gourmands.


My rating of Funfair Evening: 2.5

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 Nausea/Gagging           Meh       Decent       Great         Olfactory Elation 


Replica Funfair Evening as described by the MMM website:

Top notes: Petitgrain, Sweet apple, Pear ester, Star Anise, Neroli
Middle notes: Infusion of Moroccan rose, Tuberose, Infusion of Egyptian orange blossom
Base notes: Ambrox, White musk, Tahitian vanilla, Caramel

Perfumers: Jacques Cavallier, Marie Salamagne


Have you tried Funfair Evening, or any of the other Replica scents? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Funday! Samples, candles and the ever-expanding Christmas list...

A couple of months ago when my casual love of candles turned serious (and *just* before it morphed into a full-blown perfume obsession), I ventured to Blue Mercury to sniff some of the Diptyque candles. At the time, none of the 5 or 6 stocked candles smelled particularly good to me, but I did walk away surprisingly smitten with Eau Duelle and lusting after Eau Rose after testing them on paper strips. I'd been toying with using my Nordstrom gift card to buy the roll-on version of Eau Rose and decided last night that the light and effervescent rose would be perfect to wear during my upcoming trip to St. Lucia. Determined to get this scent before the trip, baby Walden and I ventured very very far to Tyson's Corner Center since their Nordstrom recently began stocking Diptyque products. (The Bloomingdales at Tyson's Corner also carries Diptyque, but their selection was FAR more limited.)

Ah, what an exquisite Nordstrom! The fragrance and beauty section was so much larger than at my home mall, and the SA that helped me was incredibly sweet and friendly and completely in love with my son. In the end, I eventually purchased the roll-on version of Philosykos instead of Eau Rose, as I prefered it's milky sweet drydown to the flatter floral drydown of Eau Rose. I guess on my skin Eau Rose didn't live up to the tester I coveted. :(

I also smelled each and every Diptyque candle they carried (which had to be ~20) and was shocked to love nearly ALL of them this time. After much debate, I ended up coming home with the Pomander - which felt like the quintessential fall/winter scent. It was absurdly expensive but !!LOVE!! Oh my it smells delicious, even in the box. 

Runners-up included Santal, Violette and Vetyver, at least 2 of which will end up on my Christmas list. I also sniffed out some of their reed diffusers and the Antica Farmacista - Prosecco reed diffuser will also be on my Christmas list. :)

While Philosykos probably isn't my dream tropical island getaway scent, I was fortunate to come away with several samples, some of which should fit the bill just fine! When all was said and done, my lovely SA sent me home with samples of:

(prepackaged by Diptyque - 2ml)
Diptyque - Do Son EdP 
Diptyque - L'Ombre dans l'Eau  EdP
Diptyque - Oyedo EdT

(prepared in store)
B Balenciaga EdP
Tom Ford - Mandarino di Amalfi
Tom Ford - Neroli Portofino
Chanel - Chance Eau Tendre
Carven - L'eau de Toilette

Wow!!!! Is this normal??

I wasn't super excited about the B Balenciaga, but the SA generously spritzed herself after preparing my sample, and I have to admit she smelled lovely! So my mind is open. I also think that the 2 Tom Fords, the Carven and Oyedo will be really lovely to try in the warm weather of St. Lucia.

When I finished at Nordstrom, I went to Sephora to try the new Scent IQ finder thingy to keep the fun alive. I'm not really sure how great of a job the scent finder did but I did end up with 3 more samples:

Nest - Midnight Fleur
Replica - Funfair Evening
Replica - Jazz Club

I haven't heard much about the Replica fragrances, but their bottles were really cute and I'm a sucker for that kind of thing.

I'm extremely excited to try (and do my best to document/review) all of these samples! These should help tide me over until my next sample purchase, which I'll probably make soon after the trip.

Have you tried any of these fragrances? Which are your favorites? Do any of them strike you as amazing tropical fragrances?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Histoires de Parfums - Blanc Violette (perfume review)

After the debacle that was Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine, I wasn't sure if I wanted to try another Histoires de Parfums scent right away. Especially with the L'Artisan Parfumeur samples calling my name. But I gave it 2 days and was ready to tackle another HdP.  I had 5 options left - 1886 Moulin Rouge, Blanc Violette, 1826, Tubereuse 1 Capricious, and Tubereuse 2 Virginal. I went with Blanc Violette mainly because I'd recently read a comment on another blog where someone claimed to love it the most out of the HdP lineup. 

Photo from Histoires de Parfums Press Downloads

Unlike with Vert Pivoine, I was not blasted with fragrance upon my initial spray. I gave it only one spray lest I be bombarded with the scent of another pickled vegetable, but fortunately that did not come to pass. I let the singular spray dry and then had to lift the scent to my wrist to smell it. The opening felt floral (perhaps this is what violets smell like, but I have never smelled a violet, so I do not know) and high pitched. Flowers obviously don't play instruments - but when I smelled this it sang to me like a high instrumental note. It wasn't quite soft enough to be a flute and not full enough to be a clarinet, but perhaps oboe would be fitting. A high note played on an oboe. It was pleasant and a bit soapy. After about 2 minutes I actually gave it another spray to smell it better.

After about 5 minutes, the high note settled down and mellowed into what smelled to me like a low octave soapy almond accord. For a brief second I got the faintest touch of pepper, but it disappeared quickly and I was left with the soapy almond wrapped in just the slightest gauze of powdery amber. 

Around 30 minutes in, the scent felt even fainter, but conjured up cumin-like spices and earthy wood. Though it required dedicated wrist sniffing to smell it, the fragrance unfortunately never melded into my skin but sat above it kind of awkwardly.

At the 1 hour mark I started to get a whiff of sharp florals. While it didn't change the fragrance *that* much, it made the perfume feel a lot louder to my nose. Strangely, I couldn't smell the Blanc Violette at all unless my wrist was within 6-12 inches of my nose, but when it was, it was there and it was noticeable. 

As the drydown progressed, the spicy earthiness quieted down to musky base while the sharp florals took center stage. They were screaming. At this point the scent was definitely too loud for my tastes but this may be awesome for a lover of big florals.

Overall, I enjoyed the opening of Blanc Violette and appreciated its soft and understated floral tones - especially after my experience with Vert Pivoine. Unfortunately the opening was short and as the scent transformed through the dry down, it wasn't my bag of tea. By the end the screeching florals become too sharp and way too strong for this nose. 

Interestingly, this was the first perfume my hubby actually didn't like (though to be fair I didn't have him smell Vert Pivoine). This may be telling as he's been an easy pleaser. He's liked everything I've sampled even when I didn't. Upon my frequent requests for opinions, he once asked "Don't ALL perfumes smell good? Isn't that the point of perfume?" I tried to explain that not everything necessarily smelled good, but he didn't believe me until today. 


My rating of Blanc Violette: 2.5

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 Nausea/Gagging           Meh       Decent       Great         Olfactory Elation 


Vert Pivoine as described by the Histoires de Parfums Press Kit:
powdered floral; fem.

The violet, from Parma or Toulouse, is delicate and discreetly opens out, revealing its powdered floral scent in all subtlety. An alchemy leaving a delicious imprint.

Top Note: Violet, Bergamot, Iris
Heart Note: Violet, Ylang-ylang, Star Anise
Base Note: Violet, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Musk, Rice Powder

Perfumer: Gerald Ghislain


Looking at the notes, I didn't get much bergamot, star anise or vanilla. Vanilla would have definitely been welcome to tone down the florals at the end. I'm not sure where I got soapy almond or amber but one reviewer on Luckyscent got cheap chemical movie theater butter so I'm happy with soapy almond! 

Have you tried Blanc Violette?  If you have, what was your take on it?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Histoires de Parfums - Vert Pivoine (perfume review)

Being new to the wonderful world of perfume, I sought to grow my sample base as quickly as possible. I found that one of the easiest and cheapest ways to do that was to buy sample packs offered by perfume houses. I started with the 10 piece L'Artisan Parfumeur sampler (awesome!) and quickly followed that with a Histoires de Parfums sampler. 

The L'Artisan sampler comes packaged with 10 pre-selected scents, but the Histoires de Parfums sample program allows you to choose any 6 of their scents for 20 USD. Each sample is 0.07 oz, or just over 2 ml. Since I'm pretty clueless when it comes to perfumes, I chose my 6 based off of the descriptions and what I thought I might like note-wise. I also checked out their reviews on Luckyscent. I received the samples about 2 weeks after ordering them and have chosen not to re-read the descriptions prior to sampling to avoid influencing my perceptions of each scent.

The glass vial samples came packaged in a little paper box with paperwork describing the scents.  The kit was mailed in a small bubble envelope.

I've read that perfumes can behave differently when sprayed or dabbed on, so I started by transferring all 6 scents into plastic atomizers. After the transfer, one of the first HdP scents I tried was Vert Pivoine - which translates to Green Peony. I'm no perfumista, so bear with me here as I try to describe my experience.

Photo from Histoires de Parfums Press Downloads
I applied approximately one and a half sprays on my left wrist/forearm. Before I could give Vert Pivoine a chance to dry and then sniff, I was bombarded with a very green (as advertised in the name) opening. The scent was distinctly recognizable but it took me a minute or so to place it - and unfortunately it wasn't peony. To be fair I'm not actually sure what Peony smells like, so maybe I'm wrong. Nonetheless, for me Vert Pivoine opened up with pickles. Not a mere suggestion of pickles dancing amidst a bouquet of beautiful flowers - peonies if you will - but straight up, 100% pickles. More specifically, these were not the vinegary Vlassic jar pickles (which I would have preferred), but the deli pickles you get quartered on the side of your deli sandwich or on a Chicago hot dog. I've never liked these pickles. 

That being said, the pickle opening did have a certain effervescent energy to it. Perhaps the refreshing essence of cucumber was shining through? In fact, my 5 month old son promptly awoke from his nap - filled with an unusual vigor - the moment I sat down beside him post-spritz. (This is probably another ping against the fragrance in my book...)

After 5 minutes or so, the screaming pickles faded down to... well... pickle perfume. I'm not really sure how to describe it. Vert Pivoine definitely had a classic (dare I say "old-lady") perfume-y base above which floated the distinct and enduring pickle. It must be something in my chemistry, because I simply can't imagine that peonies smell like deli pickles, and if they DO, I can't imagine that anyone would want to smell like them.

About two hours later the pickle may have faded away completely. I did feel as though I was still smelling it, but I'm not sure if it was really there or if my brain was stuck on pickle. At this point however, Vert Pivoine was becoming unpleasantly sharp - the kind of sharp that clings to the inside of your nose and burns. Not unlike the ammonia in cat pee. Of course it didn't smell like cat pee, but that's what it felt like in my nose. Pungent and headache inducing. I wondered if babies get headaches and worried that I was subjecting my poor Walden to a headache as well.

By the three hour mark I could bear the torture no longer and tried washing it off with tea tree oil hand soap and then again with lavender hand soap. While I couldn't get all of the fragrance off of my wrist I did mute the scent enough for my headache to go away. A sniff of the wrist still imparted a faint pickle scent and at that point I was tempted to go to the store and buy some pickles (the Vlassic kind, which I do enjoy).


My rating of Vert Pivoine:  1.5

1  -  -X-  -  2  -  -  -  -  3  -  -  -  -  4  -  -  -  -  5
 Nausea/Gagging           Meh       Decent       Great         Olfactory Elation 


Vert Pivoine as described in the Histoires de Parfums Press Kit:
fresh floral; fem.

Peony is considered as the queen of flowers in China, expressing elegance and wealth. Its colored roundness and exquisitely fresh floral vapor trail is an ode to femininity.

Top Note: Peony, Ivy Leaves, Rose water
Heart Note: Peony, Rose, Mimosa, Gardenia, Rose Berry
Base Note: Peony, Cedar, Sandal, Musk 

Perfumer: Gerald Ghislain


The reviews of Vert Pivoine on Luckyscent make it sound oh-so-floral, but unfortunately I didn't get any florals - except perhaps in the old-lady perfume scent in the drydown. (I'm not sure what notes comprise the old-lady perfume scent.) I can agree, however, that the scent was green, fresh (pickles are fresh, right?), and on the revitalizing side. I may have to give this one another go in the very distant future to see if anything changes. I'd love to experience this as a fresh and feminine floral.

Have you tried Vert Pivoine? If so, I'd love to hear your take on it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Welcome to A Scent Life!

Despite having a very sensitive nose (I get headaches from smells easily and I'm the annoying coworker for which fragrance rules are made) I have always loved scented things - particularly candles - but also fragrant teas, foods, lotions, body washes, bubble baths, flowers... you get the drift. Given the sensitivity of my nose, I've constantly been on the search for scents I love AND can tolerate. Unfortunately I find them very rarely, sadly far less than my collection of lotions and candles would indicate.  :(  Usually the scents end up being far too strong and I end up being unable to enjoy them.

It was only very recently that I started getting seriously interested in the world of perfume. I've been poring over blogs and reading so much about hundreds of different scents that I've decided to start my own journey of scent exploration. Right now, at the beginning, I own 3 bottles of perfume. Two bottles I purchased on my own at some point in history - Givenchy Ange ou Demon Le Secret and Dolce & Gabbana Rose the One, and one that I won - Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire. I was lucky to win the LPRN from a generous fundraising Bois de Jasmin giveaway, though from my first trial I'm not sure it's a fragrance I love. (I'm not so sure about the other two either, to be honest.) I've also purchased about 24 perfume samples so far, and I have several more orders to place!
As such, I thought it might be a good idea to document my scent trials firstly to help me remember what I like and what I don't like, but also to be able to look back on the development of my nose and the evolution of my tastes over time.
Despite my long love of scented items, I am a total scent noob - so I hope that as I try new things I can start to learn some of the individual notes I'm experiencing. If anyone more knowledgeable than me actually reads some of my posts - please please feel free to help me identify some of the things I may be smelling.  :)
So, please join me while I explore and enjoy the finer scented luxuries in life - perfumes, candles, lotions, and anything else that fragrantly comes my way!

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