Saturday, November 29, 2014

April Aromatics - San Francisco Rose (perfume review)

A couple of weeks ago I picked up my lovely bottle of San Francisco Rose from the post office, eager with anticipation. The bottle is my first blind buy - but I was really moved by the cause and couldn't help myself. I had also been hoping to try several April Aromatics scents so this felt like a win-win. I do not know Tama (or her cat Buster) personally or virtually, but I have read many positive things about Tama and her contributions to the perfume (and non-perfume) world. I wish her the best.

This perfume is a limited edition with 200 bottles created. Every box was hand signed and numbered by the creator, Tanja Bochnig. I got bottle #051.

San Francisco Rose opens up surprisingly green and herbal - quite minty. That minty green is paired with an incense like note that lends the perfume a cool astringency in the opening. This gives San Francisco Rose a slightly medicinal quality that's also reminiscent of a strong tea. Beneath this astringency, however, lies a brewing thunderhead of thorny dark roses - plush but fierce and alive with electricity. You can almost feel the storm coming, ready to swallow you up in it's dark, dewy haze.

Unfortunately for me, the cloud never swallows me up and the rose storm dissipates. Instead of drenching me in roses, my skin heavily amplifies the sharp, peppery, medicinal oud+patchouli notes - which cling to my nostrils while drowning everything else out. (I should clarify - I *think* its the oud+patchouli based on what I've read about those elements, but I'm not positive.) Over time the sharpness is muted, but in the dry down I'm still left with a spicy, earthy 'band-aid' adorning my wrist instead of flowers. Several hours into the drydown, I do get some sweetness, and instead of earthy I get a slightly sweet and slightly ambery band-aid.

I wondered if perhaps my perception of the scent was wrong and I was somehow anosmic to the other elements of San Francisco Rose. I asked my friend what my perfume smelled like and her response was "hippy". When I mentioned that it's a rose scent, she looked shocked and reached for my wrist again - still unable to detect any florals.

On the sleeve of my sweater, however, the faint lingering rose is heartbreakingly beautiful (rendered more heartbreaking by the fact that I'm not able to get it on my skin). It captures the subtle beauty of a Rose Black Tea - the forceful medicinal notes on my skin here downplayed to a mild tannin. The roses feels lighter than in the opening and in my head I conjure pink roses instead of the dark roses of the swirling storm cloud. The freshly rain-kissed roses are lightly honeyed, their delicate sweetness buoyed above thorny green vines and wet earth. I'm not sure why my sweater got the rose so well.

In an effort to recreate the elusive sweater rose, I sprayed Clint's wrist and a scarf to see how the perfume would unfold on them. Sadly both proved similar to my skin - with the earthy and medicinal patchouli/oud combo dominating the perfume. It wasn't quite as overwhelming as it was on me, though. The perfume did possess an undertone of the dark rose present in the opening - not unlike the rose in early La Fille de Berlin - but still probably not enough for me to enjoy the scent. Sometimes when I walk by the bottle I also catch faint whiffs of dark rose, but it just doesn't register for me.

I've given San Francisco Rose tries on different days to see if I could get the rose to bloom on my skin because I really really *want* to love it, but thus far my results have not wavered. I'll try a few more times, but if nothing changes sadly I won't be able to wear San Francisco Rose. At least not anytime soon. If patchouli (or patchouli+oud?) is an acquired taste, it is one I have yet to acquire. In fact, I might actually hate patchouli. Upon closer inspection of the 30-ish perfumes I've tried thus far, there were very few that I really hated (1 star level) and now I notice that they're the only ones that feature patchouli. (Most also have amber, which I'm also beginning to think might not agree with me).

For what it's worth, it seems that everyone else that has tried San Francisco Rose (and commented online) has gotten a lovely, dewy rose scent. The perfume appears well-liked and I've seen no other mentions of patchouli (overwhelming or not). The perfumer Tanja (she's so sweet) also seemed surprised by my experience and noted that there was only the slightest amount of patchouli in San Francisco Rose when I asked her about it. 

Clint's 3: Faint, Unpleasant, Wet soil

I'm not really sure why the scent is so faint to Clint - I feel like the sillage is actually quite powerful (which I've heard is unusual for a natural perfume), but he has a self-professed terrible sense of smell. Clint didn't find San Francisco Rose particularly pleasant and likened it to new wet soil laced with compost. I guess he is not a lover of patchouli either. 


My rating of San Francisco Rose: 2 

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

Honestly if I rated San Francisco rose on my skin alone, it'd probably be more of a 1 or 1.5 strictly based on the pungent projection of the earthy medicinal patchouli/oud combo, but the sweater rose was so lovely I couldn't discount it completely. If I could recreate that rose on my skin, San Francisco Rose would be quite lovely, probably around a 4. 


San Francisco Rose as described by the April Aromatics website:

Notes: Rose Otto from Turkey, Rose Absolute from Bulgaria, Orris Root from France, Hibiscus Seed from Ecuador, Tonka Bean from Brazil, Sandalwood from India, Patchouli from Sumatra and a touch of Oud from Saudi Arabia.

Perfumer: Tanja Bochnig


Have you had the opportunity to try San Francisco Rose or anything else from April Aromatics? I also purchased samples of Nectar of Love and Ray of Light (I had such a hard time narrowing the want-to-try list down to 2) and can't wait to try them!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Diptyque - Eau Duelle Eau de Toilette (perfume review)

When I casually tested Eau Duelle on a paper strip, I had no idea what kind of scent it was and was struck by how quickly I was drawn in. Sensitive to scent, I never imagined I would like a vanilla which screamed sweet and cloying. I immediately purchased a sample. 

Upon first spritz, Eau Duelle immerses you in vast and expansive vanilla, like a heavy fog over the ocean at dawn. From within the depths of this boundless vanilla a playful and sparkly juniper note dances like the bubbly fizz of a gin and tonic. Strangely, a concentrated sniff of my wrist imparts only the light citrusy juniper, but when I take a step back, the clouds of vanilla swirl about me and the whole becomes creamier and reminiscent of the delectable Licor 43. Finally, the citrus notes deepen and combine with the emerging spice and black tea notes, producing an Earl Grey tea accord before gently fading into the distance.

The heart of Eau Duelle features a lovely dry vanilla peppered with spices. Frankincense and cardamom elicit a warm and smoky incense which beautifully tempers the sweetness of the vanilla - like cinnamon and chili to hot cocoa. In the early dry down, as Eau Duelle melds into my skin, the sillage actually becomes stronger and I feel engulfed in its dark and spicy richness. At this point the perfume feels thick and for me straddles the line of overbearing - but I am particularly sensitive to scent and this only lasts for about an hour.

After several hours, Eau Duelle softens and lightens considerably. The spices mellow and the final stages of the drydown are subtly sweet and smooth - similar to the Licor 43 phase but this time swirled with heavy cream. The vanilla begins to slightly veer toward rubbery, and as Eau Duelle wafts around me, I imagine that I'm in an inner tube gently floating along a lazy river of cream soda. A delicious and relaxing end to a day-long journey through several fine beverages.

Though an EdT, Eau Duelle lasted through whole day and was still detectable in the morning with just 1 spritz. I'm curious how the solid perfume version compares in sillage and strength.

I'd definitely recommend trying Eau Duelle if you're a fan of vanilla.


Clint's 3: Vanilla, Airy, Sweet

Clint's a fan - he likes the vanilla.


My rating of Diptyque: 3.75

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


Eau Duelle as described by the Diptyque website:

Family: Spicy  Notes: Vanilla, Spices, Frankincense.

As described (in more detail) by Aedes:

Family: Woody/Gourmand

Top Notes: Cardamom, Pepper, Saffron, Juniper, Cypress, Elemi
Middle Notes: White musk, Hedione, Vanilla
Base Notes: Vetiver, Vanilla, Olibanum

Perfumer: Fabrice Pellegrin


Have you tried Eau Duelle EdT? I've read that the EdT and EdP formulations are different enough to have their own profiles, so I'm interested to try both. If you've tried both - which do you prefer?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sniffing the Sephora Perfume Sample Cards that Came in the Mail

Well, we're back from St. Lucia, Clint's back from Colorado and we're finally settling back into regular life at home. The laundry is done, the house is (somewhat) clean and I finally got around to all the mail that's been sitting around.

Back when Sephora was mailing their VIB sale cards, they also sent some perfume scent cards. I'm not sure if everyone got the same scents or if it was randomized, but I got cards of Gucci Guilty, Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black & White, Tom Ford Velvet Orchid and Dolce & Gabbana Dolce. I finally got around to some sniffs!

Gucci - Guilty: Mix and mingle with daring magnetism as voluptuous amber joins pink pepper.*

This smells better than I was anticipating. A little rich and sultry, sweet and a touch powdery. I'm not in love with it though, and I think its the amber. I think I just don't like amber that much...

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black: Tempt the impulse toward intimacy with dark violet, vanilla and sandalwood.*

Based on the description alone, this was the scent I was most looking forward to sniffing. On the card, it smells pretty good. It's woodsy and masculine and reminds me of something that I can't place at the moment. I'd give this one a go on the wrist, or on my husband.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana White: Cultivate an aura of mystery with a mix of musk, peony and muguet.*

I wasn't sure what to expect from this, but it was hands down my favorite. On the card it was sweet but not cloying, and a light fresh floral. I tried to smear my wrist into the little flap and I got some scent on my wrist, which was just as nice. On my wrist I got a bit of honey too. I'm really curious how this would smell with a legitimate sample. 

Tom Ford - Velvet Orchid: Warm up a cold evening with dramatic notes of honey and rum plus sultry sandalwood.*

This smells a little strong and heavy to me. I smell the rum and a dark heavy floral, but I'm missing the honey which would probably help make this feel more wearable. It also feels a bit 'old lady' to me. There's enough liquid in the peeler to smear on my wrist, but I'll abstain from this one. Perhaps it would be better on skin. To be fair, outside of Neroli Portofino and Mandarino di Amalfi, I find many of the Tom Ford's to be too dramatic for my tastes - at least upon first sniff. Because of that, I haven't tried many on skin. I want to love Tobacco Vanille, but every time I sniff the bottle I cringe and a little piece of that hope dies. I suppose I should pony up a wrist at one point to see how it fares with my chemistry at least.

Dolce & Gabbana - Dolce: Ring in the season with a high-fashion fragrance that pairs fresh neroli leaves with white amaryllis.*

This is light citrusy floral, much appreciated by this nose after the heavy Tom Ford. It's pleasant and delightful, but smells just like a shampoo. Smells good, but I probably wouldn't give it a try because shampoo is much cheaper. :)


Of the set, I am definitely most interested in the Elizabeth and James Nirvanas. They might be worth a trip to Sephora to sample, and if they live up to their cards the rollerball duo (or individual of white) may be a worthy stocking stuffer!


Have you tried any of the fragrances above?
*descriptions from scent cards by Sephora.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Atelier Cologne - Oolang Infini (perfume review)

There is little better than a lovely cup of hot tea on a cool fall morning (or an ice-cold fall morning, if the polar vortex is having its way with you). As such, I turned to Atelier's Oolang Infini to see if it could bring me the feelings of warmth and comfort that a nice tea would.

Photo from Atelier Cologne website

Upon first spray, the opening of Oolang Infini is crisp and fresh, citrusy and bright. For me it was immediately reminiscent of the Twining's Lady Grey iced tea I used to drink on occasion (a blend of black tea, orange, bergamot, lemon and lime), though the tea note may be a bit more demure than the black tea used in Earl or Lady Grey.

I'm not sure if it's a quality of the fragrance or my personal chemistry with it but Oolang Infini was exceptionally soft and light. I actually had to reapply Oolang Infini twice within 15 minutes to maintain any level of scent. There are very few scents of which I could tolerate 6 sprays without massive nausea or headaches, and honestly with this one I could probably tolerate several more still.

After the initial fragrant burst of tea dies down, Oolang Infini's tea notes float lightly above the skin - soapy and clean. The tea notes are, however, marked by a small undercurrent of tannic bitterness that makes the scent feel just a tad medicinal and sharp on me. After an hour or so, that sharpness fades a bit but unfortunately I don't get a lot of the blond leather or wood notes that others seem to enjoy. Perhaps for this reason, Oolang Infini feels cool to me - lacking the warmth or depth of a nice full-bodied tea. Around the three hour mark only the faintest waft of soapiness is discernible with the wrist to the nose - even after 6 sprays. Surprisingly though, that faint waft was still detectable by the next morning.

Although it evokes more of an Earl or Lady Grey tea feeling for me than Oolong - Oolang Infini is definitely a realistic tea scent. It's gentle nature is office appropriate, comfortable for everyday use and very gender neutral. I think it would be quite becoming on a man, but I'll never know because Clint did not care for it in the least.


Clint's 3: As I noted above, Clint struggled with this one (made a very disgusted face) and really wanted his words to be "I don't like it." I was a bit surprised by his strong and visceral reaction to a scent I found fairly pleasant and quite inoffensive. Nonetheless I forced my wrist upon him repeatedly and he finally came up with:

Citrusy, Soapy, 'Musky'

Musky was my word - Clint didn't have a precise word but said it smells like our dog after she has rolled in something outside and needs a bath. We're not really sure what it is she rolls in. It doesn't smell like dung... but it does reek of dirty animal. Needless to say, I didn't smell it, but everyone's nose is different.


My rating of Oolang Infini: 3 

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


Oolang Infini as described by the Atelier Cologne website:

Oolang Infini, a full-bodied, mysterious concoction, captures blue tea and bergamot in the warmth of smoke and leather.

Top Notes: bergamot from Calabria, Tunisian neroli, freesia
Middle Notes: oolong tea, jasmine from Egypt, blond leather
Base Notes: tobacco flower from the Balkans, gaiac wood from India, musk 

Perfumer: Jerome Epinette


Have you tried Oolang Infini? What are your favorite tea scents and teas?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Diptyque - Philosykos Perfume Oil, roll-on Eau de Toilette (perfume review)

I remember the first time I smelled Philosykos. I had ventured with my young baby to Blue Mercury to sniff the Diptyque candles and perfumes, and was curious about Philosykos because I'd read so many positive reviews. I didn't spray it on a tester, but I sniffed the bottle (the EdT, I believe) and smirked, turning my face away. Blegh. I left Blue Mercury thinking the candles were overrated, and only liking Eau Rose and Eau Duelle of the perfumes.

Fast forward a month or so. I went to Nordstrom to purchase the Eau Rose roll-on and things completely changed. Nordstrom had almost 20 Diptyque candles and this time they ALL smelled amazing! Given this new revelation I decided to retry many of the scents, including the famous fig scent Philosykos. The Philosykos roll-on perfume oil became my first perfume purchase since getting really interested in perfumes. According to the website, this perfume oil is an Eau de Toilette. 

The roll-on comes with a nice soft travel case. The container appears black, but is actually translucent so you can tell how much perfume oil remains if you look at the dispenser in front of a light.

Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti did a marvelous job recreating a true-to-life fig scent. Philosykos embodies more than simply the fig fruit, which would be elementary and boring. Philosykos encompasses the entire experience of the fig tree - the large rough leaves, the milky sap of the branches, the mealy pulp of the unripened fruit and finally the jammy sweetness of a plump and fully ripened fig. I enjoy this olfactory experience as it reminds me of our own fig trees, and is immensely wearable.

Though fig trees often yield two crops - in early and late summer - Philosykos feels to me like the late summer crop. While definitely a fresh and fairly light scent, this perfume doesn't have the brightness I would associate with spring or early summer. Instead, the dewy green opening is married to a warm milky accord that gives the fragrance a certain fullness without being heavy or overwhelming. It feels like a tree-filled park freshly drenched in a warm summer rain. 

After the rich opening, the fragrance softens and really warms up on the skin. The green notes fall back and a wood note surfaces amidst the milkiness, wrapped in a tender, slightly soapy sweetness. This is how the fragrance lingers on my skin until it fades to oblivion. Delightful and warm - a very comfortable everyday scent.

I'm not sure about the spray EdT (or EdP) but the sillage of the roll-on is on the weaker side. This is perfect for me as I'm pretty sensitive to scent and don't need to broadcast loudly. The longevity is only 3-4 hours, but frequent reapplication is a breeze with a roll-on. 


I've been shoving my wrist in my husband Clint's nose ever since I got into this perfume frenzy, so I thought it might be fun to hear his characterizations of the scents as well. From here on out, they'll be referred to as Clint's 3. (I'll be honest, I was pretty surprised by how well he did for Philosykos!)

Clint's 3:  grass, wood, fresh


My rating of Philosykos: 

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


Philosykos as described by the Diptyque website:

Family: Woody

Close your eyes and discover all the delights of the fig tree. Fresh leaf, green fruit, bark, and its milky sap are all intensified with a touch of white cedar.

Notes: Fig leaves and wood, White Cedar

Perfumer: Olivia Giacobetti


I'm finding that I'm really loving milky scents. They have an inherent lushness about them and are not sharp or overwhelming to my sensitive nose. I'll definitely have to seek out more scents that possess this character and welcome any recommendations!

Have you tried Philosykos? What are your favorite fig scents?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Diptyque - Do Son Eau de Parfum (perfume review)

When I went to Tyson's Corner Center the other day for Diptyque's Eau Rose, I surmised that I might also end up with a solid of Eau Duelle, or even a roll-on of L'Ombre dans l'Eau based on my experiences with some samples from Aedes. Instead I came home with none of them but with a roll-on of Philosykos and a few more Diptyque samples, which included the eau de parfum formulation of Do Son.

Upon first spray, Do Son opens up on my wrist with a lush, green, faintly citrusy rainforest which is quickly accompanied by a sweet white creaminess that makes me *swoon*. That rich almost-powdery-yet-creamy floral oh so perfectly compliments the vibrant freshness of the opening. When I think of this perfect combination of greens and white florals, I can't help but think of my tropical wedding. Given the chance to do it all again, Do Son would definitely be my wedding day scent.

Wedding photography by Justin Lee Photography
If the opening of Do Son could last forever, I'd be in serious perfume heaven. If it weren't 140 dollars a bottle, I'd buy several and continuously spray myself in 5 minute intervals for days on end. I'd bathe in it. I'd drink it if it would seep out of my pores and engulf me in its deliciousness.  

About 5-10 minutes in, the creaminess and greenness fade slightly and a brighter floral note emerges. The tuberose sweetens up and starts to float like a silk scarf in a breeze. 

After the opening, Do Son does become a touch sharper to my nose (as most florals do), but remains just shy of overbearing - which is where many perfumes fail me. It is usually this sharpness that clings to my nostrils and becomes intolerably headache inducing - regardless of how lovely the offending perfume may smell. I'm not sure which element in the perfume evokes this response. If anyone knows, please enlighten me!

But as I said, fortunately Do Son never gets too sharp or tinny feeling (sometimes for me florals feel like one has cranked up the treble and turned down down bass). Rather the tuberose in Do Son feels quite lavish. It is not too sweet and feels fuller, creamier and fleshier than what I remember of the tuberose in Nuit de Tubereuse.

I don't get much evolution past this point.  About an hour in, there is a slight resurgence of the greens in the opening - but on the whole Do Son remains a sensuous tuberose. Though it may not be the most complex of scents, the steadfast nature of the scent is fine with me because I love the way it smells - a billowy butterfly of sweet florals saturated by a rich milky cream. So alluring. 

The only downside is that Do Son is not particularly long lasting (my 1-2 sprays last maybe 3-4 hours before fading significantly). However in some respects this is an upside as frequent refreshes provide ample opportunity to re-live the glorious opening. 

Indeed, Do Son EdP is full bottle worthy to me.


My rating of Do Son: 4.5 (the opening, however, is a full 5!)

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


Do Son as described by the Diptyque website:

Family: Floral

Tuberose asserts itself, expressing all its sunny, hazy, creamy, indolent seductiveness. Anyone with blood in their veins will succumb to the irresistible temptation of this insolently seductive white flower.

Notes: Tuberose, Orange Leaves, Pink Peppercorn, Musk

Perfumer: Fabrice Pellegrin


Have you tried Do Son EdP or EdT?  If so, how do you like them?

Monday, November 10, 2014

April Aromatics - San Francisco Rose Fundraiser for Tama Blough

April Aromatics founder Tanja Bochnig has teamed up with Michelyn Camen, Editor in Chief of CaFleureBon, to create a limited edition fundraising perfume for perfume blogger Tama Blough. Tama has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the proceeds of the perfume will go into a fund that will help Tama with her medical expenses and the living expenses of her and her cat Buster. Tanja created 200 bottles of a perfume named San Francisco Rose, as roses are Tama's favorite flower.

Photo from April Aromatics website
Being new to the perfume scene, I haven't had the opportunity to read many of Tama's contributions to the perfume world that I am growing to love. Even so, I can tell that she has made a large and memorable impact. 

I am very moved by this gesture and wish the best for Tama on her journey forward. I have purchased a bottle (actually my *first* full bottle purchase since seriously venturing into perfume) and hope that all of the bottles will find loving homes.  

The perfume sounds lovely, with listed notes including Rose Otto, Rose Absolute, Orris Root, Hibiscus Seed, Tonka Bean, Sandalwood, Patchouli and Oud.

If you're interesting in purchasing a bottle, they are available at the April Aromatics website:
April Aromatics - San Francisco Rose

There is also a Give Forward page for Tama.