Friday, January 23, 2015

Serge Lutens - Un Bois Vanille (perfume review)

I'm continuing my quest to find some Serge Lutens that work for me. I have several samples in the queue - Chergui, Daim Blond, La Fille de Berlin, De Profundis - but today we focus on Un Bois Vanille.

Un Bois Vanille is interesting in that its a collection of dichotomies. It opens up with the intense sugary sweetness of cotton candy, but rather than being light and airy, it possesses a rich creamy character akin to melting ice cream. But within the depths of the sweet, dark vanilla creme lurks a sharpness I associate with sandalwood. The bold, desserty sweetness is grounded ever so slightly by this sharpness, and there's a mild bitterness thats reminiscent of raw cocoa - in a vanilla perfume.

There's also a really faint undercurrent of black licorice, which feels a bit chewy. But it's really faint. Personally I hate anise and black licorice and it doesn't bother me at all in Un Bois Vanille. It's tempered well by the (minimally perceptible but) rich coconut milk. Clint also hates black licorice, and he didn't notice it at all.

Up close and personal with creme brulee.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Naomi Goodsir - Or du Sérail (perfume review)

When you're new to perfume and you don't know what you like and dislike, its easy to fall into the trap of wanting everything you read about. Especially when it seems like everyone and their mom adores it. It's so so easy to do.

Such was the case with Or du Sérail. I was taken by its evocative reviews and intriguing notes and descriptors - golden tobacco, velvet-like, charmingly sensuous... (to be fair, I'm obsessed with the idea that I'd love a tobacco perfume, though I'm not sure if that is really true). It really sounded exotic and amazing.

Alas, you live and you learn. Hopefully. (I have learned, for instance, that I really can't do sweet gourmands.)

Or du Sérail is, in one word, overwhelming. It's a rich, syrupy concoction that's heavy and sickeningly sweet. It's as dense as Christmas fruitcake, with the sting of the rum that it's soaked in. 

In my opinion Or du Sérail defines the term 'cloying.' The first hour or two also possess a knife-life sharpness that clings to my nostrils and burns them. I can feel Or du Sérail in my throat and it even makes my eyes water. Unfortunately it is also very headache inducing. In all honesty, I can barely even sniff my wrist during the first hour.

But even without sniffing my wrist, I feel suffocated by the opening of this scent. I'm drowning in a red river of assorted molten lollipops - cherry, apple, cranberry, strawberry. It's thick, hot and sticky. I finally reach the river's edge only to fall captive to an almost coconutty vanilla quicksand, sinking ever deeper...

Imagine this is red molten lollipops instead of chocolate!

A little over an hour into the wear the strength of Or du Sérail dies down and I'm able to sniff my wrist with relative safety and comfort. It's still terribly sweet, but there's so much going on that the only thing I can really pick out is the amber.

The sugar tones down and the next couple hours of the drydown are tolerable, though *still* a bit too sweet for me. At this point, around 3-4 hours, Or du Sérail is far less fruity but far more decadent. The fragrance is centered around a heavy tobacco note over honeyed vanilla, chocolate and amber. 

At 6-ish hours into the wear, the sweetness of Or du Sérail becomes softer still. The vanilla phases out and the character of the fragrance is dominated by the wood notes, which lay gently under scattered tobacco leaves. At this point Or du Sérail is almost a skin scent. It is dry, lightly sweet, only mildly perceptible, and I finally find it quite pleasant.

For me, obviously, Or du Sérail is too much. (Dabbed on, at that.) While I do enjoy the very end of the drydown, the tongue-curling sweetness of the opening and the rich decadence of the middle make Or du Sérail a bit of an olfactory challenge. But I am somewhat scent sensitive, so this clearly wasn't a good pick for me. Nonetheless, you may want to give Or du Sérail a try if you like bold, fruity, boozy gourmands or tobacco scents.


Clint's 3: Fruity, Bitter, Sharp

Sums it up nicely.


My rating of Or du Serail: 1.5 

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


Or du Serail as described by the Peony Melbourne website:

Family: Dry Woods/Rich

Top Notes: Cistus, Apple and red fruits, Mango, Rum, Sweet Orange, Davana, Sage
Middle Notes: Beeswax, Coco, Geranium, Ylang-ylang, Turkish Tobacco, Amber
Base Notes: Labdanum, Oak Tree, Cedarwood, Musk, Vanilla, Maté

Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour

For some other (more positive) takes on Or du Sérail, check out the following great reviews: KafkaesqueAustralianPerfumeJunkiesNSTCaFleureBon 


What do you think of Or du Sérail? Do you have a favorite Duchaufour fragrance?

*sample purchased by me

Thursday, January 15, 2015

CB I Hate Perfume - 406, Do Not Ask Me Why (perfume review)

Do Not Ask Me Why, #406 in the Metamorphosis series (hereafter referred to as 406) is meant to evoke the perfumer Christopher Brosius' idea of 0pium smoke, inspired by the writings of poet Charles Baudelaire. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I've never smelled the smoke of opium, so I cannot attest to the realism of this scent. What I can say, however, is that I am truly curious now about the deliriously narcotic smell of opium smoke...

Speaking figuratively, 406 feels a bit hazy, dry and white - I would liken it to the muted light grey sky of a cold midwinter day. 

Photo of Baltimore city, taken in February 2010.
Speaking more literally, the opening of 406 is a light and pretty floral (indeterminate florals to me) - it's delicately sweet, wispy and airy, and smells like it is grounded by just the tiniest touch of tea. It feels surprisingly dry for a floral and in that way it's a good emulation of smoke. At this point it feels like a floral version of Atelier Cologne's Oolang Infini.

About 20 minutes into the wear, 406 starts to feel noticeably fuller and heavier, and the scent grows stronger on my skin. On top of the florals a strangely clean but thick smoke facet emerges, intertwined with the gentlest tobacco note. It smells of incense, the plumes of smoke rising up off of my wrist.

But really to be perfectly honest, at this point 406 smells unmistakably like Pond's Cold Cream on my skin. It's a pleasant smell that evokes distant memories of my mother and her nightly face ritual, which I would watch as a young child. 406 stays like this on my skin for several hours, probably 5 or 6.

Beyond 6 or 7 hours into the wear, the very last lingering note of 406 is the subtle tobacco - the delicate sweetness of freshly packed cigarettes. I love this smell and only wish that it was stronger throughout the rest of the wear.

Perhaps because of the association with Cold Cream, 406 never feels particularly warm to me, though for all intents and purposes it really *should*.  It's a lightly smoky, floral incense with the cushy thickness of a scarf you would wrap yourself in. In this way, it's a perfect winter scent.


Clint's 3: 
Sharp, Chalk, Light

I think the initial florals were what registered as sharp to Clint - the opening was so singularly floral I can understand where he's coming from.  Chalk was also really interesting, I think Clint was honing in on the texture/dryness of chalk more than the actual smell, but I could be wrong.


My rating of Do Not Ask Me Why: 3.5

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


Do Not Ask Me Why as described by the CB I Hate Perfume website:

"An interpretation of the smell of opium smoke. heady and hypnotic with a distinctive floral note wafting seductively over a deep dry slightly spicy smoke."

Notes: None are listed, though Surrender to Chance lists: vanilla, smoke, floral

Perfumer: Christopher Brosius


Have you tried Do Not Ask Me Why? If so, what were your thoughts on it? Do you have a favorite CB I Hate Perfume scent?

*sample purchased by me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Serge Lutens - Santal Majuscule & Fleurs d'Oranger (perfume review)

Santal Majuscule

The opening seconds of Santal Majuscule on my skin is an exceptionally lovely, lightly floral scent. But after just a few seconds, it morphs into a combination of bitterness and burnt butter. A mild element of creaminess sneaks in, moderating the bitterness and Santal Majuscule almost sweetens up to a creme brulee, but then the sharp wood note takes over.

In a short time, the wood note loses the creaminess and begins to feel drier. About 10 minutes in I get something slightly medicinal, and I'm not really sure what it is. This fades slightly, but Santal Majuscule never really progresses beyond this for me.  It stays slightly medicinal, dry and woody, and has a dark brown aura.

On my skin, Santal Majuscule feel a bit raw and unfinished, where I would hope for a slightly rounder and creamier feel. I'm really confused by the notes, because I get no rose or chocolate. It must be a chemistry thing.

Family: Wood

Top Notes: Rose
Middle Notes: Tonka bean, Rosewood
Base Notes: Sandalwood, Cocoa

Perfumer: Christopher Sheldrake

* * * * * * * * *

Fleurs d'Oranger

Upon first application, Fleurs d'Oranger presents as a soft and slightly powdery orange blossom. To me, the opening feels like a delicate cloud - beautifully feminine and lovely. Within a couple of minutes, the scent becomes a little spicy and peppery which is pleasantly reminiscent of the spicy and sweet orange blossom of L'Artisan Parfumeur's Seville a l'Aube. 

Unfortunately, just after the pepper the familiar tang of cumin makes it's entrance. To be fair, this is no Bigarade Concentree. On the whole, the cumin isn't *terribly* strong but it does register as body odor on my skin, and regrettably it detracts from the whole experience for me. 

My son Walden, clearly confused and upset that cumin is used in perfumery...
After 15 minutes or so, Fleurs d'Oranger introduces a combination of creamy white florals. They lend a plushness to the scent and their weight works well to balance the sweetness of the orange blossom and the spice of the cumin. 

Fleurs d'Oranger doesn't strike me as a particularly complex scent, with few evolutions before the drydown. Nonetheless, it is a pleasant, easy to wear, happy perfume. I think I'd like it a lot if it didn't possess the pervasive undercurrent of BO from the cumin. 

Of note, I've read that older versions of Fleurs d'Oranger contain more cumin than the more recent formulations.  I received my sample in a swap, so I'm not sure if the sample I tested from was of the older or newer variety.

Family: Floral

Top Notes: Orange Blossom, Neroli
Middle Notes: Tuberose, Jasmine
Base Notes: Hibiscus, Cumin, Musk

Perfumer: Christopher Sheldrake

* * * * * * * * *

My rating of Santal Majuscule and Fleurs d'Oranger: 2 

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


So far I have only tried a few Serge Lutens fragrances, but none have really dazzled me. I'm not sure if it's a body chemistry thing, my unsophisticated perfume tastes or if I'm just not trying the right ones. 

What are your thoughts on Santal Majuscule and/or Fleurs d'Oranger? And, if you're a Serge Lutens fan, what are some of your favorites? I'd love some recommendations for others to try!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Frederick Malle - Bigarade Concentree (perfume review)

When I first opened my small vial of Frederick Malle's Bigarade Concentree, I was greeted with just the most pleasant of citrus smells and I got excited. It's the middle of a dreary winter, and maybe a good citrus was just what I needed. I put it on, and in my eager anticipation, I did so a bit more heavily handed than usual.

This was a *big mistake*. 

photo found on pinterest, source unknown

Less than one minute in, the lovely citrus that wafted from the vial turned into a vile and ugly rotting lemon, sharp and acrid, collapsing into it's own pit of mold. But even worse than that (is that even possible??), was the loud, forceful stench of body odor (surely due to the phantom CUMIN never listed in the notes). The only thing 'concentree' about Bigarade Concentree was the BO! And this isn't even the possibly attractive smell of a man who'd "been chopping wood in the forest" or "working out" or any other sweat-inducing but possibly attractive activity... This is the BO of a grossly hungover guy that binge drank vodka, gorged himself on foods drenched in oil and hadn't showered in several days. In short, it is horrifyingly nauseating - at least on my skin. Your mileage may vary.

That being said, I know it's not just me. After trying Bigarade Concentree and commenting about it on NST, I googled it a bit. I saw people likening it to a NYC taxi driver that had just eaten an orange, and other less than savory comparisons. 

This is easily, easily the worst scent I've tried on skin. I'd rather smell like deli pickles than this.

So, if cumin has it's nasty way with you, beware. You've been warned! 

If cumin doesn't morph into nasty BO on you, this may be a very pleasant citrus scent. 


Clint's 3:  I actually (and unfortunately) tried this scent twice and Clint wasn't home either time. I was unwilling to apply it a 3rd time in order to get Clint's opinion.


My rating of Bigarade Concentree: 1

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


Bigarade Concentree as described by the Aedes website:

Family: Citrus

Top Notes: Orange
Middle Notes: Rose
Base Notes: Cedarwood, Hay

Perfumer: Jean-Claude Ellena


Have you tried Bigarade Concentree? Did you have a better experience than me?

*sample obtained by me.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Atelier Cologne - Gold Leather (perfume review)

I'll be honest, of all of the samples that came in the Atelier Cologne set, I may have been the least enthusiastic to try Gold Leather. To be fair, I hadn't read anything about it and my prejudice was based solely on the name, which I didn't particularly care for. I'm not even really sure what I had against the name, I guess I just associated it with an image of gaudiness. I've also tried very few leather scents but haven't had great success with them on my skin (I'm looking at you Kelly Caleche and BV Knot), so perhaps those experiences contributed to my lack of excitement. 

So when I randomly drew Gold Leather from my fine jewelry box of samples, I kind of shrugged my shoulders in disappointment. But hey, I had to try it at some point, right?

And then I put it on.



Gold Leather is extremely alluring on (my) skin. I was immensely shocked by how quickly I was drawn into this enticing gourmandy leather. Everytime I wear it, I find my wrist stays glued to my nose - consciously or subconsciously.

The opening features a crisp, almost cranberry-like citrus that manages to be simultaneously warm and cool at the same time. After the first bursts of citrus die down, a sweet and spicy plum emerges. This temptress is dark, boozy, thick and jammy - with a touch of pepper. She's a bit playful, she's definitely sexy, and she is really quite delicious.

Elizabeth Taylor in 1960, via

This dark-haired siren calls for you as she lays seductively upon her bed of soft nude leather. The leather is soft, supple, warm and cozy. But before she can get too hot, the woods in the base wrap our jammy queen in their dry airiness - ultimately preventing Gold Leather from ever becoming too cloying, spicy or heavy. Interestingly for the first 30 minutes or so, the scent distinctly shifts between plum or leather, but after that they blend together seamlessly. 

Several hours (5 or so) into the dry down, Gold Leather loses its spicy edge and becomes an innocent skin scent - lightly sweet and slightly leathery. Still gorgeous, but in a new light. It stays on my skin that way through the next morning and occasionally through a shower. 

And as much as I hate to admit it, I can understand the name Gold Leather - the perfect combination of nude leather and wood emanates luxury. However, while the golden leather may be luxurious, it's the spicy plum that keeps me coming back for more. 

To me, Gold Leather feels like a power scent - it's assertive and sexy, bold yet refined. This is easy my favorite Atelier (so far).

This would almost definitely be on my FB wishlist, but at $195/100ml bottle (or $295 for the 200ml + 30ml ecrin absolu set), I think it's a bit out of my price range. Perhaps if the bottle weren't plated in real gold (it really is)... I suppose I can dream that they'll offer the 30ml bottles someday.


Clint's 3: Pleasant, Beachy, Floral

Hehe, I think he might be getting the beachy vibe from the wood. I'm not exactly sure about the floral - but that's what he smells!


My rating of Gold Leather: 4.25

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


Gold Leather as described by the Atelier Cologne website:

Family: Woody Leather*

Top Notes: bitter orange from Seville, Indian saffron, Jamaican rum
Middle Notes: plum, davana from India, eucalyptus from California
Base Notes: heart of gaiac wood from India, heart of cedarwood from Texas, leather & oud accord

Perfumer: Jerome Epinette

*Personally I would consider Gold Leather more of a fruity leather than a woody leather (though I can understand why they would say woody leather). Interestingly though, the Atelier line has another fragrance, Rendez-vous, which they characterize as a fruity leather. I'm really interested to try that one too now!


Have you tried Gold Leather and if so, what are your opinions on it? What are some of your favorite Atelier scents?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hiram Green - Moon Bloom (perfume review)

Happy New Year! Thanks for reading my first official post of 2015!  *hugs*

Not too long before Christmas Clint informed me that he needed ideas for one last Christmas gift, as the list I had provided wasn't quite enough to split between him and the family Secret Santa. So I put 2 more things on my list - the 5ml travel atomizer of Moon Bloom and an equally priced scarf. I was kind of hoping for the Moon Bloom as I have read countless lovely reviews for it - but instead I got the best of both worlds, the scarf (which I love increasingly by the day) and a sample of Hiram Green's first creation.

sample purchased from Indigo Perfumery
Moon Bloom is an all natural eau de parfum and it is lovely. On me, the first sniffs are lush, green, creamy and nutty - channeling the smooth aura of coconut without the sweetness. After the initial wave passes, the white florals come out to play. The sharpness that I commonly associate with florals emerges first, and is then balanced by pearly soapiness. The floral accord shifts back and forth between the creamy tuberose and jasmine; they dance together in the night - the moonlight shining down on them through a veil of coconut. There remains a touch of green, and Moon Bloom is warmly tropical. Several other reviewers mention a rubbery notes and a medicinal camphor/menthol note in the opening, but I don't really get either on my skin - though I was dabbing from a vial. 

As Moon Bloom dries down, the jasmine fades behind the tuberose, whose creaminess is enhanced by a touch of sweet banana (which I've read comes from the ylang-ylang). Despite it's milky character (which I would envision as being opaque in my head), Moon Bloom becomes quite light in the dry down, and it feels more like catching a floral breeze through a tropical garden than smelling a bouquet of white tropical flowers.

The sharpness in the early stages Moon Bloom varied on me over several wears. Some days it was hardly perceptible, and other days nearly headache inducing. The greenness varied a bit as well, but the creamy tuberose and milky coconut were a constant - and they alone are worth the wear.

There is no question that Moon Bloom is a beautiful and captivating tuberose - and one that all admirers of tuberose should try. In many ways, Moon Bloom reminded me of my beloved Do Son EdP - lush, creamy, milky florals married with greens. However for me, Moon Bloom doesn't quite live up to Do Son. This is actually a huge relief since I just received my bottle of Do Son for Christmas. On my skin, Do Son feels lusher and thicker, creamier and more opulent - without the sharpness.

While I will *happily* use my sample, I don't think I personally need Moon Bloom while I have Do Son. So in the end, I am exceedingly thankful that Clint got me the beautiful scarf - I guess he knows me even better than I do. :)


Clint's 3: Soapy, Rose, Sharp

Clint thought Moon Bloom smelled nice, but it didn't elicit as much enthusiasm as some others. I'm not sure where he got rose - but maybe he just associates all floral smells with roses?  :) 


My rating of Moon Bloom: 4 

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


Moon Bloom as described by the Hiram Green website:

"Moon Bloom includes generous amounts of tuberose absolute, jasmine absolute and ylang ylang. There are also notes of coconut, leafy greens and hints of tropical spices and resins."

Perfumer: Hiram Green

There's no shortage of reviews on this beautiful scent. For further reading, check out: EauMGThe Scented Hound, Now Smell ThisOlfactoria's Travels, Perfume PosseKafkaesquePerfume ShrineSmelly ThoughtsCaFleureBon.


Have you tried Moon Bloom? What are some of your favorite and least favorite tuberose perfumes?