Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Seattle Series: House of Matriarch - Orca (perfume review) + giveaway!

Hello everyone!

It's been a while and so much has happened in the meantime. We sold our house, lived with in-laws, moved to a new house, etc etc. It's been a tough slog but I'm excited to be back! Now that Walden is a little older and slightly more independent, I hope to have more time to dedicate to my perfume trials. 

Right now I happen to be visiting my parents in the beautiful, albeit rainy, Seattle area. I love Washington and miss it dearly. It will always feel like home to me. Coincidentally, I recently received several samples from two Seattle-based perfumers, House of Matriarch and Olympic Orchids. I'll interpret this as a sign and I'll be reviewing several of the fragrances in what I'll lovingly call the 'Seattle Series.'  :) 

First up: Orca, from House of Matriarch High Perfumery



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As I'm sure you all know there are two 'ambers' in perfumery, the benzoin/labdanum/vanilla amber and the ambergris amber, which is a substance that originates in the intestines of the sperm whale. House of Matriarch's Orca actually features both. I haven't tried many fragrances that feature ambergris, so I was particularly excited to put this one to skin.  

For me, Orca is highly reminiscent of summers around the ocean in Washington, where the water is dark and opaque and the beaches are rocky and earthy and peppered with salty grey driftwood. Orca's rich but airy saltiness easily takes me back to my youth - I grew up fishing, clamming, crabbing, oystering and enjoying life on the water.

Orca's opening is bright and sharp and bubbly. It's the tickle of champagne under your nose and the summer sun glittering over the the ripples of the Puget Sound. There's a brief burst of a dark honeyed sweetness that floats to your nose, and it's perfectly countered by the slight bitterness and medicinal properties of the spices and benzoin. The sweetness of the honey and amber is *so so* beautiful. I wish it would last longer.

After a few moments Orca settles down into a salty, resinous, musky amber. That description may sound heavy or overwhelming, but somehow Orca feels rather light in character. There's a beautiful honey note, yet Orca is not overly sweet. It's your salty skin after a day in the sun and the water. Buried deep in the heart (I can only smell it when wrist is to nose) are the woods, which register with me as the pungent smell of sweat. (Woods often smell this way to me, ymmv). Over time the woods mellow out and Orca fades to a soft, leathery, salted skin scent.

Orca is truly an interesting ride. I'll be honest - so far in my perfume trials, ambers haven't been my favorite. Everyone seems to love them but I find they're often too sweet or simply too heavy for this girl. With Orca, however, I caught myself frequently sniffing my wrist and intrigued by what I was experiencing. Orca is masterful in its ability combine the rich notes of amber, honey, ambergris and spices into an airy ocean breeze. 

Orca is not a sillage monster and feels rather introspective with its quiet nature. It appears to be purposeful, and is advertised as 'subtle by design.'

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My rating of Orca: 4

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


**please note that the ratings are in no way indicative of the quality of the perfume, but rather, my personal tastes!  I encourage everyone to try for themselves.  :)
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Orca as described by the Nordstrom website:

Family: Amber

Top: amber, benzoin, spices.
Middle: honey, precious woods, choya.
Base: labdanum, ambergris.
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***GIVEAWAY!***

I was fortunate enough to receive 2 carded samples of Orca (I was fortunate enough to win one from CaFleureBon right at the same time I received some samples directly from HoM) so I'm giving away 1 carded sample to a lucky reader!  To enter, simply leave a comment below.  I'll pick a random winner and announce the winner on/around March 18.

Have you tried Orca or any other House of Matriarch scents?  What are some of your favorite ambers?


13 comments:

  1. Hi Sun Mi,
    I have tried a few of the H of M fragrances. You've done a lovely review of Orca here and I totally agree with your rating. Most of what I've tried by this house falls in the 3-4 category. DNEM as I just wanted to drop by to say "Hi"! As soon as I saw this post I had the feeling that this one would be little heavy for you ;)
    I hope you are enjoying your visit to our watery world!
    Azar xx

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    1. Hehe it has been pretty rainy this trip, but to be fair it hasn't rained at all the last 3 times I came! The style of the HoM fragrances definitely isn't in my 'wheelhouse,' but I was surprised by how interesting I found this one! :)

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  2. I tend to gravitate to gourmand scents. Every now and then I step out of my comfort zone to try something completely different. Orca sounds lovely.

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    1. I veered away from gourmands after a few bad experiences, but it's a genre I've been really interested in trying lately. Orca definitely isn't gourmand, but it's compelling in an atmospheric way!

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  3. I have tried several of the HoM scents; they are all well made. Blackbird is one of my favorites, a gorgeous leather, a bit masculine. Ambre Vie is a wonderful amber.

    Would love to try Orca. Thanks for the draw!

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    1. Hi Taffy! I haven't had the opportunity to try either of those scents - but I'm certainly interested in trying more from House of Matriarch. I wonder how Orca and Ambre Vie compare as amber scents. Perhaps you'll be able to tell me!

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  4. My favorite Amber is Ambre Fetiche. I love a leathery tone in perfumes, so I hope I will like Orca.

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    1. Hi Emily! I don't get *too* much leather out of Orca, but there is a nice undertone of leather. I hope you'll enjoy it as well! I'd like to try Ambre Fetiche someday!

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  5. Hello Sun!
    Hope all is going well and you're settling in to your new home!
    Orca sounds fantastic! No need to put me in the draw, though thank you for the opportunity. It's nearly Spring!!! xo

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    1. Thanks Carol! We are settling in nicely. My husband has just prepped the garden boxes for planting and pretty soon we'll be buying some fruit trees to replace the ones we left behind at the farmhouse. Yay! Spring is always such a lovely time. :)

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  6. Never tried any of the HoM scents unfortunately. I love amber scents and the combination with honey must be awesome in this one, hopefully not too feminine. Also, never tried anything with choya loban, would love to try it.
    Thanks for the draw!

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    1. Hi there! I don't think Orca is feminine in the least - rather gender neutral I'd say. Unfortunately I can't say that I can recognize choya, but if you win, I hope you'll check back in and let me know what you think!

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Thanks for participating!