From my sample I am only able to dab this on and I think that's the way to go here. With this mode of application, the fragrance seems somewhat intimate, rounded, extremely husky and masculine but not monstrous. If I apply liberally though, I'm given a glimpse of what this must be like sprayed and that is a different animal altogether: it roars.
Lui starts off, to me, smelling faintly of medical gauze and the glue from medical bandages mixed with amber, which is the combination of patchouli, leather and amber (an extreme version of how Goutale's Ambre Fetiche performs on my skin). It takes a long, long time to develop but after a day of wear, one is left with a beautiful almost buttery amber - a stark contrast to the opening hours of this fragrance's life. I'm also vaguely reminded of ELDO's butch, leathery Rien, but Lui is more refined and smooth, and sweeter in the end because of the amber, while retaining a similar virility.
I enjoy amber fragrances very much and to me, Ambre Soie is very different from any I've tried so far. On me, Ambre Soie starts off deliciously gourmand, with an almost boozy oatmeal cookie effect, complete with raisins, cinnamon and a hint of anise and clove. The spices in Ambre Soie are rendered so seemlessly, so dense and finely ground into a luxuriously silky "powder", that they create an indistinguishable bond with the amber so as to make it impossible for me to discern one from the other. Linear, lasts several hours, and I assume based on compliments received that it projects fairly well. I received this during the whole discount store Armani Prive sale madness and for that reason, I occasionally overlook it, but it is really an incredibly gorgeous, luxuriously textured fragrance.
Aomassai didn't impress me initially. I originally found the caramel opening lacking in richness, as if caramel syrup were cut 50/50 with water, a very strange sensation. But I came to appreciate the way this less intense sweetness melds so seamlessly with a grassy accord which I can't say is the straight up vetiver note I've come to know. No, this really smells like grass, but again, smoothed out, almost watered down -- a painting in water colors. Toasted hazelnuts, watery grass and watered down caramel whose warm, burnt notes come into focus later on in the development, soft spice, silky woods: The result is a very intriguing, modern, somehow sophisticated and chic combination. This grassy accord, I just can't get enough of how oddly satisfying it is juxtaposed, or I should technically say, woven into, these softly sweet gourmand notes.
I also thought of Mechant Loup while trying to get at the heart of this fragrance. Though they don't smell alike, I think Mechant Loup is an easy fragrance to draw a parallel with to a certain degree because they have a similar "weight" (come to think of it, Aomassai has a very L'Artisan sensibility while retaining commendable lasting power) and they both have gourmand notes and a gourmand feel but intriguingly, they are initially not warm fragrances, but rather, almost cool, wistful, melancholic, evocative of something outside their sweet notes. I know I'm falling prey to the perfumer's description of his own scent but when I wear this, I do feel transported somehow to a vast, open African plane, sitting in the tall grass, the wind carrying something sweet, burnt, cooking above a distant fire. I'm sold. Aomassai is not only a wonderful work of art but also an incredibly satisfying, wearable and versatile fragrance.
I find Kyoto to be complex, dark, and even mysterious. It nearly gives me a chill in the way it makes me feel as if I'm in an unknown place, like the sensation (not the smell necessarily) of walking alone in the woods, almost Twin Peaks-like in tone.
My first thought when I sniffed Kyoto, apart from the very evident cedar impression, was that there was a coffee note in it -- a dark, somewhat sour, stale coffee note which may have been Duchaufour's way of muting the cedar creating an aged, antique quality. It starts off unassuming on the skin, soft, wispy, etherial, and I can understand why some describe it this way, but at least on my skin, as it begins to dry, the fragrance intensifies. The coffee and woods envelop an accord I can only describe as faintly reminiscent of mosquito repellent (perhaps a result of the cypress oil, teak wood accord or vetiver somehow, I'm just not sure). I haven't seen this mentioned here but the reviews on MUA and elsewhere mention the sensation and one reviewer names citronella which I think is a pretty good description. It's sour, but not off-putting. For me it only adds to the mysteriously calm, meditative aura of Kyoto. And honestly, this is where Kyoto reposes, maintaining this balancing act throughout its duration. Reading the other notes, including immoretelle (everlasting flower) and vetiver, I can imagine the parts they play in the fragrance but they are not evident alone in the composition to me.
I went to Comme des Garcons to pick one Series 3 fragrance and I was almost certain it was going to be Zagorsk based on previous sampling. After some testing, and now with Kyoto on my mind, I decided on the woody, spicy Jaisalmer, but still needed time to be sure. Walking around that day and into the night with all five fragrances on my arms, I was haunted by Kyoto's presence and decided I needed even more time. A week later I conducted the same experiment, left the store and as soon as I walked outside Kyoto gripped me again, transporting me to that strange, quiet, lonely, meditative place, and after about a block I turned around and purchased it without a second thought. I may experience it differently than others but I find Kyoto to be a fascinating three-dimensional fragrance journey.
After two yeas of buying decants of this wonderful fragrance, I continued to ask myself if I really wanted to invest in a full bottle and now looking back I ask myself why I waited so long. It has been one of my most satisfying and versatile purchases to date, noting of course, I do live in a tropical climate where even the lightest of fragrances can seem cloying. In Virgin Island Water, I smell blissfully green, juicy, tart, real limes so accurately rendered it is as if one cut open the fruit and applied the juice directly to my skin, combined with a soft coconut note, a sugary sweetness so subtle and realistic it's as if one cracked open the cane and let the juice trickle into the bottle, all enveloped by a hint of velvety rum.
I should note that the lime goes away too soon for me (though for a bright, highly pitched yet natural lime note such as this one, it's a commendable effort!), and although beautiful, the coconut, rum, and sugar cane that one is left with can be a little uninspiring. The lime in the opening is like a drug - you just can't get enough and end up having to reapply to chase the lime high, so to speak. One more thing: as you look at the more beautifully sculpted smaller 2.5 ounce version and contemplate as I did whether or not to pay the relatively small amount more for twice the amount of fragrance, and you say to yourself, "but the smaller bottle is so much nicer to look at" I'll advise, go for the four ounce bottle. It's a no brainer of a better value and I bet you'll end up spraying quite liberally as I do.
31st July, 2009 (last edited: 01st August, 2009)
Consider me taken aback by how beautifully Ellena has captured the sensation of breathing in the fragrance of a fresh lily. The purity, the innocence, the slight tang, the soft outer edge -- it's all there behind a breath of soft vanilla. The slight fresh sourness (there are moments when it reminds me of the fragrance of a giant white magnolia) in Vanille Gallante brings another Ellena creation instantly to mind: Un Jardin Apres La Mousson yet their relationship is extremely distant. While UJALM is initially overwhelming, sour, aquatic, and melony, Vanille Gallante is a kiss of freshness, of dewy lily petals on a crisp spring morning. In a word, lovely.
Each of the star ingredients in Encens et Lavande are associated with creating calm or center to one degree or another and the pairing of the two is a wonderful effect. Extremely simple, exquisitely balanced, this fragrance seems to create its own space, one of contemplation and relaxation, and every time I wear it I'm inspired to breathe deeply and just chill out.
Allow me to reiterate the notes in my own review: currants, white honey, candied Turkish rose, Egyptian jasmine, smoked leather, beeswax, Balkan tobacco, Peru balsam, patchouli, tonka bean, styrax, juniper, and vanilla. I had to do that because when I look at those notes it is like reading poetry to me.
I can only describe Fumerie Turque as it occurs to me and what I sense is a very tightly constructed, compact and dense incense fragrance. Not incense as a note of course, but rather, a composition which might yield the perfume used to scent incense meant to be burned. For me the impression of Fumerie Turque is that of an ever so slightly smoked sweet amber mixed with an earthy, leathery, tobacco accord. A beautiful and contemplative fragrance.
Santal de Mysore opens with an aggressive sweetness, but if one can hold on for a few moments, it rewards its wearer by transforming beautifully into a delicious, luxurious, undulating blanket of textures and sensations. The combination of creamy sandalwood densely packed with dry Indian spices enveloped by a layer of rich sweetness that in my mind's eye takes on an almost glowing, hot red hue is enough to put this guy "a swoonin'." A fantastic example of the Lutens esthetic.
Osmanthe Yunnan is one of those "just right" fragrances that seem to press all the right buttons without doing anything particularly exceptional. Though not shocking, dried apricot (I say dried because that's the image I receive when wearing this) as a fragrance note is pretty different and I can't imagine this being immediately desirable to the masses. There's something muted, very "alto voiced" about Osmanthe Yunnan that a) brings it into unisex territory and b) gives it an edge of sophistication and a grown up sense of balance.
When I experienced this for the first time, I was instantly reminded of the unlikely smell of carving out the inside of a pumpkin on Halloween. Something about the way the citrus, used to add just a hint of juicy brightness, interacts with the apricot and floral elements painted this picture in my mind. I am not able to detect any milky notes in this as many others are and that is only to say that if one were looking for a milky impression in this I'm not sure how pronounced it is. While Osmanthe Yunnan, on me, has never changed very much in its evolution on my skin, I become more aware of the tea note which teeters between dried tea leaves and gently sweet hay as the fragrance develops, and this element of the fragrance is really satisfying and pleasantly different. Overall Osmanthe Yunnan is an unlikely citrus/apricot floral fragrance pitched about two octaves lower than the fruity florals we've been accustomed to, with a easy, relaxed vibe perfect for a breezy summer day.
05th March, 2009 (last edited: 08th August, 2009)
This is a delightful little fragrance by Olivia Giacobetti. If you can imagine what saffron, rose, and vanilla blended in perfect harmony smells like, you can imagine the impression given by Safran Troublant. I ALMOST want to say I smell cinnamon as well... just the littlest tiniest hint which gives this a little tiny prickle in the nose, especially when I breathe warm air on it. The only problem I have with it is that I have to work very hard to smell it, even when I smell it up close. As the fragrance develops and as the star ingredients meld together, the floral nature subsides quite a bit and it becomes an extremely soft, gently spicy gourmand.
L'Artisan isn't playing around with the name here. There's a "flour in a barrel at the health food store" impression from first whiff that has put a smile on the face of everyone I've shoved this in front of. This is followed by what I originally deemed a peanut butter note but with further applications realized reminded me much more specifically of Halvah bars which are made of extremely finely ground sesame seeds and sugar. I don't know why but I have a feeling if I owned this I'd wear it all the time. It's just good mood inducing fragrance ingenuity and I love it. I think the inclusion of iris gives it an alluring and somewhat luxurious edge as well. The most amazing part is that the weight of the fragrance seems to be that of flour. It's weightless but present. Yum!
I really like Rose 31! It starts with what I perceive as a mouth watering, juicy rose accord followed by a spoonfull of incense, wood, and pepper that reminds me of the same combination's impressions in fragrances like CdG 2MAN and Escentric Molecules Escentric 01, though its use here is much more sparing and certainly not as aggressive as it is in the CdG. While cumin can often come across as unwashed or sweaty (as can gaiac wood and cedar wood notes on my skin as well) the ratio of cumin to rose creates a rather tame cumin impression which to my nose really contributes more to the woody, incense-y gaiac/cedar/cistus spoonful impression rather than creating its own impact.
This is an extremely versatile fragrance, one that puts a smile on my face. Though some find it dark, animalic and a little dirty, I don't experience it that way so much. It seems casual -- a fragrance one might reach for several times a week. It's interesting, certainly, but in no way challenging or persnickety. Rose 31 bursts to life in warm weather, highlighting the spicy, woody, tiny bit dirty sly grin elements as well. Many many thumbs up.
If anyone has read my reviews before they know I don't generally take them lightly, but... this smells like green Palmolive. As a matter of fact, it doesn't smell exactly like Palmolive, but rather, it smells like Palmolive if it were made into an Eau d'Parfum. And to be even more accurate, it smells like my hands do AFTER I've washed the dishes with Palmolive, not exactly the dish soap itself. I'm sure I'll not be winning any points in the "most reliable reviews" category with this one but I have tried for two weeks to shake this sensation and every time I wear it I'm like, "yeah... that's Palmolive." When I bury my nose to my skin I'm able to detect the other ingredients, especially the soft heliotrope, but any poetic waxings that the fragrance might whisper to me are covered in a green, viscous gel. But since Palmolive doesn't smell BAD and because I'm sure I'm missing something here, neutral it is.
07th January, 2009 (last edited: 08th August, 2009)
At first I wasn't too sure about En Passant, and I'm still not in love with it, but I now really appreciate it for what it is. The first time I smelled it the lilac reminded me of air freshener (don't hate me!) and I realized I must have been in a bad mood and decided to test it again another day. I'm glad I did because it doesn't remind me of air freshener so much anymore and now, right from the beginning I get the impression of dewy lilacs nestled on a plate next to a pile of powdery wedding cookies (a.k.a. snowball cookies - the round, buttery, almondy/nutty ones covered in powdered sugar). There really is an innocence, a simplicity, an alabaster-skinned, rosy-cheeked impression about En Passant. And it's no joke: there really is a doughy note in the fragrance, and it combines with the lilac and cucumber to create this ultra gentle, soft, angel's breath sort of feel. I couldn't decide whether it was beautiful or pretty and so I thus dub it: beautifully pretty.
A funny story about Dzing! that will eventually turn into a review: I took my L'Artisan samples to my sister's house so we could share them and my nephews were there bouncing off the walls and being silly in general but those children LOVE smelling things... so my sister and I began opening the samples and dabbing, etc, and of course the kids came over and I put Dzing! on my oldest nephew (age six) and explained that it was meant to smell of the circus. My sister, "OH MY GOSH IT DOESSS!!! EWWW! (while laughing)." My nephew, "I SMELL LIKE A HORSE!! I SMELL LIKE A HORSE!!" and then he chased my younger nephew (age three) around forcing him to smell his horse-smelling hand. It all went downhill from there but I digress...
What I personally think Dzing! smells like is the smell of those giant metal permanent markers with the big black wedge tip at the top, mixed with vanilla. It also occurred to me that it is, especially after having it on skin for a while, reminiscent of Bulgari Black but softer and more refined. There's something rubbery and leathery about Dzing! and that's where I think the imagery of animal arises but it's softened so delicately with vanilla that it's hard to call this a monster of an animalic perfume. That said, I'd challenge anyone to have Dzing! in his or her memory banks and pass a horse-drawn carriage and stables and NOT see from where Olivia Jacobetti drew her inspiration. While it doesn't smell exactly like a horse or its living quarters, the idea is there and it would take a real fragrance curmudgeon to not give in to that imagery at least a little bit.
The L'Artisan carded sample says, "A fragrance soft and fierce... Very wild very sweet!" and I think that's a nice way of describing Dzing!, although I don't think there's anything "very" about the fragrance. It's actually kind of mild in its intrigue and uniqueness, perfectly at home in the L'Artisan house of fragrances that rarely, if ever, speak indoors with their outdoor voices.
29th December, 2008 (last edited: 08th August, 2009)
Patchouli is a favorite ingredient of mine without a doubt, but I don't consider this a patchouli fragrance necessarily. That is, I guess, by the name, it would be hard for someone to imagine what this fragrance will be like. Patchouli as an ingredient brings many other fragrances to mind such as Borneo 1834, Givenchy Gentleman, Patchouli Leaves, or Real Patchouly among others. But I don't see Luxe: Patchouli belonging in that group... Where I do see it belonging is with the immortelle fragrances which I love so much including Sables, Eau Noir, and I suppose I'll include the over the top and slightly messy Fougere Bengale. Ok, so in this case the sensation is fenugreek and not immortelle, but the sensation is similar -- the golden, richness that is like being surrounded by a thick syrup, dark ambery golden brown in color, and very very warm but with fenugreek, the sensation is more on the side of sweet hay.
So yes, the patchouli is there, always. But it so well blended that it adds a hue to every other ingredient rather than sitting on top of the composition supported by the other notes. To my nose, the fenugreek sensation (that syrup mixed with curry and hay, sprinkled with a .05 mm layer, just the smallest hint of a dusting of anise) is the star, and it paints a picture in my mind of a flowing river of golden syrup with ribbons of purple and green silk (the green is the leafy patchouli sensation, the purple, the curried anise impression). The great thing about this is that it's all countered by some real grit... a wonderful earthy, woody, herbal texture that ends up being enveloped by the dense, dark, syrupy sweet curried elements of the fragrance and brings it into perfect balance.
The luxe nature of Luxe: Patchouli comes from the opulence of textures and sensations. There isn't a bright, whimsical, crisp or lightly textured moment in the fragrance journey, which incidentally lasts a full day. That said, there is nothing unbalanced, aloof, or over-the-top about it either. It's a baroque painting: dark, rich hues of brown, gold, dark, earthy greens, rich dark reds and purples and so in a way, that to me explains this uber luxurious feel. It's tone is gothic yet modern.
23rd December, 2008 (last edited: 08th August, 2009)
Blue Amber starts with something that turned me off (and still sort of does) which teeters between astringent and chemical. I read a review at MUA and a reviewer mentioned glue... I can't say glue exactly but it's something in that direction. With reviews mentioning plastic, chemical, and glue, there must be something going on, and having read other's thoughts on that sensation, I felt less insane in having experienced that myself. Thankfully, for me personally, that little phase doesn't last too long. And furthermore, it's only experienced up close: Blue Amber, without my nose glued to my wrist, starts billowing golden curling tendrils of itself immediately which are devoid of this astringency I mentioned.
I'm thankful I allowed this to really develop because after the first couple of hourse, this continues to develop, become more exquisitely rich yet dry until it reposes in it's golden brown phase. After that, it continues to works its golden ambery magic, but without changing too much. And herein lies the beauty of Blue Amber, my friends. The golden cloud of amber that floats around you throughout the day, that which about others have written here and elsewhere, is an undeniable feature of this gorgeous fragrance. It is an envelopingly warm, light golden brown amber, whose vanillic, warm, dry sugaryness intensifies as it develops while never becoming syrupy or heavy. For texture purposes only, think perhaps of warm, slightly crisp sugar cookies.
I sincerely encourage anyone who tries Blue Amber to give it several hours on skin before making a judgment. Any discord you may experience at the opening, I assure you, will dissipate and you'll be left with an amber, though simple and uncomplicated, to die for. I'd like to add that on me, this was extremely powerful and tenacious. I could imagine a 50 mL lasting forever. I am aware of it all day. A tad tricky up front, with a gorgeous dry down which is well worth the wait. I can't recommend this more to those looking for a warm, uncomplicated, enveloping high quality amber.
14th December, 2008 (last edited: 08th August, 2009)
Patchouli 24 is in a personal category of fragrances I like to call a "niche mess" and more often than not, I'm head over heals for everything I put into this category. Patchouli 24 is no exception. I can divide my Patchouli 24 experience into two very distinct parts. In the opening I'm treated to that "whoah, slow down there fella!" thing where all the notes come at me in a brawl of sensations and textures. There's heaps of smoke, tar, the smell of old dry things like leather or jerky, and vanilla to ground and soften what COULD be a very ugly experience. On the contrary, this is absolutely fantastic and that very vanilla seems to bind and lubricate everything dry and severe about this fragrance, so that when all is said and done, I actually consider Patchouli 24 to be one of my number one comfort scents, and instead of dry, I sense it as being very rich, if one could imagine thick vanilla tar in a molten, liquid form.
The second part of my experience with Patchouli 24 is the cozy part for me. Not long after I apply it, everything starts to chill out and I envision a log cabin in the woods. If I might elaborate, this really does paint a pretty specific image in my mind... the air outside is pointedly cold and crisp, the sky radiantly blue, the scent of fireplace hangs in the air all around, and you take a whiff of your clean, slightly fabric softened (not the fresh smelling kind, the snuggly soft kind) flannel shirt, and you just wanna curl up in a thick quilt blanket on a big, old, worn leather arm chair and soak it all in. The end of Patchouli 24 smells like that to me. There's something unmistakably gentle and soft in this fragrance that really makes this shift in sensations a brilliant achievement. Love...it! Love it!
This is a truly beautiful fragrance and I am taken by the masterful blending of ingredients and balance of textures. I'm glad Odysseusm mentioned "gentle spice and wood" and their absence in the listed ingredients, because I, too, feel this to be a woody/spicy fragrance at its heart, and after reading the sample card I wondered how that impression was achieved without wood or spice. I can only imagine there must be more to the story than Bois 1920 is letting on because my nose is constantly grabbing on to new sensations throughout its journey with 1920 Extreme: for a moment my nose hooks onto citrus, and then... anise seed? no no, maybe geranium, bergamot and vanilla? what is that spice, and did I just get a hint of a woody amber note? The beauty of 1920 Extreme is that no note protrudes (though one senses an array of textures), there is no clamor, there is just a touch of sweetness, and it all amounts to a strangely arresting combination of soft and rugged masculinity. This is one of the most attractive fragrances I've smelled in a long time, one that I loved the the first time I experienced it, and one I continue to love and enjoy the more I wear it.
I enjoy this fragrance immensely, from start to finish. Right away, several different textures, weights, and sensations clamor to find their place, the major players being dry, sharp lavender and other pungent herbs (sage?), and sweet, spicy, curried helichrysum. As the sharp dryness of the lavender subsides a bit, I notice an anise impression that's not terribly strong on me, doesn't take over as it can do, and adds a perfect balance to the dustiness of the herbs and powdered curry of immortelle. I find the cologne concentration of this really a remarkable facet of its success because if Eau Noir were an Eau d'Parfum, I could imagine it having the impression of "too much of everything" and becoming a perfumey, syrupy mess (how I might feel about Parfum d'Empire Fougere Bengale if I didn't like it so darn much!). But with Eau Noir, there's a sense of place for each of its notes and accords, and while we are exposed to many foody ingredients, there's something about this sense of balance that keeps me from the fear of smelling like a plate of Indian food. Or like coffee, or licorice, or like pancake syrup (and come to think of it, those thoughts don't bother me in the least). Its dryness (mostly toward the beginning) doesn't grate and its sweetness (in the middle and toward the end) doesn't cloy: the balance of impressions experienced in Eau Noir is incredible to me. When a lot of the clamor that is experienced at the beginning settles down, I see where Eau Noir wants to repose and it is in a perfect marriage of sweet spice and herbal harmony.
My initial impression of Patchouli Leaves actually annoys me in retrospect. I asked myself, "who would pay $200 for patchouli oil that I can buy for $10 at that "decorative glass pipes" shop downtown?" Please... I roll my eyes at myself. This is an intoxicating, bewitching fragrance, and I would feel very confident in recommending Patchouli Leaves to someone looking for the ultimate patchouli fragrance. While patchouli is what it's all about here, it is combined so artfully and seamlessly with its supporting notes (especially amber) that it remains interesting to the end, without becoming overly complicated or bogged down.
I am happy I received a decant of this in a glass vial so that I am able to see how deep, dark, brown, oily and intense the fragrance looks, because that's how it smells, too. Opening with that big, round, enveloping, oily, earthy patchouli that we all know, it slowly morphs into something much more interesting, much more delectable. Experiencing the amber and vanilla interact with the patchouli in this fragrance is like viewing two opposing colors on opposite sides of a spectrum which bleed into each other as the colors mesh in the center. We start with patchouli and end with a slightly vanillic amber and are able to experience every beautiful moment of the transformation in between, like watching a cell divide. To all of this add the resinous qualities brought by cistus... yum! I notice the fragrance literally, all day. And while the little metamorphosis to which I referred earlier is most noticeable up close (as is the cistus) I can detect these changes throughout the day without having to actively sniff my arms. That is great!
I love patchouli so this fragrance REALLY does it for me. If you are an amber and/or patchouli lover, Patchouli Leaves is not to be missed.
04th September, 2008 (last edited: 08th August, 2009)
I kind of like the way Vetiver des Sables opens: and that would be, unlike any other vetiver fragrance I've experienced. In just a few short moments, though, my smile turns upside down. The vetiver quickly loses any semblance of the note I've come to know (and love) and becomes buried in a sharp, bright, somewhat shrill metallic fragrance that dries down to a light herbal aquatic. Having said that, I can see how this could be appealing to some vetiver lovers, or perhaps a Montale that would appeal to Bond No. 9 or Creed Millesimme aficionados, but it is just too sharp for my nose. Obviously, some of this shrillness subsides and Vetiver des Sables takes on a comfortable, casual summertime air, but for some reason I find it somewhat disagreeable and more than somewhat derivative. It's successful as a light, summery, grassy/seaside masculine, but I suppose my disappointment stems from the fact that I was expecting something darker and earthier from Montale. So I guess I'm more to blame than Pierre Montale.
Black Aoud is a stunningly opulent perfume which balances a certain amount of harsh vulgarity with a profound sensuality. From the coarse, sharp, gnarly opening, it grips the wearer with thorny tendrils of woody, resinous, earthiness which envelop a pulsing heart of deep red rose, a rose boiling in rich brew of contrastingly arresting notes, velvety, rich rose which becomes somewhat sour and balsamic when combined with aoud, patchouli. I imagine these tendrils reaching out to those around me as I walk past, casting a mysterious wake. I can't simply apply this fragrance and go. I very literally must stand for a moment and ponder it. It stays with me all day, and I am nearly constantly aware of it for the first few hours. That said, it never interferes, never becomes annoying or too much. The next morning I am greeted by an incredibly soft, gentle, earthy patchouli note that is one of my favorite parts of the whole experience. A-ma-zing, if that's the kind of fragrance you are looking for.
When I was at Aedes, I heard customers fawning over Escentric 01. "Oh yes, you really can't smell it ON you that much but people compliment me on this all the time." And that seems to be what I hear and read most about this fragrance. Naturally I had to know what this olfactory phenomenon was all about so I ordered a sample. Now, I generally don't like to play the "this smells like" game, but my nose went through a scrolling list of fragrances of which Escentric 01 reminded me. The opening wizz of tart, delicious, green yet slightly chemical lime/lime peel reminded me VERY STRONGLY of Eau d'Cartier Concentree. This association was intensified when the nondescript hazy woody notes came through, but just as that scent association faded, another came to the fore... Dolce & Gabanna Light Blue for women, and distantly of Black XS for men which has that similar fuzzy sweet wood sensation. Those hazy, scratchy, somewhat generic woody notes are utilized here subtly, and they seem like the generic light, hazy, fuzzy, scratchy, blond wood smell employed in many of todays department store "fresh/woody" fragrances. Burying my nose in, I faintly experience a sort of cool, pointed, peppery, fresh frankincense smell that seems to add that "je ne sai quoi" to Escentric 01 transforming it from something ho hum to something kind of special. I reminded those around me all day that I was wearing a "magic perfume that wafts genius bursts of freshness and delight all day" and no one seemed to notice it. I did dab generously, and did not spray... so perhaps in order to experience this halo, this aura, the mystery that is Escentric 01, one needs to spray it on. Honestly, I feel this could be something special but because I'm not able to mist it on my body and clothes, I'm not getting the full effect. At any rate, via my mode of application, this turned out to be a nice, pretty, tame, sweet and sour fresh lime, effervescent light woody scent with a little prickly pepper to add interest. If one were to sample this, I highly recommend ordering a spray decant. I want to give it a neutral but must give a thumbs up. There's something about this that seems "just right." It's balanced, gentle, it smells very good, and it's unique.
This is a fragrance that was better than I imagined it would be, and I'd built it up in my mind for months before actually getting to try it. Like salt water dried on sun drenched skin? Absolutely! While Sel de Vetiver is really all about vetiver and the sensation of salt, I would actually venture to recommend it to those seaking a seaside reminiscent fragrance as it certainly evokes that for me, but in a far less obvious way than most fragrances with that specific intent. The first stage in the game is noticing how a grapefruit note works in the fragrance as a perfumer's brush stroke, avoiding the spotlight in order to add a shimmer to the fresher, greener aspects of vetiver and produce that mouthwatering tang that I often experience in a good vetiver fragrance. Sel de Vetiver's biggest surprise on me was that for the greater part of its evolution, it intensified on my skin. The vetiver and salt sensation became sharper, more focused, and more delicious, MORE mouthwatering, to the point where the fragrance actually smells of crisp, clean sea water, and the greenness of the vetiver actually seems to take on a sea kelp imagery in my mind. This fragrance is an absolute joy to wear and it does not leave one wanting for more intensity and longevity. Though when all is said and done this is a rather "simple" fragrance, I can't say enough good things about it. Superb!
I have to say, I've never had to work so hard to understand a fragrance before. I've read reviews of Chene here and on various blogs and had a very specific expectation which had been building for nearly a year. Now that I've been able to experience it, it's taken me a week of concentrated effort to figure out how to conform my experience of Chene into what Sheldrake and Lutens were telling me I was supposed to be seeing. I'll begin by saying that now I see freshly sawed wood and sap when I smell this, without a pause, without skipping the slightest beat. But the first time I smelled Chene I was shocked to smell sour fruit candy notes billowing off my skin for at least the first half hour of wear. Truth be told, that is ALL I could smell the FIRST time I wore it. I wanted to smell wooded paths, pine needles under foot, or be transported to a wood shop or even an antiques store like my fellow basenoters but I couldn't get past this purple/maroon/red nondescript fruit candy smell. I lent my wrist to family members who would respond with "very woody!" and slump shouldered, I wondered why I wasn't getting it.
I honestly can't tell you what happened but one day, it just clicked: the candy turned into the smell of sap: the smell of walking into a room where wood is being cut by a circular saw, the hot blade radiating the scent of sawdust and resins and sap into the air. There is a great moment in Chene where the image of the freshly cut wooden plank and heated sap comes into complete focus and it is a really fantastic effect, though it takes me a while to get there each time I wear it. I guess I've just never experienced a woody fragrance quite like this before. They've all been less sweet, less "freshly cut" and less sappy, I suppose, thus the reason my nose and brain were groping for words to describe what they were experiencing -- the reason for why they were telling me fruity candy. The great thing about Chene is that it seems so fixed in its intent, but my interpretation of it shifts as I wear it... newly cut wood, old wooden furniture, a walk in a pine forest -- it's all conjured by this fascinating fragrance which I'd actually not want to wear, but am happy to have a little bit of to sniff from time to time.
I'm jealous of those who experience discernible spices in this because that is what I was expecting, and sort of hoping for. But from start to finish, Chergui is silky and smooth on me, rich, enveloping, and initially a bit powdery. Though not at all the experience I'd set myself up for, Chergui has done anything but dissappoint me. Though the fragrance itself is a dark rich brown, I see it in my mind's eye as more of a light cream/tan. There's something luxuriously rich in Chergui, like the sensation of milky tea with honey and vanilla, and this dense, creamy sweetness is the element that intensifies the most on me as I wear it. It is one of those non-gourmand delights which make my mouth water without necessarily conjuring images of dessert. I think the dry sweetness of hay and tobacco mixed with the luscious creaminess of iris and amber is very alluring but has me wondering what this has to do with hot spicy wind gusts. Whatever the case, Chergui, gently intense, rich without being stifling, threw me for a loop. It is fantastically delicious but perhaps not in the way you might have been expecting.
Luxury luxury luxury luxury luxury. It is not always conventionally pretty. But, in the same way that pears and bleu cheese, melons and prosciutto, and fish eggs and creme fraiche go together perversely well, so does vetiver and everything Sheldrake put into Vetiver Oriental. It conceptually doesn't smell "good" like a rose smells good or like vetiver itself smells good or like and apple smells good. No, it's smells... better than good... it smells exquisite. It's so odd in that funny way in which a royal family could be purveyors of good taste in all their gaudiness, or a Jaguar, though (once) infamous for its horrible reliability, maintains its luxury edge based on the sweet smell of its hides and wood varnish, and secondarily, its smooth ride. I don't know why but this fragrance does so many things so very very well, and it inspires all this confusing prose in me. There isn't an obvious moment in the journey, and the contrasts are so well balanced that I get excited every time I wear it. I first tried it 6 months ago and have been VERY eager to own a small amount in order to experience it at will. The vetiver hides itself in a warm, rich, nutty cloak, and peeks out, never losing itself, always present, but never really starring. To be sure, this is not the sweet nuttiness of Vetiver Tonka. While I love that, this is much more unique, much less conventional, much more quirky, far more odd. I just can't describe the following sensation but I see old libraries, a harking back to tradition, cigar rooms, stodgy people, but with gobs of funky, quirky class, similar to the feeling I get when I wear Annick Goutal Sables.
I can't imagine it garnering many compliments but for some reason I'd feel so happy and weird wearing it. There's something leathery and unrefined about its refinement and I just love it. Love it love it love it. I've given this fragrance a great deal of thought and I'd like to say that this iris note gives way to that chocolate one and hands off this to that, but it doesn't play out that way for me. I do notice the vetiver and the sandalwood as particularly key players, there is a great deal of richness here, never pillowy, always resinous but creamy. It's hard to call it a vetiver fragrance, honestly. It's a creamy woody fragrance with a good amount of vetiver. It's also not particularly spicy on me, so I don't know how oriental it is. But whatever. It's just one of the most satisfyingly unique, anti-trendy fragrances I've had the pleasure of smelling, well, ever.
After reading about this a hundred times I was finally able to experience it first hand and it's no joke: This is the smell of Catholic Church incense. I just played the opera Tosca and there's a scene where the alter boys come out and swing incense around the stage and I actually wore Avignon to the last concert, and sniffing the smoky air and then my arm, I notice little to no difference in the scent experience. It's a hot, dry smell, and there is nothing of the Catholic Mass incense experience that Avignon is not. And the genius of Avignon exists in its ability to create a fragrance texture that until now I'd not experienced: dry and scratchy. It's so remarkable that these scent molecules can paint such a realistic picture, leaving me almost parched, that I'm left perplexed and awestruck each and every time I experience it. I used to confuse the idea of incense with Nag Champa, the colorfully sweet incense of India, but Avignon is the opposite of sweet. It's a somber woody incense, gray, and perhaps a little wistful -- a little lonely, and dry as a bone, like walking into a hot wooden sauna before water has been sprinkled onto the rocks. It's VERY realistic, not particularly beautiful, a little brutish, rather austere, yet not completely unapproachable. This is a very special fragrance indeed.