La Chasse Aux Papillons is sheerly and frankly pretty with little nuance; it's a melody played on a flute with no rhythm behind it. But oh, it is very very pretty. Sweet white florals that are crisp and not cloying, with delicate edges of green and orange. Really, the scent is more reminiscent of a sweet big bar of some Mediterranean soap than a perfume. Personally, I like that effect. Not a lot of sillage, but those who notice it like it. One genuine surprise: I love l'Artisan's perfumes, but so many of them have weak longevity. I didn't imagine this dainty fey scent would be an exception. But when I've worn it, it's stayed with me through a workday. That makes me like it even better.
Looking over my fragrance wardrobe, I realized I have a few common themes: gourmands, orange (fruit/blossoms/petitgrain/neroli), and mukhallats. Many of the latter I can't actually list here, because "little rollerball with indecipherably smeary label that I bought at the market in Boudouaou for the equivalent of 2 dollars, which smells like oranges and violets crushed in musk" is surprisingly not in the database. However, Noora is, even if no one's yet reviewed it. And Noora hits all three of my themes: gourmand, orange, mukhallat. Thus, I need to review it. First, its appearance: syrupy golden oil in a fabulous bottle with a glass wand. That promises a lot in terms of what kind of juice you're going to get, and Noora delivers on that promise. The opening is a heavy embrace of fruity floral, with oud. I don't see oud listed in its notes, but good grief, that's a very oud note right there. Thankfully, it recedes. What comes out is a lovely warm saffron, with candied oranges. I have seen references to it being orange *blossom*, but respectfully, that's fruit. There are flowers behind the candied orange, but no one floral note stands out. The primary scent of Noora is saffron over candied oranges. Eventually it fades to orange on vanilla musk. Apart from the initial heavy opening, it's really very straightforward. Unsurprisingly, a little goes a long way: Noora lasts a long time, and has better than average sillage. This should not scare anyone off: yes, it's not a delicate or subtle scent, but it's pretty. And while I used the word gourmand, it's not as foody as one might expect from the notes or my descriptors. I should also mention that of all the perfumes I've worn over the past 10 years, Noora has garnered more compliments and questions than anything else. Other people really like it (although a friend said that it "smelled like Gummi Bears." But she was the only person to say that. And nothing is wrong with Gummi Bears, really.) Additionally, Noora is very inexpensive and comes in a marvelous bottle.
23rd April, 2016 (last edited: 28th April, 2016)
I love this scent. It's a custardy rice pudding made with jasmine rice, rosewater, and a generous helping of saffron, creamy and redolent of sweet spices. It is a fine confection, with just enough suggestion of sensuality to give it an edge.
Alas, it is as ephemeral and fleeting as the scent in the kitchen after one has made dessert. It just doesn't last near long enough. Full disclosure, though: "long enough" when something smells this lovely would be "lasts for days on end." But still, it disappears in a matter of a couple of hours. Safran Troublant is a heartbreaker of a scent.
Egad, this is possibly the least subtle, most in-your-face fragrance I have smelled in a while; it's on the level of that 1980s Giorgio scent in terms of nuance. Nothing is inherently wrong with strong; it's all in how the notes are blended. Unfortunately, in this case, it smells like someone took the patchouli-and-spun-sugar base of Angel, threw overripe fruit on it, and then sprinkled this concoction with a smidgen of metal filings. I do like the base, but not the rest. And somehow, the patchouli and (alleged) toffee give it a suspiciously unwashed and skanky quality, which could be interesting in another blend, but fails to work with those bright fruitylicious notes. I can see how this could appeal in its brassy sweetness, and the base is nice, but as a composition, this perfume is harsh and unrelenting, and just...too much.
This is a funny little scent for me, and I suspect my experience with it is not how it smells on other people. There's a base note ingredient -- based on experience, I believe it to be vetiver; it's definitely not benzoin -- that goes weird on me: it amps up on my skin and smells not unlike 3-in-One Oil. The effect is that I smell as if whatever scent I'm wearing has an element of industrial sewing machine. Depending on what other notes come into play, this can either be highly unfortunate or intriguing. The reason I mention it is that Prada Candy Florale has this note in it. Not in great quantity, but whatever it is (vetiver, or maybe there's another culprit), it comes into play strongly and turns what is probably a sweet, dainty, possibly-insipid pink fragrance on more-normal people into something entirely different and memorable. Before the industrial note hits, this scent is sweet and floral and a bit citrusy (the limoncello?) After it hits, it smells a bit menacing. For whatever reason, that works, possibly because it smells like something a cartoon villainess would wear. My one real disappointment here (apart from it not smelling the way it was probably intended to smell) is that I get little to no benzoin, which I really like in a scent. But no, it has to go all cool and evil on me.
L'Air du Desert Marocain is a bit of a disappointment, while being really quite lovely. On the one hand: it is indisputably an elegant, subtle composition, a deft work of olfactory art. On the other: for me at least, the individual notes never quite merge into a cohesive whole; it's almost too protean over the long haul to be wearable or truly interesting. On application, the notes are a clanging masculine shout full of spices, nothing special or distinct, but somehow promising. This initial blast settles quickly, and it becomes a (thankfully) mellower blend of spices and woods against a sweet resinous amber, with just a dash of a subtle and pleasant floral note. True to its name, the scent is somehow very dry. It smells to me like something a djinn would wear -- so also true to its name. But the scent continues to change, with different notes coming to the forefront and receding, rather than blending into something harmonious. At one point, I swear it smells like carpentry, all raw wood, metal, and oil. Yes: on me, it takes a turn as l'Air du Woodshop. Not only does it not seem to blend into a coherent composition, it doesn't blend at all with me. I'm not wearing it; it's hovering over and around me. Wearing l'Air du Desert Marocain is like going on a date with a wonderfully attractive, charming, witty person who really isn't interested in me. It is too polite to not be charming and witty, but is not really engaged in the conversation. L'Air du Desert Marocain is brilliant, beautifully composed, and interesting, but I have no chemistry with it. As a quibble, I have a lot of scent memories attached to North Africa, and the notes of this honestly don't connect with me and make me think "North Africa." Of course, that may be a highly personal evocation, but that failure to connect emotionally with my memories and expectations might be part of why it leaves me a bit less than enthusiastic. On someone else, I might truly appreciate this.
22nd April, 2016 (last edited: 23rd April, 2016)
This was a pure-curiosity buy on my part. Reading reviews of Wicked Wahine, it was so obviously a retro cult favorite that I had to try it. And "retro" it is, which possibly explains the reviews (else-Web) where buyers are disappointed. Modern expectations of something that's obviously "beachy exotic" include certain elements and notes that just aren't present here. There is no tropical fruit, no coconut, no plumeria, no sand accord. Nary a hint of modern suntan oil and flipflops here. This scent is a time capsule of what was strong, feminine, sexy, and exotic when this was created in the 60s: lots of white flowers -- jasmine and orange blossom -- with musk and a bit of sandalwood. The opening is aldehydic and strong, and very old-school. I'm glad I'm not the only person reminded of Joy, because it's very similar to Joy at first smell. I expect this was intentional: Joy would have been one of the fine-fragrance classic standards when this was created, so it's not surprising that it might emulate Joy somewhat. Once Wahine calms down a bit, though, a spicy carnation scent emerges, and it's fantastic. The carnation adds a kind of sassy dimension to the indolic blossoms. As forthright as this is, and heavy as this could be, it wears remarkably well, not becoming cloying. It is no doubt old-fashioned. The teenager I live with described it as "kind of old-ladyish." That's probably a valid assessment, but it's an old lady with a lot of charm, not insipid or boring. Excellent retro scent, a bit kitschy, but isn't that exactly what you'd hope it would be?
Traversée du Bosphore is a clever perfume: a scent that's rather complex that smells deceptively simple. It begins with juicy fruit and warm suede, with a dash of iris and a delicate pale-greenish note that must be the promised tulip. Soon, however, it smells like candy. Sugary, syrupy, straightforward but not overwhelming...but still, candy. Those delicate, complex notes are still there if one holds one's wrist up and snuffles like a hound, but somehow the whole mix has become a bowlful of pomegranate-infused lokum. Not just something that evokes lokum, but something that smells virtually identical to the way a bite of lokum tastes, all fruit, flowers, jelly-gum texture, and powdered sugar. I'm particularly fond of lokum, and I've tried a number of scents that are meant to have a note or interpretation of Turkish Delight -- and they do, and they've all been lovely so far -- but this is the sole "Turkish Delight note" perfume I've tried that actually smells like lokum, not an interpretation of its elements. I find myself craving this scent when I'm not wearing it. It's undoubtedly not everyone's cup of tea, but it's quietly strange, pretty, and comforting to me, which are apt descriptors of every l'Artisan scent I've tried.
I have hoarded a bottle of this for years. It's a shame this is no longer in production, because it is the one perfume I have ever found (yet) that near-duplicates the scent of a freshly-opened bottle of orange-blossom water, which is one of the most sublime and perfect scents, as far as I'm concerned. And as others have noted, its lasting power is greater than most orange-blossom solifleurs.
27th March, 2016 (last edited: 22nd April, 2016)