Just The Juice: Brief Fragrance Reviews – Albino (A Study in White) and The Voices of Trees by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Today marks the start of a new series of brief perfume reviews called Just The Juice. Why “Just The Juice”? I want to talk about fragrances that I’ve come across, both new releases and older ones, and I want to keep it focused on the perfume (the “juice”) itself. So often I write about the background, the history, the sociological and psychological significance, etc. etc. of a smell or a perfume. But in the interests of pure perfume prose, in this series I’m going to write about the juice, in 300 words or less per perfume, and include relevant artistic/conceptual notes from the perfumer too, if I can. I hope to introduce you to some wonderful perfumes in this series.

Today I will be reviewing two recent releases by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes, both in VdP (voile de parfum) strength.

Albino (A Study in White)

white-painted-concrete-wall-888895_1280Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes says of her recent (2015) release Albino (A Study in White):

“What began as a fascination with the albino raspberry soon became an exploration from the real to abstraction.

What is it to be without pigment?  There seems to be a kind of quality; a luminosity and sense of lightness.  So then what?  “White” materials… and a questioning: what does white feel like?

Albino takes an abstract look at white from a synesthetic and textural stance.  The textures being crisp, pithy, and creamy; shifting from fruity crispness to pithy to a creamy feel, with blond woods, and musk at the final drydown.

Meet Albino.  He’s gorgeously unusual.”
Source: DSH Perfumes website

Continue reading

Summer Series Part 1: Frida by En Voyage Perfumes

sheepWelcome to Perfume Polytechnic’s Summer Series. I’m taking a break over summer from writing new posts, but instead of stopping publishing altogether, I want to share with you some of my favourite posts from this year and earlier. I hope you enjoy reading them; you may even come across something you missed the first time round!

Today’s post was originally published in July 2015, and contains a review of Frida, the innovative and brilliant recent release by Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes. I’m sharing this post again because Frida is the stand-out indie fragrance for me this year. It’s really unusual and is brilliantly composed.

I’m also publishing it because it’s summer here. We’re in the midst of a long, dry El Niño weather event. It’s been hot and dry for months already. Frida is an ideal perfume to wear in the summer time, with its tropical, heady flowers, fruity and vegetal notes. It’s both evocative of summer and promises cooling, watery, shady relief from the dry, hot weather. It seems apt to revive this post during the Australian summer. Enjoy! Continue reading

A Taste of Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima

Recently I was fortunate to receive a Discovery Kit from Italian niche perfumer Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima to review. “Odori d’Anima” translates as “scents of the soul”, and this is certainly a soulful collection of perfumes, with interesting and emotive concepts underpinning them that collectively seem to hint at a yearning for the complete expression of the soul, a longing and nostalgia for the past, and a respect for the elemental beauty and wild spirit of nature.

The kit features samples of the entire range of Mendittorosa’s seven fragrances, presented in the most beautiful way with information cards and decorative packaging, all arriving sealed in a golden envelope. In fact, Mendittorosa’s packaging for their bottled perfumes is beautiful too, and sculptural, as you will see in the photographs below. The packaging has been designed in Italy, with the interesting bottle caps and metal features being crafted by hand.

Mendittorosa is a small-batch production perfumery, and sources its materials from Grasse, in the South of France. All of Mendittorosa’s fragrances are designed as unisex, to be worn by women and men.

Samples_all

Mendittorosa Discovery Kit

Mendittorosa is the brain-child of Stefania Squeglia, who founded the house in 2011, after an epiphany about her true purpose in life, at the base of the Stromboli volcano in Sicily.

“It was here on this island at one of the most southern points in the Mediterranean that
Stefania Squeglia was gifted with her true vocation in the form of a memory that had been
out of reach until that moment: as a young girl in Naples, she would take the glass jars her
grandmother used to store homemade tomato sauce and fill them with foraged rose petals and oils. She would then hide them in the dark to discover them later. Erupted. Changed.” (courtesy of Mendittorosa marketing brochure)

Stefania works with perfumers Amelie Bourgeois and Anne-Sophie Behaghel to create the Mendittorosa Odori d’Anima range.

Today I will present to you a taste of Mendittorosa, a glimpse at and an impression of each of their seven fragrances. I have worn each of these fragrances a few times now, but to give each of the fragrances full justice would take a full blog post for each. Consider these mini-reviews to be an introduction to Mendittorosa. They are meant to convey how the perfumes smell to me, how I feel about them, and hopefully they will pique your curiosity to find out more and try them for yourself.

Sogno Reale

Sogno Reale

Sogno Reale. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

Sogno Reale is the latest release from Mendittorosa. In fact, it is so new that there is a waiting period of 30-50 days to receive this fragrance! Sogno Reale translates to “real dream” in English, and is all about achieving one’s dreams in life. Sogno Reale is “Created for people, who will search and find their dream and make it come through. The ultimate companion for your way of life based on our philosophy: Search and you will find…” (Source: Mendittorosa’s website)

Sogno Reale sample

Sogno Reale sample

Concepts of dreams aside, as a scent, Sogno Reale is said by Mendittorosa to combine “a trilogy of sun, earth and sea blends together”, which gives a very accurate impression of this fragrance. Sogno Reale is a very sunny and interesting fragrance, and would be great for a hot summer’s day. To me the dominant characteristics are a salty marine note, something grainy, like unprocessed wheat, a bright lemon top note, and animalic notes. The combination of these ingredients results in a fascinating smell that is a little like salty, human skin that’s been in the ocean and then dried in the sun, overlaid with a touch of citrus, which fades as the perfume develops. The wheat note that I smell has no basis in the notes provided, but whatever ingredient creates this olfactory illusion, it hints at wheat grains and bread, and salty bread at that. There are some interesting basenotes used – including sandalwood and volcanic olibanum – and they are detectable, but not at all dominant. What they do is provide a grounding for this interesting and layered creation, in which the top, middle and base notes seem to hover, somewhat distinctly from one another. The sandalwood rounds out the composition slightly, while hyrax, an animalic note that is redolent of musk, civet and castoreum, helps create the skin-like and animalic characteristics of Sogno Reale. Unlike many animalic fragrances, this one is not heavy or overwhelming. It’s sweet, and it’s light and bright, yet very interesting and complex.

Le Mat

The philosophy behind Le Mat is as follows: “Le Mat is the “odour” of bravery, gumption and change. With a mantle of nutmeg and black pepper that protects its heart of geranium and rose, the scent unleashes whiffs of patchouli and cashmere wood. A blend of celestial and earthy aromas that instills a sensation of freedom.” (Source: Mendittorosa’s website)

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Le Mat. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

Le Mat is my favourite of Mendittorosa’s creations. It is a rich creation housed in fabulous packaging, featuring the tarot card “Le Mat”, or “The Fool” as this card is known in English. The title of “The Fool” is somewhat deceptive in tarot – the fool does not represent a simpleton or an idiot – rather, he represents newness, purity and childlike innocence, or prophesies the beginnings of a new spiritual path.

Le Mat sample (right) shown with Sogno Reale sample (left)

Le Mat sample (right) shown with Sogno Reale sample (left)

I adore Le Mat. It’s a spicy, musky rose with honeyed nuances and an immortelle note that emerges more and more as the fragrance develops. It is sweet, but not too sweet, and a little woody. It reminds me of Turkish Delight, that rose-flavoured middle-eastern sweet, and Musk Lolly sticks. It smells like the most delectable, rich and luxurious blend of two fragrances I already own and love: L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Safran Troublant, and Mor’s Marshmallow. The rose melds with a geranium note (which has a rosy, green quality), and is supported by musky and woody cashmeran, loads of nutmeg, and pepper. Base notes consist of an earthy yet not overdone patchouli, and a hint of clove.

Trilogy: Alpha, Omega & Id

These three fragrances were conceived as a Trilogy. Mendittorosa has the following to say about the three fragrances: “Because in opposition, we find balance, the three scents in The Trilogy line—Alpha, Omega and Id—are designed not just to complement each other, but to complete a journey.” (quoted from Mendittorosa’s marketing brochure) These fragrances are designed to be worn alone, or layered. Due to time constraints, I did not layer these fragrances for this review, so I cannot comment on how they combine and work together.

Id

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Id. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa

Mendittorosa describes Id as follows: “Essential, rich, and wild, Id is the dark passion that drives us towards our dreams. Inspired by the nickname “Iddu” the locals give to the Stromboli volcano, Id is an olfactory dedication to the fiery being that first breathed Mendittorosa into life.”

I can imagine Id is a very popular fragrance in the Mendittorosa line. It is so appealing and woody-sweet, warm and very wearable. It smells so much to me like Donna Karan’s iconic Black Cashmere that I feel it is difficult to review it objectively. Id features nutmeg and incense (labdanum) and woods, a strong cinnamon note and a touch of clove. For those who loved Black Cashmere and can no longer find it, you will love Id and be thrilled to have a replacement. Compared to Black Cashmere, Id is a little softer, a bit less incensey, and also a touch sweeter than Black Cashmere.

Omega

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Omega. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

Mendittorosa decribes Omega as: “The last letter of the Greek alphabet, ‘omega’ denotes the end, the final limit. It is Alfa’s polar opposite, deriving its elegance and composure from an awareness of its mortality. Its leather core is draped in velvet layers of Egyptian cumin and white musk.”

This description doesn’t match my experience of Omega. To me, Omega smells like a burnt vanilla fragrance with a hint of musk. On first application, I find this “burnt” aspect a little hard to handle. I think the burnt note is ambroxan, which often has this effect on me: I find it too much for my nose in this case, and a bit acrid and bitter. I believe that many perfumers use ambroxan to replicate the smoky qualities of oud, but this is just my suspicion. Despite my dislike of ambroxan, this note calms down about twenty minutes into the fragrance’s development, and Omega ends up smelling quite approachable and wearable, a bit like Rochas’ very popular Tocade, but without the rose. I do not detect any leather, cumin, iris or frankincense (all listed notes). There is a hint of very well blended jasmine that lifts and sweetens the composition. Omega will appeal to people who like vanilla but want something a little left of centre.

Alfa

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Alfa. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

Mendittorosa describes Alfa thus: “Alfa is the beginning—a naked Venus rising from a clear blue sea. Deceiving in its simplicity, it tells a tale of earth, milk, and vineyards, but its saffron heart contains deep yearnings for the sensuality of nutmeg, sandalwood, jasmine and thyme.”

When I first smelt this perfume (before I read the notes above) I thought it was a classic masculine fougère, which, sadly, is probably my least favourite category of perfume. I was then very surprised to find that conceptually, this fragrance is linked to Venus, the female and very feminine goddess “whose functions encompassed love, beauty, sex, fertility, prosperity and desire.” (Source: Wikipedia) Nevertheless, let me continue with my own impressions of this fragrance, as they are very different to Mendittorosa’s description above. Alfa smells like a masculine fougère, with fresh citrussy, woody, and herbaceous notes dominating. The sharp (and in this case somewhat citrussy) note of ravensara dominates the opening of the fragrance, and white thyme is also apparent. It’s slightly woody too at first, with a soft frankincense in the base. The woods develop quite intensely about twenty minutes in: again, I smell the burnt note of ambroxan, or “oud”. If saffron is in this fragrance, it is used subtly as I find it hard to detect. A hint of jasmine warms and sweetens the composition ever-so-slightly. This is a well-constructed perfume and is a fresh and slightly interesting take on the classic fougère formula, even if it is not to my taste.

North & South

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North and South. Photo courtesy of Mendittorosa.

“Each North has its South, and each South, its North. Two opposites longing for completeness.” (Source: Mendittorosa website)

As with the Alfa/Omega/Id Trilogy above, North and South can be worn together, or alone. I did try them together, and will discuss my findings below.

North

“Bright and pure, light, and nostalgic, North evokes memories of empty white pages, dry leaves, crisp wood of Swedish saunas, children’s drawings.” (Source: Mendittorosa website)

North features a light and airy cedar wood, like that used in Comme des Garçons’ Kyoto. This cedar dominates, but is blended with a lovely bergamot and pepper. My impression of North is that it is a fresh and woody forest scent and when I smell it I feel like I’m walking amongst a plantation of fragrant, camphoraceous trees. North has moderate  sillage, without being overwhelming. It is a calming, dry scent that would appeal equally to women and men.

South

“Sultry and slow-moving, South ushers 
in memories of hot bread, white linen sheets dried in the sun and of pure Marseille soap. It is the colourful clutter of our favourite things in a nest of softness.” (Source: Mendittorosa website)

South is sharp and creamy and slightly sweet all at once. Creamy sandalwood in the base is offset by a very lemony, citric basil top note. Hazelnut, a rounded, sweet and nutty note, is also quite detectable. Syringa (similar to orange blossom and jasmine) is quite noticeable too. South reminds me a little of a softish Samsara by Guerlain or Allure by Chanel, both of which feature a combination of jasmine and sandalwood, but here the composition is made much more interesting with the basil and hazelnut, and an interesting “hot bread” note that appears after about fifteen minutes of wear. This bread note reminds me of the “wheat” note I detected in Sogno Reale. South is quite soft in character and moderate in sillage and is more feminine than masculine. It is a very pretty, yet interesting scent.

North and South Layered

These two fragrances layer well. The notes of South dominate, in particular the hazelnut and bread notes, although the cedar is also very apparent. It probably goes without saying that this combination is much richer and more complex than North or South alone.


Summary and Where to Buy

I hope you’ve enjoyed my survey and brief impressions of Mendittorosa’s current range of fragrances. The Discovery Kit is an affordable way to try these lovely creations and to explore them for yourself.

You can buy the Discovery Kit on the Mendittorosa website for 40 Euros (including shipping), which includes a 20 Euro refund voucher to use with any full bottle purchase for two months.

Mendittorosa’s fragrances all come in 100ml, extrait de parfum strength bottles. They range in price from 185-225 Euros each and can be purchased from Mendittorosa’s online shop and from selected retailers.

Disclaimer

My Mendittorosa Discovery Kit was provided free of charge. Many thanks to Stefania Squeglia and Jakub Piotrovicz for generously providing the kit. All opinions are my own and I strive to be both honest and respectful to the perfumers and their creations in my reviews.

American Independents Week Perfume Reviews – Part Three: Frida by En Voyage Perfumes

Saturday the Fourth of July was American Independence Day. It struck me as fitting that several new fragrances by American independent perfumers were released recently and sent to me for review, all in time to celebrate Independence Day. So much of what’s interesting and innovative in perfume these days is coming out of the American indie perfume scene, and as the Fourth of July has recently passed, I thought I’d devote a week (or so) to reviewing three new releases by American indie perfumers. Today’s review is of the brand new Frida from En Voyage Perfumes, created by perfumer Shelley Waddington and launched only a week ago. In Part Two of this post, I reviewed Enticing from Anya’s Garden, and in Part One I reviewed Aftelier Perfumes’ new solid fragrance, Bergamoss.

Frida Kahlo, self-portrait

Frida Kahlo – Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird (1940).

Frida – inspired by the iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo – is a brand new fragrance from En Voyage Perfumes. It was launched on Kahlo’s birthday, July 6th. As a fan of Frida Kahlo, I was thrilled when I discovered Shelley’s latest creation was inspired by this wonderful feminist artist who had such an interesting private life and remains to this day a cultural icon in Mexico and around the world.

Frida the Person

Frida Kahlo - The Broken Column (1944)

Frida Kahlo – The Broken Column (1944)

What follows is an extremely curtailed, superficial summary of who Frida Kahlo, the woman and the artist, was. To find out more about Frida, I can highly recommend reading The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait (Carlos Fuentes). There is no better way to learn about an artist than by viewing their art and reading what they’ve written about themselves.

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) endured a life of intense physical pain from illness and injury, including childhood polio and a bus accident in her late teens. She was also famous for her relationships, including a tempestuous yet close and long-lived bond — featuring two marriages and one divorce — with renowned painter Diego Rivera, and an affair with Leon Trotsky. Her paintings incorporate elements of folk art and surrealism, and she explored her illness, pain and relationships through many of her works, which rely heavily on symbolism and often take the form of self-portraits. Frida was also known for her flamboyant dress-sense based on traditional Mexican apparel, as well as her heavy brows and elaborate, traditional hairstyles.

Frida Kahlo - Frida and Diego Rivera (1931)

Frida Kahlo – Frida and Diego Rivera (1931)

A Love Letter from Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera

I’ve included one of Frida’s love letters to her husband Diego Rivera below as it helps give some insight into her character and the nature of their relationship.

“Diego:

Nothing compares to your hands, nothing like the green-gold of your eyes. My body is filled with you for days and days. you are the mirror of the night. the violent flash of lightning. the dampness of the earth. The hollow of your armpits is my shelter. my fingers touch your blood. All my joy is to feel life spring from your flower-fountain that mine keeps to fill all the paths of my nerves which are yours.” (From The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait (Carlos Fuentes), and quoted at BrainPickings.org)

Love letter from Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera

A love letter from Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera

Frida the Perfume

Frida by En Voyage Perfumes

Frida by En Voyage Perfumes (photo courtesy of En Voyage Perfumes)

Shelley Waddington says of Frida on the En Voyage website:

“This perfume celebrates the life of Frida Kahlo; the woman and artist, her suffering, her Mexican heritage and her love of nature.

Frida was feminine, fearless and a revolutionary; she cross dressed, smoked cigars, and has been a part of pop culture for over 50 years. A world-travelled sophisticate who had love affairs with both men and women, Frida remained happiest at Casa Azul, her traditional family home.

Tuberose, a flower that the Aztecs called the Boneflower, is an important note in this perfume as an homage to Frida’s brutal calamities and artistic transformation. Other notes include the hibiscus that she wore in her hair as well as the tropical blossoms and plants of Frida’s garden. The fragrance also devotes close attention to other details of Frida’s life, such as the heat of her native Mexico City, the smells of her cigarettes and her heavy hair.”

Perfumer Shelley Waddington from En Voyage creates such rich, interesting, complex, multi-layered creations, and Frida is no exception. For some background on Shelley’s work as a perfumer and to find out how she conceives of her perfumes creatively, check out the interview that I published with Shelley a couple of months back. To read my recent survey of three En Voyage perfumes, click here.

My Experience of Frida

On first application Frida is very dry and savoury, and even a tad bitter. I feel like I’m in a hot climate and I smell dry, dusty earth and a strong tobacco with hints of a savoury vanilla* and green bell peppers*. Very quickly the top notes settle and start wafting around my body to produce the startlingly realistic effect of being in a fertile greenhouse, or a lush, tropical garden, complete with water-drenched leaves. Subtly sweet fruity notes emerge, the most dominant being a realistic, wet-smelling watermelon which, along with the tropical flowers and plants, creates a summery sensation.

Tuberose is central to this fragrance, and I find this particular tuberose quite indolic, and not very sweet or cloying, as it often can be in perfumery. The tuberose note forms a family with the heady, similarly indolic and tropical white floral notes of ylang ylang, gardenia and jasmine. All of this indole (along with myrrh) seems to create a medicinal note in the fragrance, which for me alludes to Frida Kahlo’s illnesses and injuries. I can’t help but think of the smell of adhesive bandages, hospitals and plaster casts when I detect this note. Oakmoss adds a slightly bitter undertone to the composition of Frida, and there is also a sweet and subtle woody base note that emerges after an hour or so, and which reminds me a little of En Voyage’s own New York Man.

There are two interesting Mexican notes in Frida: cactus flower and copal. According to Wikipedia, copal is

a name given to tree resin that is particularly identified with the aromatic resins used by the cultures of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica as ceremonially burned incense and [for] other purposes... Copal is still used by a number of indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America as an incense, during sweat lodge [and other] ceremonies…” (sourced from Wikipedia)

Frida is a strong scent, and while it’s pleasant to smell it directly from the skin, I find it more enjoyable to apply it and to let it waft around the body as I go about my day. This also helps create the illusion that one is literally surrounded by a lush and watery tropical garden. Frida radiates enormously at first, but dies down to a softer, slightly sweeter version of itself after a couple of hours. It lasts on the skin for at least 8 hours, although it is a skin scent on me after about 3-4 hours.

My overall impression of Frida is that it is a tropical, vegetal and floral fragrance, a realistic garden scent to rival Jean-Claude Ellena’s Les Jardins (Garden) series for Hermès. In fact, I find Frida more complex, multi-faceted and realistic than any of the fragrances from the Les Jardins series, and it has much better sillage and lasting power too. If you like Les Jardins, give Frida a try.

This fragrance is a true unisex scent. It’s neither too sweet nor savoury, neither stereotypically masculine or feminine, which matches Frida Kahlo’s character perfectly. Kahlo was one to play with and subvert gender stereotypes: she enjoyed dressing in masculine clothing at times and having relationships with both women and men, while also embracing an ultra-feminine, traditional Mexican style of dressing.

Frida can be purchased from the En Voyage website, and stockists in the US (see the En Voyage website for details). A 0.8g sample is $6 USD, a 0.5oz (15ml) bottle is $75 USD and a 1oz (30ml) bottle is $95 USD.

For a complete list of notes and to read more about Frida, visit the En Voyage website. I’ve avoided listing all the notes here as I think it’s important to convey an impression of the scent and its character, and to talk about the dominant notes, rather than a list of the ingredients.

Warmest thanks to Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes, who kindly sent me a sample of Frida to review.


*A note about the smell of green bell peppers (known as capsicums here in Australia). One of the notes listed for Frida is green pepper. Due to this difference in nomenclature — Americans call capsicums peppers or bell peppers — I assumed (incorrectly) that green capsicum had been used in Frida. I had a brief discussion with perfumer Shelley Waddington yesterday and she confirmed that it is in fact green peppercorn that can be found in Frida. However, she also told me that she had worked with incorporating the smell of capsicums/bell-peppers/chillis in the scent, even though these ingredients aren’t actually present, through perfumer “tricks”. Well it worked, because my nose really does smell capsicum! Vanilla is not listed in the notes for Frida either, but I do get wafts of a vanilla note very much like that found in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Vanille Absolutement when I first apply Frida. It’s a dry, dusty, savoury vanilla, a little like vanilla essence.

American Independents Week Perfume Reviews – Part Two: Enticing from Anya’s Garden

Last Saturday was American Independence Day. It struck me as fitting that several new fragrances by American independent perfumers were released recently and sent to me for review, all in time for Independence Day! So much of what’s interesting and innovative in perfume these days is coming out of the American indie perfume scene, and as the Fourth of July has just passed, I thought I’d devote this week to reviewing three new releases by American indie perfumers. Today’s review is of Anya’s Garden’s new fragrance Enticing. Last Saturday I reviewed Aftelier Perfumes’ new solid fragrance, Bergamoss, and later this week I hope to review the brand new Frida from En Voyage Perfumes.

Anya McCoy's lovely package containing Anya's Garden samples.

Anya McCoy’s lovely package containing Anya’s Garden samples.

I’ve not had the pleasure of smelling any of natural perfumer Anya McCoy’s fragrances before, so receiving her parcel was a real treat. Not only did she include a sample of Enticing, her latest fragrance, for review, but also several other samples that I hope to explore and discuss in the future.

Tuberose

The tuberose flower

Anya’s Garden’s Enticing is exploration of the power of the narcotic, seductive tuberose flower. In a fascinating blog post that provides insight into Anya’s research and her creative concepts behind the fragrance, she writes:

My goal was to recognize the sexiness of the flower and to enhance the buttery, lactonic, deep, dark aspects of it. I wanted to make a skin caressing, long-lasting perfume that holds tuberose close to you, and one that has a silky effect when breathed in. Clary sage is another plant recognized for its power to affect your senses merely by breathing in the essence, both in the garden, and from the distiller’s essential oil. It’s perceived in the opening top note, along with a trace of cardamom, to tease the nose into not quite recognizing the lush floral headiness of tuberose, and then they recede, and the full blown power of tuberose, bold and soft, smooth and velvety, takes over – like it has always done.

Enticing by Anya's Garden. Photo courtesy of Anya McCoy. Source: http://anyasgarden.com/blog/enticing-perfume-from-anyas-garden-giveaway/

Publicity shot for Enticing by Anya’s Garden. Photo courtesy of Anya McCoy.

Enticing is categorised as a floral musk, and while it certainly contains large quantities of tuberose and natural musk, I find it hard to place it in this category. To me, floral musks are usually much softer and lighter, while Enticing is a weighty and intense creature. Enticing is a very dark, rich fragrance. It is equally sweet and medicinal in character, with some really interesting fatty, rounded notes, and a great big dose of dirty patchouli.

The tuberose used in Enticing is heady and sweet, but I don’t detect the usual indole that often announces tuberose’s presence in a fragrance. The treatment of tuberose here reminds me a little of its use in Histoires de Parfums’ fragrance Tubereuse 3, where it is blended with immortelle and rich tobacco and is similarly non-indolic, yet is sweet and heady, and sits dead-centre in the composition, as if a spotlight is being shone on it.

A musk tincture from Siberia is used in Enticing and it smells vintage, ultra-animalic, sexy and skanky. Butter CO2 (not an ingredient I’ve come across before) rounds the fragrance out and warms it up, and is quite apparent for the first hour or two of wear. As Anya wrote in her blog (see above), she wanted to enhance the “buttery, lactonic, deep, dark” elements of the tuberose, and the creamy butter works wonderfully in this regard. The butter note also compliments the waxy aspects of the beeswax used in Enticing, the sweetness of which compliments the syrupy tuberose.

Other earthier, darker ingredients add depth to these starring notes, including a yeasty mushroom, opoponax and patchouli. I can just detect the subtle “zing” of cardamom too.

Enticing by Anya's Garden. Photo courtesy of Anya McCoy. Source: http://anyasgarden.com/blog/enticing-perfume-from-anyas-garden-giveaway/

Enticing by Anya’s Garden. Photo courtesy of Anya McCoy.

Enticing is a sexy, strong and dark fragrance. It combines some outspoken and interesting notes in a unique way. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys unusual fragrances on the richer, darker side of the spectrum. Enticing sits reasonably close to the skin, radiating about 2 feet, though as I only have a sample and wanted to get multiple wears out of it, I was quite sparing in my application. I can imagine if I wore this on 4-5 pulse points at once, it would pack more punch. Enticing lasts about 4-5 hours on my skin.

You can read more about Enticing at Anya’s Garden’s blog and on the website. Enticing can be purchased in the Anya’s Garden online store. A 4ml bottle of pure perfume is $100 USD and 15ml of Eau de Parfum is $150 USD. A 0.3ml pure perfume sample is $11 USD.

Many thanks to the lovely Anya McCoy for sending me the sample of Enticing to review; it’s been a fascinating olfactory experience and I look forward to bringing you more posts about Anya’s Garden perfumes in the future.

American Independents Week Perfume Reviews – Part One: Aftelier Perfumes’ Bergamoss

Today is American Independence Day. I live in Australia and while this holiday has no significance here, it struck me as interesting that several new fragrances by American independent perfumers have been released recently and sent to me for review, all in time for Independence Day! So much of what’s interesting and innovative in perfume these days is coming out of the American indie perfume scene, and as the Fourth of July is upon us, I thought I’d devote the next week to reviewing three new releases by American perfumers. Today’s review is of Aftelier Perfumes’ new solid fragrance, Bergamoss. Over the coming week I will also review Anya’s Garden’s Enticing, and the brand new Frida from En Voyage Perfumes.

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Mandy Aftel’s parcel containing Bergamoss. A gorgeous treasure waiting to be opened.

When opening a parcel from Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes, you are always in for a treat. Not only did I feel like I had won the “golden ticket” when this beautiful golden parcel arrived complete with whimsical sticker, but the tiny little purple-and-orange-patterned box inside, complete with handwritten note, made me feel spoilt, like this was a very special gift just for me. And what a gift Bergamoss is!

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bergamossparcel3As you can see, Aftelier Perfumes’ new solid perfume, a chypre, comes in the most fantastic shade of pale olive green. I’m easily suggestible to such things, but this fragrance really does smell like the colour. Bergamoss smells quite herbaceous and fresh, like plants and grasses, and showcases the fresh lightness of bergamot. But this greenness coexists with a syrupy-sweet orange, a smidge of a very natural peach note, and loads of oak moss.

Bergamoss is slightly bitter-sweet when it goes on. It reminds me a little of chinotto, that refreshing, sweet, yet bitter Italian soft drink, made from the juice of the fruit from the myrtle-leaved orange tree (Citrus myrtifolia). I suspect this bitter-sweet effect is created by the amalgam of sweet orange tempered by the bitter oakmoss. Like chinotto, this perfume also has a subtle effervescence, a fizz and a tang created by the citruses and green notes. Yet it is also rich and solid, grounded and anchored by the oakmoss, a subtle waft of earthy, warm nutmeg, and is rounded out by coumarin.

Bergamoss also includes a couple of very exciting ingredients that I’ve not had the pleasure of smelling before: flouve, a rarely used grass that smells of sweet hay, coumarin and green notes, and antique civet. Unless real civet lurks in one of my antique fragrances (I only own a few), I’m not sure ever I’ve smelt this either: synthetic civet is used much more often in perfumery these days. In any case, I’m not sure I can detect the civet (not as a fecal note, anyway) and to me, the flouve blends in to the general “greenness” of the fragrance, without being particularly distinct. However, as I’ve never smelt flouve in isolation, I’m not quite sure of the exact smell I’m trying to detect.

Bergamoss has a classical character and smells like a vintage fragrance of a bygone era. No doubt the antique civet and the other high-quality ingredients used in this all-natural solid perfume contribute to this impression, as well as Aftel’s adherence to a traditional chypre structure that pairs citruses with oakmoss. Even the name “Bergamoss” is a clever play on words with two of this chypre’s key ingredients: bergamot and moss.

Bergamoss is a solid perfume and as such does not beam and shout its presence to all and sundry. It does however radiate beautifully from my skin, especially when I sit and knit or type while wearing it on my wrists. The movement and the heat from my body gently warms the fragrance, creating a halo that sits 1-2 feet from the skin. It is an intimate fragrance, and if you want it to last longer than about 2 hours, you will need to reapply. Bergamoss is unisex and really does sit right in the middle of the gender spectrum: I genuinely think it would wear very well on either sex.

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Bergamoss in its sterling silver Aftelier Perfumes case. Photo sourced from aftelier.com

Bergamoss retails for $240 USD for 8ml of solid perfume in a sterling silver case, and is available direct from Aftelier’s website. You can also request that the perfume be poured into one of several unique, antique cases (including watch cases, snuff boxes and compacts), for a little extra.

You can read more about Bergamoss at the Aftelier website, and I strongly recommend reading Mandy Aftel’s own description of the fragrance at this link, as she describes the ingredients and the role each of them plays in this very elegant composition.

Warmest thanks to Mandy Aftel for providing the sample of Bergamoss for me to review.