This time of year perfume bloggers around the world often post their “best of” lists: new release fragrances, perfume houses, perfumers, etc. that made a mark on them during the year. As Perfume Polytechnic is not just about fragrance releases and reviews, and is by no means comprehensive in its coverage of such things, I feel unqualified to write such a list. However, as Perfume Polytechnic is about all kinds of olfactory matters and the sense of smell, its role in art, science, food etc., I am going to list my favourite olfactory moments of 2015 instead, in no particular order. Perfume Polytechnic also investigates the connections between people and the function that scent plays in bringing people together, as well as interconnections between the various art forms and mediums, including scent. This year’s list deals with some of these themes. Continue reading
It’s my absolute pleasure today to bring you part one of a survey of six fragrances from American indie brand En Voyage Perfumes, all created by perfumer Shelley Waddington. Shelley very generously offered to send me a few samples from her range when I interviewed her for this blog. I was thrilled to find six samples when I opened her package, including: New York Man, Fiore di Bellagio (both a perfume sample and body butter), Indigo Vanilla, Captured in Amber, A Study in Water and Zelda.
Shelley is a very gifted perfumer and I love the discernible style that carries across her creations. Having tried six fragrances now, I can say that her style is rich, complex, and vibrant. While all of the perfumes I’ve tried are unique and have their own character, they all certainly have the stamp of their creator. When I first tried Indigo Vanilla, the word “wow” escaped from my mouth without conscious thought, and the same thing happened when I tried New York Man! While Shelley’s perfumes have oomph and are really striking on first spray, they also develop beautifully. As most of her fragrances are strong, rich and complex (with the exception of A Study in Water, which is pared back and minimalist), and contain many varied notes and accords, the development of each is just as fascinating as the opening, and they morph and transform over time, revealing different characteristics, making for an interesting and engaging olfactory experience.
There is a vintage feel to most of Shelley’s creations, not just in style, but in the quality of the ingredients used and the longevity and power of the fragrances on the skin. It has been an exciting and refreshing olfactory experience sampling Shelley Waddington’s marvellous fragrances from En Voyage. I recommend that you also try some samples from her very decently priced sample range if you’ve not yet tried En Voyage Perfumes.
If you’d like to read more about Shelley Waddington, how she became a perfumer and the processes involved in creating her perfumes, please read my Thirteen Thoughts Interview with Shelley.
New York Man
New York Man is a fantastic fragrance. Don’t be fooled by the name. While it is designed for men, to my nose this one sits right on the fence, gender-wise. And while the name conjures up a stylish man-about-town going about his business in a frenetic and cultured urban environment, New York Man smells equally as good during a late-afternoon wander in the vast paddocks of a canola farm in South Eastern Australia, which is where I tested it. Names and meanings aside, this is a great fragrance and one that lovers of woody, warm, vintage-style fragrances should definitely explore.
New York Man is very strong and is also a sillage bomb. On a walk with my partner-in-crime Olly Technic across the paddocks one afternoon, he said the fragrance radiated five metres! Writing this review, two hours after spraying, New York Man is showing no signs of letting up any time soon. I like this kind of fragrance – you get much more bang for your buck and you don’t have to respray throughout the day.
After six hours I still experienced pleasant wafts of this fragrance as I went about my day, proving that it has enormous staying power. The following morning (18 hours after spraying) I could still smell it quite distinctly on my wrists, though it was more or less a skin scent at this stage, hovering a couple of centimetres from the skin.
But how does New York Man smell? Before I mention any ingredients, I’ll give my first impressions:
At first spray, I smell an old-fashioned, animalic amber fragrance, combined with somewhat sweet, gourmand elements. It’s rich and complex, somewhat edible, and very warm. Despite being assigned as a masculine fragrance, this reminds me of feminine, animalic fragrances of the early 20th Century. New York Man is wonderfully cosy and comforting to wear; as such it’s a great winter fragrance, but I imagine it would work well year round.
After five minutes, individual notes start to emerge, and I smell a large dose of tobacco, one of my favourite notes. I try not to dissect the fragrance too much over the next hour, enjoying its caramelly warmth and sweet booziness (it contains a whiskey note) while I take my afternoon walk. When I return, one hour after spraying, the character of New York Man has changed a bit, and while it’s no weaker, a very strong fir note has emerged, which adds a layer of cool airiness that hovers above rich myrrh and warm resins. It’s a little less sweet now and is starting to veer a little more toward “masculine”.
New York Man was created as part of the Peace, Love, Perfume Project, initiated by perfume blogger Carlos J. Powell to celebrate the third anniversary of his Facebook fragrance appreciation group, Peace, Love and Perfume. The brief to artisan and indie perfumers was to create a fragrance based on the following concepts:
“Peace: a meditative incense fragrance; Love: a sexy animalic fragrance; and Perfume: a traditional cologne with a twist on the concept.”
Keeping this creative brief in mind, the notes listed on the En Voyage website for New York Man are:
Peace Notes: Incense, Myrrh, Sandalwood, Smoke, Patchouli, Cannabis Flower, Natural Oudh, Resins
Love Notes: Sexy Animal Notes of Musk, Ambergris, Castoreum
Perfume/Cologne Notes: Citrus Notes, Fir and Cedar, Herbal Notes, Jasmine
Bonus Notes of Scotch and Cigars
Where can you get New York Man?
En Voyage offers eau de parfum samples for $6 USD, and a 7.5ml (0.25oz) bottle of eau de parfum is a very reasonable $35 USD. You can purchase New York Man here. En Voyage Perfumes are also stocked by Indigo Perfumery and Tigerlily Perfumery in the US: for stockist details, click here.
Fiore di Bellagio
Fiore di Bellagio is a floral fragrance, a big, rich vintage-style bouquet, well-blended, with a few stand out ingredients. At first application, Fiore di Bellagio reminded me somewhat of Yves Saint Laurent’s Paris, with an overt and sweet, syrupy rose (Bulgarian Rose Otto) and a touch of violet. But subtle green notes, a touch of citrus and a not-so-subtle musk lurk in the background of Fiore di Bellagio, creating a different impression to Paris, something both a bit cleaner, fresher and more complex, at the same time. I also detect heady white floral notes at this stage, which adds to the vintage feel of Fiore di Bellagio.
While this is a grand floral fragrance, it has elements of lightness about it. After 1-2 hours the sweeter, intense floral notes die down, while simultaneously the green notes and an airy, “white” musk, come to the fore. The kind of musk used here is the kind that reminds me of cleanliness: freshly washed hair and clean laundry. At one point I briefly smell the sweet, slightly fecal and animalic note of civet, but it quickly fades. Fiore de Bellagio is tartly sweet, rich and clean, all at once.
The En Voyage website says of Fiore di Bellagio:
Fiore di Bellagio is crafted in the 1920’s vintage style of fragrance worn by European and American beauties of the Golden Age. Exquisitely recreated and contemporized for more modern noses, Fiore di Bellagio retains the quality of a vintage masterpiece that will forever delight and inspire.
As with most of perfumer Shelley Waddington’s creations, Fiore di Bellagio is rich and opulent. Her fragrances have explosive, colourful openings, intriguing developments, and fascinating endings. There is never a dull moment as her fragrances unfold. While I’m not a lover of florals generally, I do enjoy Fiore di Bellagio and enjoy its theatrical opening and interesting development.
Fiore di Bellagio has excellent staying power, lasting about 6 hours before fading to a skin scent. It has a moderate sillage.
The notes listed on the En Voyage website are:
TOP: Italian Lemon and Citrus, Green Leaves, Ylang Ylang
HEART: Spicy Carnation, Gardenia absolute, Jasmin absolute, Bulgarian Rose Otto, Muguet, Violet, Bois de Rose
BASE: Dark Vanilla, Antique Sandalwood, Iris Florentine (Orris absolute), Costus Oil, Vintage Resins, Civet and Musks
Fiore di Bellagio was awarded the Best Artisan Perfume of the Year award at The 6th Annual Taste Awards in 2014.
Where can you get Fiore di Bellagio?
En Voyage offers eau de parfum samples for $6 USD, and an 18ml (0.6oz) eau de parfum for $75 USD. You can purchase Fiore di Bellagio here. En Voyage Perfumes are also stocked by Indigo Perfumery and Tigerlily Perfumery in the US: for stockist details, click here.
Indigo Vanilla – from the Souvenir de Chocolate Trio
Indigo Vanilla wowed me from the very first application. It’s a fragrance I didn’t expect to love so much from the notes, but it surprised me from the get-go and is my favourite of the six En Voyage fragrances that I’ve tried. Indigo Violet is one of three fragrances from the Souvenir de Chocolate Trio, a series of chocolate-based fragrances that can be combined or worn alone.
Indigo vanilla is a sweet, ultra-feminine creation (though it’s labelled as unisex by En Voyage), laden with crystallised violets over a creamy vanilla-musk base, with a very subtle hint of warm, sweet, milky cocoa lurking in the background. I really had to sniff hard to spot the chocolate note; it’s more of a sweet, supporting note than anything particularly obvious. Indigo Vanilla has a vintage feel also, and smells a little like old-fashioned powder puffs and violet-scented makeup. It doesn’t really smell like a gourmand, despite the inclusion of chocolate, crème douce (sweet cream), and vanilla, and it’s not really a floral either, despite the intense violet note. It’s lies somewhere in between and reminds me somewhat of Histoires de Parfums’ 1889 Moulin Rouge.
I find Indigo Vanilla a very comforting fragrance, and I fell in love with it quickly. It’s a go-to scent when I need comfort, happiness and prettiness in my life. I wore it recently during laser eye surgery, and found it quite soothing.
Indigo Vanilla is fairly linear in comparison with the other two fragrances reviewed here, which means it doesn’t change a great deal over time, but I don’t mind as I love the smell. The sample I received is an extrait (parfum) sample and has considerable staying power and radiates enormously at first. Five hours after applying a tiny smear to my skin, I can still smell Indigo Vanilla wafting up at me as I type, and I suspect it will last several hours more, at least!
The notes listed on the En Voyage website are:
TOP: Sugared Violet
HEART: Chocolat Chaud, Crème Douce
BASE: Soft Woods, Vintage Ambergris, Vanilla alliage, Tonquin Musk
Where can you get Indigo Vanilla?
En Voyage offers parfum extrait samples for $6 USD, a 4ml (0.14oz) parfum extrait for $30 USD and a 15ml (0.5oz) eau de parfum spray for $65 USD. You can purchase Indigo Vanilla here. En Voyage Perfumes are also stocked by Indigo Perfumery and Tigerlily Perfumery in the US: for stockist details, click here.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my reviews of three of En Voyage Perfumes’ fragrances, and that they inspire you to try Shelley Waddington’s fabulous creations. Have you tried, or do you own any perfumes by En Voyage? Which ones are your favourites? Let me know in the comments box below!