Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Seconds on the Clock: Dries Van Noten by Frederic Malle

So, I received this sample from Sjorn (a salesperson for Essenza-Nobile), and it was one that I was very interested in since I had ordered Musc Ravageur from the same house. Dries Van Noten is brand new for 2013, and has been getting a lot of attention on Basenotes and other blogs. Let's see how it does.

12:10 p.m.: This is the opening of the fragrance. What I get off the top is very sweet and lightly powdery. It has an interesting smooth woodiness here, but it is definitely not a note I'm used to smelling. The note breakdown says it is sandalwood, so perhaps it's the combination between that and the vanilla that is causing this smell. It's not a bad smell, but it has this roasted feeling to it that could be the tonka coming through, and an almost synthetic/plasticy vibe just behind that. Not totally unpleasant, but not the opening I was expecting.

12:30 p.m.: I'm now noticing a milky note coming through. It's not super strong, but it is almost reminiscent of vanilla flavored milk for those of you who've ever bought the syrup. It's still pretty sweet, and that plastic note is still in there.

2:25 p.m.: Things have calmed down considerably. I'm getting the guaiac wood more now, which is a good thing. Much like in the last review, it's interplay with the tonka is very nice and distinctive. The milky notes persist, and the vanilla is more noticeable. It's reminding me of frosted breakfast cereal now.

3:00 p.m.: The softening of Dries Van Noten continues. The woodiness is definitely starting to come up into its own now, but the other players from before are here. I'm not really sure how much longer this is going to last projection wise since it seems like a lighter, softer scent.

4:00 p.m.: It is very faint now, and I assume the drydown is here after 3 p.m. at the latest. I'm still getting woods (guaiac in particular) and a slight vanilla note.

I'm going to stop the time here. It may last a bit longer, but at this point it will be so light that unless someone is intentionally sniffing my shirt, no one would notice. I know 4  hours may not seem very good, but I only sprayed about one and a half sprays from a sample, so I'm sure a full wearing would get you to the 6 hour range that is generally considered the start of the good zone longevity wise.

Overall I'm not super impressed with this release off the bat, but I have a feeling this is one of those fragrances you have to sit with for a while to really understand. I'll probably do a proper review in a few months once I have more time with it. As of now, I like it.

Be sure to check out for a great deal on a bottle if you are persuaded enough to pick one up, or are curious yourself.

Monday, April 29, 2013

First Impressions: Rose Ishtar by Rania

Straight up, I want to let you know that I was gifted this sample along with several others by Sjorn from Essenza-Nobile. I also want to mention that he asked me to link to the site at the end of the review, so I will do that. First a quick note on them so I don't have to circle back or mention it elsewhere, I recently bought Musc Ravageur and got a great deal, and if you can wait out the long shipping overseas, I recommend it.

Anyway, on with Rose Ishtar. I want to say that I am not very familiar with or particularly comfortable with wearing female fragrances, and this one is definitely that.

I get a lot of rose off the top, but it's a very squeaky clean rose that's a little piercing on it's own like it largely is in the opening. Fortunately, after that I get some of one of my favorite notes, guaiac wood. There is also some roasty, slightly sweet tonka bean that I like a lot.

Once it settles down a bit, that piercing rose fades down into a pretty realistic rose, but nothing I haven't smelled before. I get a dirty vibe from this, which I think is coming from the guaiac wood and some patchouli that helps round out the composition.

Rose Ishtar seems like a linear composition, which isn't something I particularly like given its price tag. Still, I get what the perfumer was trying to do. It seems like they wanted a different rose fragrance than the hundreds that are out there on the market (most marketed toward women), and in a way they succeed. Sweetness and darkness with rose is something I've seen done before, and done better (Noir de Noir for example), but the woods and patchouli in this does make it stand out from the crowd as something at least worth trying for the women out there who are interested in fragrances, or some comfortable men. It's definitely feminine smelling to my nose, though.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

A long voyage: First impressions of O'driu part 1- Lalfeogrigio

I want to preface this by saying that I am not a trained nose, and I can tell already that this house is definitely tailored to those who have a high scent knowledge and scent identification ability. This is just my take on the first fragrance from the line that I have sampled. Fortunately, you get enough juice for two or three good wearings, so I can come back to this since these impressions are being made from just one wearing in a stream of thought writing style not too deviant from my Seconds on the Clock series.

 Start (12:30ish): The first thing I get is the smell of when I enter my local incense/tea/spices shop Seven Arrows. It smells highly of that type of kitchen spice accord (cumin, pepper, basil, etc.).

 ~1:00 p.m.: I get a lot of paprika/pepper and woody notes, with a softer edge in the background that smells more floral (but soft, very, exquisitely soft like high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets wrapped around the opening woody notes).

I am also starting to notice an anise like note as well. It is a little sharp and helps to balance out the softness of the floral undertone that I mentioned. It is definitely not in-your-face licorice or anything like that, but it is noticeable to me.

~1:20 p.m.: This seems to change very quickly, almost instantly. I've heard from other reviewers that this actually has over fifty different notes in it, and the stuff listed on Fragrantica really isn't helping me very much in discerning which notes are which. This is definitely a "try it and figure it out for yourself" type of scent, since I can only imagine that every single person who tries it will get something different from it.

Anyway, I'm still in the spicy/woody phase right now, but I am expecting this to turn either floral or resinous once it starts to dry down, just judging from the way it smells now. I have a feeling the florals will die down though, and the darker stuff will reign supreme soon enough.

~1:50 p.m.: I'm starting to get more of a bitter coffee note, but not so much brewed coffee, more the smell of the bag of coffee or what I imagine the roasting process smells like. This combines to my nose with the anise to make a twisting, singular scent when examined very closely. The spices are starting to die down considerably though, and it smells like a shadow of its former self right now (not necessarily a bad thing).

~2:15 p.m.: It is definitely more resinous now and I don't get as many florals. Maybe the floral is jasmine? Anyway, I'm getting some non-sweet amber right now.

~3:00 p.m.: At this point I'm starting to get something more animalic and resinous. Not sure if it is leather or what, but it is noticeable.

~4:25 p.m.: Things have settled down a lot now. I'm getting a slightly powdery smell ala Ambre Precieux, and still some faint spiciness and softness in there. At this point the scent is light.

~5:00 p.m.: This stage of the scent seems to be the end. It has flattened out.

Overall I really like this first offering from O'driu. Is it worth the over $1,000 price tag? Probably not. But, I guess since there were only eight bottles made you would be paying for exclusivity if you found it. Me, I'll stick with the sample! Very nice juice though, and I am very impressed with the ingredients, composition, and overall smell.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Seconds on the Clock: Sel Marin by Heely

I hear a lot about this fragrance, but at the same time I hear next to nothing. How is this possible, you ask? Well, it seems to have found its niche audience (pun intended), and among those people, it's a big hit. But, I still don't hear it talked about a lot on Basenotes or YouTube. Well, I snagged a sample, so let's go:

8:00 a.m.- It has a really familiar aroma. I can't quite place it, but it feels like the background feeling of the heart notes of MI minus the burst of melon. I get a delicate scent that is a little bit salty, a little bit fresh, and very pleasant. It does have a slight chemical smell that reminds me of body wash, but that's not a really bad thing, considering I just got out of the shower and I could be smelling that. We'll see if that goes away as the scent of the body wash dries to nothing and the perfume comes into its own.

 8:24 a.m.- I'm getting more of a floral vibe now, which is interesting. I can't place the floral, but it might be the seagrass and moss that is listed in the notes. So, essentially just an odd floral note, but it is actually pretty nice.

8:29 a.m.- Okay, you know what it is....SAND! That's what I am smelling. But, not dirty, wet sand, but fresh, sun baked on the beach sand that mixes with foamed, crystallized salt. I've grown up by the ocean my whole life and I'm definitely being reminded of a sand vibe.

9:40 a.m.- I'm getting more of a sea vibe than before. The sand thing is definitely still there, but I am starting to get a hint of something green in the background (just a little bit though).

10:43 a.m.- At this point I am definitely getting something green. I think it is the seagrass for sure now, though I hear people mention that vetiver is in the notes. I'm not sure I get that, but I like the smell for sure, and it has helped that floral vibe die down a bit. I have to admit, I think Sel Marin is going to wear out completely within the next hour or so, which would be pretty bad longevity. That being said, I did only put on half a .7mL sample (dabbed), so it may do better sprayed from a proper bottle.

11:40 a.m.- It's dying down more so now, but I am getting something that reminds me of seabreeze...which is really hard to explain. I'll just leave it at that.

1:38 p.m.- I'm calling it. Sel Marin is dead as of 1:40ish p.m. Even in the last hour or two was very faded, but I have a feeling that if I applied more, I would have had better longevity. As of now, that's about 5 hours of longevity.

The price for this is not exactly cheap, $180 for 100 mL, but even at $1.80 per mL, I think it's worth it for the beauty that this fragrance exudes. Just after one wearing I can tell that this is an aquatic done right, and that's coming from someone that honestly hates aquatics. So far it's a thumbs up!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

First Impressions (quick look): L'eau d'Issey Pour Homme Summer 2013 by Issey Miyake

Honesty. This is something I take to heart in every review I read, and certainly every review I write. I want to know just how long someone has smelled a fragrance, how much time they have spent mulling it over before writing down their thoughts.

Since I care so much about that, the first thing I want to say is that I sprayed two sprays of this on my wrist at a Macy's today, and I spent probably two or three hours smelling it and gathering my thoughts, soon after washing it off in favor of a fragrance in my collection to wear for the night.

In that time, I've learned a few things. The first thing I've learned is that "Summer 2013" is very synthetic, something I am averse to in fragrances. And yes, I know, I know, most things in all fragrances, be they niche or designer, $20 or $200, are synthetic. And yes, while those are indeed facts, I can tell the difference between good and bad quality notes, and in the case of Miyake's concoction, it's not favorable.

Still, it is very fruity, with a fairly noticeable kiwi note (which is good considering it's kind of the main selling point). There is also pineapple listed in the notes, but I didn't get too much other than kiwi as a distinguished fruit note.

Summer 2013 has a sort of typical fruity smell that many light fragrances in the men's and women's sections tend to have these days, and it's not exactly a good thing to my nose. While it doesn't smell bad or anything, it is just...bland.

And that's kind of the story of Summer 2013: Synthetic blandness. It would be great for someone who wants something light and fresh for summer, but for the $70 price tag, I can think of better ways of spending my money on summer scents (like the $57 I spent on 30mL of Jardin d'Amalfi by Creed, or the $30 I spent on 30mL of Neroli Portofino).

I may seem like a niche snob, and maybe I am to a certain extent, but this is not something I desire to wear on my skin more than the one time.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Seconds on the clock: Geranium Pour Monsieur by Frederic Malle

So, this is an idea I just had. What I'm going to do is put on a sample I received (dab sample) of a fragrance, and I will offer a time log of what it smells like and how it is performing until it dies down. This is probably going to span most of the day.

This time, for my first attempt I am choosing GPM by Frederick Malle, a fragrance I've heard a lot about and figured I should try.

Let's go:

10:25 a.m.- Half of a .7mL fragrance vial applied to neck and one dab to my tee-shirt. The opening I get is very minty, almost like a cross between natural mint ala 1861 and Menthe Fraiche and a more synthetic mint like toothpaste. I make that comparison (which many avoid in this fragrance and say it does not smell like toothpaste) more because it smells sweetened and not like cutting a fresh mint leaf with a sharp knife. I'll also be the first to admit that I don't know what "geranium" smells like, generally speaking, so I may say it smells floral, and that means like geranium. So far no florals. Oh, and it also smells ever-so medicinal.

10:36 a.m.- Starting to see some green peaking in. Though, it's not as sweet as the mint opening, so I'm wondering what is laying beneath the top notes.

10:52 a.m.- The sweetness is nearly gone, which is a good thing. I don't mind a sweet opening, but I can't say I expected it. The mint is still here for sure, but those green notes are coming up more and more, and they seem almost bitter...the complete opposite of sweet.

11:28 a.m.- Much of the same is happening. The mint is drying down and as a result, is starting to give way to those green notes. Still not really getting any florals. Odd though, my skin actually feels cooler where I put this on. Must be the mint in action.

2:20 p.m.- It seems to be much of the same as before, though growing faint. The mint is nearly gone, and I am left with a slight, sharp floral note that is wrapped around those greens. The greens seem more bright now, perhaps because the brightness of the mint is no longer as prominent. Still, I like this a good deal. The price is very steep though.

4:04 p.m.- Fading a lot now, and I am getting more of that floral note. Mint is very faint, and the green notes are still there. Really hard to distinguish notes now though.

4:46 p.m.- I'm going to call it. This is pretty much the end for me. Unless I smell my shirt intentionally, I won't smell any fragrance.

So, six hours isn't bad, but at $250 for 100mL I'd expect more in the 8-10 hour range. Still, it's a nice fragrance and one that I would be happy to be given or have more samples of, but ultimately, after this first wearing at least, not something I'm going to shell out big bucks for. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

First Impressions: Jeke Extrait (March 2013 batch) by Slumberhouse

Friendship. We use the word all the time, but rarely do I, at least, consider the meaning. I consider a lot of people my friends, from people I've known my whole life like my estranged "brother," to a few classmates I met just a few short months ago in the concrete walls they call a university. I'm not convinced.

Enter Josh Lobb, a man who's whole life now revolves around scent, and yet for the longest time he had no interest whatsoever. I emailed him six months ago or so asking about the sample suite he offers on his site, wondering if I could get a few extra samples of fragrances not included and pay the difference. He responded within the hour, saying he'd include what I asked for with no extra charge, and thanked me wholeheartedly for my purchase and support.

I knew from then that he would become my friend, and in a way redefine what I consider friendship. Many months later now, we've corresponded in the neighborhood of 25 or 30 times, and during that time I've learned a lot about his fragrances, and most importantly, the man behind the fragrances. Josh is a strong person, and if I could end up like him when I turn 30, I'd be very happy.

The reason I bring all this up is to set the stage for a first impressions post. He sent my mother a sample of Pear and Olive so she could figure out if it was something she wanted for her birthday (it was), and along with it, unknown to me, he sent along a sample of his newest version of Jeke, a fragrance I'd experienced a few times in the past during my month long Slumberhouse binge back during winter break, and one I've now worn the newest version of just once.

Jeke is an interesting creature, and really, like most Slumberhouse fragrances, is more of an experience than simply a fragrance. I know it sounds lame, but stay with me here. See, the thing with Slumberhouse, and in particular Jeke, is that if you give up after the first hour or so, you're not getting the whole story.

Just like all his other creations in their last few iterations, there are no dedicated top notes in Jeke, which is interesting, because it comes off as very dark, rooty, and dirty off the top, something I'm familiar enough with. Still, after a bit of breathing, the bracing harshness of the fragrance starts to die and you are left with the heart of a very modern masculine that somehow harkens back to the lost days of perfumery where every creation was new and exciting. This is something uncommon today, and is something that Josh seems to capture like a still photograph that sticks in his mind while creating fragrances.

Once everything settles in, Jeke changes considerably, into a softer, yet still robust combination of benzoin, woods, and some tobacco to round it off (it certainly seems he loves tobacco). Oh, and a note on the tobacco in his fragrances. It is usually dry, very dry, but also very unique. I can't quite place another fragrance that smells of the same styling of tobacco, but if you bear with me, it's like the smell of a dried out humidor after it's been aired out and all the water has been sucked out of the reservoir. It's not exact by any means, though.

At first, I wasn't such a big fan of Jeke, but now with this new version, it has this strange allure to it that makes me want to wear it more and more. Once I get a truly proper review in my mind, I'll post an addendum to this with the same opening as what you found here in that review.

Overall, I'd suggest every curious nose catch a whiff of Jeke, as it is truly an original composition.

If you want to know anything about Josh, I offer you a quote from his last email to me regarding Pear and Olive: "I'm very proud with the final result -- hopefully it treats your mother to many great wearings and memories." Indeed it will, and perhaps, in time, Jeke will for me as well. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Introducing "First Takes"

As a brand new blog, and me fairly new to the scene as a whole, I've been wanting to include some articles that highlight certain things I'm interested in around the fragrance world. The first thing that came to mind was doing a first take series like you would see on Youtube or elsewhere.

These will not be full reviews like the one I did on L'Air du Desert Marocain, but will highlight my initial thoughts on the fragrance, offer some insight, and send you on your way to anticipate a full review once I've spend a sufficient amount of time with a fragrance.

Also I feel I should be honest when I review a fragrance, so while I'm on the topic, I'll mention that each time I do a review, first take, or anything else review based on this blog, I'll be sure to mention just how long I've spent with each fragrance.

Cheers, and I look forward to offering a first take on several fragrances in the near future.


Monday, March 18, 2013

L'Air du Desert Marocain by Andy Tauer

It's funny to me when I listen to people talk about childhood memories, because there is always one little thing that reminds them of some grandiose story that weaves in and out of believability. I humor them of course, as I expect others do for me.

When I came across L'Air du Desert Marocain (LDDM) by Andy Tauer, it was completely by accident. I was asked to tell someone what sample I would like to try with an order, and I said Oud Wood. However, I was given the Tauer, and after being upset for a moment, I sprayed it on and we were introduced. This was not a formal introduction, and in fact, it would have to wait for today, my second proper wearing, to really come and explain itself completely.

I was actually waffling quite about about LDDM, since while I have an affinity for incense in life in general, and more specifically in perfumery, I didn't think it did one particular thing perfectly, but rather several different things good enough by modern standards.

Just a few minutes ago, though, I was transported not to Morocco, but rather the basement of my grandparents old house on a small pond. I'm not sure why, but between the amber, incense, and coriander feel I get from it, I am reminded of that basement with every breath I'm drawing in.

Needless to say, when you can attach a memory to a scent, it ends up holding a special meaning for you. And thus, L'Air du Desert Marocain has etched itself in my memory so perfectly that I can't help but love it.

When it is first sprayed, I get a heavy dose of incense, and while it is not listed in the notes directly, I definitely get that distinct burning incense feel that so many fragrances claim as one of a kind (here's looking at you, Avignon). Still, this isn't as linear as most incense heavy fragrances, as it has a backbone of amber that adds a little sweetness, and when combined with the coriander creates a slightly sticky pile of seeds held together by a very faint smoke, again, like burning incense.

After it settles on the skin, the incense does the same and it reminds me of walking into my grandparents basement as a young child, hoping there is ice cream in the standalone freezer. Maple Walnut, my favorite. And, somewhat like that unique flavor, LDDM has a hint of sweetness that blossoms into an enveloping wrap that helps the incense stay calm. It's during this time that cedar and vetiver start to peak their head in, checking on the amber/incense combo to see if it's asleep.

Once things die down, nearly ten hours later, the woods start to become more apparent. Don't get me wrong, the combo is still there, but I embrace the change just like we all had to when the house was sold a few years back. But, unlike my family, I can relive my memories of that house in an instant with one spray. 

 I hesitate to say it becomes completely woody, as that would be a misguided judgement. Rather, it morphs into a peppery, woody base thanks to the vetiver that provides its signature rooty, earthiness that I've become fond of these last few months.

Performance and longevity are very good, though I'm not sure it forms a hand and tickles the nostrils of those six feet from me like some love to claim. Instead, I'd say it's arms-legth projection at most. Still, that's all I really want from a fragrance, and seeing as it lasts between ten and twelve hours on my skin, I can't say that I am disappointed.

To be honest, it's hard for me to judge it solely as a scent alone now, as it has woven itself into my memories. It sounds corny as all hell, and maybe it is, but in my mind scent memories are one of the most important benefits of fragrance collecting. After all, don't we all long for that one scent to take us back to a good time in our lives?

L'Air du Desert Marocain does just that, and as a result, has found its way into my collection. Sleep tight, Mr.Tauer. I'll call upon you when I want to reminisce.


An Introduction

Hello everyone, first of all thank you for visiting my fragrance blog. Now, I want to start off by saying that this blog is not being run by a very experienced nose, nor is it being run by a snobby, overly critical perfume expert, so don't expect the topics and fragrances discussed from here on out to be like a typical fragrance review. Instead, I hope to paint a picture with words, and be able to give you a reason to either pick up a sample or completely avoid a given fragrance. Most of these reviews will not be of brand new fragrances, and in many cases, they will be for fragrances most of the community already knows about and have perhaps already smelled. This is fine. My goal here is not to introduce readers to uncharted territories in perfumery, but rather to offer my own style of reviews, largely to express myself and my views more openly.

I hope you enjoy the blog, and please be sure to leave a message if you want to offer your opinion or some feedback. I'm a writer by trade, so I am used to criticism.