Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sampling Day 4

Here are some brief thoughts on the perfumes I've revisited this week:

Frederic Malle L'Eau d'Hiver: I like the opening but the amount of spice is a bit aggressive for me (reminds me of YSL Opium and Old Spice), especially for something that starts out seemingly mild and gentle. This is another smooth, consistent (most likely a salicylate-based) fragrance like Clinique Simply, Givenchy Le De, Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps, Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil, Chanel Cristalle. It's floral, aqueous (Marine), musky and lukewarm with sharp, spicy accents, and I detect a salty crab-like note (again, salicylate). Chandler Burr mentioned that crab note before I did, so I know I'm not alone. Jean-Claude Ellena is the perfumer (he's the nose for many Hermes and L'Artisan perfumes), and it's funny but I don't think I've ever liked any of his creations except L'Artisan Parfumeur Ambre Extreme. Many of his compositions seem very sharp and spicy, bold and punchy, like smelling vodka to me (Cartier Declaration, Bulgari Green Tea). Sometimes, they're powdery and punchy-sharp (Van Cleef First, Amouage Dia, Hermes Kelly Caleche) or musky, murky and plant-sap sticky, like Rose Ikebana which I can't wear at all. He's called the master of minimalism except I find his perfumes more traditional than modern (definitely not mod). Neo-classical is the more accurate description. This one is for musk and spice lovers.

Estee Lauder Private Collection: If this were spicier, it could have been a Jean Claude Ellena creation it's so strong. I debated whether to do a full review of this perfume or not, and opted to keep it brief. It's a beautiful albeit strong classic Chypre that's uniquely fresh and green, rather punchy and piercingly bold. I think it's made to smell best from afar because the sillage is huge. This is not sweet at all, and also smells very consistent from top to bottom. It's similar to Clinique Wrappings if you're familiar with it. It's the smell of the '70s: high-pitched, fresh and clean but bold and mossy-woody, very polished and upper crust (and worn by Grace Kelly according to Jan Moran's Fabulous fragrances book), but I want a little more softness in a scent than this can offer. It's the summer scent for Aromatics Elixir lovers.

Clinique Aromatics Elixir is quite a perfume, unique and unmistakable, with loyal fans. I loved Susan Levine's description of it in her book, The Perfume Guide, as the chilly ferny herbaceous forest smell (to paraphrase). I agree, except I also smell a warm and pungent patchouli base (like Jean Patou 1000, a musky "rich hippie" smell). It's an earthy scent and not a sweet one, and heavy (very), potent (very--one dab will do--I'd be afraid to spritz) and outspoken having a big rose heart (it's a bit traditional smelling, not what I'd call modern). Being the Chypre that it is, I believe people will either love it or find it extremely hard to take. The way I feel about it fluctuates between strong admiration to feeling overpowered by it. I respect it, and consider it a classic as much as Private Collection.

Christian Dior Dioressence: I don't know if I'll change my mind about it one day, as I have with various fragrances (I've seen the light with Mitsouko, although it's still a challenge to wear and a "mood scent"), but Dioressence is a big challenge. It's darkly green and very spicy (I guess I don't take to spicy Orientals on the whole--but I love Fumerie Turque--most others smell to me like Old Spice), sort of like YSL Opium or Estee Lauder Youth Dew to me. I have a hard time with very spicy fragrances particularly if there's not enough sweetness to balance them, and this one is an unsweet, leathery murky dark green, almost Chypre Spicy Oriental scent. I know this is a classic but it's not one I'd want to revisit too often. It smells like the 1950s, like Miss Dior only spicier.

Guerlain Iris Ganache: I saw chocolate as a listed note and got very excited, but I don't get chocolate in this. I get cold, raw, watery vegetation (Marine-aqueous notes), typical of many iris scents, especially the more recent creations, and face powder. Do people who like Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige and Estee Lauder Pleasures like this one? It's one of the first Guerlain perfumes I've smelled that didn't have enough sweetness for me, and yet seemed cloying. It was fun to test (I got my sample from Fishbone96) but I can't really wear it to enjoy it. I find it sharp and boring. (Edited) I smell the chocolate this time, and it reminds me of Comptoir Sud Pacifique Amour de Cacao, a powdery cocoa smell (Fred calls this "chocolate donut") but unsweet. Lovers of Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte should try it.

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Vocalise: The name alone should have made me a fan but I can't wear flowery floral bouquets like this one. I think it smells like Crown Tanglewood Bouquet, it's so full blown flowery on dry down, and kind of a thick, musky, sticky-sweet smell. The opening is a powdery white musk with berry notes--not too bad, but it morphs into this fussy, old-fashioned floral, and I don't mean it smells like a great classic -- I just can't wear it. In this line, I like Eau de Camelia Chinois, a green scent with blackcurrant bud (cassis) notes, which I can't wear, either.

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Iris Blue Gris: I know this is the year of the iris or something like that (there are references to the iris everywhere) but it's another sharp iris floral, which means to me a watery vegetation smell like Estee Lauder Pleasures, but this one has spiciness...I think. It's hard to remember because it bored me silly. Oh, yes, it is spicy--in the vein of Guerlain Eau de Guerlain, Caron Alpona, Caswell Massey Number Six. It's almost like a spicy citrus splash except it has that rooty smell.

I won't even bother with brief reviews of scents that smelled so chemical, they smelled like shoe polish. Is it me, or has the perfume business been turning out some strange smells lately?