smell this: Byredo Rose Noir

On November 12, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I find my nose increasingly sparing with its praise. Once you smell a few hundred perfumes, you’re not so easily charmed as perhaps you once were. This is I suppose the development of some kind of discernment or taste, and I tend to think it’s for the best. It often strikes me as vulgar to like too many things [as I undoubtedly do], aside from merely liking things everybody else likes. I don’t want to eradicate vulgarity but it is something I want to display in moderation.

So, then, impressive fragrances stand out all the more. Anything that makes it into the category of beautiful stands out all the more. I was delighted to be so effortlessly pleased with Byredo’s Rose Noir.

Byredo Rose Noir parfum

If you don’t like the scent of rose, I guess forget it. The rose is a true lush damask rose, and she does not smell cheap (she is not cheap). It opens with a super ripe yet still sour grapefruit note mingled with a vague white floral (evidently freesia, a scent with little character in isolation, light and inoffensive) that remains as the rose comes gently forward. There is a poignant, woody richness that I tend to associate with oud (which I generally do not like, finding in it something sickly, rancid, like the oversweetness of rotten wood). It works for me here, providing a savory anchor that balances the full-on rose, much like black pepper does in The Different Company’s spicy Rose Poivree and Le Labo’s stunning Rose 31. I’m pretty sure I like it here because it’s not actually oud but cistus (labdanum(resin)) and musk creating that same sense of a faint neon glow. [Probably some aldehydes contributing to this as well.]

This balance is critical for me. While its boozy headiness is beautiful in its own right, damask rose isn’t a scent I want to wear. It’s too much. Though rose is by far my favorite floral, really one of the only floral notes I take much interest in (with the exception of Tiare flowers/Tahitian gardenias), I want it in combination with something. Vetiver (L’Artisan Parfumeur Voleur de Roses), incense (Caron Parfum Sacre), citrus (Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose)…something.

The sour grapefruit lingers (as does its brightness) and the resin has an intrinsic sourness/savoriness that prevents the sweetness of the rose from ruining the show. This is a wonderfully sophisticated scent. It reads clearly as a floral and a luxurious one yet isn’t especially heavy or dark. Not one of those rich roses suitable only for evening. The musk is gentle and sparing, and far in the background. All other notes play a supporting role to the rose. It could be accused of being too simple, not exciting enough, especially given the pricetag and that Noir, but being solidly pleasant is success enough. If it were somehow more exciting…I imagine the balance would be off and I wouldn’t like it anymore.

The junction of floral/citrus/musk reminds me a bit of Chanel Mademoiselle, which I also like, though this feels like the older, less obvious, more mysterious sister. The one who doesn’t care whether you like her or not. Harder to make her smile, and so more satisfying.

The edp is lovely for autumn/winter but I could see wearing this anytime. I expected it to be slightly stronger (esp. with that ‘edp’) but actually I like this concentration. I don’t think I’ll be getting a full size of this, I’m still longing for Profumum’s Victrix, but I think this is beautiful, and enjoy wearing it.

If you want to investigate other rose fragrances, this L.A. Times article mentions some great ones.

smell this: Molton Brown re-charge black pepper edt

On June 20, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Here is a lovely summer scent for absolutely anyone. Molton Brown products smell reliably good, and this is an easy favorite. Re-charge Black Pepper edt is an easy-going fragrance, light and inconspicuous but still interesting. The bodywash* enjoys a solid following on scent forum basenotes, and while the eau de toilette isn’t as powerfully peppery, it is still a wonderful, light spicy citrus.

Molton Brown black pepper re-charge edt

The opening is strong here, bright lemon and bergamot with leafy, herbal underpinnings of basil and cilantro. I also get a touch of sourness, grapefruit. The fragrance begins softening almost instantly, warming up with cardamom and what is for me a vague spiciness. The notes list cinnamon and nutmeg (and not black pepper, interestingly) but the cardamom is all that comes through clearly to my nose, which is absolutely fine by me: I love cardamom.

I suspect the sandalwood, along with the various spices, contributes to the sense of pepper (which is definitely there, in a lively, refreshing way rather than a heavy barnyard way – real life black pepper often disappoints me). Sandalwood comes in a number of guises, some of which feature a zesty edge not unlike pepper, nutmeg, ginger, galangal and such. The sandalwood is legible for me very early on, maybe even (or do I imagine it?) in the topnotes.

Molton Brown black pepper re-charge edt

This wears down into a soft sandalwood/patchouli with a cardamom/minty brightness. The sense of grapefruit stays around for me for quite a while as well. The sandalwood is more prominent than the patchouli but that earthy, loamy sweetness comes through as time goes on. Trying to pin down the impression of the sweetness, the best I can do is equate it to a pale incarnation of a weighty spring floral, like magnolia. That is, it doesn’t smell distinctly of patchouli, but it bears the marks.

The formulation is light enough that it could almost be a cologne, though I do find I am able to detect it many hours later, if only slightly, as a beautiful soapy sandalwood. Men, men, men, please go smell this. This is such a great fragrance for those who think they don’t like fragrance. It’s unobtrusive, easily leans masculine without being obnoxiously so, and can be spritzed carelessly without concern of overdoing it.

Molton Brown seems to emphasize its masculine offerings (or, at least, department stores seem to do this on their behalf), and while they do have great shaving and toilette stuff for men (intended for men, I really like that Ultra-Light Bai Ji Hydrator as well), it’s a shame that this means women often overlook the brand for anything more than handwash (their handwashes smell so good).  Ladies, Re-charge Black Pepper would smell great on you, too.

x

*I have the bodywash as well, and while I think it smells awesome in situ, I don’t notice that it hangs around on me. Bodywashes never seem to, for whatever reason.

2014 summer fragrance picks

On July 18, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

It’s often not mentioned, as it doesn’t show up in photos, but I’m nearly always wearing some perfume or another. Or, one way or another, I smell like something in addition to smelling like myself. Something good.

Here are the fragrances I’ve been reaching for so far this summer.

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 Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine – Literally, ‘blood orange’. A gorgeous orange scent with the bitter and acidic elements elegantly balanced with a mix of bright florals. Nothing overly sweet, cloying, or synthetic about it. It smells…like sunshine. A wonderful, unusual summer citrus. Unisex.

Guerlain Vetiver – OK, so I’ve mentioned this numerous times, but this is a gold standard vetiver, and one that smells great on many people in many contexts, in every season…and especially in summer. Leans a bit masculine, but in a way that makes me appreciate it all the more on a woman.

Guerlain Homme – I got this…must be 6 years ago now? I haven’t stopped liking it one bit. Smells like a mojito that is wearing cologne. Awesome. Younger guys, I would especially like to smell this on you. [Older guys, you could be potentially devastating in the Guerlain Vetiver, give it a sniff.]

Clarins Eau Dynamisante – Lemony and herbal, very light and unassuming. I’ve reviewed this before. Perfect to spritz on post-shower, like a luxe, actually appealing body spray.

The Body Shop’s Love Etc. – Smells like grass and popcorn, what more do you want for summer? Master perfumer Dominique Ropion did the mixing, so the blend is surprising and sweet, on the girlish side in a playful, innocent way.

Bulgari Pour HommeGrapefruit of the gods. Many summer fragrance lists plug citrus but this most often means lemon. Lemon is, for me, the most difficult of the citruses, the one most often disappointing in a fragrance. The one most likely to smell like pez. Or Pledge. Enough of lemon. Give me grapefruit, orange, and lime. I don’t know that I can call this my favorite fragrance—it is too difficult, and too unnecessary to choose such a thing—but I can say that when I am wearing it, I love to be wearing it.

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Body Oil Spray – Smells like the beach, in the best way. Or like the way you wish suntan lotion smelled. No longer available in this form, evidently, but the eau fraîche skinscent is close, and also lovely, as is the body cream.  [Not pictured because I forgot, bafflingly.]

I have a few samples from the extraordinary Italian brand Profumum that I am loving, too, and will have to tell you about them as well. I got a handful to try and they are nearly all stunning for summer.

 

smell this: Bulgari pour Homme

On September 15, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

 

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OK, so Vétiver Tonka is a top favorite, and Guerlain Vétiver never lets me down, and we haven’t even talked about Chanel Sycomore yet…but Bulgari pour Homme is my favorite, too.

Bulgari pour Homme smells like the grapefruit of the gods. This is a bright, ripe (sweet) citrus blended with a soft darjeeling-like tea note. The notes list bergamot and orange blossom, but I get grapefruit and more grapefruit. The base is noted as amber and musk, but to my nose neither of these elements translates directly. They serve instead to make sweet notes feel sweeter and to make the overall effect more sumptuous.

Bulgari pour Homme Extrême smells similar but with a bit more of the green, bitter aspect of the pith allowed to come through, and with better lasting power (the regular pour Homme is too weak for some but – as with Vétiver Tonka – if I like the scent enough, I’ll just spray more). Extrême could be seen as the more conventionally masculine of the two, and is the one I would recommend those who prefer a masculine style to smell first. I like to wear both at once, the sweetness of one balancing the bitterness of the other and vice versa.

These are some seriously voluptuous citruses, and you can completely ignore the ‘pour homme’ bit if you like. I recommend that course.