Oud and Roses

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As usual, I’m late to the party and last on the bandwagon. I start watching TV shows 10 years after they’ve been cancelled. I’m at least a season behind the fashion trends, if not completely in my own time zone. And I’m just now beginning to explore the whole,  ‘Rose and Oud’ phenomenon. 

Coming from a history of soapy florals  and fruity gourmands, anything woody or spicy, 5 years ago, was a no go. Oud was a deal breaker and reminded me of body odor. It’s was dirty, earthy, musty. I didn’t like it.  But as a young adult develops a taste for alcoholic beverages, or the wine lover who finally starts to venture outside pinot noirs,  I’m really beginning to ‘get’ this whole oud ‘thing’.  I’ve had a eureka moment.  And I liked it. 🙂

Of course I’ve only sampled a handful of different houses version of the combo thus far, but I’ve yet to find one I flat out dislike.  Like enjoying coffee several different ways, I’m enjoying the different approaches and my ‘to try’ list is growing exponentially.  My sampled list so far consists of:

  -Montale- Amber and Spices

  -Ramon Monegal- Hand in Hand

  -Armani Prive- Rose D’ Arabie

  -Fredric Malle- Portrait of a Lady

Although I’ve already reviewed a couple of these I just might have to go back with edits since I reviewed them rather blindly and in ignorance so I didn’t really understand what exactly I was reviewing.  I’ve also discovered that oud doesn’t develop well on my wrist, which is the typical place I test fragrances.  My wrist is too dry so the notes quickly fade away or smell brittle, but the crease of my elbow is warmer, more moist, so the notes that developed there are much more rich.  That pretty much nullifies my first attempt to review Portrait of a Lady so now I must go back and give it a proper try, especially since I first tested it in the dry desert heat of Vegas and I live on the Texas coast and humidity really makes a difference on how perfumes develop. 

I may be late in discovering the charms of oud but I’m still glad to have come around at all.  There are only so many ways to concoct a soapy floral or fruity gourmand before they become redundant.  And although I will always enjoy them, I’ve grown bored of them. I can’t remember the last time I was really ‘wowed’ by one.

But this is just another dimension emerging reminding me of why I love perfumes so much! Because it IS a multifaceted hobby/obsession lol.  Tastes grow and change over time, developing more mature noses. I think , we in modern times, are so very lucky that we are able to embrace those changes and to have such a wide variety of fragrances available, at the click of a button, to indulge ourselves in.  Thank you internet! 😀

Myrrh Imperiale Armani Prive

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First impressions: Wow! This is an incredible frag! I’ve never really smelled anything like it before. It’s Myrrh alright but rich and creamy with the vanilla and amber. Relatively linear. Lasts a VERY long time-2 days- and it’s a sillage beast so a little bit goes a long way. One spray is more than sufficient, two max but even that’s pushing it. Very high quality juice. This screams class and sophistication, nothing subtle about it. The dry down is divine, very ambery, once you finally get there. Also very unisex. My husband enjoys wearing this one as well and it smells great on him. One of the very best from the Armani Privé collection.

Season: Winter/Fall

Notes: Myrrh, Benzoin, Vanilla, Pink Pepper, Saffron, Amber

Purchase Myrrh Imperiale Here

Pierre de Lune Armani Prive

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Opens with a green, violet leaf and delicate floral accord. Develops into a semi sweet, aquatic soapy iris after dry down. Soft sillage skin scent but decent longetivity. Very feminine and clean but somewhat understated. Safe and no real ‘wow’ factor for the price. It’s still a nice frag but nothing unforgettable. Kinda ‘meh’ and dancing with generic imo.

Season: Spring/Fall

Notes: Iris, Violet, Cassie, Violet leaf, Belambre, Woodsy notes

Purchase Pierre de Lune Here

Rock Princess Vera Wang

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           YOU SMELL LIKE A HUSSIE!!!

This is a fruity boozy mess but I really like it! It’s different, unique, kind of raunchy in your face, and rough around the edges but isn’t that everything a rock princess should be?

There’s a rum note that almost overtakes the composition and the rasberry and coconut notes almost help push it over the top but there’s something keeping it all in check. I think it may be the cashmere wood. I can’t really put my finger on it though.

The rum and coconut give it a beachy feel to me but not the cute, designer bikini laying in the sun working on my tan sipping pina coladas at a resort beachy feel but a little more grungy, like riding a motorcycle to a locals palapa bar in cowboy boots, frayed cutoff short shorts, and a bikini top under a fishnet tank, ready to go have sex in the bathroom. It’s not sophisticated or refined by any standard but rebellious, maybe even a little sleazy but fun.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a blind buy as it is definitely not for everyone but it’s a little on the rare side so testers aren’t readily available either. I did, however, see bottles listed online under $40 so if you did go ahead with a blind buy it’s not so expensive to put you out very much if you ended up not liking it.

 The sillage is pretty strong and it lasts all day, 8 hours easy. I’m on my second bottle and get complimented often when I wear it. Maybe its my chemistry. Maybe there’s just something to this frag. It’s got quite a bit of bad feedback but it seems to really work on me.

Season: All

Top notes: Peach, Raspberry, Bergamot

Heart notes: Heliotrope, Jasmine, Rose, Lily

Base notes: Cashmere Wood, Musk, Iris, Coconut

Smoke for the Soul By Kilian

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Omg, there’s so much cannibis coming through this frag I regret applying this before getting on an airplane! I checked the notes but how could I have possibly anticipated THIS? I hope I don’t set off any alarms with TSA. Ugh, I wish I was kidding! 😬

This is green, really REALLY green. So green I could almost roll it up and toke away. Good grief! lol

The opening on me is pure Eucalyptus immediately followed by potent cannibis and the woodsy notes. I don’t really get any of the other listed notes and I don’t get any smoky notes either. Maybe a hint of grapefruit that seems to very slightly tone down the sourness. But I really don’t ‘get’ this fragrance or its appeal, if there actually is any.

Maybe if they had added some patchouli to the composition it could have been a playful poke at the hippies, but this frag, to me,just smells dirty, green, and sour, so no thanks. Definitely a pass for me and I’ll be passing along this sample too.  Maybe it’s just my chemistry but I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would pay so much to smell like this. 😕

Notes: Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Tobacco, Mate, Birch, Cashmirwood, Cannibis, Cardamon.

Scoring Samples and Freebies

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Let’s face it: samples are freebies and freebies are nice, right? But are they REALLY free?

My experience has shown that samples are much easier to coax out of your local product specialists after you’ve made a purchase or two or thirty and proven your ‘purchasing power’. 😍

Would I expect a load of free samples of the most expensive frags on my first ever visit to a counter or boutique? Probably not.  But when that counter or boutique becomes the new employment of a person I’ve followed through 3 different niche companies over the years and they know I’ll buy, I can pretty much get samples of whatever I want because they know I will buy and am a loyal customer.

They know that samples aren’t just little perks for me to play with or give away.  They are the bait for my next purchase. And knowing that I am a fragrance collector they know there WILL be a next purchase.

But really, what are samples for in the first place? They’re a way to try before you buy and it becomes a lot more apparent of how important that is when you’re thinking about purchasing a $300 bottle of juice vs a $40 bottle. It becomes imperative!

There’s no way I would commit to buying a high end frag over $100 without wearing it for a day or half a day at least. I need to see how the frag transforms on my skin over the course of a day. A spritz on a piece of paper only gives an idea of what the frag smells like but it cannot show you how it will perform with your body chemistry. 

‘Joy’ by Jean Patou, smelled amazing on the test card and on my SA,but after I wore it for a day it was clear that it didn’t work at all with my chemistry because I smelled like very sour musks.  If I had bought that bottle because of how much I liked it on the paper I would have been out a couple hundred bucks. Not that I won’t revisit it sometime in the future and give it another shot one day but I digress.

I don’t ask for samples haphazardly either. I give each sample a bare minimum of half a day to wear and try out so I only request the ones that are within my preference parameter.  I don’t want to waste my time on sampling frags I know I’ll never buy. For example, I’m not a big fan of dark spicy balsamic frags so rarely do I request a sample of one.

Samples are not truly free. They DID cost the house money to manufacture and package after all. But a company that has confidence their products usually have no reserves on supplying samples to potential customers. And I would be hesitant to buy without them. So it does the company favor to offer them.

And it becomes apparent over time that the more you buy the easier it becomes to score samples. The more you become acquainted with the shop employees, the more samples you can get. There’s a trust that develops because they know you are requesting samples to truly help you decide what your next purchase will be and not just getting them to turn around and sell online.

But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still fun to get! After spending a few hours at the boutique counter and sniffing frags and coffee beans til my nose can take no more, it’s always great to get a handful more to take home and try out after my nose has cleared. And honestly, who doesn’t like free gifts, even if they ARE ‘free’ – with purchase. 😉

Santal Carmin Atelier Cologne

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I was captivated by this fragrance from the first moment I smelled it. During my introduction to Atelier Cologne at Neiman Marcus today, I sampled several in the collection and just couldn’t stop myself from repeatedly coming back to this one for another sniff. It’s absolutely intoxicating!

I immediately bought the 200ml even though experience HAS taught me to be more patient and get a tester first before committing but this one was love at first smell.  It comes with a 1oz leather pouched travel bottle as well and I LOVE getting little extra perks, but who doesn’t, really.

It opens a little sharp with juicy ripe limes and bergamot. Then turns spicy sweet as the saffron begins to develop followed by a creamy sweet woody vanilla warmed by a somewhat muted sandlewood . This is a very unisex frag but is a bit feminine towards the dry down.

The bottle, though metallic gold, is a little bland in my opinion but the juice is high quality and has great lasting power. The sillage is soft to moderate depending on how much you apply but this is a somewhat potent frag so no need to over spray or it could end up ‘in your face’ and not as pleasant.

The final notes become a bit powdery and the cedar really dominates but is kept in check by the vanilla. I just love this and even now can’t stop sniffing my wrists.  I normally wouldn’t even have been drawn to try this, to be honest,  based on the name and bottle appearing, to me, to be a mens line and somewhat boring at that, but that’s why they say never judge a book by its cover. Or in this case never judge a fragrance by its bottle, because I am so glad I discovered it (with some help of course) 😀

Season: Fall/Winter

Top notes: Lime, Bergamot, Saffron

Heart notes: Sandlewood, Guaiac Wood, White Musk

Base notes: Papyrus, Texas Cedar, Madagascar Vanilla

Purchase Santal Carmin Here