Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fragrance reviews!

Here's something light -- a clutch of perfume reviews I put up on under my profile in Fragrantica.com. For those who are interested in scent, or are contemplating the annual ritual of procuring something small, beautiful and expensive for a loved one, Fragrantica.com is a user-friendly, colorful and extremely diverse gateway into the world of perfumery. The reviews, done anonymously by hundreds of people around the world, are the work of the amateur, in the true and original sense of the word -- one who explores and writes about perfume out of sheer passion, and not the obligation to earn a living. Another excellent review and discussion site is Basenotes.com.

On Fragrantica, my user name is Lakambini. Below is a screen capture of the latest entries in my profile. As the text is too small to read comfortably, you'll find a couple of recent capsule reviews I posted after the screen cap image, and a dozen or so more after the jump.

 

 
 

I put a huge spritz on my arm and got dizzying gasoline fumes, and in this miasma a whiff of leather, evolving into a sharp green odor that reminded me of a conifer forest in still cold air. Fossil fuels, animal skin and pine -- all raw, real materials, all synthetically rendered. And after a good scrub I am getting a monster dry-down: I am growing taller, muscular, rational, decisive, I will strip down for a shower later on and give out a long scream at the discovery that I'm a woman. Fahrenheit is a work of art that I can't wear, and can only appreciate on other people, men actually.
***



I just feel warm, pulled-together and confident when I have this on. Starts out with a spicy-green note that reminds me of the experience of cutting and gathering tropical ginger flowers, then evolves quickly to a creamy, but very clean vanilla, which is pretty much the dry-down. I spray it on my scarves and sweaters for the experience of luxuriating in its soft understated goodness. I don’t think of it as “deep”, nor “red,” nor even “sexy” in the conventional whip-thin, belligerent, snarling-lipped sense. But if “sexy” means bringing out the best in me as a woman, then, sure, this fragrance is it.



I must admit I’m becoming a fan of Hugo Boss fragrances, never mind that they’ve been slammed so often (probably because they’re too “accessible”, too “nice”, too “crowd-pleasing”). This one blew me away. On my skin, at first spray, it is like burying your nose into a pale, delicate flower and sensing it exhale. No particular blossom comes to mind, but the ideal of one – yet the fragrance strikes me as transparent and completely natural. No particular fragrance notes are identifiable, either. This is going on my want list, for those moments when I want to feel dewy and unfurled.

 
***

I can't believe it took me so long to wear this little beauty. My mom gave it to me four years ago, but at the time a certain sharpness repulsed me, as well as a note very much like classic Tide laundry powder. Now I'm living in a cold country, and it seems both the low temperatures and the passage of time have buffed the edge off the top notes, leaving this soft feminine purple-floral. It's green and even virginal and I wear it when my brain needs a rest from the vanillas and orientals I prefer in fall. The formula is such that the notes listed above don't call attention to themselves. I still catch a whiff of Tide from time to time, which I find more amusing than annoying. The dry-down is beautiful and reminds me somewhat of Tommy Hilfiger Freedom, a discontinued favorite.

 ***

Though created in 1992, it is to me a scent that conveys the essence of 80s style, more than the atomic florals that were actually worn in that era. It evokes the aloofness of Sean Young smoking a cigarette in "Blade Runner" minus the doomed indifference; the aldehydic beginning calls to mind the power and presence of Glenn Close in nearly all her movies. Red lips and high heels, cold smiles and a raging sexuality held in check.

***

The J'adores are like a clan of blonde beauties, effervescent in temperament, eternally youthful and fresh. Among them is L'Or, easily dismissed as yet another pretty face in the row of now-familiar bottles, until one actually takes the time to know her better. She is all rich yet subdued vanilla, beneath which one catches well-blended rose and jasmine. Her voice is quiet and mellow, and she cuts a charming, petite figure in comparison with her taller sisters. Her appearance belies a nascent sensuality: In spirit she is kin to a different Dior, the boozy, blowzy and delicious Addict.

***

I agree with the reviewers who find it a tad too masculine. In the shop, smelling the tester I was pretty sure it had gone off; later, I had the chance to get a full bottle at a ridiculously low price, so I gave it another go. It's a prickly, dry fragrance that makes me sneeze (and the sprayer dispenses huge wet bursts of the stuff); no sweetness to it, yet with a transparent quality that distinguishes it from other, classic spicy oriental scents, which tend to be heavy. This transparent quality is the only sign of kinship to the original EA Green Tea. I found I wasn't using Spiced Green Tea enough to make possession of it worthwhile, but was unwilling to get rid of it as I loved the bottle design so much. So now I layer it; it tempers the choking sweetness of, say, Charlie Gold: the offspring of these two cheapies is interesting and complex.

***

Was gifted the body spray by a friend who was purging her closet. Vanilla on first spray, and an odd note that reminds me of clean laundry, albeit in a good way. I've been reading Luca Turin and Chandler Burr, who relate how synthetic musks have been used in laundry detergents since the 50s, which is why modern people associate the scent of synthetic musk with the scent of "clean". Funny to find these same two notes exactly -- vanilla and musk -- in the fragrance notes section, and no other. This fragrance is hyped as a Holy Grail among my mom's younger colleagues, so honestly, I was expecting something profoundly seductive and womanly, since it's vanilla and VS after all. Nope, this is clean, mild, light vanilla, wearable in a humid tropical climate and sexy in an airbrushed lingerie catalogue way. UPDATE: Wore it overnight and, ten hours later, it has mellowed to a mild sweetness reminiscent of vanilla-flavored meringues. A very youthful scent.

***

Mmmmmm... mango ice cream! When I was growing up I ate a lot of Magnolia mango ice cream and this fragrance just captures that sensory pleasure. Not punky and rock-starish at all, as one reviewer said (that must be the influence of the packaging) but a scent that evokes all the pleasant, comforting memories of childhood (as Angel is supposed to do). It opens with a burst of ripe, bright yellow mangoes and something creamy and gourmand-vanilla, and as the fragrance dries it just gets mellower. I'm not a fan of fruity gourmands, but this one just bowled me over.
 
***

I have this fragrance ... it is gorgeous -- soft and delicate, young and feminine, very natural-smelling to my nose (yet a welcome echo of old-fashioned scented soap), and with a gentle green note. Puts you in the very presence of a lilac bush in bloom. Does not seem to last long on my skin (30 minutes), but staying power on fabric is at least four days: I spray my sweaters and hair to make the scent last longer. (It probably remains on skin too, but I can't smell it after a while) This appears to have replaced Yves Rocher's Pur Desir de Lilas, so now my desire to own a YR lilac scent has been satisfied.

***

My husband has had a 7ml splash bottle of this for so long (since the early 90s?) he can't remember how it came to be in his home. It's the same bottle, except the name is "Samba Unzipped", which makes me think it is an early version of this perfume. He used it as an aftershave without knowing anything about it, just instinctively liking its scent. I must say it suits him perfectly -- I perceived it as one in the genre of Obsession for Men: darkly vanillic, with a freshness that could be citrus, and in this post-aquatic fragrance era, something made for an older man, not a young snake-hipped stud. Imagine my surprise to find it here among the women's fragrances. Yet I recognize the notes, which must have rearranged themselves somehow over time and contact with his skin: the bitter black chocolate most of all, and perhaps the iris and jasmine. A wonderful, dignified fragrance on him.

***

I'm new to the Tesori d'Oriente series and this is my favorite so far. Reminiscent of Armani Code on first spray. I get a quick note of lemongrass...the fragrance remains bright and somehow woody on the dry skin of my arm. This is made with Argan oil, which someone said Hugo Deep Red reminds them of; I can also see the resemblance between HDR and TdO Hammam. The heart and dry-down are a rich and almost unctuous spicy vanilla, rather too full and overpowering for tropical summer nights, but evocative of that mood for those days in the year when you long for a bit of warmth. I have a bottle with a different design: not the cheesy towel-draped couple but just beautiful bronze arabesques against black. Love it!
Update: Have just discovered this to be a rougher but certainly less expensive take on YSL Cinema. 

***

I smell mango! What in my childhood we used to call "Indian" mangoes (the red round kind) rather than the bright yellow oval mangoes common in the Philippines. Mango, and something oily, dark, humid and animalic, gone after a few minutes. Yes, something of Angel. No vanilla, no chocolate, nothing too sweet. If there is sambac jasmine I can't detect it. The skin of my arms is very dry in winter and perhaps this perfume needs some skin oil to show its true nature; however I would be nervous about wearing this on a tropical evening. Seems very sensual, dirty in an exciting way.

***

 I really like this. Spritzes on heavy, musky, nutty, with the residue of a thousand votive flowers. It closely resembles the original Charlie, down to that odd note that reminds me of peanuts boiled in their shells. It is resistant to soap and water, and after a wash fades to a pleasant sandalwood odor on the skin. I'm keeping this one: it smells dirty and sensual, and I need more of that in my life; will probably decant it into a glamorous, old-fashioned bottle and pretend I inherited it from a fur-clad, chain-smoking film star of an aunt.

***

There's so much to love about this fragrance. It goes on thick, sweet and sensual, resolving itself into its component notes of cinnamon, sandalwood and above all caramel, as the minutes turn into hours. It is almost intolerably sweet on fabric, though better-behaved on skin; its holiday spiciness makes it fit for autumn and winter, except if you live in a cold country where you can wear it most of the year, along with your suede jacket and boots. Others have drawn comparisons to Tresor but I think mostly of Lancome Poeme when I use Charlie Gold -- a thinner, inexpensive, anxiety-free sister to Poeme. That thinness, and a certain synthetic quality keeps one's expectations at a humbler level -- no thunderous romance, but a stolen kiss made all the more delicious by ... a drugstore Charlie.

***


Am confused about this fragrance -- I bought it blind from the Yves Rocher website in my country, based solely on a test dab of the delightful Ming Shu Fleur Rare. It is pleasant enough, but I don't find the soft creamy nature of Fleur de l'Aube agreeable at all; I kept sniffing my skin hoping to get more of a distant, watery astringency, which I liked better. It doesn't smell at all like the ylang-ylang of my childhood, but of course that pleasant green-floral odor must be tempered (or blunted?) by the vanilla and sandalwood in combination. Unless I come to terms with this "creaminess" I'll have to go through my perfume wardrobe to find something greener to overlay this fragrance with.
Edit: Dabbed this fragrance on again after my shower this morning, and the ylang-ylang note is definitely there, but if you over-apply it gets lost amid all the others.


 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hello, i am intrigued with Unzipped Woman, i was wondering kung available ba sya dito sa Manila? if yes, where can I make a purchase? i sincerely hope it's available in places like Cash and Carry since some shops there carry Perfumer's Workshop's Tea Rose fragrance, another scent i love. thanks in advance!