Saturday, June 24, 2006

Regina Harris Perfume Oils

Reading fragrance reviews is fascinating and frustrating. The combination of body chemistry and evoked associations are just as important as the golden liquid in the bottle. Memories and perceptions are so strong and personal, and that's what makes us accept or reject a fragrance.

I've read a couple of reviews condemning my beloved Tiffany as "an old lady smell" (yes, I'm cringing). It's been one of my signature smells since I was 22, and I'm never without a bottle. I can't even write a review of it- I can't analyze something that is so much a part of me. All I can say is that I'd never associate it with any age, that it's good and if you're not familiar with it, I recommend that you check it.

However, this isn't about Tiffany, but about two fragrances that immediately made me think "days of yore". I tested Regina Harris' two perfume oils: Frankincense - Myrrh - Rose Maroc and Amber-Vanilla (no points for name creativity, that's for sure). Both bottles are gorgeous and look like nothing else I've seen. They are both oils, and very thick. I love how it sinks into my skin and embeds the scent instead of spreading it into the air. But that's really all the good points I can find.

Frankincense - Myrrh - Rose Maroc is a dark, cognac colored oil. You need to be careful with it, as it would stain your clothes. I put it on and the first thing that popped into my mind is "ancient". I'm not sure what it was, probably the rose and myrrh, as I haven't smelled anything like that in many, many years. I can't recall which fear imposing figure from my childhood wore something like that. I'm half tempted to send the rest of my sample to my mom so she can remind me. Maybe I should. I can't see myself trying it on again.

The rose part of the scent evaporated eventually. I wasn't sorry to see it gone, as it made me think of a rose scented powder spilled inside a lady's battered, fading purse (black leather with a metal clasp that is peeling off) that's been left in a dark and musty corner. The dry-down was better, but still very myrrhish and heavy-hearted. It lacked joy for me.

Amber-Vanilla is lighter, both in color and in feeling. But not any easier. I didn't find it offensive, but not very exciting, either. The vanilla is non-existent on me. I couldn't smell even a trace. On my skin it smelled like a classic good quality bar of soap. Something that you'd get as a gift from someone who got back from Paris in the 70s. It's a nice smell, very clean and elegant, but in a very dated way. The dry-down was the same soap, just a bit spicier.

My husband actually liked the Amber-Vanilla. He found the cleanliness very appealing and said that it reminded him of something he can't trace back. It's probably a long forgotten pleasant childhood memory. My problem is that I don't want to smell like the old sachets that scented my mother's lingerie drawer in the 70s.

Edit- More about Amber-Vanilla:
Since my husband was so fond of it, I decided to give Amber-Vanilla another chance. I used more of it, so I can smell and feel how it develops on my skin and wore it all evening and through the night. This time, the soapy sharpness faded after about two hours into a more deep but still very clean amber. An hour or two later the vanilla note has finally showed up and it is, indeed, a beautiful one. Not a candied vanilla, it's has a hint of spice instead of straightforward sweetness. And it has a very impressive staying power. It still lingers the morning after.

I see a full-sized bottle in my future.

And another edit: How things change.

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