Let's put one thing out of the way: Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince is a fruity berry fragrance much more than it's foresty, woody or enchanted. But it's a pretty and quite grownup berry scent that doesn't smell like anything out of Bath & Body Works. While my personal taste usually keeps me away from blackcurrants in perfume I do like the way a real fruit smells, and I think Enchanted Forest is as close as it gets. So where does that leave us in regard to Enchanted Forest?
The Vagabond Prince is a new perfume house from the owners and founders of Fragrantica (fragrantica.com). This means that the people behind The Vagabond Prince and its first offering, Enchanted Forest, have a true passion and love for fragrance as well as an intimate knowledge of the online perfume community. They weren't going to send out into the wild a juice that smells like half the stuff at Sephora. Instead, they went all the way in: hired Bertrand Duchaufour, designed an impressive bottle (I held that thing in my hand. It's heavy) and packaging, and rolled down a massive marketing campaign where it counts: among the fragonerds online who're always searching for a new indie/niche line.
The result is a very congenial perfume that offers enough hooks and little twist not to bore even the more jaded among us. No one can deny that it hits with a massive basket of blackcurrants on the head and in your face again and again and again, but Enchanted Forest isn't syrupy or cloying in the traditional sense. It also keeps the fruity musk away until the later part of the dry-down, so it's not as predictable as one could fear. And the best part is that the fragrance does offer quite a bit of prickly green leaves, broken stems and crunchy evergreen needles on the forest floor-- that's my favorite part of Enchanted Forest. This forest may be a bit too clean, though. While patchouli is listed among the many notes and I can smell it when I put my nose to it, there's not much earthiness, dirt or decay on the floor of the enchanted forest (maybe that's the whole point). But there's also no pixie dust or magical light penetrating from above. The berry bushes have taken over a lot of the surface and the seem to be multiplying right in front of our eyes, bearing an incredible amount of juicy and luscious fruit.
So, yes, Enchanted Forest smells good and far more natural than most fruit-centric perfumes from big and small brands. It's also incredibly long lasting and very concentrated, high in quality and crafted with care and thought. The thing that makes it less desirable for me is that eventually I do get tired of the endless blackcurrant (my skin tends to play it up and amplify it to high heaven) and I want something more. The smooth vanillic dry-down doesn't give me enough balsam and wood as I would have liked. I keep wishing it were heavier and darker-- that eventually the forest itself would become thicker and more mysterious-- to keep my full interest and attention for the full lifespan of the perfume on my skin.
See other reviews on All I Am A Redhead and This Blog Really Stinks.
Top notes: pink pepper, aldehydes, sweet orange, flower cassis, blackcurrant leaf, hawthorn, effects of rum and wine, rosemary, davana.
Heart notes: blackcurrant buds absolute), blackcurrant, Russian coriander seed, honeysuckle, rose, carnation, vetiver
Base notes: opoponax resinoid, Siam benzoin, amber, oakmoss, fir balsam absolute, patchouli, castoreum absolute, cedar notes, vanilla, musk
Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince ($180, 100ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent, MiN NY, and directly via vagabondprince.com. Samples for this review were acquired at the Elements Showcase last month.
Picking Berries by Joyce Ann Vitek
Fairytale: Fairy Folk by Yelena Bryksenkova