Two years ago the owners of Fragrantica launched their own perfume brand, The Vagabond Prince, and released their first collaboration with perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, Enchanted Forest. It didn't rock my socks. I got the idea behind it, could appreciate the vision, work and effort, but in the end of the day, once I was finally done testing it and the review was written, I packed the remaining samples and sent them far far away, happy not having to wear this perfume ever again. You can't blame me, then, for feeling a bit apprehensive when I got the samples of the two new fragrances in the line, Swan Princess and Land of Warriors.
Thankfully things have improved for the Prince.
Swan Princess suffers from a silly name and an eighties aesthetics. It's a very assertive floral that almost made me dig out my tiny reference bottle of vintage Giorgio extrait so I could do some comparisons (but my sanity won. I can't deal with Giorgio). Swan Princess has a promising start, where bright light and iris petals seem to burst and unfold right before our eyes and noses. The problem is that the beautiful powdery iris is soon squashed under the weight of mimosa and muguet that are served with such generosity they take over every air molecule in the room. The fatal blow to the poor iris is served by what the Fragrantica people call "a touch of gardenia", which fades quickly after doing its thing, leaving again the mimosa and mutant muguet to dance on a superhero musk base. Eventually things become smoother and quite pretty in that 1980s kind of way. It doesn't suit me at all, but I kind of like it in theory and know without a doubt that those who wear muguet well will, indeed, smell like princesses in it.
Notes: pink pepper, aldehydes, bergamot, jasmine, gardenia, lily of the valley, mimosa, iris, rose, peony, various musks, sandalwood, vetiver.
Land of Warriors is a true leather scent and labeled as a masculine (when did that ever stop me?). Unlike the Princess above, where just about every note gets its 15 minutes of screaming in the spotlight, here the blending is more careful and rounded. It's unapologetic in its animalic leanings, which endeared it to me upon first contact. I wear leather perfumes extremely well (my top compliment-getters), and this is one that takes everything I love about this note and cooks it in a big black cauldron to its essence. The skin, the sweat, the outdoorsy aspect, the opposite of shower-fresh... it's all there. There's a gasoline-like note that keeps things interesting, a leafy green surprise, a sweetness that caresses the human skin (I tend to amplify this aspect in leathers), Land of Warriors is warm and inviting, just dangerous enough to suggest an adventure, and if a bottle were to mysteriously land on my dresser I'd wear it happily. Do I need it considering all the other fabulous leathers in my collection? Probably not, but I do find it unique enough to entertain the thought for more than a second.
angelique seed, violet leaf, cucumber, tomato leaf, blackcurrant leaf, oakwood, frankincense, davana, cistus absolute, saffron, nutmeg, oregano, castoreum, ambergris, styrax, birch tar.
Swan Princess and Land of Warriors ($200/100ml each) are available from Twisted Lily and Luckyscent. The latter supplied the samples for this review.
Art: Juan Giménez Martín, Visit to the Harem, 1901