Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Notes From The Sample Jar


Or, rather, from various sample jars scattered around the house, and some free-range samples that I've managed to rescue from Marigold and Gemma who tend to appropriate and hide the vials in secret places only cats know exist. This is all stuff I've been sniffing and testing sporadically, a few were sent for review (will be disclosed below) while others found their way here in mysterious ways.

Viktoria Minya- Hedonist Cassis. The original Hedonist is among my favorite perfumes. I like the Rose flanker, and kind of worship Viktoria Minya for creating Eau de Hongrie. While Hedonist Cassis on all its juicy brightness might not be the one for me, I can't help but admire the hand that created this cheerful composition that fills the air with dreams of summer and the just-cut grass on which you sit munching on a bowl of red fruit. Have I mentioned that it's juicy? ($200 at Luckyscent. Press sample).

Stella by Stella McCartney (2014 version). I was never a fan of the original 2003 Stella. It was supposed to be a smooth rosy amber, but my skin made it nothing but a sharp and loud rose. Years and restrictions changed Stella, and it was also flankerized to death until it was briefly discontinued. Stella was rebooted a couple of years ago, and the cries of reformulations were as expected. Personally, the brand new sample of Stella is kind of nice. I'm still not a rose person, but the current juice is very soft and the rose are tender and kind of vintage. Not bad at all for something you can het at Sephora ($50, Sephora and most department stores)

Ayala Moriel- Komorebi. Let's get to the bottom line: Komorebi is one of my favorite perfumes by Ayala Moriel, and I'm a big fan as it is. It feels like the thickest part of the thickest wood and you can hear the crunch of twigs and and leaves under your feet, and enjoy the crisp, green, and surprisingly warm modern chypre composition. If Ayala were to come up with a full range of body products scented with Komorebi I'd buy them all. Plus backups, because the husband will get into them without even asking. ($48, ayalamoriel.com, press sample).

Hermes- Le Jardin de Monsieur Li. I'm not a fan of the Jardin series, so the chances that a sheer herbal citrus was going to please me were already exceptionally low. My skin kills  Monsieur Li before it has a chance to develop, if it even has the capability to do so. It's fresh, it's clean, and it's completely unnecessary. ($97, Sephora, most department stores, and Hermes boutiques).

Marc Jacobs- Mod Noir. I'm pretty sure I've smelled worse things than this, including from Marc Jacobs' label. I just can't find it in me to search them and remember. Synthetic and sharp white floral over an especially intolerable laundry musk. I only tested it three times and gave up. There's no chance I'll wear it a fourth time. ($70 at Sephora).

Paco Rabanne- Invictus. Oh well. Having no expectations has helped me deal with this very generic mainstream masculine. I might not be able to pick it out in a police lineup among other salty marine citrus thingies, but for what it is, Invictus is not the worst ever. I kind of enjoy the very salty and sharp sea air as an abstract idea, and wouldn't recoil away from people wearing it. Just as long as it's not my husband on me. ($64, Sephora).

Narciso Rodriguez For Her L'Absolu. Between their similar names and the fact that I'm anosmic to all of them, Narciso Rodriguez perfumes completely escape me. Except for this one. It's a different musk than what's in most of Narciso's bottles, bolder and more animalic. The flowers have a distinct vintage feel as is the entire perfume, actually. It's womanly, bosomy, and incredibly sexy, at least if you're a fan of the genre. ($96, at Sephora and most department stores).

The last three samples are from Atelier Cologne. I used to have an immense respect for Atelier Cologne because no matter what, their fragrances seemed to be perfectly engineered and carefully conceived. But last year they bombarded us with eight new releases, and a month into the new year there are already six more listed on Fragrantica. This is the road to make me stop caring. Except when the stuff is good. Another point in favor of Atelier Cologne is the travel size atomizers. Not all locations offer all scents in this format, but that's another reason to visit their boutique, where the service and knowledge are miles above what you get at Sephora.

Atelier Cologne- Mandarine Glaciale (Collection Azur). I get it. They want to offer an alternative to the stuff in the blue bottles from Tom Ford. And in this case, the people at Atelier have really succeeded. A ginger and citrus little thing that feels uplifting and not completely boring. I like it. Shoot me. ($125 at Sephora. There's probably a smaller and cheaper bottle to be found)

Atelier Cologne- Pomelo Paradis. Sweetened and slightly floral grapefruit juice that evaporates in front of my eyes. Short-lived perfumes got no reason. ($70 at Sephora).

Atelier Cologne- Oud Saphir. May the gods of real authentic oud forgive me, but I love this one. It's leathery, smoky, slightly animalic and very interesting. Oud Saphir draws complex arabesques on skin, taking you to faraway lands as well as into a meditative state. I don't know what kind of sorcery it is, but on a market full of sorta-kinda-not-really ouds, whatever they put in Oud Saphir hits the spot perfectly ($130 at Sephora and Atelier boutiques).









18 comments:

  1. Thanks for the short reviews Gaia. I always appreciate it as guidelines for my future exploration. I'm curious about the Atelier Cologne stuff and I'm not familiar with the x newest releases so your review makes me decide easier on what to sample...before traveling to Paris or NY to one of their boutiques of course.

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    1. The selection is overwhelming, I know. I actually need a much larger sample jar🙂

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  2. What a gorgeous sample jar! Maybe I would pay more attention to my samples if they lived in something I couldn't take my eyes off. :)

    I've only tried a few of the ones you mentioned, with mixed results. Stella was horrible on me: what showed up as persistence screechy rose-musk on my skin made me want to hack my arm off. Because scrubbing did nothing. (Thanks for explaining that it's a re-launch; I wondered why samples were suddenly so available after all these years!) In contrast, Monsieur Li is lovely on my skin, if extremely short-lived. It evokes golden koi fish in a pond surrounded by green and I find it very peaceful. That said, I have generally enjoyed JCE's Hermes work, so I was going to buy his last effort no matter what. Finally, I agree with you on Mandarin Glaciale. It's bright and pleasant, and I almost bought the travel spray till I thought--in a very uncharacteristic moment of fiscal responsibility--"Really? Do I like this as much as my other citrus perfumes?" Since the answer was no, I didn't purchase; but it is certainly easy to enjoy.

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    1. I think that Atelier Cologne's hyper prolificness is making me hesitate about buying more often than not. I have Gold Leather, but would feel things are more special if they didn't launch at a Demeter rate.

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  3. FOTD: Ambre Sultan. I love your container for samples that you show. So unusual & pretty. I use a lovely pink Depression glass lidded container. It's about 6" round and tall and is filled to the absolute brim only with what I hope to actually sample soon. I have a large Ziplock freezer bag full of others that I probably won't sample at all. Why do I save them? I collect pink Depression glass perfume bottles and other "dressing table" items. FUN! Cool post by the way! I definitely will sample (at the very least) Komorebi and Oud Saphir, which I had been wondering about recently. Thanks for the chance to dish! MORE FUN.

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    1. I actually need to get rid of a several bags full of samples. I insist on manageable storage, but there's always a new bunch that demands my attention and careful sampling (and saving from the cats).

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  4. You're a braver person than me - I was scrubbing Mod Noir off my arm after two minutes and I have no desire to ever go near a bottle again.

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    1. It was torture. Plain torture. I cannot explain why this brand is such a success.

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  5. I remember not particularly liking Stella years ago and I got a Sephora sample of it with a package last year and liked it. I thought maybe my taste changed, but if the formula changed that makes sense. I am a rose person and I liked it enough that I got the $22 travel size, which is a spray and not a rollerball thankfully. It is the perfect size for a fragrance I don't wear everyday but still like to spray on once in a while.

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    1. I wish almost everything would come in $22 travel spray. Except for Miel de Bois. That one needs to come in vats.

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  6. Am impressed that you made it through three tries of the Mod Noir. I don't think I could have. Recently was listening to someone discussing how many breaths we take in an average lifetime and was thinking to myself that I was no longer willing to waste even one of those breaths on inhaling scents that I strongly suspect will be pure drek.
    The opposite of drek? Ayala's Komorebi. Your description of it is perfect. It's glorious. The woman is a genius.
    Anna

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    1. I often ask myself why I keep testing things I know would be dreck. To keep my sense of snark sharp, most likely.

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  7. Another vote for the beautiful jar, gorgeous platter and lovely animals (which I assume are heavy enough to stop the fur balls from batting around). Lovely arrangement.
    I tried Cartier Fougueuse IV and it immediately appeared to duplicate a Chanel that I wore in the 70s (either No 19 or Cristalle? Current reincarnations make that seem impossible). Is there anything that compares, Gaia? It's just tickling my brain.

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    1. I'll need to dig out my Cartier sample from a large basket in my dressing room. Their limited availability has put me off testing them as much as I'd like.

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  8. I liked the Narciso Absolu as well, which shocked me as I dislike all the others. This one I will buy and wear happily.

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    1. I'm seriously considering a bottle. Never thought it'd happen.

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  9. Atelier Cologne - I keep saying I'm going to go to the boutique but I know I would do damage because there is one that I really want - Silver Iris. Saphir Oud sounds lovely, I've been inundated with samples of Mandarine Glaciale but I'm undecided about it, sometimes citrus and I are not happy together. :)

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    1. I also want Silver Iris. At least in the travel size. The problem is that I usually get to the boutique right after Twisted Lily and I'm all shopped out.

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