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).