Archive for the ‘Green scents’ Category

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you might be aware that I love Diorissimo, although I never smelled it in its heyday.  I bought a tester bottle, unsniffed, on ebay, about the time that the newest reformulation appeared in its white box with pink lettering and trims.  I have now smelled that new version, and my immediate thought was “bathroom cleaner.”  Ugh.  I was lucky to have avoided that, because I really did not know what I was getting into.  My Diorissimo is lovely, and yet I can imagine what the scent was like in its girlhood, all innocent happy white flowers and, underneath, the smell of skin. 

If you love the smell of lilies of the valley but haven’t yet found a scent that smells just like them, fear not.  Now there is Carillon Pour un Ange.

Here are notes from the Tauer Perfumes website:

HEAD NOTES: A soft rose in harmony with ylang, and lilac prepares for a green accord of lily of the valley.

HEART NOTES: Graceful lily of the valley and smooth jasmine melt into soft suave leather.

BODY NOTES: A sheer blanket of ambergris, ornamented with the illusion of moss and woods.

A green floral delight.   “Building a fragrance with lily of the valley singing in spring was a wish since I started making perfumes. Carillon pour un ange is my tribute to this wonderful forest treasure. It is a green choir of flowers. Enjoy!”  — Andy Tauer

And may I say that I always enjoy the descriptions of Tauer scents?  They’re poetic, yet not to the point that you don’t actually know what the fragrances are supposed to smell like.  There’s a good dash of reason in there along with the poetry. 

As I write, the temperature outside is 62 F, and it is raining.  Dry leaves have blown from the neighbor’s trees all over my yard.  It is definitely not spring, and I’m probably crazy for trying to write a review of a scent that shouts, “Springtime!”  At the same time, CPuA was just released a few short weeks ago, and it’s fall in Switzerland too.  Why did this scent debut in the fall?  It’s odd.  It is possible that Tauer Perfumes wanted to release it in a timeframe that would allow buzz to get out into the perfume world, so that everyone would be craving it at the tail end of winter.  I  have a feeling I’ll be wanting it myself.

As per usual when writing  a perfume review, I’ve worn CPuA four times, to make sure I don’t miss anything.  (I absolutely never write a review without at least three wearings.  That would be, I dunno, intellectually lazy.  Furthermore, I’d be forever backtracking to old reviews: “… and another thing, I found out that the weather matters…” or “… what I just said the other day about this fragrance is wrong, wrong, wrong… I just didn’t ‘get it’ before…” or “… I just realized that I really don’t love this thing as much as I thought…”

If you’re not familiar with carillons, I’d urge you to go check out Wikipedia’s article on them here.  They’re not very common in the US, and I’ve only heard three of them live myself: the one at the National Cathedral in DC, the one at Hollins University in my home town (my piano teacher used to arrange for our recitals to be held in the college recital hall, which has lovely acoustics), and the one near Luray Caverns, VA.  Carillons, due to the strong harmonic overtones inherent in foundry bells, can sound out of tune even when they’re not.  You don’t just hear, for example, an A when one bell is struck; you hear A, A an octave up, A an octave down, E (fifth interval), C natural (minor third), and some other, more unusual, intervals as well.  Also, because the bells are still reverberant for some seconds after being struck, you’re hearing many many many notes at once.  The effect can be really startling, as a carillon at full tilt and close range can be something like an avalanche of sound.   (It’s why they generally reside in towers.) You can hear a recording at the Wikipedia article, about halfway down the page.  Go listen… see?

I am well aware that you non-music geeks just rolled your eyes at me.  Bear with me for a minute, because I’m going to make a point: “Carillon” was an appropriate name for this thing, because there are all sort of harmonic overtones of smell going on here.

CPuA starts out a bit harsh and loud, even a tad air-freshener-like, when sniffed up close in the first five minutes, and I have yet to figure out why.  The air two inches above my wrist is beautiful: cool, green, floral.  I do not smell rose or ylang, but I am getting lilac (is that the note that’s bothering me up close?) and a chilly, almost metallic hyacinth along with an amorphous green note that I can’t really place.  It’s not galbanum or citrusy green, but it’s a crushed-stems green that smells very natural.   This part is fairly high-pitched, tinkling along like the “angel bells” of the fragrance title.

And then for a gorgeous hour, I smell lily of the valley along with that green note and some juicy, innocent jasmine, ginggongging away like happy, mellow bells on my skin.  Gradually I begin to smell the leather under the florals, and I really enjoy that combination – soft leather that is smooth and never brash or tannic, undergirding the light-hearted florals.  I’m not even much of a leather fan, except when it is well in the background as it is here.  I like the way the leather begins to ground the florals.

Eventually, the basenotes of light moss and woods join in, but they are very quiet, and as the jasmine note eventually drops out, I continue to smell the muguet over the slightly salty, woody base.  I do not smell ambergris, although it’s possible I’m not recognizing it.  The entire drydown is radically different from any other Tauer fragrance I’ve worn: it’s not warm and rich, with the plushy depth of the Tauerade I’m used to.  It’s cool and transparent, and aligns beautifully with the white flowers here, keeping the scent in the verdant, meadowed character it’s been in all along.  Late in the drydown, there is an earthy quality that reminds me of the fresh, living smell of damp potting soil.  There’s a sonorous hum to this part of the scent, like the faint vibrations in the air that linger after the bells have stopped ringing.

A couple of reviews I’ve read of CPuA, particularly on luckyscent or fragrantica or other forums, mention an oiliness or a dark quality under the flowers, and I don’t get that.  There’s leather, and moss, and that earthiness, but they don’t strike me as being either oily or dark.  One review made a reference to “asphalt.”  Asphalt?  There are enough of these references that I can’t dismiss them, but I do wonder if there’s a terminology issue, and these reviewers just don’t have references for moss or ambergris or leather.  Alternately, it’s possible that I’m accustomed to a darker base than some of these reviewers, and the dark element just doesn’t bother me – or, possibly, I just didn’t perceive it at all.   Perceptions do differ.  I’m convinced that skins do, too.

CPuA is labeled “Eau de Parfum Riche.”  While it’s not nearly as radiant or as long-lasting as, say, Une Rose Chypree (look, I love URC, but the thing has the half-life of plutonium!), it is no floofy, light creature of feathers and smoke.  It sticks around.  I have been wearing it three drops at a time: one on each wrist, one at the base of the neck, the way I would dab parfum.  It’s very present for about four hours, and I can still smell it at seven hours, although it’s quiet by that time.  It is available in a 15ml bottle, for $67 USD, plus approximately $19 priority shipping, at Tauer Perfumes, or for $75, plus $8 shipping, at Lucky Scent.   

Carillon Pour un Ange is not Diorissimo.  But it is a lovely picture of lily of the valley all the same, and rather than subject myself to the current harsh version of Dior’s classic muguet scent, I’ll be replacing my bottle of Diorissimo, when it runs out, with Carillon Pour un Ange.

Other reviews of CPuA:  Marina at PST; March at Perfume Posse; Fragrantica; Bloody FridaHortus Conclusus; Perfume Shrine; Scent of the Day.  I keep waiting for Robin at Now Smell This – she’s a huge fan of vintage Diorissimo – to review this, but she hasn’t yet.  Mixups involving her sample, she said.  When she posts it, I’ll link to it.

Photos of Lily of the Valley (convallaria majalis) and of Carillon from Wikimedia Commons.  Photo of Tauer Carillon Pour un Ange from Tauer Perfumes.

Read Full Post »

 (I know, I know, I keep promising a throwdown between Ysatis and Divine edp… to be honest, I haven’t settled that one to my satisfaction, and to be further honest, I haven’t worn either in recent days since I’ve been craving green scents. The issue is tabled1 for now, to be revisited in the future when my interest in those two fragrances returns.)

Due to a rather-too-literal reading of Perfumes: The Guide, and a cursory examination of the notes, I had it in my head that these two fragrances were similar. I even posted a query once on fragrantica.com as to how similar they were, having smelled Chamade from a decant obtained via eBay (vintage pdt, if you care) but not having smelled Le Temps d’une Fete2.

Here’s the passage, from the Luca Turin’s P:TG review of Le Temps d’une Fete:

***** green narcissus … Le Temps d’une Fete is irresistibly lovely. Futhermore, it fills a gap in my heart I didn’t know existed. I have always been impressed by the structure of Lancome’s Poeme but dismayed by its cheap, angular execution. Conversely, I have always loved Guerlain’s Chamade but deplored a slight lack of bone structure, particularly in the latest version. Le Temps d’une Fete marries the two and achieves something close to perfection, rich, radiant, solid, with the unique complexity of expensive narcissus absolute braced by olfactory bookends of green-floral notes and woods. Very classical, and truly wonderful.

Somehow I seemed to have entirely skipped over Poeme there (I have never smelled that one, either) and glommed onto the Chamade:LTdF comparison. I checked out the lists of notes and thought, “Hey, those are similar. I should try some Parfums de Nicolai stuff.”

Notes for Chamade: aldehydes, galbanum, bergamot, hyacinth, lilac, jasmine, rose, muguet, cloves, narcissus, sandalwood, amber, benzoin, vetiver, vanilla, tolu balsam, peru balsam.

Notes for Le Temps d’une Fete: galbanum, hyacinth, narcissus, sandalwood, opoponax, patchouli, cedarwood.

Was I crazy? Probably. I look at the lists of notes now and notice that the only ones in common are galbanum, hyacinth, narcissus and sandalwood, and while those are distinctive notes, they’re buttressed by very different accents. I’m months more sophisticated now than I was back then (HA!), and if I was looking at the two scents now I wouldn’t make assumptions that they were similar. However, because I keep seeing questions from people who were misled, as I was, by the P:TG comments, here’s my take on these two beautiful, dissimilar green florals.

Because I smelled Chamade first, I’ll review it first. I swapped for a decant of vintage parfum de toilette with Queen Enabler Daisy, who’d bought it and then found it old-fashioned and a bit stuffy. (I think since then she’s acknowledged this step a mistake, and hosted a humongous split of vintage Chamade edt; more jewels in her crown…) Chamade was released in 1969, named for the French novel of that name (La Chamade, by Francoise Sagan), which was made into a film starring, of course, Catherine Deneuve. The title refers to the drumbeat which was used in the French army to signal Retreat; it also refers to the quick beating of the heart in the throes of romantic surrender. The bottle, too, is interestingly-shaped and beautiful, hinting at a heart turned upside down by love.

Upon first smelling Chamade pdt, I was ready to dismiss the idea of romance in connection with it: it was full of aldehydes and galbanum, two notes that can go very powdery and which make up a lot of the current idea of Old Lady Perfume. Even experienced perfumistas can have difficulty with one or the other of those notes. Up top, Chamade is cold and dry; the aldehyde-galbanum combo is fairly bitter and unpromising, even to me, and I like both of those notes. After the aldehydes burn off, however, the galbanum relaxes a little but lingers on my skin for nearly an hour – the longest opening of any galbanum scent I’ve tried (there have been plenty).

Only gradually does the galbanum capitulate, rolling through a hyacinth note that is floral but lacks the typical spiciness of that element, and then ushering in a golden, classical rose-jasmine heart. There is a freshness to the middle portion, thanks to a breath of lilac and muguet, but it’s primarily rose and jasmine, a shimmering elixir that really does seem like liquid gold, with the lovely accent of haylike narcissus. Two and a half to three hours after application, the golden heart begins to soften and melt into a beautiful, smooth, carefree drydown that is somehow both rich and light. Look at all the materials in the base: vetiver, vanilla, benzoin, sandalwood, and amber, plus the balsams that I typically dread. They never bother me here – either the proportion is small, or I’m so captivated by this drydown that I never notice the balsams. Chamade’s base is as much texture as it is actual smell, smooth and creamy and gliding. Luca Turin’s review in P:TG says, “… a strange, moist, powdery yellow narcissus accord that had the oily feel of pollen rubbed between finger and thumb.” There’s enough vanilla that you’d peg it as a Guerlain, but it is in no way foody or sweet. Nor is it slightly-naughty in the fashion of many of the classic Guerlains, with their common rich Guerlinade base; in fact, it smells clean even well into the rich creamy base.

Chamade gradually progresses from that stiff, prim, almost unfriendly opening, to that relaxed, caressing, helplessly-in-love base, and I’ve come to feel that it’s a very romantic scent. It blossoms so completely that it’s hard not to find it suggestive of fully-opened petals and sensual delight. I think of it in terms of green and gold, and it is beautiful.

A brief word on concentrations, with the caveat that I am most familiar with Chamade that was described as vintage: the 1980’s pdt is probably the powderiest version. One edt I tested was probably 1990’s, and so was the tiny bottle of parfum. The parfum is very creamy and morphs from galbanum to floral slightly faster than the pdt, but not as quickly as the more-sparkling edt, which has the least powder and a drydown slightly less deep than the pdt or parfum. I haven’t smelled a version I haven’t liked, but I do hear from longtime lovers of Chamade that it’s a bit less rich in the base these days, post-reformulation, while still smelling largely like itself and therefore still worth buying in the current version.  Edit: I’ve now tried modern Chamade edt, and it is very close to the ’90’s sample I have, albeit a teeny-tiny bit thinner in the base.   

(Other reviews of Chamade: Bois de Jasmin, Angela at Now Smell This, Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am, The Non-Blonde, Sweet Diva, Yesterday’s Perfume.)

Le Temps d’une Fete, on the other hand, was released in 2007 by Parfums de Nicolai. The (silly) name had been used before by PdN for a different scent, which was revamped and rereleased. Unlike Chamade, there is no interesting ad campaign, no connection with a beautiful French actress, no lovely bottle shaped like an upside-down heart.  In fact, the bottle is downright ugly, in my opinion.

Luckily, LTdF doesn’t need any extras. It is simply wonderful on its own, overcoming its puerile name and ungainly bottle. Like Chamade, it starts out with galbanum and rolls through hyacinth into a heart composed primarily of narcissus. I don’t know how much narcissus is in there, but I think it must be a high percentage, because it’s so clear and to the forefront that after becoming familiar with this scent, it’s very easy for me to pick narcissus out of most compositions. The drydown is a deepening of the heart notes, as the woody basenotes come up under the gradually-fading narcissus. The woods are well-blended with a lightweight, grassy patchouli that never bothers me, as patch can frequently do, and with the smooth deep resiny presence of the opoponax. I continue to smell narcissus plus the base for a long time, and although some reviewers have found it to be rather dirty and earthy, I don’t perceive it that way at all. I find it graceful, confident, and optimistic.

It is only an edt, but two sprays will last about 6-7 hours on me with light sillage. I can usually smell my arm without bringing it to my nose, but you won’t smell me coming around the corner. This is my preferred distance to waft fragrance.

I have read complaints from a few perfume fans that LTdF smells too much like the standard PdN base to be really spectacular, and since more than one of them is saying it, I think this has to be taken into consideration. I’ll also point out that I’ve tested twelve PdN fragrances, and I didn’t notice a “PdN base” as consistent and identifiable as such, the way that most Estee Lauder scents seem to share DNA. Perhaps this shared base, if there is one, is really only noticeable if there is something in the base that a tester finds objectionable. It wouldn’t surprise me if there is a common PdN base, but I didn’t perceive it myself. Of the twelve PdNs I tested, I adored two (this one and Vanille Tonka), and liked four others very much (Odalisque, Maharanih, Balkis and Juste une Reve). The others did not impress me.

It’s very difficult for me to review Le Temps d’une Fete, as I find myself unwilling to pick apart the components of its smell because it is such magic to me. I perceive it as a happy scent, as peaceful as sunlight dappling the surface of a small pond in a green glen. It is one of the few mood-brightening scents I’ve encountered, and I treasure it for that.

(Other reviews for LTdF: Pere de Pierre, Patty at Perfume Posse – brief, The Scented Salamander, Nathan Branch, and I’d swear that I read someone’s review that called this scent “witchy” but I can’t find it now.)  

So. Chamade and Le Temps d’une Fete, head to head? The two share similar notes in their respective openings. Chamade is mutable, developing into full-blown rich vanillic florals; Le Temps, while not linear, has a far narrower range of development, with narcissus dominating its character. Chamade is romantic; Le Temps is magic. Chamade is complex and possibly demonstrates a higher level of mastery of the art of perfumery; Le Temps has simpler aims but manages to be both beautiful and distinctive.

(Do I have to choose? Can’t I have both? Actually, I do own two decants of Chamade pdt, a tiny bottle of Chamade parfum, and two small bottles of Le Temps d’une Fete, one of which I bought myself and one I swapped some L’Arte di Gucci to get.)

I’ll take the opportunity to observe that in this era when some fragrance fans call $100 a bottle “the new free,” both of these scents are relatively reasonably priced. An ounce of LTdF edt runs $42; the big 100ml bottle is $120. 100ml of Chamade in edt will set you back about $100. Kudos, again, to PdN for making their scents available in small bottles, and also for making those small bottles comparable in per-ml price to their large bottles. Then, too, since Chamade’s been around for awhile, it’s often available more inexpensively on ebay or at online discounters.

You say I have to choose? Well, then, purely on happiness points, I pick Le Temps d’une Fete for myself. But I don’t think you could go wrong with either one of them. Judging on this one is strictly subjective.

Top image is from Wikimedia Commons.  Perfume images are from fragrantica.com.

1That is, “tabled” in the American sense: the matter is set aside for further discussion at a later date. I understand that in the British sense, “tabled” means the issue is brought up for debate at the present time, which usage actually makes more sense to me.

2Please excuse the lack of diacritical marks. This drives me nuts, actually, that I have to go look for the correct spelling complete with mark, then look up and insert the special character. Consistently. I tend to be a nitpicky person, but the truth is that I don’t know my proverbial elbow from my proverbial derriere, at least in French (although I think derriere should have an accent mark over the first e… but which way does it angle?) and I simply can’t be bothered. If it ain’t on my keyboard, I’m probably not gonna type it. So sue me. And I apologize for the snarkiness. There are a couple of commenters on NST that get their knickers in a twist over lack of diacritical marks, but THEIR keyboards probably have the darn things readily available…

Read Full Post »

 I knew very little about Crown Perfumery when I first ran across a mention of Crown Bouquet as being “the greenest of green florals.” It was more than a year between the mention and the sniffage, but Crown Bouquet stayed on my To Test list all that time, and when I failed to find a sample source, I just went ahead and bought it unsniffed.

I know, I know, we should absolutely never, never, absolutely never, buy anything without knowing whether it’s going to work or not. Well, I lucked out with this one: it’s beautiful. And if not the very greenest of green florals, certainly a lovely representative of the genre.

A little background on Crown Perfumery, cribbed mostly from basenotes.net and parfumsraffy.com: It grew out of the corset-and-crinoline business begun by William Sparks Thomson, whose son William concocted lavender smelling-salts for ladies whose tight corsets made them swoon (from lack of air, I assume, not surfeit of pleasure). By 1872 Crown Perfumery was producing fine fragrance, having gained permission from Queen Victoria to use the image of her own crown as part of the bottle. The company did well until World War I, when Wm. Thomson Sr. died. By 1939 the company was sold to Lever Bros., and ceased making fragrance. In 1993 the company was revived, and several of its signature fragrances produced using the original recipes. However, the company was sold again in 1999 to Clive Christian, who ceased production of the Crown fragrances and began producing his own scents.

I haven’t smelled any Clive Christian scents, nor am I likely to given their cost structure. But I’ll say now that if Crown Bouquet is anything to judge by, Mr. Christian has probably done the perfume community a disservice by discontinuing all the Crown scents. His own fragrances are probably very pleasant – Perfumes: The Guide found them all acceptable (three stars). But the website is unconscionably pretentious, in the eyes of this thoroughly-democratic-minded American.

Crown Bouquet was first released in 1936 under the name Crab Apple Bouquet. Notes: galbanum, green notes, gardenia, tuberose, hyacinth, and orange blossom. It was reportedly inspired by Wallis Simpson, the American woman whose love prompted Edward VIII to renounce the throne. I admit it seems little odd to me that Mrs. Simpson, who had been divorced twice before setting her cap for the Prince of Wales, and who appears to have been a strong-willed, opinionated, sensual woman, should inspire such a tender, delicate, fresh-faced fragrance.  (One of my favorite books, The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, describes Wallis as “that gold-digger with a butt like a boy’s.”)  Here’s the accompanying ad copy from Crown:

A fragrance to uplift, inspire, and refresh one’s senses, capturing spring white flowers and greens… The greenest of green flower gardens. One should not only smell the pretty flowers of the bouquet, but sense all the characteristics that come with a freshly cut bunch of flowers: green leaves, earthy roots, the freshness of the few remaining water pearls clinging to its cut stems.

For once, the ad copy is appropriate and succinct. Crown Bouquet smells of green, juicy leaves, with a cool damp galbanum breeze, and spring flowers. That is all. Luckily, that is all it really needs.

It does start out with a breath of galbanum, and some very crisp, nearly mouth-watering green notes. I can almost hear the leaves and stems crunching juicily in my hands as I gather them. Hyacinth joins the green notes, and then gardenia. I do smell each of the listed floral notes, one after the other, and it’s not much of a blend, but that doesn’t bother me at all because the progression is so pretty. The orange blossom is a little soapy and the tuberose is a little sweet, but fear not, white-floral-phobes. They are extremely quiet and well-behaved, no indoles at all. There is very little in the way of a base, although I think I smell the ghost of vetiver there at the very end, and possibly a tiny bit of musk. My guess is that these notes are there to provide a vase for the bouquet – not really meant to be smelled on their own, but merely to offer support for the top and heart notes.

Edit: The more I wear this fragrance, the more I’m convinced that there is a big slug of marigold (tagete) in there along with the listed florals.  There is a deliciously bitter edge to the greenery, and I’d swear it’s due to marigold.

This is a simple, pleasant scent, utterly unsophisticated, and if you subscribe to Gabrielle Chanel’s point of view that “a woman should not smell of flowers,” this one will not suit you.  It smells very natural, and, perhaps consequentially, does not last forever.  I get about five hours’ wear out of two spritzes, with the last two hours being rather faint and the perfume only noticeable upon bringing my wrist to my nose.  It is an edp but probably wears more like an edt, due to the all-but-unnoticeable basenotes.

One interesting observation: Crown Bouquet reminded me, upon first wearing, of another tender green floral I had worn recently – Jean Patou’s Vacances, frequently referred to, wistfully, as the greatest green floral of them all. It was only upon visiting basenotes.net for background on Crown Perfumery that I found out that Crown Bouquet and Vacances were released in the same year. There is a fresh simplicity about them both that I find affecting. They would both be nostalgic period pieces, unwearable except as costume, if not for the green notes breathing the air of spring over the florals.

Perhaps it’s me. Spring always makes me wistful and labile, dizzy with beauty and the knowledge that time is passing. I’ll leave you with A.E. Housman’s most cheerful poem:

Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now of my three score years and ten,
twenty will not come again.
And take from seventy years a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom,
Fifty Springs is little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

A. E. Housman

 Photo of Crown Bouquet from fragrantica.com.  Photo of Wallis Simpson from kissnews.ro.  Photo of White Hyacinth from NanciD at flickr.com.  Photo of Wild Cherry from Lallee at flickr.com.  Housman poem from poetry.eserver.org.  My bottle of Crown Bouquet came from perfumecountry.com (not affiliated), but there are still a few other online sources.  (Don’t wait too long, though.)

Read Full Post »

More greens, please!  This is my second-favorite Green category, encompassing green scents that smell like leaves, grass, herbs, and other aromatics such as fig leaf. I could just as easily have stuck the “aromatic” scents in with the citruses, but this seemed to make more sense to me. I’m not a fan of fig leaf, by the way, so if you are, just ignore my clear prejudice.

LUSH Go Green (leafy)
B&BW Rainkissed Leaves (leafy) Not recommended. Highly chemical. I tested this the other day, hoping it would be quietly lovely since I enjoy using B&BW body products under other, more serious, fragrances. This one I jerked my head back from; it smells like a chemical spill.
Kenzo Kenzo Parfum d’Ete’ (leafy-citrus, plus some light florals – this is the current version, in the clear glass side-lying bottle, in the white-and-green box) I like this one very much. It is fresh and juicy, in the crushed-leaves, nearly-delicious manner of Prescriptives Calyx, but without the tropical fruit that smells overripe to me. (There are people that Calyx smells great on, but I’m not one of them. The older version of Parfum d’Ete’ is lovely too, but far more concentrated on lily of the valley.) You’ll also find this one listed with the Citrus-Fruity Greens.
DSH Perfumes Celadon (leafy) and Lucky Clover (clever grassy-herbal fougere that went just a tad too masculine for me – it’s really terrific, though, and I made sure to let The CEO know he was welcome to use it)
L’Artisan L’eau de Lierre (herbal-leafy, with some florals)
Byredo Green (leafy, with some light florals) Very nice stuff.  I loved the boxwood and fresh green leaves in it, but found it just a little too citrusy for my taste.  It is rather linear, but in such a cool, fresh way that I did not mind its smelling mostly the same all the way through.  If I liked citrus more, I’d be raving about this one.
AG Eau de Camille (grass + honeysuckle) Beautiful, fresh grassy-leafy green notes, with light florals. Smells like waiting for the school bus on early June mornings: honeysuckle, dew on the grass, the promise of heat and summer vacation to look forward to.
Profumo.it (Abdes al Salaam) Scents of the Soul Night Blossom (grass, herbal patchouli, and tuberose, actually extremely grassy) I obtained a sample of this one hoping it would be a lovely tuberose. It certainly contains tuberose, so if you hate tuberose give this one a miss. But I was struck by the attractiveness of the fresh, herbal qualities of the patchouli in this scent. I seem to be super-sensitive to patchouli, and it’s certainly possible that you might smell this scent and say, “What patchouli? This is all tuberose!” whereas I said, “What tuberose? This is all patchouli!” It’s very nice patchouli, as far as that goes: it smells like someone just picked fresh leaves, with a handful of grass, and crushed them.
Miller Harris Fleur de Matin (herbal-citrus-floral) This one is a very crisp, lovely breath of fresh air. Lots of kitchen-herbals here, with some citrus and light florals. The notes list: galbanum, grapefruit, lemon, neroli, honeysuckle, jasmine, pine, basil, marjoram. There’s not much in the way of galbanum, but this is a simple, beautiful waft of freshness.
AG Mandragore (herbal) A little citrus, some herbs (mandrake, sage, mint), some spices (pepper, anise, ginger), and woody notes. Plus boxwood, which can smell like cat pee to some people, but not to me. This one’s a little faint unless you “spray yourself wet.” The edt version is more widely available, but there is also an edp which is a bit stronger, by report. I actually love the boxwood and pepper in this; I just wish it was a little stronger.
AG Mandragore Pourpre (herbal) Similar to the original, with a bit more pepper.
AG Ninfeo Mio (citrus-herbal-woody, with fig leaf)
Hermes Jardin sur le Nil (fruity-aromatic-woody) I like this one very much; however, I found that I wasn’t wearing it much and gave away my mini bottle. Starts out with some fresh mango and citrus, then aromatic tomato leaf and carrot seed, followed by light florals (lotus, peony, hyacinth). The base is quiet woods and incense, with a tiny bit of labdanum. Unisex, fresh, and somehow quite calming.
Le Prince Jardinier Labyrinth Libertin (leafy herbal, with very light quiet florals) Very much like traditional cologne without the citrus that tends to bother me.  I like it.  I finally realized, however, that I simply don’t like cologne much, and traded it away since I wasn’t wearing it.

CB I Hate Perfume I Am a Dandelion

Nanadebary Green

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria MentafolliaL’Artisan Premier Figuier, and Premier Figuier Extreme(aromatic fig leaf and fresh fig) I’m not the person to review fig scents. I have never smelled – or even seen! – fresh figs, although I love the dried version. And the only part of fig leaf that I really enjoy is the vaguely coconutty aspect – the rest of the fig leaf character is very bitter to my nose. I dislike fig leaf intensely – my test notes for PFE say “Green and nasty, like Oscar the Grouch.” I’m going to quote Tania Sanchez and say, “If you like this sort of thing, you will like this sort of thing.” I don’t like this sort of thing, but I’m certainly not going to stop you from trying it.
Diptyque Philosykos (aromatic fig leaf and fresh fig)

See also Green Scents, Part 1.

Please share your favorite green-leafy-grassy-herbal-aromatic scents, and I’d welcome your additions to the list.   My thanks again to Now Smell This, Fragrantica.com, Perfume Shrine, and Perfumes: The Guide.

First image: Koru Pendant JC14 from jadefactory.com.  Second image: Fern Koru 1 from Gudenius.  Third image: 8045 Green Leaf from loupiote (Old Skool).  Fourth image: Mixed Herb Bouquet from Lara Ferroni.  Fifth image: Fig leaves from rickm FL.  All images except the first are from flickr.com.  I first saw the use of stylized koru in New Zealand art when visiting, and just loved it.  My own pounamu pendant is similar to the one pictured, and came from a little mom-and-pop shop down the street from JadeFactory in Hokatika, South Island, NZ.

Read Full Post »

Spring is most definitely in the air – and poking up through ground which had snow on it as recently as two weeks ago.  With all this fresh growth about me, I’ve been craving green scents and making lists of what I want to smell.   Here’s part one of an exploration of green scents.

It has occurred to me that there are several subcategories of Green Scents: floral, citrus/fruity, herbal/aromatic, leafy, and mossy.  (I know, I know – what is it with me and the semi-obsessive need to categorize everything??  I tend to see this trait as a) a natural outgrowth of what I do – what is accounting except sorting stuff into categories? and b) helpful in understanding stuff.  If you’re starting to worry about me, I’ll offer this: I like to note how much astonishing variation there is even within categories, and I always leave room for the uncategorizable, while feeling some affection and pride for those things that escape the pigeonholes. )

Part 1 deals with my favorites, the green florals.  Yeah yeah yeah, go ahead and roll your eyes at my unrepentant girliness now, I’ll wait. 

You done? Okay.  Green florals: notes of grass, leaves, galbanum, and/or unspecified “green” notes, with floral notes in lighter proportion than in your typical floral, and generally a quiet woody base. The green notes tend to be the focus here, lingering with the florals. Here’s a list of some that I enjoy, followed by others that I either haven’t tried yet, or that just weren’t my thing but may be yours.

Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete (galbanum, green notes, narcissus, hyacinth, cedar, sandalwood, patchouli, opoponax) Has more presence in the woody base than with many green florals, but nevertheless smells green all the way through. I love the narcissus. This one has never failed to make me happy.
Guerlain Chamade (aldehydes, galbanum, hyacinth, jasmine, rose, mimosa, sandalwood, vetiver, benzoin, vanilla… basically your everything-but-the-kitchen sink Guerlain formula) Has an absolute ton of galbanum with a few light florals up top; you wait and wait and wait for it to morph, but eventually it does – from green to gold. A romantic scent, I think.
Jacomo Silences (galbanum, with rose and iris and a bit of moss) In some ways very like Heure Exquise, but has more rose than the HE edt, and the moss keeps it green longer. Silvery-green as lamb’s ears plant.
Chanel No. 19 (galbanum, rose, jasmine, iris, moss, vetiver) I’ve raved about this one. One of my very favorites, reviewed here.
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise (galbanum, rose, iris, vetiver) Another very lovely one, reviewed here.
Ivoire de Balmain (aldehydes, galbanum, green notes, hyacinth, jasmine, rose, muguet, iris, orchid, oakmoss, benzoin, woods and amber) After a classic green-floral start, becomes quite classically floral with jasmine-rose-iris-orchid – and after that, has one of the loveliest, honeyed-wood drydowns I’ve ever smelled. A real shape-shifter, and maybe shouldn’t be in this category at all because the drydown is so unbelievably rich. The first three times I wore it, I was really distracted by the soapy-floral-with-moss heart. The fourth time, the weather was humid and I fell in love with it.
Lancome Climat (aldehydes, green notes, violet, muguet, jasmine, rose, narcissus, sandalwood, vetiver, and a bit of civet for oomph). Another extremely lovely, ladylike-with-edge scent. Love this one too; it’s reviewed here.
Lauren by Ralph Lauren – I like the vintage, which focuses on a lovely rose-violet, with a hint of muguet. The current version is green with muguet; it’s not terrible, but it’s not distinctive either.
Kenzo Parfum d’Ete vintage version in the frosted glass upright leaf bottle – some greens with muguet, freesia, hyacinth, and a buncha other florals (rose, peony, jasmine, ylang, narcissus, cyclamen). The later version, in clear glass reclining leaf bottle, is nice too, and even greener. It’s been streamlined down to green notes with some tart fruits, hyacinth, muguet, jasmine, cyclamen and lotus. It’ll be listed with the citrus/fruity green scents.
Frederic Malle En Passant (green notes, watery/cucumber notes, lilac, and fresh bread) Very lovely, quiet springlike thing, evanescent as clouds.
Septimanie Pavillon des Fleurs (green notes, a very grassy jasmine, and a few other florals) This is a beautiful jasmine scent, very green, like an entire garden floating around my head. I swapped the sample thinking that I’d never spend $110 on a 50ml bottle, but I think I need another sample.
Jean Patou Vacances (galbanum, green notes, lilac, hyacinth) A little soapy, but smells cool and green and lilac-y all at once. A very tender smell.
Soivohle Daybreak Violin (mint, hay, may lily, lilac, moss and musk) Really liked this one, with its cool morning-dew feeling.
Bvlgari Eau Parfumee au The’ Vert (green tea, with a bit of herbs and citrus up top, and a classical rose-jasmine heart, and a quiet woodsy base) I find this ubiquitous urban-mommy scent pleasant but dullllll to the nth degree.
DSH Perfumes Rose Vert (galbanum, leafy greens and herbs, followed by an excellent rose absolute and a small amount of sandalwood)  Lovely, lovely stuff – unexpectedly green for a long time, and very refreshing.
Corday or Max Factor Toujours Moi (green notes,  orange blossom, jasmine) Vintage only, by those two manufacturers only.  The Dana version is a synthetic mess.  This is a happy, relaxed, pretty scent. 
Kai (green notes plus gardenia/tuberose) Very nice, if a bit simple; reviewed here.
Parfums DelRae Amoureuse (green & citrus notes, with tuberose, jasmine, honey, and oakmoss) Smells like the flowers of the black locust tree to me. Very, very beautiful. Everyone says this one’s loud – but to me, it’s not. Of course, I was using a sample vial, so this one may be a decant-and-dab. That’s okay with me.
Balmain Vent Vert (a ton of galbanum, jasmine, rose)  By all rights, I should have adored this one. I didn’t. I believe the version I got hold of was the 1990 reformulation (generally considered wearable), in parfum. It was quite pleasant, particularly at first, but I never grew to love it. Eventually I swapped it.

Here are some that are on my to-try list. If I do get to them, I’ll come back and update.

Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet discontinued (galbanum, green notes, and white flowers – jasmine, tuberose, muguet), described as “the greenest of green florals.” My unsniffed bottle is on the way as I type.  Update:  I loooooove this, particularly the juicy-crunchy green leaves in the opening.  Just gorgeous.

Annick Goutal Grand Amour   I have a small bottle of this I haven’t tested yet. Sprayed on paper, it starts out very like Chamade.  Update:  it doesn’t stay that way.  I like it, but I wish it had more presence.  It goes: galbanum, hyacinth, very quiet myrrh, nothing.  Eh.

Miller Harris Jasmin Vert  Lovely thing.  Less “vert” and more “jasmin” than I’d been expecting, although it is a very beautiful quiet floral.  Narcissus is listed in the notes, but I don’t actually smell it.  I personally can always do with more narcissus, and I’d have loved more of it here.  All the same, very nice.

The Different Company Un Parfum de Charmes et Feuilles
Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau   Very pretty.  Tart, bracing green notes to start, and then a soft rose. Nice.
Gres Cabotine
Paco Rabanne Calandre
CB I Hate Perfume I am a Dandelion  ** could be classified as Leafy/Herbal
Estee Lauder Dazzling Silver
Ineke Balmy Days & Sundays
L’Artisan Fleur de Narcisse LE   – Rather haylike, with some narcissus.  Perhaps I expected too much, or perhaps I was taken aback by the tobacco-and-woods angle, but I did not love it.  Extremely pleasant, but to my mind not worth the $$$$. Other people have suggested that this is a leafy/herbal scent, but I did not perceive it as being very green at all.
Kenzo Eau de Fleur de Thé
Chanel Bel Respiro  ** could be classified as Leafy/Herbal.  This is, to my nose, a classic cologne with a few more florals than usual, topped with a lovely soft green leaves-and-galbanum note.  Lasts about ten minutes on me.

Chanel Une Fleur de Chanel
Floris Edwardian Bouquet
Givenchy Extravagance d’Amarige
Weil Bambou
Yves Rocher Nature (not Desir de Nature, which is more citrusy)

Gucci Envy  HATED it.  Nasty metallic kick-you-in-the teeth bitter spinster librarian thing.

Comme des Garcons Series 1 Leaves: Lily  Ditto what I said about Gucci Envy.
Alfred Sung Paradise
Not recommended; smells like cheap crap to me.
Penhaligon’s Bluebell After a nice galbanum and hyacinth start, becomes very synthetic and extremely unpleasant.
Hampton Sun Privet Bloom Has a pretty, leafy green start, but after half an hour smells like industrial cleaners, with a Muguet Gone Wrong.

Do feel free to share your favorite FLORAL green scents. We’ll be getting to herbal things like Mandragore, and fruity things like Calyx, and mossy things like Any Chypre You Wish to Name, in due course, so I beg your patience with those recommendations.

Many thanks to those patient cataloguers of information at fragrantica.com, Now Smell This blog, and Perfumes: The Guide, which I bought at amazon.com.  I grabbed bits of data from all those sources, put them in the blender, hit spin, and passed them on to you.  Aren’t you grateful?  Good.  Go check out the sources (and I’ll again encourage anybody who’s interested in perfume to spend $15 on the new version of Perfumes: The Guide, which is well, well worth it).

Top image: Green Flowers (Hellebores), from KaCey97007.  Second image: Our other green flower, from canong2fan. Third image: Soft as a lamb’s ear, from dphock.  Fourth image: Green flowers, from fourshortwords. Bottom image: Green flower, from Piet Grobler.  All images from flickr.com.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: