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Monday, February 15, 2016

The Experiscent: Scent Number 1 Blind Reviews and Reveal

As a relatively long-term perfume lover and collector, I have gone through the typical periods of buying, trading and selling scents.  Those of us who can relate to the term 'perfumista' are also familiar with the tragedy of failed purchases and the ecstatic feeling of a blind buy that worked out beautifully.  I know that i have fallen into many a purchase based on glowing reviews from others, or merely by virtue of brand.  As time goes by I've been finding, more and more, that expensive doesn't always mean better, indie doesn't automatically mean great, and designer is not always something to look down your nose at.  We've all experienced getting a scent on our scarf or jacket,  then putting the same item on a few days later and loving the scent but unable to place what it is.  I feel that these moments give you the most accurate perception of what your preferences are, much like the inability for one to, say, control their heartrate when they see someone very attractive.  You cannot deny the positive responses you feel to certain notes and constructions.

Those who read my last post know that I'm doing an experiment here on my blog that will be a regular feature.  These kinds of experiments are not new, however I decided to go a slightly different route.  I chose reviewers randomly who have various interest levels and experience levels with perfumes and perfumery because I was interested in a variety of opinions rather than just highly educated noses from the industry.  I want to see what people Just Like.  Is there a theme?  A formula?  I'm assuming not.  But I am very interested in reading about what people have to say about scents when they have no preconceived notions of what they SHOULD feel.

 I have eleven lovely reviewers who have volunteered to have me send them samples and decants every month.  These scents are unlabeled when I send them, so the reviewers have no idea what they are reviewing.  I wanted to see how perceptions of scents are different when labels, marketing, and preconceived opinions have been removed. Once they receive the samples, they send me their notes and I publish them here.  The scent is revealed at the bottom of the post along with my review (non-blind).  

Trona:  Fragrance #1 
This fragrance has a warm feel to it, loses longevity in the cold air, but inside on warm skin, it really shines.  #1 opens with subtle sweet and boozy wafts, she is slightly intoxicating but in a good way. The pepper and florals blend playfully, offering an alluring powdery aspect. Her cocktail breath makes one’s heart race like this party girl is meeting someone special tonight. After a short time in, she softens and you see the sophisticated, professional she is in the daytime, she wears her vanilla colored Jeanette Miner suit, with nutmeg heels and a Prada bag.....she is classic, and elegant, and very feminine. This lady doesn’t last long as a mannerly debutant, as evening approaches and she removes her layers, she reveals a warm and persuasive heart; adorned in a buttery marshmallow bustier and nothing else. She is truly a refined and well-bred woman in every sense of the word. I definitely get the pepper/nutmeg cinnamon in the top and throughout though it changes to a more balanced amount.  The florals are beautiful, but I cannot pick them out ….yet the blend feels familiar to me, I can’t put my finger on it.  It softens and gets nice and powdery (my favorite) and turns to a beautiful buttery marshmallow in the end with a hint of that spice. I love this scent and cannot wait to know what it is. 
Alfredo:  I'm getting a yellow floral.....something along the lines of mimosa & carnations, with possibly lily.  There's a touch of honey that adds to the sweetness. It's somewhat powdery on me with the dry down verging on slightly gourmand.  I feel this scent would be good for day time & spring weather, and for the weekends as it gives me a casual vibe. All in all stays pretty feminine giving me a Vintage 1960's Vibe!

Nicole:  A bright burst of sweet, not sickly but in a honey-syrup sense.  This scent evokest he image of early summer days outside; picnics and maypoles on a country estate in the South.  After 30 minutes the sweetness softens  and a musky, elegant scent emerges.  It reminds me of formal evening dinners at the turn of the century, very vintage and upscale like old money can buy.  After an hour the sweetness is replaced by a soft, powdery musk that sits close to the skin making me think of humid summer nights and candlelight.  I greatly enjoyed this fragrance and it reminds me of something from my childhood.  A distinctly happy feeling is associated with this scent (or something close to it).  I feel like this is a very elegant fragrance that everyone should experience at least once in their perfume adventures.

Rina:  Licorice.  Black licorice that morphs into bubble gum and camphor, then settling into a creamy tuberose.  Definitely gourmand.  Low sillage and longevity (on me, anyway).

Igor:  There's an initial rush of chypre and somewhat synthetic aldehydes. A few minutes in I sense the gourmand notes of berry, then dark coffee, mixed with roasted hazelnuts. After 30 minutes I sense vanilla and tonka . There is a “cold” sentiment that is retained throughout the entire fragrant journey. It almost balances all the warm notes in the composition. It could be either a citrus with juniper berry. For awhile it goes a little sweet and sour, then levels off and disappears. The scent is somewhat narcotic, but with a synthetic “feel” to it, as if you are getting not the real thing, but a great illusion. Longevity (on me) is rather poor, that scent is gone in 40 minutes without a trace. If I had to assign it to a specific gender, I would say they are a tad more on the masculine side which makes it ever so much sexier if worn by a woman. The sillage is rather weak; the scent stays closer to skin. It is more of an afternoon scent to be worn in a cooler weather. I usually think in pictures and this fragrance brings a very vivid image of Sean Young in Blade Runner, a bolder, stronger Joan Crawford archetype with a modern synthetic, un-human side. She has no emotions, she is cold, daring, in control of her every thought and action.

Paula:  First try......spicy opening with perhaps some cinnamon and a whiff of aldehydes.  Behind this is a sort of mid-twentieth century heart.....a well-blended floral with no one note standing out in particular.  I would take this for a mid-market fragrance, perhaps by Bvlgari or Fendi.  It's a sweet spicy floral with a hint of vanilla or amber......pleasant, but nothing is grabbing me about it.  As the top notes wear off and the heart starts to open, I find myself liking it more.   The notes at this stage are hard to pick out but now there are more fruits (perhaps plum) and a hint of hay and maple bringing to mind immortelle.  Aaaaaand now CORN of all things is coming in.  Weird! OK, an hour after applying the spice is fading and the gourmand elements are replacing them, but the scent seems to be fading.  However, 2 hours later this stage is still holding.....quietly, to be sure, and still sweet.  In the end there's a light dust of almond or heliotropin on my skin.

Jen:  I valiantly fought against my urge to scrub this one off moments after it hit my skin; there is something in it that made my nose hairs curl, unfortunately. Thankfully I persevered, and the heavy, spicy, too-floral-for-me scent gave way to a drier, duskier scent. It ended on a slightly creamy note. My note guesses: Honeysuckle, jasmine, immortelle, orange blossom, musk, amber, tonka, spices.

Erica:   Thrillingly complicated when wet. Smells expensive at the opening, fresh and bright but with nuanced spiced tones underneath, sparkling bergamot, a round hint of green, a soft orange blossom, a clean rose. The base is warm but light, a tender amber.  I sense cedar after some time on the skin. The bergamot lasts and is the star of the fragrance on me. Really enjoying this, I have a feeling I won't be able to afford a bottle but if it turns out to be inexpensive I am all over it! It's classic and energized. Throughout the day, I revisit this aroma huffing my wrists, and became more and more convinced that I have definitely tried this before and enjoyed it. I think it might be an Amouage. This is by far my favorite of the three! 

Alyssa:  I instantly thought this smelled familiar but couldn’t quite place it. I wore it 3 times and kept closing my eyes inhaling its aroma. I actually have question marks next to my notes because each day I tried it felt like a new experience. So consensus for the 3 days of wearing it I thought I sniffed out in the opening: orange blossom or honey suckle a slight bit of leather or suede a green kind of earthy note - patchouli.....For the heart I got: Amber, and a sort of citrus-like lime For the dry down I got: a woody scent - almost like cedar patchouli.

Cyndi:   This is absolutely thrilling!  Like an energetic swirl of bees and butterflies in a colorful, densely packed flower garden, heated by the bright sun.  I get 2 layers of scent here too – it’s heavenly, virginal and innocent, floating atop a lower layer of beckoning, mischievous sensuality that captures your attention and draws you closer to the wearer’s skin.  There is a honey note that I love, doing a lovely dance with powdery, floral and musk notes that are so well blended it’s like a magnificent frosting on a cake I cannot stop eating.  It’s sexy without being outright bawdy and a sassy but classy dress-up scent for evening.  This scent frankly mandates that the wearer twirl in her skirt, flirt, laugh and party the evening away.  The dry down is delicious- calming down to a hum of warm honeyed happiness on my skin, but with a little zesty something that keeps it from being too sweet or linear.  This is a scent I would definitely buy a FB of and spray again and again.   

My thoughts:
Fragrance number one was Elixir Charnel Le Boise Torride by Guerlain.  Released in 2009, this scent was meant to strike a balance between masculine and feminine (points to Igor!).  The opening reflects the feminine, with a lightly spiced floral and fruits.  The notes say berries......I sense a currant undertone.  Much of this fragrance reminds me of a softer, creamier version of Armani Si with perhaps a bit less fruit.  Though the florals are apparent, they are very soft and only serve as a landscape for the vision of fruits.  All of these notes are held aloft on a base of cedar and patchouli giving it a nicely grounded base.

What I enjoy about this scent is that it has an exuberant elegance about it.  This is a young woman new to the world of luxury......her presence skips along and over the fussy rules that have added structure to upper society.  She has not yet fallen prey to the trappings of traditional lines of feminine vs. masculine.  It feels vaguely hopeful and optimistic.  This is a lovely scent for a breezy, crisp, sunny fall day or the first sunny day of late winter when spring is a teasing scent in the cold air.   My husband asked me in the course of my considering this one, "Do you think there's anything in this scent structure that relates to a trend as a whole?"  After thinking about it, I believe the answer is yes.  In my opinion, around 2009 there started to be a movement starting to veer away from the average fruity floral.  This scent nicely tied in the commercial desire and standard to entice the general public with the fruitier aspects of the scent but still maintained elements of luxury classical perfumery.

Most of the reviewers stated that this was, to them, a high end fragrance without knowing which brand it was.  It does smell like an elegant scent and there's something in the structure and ingredients that is clearly higher end.  What I like about it as well is that it is not 'recognizably' Guerlain.  It has an individuality about it. I find the scents from the this series of Guerlain fragrances to be quite sweet and some I've never been able to embrace (*cough* Gourmand Coquin *cough*)  This one, though it steers that way, is nicely balanced by the base.  On me, I really sense the fruit and some fluffy marshmallow and a beautiful blend of sweet woods.  I don't know if I find it sexy or hot or anything like that as the name would imply; but it is definitely cozy, warm and pleasant.  This seems to be one of the lesser-appreciated scents from the Elixirs Charnel lineup....however, I feel like it was released before its time.  I feel that many current releases are very similar to the feel of this scent but this one is better done than most.....had it been a new release I believe it would have been more universally embraced. A shame, since the latest info is that it has been discontinued. 

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