Scent Sample Sunday: Zara Emotions by Jo Malone

Scent Sample Sunday: Zara Emotions by Jo Malone

I have been eagerly awaiting the US launch of Zara’s collection of fragrances, Emotions, in collaboration with perfumer Jo Malone. I love some of her fragrances under her own brand, Jo Loves, so I was curious to see what she came up with for Zara, well-known as a destination for budget-conscious shoppers. Zara has released many, many fragrances under its own name, some created by famous perfumers, such as Vibrant Leather, created by Jerome Epinette. The Emotions collection launched in Europe in late 2019, but it took another year to become available in the USA. Luckily, it arrived in time for the holidays, and I treated myself and one of my daughters each to the sample/discovery set. It costs $25.90.

The discovery set is a nice size: eight long, narrow vials of eau de parfum, each holding 4 ml of a different fragrance. The collection consists of: Amalfi Sunray, Bohemian Bluebells, Ebony Wood, Fleur de Patchouli, Fleur d’Oranger, Tubereuse Noir, Vetiver Pamplemousse, Waterlily Tea Dress. The vials are “dabbers”, not sprays. Each fragrance lists only three notes, and I think they would be ideal for layering, with each other or with other fragrances. In fact, the Zara website sells “layering sets” with various combinations of the collection’s fragrances, with one scent in a 15 ml “paintbrush” format and two more in 10 ml sprays. The sets offer some ideas for layering which I plan to try with my discovery set.

I would call these fragrances eminently likable. None are groundbreaking, but all are very pleasant. Predictably, given my affection for green fragrances, I like Waterlily Tea Dress a lot, with its notes of mint, bergamot, and musk. It is a soft green, softer than the galbanum-based heavy hitters I love. Less predictably, I also like Ebony Wood very much. It is a warm, woody/spicy unisex fragrance, very appealing in the current cool weather where I live. Fleur de Patchouli is fine, but it smells more generic to my nose; it might come alive more when layered with something else. In fact, I’ve read elsewhere that it layers very nicely with the Ebony Wood I like, and that is one of the combinations sold on the Zara website, so I’ll have to try them together.

I’m not a big fan of tuberose — I don’t hate it, but I have to be in the mood for it, and it can feel cloying to me after a while. So Tubereuse Noir won’t be at the top of my personal list, but if you do like tuberose, it’s a respectable one. Its other notes are listed as ylang-ylang and sandalwood, but I don’t pick up either of those. At the start, the tuberose smells quite synthetic to me and even a bit “chemical”, but that dies down pretty quickly. If you’re really searching for “noir”, this isn’t it. Similarly, Fleur d’Oranger is another white floral, and it starts out smelling a bit “chemical”, but that goes away quickly.

I quite like Bohemian Bluebells, but the name is misleading. This isn’t a bluebell fragrance or a spring floral at all; it is a lavender fragrance, its other notes listed as sandalwood and musk. The lavender is a bright, sprightly lavender, nothing musty or dry. It actually reminds me a bit of the very opening of Jicky eau de toilette, which I love. I could see spritzing Bohemian Bluebells at bedtime, which I sometimes do with my Jicky EDT because I find the lavender very peaceful. The lavender in Bohemian Bluebells warms up over time, which I think is the effect of some sandalwood and musk peeking through, though the lavender is still dominant.

Another surprise to me was how much I like Vetiver Pamplemousse, but then I remembered that I unexpectedly liked Jo Loves’ Pink Vetiver more than anticipated. The two are not similar other than the vetiver note both contain, but it’s a very pleasant vetiver and I like the combination with grapefruit. Amalfi Sunray is a fresh burst of citrus with a bit of orange flower; I prefer it to its sibling Fleur d’Oranger.

The Emotions collection of fragrances is well worth trying, at $25.90 for the discovery set. All the fragrances are available in other product formats, such as candles, lotion, shampoo, etc., and the EDP comes in various sizes, with separate sizes starting at 10 ml for $9.90. It would be interesting to try using some of the different products together, perhaps one of the lotions with one of the EDPs, especially given the reasonable price of the lotions ($12.90 for 200 ml). These certainly qualify as “bargain beauties”! I’m happy to see that the collaboration continues with the addition of new scents.

Have you tried any of the Emotions collection? What do you think?

Featured image from www.allure.com.

Scent Sample Sunday: St. Clair Scents’ Frost

Scent Sample Sunday: St. Clair Scents’ Frost

I have long been a fan of Diane St. Clair’s fragrance creations, especially Gardener’s Glove but also First Cut. Frost is the third of that trio, her first releases which arrived in 2018. (For three very comprehensive reviews, you must read Kafkaesque’s detailed dissection of each). When I first read the name of that scent, I thought it would relate to frost, as in fall and winter temperatures, but instead, it refers to the poet Robert Frost, who wrote many of his most famous poems a short distance from Diane’s dairy farm in Vermont. Per her website:

“This scent follows the story of Frost’s poem, “To Earthward” which describes the transformation of youthful love, from “sweet like the petals of the rose” and “sprays of honeysuckle” to painful love, which stings like “bitter bark”, “burning clove” and “rough earth.”

“[The] scent weaves together accords of clove and smoke; bitter woods and earth; sweet rose and rose geranium; sprays of honeysuckle and sparkling citrus.” 

  • Top Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin Yellow and Green, Coriander, Petitgrain sur fleur, Meyer Lemon
  • Middle Notes: Honeysuckle Accord, Rose Geranium, Elderflower Absolute, Petitgrain Absolute
  • Base Notes: Cistus, Labdanum Absolute, Vanilla Absolute, Vetiver, Cedar, Smoke, Clove Absolute

The sunny opening is bright and cheerful; it vanishes quite quickly from my skin, and the next notes I smell most are the rose geranium and the clove sneaking in. As Sam Scriven wrote in I Scent You A Day, this combination with the honeysuckle actually generates a scent that smells like carnation and reminds one of Serge Lutens’ Vitriol d’Oeillet. I love carnation, so this appeals to me.

Frost quickly turns smoky on my skin, and the “burning cloves” take over. This stage of Frost is dry, dry, dry, between the smoke, the vetiver, the cistus, the cedar, and the labdanum. I don’t really detect vanilla.

Bottom line? I like Frost and it is clearly a high-quality artisan product by a very gifted perfumer. It is parfum strength and it lasts for hours. However, I do prefer Gardener’s Glove and First Cut, which are more botanical and floral than smoky. Frost does seem like a perfect scent for this week’s winter solstice, though, with its brief sunlight opening, and its rapid progress into a long night lit by bonfires burning spices and resin.

Have you tried any of St. Clair Scents’ fragrances? Diane has released more since 2018 — any favorites among the original three or the newer ones? Or, do you have any favorite poems by Robert Frost?

To Earthward

Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air

That crossed me from sweet things
The flow of–was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Down hill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they’re gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.

I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.

Now no joy but lacks salt
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain

Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.

When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,

The hurt is not enough.
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.

Photo by Stephen + Alicia on Pexels.com

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

I’m a fan of Jeffrey Dame and his fragrances; they are well-crafted, high-quality, and reasonably priced. I love Duality and Black Flower Mexican Vanilla. I really like Vanille Farfelue. The JD fragrances are created with perfumer Hugh Spencer, a longtime collaborator of Jeffrey Dame’s. The JD website lists Mimosa Mixte’s notes as mandarin, basil, bergamot, mimosa, violet, ylang ylang, heliotrope, sandalwood, vanilla and musk. Fragrantica classes it as a “floral woody musk”; a number of commenters refer to it as a “yellow floral”, and I agree with that, given the prominence of mimosa and ylang ylang.

Continue reading
Scent Sample Sunday: Diorella

Scent Sample Sunday: Diorella

Christian Dior’s Diorella was created in 1972 by the legendary perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, a sibling of his masterpiece Diorissimo. It is one of the fragrances awarded five stars by Turin and Sanchez in their book “Perfumes: The A-Z Guide.” Although they docked one star from it in their 2009 update, they still found it excellent. I have a bottle of Diorella that I think dates to 2002, according to the guidelines described in the “Raiders of the Lost Scent” blog (a great resource).

It smells great! Continue reading

Scent Sample Sunday: Lady Stetson

Scent Sample Sunday: Lady Stetson

I have decided to seek out, proactively, some black perfumers and black-owned fragrance brands to highlight periodically, because I’ve been so concerned about the racial tensions in my city, state, and country lately, and this feels like something positive I can do through my little blog (I regularly encounter and try to handle issues around racial justice in my actual job). And someone I have recently discovered is Howard Kennedy, a longtime perfumer and “nose”, who created Lady Stetson and won five FiFi awards for “Fragrance of the Year” during his long career. He is one of the rare black perfumers recognized as having made important contributions to fragrance in the 20th century.

Today’s “Scent Sample Sunday”, then, will be Lady Stetson. Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: And The Winners Are …

Roses de Mai Marathon: And The Winners Are …

Today is the last day of May, and the end of my blogging “Roses de Mai Marathon”! Thanks, all of you who came with me on this journey — I have loved reading your suggestions and comments. Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: L’Opera des Rouges et des Roses

Roses de Mai Marathon: L’Opera des Rouges et des Roses

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is not only one of the most gifted American perfumers, but one of the most beloved. I’ve never had the privilege of meeting her, but I follow her doings and have bought some of her lovely offerings. It feels even more important to do so when able, to support our independent artisan perfumers. Today’s penultimate entry in the “Roses de Mai Marathon” is her creation L’Opera des Rouges et des Roses. Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rrose Selavy

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rrose Selavy

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” said Gertrude Stein in 1913.  Rrose Selavy is named for the alter ego of Stein’s contemporary and acquaintance, the Dadaist Marcel Duchamp. I really can’t explain this any better than perfumer Maria Candida Gentile’s website copy, so here it is:

A velvet rose, persistent and unique, dedicated to one of the leading artists of Dadaism: a homage to Marcel Duchamp and to his “double” Rrose Sélavy.

With Rrose Sélavy, Maria Candida interprets the “double” of Marcel Duchamp, and his jeux des mots Rrose Sélavy which sounds in French like “eros, c’est la vie”, or “arroser la vie”, to make a toast to life. Maria Candida pays tribute to Duchamp, making a toast to life with her velvet, soft, fresh, just harvested scent, with its olfactory vibration and which fills the air and the space, tridimensional just like his art crafts. The name Sélavy emerged in 1921 in a series of photographs by Man Ray of Duchamp dressed as a woman. Throughout the 1920s, Man Ray and Duchamp collaborated on more photos of Sélavy. Duchamp later used the name as a signature name on written material and signed several creations with it.

What does this perfume smell like? Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose d’Amour

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose d’Amour

There is only one perfume house totally dedicated to the Rose, and it is Les Parfums de Rosine. I previously reviewed its beautiful Clair Matin. One of the house’s classic fragrances is Rose d’Amour, which Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez gave four stars in their book Perfumes: The A-Z Guide (referring to the 2006 version, the one I have). Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose 31

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose 31

Sometimes I read reviews or comments about fragrance that I just don’t understand. Take, for instance, cumin. Many commenters smell cumin as “sweaty” or dirty. I never understood that, because I like to cook, and sometimes I cook with cumin, and it never smelled sweaty to me. Until I tried Le Labo’s Rose 31. Continue reading