A Scented Advent, Day 1

A Scented Advent, Day 1

I know some of you have been drooling, as have I, over the luxurious Advent calendars several cosmetic and fragrance brands sell as this time of year. Some of us were chatting back and forth about this on our blogs, and lo! a plan was born. I have a refillable Advent calendar, and I have placed in it some of the surprise samples sent by a kind perfumista — the remnants of a “traveling box” of perfumes that circulated among a group of enthusiasts, each adding some to send on the the next recipient. So I won’t know what I’m going to get on any given day, since I won’t look (I promise!) other than to make sure it will fit.

Refillable wooden Advent calendar
My fragrance Advent calendar

I’m going to try to write an Advent blog entry every day of December until Christmas, about the surprise fragrance of the day from the calendar. Wish me luck! They will be short posts, out of necessity. I love the Advent season, when the Christian world awaits the arrival of Baby Jesus and the renewal of hope. I love everything about it: the floral and evergreen decorations wafting their scents through the air; the special foods; the outdoor lights; the glorious music; Christmas trees! Now I have one more reason to enjoy the season.

Day 1’s scent is Nice Bergamote, from Essential Parfums. Created by Antoine Maisondieu and launched in 2018, it is classified by Fragrantica as a “citrus aromatic.” Notes listed there include bergamot, jasmine, ylang-ylang, cedar and tonka bean; the brand website also mentions rose petals.

Bottle of Nice Bergamote eau de parfum with ingredients
Nice Bergamote, by Essential Parfums; image from brand website.

At first sniff on my skin, this is a very pleasing bergamot-centered fragrance. I think it would appeal equally to women and men, on themselves and on each other. I wouldn’t call it highly distinctive, though. As soon as I sniffed, I thought “I’ve smelled this before — where?” Alas, I haven’t been able to dredge up a specific scent that this resembles, but it might be Commodity’s Bergamot. Be that as it may, Nice Bergamote is clearly a high-quality fragrance with a terrific juicy opening and a pleasant dry-down.

The fresh bergamot note lasts a surprisingly long time on my skin; those citrus top notes usually leap out of the gate, make their presence known, and gallop off in a froth of lightness after as little as ten minutes. I think there’s an herbal note in this structure, not listed, that has the effect of extending the longevity of the bergamot top note, with its green astringency. It’s a bit like basil, but it’s not basil.

Advent Day 1 summary: Nice Bergamote is nice, but I don’t feel the need to rush out and buy a bottle. I’m very glad to have this sample to try, though! And if I did yearn for a full bottle, the price is very reasonable: 72 euros for 100 ml, which includes a 20% VAT. The brand also sells 10 ml travel sprays, which I always appreciate. Nice work, Essential Parfums!

Perfume Chat Room, November 12

Perfume Chat Room, November 12

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, November 12, and I’m taking my husband to get his booster vaccine later this morning, after physical therapy (he’s recovering from knee surgery and can’t drive). Wish us luck! The Christmas ads are proliferating, as are store decorations. In the past, I was a bit irritated by the displays that went up the day after Halloween, but this year I am enjoying them! I’m really ready to celebrate a more normal holiday season, as evidenced by a recent errand I ran to Target, which is completely overrun with holiday-themed everything — and not only did I not cringe, I beamed.

I keep seeing ads for gorgeous Advent calendars with lovely miniatures of various cosmetics and fragrances. The ones from Chanel, Dior, and Guerlain are spectacular! I’m not really tempted, though, because most of the calendars include many products I probably wouldn’t use. I’ve only ever bought one such Advent calendar; it was by Atelier Cologne, and each daily offering was a sample or mini vial of one of their scents. I may create my own Advent calendar for fun, and just fill one with minis and samples I haven’t tried yet, which would encourage me to work my way through more of them!

Have you ever bought a fragrance or cosmetic Advent calendar? Which one? Are you tempted by any of this year’s offerings?

Collection of beauty product Advent calendars, 2021
Advent calendars; image from oprahdaily.com
Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose Anonyme

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose Anonyme

Another truly unisex rose is Atelier Cologne’s Rose Anonyme. When it was first released in 2012, at least one reviewer (the marvelous Jessica at Now Smell This)  thought it was more feminine than many of Atelier Cologne’s fragrances. As I don’t know many of those, I can’t really say for sure, but compared to most of the florals I own, Rose Anonyme smells very gender-fluid to me. Continue reading

Scent Sample Sunday: Iris Rebelle

Scent Sample Sunday: Iris Rebelle

Iris Rebelle is a 2018 launch from Atelier Cologne, which I’ve just tried as part of their Advent Calendar for this year. Fragrantica lists the following notes: top notes — calabrian bergamot, orange blossom and black pepper; middle notes — iris, lavender and may rose; base notes — guaiac wood, patchouli and white musk. And sure enough, as soon as I applied some on my wrist from the mini-dabber that comes in the calendar, my first reaction (without having yet read the notes list) was “bright iris.” I like it very much, but if you don’t enjoy carroty iris notes, this is not for you. Iris Rebelle is worth your attention if you like iris notes in fragrance. It will not last for hours on end, but it will last long enough for you to experience the progression of its notes.

The opening combines a bright, strong citrus note from the bergamot with a lightly earthy iris, right from the start. I don’t really smell any pepper that I can pick out separately, but a light spiciness underlies the citrus and iris. The middle phase is mostly about the iris, fittingly. It is an earthy iris, but it also has a transparency that seems to be typical of Atelier CologneIris Rebelle is also part of the line’s “Chic Absolu” collection, which is described on the website as “clean, transparent, and elegant.” The bright citrus opening is also one of their signatures, as the line was founded to feature the kind of citrus notes found in colognes, combining them with a wide range of other notes:

Inspired by the legendary Eau de Cologne, the Cologne Absolue is a new olfactive family created in 2009 by Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, Atelier Cologne Creators and Founders. Genuine pure perfume exalting the magical freshness and elegance of citruses with exceptional lasting power thanks to very high concentrations of essential oils.

I haven’t tried many of Atelier Cologne’s scents, so the Advent calendar was a nice opportunity to do so. They also sell a discovery set online, which comes with a voucher to apply its purchase price to a future order of a bottle. I like this company’s considerate treatment of its customers, from the discovery set voucher to the small sizes they make available (down to 10 ml). Sometimes you just want to play with a fragrance, not commit to 100 ml at great expense! Atelier Cologne is also very conscientious with the ingredients they use, which do not include any paraben, paraffinum liquidum, GMO, animal-derived ingredients, colorants, or sulfates.

Each Atelier fragrance comes with a little slice of backstory, which seems to be de rigueur for modern niche fragrances. The moments assigned to Iris Rebelle are:

He was drawing obsessively, invading her space as if he were alone. But when she changed her seat he could not stop staring at her… Days later backstage, she was nervously breathing as the crowd was waiting for the ballet to start. At that moment, she unexpectedly saw him in the front row. All at once, she felt strong and calm, as if they were alone.

Who is the artist? Who is the dancer? I think this is a romanticized reference to the artist Edgar Degas and one of his many models among the ballet corps of the Paris Opera, whom he did draw “obsessively.” And indeed, Iris Rebelle does evoke some of that world, from the cologne of the “abonnes”, the male patrons of the ballet, to the wood of the stage flooring, surrounding the flowers that may represent Degas’ “danseuses“, to the transparency it displays, not unlike Degas’ works in pastel. Degas was himself a rebel artistically, one of the Impressionists who overturned the received notions of art, drawing, and painting, in 19th century France. The backstory for this fragrance is highly idealized, however, as the ballet world Degas portrayed was much harsher than his pastels suggested; and it seems that Degas himself was something of a misogynist even for that time.

Painting and pastel by Edgar Degas of Paris Opera ballet dancers rehearsing.

Edgar Degas, The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage, http://www.metmuseum.org

One aspect of Iris Rebelle that I like is the persistence of the citrus note, especially since it comes from bergamot, a green and astringent citrus note that I love. I have never eaten an actual bergamot fruit, but the scent is very familiar to me from the famous Earl Grey tea, which is flavored with the bergamot that lends its distinctive fragrance to the tea. Usually citrus notes in perfume fade away very quickly, but this bergamot lasts a while longer, and weaves together with the lavender note to evoke a hint of a gentleman’s cologne insinuating itself into the floralcy of the heart notes. Even the earthiness of the iris may refer to the lower origins of most of the dancers, while the orange blossom and rose notes evoke the pastel fantasy world they worked so hard to embody onstage.

Pastel of ballerina tilting onstage, by Edgar Degas

Ballerina, by Edgar Degas

Have you tried Iris Rebelle? What other Atelier Colognes do you recommend?