Scent Sample Sunday: Christmas Roses

Scent Sample Sunday: Christmas Roses

Some of my favorite bloggers are posting about favorite holiday fragrances, and several have created their own fragrance Advent calendars, so clearly ’tis the season! I love Advent, but I was too slow off the mark to organize my own Advent calendar in time, and this is a very busy time of year for me at work, so I’ll just enjoy reading about theirs — although I might get my act together for a few “scents of Advent” or even a fragrance Twelve Days of Christmas, so stay tuned!

As some of you know, I’m an enthusiastic amateur gardener. One of the plants I love most is the hellebore, sometimes called the “Christmas Rose” or “Lenten Rose” because it blooms in the winter. I love it so much that the special china we bring out for the holidays from now through February has hellebores on it.

Spode Christmas Rose

So for my “scents of Advent” post today, I’m going to write about a few of the rose scents that I especially enjoy in the fall and winter, although real hellebores have little fragrance. Actual roses can emphasize so many different facets of their natural fragrance, and then perfumers focus on a few of those, and choose companion notes to heighten that emphasis; this is undoubtedly why there are hundreds, if not thousands, of rose-centric fragrances. I know some perfume-lovers dislike rose, but I’m inclined to think that may be because they haven’t found the right rose for them, or because they have unhappy associations with bad rose scents like poorly made soap.

I love fresh, citrusy, green roses in the spring and summer, but I’m just not drawn to them when the weather turns colder. Luckily, many perfume houses have created scents that emphasize the spicier, darker, warmer aspects of rose, and those are the ones I enjoy at this time of year. I’ve written before about some of them: Aramis’ Calligraphy Rose, Montale’s Intense Cafe, Gres’ Cabaret. Here are a few more:

Tauerville’s Rose Flash: this is one of the best fragrance buys on the market, imho. It is the first of Andy Tauer’s “Tauerville” line, fragrances that are deliberately more experimental (and more affordable) than his main line but still artfully crafted and multi-faceted. Rose Flash comes in a 20% concentration; in other words, parfum extrait strength. At $63 for a 30 ml bottle, and given its high quality, it’s at the top of my list. Here is the description from the website: “A shamelessly diffusive, tenacious, extrait-strength creation, overflowing with the greens, spices, citruses, woods and creamy intimacies which enter your very soul when you stick your nose into a bona fide, scented, living rose.” Be still, my heart! Yes, it really is that good.

Bottle of Andy Tauer's Tauerville Rose Flash parfum

Tauerville Rose Flash; image from www.theredolentmermaid.com.

Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose 2018: an update of a former Penhaligon’s classic, Elisabethan Rose, its notes are: Hazelnut Leaf, Almond Oil, Cinnamon, Red Lily, Rose Centifolia Oil, Rose Absolute, Vetyver, Musk, Wood. The unusual opening is just spicy enough to make it clear that this is a deep red rose, nothing pale. The cinnamon note makes it right for this season, but it isn’t strong. The rose notes, which appear right away, are fruity and deep, with wonderful undertones of spices and light wood. This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite rose fragrances — and what’s not to love about a bottle with a white ruff around its neck?

Bottle of Penhaligon's Elisabethan Rose eau de parfum with roses

Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose 2018; http://www.penhaligons.com.

Jo Malone’s Tudor Rose & Amber: one of the limited edition “Rock the Ages” set of 2015, Tudor Rose & Amber is meant to embody one of the most notable periods of English history. From Fragrantica: “Tudor Rose & Amber evokes the bloody and turbulent Tudor era. The fragrance contains Damask and Tudor rose as well as ginger in the heart, spicy beginning of pink pepper and clove and the base of golden amber, patchouli and white musk.” The ginger and clove make this a warm, dark rose for winter. Many commenters talk about a boozy or winelike impression; if so, it’s a mulled wine. Even Luca Turin likes this; in “Perfumes: The Guide 2018”, he gave it four stars and wrote:

The distinguished Grasse house of Mane must have been gutted to see Christine Nagel move to Hermes, because she was a priceless treasure. It’s not as if the rose-amber accord hadn’t occurred to anyone before, but Nagel inserts her trademark slug of biblical spices and woods smack in the center, as she did in Theorema (Fendi, 1998) and rescues it from heaviness and banality. Very fine work.

Rock the Ages collection of five fragrances from Jo Malone London

Jo Malone Rock the Ages Collection 2015; http://www.jomalone.com

Do you have any favorite cold-weather rose fragrances? Any fragrances that particularly say “holidays” to you? Please share!

Featured image from www.neillstrain.com.

 

Scent Sample Sunday: Adam Levine For Her

Scent Sample Sunday: Adam Levine For Her

If you are like me, you MAY have vaguely heard the name Adam Levine. You may even know that he is the lead singer for a pop rock band. You would probably recognize many of his songs with that band, Maroon 5. Maybe you’ve seen him as a coach on The Voice (I haven’t). What I’m trying to say is that I’m not his “target audience” , even though I’ve enjoyed his songs on the radio. I wouldn’t normally seek out his particular celebrity scent, or any particular celebrity scent. And yet I find myself recommending this one more than I would ever have expected, especially in colder weather, so I might as well explain why!

I have found that there are some perfume “noses” whose work often meshes with my own nose; some are mainstream perfumers working with big fragrance houses and companies, and some are truly indie perfumers, creating for their own niche brands. One of the more mainstream perfumers whose work I enjoy more often than not is Yann Vasnier. He has created several for Arquiste, including my initial discovery of his work, the two Arquiste fragrances for J. Crew, No. 31 and No. 57. I loved the “Bloomsbury Collection” he did in 2017 for Jo Malone, especially Blue Hyacinth.  The Arquiste for J. Crew fragrances were discontinued some time ago, so I was browsing around for a similar scent, and looking up other fragrances by M. Vasnier, and I came across Adam Levine For Her, which was launched in 2013. It is truly a bargain — 3.4 fl. oz. of eau de parfum for under $15, sometimes even under $12.

Fragrantica lists its notes as follows: “top notes are saffron, citruses, marigold and spices; middle notes are Indian jasmine, Australian sandalwood and rose petals; base notes are benzoin and vanilla.” The opening is pleasantly bright and spicy, and I definitely smell the marigold, too, which is a less common note in fragrance but one I like very much (I love the smell of real marigolds, but some people don’t like it at all). The middle phase of Adam Levine For Her is what I would call a “warm floral” — the jasmine and rose are softened and blurred by the sandalwood, while the spice notes of the opening persist for a while after the opening citruses have faded. This is the most floral stage of the fragrance, so I think it would work very well on many men, even those who don’t fully embrace floral notes.

The drydown becomes sweeter and warmer as the benzoin and vanilla take the stage, but not excessively so. A really clever aspect of this fragrance is that it evokes Adam Levine’s own voice, which ranges from a bright, pop-inflected tenor to a warmer, deeper range. M. Vasnier again shows an alert mind at work even behind this discount fragrance. On my skin, Adam Levine For Her lasts a long time; I like to wear it to bed because of its calm warmth and I can still smell it when I wake up. It also lasts forever on textile, and I’m seriously considering spraying it on one of my wool scarves this winter just to enjoy it wafting up to me when I’m outside. I don’t think I’ll want to wear it in the spring or summer, but it’s great for autumn.

Interestingly, when you read about it on Fragrantica, thirty (30) readers have noted that Adam Levine For Her reminds them of — wait for it — the much more expensive Santal Blush by Tom Ford in his Private Blend line, also created by Yann Vasnier. I haven’t tried Santal Blush, so I can’t speak to any resemblance, but I can say that the Whisky & Cedarwood he created for Jo Malone does remind me a lot of Arquiste for J. Crew No. 57, so it appears that he thinks about and reworks certain themes in the fragrances he creates, which makes sense. Santal Blush has more notes and probably more expensive ingredients, but if you like it, you might see if you like this more affordable sibling. Australian Perfume Junkies has an excellent review of it, from 2015; and I Scent You A Day also reviewed and liked it in 2016.

It may have been discontinued, as I often see it at various discount outlets, both brick and online, but it is still widely available for bargain prices. Earlier this year, Yves St. Laurent announced that Adam Levine would become the new face and ambassador for its 2017-launched men’s fragrance, Y. I think I’ll order a backup bottle of this fragrance for women!

Have you tried this, or any similar fragrances by M. Vasnier? Have you tried Santal Blush? Thoughts?

May Muguet Marathon: Meghan’s Bouquet

May Muguet Marathon: Meghan’s Bouquet

I took a short break from my May Muguet Marathon to travel to London — no, not to see the Queen or the recent royal wedding. But like many Americans, I followed the wedding hoopla with some interest and found myself surprisingly moved by the ceremony and service. While I am here this week, I am visiting some perfume meccas and will write about them soon. But today, we are continuing the theme of weddings and bridal bouquets that include lilies of the valley. They were one of several white flowers featured in Meghan Markle’s lovely bouquet, apparently as a way to honor Princess Diana, who had them in her own bridal bouquet.

Meghan Markle and her wedding bouquet of white flowers

Meghan and her bouquet; image from http://www.express.co.uk.

Town & Country magazine wrote a nice description of the bouquet, noting that, in addition to Princess Diana and Kate, now the Duchess of Cambridge, “other British royal brides who have incorporated the bloom in their bouquets are Princess Margaret in 1960, Princess Anne in 1973, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, when she wed Prince Charles in 2005.” All of the flowers for the recent royal wedding were stunning, and it makes them even sweeter to know that they were made into gift bouquets after the ceremony and sent to hospice patients and residents of women’s shelters in the area.

Flowers given to hospice patients

Wedding flowers donated to hospice patients; image from http://www.independent.co.uk

What scent might a bride wear while carrying a bouquet of lilies of the valley? I wrote a while ago about a Brides magazine article that paired fragrances with various bridal bouquets: May Muguet Marathon: Perfume/Bouquet Pairings. No one seems to know for sure what Meghan wore on her wedding day, but it is known that she favors Jo Malone scents such as Wild Bluebell and Wood Sage and Sea Salt as her everyday fragrances. Apparently, the British perfume house Floris, which has a royal warrant, has created a bespoke fragrance for her, according to Marie Claire magazine. It is meant to be unisex, with notes of bergamot and orange flower. It sounds delightful, and as sunny as the gorgeous weather the happy couple (and happy onlookers) enjoyed in Windsor last weekend.

I have a soft spot for wedding bouquets with lilies of the valley, as I carried them in my own bridal bouquet (and grew those particular blooms in my own garden). I think I also wore Diorissimo that day, as that was one of my two regular fragrances at that time (the other being Chanel No. 22) but can’t say for sure. No matter! My wedding day was fragranced with muguet, and that is a very happy memory for me. May the lilies of the valley in her bouquet also bring great happiness to Meghan and her Prince!

 

National Fragrance Week: Miller Harris

National Fragrance Week: Miller Harris

Another UK fragrance house I like very much is Miller Harris. British perfumer Lyn Harris founded Miller Harris in 2000. Before that she spent 5 years training in France at one of the highly prestigious schools of the perfume in Paris and then Robertet in Grasse. After selling her eponymous company, which still produces fragrances under the brand name Miller Harris, she started a new line, Perfumer H. The Perfume Society has a lovely summary of the founding of the Miller Harris line and its ongoing work: Miller Harris. I was able to visit the boutique in Covent Garden some time ago, which was a rainbow of color from various packages.

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Miller Harris

I am the happy owner of two Miller Harris “travel sets”: Fragrance Friday: La Collection Voyage. I especially liked Terre d’Iris and La Pluie, but honestly, I haven’t yet tried a Miller Harris scent I disliked. I liked Tangerine Vert very much, but found it did not last well on my dry skin. Applying a “filter” like Maison Martin Margiela’s Replica Filter Glow was helpful, as was the application of a rich, fragrance-free cream. All in all, I’m delighted to have made the acquaintance of Miller Harris. If you enjoy fragrance lines like Penhaligon’s or Jo Malone, you’ll probably like Miller Harris.

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Miller Harris

National Fragrance Week: Jo Loves

National Fragrance Week: Jo Loves

Since National Fragrance Week is a British thing, and I’m not in the UK, I’m going to write about some of the British fragrance houses I have come to know and love. First up: Jo Loves. I had the pleasure of visiting the Jo Loves boutique in London a year and a half ago, and what a delight it was!

Jo Loves fragrance boutique on Elizabeth Street in London

Jo Loves

I came home with the “Discovery Gift Experience”, a discovery of all the line’s fragrances at that time and a gift certificate for one of them, my choice. I was able to narrow down my pick to one of these: Red Truffle 21, No. 42 The Flower Shop, and White Rose and Lemon Leaves. I also liked Fresh Sweet Peas, but it felt a little young for me — better suited to one of my young adult daughters. I ended up getting No. 42 The  Flower Shop, a lively green floral, with my gift certificate, and recently found White Rose and Lemon Leaves on an auction site for a very reasonable price. I love them both!

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Jo Loves

Both scents are the kind of fresh florals I love. No. 42 is very green, also a favorite theme of mine, and smells very like a florist’s refrigerated storage area. White Rose is a fresh, citrusy rose that almost photorealistically captures the light but strong scent of a fresh white rose. It lasts a long time, too, still discernible on my wrist after 13 hours and counting. I really enjoy the liveliness and cheerful optimism of both scents; they capture the air of spring and early summer, when everything is bursting into new, fragrant bloom and various garden woes haven’t yet taken hold.

We gardeners are eternal optimists; we think that this is the year when the powdery mildew will spare our roses, when sudden storms won’t strip the trees of their blossoms, when insects will magically pass over our borders and feast on someone else’s flowers. Alas, it is never quite THAT year in our gardens, and yet we fool ourselves every spring into believing this might be the one. That is the kind of cheerfulness and optimism that these two fragrances capture.

Have you tried any of the Jo Loves line? What did you think?

It’s National Fragrance Week!

It’s National Fragrance Week!

At least in the UK … I’m not asking too many questions, I’m just going to enjoy the designation of March 5-11 as National Fragrance Week, with its own website and everything! (The reason I know this one’s really for Brits is that it is supposed to be the week right before Mother’s Day next Sunday, and ours in the US isn’t until May).

So what does one do for National Fragrance Week? If you’re one of several English blogs about fragrance, you give things away! I Scent You A Day is giving away Avon fragrances, one targeted at men and one at women. It’s only for UK readers, though, so read rules carefully.

I feel as if I should join in the celebrations, even from across the Atlantic, so maybe I’ll review several UK fragrances this week. I’ll start by reposting this, about one of my favorite Penhaligon’s scents, especially fitting as the daffodils are in full bloom right now in my city: Fragrance Friday: Ostara. Penhaligon’s is a favorite brand of mine and VERY British. I also like Jo Malone scents, although they’re now owned by Estee Lauder, and the actual Jo Malone’s new line, Jo Loves.

Happy National Fragrance Week! How will you celebrate, in the UK or elsewhere?

Scent Sample Sunday: Crowd Pleasers

Scent Sample Sunday: Crowd Pleasers

I have a few fragrances that I think of as “crowd pleasers.” My “crowd” these days are usually my husband and teenaged son, who are patient testers of wrists extended with the request to sniff and tell me what they think. They prefer what my son calls “laid-back” scents: straightforward, more on the subtle side, nothing too strong (tuberose, I’m looking at you!) or challenging. And I have some very pleasing fragrances that fit the bill: some by Jo Malone, some by Lili Bermuda, some by Penhaligon’s, even one by Montale when applied lightly (Intense Cafe).

The crowd-pleaser I wore today is Berdoues Grand Crus Vanira Moorea. The only notes listed on Fragrantica are:  petitgrain, brazilian orange and madagascar vanilla. I’m sure there’s more going on with it, but those are the notes one smells the most. It opens with that citrusy sparkle and moves quickly into vanilla territory. I’ve noticed that many men seem to like the vanilla note in women’s fragrances if it is prominent enough for them to notice. Some commenters find Vanira Moorea sweet, but I don’t — at least not enough to think of it as vanilla gourmand. It always draws nods of approval from my “crowd” when I wear it. It’s a comfortable, comforting scent without being heavy or cloying.

CaFleureBon‘s Gail Gross wrote a lovely review of Vanira Moorea, around the theme of the South Pacific:

This new cologne, created by perfumer Alexandra Monet and introduced in July 2016, is at once vivid, saturated and crisp. With the initial spritz the slightly bitter, leafy petitgrain lifts the vanilla right off the ground. As the cologne drifts and swirls though the air, bright sparks of sweetness are carried on a green, misty essence of twigs and leaves.  This unisex, effervescent refreshment lasts for about an hour before the fragrance melts and settles onto the skin with a sensuality reminiscent of oranges and sunshine.

I think it is this sunny, cheerful warmth that makes this fragrance a true crowd-pleaser. Which fragrances of yours would you put in that category?