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.

Gifts of the Three Magi: Frankly Frankincense — takeonethingoff.com

Each of the gifts of the three Magi carried a special symbolic meaning – gold representing kingship, myrrh foreshadowing the death of Jesus (myrrh being commonly used as an embalming and purifying ointment in the final sendoff of a soul), and finally, frankincense for divinity. 171 more words

Gifts of the Three Magi: Frankly Frankincense — takeonethingoff.com

Reposting this from a blog I like very much: Take One Thing Off. So many incense-based fragrances! I’ve tried some but not all — which ones have you tried? Any favorites?

Perfume Chat Room, December 11

Perfume Chat Room, December 11

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, December 11, and I am loving a fragrance I got earlier this year from House of Matriarch. It’s called Violet Flame and I pulled it out because of NST’s Community Project today, which is to wear a violet-forward scent. House of Matriarch is an independent, artisan perfumery with a focus on natural materials. Its fragrances have won awards, including a 2020 Art & Olfaction Award for Bonsai, and the ones I’ve tried quite special. I haven’t bought any full bottles because I have so many of their sample and travel sized sprays.

Have you tried any from this house? Or do you have a favorite violet-based fragrance? Are you ready for the holidays? And finally, Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate it! (Yes, I know the featured image shows all the candles lit and that doesn’t happen yet, I just love the photo and the text).

Scent Sample Sunday: Clinique Wrappings

Scent Sample Sunday: Clinique Wrappings

Since we truly enter the holiday season this week, with Thanksgiving to be followed swiftly by Advent, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s, today seems like as good a time as any to comment on Clinique’s Wrappings, which for many years was available only during the winter holidays at certain high-end stores. Nowadays you can buy it directly from the Clinique website (maybe they hide it after January?), although the copy describes it as “our once-a-year fragrance, here just for the holidays.” Regardless, Wrappings seems to have developed something of a cult status, although it is very reasonably priced, $47.00 for the gift set of a parfum spray and body lotion, and often marked down after Christmas (so don’t pay inflated prices on eBay).

Launched in 1990, Wrappings fits in well with a house whose most famous fragrance for many years was Aromatics Elixir. It is a gentler sibling, described on Fragrantica as a “floral aldehydic” fragrance. (I disagree with that characterization). Top notes are Green Notes, Aldehydes, Artemisia, Nutmeg Flower and Lavender; middle notes are Hyacinth, Orris Root, Cyclamen, Carnation, Rose and Jasmine; base notes are Oakmoss, Cedar, Sea Notes, Patchouli, Musk and Leather. Wrappings has a clean vibe to it that is well-suited to the decade of the 1990s, which embraced clean and aquatic fragrances. It is sold in parfum format, in a 25 ml bottle, often in a gift set with body lotion.

When I first spray it on my wrists, I smell a note that isn’t on the list above, something citrusy. It might be bergamot, because it isn’t sweet or fruity, and it blends in well with the green and herbal notes that also open this fragrance. I was relieved to read earlier reviews by Persolaise and MimiFrouFrou/The Scented Salamander, in which both commented on the citrusy note, confirming what my own nose was telling me! The reason I don’t agree with Fragrantica’s category is that when I read “floral aldehydic”, I think of scents like White Linen, or Chanel No. 22. And Wrappings is nothing like those. I can sense the aldehydes boosting the opening, giving it lift and sparkle, and a certain brisk chill, but they’re not as dominant as they are in, say, No. 22. The herbal notes are what linger throughout the opening stage, to my nose, especially the artemisia and lavender. Another commenter has called Wrappings a “feminine fougere”, and that sounds exactly right to me.

I barely smell any of the listed floral notes. If the flowers are there, they are not greenhouse-grown, luxuriously tended until they are gathered into bouquets for indoors. No, these are flowers of the Mediterranean growing wild in their natural habitats, wafting over grasses and herbs. And given how faint they are, and how well Wrappings suits late autumn, I would say that they are the last, brave blooms that show up sporadically throughout a sunny fall season, thriving in those cool nights and warm days until the first frost stops them in their tracks and sends them into dormancy.

Many commenters smell pine in Wrappings, but I don’t. I do smell a green woodiness in the middle stage; I don’t think it is the cedar, listed as a base note, it is probably the oakmoss, which continues through the drydown stage. There is an alluring mineral note in the drydown that I think comes from the “sea notes”. The musk that lingers longest at the end, with a hint of the oakmoss, is quite soft, and I don’t smell any patchouli or leather.

Wrappings lasts several hours on my skin, but it is quite faint after 7 hours or so. This seems to be a parfum concentration, per the label on the bottom of the bottle, so I don’t think it carries very far. The Scented Salamander’s review mentions that early advertising for Wrappings compared it to a chemise, slipped on over clean, bare skin, and I think that’s right. The current website says it “hugs skin in layers of warmth and brightness.”

Although I think “feminine fougere” is apt, this could certainly be worn by men. Have you tried Wrappings?

Easy spring outfit. Sarah Butler of @sarahchristine wearing Paige Sela Silk Slip Dress in Dream Blue in Seattle, Washington.

Featured images from SarahStylesSeattle.

Perfume Chat Room, November 20

Perfume Chat Room, November 20

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 20, and Thanksgiving is next week! Do you have any special plans, given that the CDC is strongly discouraging travel and large family gatherings? One friend of mine with young adult children who no longer live at home has rented a beach house for the week, with elaborate plans for home tests for COVID-19 and a few days of “podding” in quarantine with family meals taken outside. The young adults are traveling by car. If my children lived far away, this plan would tempt me! But two of mine live at home, and the third is at college close by (he’ll return home on Monday for the end of semester, including remote exams, and then for the duration of winter break, as his college won’t reopen until the last week of January.

Our Thanksgivings have mostly included just the five of us anyway (with an occasional friend in need of turkey), since both my husband’s family and mine are based in New England. With two fulltime jobs and three kids, it was never a holiday for which we were willing to travel, after moving South. And the weather here is often very beautiful at Thanksgiving — cool, crisp nights with clear, sunny days. I still have roses blooming!

It’s definitely the season for autumnal fragrances, though. I took out Clinique Wrappings yesterday, which really suited the weather. I’ve been wearing L’Ambre des Merveilles quite a bit, and different versions of Cabochard. What are your favorite autumn scents?

Lastly, what makes you thankful in this weird year of 2020? This blog started out as a way to practice more mindfulness (“Serenity Now”) and occasionally I have posted about “What Went Well“, a gratitude exercise. I’m thankful that my friends and family have mostly stayed safe and well; I’m thankful for one daughter’s recovery from COVID-19 after a relatively mild case; I’m thankful that my children are all here in the same city. I’m so thankful for the dedicated healthcare workers who are showing up every day to help the rest of us. And I’m thankful that so many people drop by this blog to read, whether or not you comment! Thank you!

Featured image from AARP.org; let’s hope they all use hand sanitizer, too!

Perfume Chat Room, November 13

Perfume Chat Room, November 13

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 13 — as if we in the USA needed another Friday the Thirteenth right now! In honor of the day, I am trying my sample of Editions Frederic Malle’s Superstitious, and I quite like it. The opening phase has an intriguing combination of aldehydes and incense which I’m enjoying. Maybe it will bring good luck today.

I don’t know that I’m naturally “superstitious”, but I do use phrases like “fingers crossed” and sometimes I remember to say “rabbit rabbit” first thing on the first day of a new month, lol! Do you have any superstitions about Friday the 13th, or any “lucky” fragrances?

Featured image from ASPCA.

Perfume Chat Room, November 6

Perfume Chat Room, November 6

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 6, and we are having a LONG election week here in the US. I’ve been pretty immersed in volunteer activities, so fragrance has been a welcome distraction when I take a break from those. On the other hand, while I spent Election Day itself taking a day off work to visit polling places as a non-partisan volunteer, to make sure voters were being helped to exercise their rights (because unfortunately, we make that quite hard in the USA), I wore Chanel No. 19, which is my “armor” scent. Luckily, no armor was needed — so many people voted early or by mail this year that the polling places were very calm and orderly. And I smelled great!

When I was not doing volunteer work, I gravitated to comfort scents like a new favorite, L’Ambre des Merveilles, or Anne Klein II. I also used Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ Smudge Nebula, which she describes as an “energy-clearing sprtiz.” I love it, and you can currently get it at a reduced price from her website, including in a roll-on oil format.

Do you find yourself using more “armor” or comfort scents lately? Have you tried any “eaux de protection” like Smudge Nebula?

Voters in long line, Fall 2020; image from abcnews.go.com
Perfume Chat Room, October 30

Perfume Chat Room, October 30

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, October 30, the day before Halloween. I’m taking part in the weekly Friday community project at the blog “Now Smell This“, which today is to wear a scent that generates emotion in you. Mine is Anne Klein II, which brings back happy memories of being a young adult in Manhattan. However, since tomorrow is Halloween, I may have to switch later to something slightly more sinister. Cabochard, perhaps? I’m currently very intrigued by that scent and am comparing the two most recent versions of both the EDT and EDP (they were reformulated in 2019).

Tomorrow I will probably wear something by Papillon’s Liz Moores, who is an actual modern witch as well as a tremendously gifted perfumer. Maybe Bengale Rouge? But I do love Dryad … decisions, decisions. Will you do anything special for Halloween? Or wear any special fragrance?

Scent Sample Sunday: Byredo Candles At IKEA

Scent Sample Sunday: Byredo Candles At IKEA

A short while ago, multiple media outlets reported that Swedish furnishings giant IKEA would launch a limited edition of scented candles in partnership with Swedish fragrance brand Byredo. Well, perfumistas, here in the USA, the eagles have landed! I went to my local IKEA today, and there they were, although the announcements said they would be available in November.

The series of candles is named, in classically inscrutable IKEA fashion, “Osynlig.” You can find them online by typing that precise name into the search box on the IKEA USA website, which also seems to be selling them now (i.e., before November). Apparently, the scents are designed by Byredo’s Ben Gorham so that all can be burnt alone or layered together, creating your own personal home fragrance. He is also quoted as saying “I really enjoyed the idea of being able to make interesting products accessible to as many people as possible,” in an interview with WWD. Ikea was “one of the few [with which] I could actually develop and manufacture a product of this quality, yet make it available at that type of price point.”

I only started using scented candles regularly a few years ago. These ones are really special; they come in beautiful ceramic pots with different colors that reflect some aspect of the scent. A few of the fragrances are available in small, medium, and large sizes. I haven’t yet tried lighting any of the ones I bought but they smell wonderful! Most immediately striking to me was “Tobacco and Honey”, which does indeed have a strong note of golden honey.

Scented candles at IKEA, limited edition by Ben Gorham of Byredo
IKEA’s Osynlig candles with Byredo scents.

I am so pleased to have “scored” several of these! The ones that are currently available are: Tea Leaves & Verbena, Pomegranate & Amber, Basil & Mint, Fig & Cypress, Peach Blossom & Bamboo, Lilac & Amber, Rose & Raspberries, Cotton Flower & Apple Blossom, Sandalwood & Vanilla, and Tobacco & Honey.

There is one fragrance mentioned in the press, “Swedish Birch and Juniper”, that I did not see on the IKEA USA website or in the store, and it sounds like one I would like. Apparently the other three scents in the collection — Cassis & Freesia, Swedish Birch & Juniper, and Firewood & Spice — will be available in February 2021.

Have you seen or tried any of the “Osynlig” collection yet?

Perfume Chat Room, October 23

Perfume Chat Room, October 23

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, October 23, and we are about to lose power for the day. I know this, not because I am a weather savant, but because we have asked the power company to turn it off today while carpenters and painters renovate the part of our old house where the main power line enters from the street. Yes, our neighborhood and house are old enough that we have unsightly and lethal power lines above ground, where falling tree branches and gnawing squirrels can do their worst. So if I don’t “like” or respond to comments until tonight or tomorrow, the lack of electricity and internet will be the reason!

One reason we need power off for several hours is that the carpenters are building a shallow wall pergola, sometimes called an eyebrow pergola, over our old porte-cochere where a huge and ancient Lady Banks rose grows. It is currently supported by an ungainly system of metal hooks and wire, with one end of the rose basically resting on — yes — the power line. Time for that to change! This is the general idea:

Eyebrow wall pergola over garage doors
Eyebrow pergola, Southern Woodcraft.

Unlike my other roses, the Lady Banks rose has very little fragrance. As you know if you read my “Roses de Mai Marathon” posts this spring, I love rose fragrances, so this is a slight flaw in an otherwise magnificent plant. Most of the roses I grow are from David Austin Roses, which have been bred specifically for fragrance as well as “Old Rose” flower shapes.

Our Lady Banks rose is very precious despite its lack of fragrance. Our house was owned for almost fifty years by a couple who were passionate gardeners and our 1/3 acre lot has many of their original plantings, including the rose. Its base is as thick as many small trees’ trunks, and strong men have to lift it off the house any time we get the house painted, and rest it on sawhorses made of ladders. We are finally doing the whole-house exterior painting and woodwork repair that are overdue, while we work at home and can supervise, so we’re taking the opportunity to upgrade Madam Lady Banks’ living quarters.

Have you used any pandemic shutdowns to undertake large projects, fragrance-related or otherwise?