Scent Sample Sunday: SJP Stash

Scent Sample Sunday: SJP Stash

I wrote almost two years ago about Stash Unspoken, the first flanker to 2016’s Stash SJP, by Sarah Jessica Parker, but I realized I hadn’t yet devoted a post to the original, so here it is! And I have a good reason for writing about it now, because Portia solved a problem I had been having — what to do with that bottle of “elixir oil” that came in the gift set? Undina had the same issue when she wrote about Stash back in 2017. In response to a comment somewhere, Portia suggested using a few drops of the oil in one’s bath. Eureka! I exclaimed, like Archimedes, that’s the answer!

I use bath oil more regularly now, because my skin has become so dry, especially in the winter when the house is heated. Most of the time, I use an unscented oil like Neutrogena’s sesame body oil; I just squirt some in the bath water. After Portia’s comment, I’ve added less than a dropperful of the Stash elixir oil, and it is wonderful — it scents the whole bathroom. Sillage is not a problem with this fragrance — it carries quite a way.

As I’ve written before, I developed a strange liking for the original Stash SJP when it came out — strange, because it really is not my usual vibe. I didn’t like it much when I first tried it in store, but I sprayed some on a paper slip on a later visit to Ulta, and took that home. Lo and behold, every time I found myself sniffing the air, thinking “what is that alluring scent?”, it was the slip with Stash on it. And this went on for a week! At the end of that week, I caved and went and bought one of the gift sets Ulta had on sale.

Sarah Jessica Parker’s website describes Stash as having “notes of fresh grapefruit, black pepper and aromatic sage. Its heart notes include Atlas cedar, patchouli, ginger lily and pistachios, laid on the warm woody base of olibanum, massoia wood, vetiver and musk.” I’m usually drawn to floral fragrances, but Stash has only one floral in the whole pyramid: ginger lily. That is a beautiful and fragrant flower, and I do pick up on it a bit, but it is not a dominant note at all. I think it lends Stash an indolic, slightly narcotic air — just a soupcon, but enough to make Stash more than a woody/spicy scent.

Ginger lily

In descriptions of massoia, it is said to be a milky wood note, and I agree. In Stash, the massoia adds a creamy smoothness to the earthier notes of patchouli and vetiver. I’m not a big fan of patchouli, and that note is probably why I initially resisted Stash, although I didn’t know what the notes were at the time. I don’t dislike it, though, and it works really well in Stash, even to my nose. Stash is a very woody, aromatic scent, with the massoia wood and cedar playing leading roles. I find that the pepper, patchouli, vetiver, olibanum, and musk are also strong presences. “Warm” and “woody” are apt descriptors, because one does get a real sense of warmth — which makes it ideal to add to a hot bath while soaking.

Collage mosaic of fragrance notes in Sarah Jessica Parker's Stash SJP
Stash SJP fragrance notes

Stash is truly a unisex fragrance; it smells great on women and I think it would smell just as great on a man. I recommend applying it with a light hand, as it carries for quite a distance and has excellent staying power. Many commenters have noted before me that Stash can hold its own with many a niche fragrance that costs many times more. I hardly have any celebrity scents, and I never watched Sarah Jessica Parker’s TV hit series “Sex and the City”. I did, however, read Chandler Burr’s book The Perfect Scent, which followed in parallel the development of Un Jardin Sur Le Nil by Jean-Claude Ellena for Hermes, and Ms. Parker’s work with Coty to develop her first scent, Lovely. So I was aware of how seriously she takes her fragrances, and of the thought processes she shared with Mr. Burr.

I’m used to thinking of Stash as a “bargain beauty”, and it certainly was when I bought it at Ulta (and later found another gift set for even less at a discount store). However, it isn’t nearly as much of a bargain as it used to be. If you can’t find it at a reasonable discount, I do recommend buying it from the brand’s own website, though, where you can still find 100 ml of the EDP for $85 instead of the ridiculous prices I’ve seen elsewhere online.

Have you tried Stash SJP or any of its flankers? Do you recommend any other celebrity fragrances? Some of you know I’m very partial to Adam Levine For Her, which is still a bargain beauty.

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: 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.

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Perfume Chat Room, October 9

Perfume Chat Room, October 9

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 9, and it has been a wet and gloomy day here. However, that inspired me to pull out a favorite fragrance I haven’t worn in a while: Penhaligon’s Blasted Bloom. Although I often think of a sunlit day when I wear it, today it just suited the somewhat British weather.

In other news, I got my absentee ballot this week, filled it out, dropped it off in an official ballot drop box at the entrance to my local public library, and was just able to confirm online that it has been received and “accepted”! It was very easy and very safe.

How was your week? Any new or rediscovered favorites?

Scent Sample Sunday: Miss Dior

Scent Sample Sunday: Miss Dior

I always love a good chypre, and I love seriously green fragrances, and those two traits often travel together. So I admit, it’s a little odd that I hadn’t yet tried vintage Miss Dior, given that its vintage formula includes many of my favorite notes and it is most certain a green floral chypre. Well, I was able to get my hands on one of the houndstooth bottles of Miss Dior eau de toilette, and this is love.

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Scent Sample Sunday: Automne

Scent Sample Sunday: Automne

I said in Friday’s Perfume Chat Room that I would write today about Van Cleef & Arpels’ Automne, and then I realized I already had, a few years back!

Fragrance Friday: Les Saisons Automne.

What special fragrances return again and again to your seasonal rotations?

Scent Sample Sunday: Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain

Scent Sample Sunday: Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain

Today’s scent sample is one I am surprisingly close to “thunking”, which I hadn’t expected. I was given a house sample of Diptyque’s 34 Boulevard Saint Germain with my purchase of the house’s Eau Rose hair mist. I was happy to have it, but didn’t anticipate much from it. It has been sitting on my bedside table with some other samples, so I pulled it out earlier this week when I was settling in for my usual bedtime reading. At first spray, I thought to myself, “this is VERY pleasant.” As I continued reading, I periodically sniffed my wrist, and thought, “this is still REALLY nice.” And when I woke up the next morning, having had it on my skin by then for several hours, it STILL smelled really good.

So I did that again the next night. And the next, including last night. And here I am, on a Sunday morning, writing about it as my sample of the week. What is it like, and why am I liking it so much? 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: Silences

Scent Sample Sunday: Silences

One of the regular readers here mentioned recently wearing Silences, and Portia from “Australian Perfume Junkies” and I immediately oohed and aahed over it. So today’s scent sample is Jacomo’s classic fragrance, the original Silences.

Magazine ad for fragrance Jacomo Silences

Jacomo Silences, original ad (1978).

Silences was launched in 1978, and it fits right in with the green, woody, chypre vibe of so many classic fragrances from that decade. I’ve realized that my scent tastes seem to have been formed mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was a child; given how deeply scent is linked to our subconscious, it makes sense that the fragrances of one’s childhood have particular impact. (To be clear, I own and love MANY later fragrances, but I find that I am really drawn to chypres, for instance, and to retro florals).

Fragrantica lists its notes as follows: Top notes — orange blossom, galbanum, bergamot, lemon, green notes and cassia; middle notes — iris, jasmine, narcissus, hyacinth, rose and lily-of-the-valley; base notes — vetiver, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss, cedar and ambrette (musk mallow). This list refers to the original and classic Silences, which was reissued in 2004. There is a new version, called Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime, which was issued in 2012. I appreciate, by the way, that the brand didn’t just reformulate and pretend that the new version was the same Silences. It’s easy to tell them apart, both from the name and from the packaging; Silences Sublime comes in a similar iconic round black bottle, but the lettering on it is completely different. It has excellent reviews online, but it doesn’t seem to be widely available in the US, unlike classic Silences, which can be found online for bargain prices. One can order it directly for delivery to Europe and a few other countries from the Jacomo brand website.

And Silences is a true bargain beauty! You have to like dry green chypres to enjoy it, though. It opens with galbanum leading the charge, a soupcon of bergamot floating in its wake. I don’t smell orange blossom at all, and while I’m sure the other listed top notes are there, because the opening is multi-faceted and complex, most of what I clearly smell is the combination of galbanum and bergamot, with galbanum dominating. As it dries down, two of my favorite flowers emerge: narcissus and hyacinth. The dry greenness of the galbanum persists, though I also get a hint of lily of the valley (another favorite flower). There’s a soft green earthiness that I have come to associate with iris root. I don’t smell any jasmine or rose in this middle phase.

Silences has often been compared to Chanel No. 19 in its eau de toilette version and for good reason. Their notes are almost identical, though in slightly different order and emphasis. No. 19 was created by the master Henri Robert in 1970, who also created 1974’s Chanel Cristalle. The perfumer behind Silences was Gerard Goupy, working at Givaudan with Jean-Charles Niel. Interestingly, M. Goupy was also the nose behind Lancome’s Climat, created in 1967, which in its vintage form is another green floral, though its opening is strongly aldehydic, unlike these later chypres. He also created Lancome’s Magie Noire in 1978, which has many of the same notes, also in a different order, but adding notes like spices and incense, honey and civet; it too is considered a chypre but more floral than green or woody. Victoria at “Bois de Jasmin” points out that its particular genius lies in the tension of combining its oriental and chypre accords.

So although one might be tempted to pigeonhole Silences as a bargain shadow of No. 19, it is not. Look at the sequence above: 1967: Goupy’s Climat; 1970: Robert’s No. 19; 1974: Robert’s Cristalle; 1978: Goupy’s Silences. Add in Bernard Chant’s creations for Estee Lauder, 1969’s Azuree and 1971’s Clinique Aromatics Elixir, and you see the fragrance zeitgeist of the time, with several gifted French perfumers exploring facets of dry, woody, green, bitter, mossy, dark, earthy scents — very fitting, for an era that also brought the environmental movement, the first “Earth Day” in 1970, and many landmark environmental protection laws.

Where does Silences fit on the scent spectrum? To my nose, it is more of a bitter green than the others, because of the strong galbanum opening. I love galbanum, so this delights me. It doesn’t have the leather notes that some of the others listed above have, or some of the animalic notes (it does list musk, but that may be based more on the base note of ambrette, or musk mallow plant).  Bitter, yes, but I don’t find Silences aggressive overall, as some commenters do. The opening is sharply green, but its final drydown phase becomes quite gentle and earthy while staying green, probably due to the combination of oakmoss, vetiver and sandalwood, softened by the ambrette. The complexity of its base accord is revealed in that today, I sprayed both my wrists at the same time. One wrist smells more strongly green and mossy, and the other more like a sweetish sandalwood with some lingering hyacinth.

The floral notes in Silences are quite reticent. The only ones I really smell are the narcissus and hyacinth, with a hint of muguet, all of which are quite green in their own right. So if it’s a more floral green you seek, I suggest you try No. 19 or Cristalle. Fruit? Aside from the bergamot opening note, which is subtle, there is no fruit here AT ALL. Sweet? Nope. Look elsewhere for fruity florals, or gourmands.

Have you tried Silences? Do you like green fragrances?

Scent Sample Sunday: Beach Hut Man

Scent Sample Sunday: Beach Hut Man

I recently reviewed Amouage’s Beach Hut Woman, as it was one of the few scents I took with me on our recent beach vacation, so today I decided to wear Beach Hut Man and compare them. It has prompted some introspection on my part, because it smells really “masculine” to me, and I’m not quite sure why! Continue reading