Dangerous Complicity by Etat Libre d'Orange

I like the mish-mash in the opening of Dangerous Complicty, like an appetizer of later notes. But then I like fragrances like that. It’s a sensuous dry leather, rum, patchouli, spicy floral melange of notes, a little intoxicating.
The main body of the perfume is a sensual dark floral with shade, nuance and suggestion. Nice little coconut and rum touches give it kind of a voluptuous, davanna-like quality without a tropical presence. Rose isn’t listed, but I register damascone-type aromas that keeps telling me it’s in the mix. Whatever it’s mixed with, the jasminey osmanthus floral is nice.
It isn’t long-lasting, though on the edge of acceptable - 3 or 4 hours, 5 as a close to the skin scent. The last hour is a fuzz harsh, and not like the beginning or heart.
But it’s still mostly a nice fragrance, and more classic than ELDO’s usual ethos. I hesitate to buy any, as at this niche price, there’s not a lot bang for the buck. But I still like it.
Nov 7, 2021

Gold by Puredistance

Traditionally-styled golden-warm, rich, lightly powdered, full-blooded perfume with an old-styled chypre character. If this sounds like a description for Chypré Extraordinaire or Chypre Palatin, you’re on the right track, but Gold manages to avoid their over-the-top characters (especially Chypré Extraordinaire that threw everything but the book at it) which offended me, and produces opulence without excess, tradition without caricature, and a luxuriousness without bloat.
Made for autumn and winter, and for dressing up.
But you know how ones like this are. Sometimes they’re at their very best during inclement weather at home, in t-shirt and jeans, enjoying the full luxury of them as you relax in your skin and give yourself up to the pleasure of a found day.
Nov 6, 2021

Collection 34 : Ôponé Eau de Parfum by Diptyque

When Opone EDP was launched after the discontinuation of the EDT, I had a ray of hope, as I mourned the loss of the original.
This new edp is fairly credible, and smells similar enough that I’m satisfied, though it has been modulated a bit. It isn’t that heavy dusty saffron, dry-rose and bleached wood fragrance that literally forces an experience on you. It’s a little more easy-going, which I have to say makes it easier to wear more places.
Another difference is the longevity. Even though it was an edt, the original was long-lasting, whereas the edp has a life-span of around 5 hours. I can still smell waftings after 5 hours, so it’s not one of those that literally disappears.
I’m making these comparisons from memory, so I’m unable to go into more detail than this.
It’s still a thumbs-up for me, even if it isn’t as transportive. This Opone feels like an old friend, smelling again that peculiar desiccated rose in drying desert winds, with powdered saffron and ephemeral spice dust in the air of a hot land, with no humidity.
And yes, now I’m struck by the verbal analogy to the spice of ‘Dune’. Perhaps that was what was always resonating with me.
Nov 5, 2021

Oajan by Parfums de Marly

Marketed as a masculine fragrance, Oajan totally works as a feminine. My first thought when trying it was what a great holiday fragrance it would make for either sex. This delectable cinnamony honey, booze and warm resin fragrance would be appreciated at Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings whoever was wearing it. The cinnamon note is what makes this gourmand festive.
I find honey fragrances welcoming, so Oajan has a skin vibe which makes it approachable and warm..
The price range with this house is a little high though, for what it is. What I plan to do is buy some samples during the holiday season. That will be enough for me. On Christmas Day, I’ll bring the samples with me, as there are sure to be queries about the scrumptious Christmas dessert fragrance I’m wearing. If they like it, I’ll gift them with a sample.
So, as delectable as it is, it’s a little too Holiday for me to wear other than at winter parties, because of the cinnamon. But it seems perfect for those times.
Oct 23, 2021

Chergui by Serge Lutens

I revisited Chergui, as the first time I tried it was in 2006, and it didn’t work for me then. I wanted to see if it, or my nose, had changed. The answer is yes, though for a while I wasn’t sure whether it was me or it.
There’s a certain amount of consensus other fragrances in Chergui’s genre are better, and wondering what all the fuss about it is. There’s no doubt Chergui got caught in the reformulation grindstone and what came out is different. The original was a powerhouse, and it isn’t as much now. It is still dark, sweet, and tobacco-ey, and smells deep and comfy, but in 2006, It was more complex and overpowering (and more animalic, I believe, though I’m not certain of that), and I couldn’t wear it.

Yet some of those animalic components survived the reformulations and still aren’t sitting well with me, and are too smelly on my skin. I can wear today’s version more easily, though to be honest, I’m not certain that’s a compliment. I can say I wish the drydown had a little more of it’s original edge than it has now, and find the present one more tamed, but the real reason I won’t pursue it is the combination of notes that didn’t work on me are still there.
Oct 6, 2021

Interlude Woman by Amouage

I have a love/hate relationship with Interlude. But that's because the Amouage dna mostly doesn't work for me, and Interlude is one of their few that does. But I don't always like it.
Sometimes it feels salt of the earth, warm, mellow and solid. When it's working for me and the helichrysum is in balance with the other notes, it's a comfortable and pleasant fragrance, and has a certain beauty. At other times it becomes stolid and clunky when the helichrysum amplifies too much, and its dusty, brown sugar, nutty quality takes over.
It's a well-made fragrance though, and hangs together well. Interlude has a respectable, solid drydown, which is worth a lot anymore and really counts in its favor.
I've resigned myself to a decant because I can't go further with it.
Sep 17, 2021

Perles de Lalique by Lalique

After a decade Perles de Lalique still mesmerizes me.

On me, a mentholated cedar-pepper dominates the opening and combined with a full-blooded Bulgarian rose, creates a frosty rose that simmers like dry ice. The opening is really unique and I love it. In spite of the frost it's rich, not thin.

I love a good patchouli-rose perfume, it's sensuality, yet Perles de Lalique's take is unique. It adds elegance to the inherent funkiness of rose and patchouli, bringing some architecture from the iris. And then on top of that is added a sort of a bitchy quality. That's what clinches it for me.

The smooth, serene, slightly ethereal, cashmere-wood drydown is in keeping with the earlier parts, but woodier, warmer. The non-personal quality of cashmere wood matches the non-personal quality of the frosty rose.

My bottle is getting low and it's from a decade ago. I'm a little hesitant about buying a new one, that it might have been forced to change its formulation. So I'm going to buy a sample first to see if I still love it.
Sep 12, 2021

China White by Nasomatto

The first three hours of China White is fantastic and unlike anything else in my collection - it's complex, unusual, satisfying, edgy but not weird, intelligent, and treats you like an adult. I appreciate this.

Its white powder just doesn't seem like it comes from iris - its a much different smooth mineral-like opaque chalkiness patina'd with old floral resins and the smell of experiences. So it has an old-soul character, sort of exuding lifetimes and a seasoned sophistication. Its character is full, large and deep, but it isn't radiant and it's neither yang nor yin.

I felt a great let-down when the fragrance started turning sour on my skin after three hours. In four hours it became smelly, like I didn't want it on my skin. It was an artificial animalic aromachemical I smell from time to time in some fragrances that emerges as the fragrance ages. I don't know which chemical it is, but it'’s unpleasant.

So the disappointment was greater than normal with China White. If it had managed to have a less egregious drydown, it would have been in my top 5. I'’m looking for one now that can match the first three hours without taking a wrong turn at night off the highway onto a gravel road leading to an abandoned chemical plant. There'’s absolutely no mistaking this for natural basenotes, lacking any sensuality.
Sep 7, 2021

Close Up by Olfactive Studio

I didn't expect Close Up to be as fun as it is, with that name. A demolition derby of coffee, non-juicy cherry, pale tobacco and spices. Like smelling my father's empty can of old tobacco. Man, where did this perfume go last night and what did it do to come dragging in smelling like this? Apparently I have a thing for sensory-collision fragrances. Breath of God affects me pretty much the same way.

What makes this one work is that it likes skin and it's personable. It's not chilly, rigorous, or perfect. It's really kind of comfortable because of the ambroxan. I was going to say wear it to a party, but I also see it as a way to get a party going on your own, to lift your spirits and make yourself smile.

It gets more focused on the tobacco/cherry as it ages. I start noticing patchouli's part in adding a little funk at this point, as the coffee kick mellows out. The tonka brings in a bit of vanilla undertone without smelling like vanilla. It starts fading as it ages, which I'm okay with. I pretty much dislike ‘beast' fragrances, having uncomfortable encounters with them in social situations. This fragrance's quirky character has endeared itself to me enough to buy a decant to wear from time to time when I'm in the mood.
Sep 3, 2021

1978 Les Bains Douches by Les Bains Guerbois

A rich oriental whiskey fragrance imbued with a muted tobacco. It isn't a megaphone of perfume inappropriateness, and mostly stays in your aura. So you can indulge reveling in its sensuous elements without getting in others' space.
It is a boozy, smoky, vaguely gourmand fragrance, so it reminds me of the gorgeous boozy amber gourmand, Sahraa Oud, at a cheaper price. They're more kissing cousins than family, but are similar styles I have a fondness for.
The heartnote brings in some rose and heliotrope, which has a satisfyingly gentle way of connecting with the beast without taming it too much. There is still plenty of sensual roar. The clary sage is interesting with its subtle slightly bitter herbal note. It keeps the bigger notes kind of grounded and real and has resonance with nearly all the notes here, so I find it effective as a moderator.
There is real satisfaction in 1978's drydown, because it's an authentic drydown, with presence, not the surreptitious fading act of many contemporary fragrances.
As the voluptuous notes dry off, an amber foundation is revealed. Some of this perfumer's amber drydowns in other fragrances were a little too boringly amber, me not being an amber-for-ambers-sake kind of person. But 1978's foundation manages to hold other strong notes into the drydown, so I found real pleasure in the ending. Actually 1978 has a lot of sensual oriental pleasure in it as a whole. Wear it for that.
Aug 21, 2021

Fleur de Lalita by Parfums Dusita

I've had problems with the Dusita line in general. Something in some of the bases often brings in a green flat roughness that smells slightly cold to me. Fleur de Lalita has this problematic base, so I had a lot of ambivalence toward it until I read the description for Dusita's newest fragrance ‘Cavatina'. It mentioned the perfumer Pissara Umavijani's love for vintage muguet fragrances and it clicked in that the bases I don't enjoy are muguet-themed, as is Fleur de Lalita. I've never been a muguet fan, so it's understandable I've been having problems.
So I would call this a cool, green floral with the muguet note both cooling down the florals and over-riding them a bit. As it ages it becomes quite smooth and serene, fairly mannered. I see Grace Kelly, perfectly coiffed, and coolly reserved, relaxed but not giving anything out, in her own skin.
Aug 17, 2021

Mito Voile d'Extrait by Vero Profumo

A gorgeous, wonderful, narcotic, green, floral, voluptuous fruit-pulp fragrance, made intense, saturated and deep. Mito Voile d'Extrait reminds me of Frida Kahlo paintings, and indeed, I see her wearing this.
It has a primal sensibility that speaks unapologetically about beauty, passion and the green, growing life that surrounds us; about idiosyncratic fascinations we love that grab us. Mito is validating of an intense experience of the senses, a new beauty seen differently, and allows you to feel and have it… because it exists in Mito. It is old and it is new. I feel richer and more complicated wearing it.
When I find perfumes that really satisfy, as this one does, it makes me less interested in fragrance-chasing.
Aug 13, 2021

Bois des Îles Eau de Toilette by Chanel

A nice, very classic feminine wood fragrance. I don't see how you can go wrong wearing it. I would call it a versatile staple.
Its floral and fuzz of peach makes the woody notes more submerged and subtle than a straight-up lumberjack fragrance, so it has a more graceful presence. There's little powder so Bois des Iles can be worn places where powder borders on inappropriate (airlines and outdoors).
Bois des Iles has a nice balance of notes, a pleasant ease. It's not strident, noisy or dramatic and doesn't try too hard. It doesn't really come to you. It asks that you come to it, which is one of the differences between a fragrance with manners and one without. I think of it as occupying a similar niche to Hermes ‘Voyage D'Hermes' but with a little more wood and a little more presence, but both can be used for travel. I love Bois des Iles' more complex, smooth character.
And there is the matter of the Chanel sheen that adds polish to so many of their fragrances. Its presence here takes this woody fragrance to the next level. Since this is now discontinued, I hope the newer EDP can fill the EDT's shoes.
Aug 4, 2021

31 rue Cambon Eau de Parfum by Chanel

It IS a chypre for a new time - beautiful, womanly (not girlish), mysterious in its polished elusiveness. But…, no oakmoss darkness, no rude bits, nothing to evoke an intimidating woman, which used to be the forte of the chypre (think Fendi, La Nuit de Paco Rabanne, the old Bandit - brrr). I always enjoyed the slight bitchy character many old oakmoss chypres had, and 31 is totally devoid of that. I need to get the old idea of chypre out of my head, because I tend to subconsciously judge ‘new chypres' based on that picture. Ones like this make me miss old-style chypres.
I think a little more creative talent can be used to successfully create a better separation between oakmoss vs. non-oakmoss chypres, the oakmoss being THE dominant determining factor.

31 Rue Cambon is much more approachable and friendly; really with no edge at all. I like it - who would not? But I don't love it. It does remind me of some casual 70's chypre-lite fragrances, but with a sheen of sophistication; the ones that give your daily life a certain casual loveliness.

On its own, it'’s a casual, pleasing fragrance, holding its own power, creating its own circle. Not a fragrance of seduction. Quite nice.
Jul 30, 2021

Moss Maiden by Alkemia Apothecary and Perfumery

Alkemia Apothecary and Perfumery reminds me a little of BPAL, with their big line-up of fragrance oil blends. Fragrance oils are inexpensive, fun and short-lived. That's just their nature. My review's based on that.

From the site:
“The wild seduction of a full moon night in a northern forest. A delicately feral blend of luxuriant mosses, crushed wet ferns, earthy calamus root, piquant cedar tips, galbanum, balsam pine, lichen, disturbed autumnal leaves, and aromatic incense woods.”

Moss Maiden is a gentle green fragrance, with a sweet personality. It's more nymph-like. The green is dewy, not like galbanum, which is present but doesn't come out much until the drydown. And the moss doesn't smell like oakmoss, but something more damp. I don't really smell earth, humus or leaves. This is pure green plant nectar.

I really loved it, it appeals to my Piscean side, but it doesn't have a long life-span. After 1-1/2 hours it's character changes, and the dewy green notes dissipate to a more harsh, galbanumic greenness. This part lasts for another hour or more. I might have liked it better if it just disappeared. Some may not mind it though. It strikes me as a drydown that may play out differently on different skin. For myself I would want to reapply the fragrance after an hour or so.

There's another related fragrance oil blend from Alkemia that's not yet listed on Basenotes - DRYAD. I'm going to put it here:

“A playful woodlands frolic of Balsam poplar, Larch, Kukicha twig tea, Pondorosa bark, Australian sandalwood, Wet moss, Violet leaf, Lily of the Valley, and Vanilla grass. “

The opening of ‘Dryad' is woodlands in summer, dancing zephyrs, lightness and sweetness of spirit. I really detect the warm but dry note of the balsam, which to me is about sunshine. The piquant note of violet leaf is very noticeable too, and adds a wistfulness. Vanilla grass makes it all kind of comfy, warm and appealing.
It's longevity is longer than Moss Maiden in total, but after the first hour it is weaker, mostly a skin scent, and many of the notes that made it what it is dissipated. The drydown's not real similar to the first hour. Again, I would reapply after an hour or so.

These fragrances are healing, I think, while going through trying times. Their light natures are kind of heart-centric. They represent the balm of nature, one sunny, the other green.
Jul 15, 2021

Hexennacht by Alkemia Apothecary and Perfumery

This is made from fragrance oils and botanicals so you have to take it for what it is. They're inexpensive, fun and short-lived.

Hexennacht ("Witches' Night") is a deep foresty incense. It's not church incense at all - some of those are pretty somber - but filled with the quixotic smells of the forest, herbs, concoctions, earth and brews. It's quirky, almost like ‘Breath of God' in that way, though Hexennacht stays true to it's Hogwarts Potions Class spirit.
It has a head-shop nag champa note underlying it like a murmur, giving it a gravitas of relaxed hedonism (no WASPish manners thank you).
It's a fun, mysterious (but decidedly earthbound) scent. As the fragrance ages, the nag champa note comes out more as some of the dark forest elements dissipate. I like the first hour the best.
I really get with this fragrance the empowerment of the primal feminine, but also the empowerment of the primal masculine, so that's pretty cool.
Yes, it has that head-shop fragrance-oil vibe, but also has the magic some of those blends can produce, very, very far away from labs and master perfumers. So if you're okay with that, wear it on a summer night under a full moon, and let it work it's funky magic.
As with many fragrance oils, longevity isn't great - two or three hours - but really, that's as long as you want to dance under the moon. If you're really adventurous, reapply after two hours.
Jul 14, 2021

Memoriam by Alkemia Apothecary and Perfumery

This is a perfume oil from Alchemia Apothecary and Perfumery. Fragrance oils are inexpensive and short-lived for the most part, so I approach them as such.
It smells pretty much like the listed notes - a fragrance-oil rose damascene blended with smoke and ash. It also contains an infusion of Balm of Gilead. The site says it's a fragrance of love and loss, of remembrance.
The beginning is kind of a nice combination, somewhat in the reminiscent mode. The red rose is a high note and the ash and smoke low notes, so the focus is on the rose, which is lit on a somber, resigned, muted backdrop.
The rose is in the same manner as a Montale oud-rose, where the the rose is quite neon and high-noted.
With Memoriam, the deeper backdrop dissipates quicker than I would have thought, and the rose doesn't, so it becomes more vivid and stand-alone. I've never quite liked that rose treatment, and don't care for it here. But many do, so if you love the Montale roses, you may like this one. And my skin may have a part in amplifying the rose in the Montales and this one, tweaking them out of balance.
The rose is very long-lasting. As I mentioned, the other notes dissipate well before the rose, and you're left with the rose after an hour, so you need to like it or reapply more fragrance. I wasn't totally seduced by the first hour, the heart of the fragrance, so I didn't reapply - instead I scrubbed.
Jul 14, 2021

Gifts of the Magi by Alkemia Apothecary and Perfumery

The oil fragrances of Alkemia remind me a little of BPAL's lineup - fun, kind of short-lived, like smelling fragrance oils in a head shop, but better.

Gifts of the Magi is resinous and smooth, and reminds me of Indian Sandalwood (Santalum alum), and also Tam Dao and Avignon. It's all very smooth, clean, and beautiful; it's also meditative and calming.

If you like fragrances of this genre, Gifts of the Magi is worth sampling. It's a standout from this house.
Jul 13, 2021

Les Mystères by Alkemia Apothecary and Perfumery

Alkemia Perfumery's ethos reminds me a little of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab with their myriad of fun fragrances. As long as you know that with fragrance oil blends you aren't getting a lot of longevity or sillage, you'll enjoy them.

Les Mystères has deep notes, but it's enjoyable and varied. It has several levels of enjoyment.The tea and fig combination is fresh and light but still has an earthy, fruity edge. It's surprisingly a scent for a hot summer day: clean, refreshing, and outdoorsy!

But it has a note of mystery, which wraps a little sensually around the fig. All those resins, incense and black musks surrounding a lightly sweetened dark fruity fig, is described on the website with this:
"Fig, fruit of the female mystery, covert and inward,
Mediterranean fruit, with your covert nakedness,
Where everything happens invisible." -D.H. Lawrence

Longevity is around two or so hours, longer as a skin scent. It doesn't project like fragrances made with aldehydes/alcohols of course - Les Mystères exudes in your aura, and wafts in the air as you walk. That's the way I prefer my fragrances, so I like the way it acts. One of my favorites of this house.
Jul 13, 2021

Age of Aquarius by Alkemia Apothecary and Perfumery

This oil has such a fun, friendly mint note. It's casually wrapped around some patchouli, coriander and lavender. I also detect a vanilla chocolate note which smells good with the mint, that may come from the patchouli. The coriander gives it some of that old-time ‘70's fun funk.

It's too bad it's short-lived, as the mint is such a happy note. It's a little simplistic and the fragrance itself is not long-lived, an hour with the mint and another hour or two as a skin scent, but it fits in wherever you go, so it's never really inappropriate.

The longevity issue is the downside. I'd give it a thumbs-up if it lasted longer. But if you're willing to live with that limitation, it's a smell-good happy fragrance, with a much friendlier mint than nearly all the more serious long-lasting mint fragrances.
Jul 13, 2021

Drakon by Alkemia Apothecary and Perfumery

Drakon is a fragrance oil, and its longevity isn't great, maybe an hour or two. Some fragrances from this house have pretty good longevity and others, like this, are more short-lived.

Subdued and low-simmering mix of muted spices, resins, tea and saps that speaks about the power of the sleeping dragon. It's longevity is roughly an hour or two. It was a great note until the end when a slight sourness creeps in on my skin. Others may not have this problem with it.
Jul 13, 2021

Beige Eau de Parfum by Chanel

Chanel lends its founder’s mystique to this fragrance, among its others. The description on their website:
“I take refuge in beige because it’s natural,” said Coco Chanel about her beloved colour. Sandy beige, honey beige, clay beige, whitish beige…Gabrielle Chanel loved the infinite variations of this natural, elegant colour with which she surrounded herself, taking refuge from the chaos of life.
So it sets a scene for this fragrance hardly more fanciful than many perfume descriptions. I did have expectations of a ‘beige’ fragrance, sort of intimations of an office perfume, but with a Chanel sheen. I think it is that.
It does a good job of delivering a controlled, put together, tasteful palette of neutrality. You will win the office jackpot for having the most tastefully accessorized of fragrances.
It has a neutral opening which slowly shifts to a subtle floral honey. It's very pleasing on the skin.
It meets others in the middle - Beige is well-judged, tasteful, non-histrionic, urbane, and chic. I like it.
Jul 9, 2021

Baccarat Rouge 540 by Maison Francis Kurkdjian

If you're like me, and have an adverse reaction to a certain aromachemical that produces a burnt sugary praline note, this is to let you know Baccarat Rouge 540 has it and is rendered to a burnt fruit stew. Quite unpleasant.
I scrubbed it and underneath was left a more pleasant, seductive note. So I understand what many find appealing in this fragrance, but it is unwearable and unpleasant for me because of the power of one off aromachemical.
Jul 5, 2021

Infusion d'Iris by Prada

Infusion d'Iris has grown on me, from neutral in 2012 to a real appreciation of it's quiet, calm, ‘go everywhere' personae. It's versatility, from office to dinner, with aplomb, is quite a feat, really.
It always smells put together, self-possessed, elegant, in a pleasant, unassuming way. So I find myself using it more and more, as I trust it now to deliver in nearly all situations.
On my skin, the predominant note is a cool but personable soft Iris and very complementary musk-vetiver-wood. My favorite part of Infusion d'Iris are when these notes are in balance. If I have a quibble with Infusion d'Iris, it's that when the iris starts dissipating, the musky element becomes more apparent, and I prefer the balance between the two, rather than a musky iris. It's not a large flaw, but enough to take it from 5 to 4 stars in my mind.
Jul 3, 2021

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