Private Label by Jovoy

Jovoy Private Label is wonderful. It smells like a field of dried grass in the sun -- tall, wild grass that has gone dormant in shades of tan. The aroma of rustling leaves invites you to sit in the warmth and inhale. A leathery smell appears, as if on the pelt of a visiting animal. Airy smoke is carried on the breeze -- not from a charred campfire, but wisps of cigarettes smelled from a distance. The effect is expansive and diffuse. A bittersweet smell develops that reminds me of walnut hulls ripening on the ground. To me, Private Label is the ambient aroma of the outdoors. It makes me supremely happy to be able to carry it indoors and wear it on my skin.
I've heard of this recommended as a signature scent for bold, confident people. Women say, "It's not for me." Men call it "uber-masculine." So, is it not for women? I disagree! As a woman who loves camping, hiking, and nature, I find this easy to wear. People often don't register that I'm wearing it at all. They think I've been outside and have picked up the aroma of the outdoors. Such fun!
Private Label is not like the pungent oud of some Montale fragrances. Nor is it the burning green twigs of L'Artisan Parfumeur Dzonkha. It smells more like the wafting tobacco of Diptyque Volutes. Some say it smells like asphalt or black leather. Not to me. It's more like natural elements. The last time I felt this outdoorsy thrill was from vintage Caron Yatagan. Possibly Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate. Maybe even Nasomatto Hindu Grass. I also smelled and enjoyed Jovoy Incident Diplomatique, but it is a less complex mix of vetiver and patchouli. Jovoy Private Label is a stand-out, and one of the very few fragrances I have fallen in love with in the post-apocalyptic IFRA-approved era.
Dec 2, 2021

Incident Diplomatique by Jovoy

Wow. Outdoorsmen, hunters, fishermen, campers, hikers, mountain bikers, climbers -- take notice. Incident Diplomatique is as close as it comes to the smell of a campsite in the forest. You've got a huge, dry grass note, sweetly smoky patchouli, and a diffuse sandalwood, all held seamlessly together and put into a bottle. No flowers, no fruits. Contrary to most vetiver fragrances, this one refuses to share the stage with citrus. It's all about wood and grass. Don't look for any sugar here -- unless you can detect the inherent sweetness in dried leaves and nutmeg. Although it's described as unisex, is totally masculine. Not that women wouldn't find it fun to wear. Think edgy, think wild, think savage.
May 4, 2019

Psychédélique by Jovoy

I'm picky about what sweetness I'll take with my patchouli: Vanilla is too edible. Fruitchouli grates on my nerves. Jovoy did a nice job with the opening for Psychedelique -- it starts out smelling like marshmallow-topped hot chocolate. After that, it enters into a long phase of dry, earthy patchouli. Kinda ho-hum.

I've been looking for a new favorite patchouli. I was sad when the brilliant Coromandel EDT was nerfed by its re-make into the newer EDP -- which smells from start to finish like patchouli chewy candy twists. The fact that I like Psychedelique better is a sad commentary on Coromandel EDP.

If I could do anything with Psychedelique, it would be to prolong the sweetness. Otherwise, there are plenty of other dry patchoulis out there, but little dab'l do ya.
May 3, 2019

Tempo by Diptyque

I really like this. It's got a slug of mate, which is a tea-lover's dream note, smelling of sweet, dried leaves. Also good nature-lovers, it has a dose of clary sage which imparts a clean, minty aroma. Violet leaf accents the green aspects of the patchouli. Pink pepper opens it up with a spicy airiness.

One would expect something nose-searing and dry, but no. Somehow, it manages to sweeten on the skin. How is that so?

I suspect the trick is to use patchouli isolates, in which the heavy, smoky, dirt and wood fractions are removed. Then they blend, blend, blend with complementary, lighter, fresher notes to achieve a phantom sweetness. Bravo, Tempo!

After I came to terms with the fact that many, many people detest patchouli, I gave up wearing the woody patchouli bomb of Santa Maria Novella Patchouli. But what then? It's hard to add sweetness to this note without going wrong. Vanilla can be too edible, too nauseating. Fruitchouli can, and does, annoy me very soon and very completely. I loved Coromandel until the EDP reformulation.

In Tempo, I've found a natural, honest patchouli that is stretched out over a framework of outdoorsy notes. It's discreet enough to wear in public. My sample did not project very far on my skin, but it was detectable for a long time. I will have to find a new bottle to evaluate its strength.
May 3, 2019

Sombres Dessins by Jovoy

I'm addicted to this. Highly diffuse sandalwood and an airy, sweet rose. It lasted for a month on the cuffs of my coat sleeves. Has little development to speak of, making it a member of the "what you smell is what you get" school of fragrance, which, in this rare case, is okay with me, because it's good just the way it is, stopped in time, floating and expanding without shifting shape.

It's clear, warm, dry, but sweet. It smells very similar to a little-known sandalwood-and-rose perfume oil called Kamary that Madini used to make (which was discontinued and, come to think of it, I can't find any Madini at all, anymore.) It is both huge and weightless at the same time (the way that Gucci Rush used to be, but without the peach bubblegum, or Samsara, but without the heliotrope vanilla). It's got a pleasantly artificial vibe (the way Flower by Kenzo made you take notice).

Here's the addictive part: Something in Sombres Dessins smells like my childhood. An old bottle of sandalwood perfume oil. A new plastic toy. The warm, melted wax aroma of a toy-pressing machine. Bare skin heated by the sun. Sunflowers. Something in here makes me want to stick my nose in it and breathe deeply for a long time. It's nothing complex, but it is strange -- in a good way.

I can't describe why I like this so much, except to say that sandalwood and spicy rose are wonderful, and this one really does it for me.
Mar 7, 2019

Coromandel Eau de Parfum by Chanel

The EDP has lost the complex development of the original EDT. This one cuts straight to that beautiful "Coromandel accord" of resinous patchouli that comprises everyone's favorite part of the fragrance. Gone is the yummy, jellybean top. Gone is the difficult, dry wine and patchouli middle. Gone is the barbershop vibe followed by the sweet resin base. It's all still there, mind you, but it's delivered in one blast from start to finish. The EDT used to be unsettled, wavering delicately. The EDP is solid and sure -- and boring as a bag of candy. Why did they do this? Coromandel was so much fun before. Sure, not all of the phases were as likable as the others, but development is about the journey. Some parts of the adventure were a bit rough, but the Coromandel EDT was a Holy Grail trip. The EDP is a nice fragrance, but that's all. I'm sorry to say, this got dumbed-down. Shame on you, Chanel.
Feb 13, 2019

Jimmy Choo by Jimmy Choo

Circa 2016: Most department store fragrances are so "meh" nowadays that Jimmy Choo was the best one of late, and the only one that I liked on my recent foray. Ain't that sad? I'm a patch head, so I like Coco Mademoiselle and Angel, if that's any reference point. Jimmy Choo is fruity patchouli with creamy toffee. It is predominantly patchouli with a large dose of fruit not immediately recognizable (apple? pear? raspberry?) and a smooth, milky, sweet toffee. It shares the Angel DNA, but it's not as good. Perhaps it's most unique trait is a strong "fizzy" texture, which is probably achieved by some powerful aroma chemical that provides lift, loft, and pizzaz. Whatever it is, it gives this fragrance the type of ballistics that the pink chypre Narciso Rodriguez had -- that angular, woody sillage that enters the air around you. The effect is more incongruous with Jimmy Choo, though. It doesn't blend as well as it should. Angel is much better in its smoothness. I seem to remember that I liked Prada more. Ah well. Like I said, there's precious little new to love in the decade of the 2010s in department stores. At least this was interesting. I almost gave it a four because of my love for patchouli, but I quickly grow tired of the fizziness.
Sep 25, 2016

Patchouli by Mazzolari

Deceptively simple amber patchouli. This is a patchouli that is easy to love, even if you don't like that note. No harsh woodiness here; it is soft and round, wrapped in toffee and vanilla amber. The smooth creaminess smells like sun-warmed skin. Surprisingly good even on a hot day! Sillage is strong but soft, blending with the natural human aroma. The drydown is luxurious and sexy, both sweet and dirty, perhaps due to the animalic note of honey because no musk is listed. I like it. I like it a lot. Here is a scent I can live with, anytime.
Sep 21, 2016

Madison Avenue by Bond No. 9

This pleasant and wearable, springtime scent reminds me of Dolce & Gabana Light Blue with its sparkling apple and ambroxan mix, but it's more candy-like. In fact, it calls to mind the fragrance of those long, green sticks of Bub's Daddy Green Apple bubblegum that I used to chew in the 1970s. It's fun. It has the angular, expansive woodiness that made Narciso for Her so much fun to wear. I do still prefer the Narciso, though, with its decidedly pink chypre vibe and its softer peach and musk.
Mar 31, 2016

Karma by Gorilla Perfume [Lush]

I love Lush Karma soap. (Reference point: Chandrika Ayurvedic soap is my favorite.) So I bought Karma perfume. However, the same aspect that makes the soap great also makes the perfume difficult to wear. It smells soapy. It projects aggressively. I can only begin to enjoy it after I've had a shower -- which is why the soap is perfect. Fizzy, tingly orange and lemon; bitter, crisp pine; sparkling wafts of aromatic lavender; and a dry cinnamon-ish patchouli base. The notes are all good. I'm just saying, they're much more enjoyable in a soap.
Incidentally, Lush fragrances are not all-natural. Despite the hippie-handmade image, they use substantial amounts of what they call "safe synthetics." In this one: citral and citronellol (think lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit) geraniol (think geranium leaves) eugenol (think cinnamon, clove, bay, basil) and linalool (think lavender, rosewood). These chemicals enable the loooooonnnggg duration. The only essential oil in this formula that rivals their longevity is patchouli oil. The others are top and middle notes, which disappear while the chemicals keep kicking. No big deal, but the whole Gorilla Perfume line makes use of crude mixes of natural and synthetic that come across as homemade.
Mar 20, 2016

Norne by Slumberhouse

This is the Slumberhouse I most wanted to try, based on the notes. I'm an evergreen freak, especially pine, fir, and spruce. This perfume smells like a walk out in the forest. Fabulous. I could wear this easily. To me, it smells primarily of balsam fir absolute. I'm not getting any smoky notes -- no burned smell, no remnants of a fire -- even though I'm sensitive to those, and I dislike them. So, this is surprisingly easy on my nose. Rather, it's more like frankincense.

It is strong, though. I didn't even do a full spray, and it's still enough. The initial hit of broken branches, sap, and crushed needles is heavenly. It smells like a long-lost, pine bubble bath that I used as a child -- a dark green liquid in a bottle that foamed in the tub and filled the entire bathroom with the scent of a Colorado mountain in the summer. (Alas, it disappeared like many of wonderful products.)

After more than an hour, Norne still smells great, but a soapy-musky base is becoming prominent. This doesn't put me off, though. (After all, my first pine-y love was a bubble bath.) Green notes are hard to retain. Norne does an admirable job of staying true to its intent, holding onto the original essence as long as possible. I am enjoying this immensely.

My biggest reservation about buying a bottle, actually more than the 100ml $300 price, is that I have read the essential oil safety books by Martin Watt and Robert Tisserand, and I wonder if this beautiful juice has more of the terpene-rich natural substances than are recommended in order to avoid sensitizing the wearer. I'd hate to develop an allergy to my favorite trees. The fragrance, itself, is dark green and sticky just like the absolute. Just so you know. IFRA be damned here.
Jun 30, 2014

Jeke by Slumberhouse

Nopity, nope-nope. Ack. This is a smoke monster. Whoee. Lapsing Souchong tea disgusts me. I hated it the first time I drank it, and it never grew on me, contrary to the assertions of the salesperson. Jeke has a bitter, burning aroma. I don't tolerate this fragrance at all. When I was young and poor, my husband and I lived next door to the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Plant, and the smell of vulcanizing rubber was as nice as this, which is to say, not good. My nose is wrinkled. I'm frowning. I love benzoin, but its sweetness is totally flattened in a full-Nelson facebuster by Mr. Smoke. The tobacco note fails to help. I love unburned tobacco, like the kind in Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, but this one is streaming out of the mouth of a cigar smoker. Oh, Lord. I wouldn't even like this on a man. Sorry, Jeke fans. By the way, this fragrance is sold out on the Slumberhouse e-boutique. I guess lots of people like it. C'est la vie. It takes all kinds of people to make up this interesting society in which we live.
Jun 30, 2014

Pear + Olive by Slumberhouse

I think I object to the "olive" note in here. It's oily. I like the pear note, even though I'm not a fan of fruity fragrances. It's realistic, sweet, and candy-like. It's the olive that's bothering me. It's oily-rancid. It smells like a dishrag that has soured. It causes my stomach to roil. Okay, it's not overwhelming. I can handle it. There's so much of the pretty pear in here that I can block out the greasy odor. Surprisingly, I love olives and olive oil. I eat olive oil practically every day. I buy the best I can afford. That is why I can't call this an "olive" aroma. It's more like a fungus of some kind, sort of warm and dirty and growing. It's like when your clothes don't dry completely, but you have to wear them again. My apologies to those of you who find this delectable. Theoff-note spoiled note spoils it for me.
Jun 30, 2014

Ore by Slumberhouse

Yum. Butterscotch rum. Caramel chocolate. Whiskey. Tasty treat of gourmand goodness. My favorite part is the initial blast of booze, which sets it apart from other, tamer gourmand scents. The golden color matches the aroma exactly. This is something I could imagine drizzled over vanilla ice cream. It's rich and fatty, gooey and thick. I wish the booze lasted longer. After it recedes, which is sadly too soon, the wood resins impart a non-edible bitterness, the herbal notes give it a sharp edge that inhibits my appetite. It ends up smelling kind of like hardwood mulch with a bit of sweet leather. Overall, I'd say this is a "yes," initially, and a "maybe" later.
Jun 30, 2014

Vikt by Slumberhouse

Ah, here's a challenging scent -- attractive, but over-the-top. Black licorice is one of my favorite flavors. I can eat a whole bag of it, which grosses out many people whom I know. The scent of this fragrance is big, sweet, round, pungent, and in-your-face. It says, "Licorice? Red or black?... Oh, you like red? Then BWA-HA-HA! Run for your life!" This is like dying of asphyxiation while smiling, with a plastic bag of black licorice clamped over one's head. It's like overdose-huffing on Kukaburra twists, licorice babies, licorice wheels, Haribo ribbons, and those Finnish squares that look like roof shingles. The whole black and syrupy concoction is dropped onto a slightly creamy base, which makes it opaque. I've enjoyed this one. Would I wear it? Probably not, but I appreciate it as an experience, so I give it a neutral.
Jun 30, 2014

Zahd by Slumberhouse

Right away, I thought of something familiar -- a fruity, herbal drink named Zoco, a Spanish liquor made from sloe berries. It's red, and it tastes like herbal cherry medicine -- in a good way. I would gladly drink it instead of Nyquil when I have a cold and want to go to sleep with a smile on my face. Zahd is like that for me. It's a bittersweet, fruit cordial. It also smells salty, like a dry, red wine. The champaca absolute gives it a haylike scent that is outdoorsy and natural. The combination of notes is odd overall. I think I could get the same effect by dipping a cloth in wine and wearing it, exuding that fragrance as it evaporates, and it would cost far less.
Jun 30, 2014

Grev by Slumberhouse

Minty. Wintergreen. Cool spices. Grass. Clover. Sweet salve, like something in a tin to rub on your sore muscles. Refreshing and clean but ultimately more of an environmental scent and not a personal one to wear all day. This is lighter and more airy than the other Slumberhouse scents. It reminds me of aftershave. Pleasant but rather fleeting.
Jun 30, 2014

Flou by Slumberhouse

Purple iris flowers. Plus gardenia, jasmine, and lily. This is a feminine perfume full of heavy, sweet, narcotic florals. It does not smell like natural absolutes in the least. Rather, it is a synthetic reconstruction of an arbor hanging with drooping flowers, the scent of them swells to bursting in the summer air. The powdery pollen is intense. A neat trick for florals, but too strong for me to wear.
Jun 30, 2014

Baque by Slumberhouse

This smells like part of Ore -- the hardwood mulch and resin that glows warmly-- without the edible caramel, chocolate, and booze. I find it soft and wearable. Fruit notes are faint, existing only as part of a flavored tobacco leaf. I'm pretty neutral on this, and I'd put it behind Ore, which takes a clear direction and has the feel of a "finished" product. I was surprised to find that Baque didn't predate Ore because it smells more like a prototype. Then again, deconstruction is an art form. So, think Ore-minus-gourmand, and you are well set to enjoy Baque.
Jun 30, 2014

Mare by Slumberhouse

Nix. Ghastly. Melon. Apple. Over-ripe tropical fruits plus the same "spoiled" or moldy note that I disliked in Pear + Olive. Sweet and rotten aroma. Fermenting compost pile of fruit. Why does no one else mention fruit? It's a sweet-tart fruit like mango or berries. It's powerful and watery like Calone. It's a melange of tart fruits left in the sun too long. Other people are calling this green. My definition of green is galbanum, tomato leaf, violet leaf, shiso, green tea, grass, cilantro, and some of the mints. This does not say "leaves" to me. Where are people finding notes for this? Regardless; whatever it is, it's not to my liking.
Jun 30, 2014

Sova by Slumberhouse

Heavy, syrupy. Molasses. Lots of hay absolute is in this -- and that is a complex aroma. Fermented tobacco. Animalic, fecal or leather notes. Brown and oozing. It's pleasant because I like the smell of hay in the sun, but it's difficult because hay absolute is denser and sweeter than hay in real life -- drying in the air. This is moist, raisin-like, concentrated scent. I give it points for boldness, creative kudos for working with hay absolute, one of the most distinctive aromas in the world.
Jun 30, 2014

Sana by Slumberhouse

Lightly floral, salty, soapy, diffusive. As non-tactile as an electric current or ozone. This is a miss.
Jun 30, 2014

Rume by Slumberhouse

Prunes. Fruitcake. Mincemeat pie. Rum. Candied citrus peel. This registers as gourmand. Red wine note, or fermented grapes. Honeyed labdanum. I like it, but I'm not falling hard for it.
Jun 30, 2014

Siskiyou by Juniper Ridge

More of a fragrant experience than a perfume. Upon application, this green liquid flashes into the air like the burst of aroma from a bruised branch of an evergreen tree. The ingredients are listed as "distilled from plants, conifers, bark, moss, mushrooms, and other things found hiking in the Oregon backcountry." The notes listed are: warm ginger, spicy Cedar, driftwood, citrus, and deep conifer forest. (Apparently, the perfumer found that a bit of non-native support was needed, since ginger and citrus are not normally found in the woods of Oregon.) In all, it smells fresh, aromatic, camphoraceous, turpinoid, woody, non-sweet, wild, and outdoorsy. After the initial rush, it tones down quickly to a whisper after the initial rush. I like the concept, I like the aroma. It would make a great bath fragrance. I think it needs to wear better on skin. I'd like my house to smell like this all the time.
May 3, 2014

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