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Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum by Aedes de Venustas

L'Artisan Aedes de VenustasFrom the moment I saw the combination of notes on this and that it was created by the "High Priest of Incense" Bertrand Duchaufour I couldn't wait to see where this fell in Duchaufour's incense spectrum. Duchaufour has created three of my favorite incense-forward scents in Jubilation XXV, Avignon and Kyoto and incense-prominent scents Timbuktu and Dzongkha obviously comparisons will naturally have to flow. From the top this starts off as a sweeter incense very much like Jubilation XXV. What differentiates this is the fairly rapid appearance of a leather note underpinning the incense that gives this scent a different facet than Jubilation XXV. There is also a pepper note present throughout the top and heart which adds a spicy edge right out on the periphery this is more reminiscent of the spices present in Timbuktu without rising to the full-throated level present in that scent. In this one it is a pinch whereas in Timbuktu its the whole darn spice cabinet. In the heart a rose note comes in and mixes with the leather and pepper and incense and this is where Aedes de Venustas takes on its own character and blossoms on me. This middle is tremendously balanced and rich on me. It lasts for quite a while before letting the basenotes of patchouli, musk and vanilla have their turn. This is another incredible incense scent from Duchaufour which is slightly deeper than Jub XXV but lighter than either Kyoto or Avignon. Depending on whether you are an incense glutton, in which case you'll want all of them; or someone looking for the one incense scent to be part of your wardrobe Aedes de Venustas is worth a try.

Poivre 23 by Le Labo

Le Labo Poivre 23Le Labo has taken the step of making exclusive scents for the cities they open new outposts in. The Dallas, Aldehyde 44, and Paris, Vanille 44 are among my favorites from Le Labo so the difficulty of obtaining the scents can be annoying. That's beyond the ultra-expensive price tag once you get to the city in question. Late in 2008 Le Labo released three new city specific scents for LA, tokyo and London. Poivre 23 is the London exclusive to Liberty of London. Poivre 23 was composed by Nathalie Lorson who has made my two favorite scents from Lalique, Encre Noir and Perles de Lalique. A quirky aspect of the Le Labo scents is that while they are all named after a note they rarely display that note front and center. Poivre 23 breaks that rule right off the bat as the first note that hits my nose is dry pepper. We have a great spice store near our home and this is exactly the smell I get when I walk over to the pepper section. Thn from there an almost seamless transformation takes place as the pepper very casually mophs into a dry frankincense note. It is so hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. Again this is the smell of the incense unburned ,dry and very light on the skin. Just when I think this is going to stay spicy, vanilla appears and softens the edges. The vanilla is also applied with a light hand so this never really becomes sweet just more creamy or rounded. The base continues with the light foot on the gas pedal as amber and patchouli finish this off with sandalwood playing around the edges in a peek-a-boo style. This is a scent full of powerful notes that in other perfumes and other hands would make for a scent that could knock one off one's feet. That Ms. Lorson has been able to combine these in such a subtle fashion it almost feels like the perfume version of souffle, rich and oh so light. I wish I could tell you to ignore this scent because of the pretentiousness behind it all but I just can't do that, I think it is one of Le Labo's best.

1740 Marquis de Sade by Histoires de Parfums

Histoire de Parfums 1740 Marquis de SadeThere are some perfumes that are going to have a hard time living up to their name. Any scent named after the most publicized libertine of all time is going to have to be a combination of the sensual and the novel. In this case I think Histoire de Parfums did a pretty good job. The fragrance starts with a bergamot and light leather beginning. It is a quite lovely mix harkening to that which the Marquis is most known for. Continuing that theme the leather deepens into the heart but adds some heat in the form of spices cumin and cardamom. All of this is enhanced with an earthy patchouli. Here is the sensual heat that the name promises. It is as we move into the base that the novel makes its appearance with a candied fruit note that makes for a shift in tone. It doesn't last long before the patchouli ushers in a mix of wood and vanilla in the base with the leather note still present. This is a lush scent which in my opinion lives up to its name.

Gaiac 10 by Le Labo

Le Labo Gaiac 10If pink is the new black; is gaiac the new sandalwood? I've certainly noticed the use of it has increased in the last half of the year as it seems to be cropping up on note lists all over. Annick Menardo has created a gaiac centered scent for Le Labo's city exclusive line, in late 2008, called Gaiac 10. She is the nose behind Patchouli 24 and Bvlgari Black which are two of my favorite off-beat scents and I was curious to see where the creative process would take her in this case. I've said in other reviews that the essence of clean and fresh for me has been cedar but I think I'm going to have to revise that as gaiac is going to be another note that will conjure that combination for me as well. If the phrase clean and fresh just made you think this is boring, far from it. From the top the gaiac holds the stage and does what a clean note hasn't done for me in the past and also exude a depth. The reason for that I believe is that Ms. Menardo has paired the Gaiac with, according to the notes, four different muscs. These muscs add a depth to the bright intensity of this without overwhelming the sparkle of the gaiac. Truly a skillfully executed balancing act. With the gaiac holding my attention from the start this scent becomes more intense as it develops. As we move into the heart cedar comes into the mix to continue the themes begun at the top and double down on it. I get a hint of what seems like orange here but it isn't listed in the notes. As we head to the base the intensity builds as incense notes combine with the gaiac and cedar to finish this in spectacular fashion. This scent was created to be a city-exclusive for Tokyo and it feels like an Asian aesthetic is at work here. The top is the simplest part of this scent and things add to it and increase the complexity until you are left with a co-mingling of all that has come before. I would not classify this with Ms. Menardo's off-beat creations this is more a testament to how much beauty can be created from simplicity. I have to conclude with how sad I am that due to the marketing decision of Le Labo to charge exorbitant prices and to only be able to buy this in Tokyo many people will not have the opportunity to experience this perfume. I would love to be able to tell everyone who likes fresh and clean to try this scent because I think it elevates it to a new level. The sad part is I can't in good conscience ask people to jump through the hoops Le Labo has put in place.

Blu Mediterraneo : Mirto di Panarea by Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Mirto di PanareaThe Acqua di Parma Colonias are all three quite nice takes on the citrus-forward scents and I like them all. The Blu Mediterraneo line has been less successful on me and its my respect for the Colonias that keeps me trying these as they come out. I liked this one more on the strip than any of the others and so I had hope this would be better. I was not disappointed as right from the top I got a nice tight composition of orange, lemon and bergamot. What is nice about this is that each note is present and accounted for. This combination is the beginning of hundreds of citrus fragrances but when it is done right you are reminded why it is such a successful top and it is done right here. This then blends into a very subtle floral heart with jasmine and hints of rose mixed with a juniper note that adds some bite. A heavier hand would have obliterated the top of this but here this is like walking from the citrus groves into the flower garden on a spring day. The base is also subdued, cedar combined with a very light amber. For me, this is another well-done scent from Acqua di Parma which can easily be placed next to the Colonias without embarassment.

Bois des Îles Parfum by Chanel

Chanel Bois des IlesTo be a well-rounded individual one should experience the classics. Certainly that holds as true in perfume as it does in any of the other art forms. One set of these classics are the five Chanels created by Ernest Beaux in the 20's. The most recognized is No. 5. Bois des Iles is one of the other four scents created and it is as much a classic as No. 5 is to my nose. It starts off with the aldehydes which are No. 5's signature. This similarity is so strong I had to take a look at the bottle a second time to make sure I wasn't spraying No. 5 on me. The aldehydes in the EDT strength are as long lasting as any aldehydes I have ever had and one's tolerance for aldehydes, if you find them annoying, will be tested. I love the fizz and pop of them and most of the time they don't last long enough for me so this is a pleasant experience for me. There then comes a beautiful group of florals which join in starting with jasmine, joined by ylang-ylang, lily, and finally a soft rose. As the heart comes alive the signature note of Bois des Iles is the gingerbread accord present here. This is gingerbread cake as it comes off quite moist because it is paired with an almond note, I think that is what makes me think cake. The real star to my nose, of Bois des Iles, is the sandalwood base. The sandalwood is mixed with vetiver and a very light musk to make this one of my favorite sandalwood scents out there. Some of that is because it is slowly revealed over the course of the development of this scent on my skin and when it makes its appearance it brings this scent home beautifully. The sandalwood is what remains and it lasts for a very long time on me even in the EDT strength. It's nice to know that sometimes when you experience the classics you truly inderstand why they are classics.

Monocle Scent One : Hinoki by Comme des Garçons

This was amazing on me. From the moment this hit my skin it just took off. The sap notes of camphor and turpentine combine with a moss-hung fantasy forest of cypress, pine, and cedar. This is the most like being in a live forest scent of anything I have experienced thus far. I waited to write this review until I wore Kyoto again as I felt there was some similarity between the scents and there is. To call this Kyoto Extreme wouldn't be far off the mark but it would be underselling the construction of Hinoki. There is a transparency of top to base from the first moment this hits that is unique. The base is present right from the start but over the hours this lasted on my skin the base intensified and became more pronounced in a lovely way until I was just left with the woods scent.One caveat I think this is a scent that needs to be tested on the skin. I tested it on a strip six weeks before actually testing it on my wrist. On the strip the camphor note was too forward and almost medicine cabinet-like, it put me off. Once I put this on my skin that camphor note blended seamlessly with the rest to make a transcendent whole. I wasted six weeks before giving this one a chance, don't repeat my mistake.

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