Chanel Sycomore

Chanel Sycamore is a member of the Chanel Les Exclusifs line where the fragrance house tends to get a bit artsier than their mainstream releases.

Sycomore

Sycomore

In Bottle: Sycamore is vetiver, first and moremost. This dewy kind of vetiver instead of the dry grass that I usually get. It’s also a bit woodsy and smoky at the same time.

Applied: The vetiver comes up first and is joined shortly by sandalwood and tobacco. There’s a bit of powder and clean in this as well and a wet sort of smoky scent. This reminds me of my childhood and the smell of woodsmoke after a rainstorm. It’s a bit more perfumy than the memory I have of actual rain and woodsmoke but it is a very nice approximate and a very close concept. It takes me back to simpler times and I really like that. The fragrance itself is a vetiver centric scent with perfumed sandalwood, a bit of smoke with a moist, dewy personality. Very nicely done. I get fantastic longevity with this stuff.

Extra: Sycomore was a combined brain child from Christopher Sheldrake (Ambre Sultan from Serge Lutens and Daim Blond also from Serge Lutens) and Jacques Polge (Chanel’s Chance and Egoiste).

Design: Designed the same way as other members in Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line. A big glass rectangle with a simple label. It’s at recognizable as an elegant, simple, Chanel design. Also it has a magnetic cap so I’m sold.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy

Notes: Vetiver, sandalwood, aldehydes, tobacco, violet.

If the memories keep rolling in when I wear Sycomore, it might be large bottle worthy. All of the Les Exclusifs seem to be big hits with me and Sycomore, so far, is the biggest hit due to the memories it stirs up.

Reviewed in This Post: Sycomore, 2010, Eau de Toilette.


Creed Aventus

Creed’s gone tropical with Aventus but doesn’t dive in immediately into the fruity tropical pool. There are elements of sophistication still associated with Aventus.

Aventus

Aventus

In Bottle: Fruity opening with a smoky leather background that has a certain earthiness to it too.

Applied: Fruity, almost tropical and probably helped along in that direction thanks to the pineapple note. The opening smells rather familiar to a women’s fragrance actually with a deeper masculinity that comes up smelling mostly like fresh fruits and a bit of tar. Tar being that smoky–sometimes plastic–smell that I don’t particularly find enticing if not mixed well enough. Aventus does a good enough job of keeping it in check so that it enhances the fragrance for me instead of takes away from it. As the midstage wears on, there’s a little bit of floral but what I mostly get is this sharp earthy¬† scent that dwells on in the fragrance way into the end where it fades with a bit of sweet vanilla.

Extra: If you were afraid of other Creeds and those smelling a little too classic for you then Aventus is probably a good Creed starter. It’s got excellent projection and power but is an easy to wear fragrance. It is, however, a bit of a departure from how Creeds used to be. It is, nevertheless, still a competent fragrance.

Design: Bottle design is similar to other Creed bottles. The niche houses tend to keep their designs fairly uniform and Creed’s not much different in practice. The bottle has a nice weight and is easy to hold and use. It also looks quite sharp with its clear glass elements combined with the black and metal treatments.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Modern Chypre

Notes: Bergamot, blackcurrant, apple, pineapple, jasmine, rose, birch, patchouli, musk, oak moss, amber, vanilla.

I’m not that big of a fan of Aventus on my own skin but it is a funny fragrance that starts off a bit feminine then nosedives right into a masculine scent. It’s playful then sophisticated at the same time.

Reviewed in This Post: Aventus, 2011, Eau de Parfum.


L’Occitane 4 Reines

L’Occitane’s fragrances are surprisingly good for a bath and body company. But L’Occitane’s offerings tend to be a bit more complex than stuff at Bath and Body Works. 4 Reines was one of the first fragrances I tried from L’Occitane and it was a very nice, modern rose composition.

4 Reines

4 Reines

In Bottle: Rose, rose, and more rose. There’s a bit of classic rose in this but 4 Reines mostly represents a very competent modern, clean rose.

Applied: Clean, bright, dewy rose that’s very young and very modern. There’s a big difference between a classic rose scent and a modern one. I suppose a review of 4 Reines is as good a place as any. A classic rose to me (or old fashioned rose) has more depth and more density to it. There’s this sense of complexity to it that tends toward a bit of powderiness. A modern rose–like this fragrance–is usually clean, crisp and fresh. It’s youthful and easier to like and a bit watered down but that helps make it easier to wear. I smell modern rose in almost everything these days and classic rose in increasingly smaller and smaller amounts. Anyway, 4 Reines smells like a full on modern rose. A very well done one too.

Extra: 4 Reines, true to its name as a fragrance that contains four rose scents was composed by Karine Dubreuil who also composed Gucci Envy Me and Just Cavalli Her.

Design: A nicely designed square glass bottle that looks pretty unassuming. It has a pretty 80s-esque label on it. The rest of the bottle looks just as unassuming with very frills or thrills. It’s just functional.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Rose, Turkish rose, Moroccan rose, Bulgarian rose.

It’s light, it’s clean, it’s dewy and if you love rose then you’ll love this. There’s little else in the fragrance for it to progress much. If you love a more classical rose, then 4 Reines might not be for you and I may suggest something a bit older like Guerlain’s Nahema.

Reviewed in This Post: 4 Reines, 2010, Eau de Toilette.


Perfume Resellers

With some recent tips I’ve gotten about a certain online fragrance discounter, I decided to strip all mention of them from my blog. Just in interest of anyone reading my blog, FragranceNet at one point was a trusted perfume discounter. I used to be a customer, but have since noted their decline in quality and can no longer recommend them as a fragrance discounter to others.

Thus begins this post, how do you navigate your way through the hundreds of online fragrance discounters out there. Who’s trustworthy and who isn’t? In the case of FragranceNet, a lot of fragrance fans thought and rated them highly a few years ago. There has since been some decline in quality control and hopefully they can pull out of it as I thought their selection was excellent.

This post is more of a general tips sort of deal for buying anything online. The one tip you should always keep in mind and adhere to is to read reviews and research before you do any sort of business. Remember, these people can’t see you, sometimes they’re impossible to track down, and getting a refund isn’t as easy as walking into a store and saying you want your money back. So always, always, always:

  1. Check to make sure the online retailer has been reviewed at a credible reviewing site. I use ResellerRatings, RedFlagDeals (Canadian), and BizRate. Please keep in mind that some people may have mistakenly submitted their review before they realized their product wasn’t of acceptable quality and forgot about their review or simply cannot edit it. That is why it is important you read a healthy mix of negative and positive reviews. If I see a lot of negative reviews telling me the product they got was a fake, I get very suspicious of the vendor.
  2. Ask someone. Get yourself onto a fragrance forum like BaseNotes and ask someone to describe their experiences with the retailer. Also get their opinion of the retailer’s more recent service. A company can start off excellent and decline to unacceptable so it is important to get recent experiences.
  3. Remember that you may be more knowledgeable than some reviewers. I think a great deal of fragrance consumers cannot tell between a fake perfume and a real one. And I also think it is easier for people to accept that they were sold an old bottle than it is for them to accept that they were sold a counterfeit. So it is entirely up to you to educate yourself on what your perfume is supposed to smell like and who you want to buy it from. Perfume isn’t cheap with most fragrances running from $50-$300. I would hate for someone to spend that much money to find out they were scammed, so the best advice is and has always been to educate yourself.
  4. Always protect yourself by ensuring that you can get your money back somehow. Whether the retailer offers refunds (read these terms very carefully as they are sometimes tricky), or if you have some other way to get your money back if you receive something counterfeit. Like I said, perfume is expensive so you will want your money back in case the deal goes sour, whether that’s through the retailer’s refund policy, filing a dispute with Paypal, or getting your credit card company to help you.
  5. If you’re a hobbyist, collector or plan on doing this perfume thing for a while then keep up to date on the goings on. Fragrance forums and blogs are invaluable sources of information and news. I never would have known about what was going on with various retailers and discounters if I hadn’t been keeping up to date.

I’m sure most of you already know how to navigate the world of perfume resellers and discounters, but hopefully these tips refresh the memory or they help someone else out. Or at the very least, all the individuals who end up on this blog while searching for “is [X Company] selling fake perfume?” get an idea of where to start their investigation.


Yves Saint Laurent Belle d’Opium

Belle d’Opium seems to have a dedicated following as well as a number of detractors who think it’s a blight. Me, I kinda like it.

Bell d'Opium

Bell d'Opium

In Bottle: The original Opium took me a while to like but Belle d’Opium is a simpler animal that’s, consequently easier to get into. It’s a spicy floral with a woodsy heart.

Applied: Goes on strong with a blast of peppery florals. I get gardenia under the huge layer of pepper and a few minutes later I get some jasmine. The lily is a backstage thing, as it’s such a light note that the pepper, gardenia, jasmine and whatever else is in Belle d’Opium is drowning it out. This fragrance goes on strong but it’s not room-clearing, smell-you-across-the-football-field strong. It’s got a good amount of power but also has a sense of restraint. As you let Belle d’Opium progress it takes on a woodsy quality of perfumed sandalwood and spiciness. There is a bit of spiciness in the end stages as the lingering pepper imparts some more itself throughout the fragrance’s lifespan but there’s something to be said about a well done perfume that doesn’t resort to fruity floral territory. While this is no Opium, it’s still a pretty daring flanker.

Extra: Belle d’Opium is a fairly new fragrance, having been released in 2010. It was composed by Honorine Blanc who did fragrances such as Twilight Woods for Bath and Body Works, and funny enough, Someday for Justin Bieber. She was aided in this endeavor by Alberto Morillas who composed such greats like Acqua di Gio and Mugler Cologne.

Design: Belle d’Opium borrows a similar aesthetic to the new Opium bottle design. Only this time, it’s got some blue and purple in it. I’m still a bit sore from losing the classic Opium bottle but this redesign looks very nice and is rather suitable for the type of fragrance Opium projects itself as.

Fragrance Family: Floral Oriental

Notes: Pepper, lily, gardenia, jasmine, sandalwood.

The comparisons between this and original Opium are inevitable. To me, aside from being from relatively the same fragrance family, Belle d’Opium is a distant echo of the original fragrance. It’s been updated a bit, but still maintains a certain old world style. It’s strong but no where near the power that was Opium. It smells pleasant but probably won’t become the iconic success that Opium saw. It’s just a nice flanker, and that’s about all that can said for it.

Reviewed in This Post: Belle d’Opium, 2010, Eau de Parfum.


Caron Acaciosa

Acaciosa is one of perfumery’s greatest floral perfumes. It was released in 1924 and remains one of the most beautiful, lush jasmine and rose fragrances ever.

Acaciosa

Acaciosa

In Bottle: A big floral bouquet of jasmine and rose with a slight hint of amber.

Applied: Jasmine and rose are the stars here and the major players throughout the entire fragrance. The instant Acaciosa is applied you will smell these two principle notes that have endured the test of time and have continued to appear together in some of the fragrance world’s most popular classics and contemporary fragrances. Acaciosa does jasmine and rose proud because it plays up their authentic beauty and blends them together so well that a sniff of Acaciosa tells you immediately that you’re smelling a fantastic floral. There’s no real debate to be had, you’re smelling history and you’re smelling a floral perfume as it should be. Right from the start, into the middle, and down into the base you get jasmine and rose mingling together in a gorgeous medley. There’s a faint hint of sweetness and a jolt of tart pineapple that serves to deepen this fragrance with its mostly heady floral bouquet. The base intensifies with a warm amber quality. This amber note is present during the opening and midstages but doesn’t become too strong until you reach the base.

Extra: Caron has a fountain version of Acaciosa available for those of you who wish to experience the full on artistry of this fragrance. One of these days I’d like to see a Caron fragrance fountain for myself.

Design: The bottle pictured above is from a vintage ad dating back to the 1930s when Acaciosa was a bit easier to find. It’s a shame this fragrance is so exclusive now. I have yet to hold or even see more than a small sample of this stuff but everything Caron made back in its hey day looks beautiful.

Fragrance Family: Classic Floral

Notes: Orange flower, pineapple, jasmine, rose, amber.

I have no idea and no way to tell how old the decant of Acaciosa I have is. We can only take a blind stab in the dark that it is a vintage that could have been from the 40s, but even then we can’t be quite sure. So take the dating of my sampler with a grain of salt since I can’t guarantee its accuracy.

Reviewed in This Post: Acaciosa, ~1940, Parfum.


Betsey Johnson Perfume

Betsey Johnson’s fragrance is a polarizing affair with fans and dissenters alike. I just happen to be on the dissenter side. Even though I see what Betsey Johnson is trying to do with the kitschy design and equally kitschy fragrance, I just¬† can’t say that I like it.

Betsey Johnson

Betsey Johnson

In Bottle: Incredibly sweet and floral with a bit of musk. A rather discordant fragrance with a fruity hint and a strange medley of scents that don’t play nice with my nose.

Applied: Opens with a very sweet blackcurrant and citrus fragrance that quickly introduces the florals and a very sweet and very obvious freesia note. The apple wiggles in with the midstage and turns up the fruity side of this fragrance a few notches. It’s sweet and flowery and smells a bit synthetic and cheap and very cloying as the fragrance just continues to amp up on the sweetness the longer it sits on my skin. When the base notes arrive there’s a bit of sugary woodsiness that mingles with the equally sugary floral.

Extra: Betsey Johnson’s style has always been bright and colorful and pop artsy. I can’t say I’m a big fan of it, but the fragrance and the design itself do reflect these aesthetics. This particular perfume was created by noses Mathilde Bijaoui and Bernard Blanc.

Design: The bottle for Betsey Johnson is just about everything I don’t like in a design. It’s big and girly and flashy and bright and pretty much the epitome of kitsch. I don’t like the aesthetics and think they are a little ridiculous but rest assured, the bottle was designed to look like this. I just don’t like the look at all.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Floral

Notes: Grapefruit, blackcurrant, tangerine, pear, freesia, lily of the valley, apple, sandalwood, amber, musk, cedar, praline.

So all in all, this fragrance just isn’t for me but that shouldn’t stop someone else from looking this one up. It’s got a nice fruity floral with a very sweet tooth. If you love fruity floral and sweet scents, try this stuff out.

Reviewed in This Post: Betsey Johnson, 2008, Eau de Parfum.


Annick Goutal Le Chevrefeuille

Le Chevrefeuille, like most of the Annick Goutal’s I’ve tried focus on a light, floral, pretty composition that captures the beauty of light and airy florals as a form of fragrance.

Le Chevrefeuille

Le Chevrefeuille

In Bottle: Soft honeysuckle with a green citrus composition backing it and a layering of deeper florals that remain mostly in the background.

Applied: Green floral and a bit of honeysuckle floating up at the beginning with a really lovely sweet and light floral treatment. This seems like a very nice fragrance to spray on and go about your day confident that your scent will enhance your natural scent as opposed to covering it up or overwhelming it. The honeysuckle and green fades a bit with a jasmine note floating up a bit. The jasmine and honeysuckle work very well together to form this really gorgeous green, sweet, light floral. The dry down is not much different from the midstage with a stronger jasmine note and a fading honeysuckle scent.

Extra: Le Chevrefeuille was released in 2002 and was composed by Isaelle Doyen (Annick Goutal’s Le Mimosa and Songes) and Camille Goutal (Annick Goutal’s Mandragore and Vanille Exquise).

Design: Designed in much the same way as other Annick Goutal fragrances. You’re looking at the feminine bottle above with the ribbed glass design and the gold cap with the cute ribbon and paper label. Cute, classic Annick Goutal design. Also one of the lesser seen perfume bottle designs where you can unscrew the nozzle and either refill the fragrance or use the bottle for something else.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Lemon, petit grain, honeysuckle, narcissus, green notes, jasmine.

I love Le Chevrefueille, it’s just the right amount of light, sweet, and floral that can work very well for all manner of situations and can even be an every day scent.

Reviewed in This Post: Le Chevrefeuille, 2005, Eau de Toilette.


Tokyo Milk Honey and the Moon

I’ve always wanted to try Tokyo Milk fragrances so it was strange when the one place I’d find some miniature bottles for sale was at a stationary store. A physical Papyrusstore, to be exact.

Honey and the Moon

Honey and the Moon

In Bottle: Creamy, sweet and rich honey scent with a slight flowery aroma to it. It’s a very convincing honey scent.

Applied: Opens up with a really beautiful creamy honey fragrance with a floral scent rolling in with it as well. This smells rather gourmand with a delicious floral twist that actually adds to the gourmand feel of this fragrance. It probably helps that the scent is honey and honey tends to take on certain elements of whatever flower the honey was made from. I am so far very impressed with the authentic honeyness of Honey and the Moon. The progression into the midstage takes on a bit more of a floral air. As the scent continues to age, the scent becomes a bit more creamy and a little sweeter at the end as it takes on a slight dustiness in the dry down.

Extra: Tokyo Milk is a niche house that deals in perfumes and other cosmetic products as well as stationary. Their very elegant website has all these things available online here.

Design: Designed simply enough the bottle I looked at was a rectangular square affair with a shiny cap. It was a very cute size with really nice, whimsical illustrations on it. Very cute and practical at the same time.

Fragrance Family: Gourmand

Notes: Honey, violet, jasmine, sandalwood.

I really liked Honey and the Moon and the best part about it is the fact that Tokyo Milk fragrances are relatively affordable. I haven’t tried many other scents from them but they are generally well done.

Reviewed in This Post: Honey and the Moon, 2009, Parfum.


Balenciaga Cialenga

I hate it when I reach for a sampler, smell something, decide that I love it then find out that it was discontinued or is now incredibly rare. In Cialenga’s case, it was discontinued and now only exists on eBay. Thankfully, the prices aren’t sky high. Unfortunately, supplies will run out sooner or later. It’s such a shame for a fragrance so classically beautiful.

Cialenga

Cialenga

In Bottle: Smells rather familiar, like an aldehydes based fragrance but softer. I get the crisp green citrus and the floral notes, most notably ylang-ylang, rose, and lily.

Applied: Crispy green opening with some aldehydes rolling in. The aldehyde element isn’t too strong in Cialenga. It adds rather than dominates as it tends to do. The fragrance ages very gracefully into a midstage marked with a prominent rose, ylang-ylang, and lily bouquet that has elements of the powdery, soapy aldehyde composition. The clove mixes in this general area too giving it a bit of spiciness to work with. The fragrance then starts to age into its dry down with a bit of woodsy earthiness coming through and a marked green richness with a hint of powder and spice.

Extra: Cialenga, if you get a whiff of this stuff is a really well-balanced and very well composed fragrance that harkened from a time when classical perfumery was still somewhat celebrated. It was released in 1973 by perfumer, Jacques Jantzen.

Design: Cialenga’s design reminds me of the 70s but also seems to borrow some design elements from the 1920s or 30s. Something about it is is very Art Deco. Maybe it’s the straight lines. Whatever it is, the design itself is a bit aged but then again, the fragrance is discontinued. It’s not something I’d like aesthetically but it is lovely in a very vintage way.

Fragrance Family: Chypre

Notes: Citrus, black currant, green notes, iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, lily, clove, vetiver, sandalwood, oak moss, patchouli, cedar.

I can only presume this stuff was taken off the market for its oak moss content. A real shame because Cialenga is a very approachable aldehyde. I can see it as the aldehyde primer for someone uncertain or afraid of the note.

Reviewed in This Post: Cialenga, ~1980, Eau de Toilette.