L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia

Still on the look out for another lovely vanilla. Preferably one that can replace Spiritueuse Double Vanille because I refuse to be shackled to a limited edition fragrance–even if it’s awesome. This time, it’s Vanilia by L’Artisan Parfumeur, a pretty green vanilla plant of a thing. Vanilia

In Bottle: Sweet, green vanilla with a floral mixture and a nice white woodsy scent. Nothing at all what I was hoping but still very pleasant.

Applied: Sweet vanilla with a topper that reminds me of sweet powder and fruits. Not too sweet, in fact the sweetness is really subdued and appropriately used and the fruits are a pleasant blend that recedes into the background rather quickly. You won’t get a toothache from this. As Vanilia settles down, it releases a pleasant waft of green floral and spice mixed with a pleasant smoky floral. Very strange mix but it works out really well. Vanilia is a fantastic morpher as it’s one of the nicest smelling vanillas with a rich and complex composition. It is not your run-of-the-mill gourmand vanilla with the fruity, bubbly, candy personality. This is a sophisticated vanilla. The airy greenness mixed with the very pleasant ambery powder vanilla adds a great dimension to this fragrance.

Extra: L’Artisan Parfumeur is a niche house established in 1976s and based in Paris. Vanilia was released in 1978.

Design: Vanilia is bottled in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s now iconic seven sided glass bottle. It has a nice weight to it, looks pleasant–if somewhat sparse to me–but the real show stopper is truly the juice inside.

Fragrance Family: Spicy Fresh

Notes: Fruit, rose, jasmine, amber, patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood.

For some reason, Vanilia is a very difficult to find fragrance for me. No stores carry L’Artisan Parfumeur in my general area and my usual haunts online don’t have this fragrance represented.

Reviewed in This Post: Vanilia, 2007, Eau de Toilette.


Soivohle Vanillaville

Soivohle is an independent perfume house¬† run by Liz Zorn that has a fantastic collection of natural perfumes of which Vanillaville is a part of. I was searching for a replacement to my much beloved, Spiritueuse Double Vanille (SDV). While I don’t think Vanillaville is a replacement for SDV, it is nevertheless, a beautiful fragrance.

In Bottle: Smoky strong pipe tobacco with a blend of leather up front. It’s reminiscent of campfires but has a far more sophisticated edge than that. I don’t smell much of the vanilla but it is in the background lending this a pleasant creamy, mildly sweet, smoothness.

Applied: I don’t get a whole lot of shift and change in this as what it is has pretty much been described. Smoky, sophisticated, a bit of leather to add some more personality and a fantastic sweet and creamy vanilla note lurking near the bottom. As this ages, the smokiness fades just a little bit to let the vanilla scent to come up but for the most part, Vanillaville is a clear and beautiful interpretation of a fantastic vanilla concept.

Extra: Soivohle offers some of the best natural perfumes I’ve found and the packaging is impeccable. My favorite from the natural collection is by far, Pink Praline, a deliciously well crafted gourmand scent.

Design: I have not purchased a full bottle yet, but the sample jars that Soivohle uses are adorable little glass deals with a cute screw on black plastic cap. They were meticulously packed and if the sample were so well treated, I can’t wait to see how beautiful the actual bottles will be.

Fragrance Family: Oriental

Notes: Almond, tonka, tarragon, birch tar, coffee.

No replacement for SDV here, but Vanillaville is a fine concept. A bit smoky for my tastes, but this would make an excellent fragrance for anyone looking into darker vanilla scents.

Reviewed in This Post: Vanillaville, ~2009, Eau de Parfum.


A Guide for BPAL Newbies

As Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL) fragrances get more and more popular, some people might be interested in finding out just what all this hubbub is about. They’ll inevitably discover The Lab’s website address and look for themselves. Upon which they are bombarded by the general catalog fragrances of which there are hundreds of and decide that it is, really, quite too much to sort through.

And the site is intimidating with hundreds in the general catalogue and literally thousands if you include former general catalogue fragrances and limited editions that are no longer available. How is someone new to BPAL supposed to get around and figure out what they want to try? Or what’s supposed to smell good?

While this cursory guide is not an in-depth document meant to school you in every fragrance available from BPAL, it will list a few common, popular, general catalog fragrances that you may want to try out when you’re looking to order your first pack of samples.

How do samples work at BPAL?

BPAL’s sample vials are typically around 1ml and are referred to as imp’s ears. You can buy one imp ear for $4.00 or get a pack of six for $22.00. The prices have been adjusted recently as of this posting which is why on your travels around the internet, you may get conflicting price quotes. The best rule of thumb is to trust what The Lab says on its website. If you discover the secondhand market for BPAL sample vials, you can typically get these for much cheaper, though you may not be able to pick and choose which scents you want to get as a sample seller will usually not carry all the fragrances you are looking for. Imps

What should I include in my sample pack order?

Usually people will think that what you want to include in your sample pack are fragrances they’d like. This is a good safe practice. But I also recommend that people go out of their way to try fragrances they wouldn’t normally think they’d like because all scents can smell different on different people and all scents are composed differently too, this goes for mainstream, niche and BPAL alike. With a catalog of readily available perfumes ranging into the hundreds, why restrict yourself?

Now, let’s get into the meat of this post. You have on the website a few hundred general catalogue scents that can be ordered as samples (pay attention to that page on The Lab’s site about imps and what fragrance lines cannot be ordered as samples too). You have a general idea of what scents you like but don’t want to fiddle around wondering what would work on you since browsing the site could take hours and hours. The following is a handy little list of popular general catalog BPALs that I recommend, ordered to fit a few fragrance types to help you pick and choose:


Citrus:
Cheshire Cat (Mad Tea Party), Whitechapel (Wanderlust), Night Gaunt (Picnic in Arkham).
Clean: Dirty (Sin & Salvation), Lilium Inter Spinas (Ars Amatoria), The Lady of Shalott (Ars Amatoria).
Fresh: Embalming Fluid (Ars Moriendi), Kumiho (Diabolus), Phantom Queen (Diabolus).
Floral:
Glasgow (Wanderlust), The Unicorn (Mad Tea Party), Amsterdam (Wanderlust).
Fruity:
Aglaea (Excolo), Baobhan Sith (Diabolus), Yemaya (Excolo).
Gourmand: Dorian (Sin & Salvation),  Eat Me (Mad Tea Party), Gluttony (Sin & Salvation).
Herbal:
Villain (Diabolus), Lear (Illyria).
Musky: Bien Loin d’Ici (Ars Amatoria), Snake Oil (Ars Amatoria), Penitence (Sin & Salvation).
Smoky:
Anne Bonny (Bewitching Brews), Djinn (Diabolus).
Spicy: Queen of Sheba (Ars Amatoria), Scherezade (Bewitching Brews), Plunder (Bewitching Brews).
Sweet: Aunt Caroline’s Joy Mojo (Bewitching Brews), The Dodo (Mad Tea Party).
Woodsy:
Sri Lanka (Wanderlust), The Coiled Serpent (Bewitching Brews), Arkham (Picnic in Arkham).

It should be noted that these are just recommendations based upon my tastes. What you like or dislike may be different so feel free to look at these as suggestions only. If you have any suggestions to add to this list, please feel free to comment.

Also keep in mind that BPAL may have to discontinue some of the fragrances listed in this post at a later date due to component issues so some of these recommendations may not be available when you go to order your samples. Always double check the site to ensure the fragrance you want is still available before you send in an order. If a fragrance you wanted a sample of is not available or was discontinued, BPAL will substitute it with an available fragrance.


Comme des Garcons Nomad Tea

Continuing on my quest to find the perfect tea scent, Nomad Tea by Comme des Garcons popped up as a potential candidate. As far as I understand it, Nomad Tea is a part of Comme des Garcon’s Series 7: Sweet. It, and the fragrances in the collection, are a less complex homage to varying notes. Nomad Tea

In Bottle: Bitter, dark, herbal tea that has a very distinct bright mint note to it. This reminds me a lot of another mint based fragrance that I did particularly care for. Mint has this repellent quality to me that tends to hover between nicely spicy and rather plastic. I love real mint, but smelling it in fragrances is a real downer for some reason.

Applied: Artemesia gives the very powerful mint note a nice mellowing but you can tell the mint is very strong as it fights off the evaporation for a good while before finally giving in. The rest of Nomad Tea is headed by a very nice green tea scent with a smoked quality to it. There’s a very mild sweetness to this followed by the herbal, floral treatment that gives Nomad Tea a very aromatic feel to it. The dry down is a nice smoky and woodsy scent.

Extra: Comme des Garcons is a fashion house focusing on avant guard concepts. They branched into fragrances in the early to mid 90s.

Design: I’m not wild about the design of the bottle as it seems less polished than a fragrance like this deserves. Held in a textured glass bottle, Nomad Tea has the series name, fragrance name, and house name written in black ink on the glass. Very simple, really boring. Kind of messy which reflects the house’s aim a bit but doesn’t quite make it there. I expected better from Comme des Garcons, to be honest.

Fragrance Family: Aromatic

Notes: Artemisia, wild mint, Burmese green tea, geranium leaf, white sugar loaf, smoked woods.

That mint note that opens this is pretty distracting for me. So while the rest of the fragrance’s treatment of green tea is rather interesting with the sweet smokiness creating this nice atmosphere, I still have to get past the dreaded mint. I love mint–when I eat it. I don’t like it in my perfumes for some reason. It just has this watery, spicy, plasticness to it that turns me away.

Reviewed in This Post: Nomad Tea, 2009, Sample Vial.