I’m not entirely sure what motivates me to write these seasonal favorites posts. Maybe its part diary. I know I’ll be interested five years from now in what I wore way back in 2010 (so perhaps this is a little selfish). Maybe it’s partly that I think I might choose scents that you haven’t tried and might be worthy of your sniffing time. But as I said, I’m not sure why I write these posts, but I do feel compelled. Oddly.
Here are the five perfumes I’ve been wearing the most often and completely enjoying each and every time:
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Parfum de Luxe: This is a subtle yet true chypre. The fragrance it most reminds me of is Chanel 31 Rue Cambon. Parfum de Luxe is complex and multi-facted, following the beautiful curves along the chypre corridor. It begins with the usual bergamot, citrus opening, evolving through layers of dry florals and rests upon a gorgeous bed of oakmoss, labdanum and sandalwood. The ingredients smell high quality and while it isn’t a “natural” (as in 100% all natural no synthetics) it smells very natural and pure.
Parfum de Luxe notes: bergamot, clary sage, neroli, petit grain and violet. Heart: Bulgarian rose, Centifolia rose, Chinese geranium, honey, iris, tuberose and ylang-ylang. Base: amber, benzoin, oakmoss, labdanum, patchouli, sandalwood, tobacco and vanilla.
Solange Cosmic: This is another I’d classify as a modern chypre, without even smirking or mocking at the “modern chypre” category (which I oftentimes do). Let me immediately get this out of the way; I was initially turned off by the Solange line entirely. It all seemed (past tense) so overpriced and focused on style over substance. The perfumer is Lyn Harris of Miller Harris and she was contracted by Solange Azagury-Partridge who is a London-based jewelry designer famous for her striking sculptural jewelry. There are two fragrances from Solange; Stoned and Cosmic, and each has a seemingly ridiculous addition to their formula, Stoned contains diamond particles and Cosmic contains ground meteorites. Well, Solange is a jewelry house, and everyone should be allowed her own shtick, so I cut them some slack and just gave in to the experience of these fragrances. Stoned is not my style, it is way too powdery, but Cosmic caught my attention, and now that I think about it, it is another in the list of “wasn’t love at first sniff but I grew to love it” category.
Cosmic probably also appeases my inner sci-fi geek. Check out Nathan’s photos for fantastic images of the bottle design.
So what does Cosmic smell like? It’s does not contain that oakmoss blast of classic chypres from days of yore, but it definitely has a mossy personality and an interesting layered development that follows the typical progression of a chypre fragrance. Cosmic starts off weirdly tangy; almost a sour top note over a mossy and powdery base. I’ll be honest; the start might be a little off putting. It’s tangy yet sweet and it’s also mossy and has strong hints of sweet suede-y leather. But if you aren’t gagging right at the gate and you like modern chypres this one is worth trying a few times and definitely waiting for the dry down. It’s a little powdery, but I've found it to be an unusually addictive scent, for those who aren’t put off by the description “sweet, tangy, mossy yet powdery modern chypre.”
Oh, and you also need to know it’s expensive. Cosmic is $285 for a bottle, but for me, I find the kitschy bottle design endearing and I grew to crave the scent.
Cosmic notes: Bergamot, Galbanum, Rose, Jasmine Absolute, Iris Absolute, Patchouli, Vetiver, Labdanum, Opoponax, Myrrh, Vanilla
Teo Cabanel Alahine: I know. You are rolling your eyes. You are a teensy bit tired of my Alahine obsession. But it’s my holy grail, and to tell you that I haven’t been wearing it tons and tons over the past two months would be a lie. Alahine is genius in autumn and winter. This stuff is quite simply, incomparable. Through conversations with Brian, I think I’m coming to understand the role ylang ylang plays in Alahine which might be precisely the reason I am crazy about it. Alahine’s notes read like a floral oriental but it veers more toward ambery oriental for me, with much more focus on dry non-sweet amber, labdanum, iris and benzoin than the roses and jasmine that are mentioned. But there is this molten lava-like vein of ylang ylang throughout, that reminds me a touch of Opium, which I find mesmerizing (thanks Brian for helping me make this connection!). I love Opium but can’t wear it. It feels dated on me and perhaps it’s just Too Much, too many poppin’ aldehydes. I’m coming to think of Alahine as my modern Opium.
Alahine notes: bergamot, ylang ylang, Bulgarian rose, Moroccan orange tree, jasmine, pepper plant, iris concrete, cistus, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, musk
The Different Company de Bachmakov: I have a love/hate relationship with TDC. There are several fragrances I think are fantastic, while there are also several fragrances I think are generic, too fleeting and generally overrated. I love Sublime Balkis and Oriental Lounge. But I adore de Bachmakov. Now, my adoration has lots to do with my enjoyment of the smell of tea and dry spices. If you are the same, and have a fixation on tea and dry spices, de Bachmakov is a beauty. I’m getting a little lazy, so I’ll point you to a review by Robin at NST, which I totally agree with and couldn't have written better myself.
de Bachmakov notes: bergamot, shiso leaves, coriander leaves, freesia, jasmine, nutmeg, cedar and craie douce
Thierry Mugler Garden of Stars Angel Violet: Ok, now you are really rolling your eyes. You’ve lost respect for me. Here’s the skinny, when people say that original Angel is so sweet and so ultimately gourmand it kind of doesn’t register with me. Original Angel, on me, is an unusual oriental, but what I smell are spices and pine needles and clean sweet patchouli. I really don’t get the candy and fruits that others find in original Angel. But Angel Violet, now THIS is a gourmand version of Angel. It is quite simply a candied violet accord infused into original Angel, it’s fairly funky, because if I close my eyes and envisions colors, it’s both purple and green and a little brown. It’s sweet and woody with no florals in sight. Angel Violet is also less potent than original Angel; it’s strong for a few hours but does not last all day and doesn’t project nearly as much. If you like the occasional candied violet scent and also like original Angel, this is delightful.
So, what's been rocking your world this season?