So. Having spent the last week+ killing everyone around me with Serge, and longing for the snow to melt, I rooted around on my shelves for things I’ve bought (and neglected) in the spring-is-just-around-the-corner category — subcategory: berries as in berry note in perfume.
L’Artisan Mure et Musc – basil, grapefruit, bergamot, mandarin orange, jasmine, blackberry, musk. Having never cared for it, I fell in love with this, inexplicably, on a visit to the L’Artisan boutique on Madison Avenue a couple years ago in the middle of winter. Then, through my own auction-sniping stupidity, I promptly ended up with two bottles of the stuff, one less than half full, both with the old-style caps, for not much money. (As I can’t find one now, I suppose it’s good I accidentally bought two.) When I first put it on I remember why I loved it; the musk with the blackberry isn’t remotely foody or jammy, not especially sweet, and I crave that musky-citrusy opening. Inevitably though it flattens and fades to something that smells pleasant but sort of like blackberry body wash, if such a thing exists. It’s pretty enough, and yet pretty enough feels like kind of a waste of good skin to me. Curious, I threw some Mandragore (surprise!) on top, trying to amp up the sour, and it was excellent. In fact it was so excellent I contemplated not sharing my new secret. The blackberry adds a sweet, musky note that Mandragore lacks entirely, while Mandragore’s peppery bitterness keeps the whole Mure thing interesting. (good use of blackberry as the Berry Note in Perfume)
Ines de la Fressange: notes of mandarin, blackcurrant, bergamot, neroli, muguet, rose, peony, orris, patchouli, white musk, benzoin, vetiver. I have the beautiful, ornate tall bottle with the oak (?) leaves on it from 2004, not the other, plain one that’s much easier to find now online. This is pretty much the fruity-floral-musky fragrance you’d expect given that list of notes, although as it was done by Alberto Morillas it’s a very nice example of the genre, and unlike many fruity-florals at Macy’s/Sephora (Mayphora?) it doesn’t smell cheap, although for all I know it cost 12 cents to make. I don’t think it’s genius, and it’s not “me” at all, and it’s maybe even a bit insipid, at least compared to what I usually wear. And yet. It’s such a bright, warm smile of a thing I can’t dislike it. (use of blackcurrant as the Berry Note in Perfume)
Poking around online I found the notes for the original 1999 version of Ines in the short, plain bottle, done by Calice Becker – aldehydes, peach, bergamot, brazilian rosewood, carnation, iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley, rose, sandalwood, tonka bean and benzoin. Has anyone tried that? Hm. That sounds really nice, doesn’t it? I’m kind of overdue for a blind buy that (knowing me) won’t work out at all well. What do you think? Should I pick some up?
Having no more berries that I could see on my shelf, I went rooting around for my sample of Byredo Pulp, with notes of JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH WHO TINKLED ON MY HAND?!?! I remember comparing it to a giant, boulder-sized fruit when I reviewed it, but I don’t recall it being quite so … boxwoody. Sorry, the correct notes are … bergamot, cardamom, blackcurrant, red apple, fig, tiare, cedar, praline and peach blossom. This thing? Skeee-RUBBER. Although I didn’t scrub it. I took the twins to taekwondo and came home and made dinner while it hopped up and down on the back of my hand and hissed at me. It does get a bit peachy in the drydown, and I can smell the blackcurrant. I have no idea what in that list of notes might be giving me that boxwood smell, but if I sprayed this all over myself I’d weep and die. (overuse of Berry Note in Perfume)
Berry-wise, think we can all agree that strawberry as the Berry Note in Perfume is disgusting, yes? (No? Go on, argue!) How about blueberry as the Berry Note in Perfume? Have I overlooked something wonderful? Hey, I’m a little ashamed to admit I still haven’t smelled Sacrebleu by Parfums de Nicolaà¯, at least not that I can remember (notes of black currant blossom, peach blossom, peony, raspberry, jasmine, incense, vanilla and clove), should I go scare some of that up? Is it berry-ish, or more generically fruity-floral? LT calls it a “dusky oriental” in The Guide and writes a four-star paean to it. So I guess I should definitely put that on my list. And that’s the great thing about being a perfumista — with all the endless amount of sampling I’ve done, I still have some huge gaps to fill.
Sources: Mure et Musc, Ines de La Fressange, Mandragore, all from my collection; Byredo Pulp, private sample.