Berry Note in Perfume

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.

117 Comments
cathleen56 February 25, 2010

I've got the Ines de la Fressange you're looking to try. I can't quite make up my mind about it -- it's got that spermy undertone that I can never decide if I love or hate. I'd be happy to send you some or, better yet, bring you some. A long-overdue date with Louise is in the works, and we could make it a threesome or I could give it to Louise to give to you.

Joe February 25, 2010

Hey... nice to see this list. I haven't worn M&M in awhile, but I usually bust it out for a couple days in spring. I'll have to try it with a Mandragore topper. Another good berry is PdN Balkis. Rich and very sweet, like some kind of elegant dessert or after-dinner drink: rose, coffee, and raspberry. And hey, a li'l Serge never killed ANYBODY! (Well ok, MKK almost kills me, but I still keep sniffing my wrist.) :d

london February 25, 2010

My favourite non-citrus fruits are Sauvignonne and Vraie Blonde (peach), Fig Tea and Cristiano Fissore Cashmere (apricot). Can't think of any acceptable berry ones though, much less strawberry.

Geordan1244 February 25, 2010

Victoria's Secret had a fragrance a few years ago called Succulent,which was part of the Mood series. It contained blackberries, madagascar vanilla, and something else I can't remember. The lotion was/is still fabulous (although they discontinued it, one can still find it on ebay from time to time). I bought the fragrance untested, after trying on the lotion; I was sorely dissappointed with the fragrance as compared to the lotion (it just didn't have the ooomph that the lotion had - the fragrance reminded me of sweet ribbons dangling in the air, rather than the seductive spicy tendrils of scent that lured me in...I think the fragrance had too much berry, not enough spicy vanilla, whereas the berry in the lotion became a topper for the spicy vanilla). Not a "high-class" scent, but definitely one that would put me in the mood :d :"> I don't like strawberry scents, but am willing to try anything.

Flora February 25, 2010

I bought the 1999 Ines de la Fressange scent unsniffed - LOVED it, and repurchased! It's definitely worth a try at the price. It's great for summer, as it never gets too sweet no matter how hot it gets. I had no idea it was by Calice Becker at the time, but it did not surprise me when I found out she did it. You want blackcurrant? Nirmala by Molinard is the way to go; it's my favorite fruity-floral ever. (I suggested this one earlier for Sandalwood, so you get a two-fer with that.) :) I once had a REAL strawberry perfume and it was fabulous. It was by Fragonard, and meant for young girls, and of course it's no longer around, but I still remember ho lovely it was. The so-called "strawberry" in perfumes these days is pretty sad in comparison.

Wino February 24, 2010

Everyone has already heartily endorsed Sacrebleu, so I'll just add, "Yeah! What they said!" As for Ines, the original version in the octagonal bottle is really lovely. Perfect for spring/summer, it is SO light and cheerful! I don't get much fruit, just a light, peachy undercurrent, some sparkle from the aldehydes, and a classy, kind of shimmery floral. (I'm trying desperately to think of a better word than SHIMMERY, for God's sake--Prix Eau Faux, anyone?--but coming up blank.) I haven't tried the later version, so can't compare, but HIGHLY recommend the Becker version!

pyramus February 24, 2010

I thought that Mure et Musc smelled like, and I quote myself, " a freshly and thoroughly laundered jar of jam." This was not a good thing, to me. Anna Sui Night of Fancy has a blueberry note. Well, a synthetic-blueberry note. Well, a synthetic-creamy-blueberry-candy note. It's not completely hideous, for about five minutes, and then you're sick to death of it.

Austenfan February 24, 2010

The one I instantly thought of regarding berries is Goutal-Quel Amour. Tart and interesting. It is supposed to have blueberries. There is a good review of it on Perfumesmellingthings. It is not my favourite Goutal, but it's very pleasant on occasion. Do try Sacrebleu; I think Turin is spot on in his review of it. Use a light hand though; when overdone it becomes very cloying, but in the right dose it's very lovely!

maggiecat February 24, 2010

"Who tinkled on my hand" made me laugh out loud...and as I;m having a fairly bad day (working from home while hubby recovers from oral surgery) i needed that. Perhaps I'll go get my box of samples out and play a little...Anyway, thanks for making my day! (And Unconditional Love isn't bad at all - the cologne is much better than the body lotion; for me Falling in Love is the other way 'round)

Lee February 24, 2010

I can't do much fruit. There was that men's scent - Black XS that came out a few years back that made me heave. The raspy woody men's note combined with strawberry frosting does not a good blend make. I quite like Mure et Muscs et amis, but not on me. Saying that, I'm a little smitten with the new(ish) men's Dior, Ambre Nuit, which is faux fruity to start with, generic mensy in parts and with a Nazgul drydown sans tobacoo. I think you'd hate it, but I thought I would too. Might write about it on Friday - lord knows I sorely need inspiration.

Nava February 24, 2010

Isn't it funny how we're both in "Serge" moods. I've been wearing Encens et Lavande, Rahat Loukhoum, and now Louve. There's a "which doesn't belong and why" vibe to those choices because EeL is a total departure from the other two. Louve is just RL with some powder thrown in, but I love it anyway. I've always had a thing for berries in my scents, and I've loved Mure et Musc forever. I used to love Trish McEvoy's #9 Blackberry, Vanilla and Musk, but Philosophy's Falling in Love is almost an exact duplicate, and has better ancillary products to go along with it. I haven't smelled any of the Byredos yet, but from the sound of it, I'd be running for a brillo pad. :d

Shelley February 24, 2010

Help me, I have a Costamoor samp on each wrist, and I'm stuck in sweet purgatory. This would be just fine if I enjoyed such a thing, but I don't. Rats. Had other hopes, since the one is called Tabacca. The other, Sugarwood, obviously arrives as advertised. I MUCH prefer the thick haze with of L'HB or (with rasp added) Sacrebleu. So I'm going to try to scrub, and go back to Ines, which nobody but Musette has discussed yet. I have both, and remember that both were "nice." Not very helpful, that, so will go back. I think I preferred the contents of the leaf bottle, and not just the bottle itself. Will report back. Happy to send a samp of the square bottle version if you like. You've reminded me; I think I need to clean the boxwood out of the litter box... ;))

sweetlife February 24, 2010

I keep trying the Nicolai's, and appreciate them in theory, but in practice they have so far escaped me. Alas. I blame me, not them. Pulp makes me laugh out loud! That can't be completely bad, can it?

mals86 February 24, 2010

Hated Pulp, giant frozen fruit-bar on steroids that it was. I like L'Heure Bleue (and PdN Vanille Tonka is a totally-necessary, nothing-but-fun carnival ride for me), but Sacrebleu did not grab me at all. I was expecting to love it, but... meh. But I do have a small bottle of the original Ines de la Fressange (bought 1 oz blind last summer for $13), and it is terrific! Yes, fruity, but not the sort of canned fruit cup that our mothers used to pack in our school lunches - more like a tangy, fruity margarita, followed by a very classical sort of ladylike floral. Even the drydown is pretty. It's not at all an intellectual, ladylike thing, but pretty-with-a-twist. Hmmm... garden party with jello shots, maybe?

maidenbliss February 24, 2010

It was Angela @ NST who wrote that review.

maidenbliss February 24, 2010

Everytime I even think about 'who tinkled on my hand?' I burst out LOL! As to berries, I prefer them w cream or maybe in a nice dry juniper martini. I can't get past the edible thing. Sacrebleu has been on my list since reading Robin's review @ NST.

Musette February 24, 2010

I was going to arm myself with some massive aldehyde today but I think I will revisit Ines. I have the leaf bottle (Shelley - again8-| - BLAME SHELLEY) but I think I will hunt up the Becker, as it sounds right up my alley! El O LOOVES this on me. Usually he just says 'uh, nice' or jumps back (as with Catagan) but this one...of course, I don't get any berry at all - or if I do, I don't know that's what I'm getting. It's like a sweet green on me - very summery (which is What March Said) Scare Blue! I love that stuff! not so easy to wear, as it veers into L'HB territory, which is always a bit weird for me, but it is gorgeous. One berry I 'do' get - and love - is Celine Elena's Sublime Balkiss. Juicy, salty, sea-berries. Go figure. I spritzed Pulp @ Barneys and tried to jump back from my own wrist!:o That's some rough stuff. Do the gin berries (not quite juniper - just 'gin') in Brilliante count? Yes, I'm still flogging that 3:-o xoxoxo >-)

Robin February 24, 2010

That's so funny about Pulp! I've never had that experience at all, in fact, it's one of the few massively fruity things I really like. But agree about Mure et Musc, and it's a shame because I understand it used to be much better. Will have to try it with some Mandragore.

Aubrey February 24, 2010

Which version of Mure et Musc did you like? On me, the extreme version just isn't quite right. But I hear that there are several versions including a cologne and that they all smell different. For a sweet easy blackberry, I liked Lalique Amethyste (*waves to Tomassina*) and surprisingly, I like Philosophy's Unconditional Love. But they are both pretty sweet. And speaking of blackberry, do you know what I love? Mistral's blackberry soap. It's far less sweet than the frags mentioned. I wish I could find a perfume that smells the same (alas, the Mistral perfume does not match it at all).

karin February 24, 2010

Great topic! I'm contemplating purchasing a bottle of PdN's Balkis unsniffed. Would love to hear the yays and nays on it. Is it a good one? Also wondering about Cartier's So Pretty. Strawberry - yeah. Sarah Jessica Parker's new fragrance. Seems like she's bowing to pressure with this one after the Covet debacle - just another syrupy, fruity floral. Wonder if it's selling. Sacrebleu is one of my HGs. Wouldn't call it sweet necessarily. It's not a light scent. A bit on the heavy side, but delicious.

Silviafunkly February 24, 2010

Similar thing: out of the blue at one of the L'Artisan shops (btw, there used to be 4 shops in London, from 28/2 there will be only one left, sigh sigh), I fell for Mure et Musc Extreme, not my usual kind of scent. I don't wear it very often but when I do, it sparkles really nicely. Sacrebleu is niiiiice, very Guerlanish, I don't get that much berry from it though. I read the notes and in my mind they don't total to Sacrebleu (I have the higher concentration version). Am sure you'll like it. Filling the knowledge gaps is what keeps my interest as vivid as day 1. In my case, they are more like black holes though !!!#-o

Melissa February 24, 2010

I love your description of Pulp. I made the mistake of giving myself a nice hefty spray of it (both arms) from a decant. I must have blocked the scent memory, because I can't describe the notes beyond a vague sense of having been assaulted by a fruit puree spewing out of the top of a blender. :o I can't think of any berry fragrances that I wear. I do like some fruit notes. Peach, plum and apricot blend nicely with other notes, without jarring sharpness or insipid sweetness. And I need to give Sacrebleu another try.

Tommasina February 24, 2010

For blackberry and other possibly-boxwood-inducing notes, try Lalique Amethyste. I'm happy to send you some, if you like.

Francesca February 24, 2010

Strawberry in fragrance? Yuck. I remember doing a Nicolaï test fest a year or so ago and remember liking Sacrebleu very much but heaven help me if I can remember what it smelled like, and I don't have time to rummage around in the little drawer-thing where I keep all the tiny samps this morning. Oh well. Do check it out; it's very pretty.

Louise February 24, 2010

I'm thinking that Bois de Paradis was almost all berries on me, but way sweet. I gave that one away. And I must insist that Pulp is great, because I tame the Giant Fruit better than James did-it's huge and delightfully bitter at the beginning, and keeps a fresh, realistic citrus vibe throughout. Though-where's de berries? Not on me :d/

Dante's Bra February 24, 2010

Oh, Sacrebleu. I spritzed some on a red raw silk scarf I just brought back from Thailand; it's a magic force field against the chilly winter. I can't believe I like it because it's so sweet, but I would argue that it does have a little depth in its incense-ey drydown. And it doesn't turn Vanillazilla (at least on me, thank God 'cause I somehow make everything else vanilla). Not usually into the fruits, but I love the sound of a berry with leaves, thorns and earth...

carmencanada (Grain de Musc) February 24, 2010

I concur, Sacrebleu is quite lovely (I think it's the most popular Nicolaï in the US), with a sugar-coated candy top note, yet not cloying... Not a big berry fan myself, as you can imagine. I did enjoy wearing Cartier L'Heure Folle when I was testing it, though: it felt like the berry on the bush, complete with leaves, thorns, earth and the unripe ones, plus the ones on the ground. Mathilde Laurent *did* conceive it as a tribute to Mûre et Musc, which by the way, despite what Luca Turin claims, has *not* been reformulated. I got this directly from Pamela Roberts who was the artistic director for L'Artisan. She no longer works for them, so she wouldn't have much of a reason to cover up: I'm taking her word for it as she knows the formula.

Masha February 24, 2010

Sacrebleu as glorified Pez, I love it! But it's a must-sniff, it's gorgeous.

Christine February 24, 2010

I love your writing. It's probably the use of imagery or maybe the fact that I'm just finishing up work at 1 am, but well I could have just reached out and pet big bad Byredo Pulp. And YES no strawberry. I can't even do artificially flavored strawberry candy. It smells exactly how I would imagine a berry fart would smell. Okay! I'm off to bed, even though I'm finding it hard to pull away from AMC's running of Forrest Gump (even though, geez they're playing it every night, I don't know what I'm afraid of.). 'Night!

DinaC February 24, 2010

Okay, first, huge LOL at Skeee-Rubber. How funny! That was the most hilarious thing I've heard or read all day. :d Another berry-ish one to nominate: Gucci II edp. When you look at it in the bottle with its pink juice, you might be tempted to think, "Oh no! Another dreadful fruity-floral." But it's not. It's more herbal-blackcurrant, and a bit of violet according to Tania Sanchez in PTG. They even give it four stars. I don't wear it a lot, but when I do, I enjoy it.

carter February 24, 2010

Sacre bleu, you ain't tried Sacrebleu? JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH WASSAMATTA VOUS?

violetnoir February 24, 2010

Oh my goodness, babe. You have to test Sacrebleu! It smells like an homage to L'Heure Bleue. Really! On me it smells like apricots floating in thick cream with vanilla drizzled on top. I even have it in the "light" version, and I would be happy to send you some of that. Hugs!

Amy K February 24, 2010

I swapped away my bottle of Sacrebleu a few years ago, and I keep contemplating a re-purchase because I find myself missing it fairly often. It has nice depth, but doesn't take itself too seriously. This sounds odd, but it reminds me of...Smarties. You know, the candy? It's like a sophisticated, Oriental version of Smarties. Or maybe Pez.