A few Miller Harris

Miller Harris was never really my house. The only fragrance that really hooked me – years ago – was l’Air du Rien (the thing that was supposed to have been done for Jane Birken – of that song and that bag). Nothing else really worked. And I recently found myself more interested in Lyn Harris’ new venture, Perfumer H.

It appears MH is yet another brand gobbled up by Estee Lauder. It’s really hard to be an independent perfume brand these days. It’s either you’re a luxury brand and sell enough lipstick and foundation to fund perfume; are private equity and I guess having a perfume brand balances having other less sexy stuff; or are owned by Puig or Estee Lauder.

In any case, there’s been a bit of noise on the Posse recently about MH and for reasons that I am unsure about, given nothing yet had worked terribly well, I ended up on the website buying samples. I came away with four things, none of which were around 15 years ago when I last seriously looked at the brand: Oud Eclat, Hydra Figure, La Feuille and Wander.

I have to say straight off that these are not for me but the opening on one of them is stellar. It’s after that things go downhill rapidly. The house now appears (at least to my mind) to have a specific base, a Miller-ade (ie, like the Caronade, Guerlainade, etc) which really really does not work on me. It’s a rooty, cold, carroty something as far as I can tell with a strange sweet metallic undercurrent.

Oud Eclat. You only get short notes lists with these. Oud Eclat is oud, tagete (marigold) and maltol (I’m assuming it’s that love or hate ethyl maltol). Silly box text: “A woody scent of poetic alchemy, set at the counter balance of nature, where beauty needs shadows to be defined”. Uh, ok. Boy, is this weird. And a bit off-putting, but initially really really compelling. It starts band-aids and cotton candy. I seriously like that. But soon, we’re into wood and caramel with something cardboardy under it all. Ack, if the whole thing were that opening … but no dice. Instead, once we’re into the drydown is all sweet rooty and it really really doesn’t work on me.

Hydra Figue. Fig, sea salt and oakwood. “The scent of an artist’s idyll. Journey to the Greek Bohemian paradise. A complex woody, marine and citrus fragrance combining the fruit of the fig with sea salt, Greek saffron and upcycled oakwood”. The opening is a very decent woody fruity fig. A bit astringent – maybe from the sea salt. But after that it’s the base that doesn’t work on me. That weird sweet thing again. This is actually the only one I have a full notes list for as a postcard about it was sent along with the order. A concept fragrance. I’m using the postcard as a bookmark right now and can’t be bothered to find where I left the book in the house (I’m re-reading the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson – getting much more out of them second go-round – if you haven’t read these I highly recommend).

La Feuille. Tomato leaf, green ivy and cassis. “The bright essence of the greenhouse, in a scented essay to the seasonal journey of the leaf and a love of British nature”. This does not work on me. At all. Opening is sour green leaves and a fruity note. It ended up being impossible. Gave the fragrance 15 minutes and washed off. So, actually don’t know if this has the Miller-ade. I love tomato leaf as a note. Too bad.

Wander. Nettle, galbanum and fig. “Wander long enough and your vision changes …” I gave up on trying to read the rest of the text as it’s white on pale green and no matter what I did I couldn’t see it well – glasses off, glasses on, etc. Anyway, this opens cool and green but I already get something slightly sour. Maybe nettle is sour? It’s pleasant and would probably be quite nice on someone on whom green perfumes work well. Thankfully, it wasn’t a scrubber.

So, that’s that. Not for me. It’s that base – it just … no … maybe it’s my skin chemistry but it’s such a huge huge no. And those strangely sour aspects. Clearly, the iris thing worked for Portia and somewhat for Tom. What about you? Any of these totally adored? Did they change a lot after the sale to EL?

Pic is mine

  • Tom says:

    Well I ind of have no real urge to go out of my way for these. I have my bottle(s) of Fleurs de Sel and L’Air de Rien (the original) and am just going to be happ with those.

    I am so not looking forward to see what the new MKK without the M is like..

    • cinnamon says:

      Will you get a sample of the KK? I am still really grumpy about the disappearance of Tubereuse Criminelle and will get a decant from StC fairly soon.

      • Tom says:

        I don’t think they do samples. I think StC does samples of the real stuff. I’ll look around for samps of the new one.

      • Tom says:

        You might try calling the store direct. They may have some that you could get.

  • Dina C. says:

    Thanks for the good reviews, Cinnamon. If these have the same base as Violet Ida then I probably wouldn’t like them. That was my problem with that one. Still, I’d like to sniff Wander and the tomato leaf one. And by-the-by, I totally agree on the futility of trying to read advertising copy that’s printed without enough contrast. So stupid! Especially when you know you are marketing to adults who are middle-aged and up. Get a clue graphic design folks!!

    • cinnamon says:

      Yes!!! What’s that light type on a light colour thing? I gave up because it was simply impossible. I do wonder about the change in the MHs regarding a potentially new base. Maybe they (EL) just thought it would be simpler and no one would notice the change. In any case, they now really don’t work on me as opposed to just not being to my taste.

  • March says:

    Giggling, I bet I would not like these at all, the sour and the metal. When the house has a base (or is it a structural commonality?) that mostly just does not work … I’m glad you tried them out, though! It was fun to read.

    • cinnamon says:

      Glad you enjoyed. I do wonder if there was a change in composition when EL bought the company which has nothing to do with Miller Harris’ previous offer.

  • Tara C says:

    I used to have Figue Amère, the only fig perfume I ever enjoyed, probably because it smelled of chocolate and not fig on me. I also love L’Air de Rien. Aside from that it doesn’t interest me at all as a house. I understand about the base issue – I can’t wear any Ormonde Jayne because of it.

    • cinnamon says:

      I recall getting very excited about a new fig perfume and then it simply wasn’t much of a much on me. Chocolate, huh… maybe I should have paid more attention last time round. I like OJ perfumes in the abstract. None really work on me either.

  • Portia says:

    WOW! I’ve not tried any of these Cinnamon but you have me chomping at the gate to go try them. They sound so interesting. Yeah, I know they don’t work for you but the notes they’ve put in sound like they might not be so terrible on me (Miller-ade doing fine on my skin)
    Thanks for taking the hit. Sorry they were all a bust.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      I think EL must have added a whole load of new things. I’d also meant to add into the post that I didn’t remember an -ade of any sort in the perfumes when Harris was running the brand. It will be interesting to see if anyone else has noted a change. And I do think my lower body temp might affect these. So, yeah, they might well all be great on you.

  • alityke says:

    I’m not a fan of MH either, the exceptions are Fleur de Sel on DH & Cassis on Feuille. Wander I sampled, loved, bought & did a 180. Couldn’t even smell it in the end.
    Hydra Figue I’m curious about as it’s inspired by Hydra, the Greek island. One of my favourite places on earth

    • cinnamon says:

      The ones I had tried ages ago weren’t loved but they worked ok on me. As I noted in my reply to Portia above I’m wondering if EL added the base. Hydra Figue is the only one I had a full notes list for (per that postcard which has become a bookmark). bergamot, Greek saffron, cardamon, ginger, lemon, ouzo accord, fig, tuberose, sea salt, sage, marine accord, Mirabilis Jalapa, oakwood, sandalwood, ambrosian and velvet musk.