After March’s wonderful post, you all know that the three of us have been torturing each other by sending out Mystery Sample Packs to blind-test and comment upon. I sent eight samples both to March and to Patty, five of them were different, three identical. Let me start with the different ones:
March’s first five Mystery Samples.
Specimen No. 1 smelled to March like unisex cologne. “Buttery, a little sweet, a little herbal, maybe a little pepper half an hour later. If the juice were in a higher concentration it might really appeal to me. This is a really pretty and tenacious skin scent. I wish it were twice as strong, though. Maybe it comes in Extreme?” March, you were spot on here. This was Calche Eau Delicate by Hermes! With notes of jasmine, rose, mandarin, cassis, white cedar, this is a lighter version of Calche. So, no, it does not come in Extreme, but it does come in Regular!
Specimen No. 2 was described by March as “a winter scent. A dark, warm incense-y thing, masculine on me, although I would definitely wear it. It smells very familiar. Smoky. March was not sure she liked it in the first five minutes, since it was “too syrup-y, but it’s settled down into something extremely pleasant.” One hour later the smoky part she liked was gone, leaving behind an inoffensive, ambery base. March, it does not surprise me at all that after an hour you needed to re-apply, what does surprise me, is that it lasted a whole one hour on your skin. After all this was Russian Leather by Demeter, and as we all know, Demeters do not last.
Specimen No. 3 in March’s opinion was “an intensely powdery classic (vintage?). Or, alternatively: it is a new, niche perfume that is breaking ground by smelling like an intensely powdery etc. etc.” Again, got to give you the props here, March. This is a new, niche-ish perfume that was supposed to smell like classic scents from the Golden 1920s. Inspired by the old black and white movies and created by Chris Sheldrake for Space NK, this was Melodrama.
Specimen No. 4 smelled to March “sorta Abinoamish, Niche, nice, renders itself alternately as herbs and tea (pleasant) and sap (less pleasant). I will say it’s extremely interesting, though. A murky, herby thing that I am never sure whether I like entirely, but which I can’t stop sniffing compulsively.” I am not sure whether it might be classified as niche, since it is sold at Sephora along with its six counterparts. This was Sloth, one of the 7 Sinful Scents by Gendarme (Notes: Bergamot, Lime, Green Lemon, Cognac, Cardamom, Magnolia Flower, Pepper, Musk). I personally thought it was quite nice too, especially compared to the other sinfully boring Sins.
Specimen No. 5 smelled of “florals, galbanum and paint thinner.” Says March, “I feel like I should cover my ass and say something about how great it is, because it smells niche to me. Am I about to expose myself as a middlebrow fraud? Well, I am not sure what to say here. This thing is so extremely obscure here as to almost qualify as a niche scent. However, in the land where it comes from, it is pretty much mainstream and has always been very popular. The No. 5 was Mystery of the Riga Woman (Tayna Rizhanki) by a Latvian perfume and cosmetics company called Dzintars. “A harmonious alliance of rose and violet on the charming background of lily-of-the-valley, iris and magnolia flowers” and apparently paint thinner.
Patty’s first five Mystery Samples.
Specimen No. 1 was “tart, a little fruity, very nice. Not a stunning perfume, but definitely wearable. Is this Armani Code for Women?”, asked Patty. It is not, but you are not far off, since you probably would find the two in the same Department Store. This was Miracle So Magic by Lancome, “a magical [yeah, right] encounter between two flowers: wild rose and narcissus”
Specimen No. 2 made Patty choke and beg, “Kill me now!” Revisited later, she found that “age has not improved this “beauty.” “ She classified this Specimen as a Hairy Armpit of Older Brother. Though it never made me want to end my life, I must admit I do not love this scent either. Specimen No. 2 was Must de Cartier, “a dramatic Oriental fragrance” with notes of bergamot, tangerine, lemon, aldehydes, peach, rosewood, jasmine, leather, carnation, ylang-ylang, orris, orchid, musk and amber.
Specimen No. 3 made Patty wonder, “WTF? Plastic and Rubber? [Specimen] No 2 met a can of motor oil and had a love child? The single worst thing I have ever put on that was called perfume.” What can I say, Patty, I have smelled worse perfumes (yes, Nelly Rodi Cacao, I am talking about you), but I am not a fan of this scent either. This is Odeur 53 by Comme des Garcons. The notes of this, uh, unusual fragrance include oxygen, flash of metal, fire energy, washing drying in the wind, mineral carbon, sand dunes, nail polish, cellulose, pure air of the high mountains, ultimate fusion, burnt rubber, flaming rock. Enough said!
Specimen No. 4 was a “nice floral“, but there was some “weird note there” that created “a dissonance, though not an unpleasant one.” Overall, Patty really liked this one and wondered if this was “Serge? Citronnier maybe?”. It was not Serge, but it was a “niche” brand indeed. This floral little number was Vicolo Fiori by Etro. As for the “weird note”, I get it too. To me this scent has an unpleasant aquatic undertone that I just cannot stomach.
Specimen No. 5 was à¢â‚¬Å“very niceà¢â‚¬? and had à¢â‚¬Å“a Guerlain feel to it, almost Mitsouko-ish.à¢â‚¬? [!!!] Patty liked it, even though, by her admission, à¢â‚¬Å“most Guerlains and I don’t become roommates, just distant admirers.à¢â‚¬? She thought that the drydown was even more lovelyà¢â‚¬¦So, Patty, remember March´s Specimen No. 5?à¢â‚¬¦Did you think I will let you get away without having to sniff a similarly obscure Soviet masterpiece?à¢â‚¬¦Well, this à¢â‚¬Å“Mitsouko-ishà¢â‚¬? creation wasà¢â‚¬¦a good old classic, favorite of many Soviet men (to be used externally as well as sometimes, regrettably, internally) eau de cologne Russian Forest (Russkyi Les) by Novaya Zarya.
And finally, the last three Mystery Samples.
Specimen No. 6 Says March: “Yeeeeeeeeeeccccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhh. Feet? Rubber? Rubber feet dipped in amber? You concocted it out of….. Ambre Russe and Bandit? Vodka and shoe polish? Root beer candy and Nair? Will probably turn out to be some wildly desirable thing. It doesn’t smell cheap… wretched, but not cheap. (Uh, am I going to hurt feelings? Should I be more…diplomatic?) Unisex. Pansexual, actually. Bestial, even.”
Says Patty, “Goes on pretty sweet, I hope I don’t get cavities before it calms down. Something horrible has happened to it, though, it smells like I’ve been out in the sun too long without a shower on a summer day and I’m covered in cotton candy. How did that happen? Gag! This may be the first scrubber in the bunch. May be has just gone to definite.”
You cruel girls left me in tears, my heart is broken. This “rubber feet dipped in amber”, this “scrubber” that provoked in March the same reaction she has “to the sweet, tangy smell of fresh vomit”, this monster has been one of my Holy Grails for the last ten (10) years. This, my unkind friends, is Marina de Bourbon by Marina de Bourbon. Created by a real princess no less, this lovely, pretty, wonderful perfume has notes of lemon, watermelon, marigold, cistus, black currant leaves, violet, orris, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, passion fruit, raspberry, peach, praline, tonka bean, vanilla, amber “Rubber, vodka, shoe polish??? I don’t think so! (In all fairness, I have been wearing this scent since I was 19 and way less sophisticated (ahem). I aged with it, I have gone through some good and bad times with it. I am not sure I even smell it anymore. (For all I know it does smell like vomit.)
Specimen No. 7. Says March: “It’s a light, sweet, summer cologne-ish smell on me. A man could wear this, if he was secure in his masculinity. One of those guys in the Boden catalog. I love this. Can I have some more of this if I promise not to describe anything else as smelling like vomit? This would be perfect in our sultry summer weather. The olfactory equivalent of 4711, but better quality.”
Says Patty: “Citrusy, tangy, with a weird note to it on the top, like a dry grapefruit left out too long and just a little dry. Stays pretty darn tart too, but I really like it, great summer scent! I’d bathe in this in July.”
This scent, so well liked by both girls, was Aromaparfum Vitalisant (or Vitalising), a part of the discontinued Aroma Allegoria collection, by Guerlain. This is a truly lovely scent that combines the notes of citrus, tea and saffron. And yes, March, you can have some more of this as soon as I get over your vomit and rubber comments about my Holiest of Grails.
Specimen No. 8 “This is Cooool,” said March “WTF?!?! Chocolate? Are you trying to make me eat my no-gourmand-fragrance words? Honest. Smells foody to me. The richness and depth of Serge (Douce Amere, Chergui) but unless it’s one I haven’t smelled it’s not Serge. I really, really like it.”
Says Patty: “Floral-ish, white flowers definitely, very pretty, but there’s almost a White Shoulders feel to it? I can’t tell if I’d wear this or not for long. Nothing offensive about it. I’m not sure it’s love, though.”
The fragrance in question was a sibling of Specimen No. 7, Aroma Allegoria Apaisant (a.k.a. Soothing), with notes of lime blossom, lime, chamomile and freesia. March, to me too, it does have an unexpected and not unpleasant, chocolaty undertone!
The conclusions? Guerlain’s discontinued scents rule, a Demeter scent doesn’t last, and Russian Forest smells like Mitsouko. This blind testing was one of the most fun things I have ever done. Let’s do it again, girls, I will send you more of my Holy Grails to compare to feet and generally badmouth…Nah, only joking! Great sniffing, March and Patty and thank you for having me here as a guest poster!