Awhile back, Patty, Marina of Perfume-Smellin´ Things and I did a three-way unlabeled fragrance sample swap, and it was such a hoot we decided to do it again. This time, however, we enlisted the participation of several other scentbloggers.
I drew Katie of Scentzilla and Marlen of Perfume Critic as my victims. This presented a challenge, as they have both smelled tons of product. So I had to dig into my more obscure selections. The results are in, and here’s what they thought of my offerings:
Katie: Good lord, I could swear this another of Mad March’s Mixes… There’s an element to this fragrance that SO strongly reminds me of some version of L’Aimant. Cinnamon and woody at the top. But not quite L’Aimant, since the spice is terribly reminiscent of Red Hots candy. Then there’s a figgy and vanillic middle, with white florals. And then with the drydown, we’re back to some strange mutant imitation of L’Aimant. Lightly played musk and maybe even a touch of oakmoss at the base, too. This has to be a small brand or niche: no way would a big department store brand use spice so unabashadly like this. Well, I guess there could be a way, I mean, what do *I* know? This is not a fragrance for the shy retiring types, at any rate.
Marlen: This is nice. A soft, subtle, incense aroma…I get a musk that reminds me of Final Net and perhaps a saffron note? There’s also something slightly spicy here…cinnamon? And there’s either cedar or sandalwood somewhere in the base. I’m stumped, and the juice is a golden brown? Huh…It’s not terrbily strong or powerful but I’m still loving it. I just tried on Sample C and now I have no ability to smell sample A anymore. Lemme get up and walk around the house… Ok, so I can smell a hint of A and I put on half the vial 15 minutes ago. Definitely a longevity and projection issue with this one. Put on a little more A and still getting that pesky Final Net note and thinking of Gaultier Le Male (le yuck). I dunno. I liked the opening at first, but now am not really loving the overall effect.
It was: IUNX Splash Forte, my entry in the Obscure, Discontinued Niche category. How obscure was IUNX? Jude was less obscure. Rumor had it you couldn´t even take photos inside their Paris boutique, although there are a few online at flikr. Anyway, they went out of business last year (I think), so No More Soup For You. According to basenotes.net, Splash Forte contains notes of cardamom and nutmeg, and Olivia Giacobetti is the nose, so no wonder I like it. To me it smells like cinnamon mouthwash, but really good, French, expensive, high-end cinnamon mouthwash. If you´re thinking cinnamon mouthwash wouldn´t be that refreshing on the skin in the heat of summer, you´d be wrong. It´s a fabulous, weird smell — both Katie and Marlen were right there on this one.
Katie: Shalimar said, “not tonight honey, I have a headache,” so March must have sent me this instead. A slighly green lily of the valley is prominently there at the top, but it stretches across a vanilla/vanillin cocktail. At the base is an iris and leathery/incensey intonation in the vanilla/vanillin cocktail, and a little animal, too, which speaks to me of Guerlain. (God, this is going to be so embarassing if it turns out it’s, like, Kountry Bob’s Klassy Kologne or something.) Even with the florals I’d even describe it as cuddly. In fact, I hereby dub this Mallomar, because it smells like a fluffed up, slightly sweeter version of Shalimar. Also because of the staying power: it disappears quickly, just like an unguarded box of Mallomars. I rather like it the best out of the three.
Marlen: Hmmm, this smells very familiar – a vanilloriental along the lines of Shalimar, leaning more towards the cinnamon and clove side. I like it quite a bit. Could it be…Takashimaya “T”? Armani Sensi? Paul and Joe Bleu? No, probably none of these but definitely some kind of oriental vanilla composition. Though it remains spicy, it gets a little soapy as it dries down and loses its complexity.
It was: Paul & Joe Bleu! Good job, Marlen! And Katie’s right — it is certainly in the same genre as Shalimar, although (heresy!) I like Bleu much better. Notes are: bergamot, coriander, cumin, ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, magnolia, heliotrope, sandalwood, myrrh, oudh, vanilla, musk. I smelled this last winter at Anthropologie, loved it, and spent the next six months kicking myself for not having bought it. It´s a warm floriental, rich but not dense, that reminds me a little of Serge Lutens´ Chergui, only more floral, with a drydown that is woody rather than sweet. I finally scored a bottle on eBay. I give it two thumbs up for this fall, and consider it unisexy.
Katie: Remember when Bath and Body Works was just starting out, and displaying everything in bushel baskets? They had one fragrance selection they were pushing like crazy (at the time I was working in a mall, next door to them) called Sun Ripened Berry or something like that? C has a fruity note that reminds me of what I remember that product line smelling like. But with peony! (And some other identity-less floral notes.) It smells like someone expertly mixed a bunch of body splashes, and came up with this. Which sounds bad, but you know, not really. It’s nice. Not anything I’d buy, but I think I’d enjoy catching a whiff of it on other folks in passing.
Marlen:Jasmine, rubber, fruit, nail polish remover…what a bizarre mix of aromas. Just when it wants to be blueberry pancake syrup, it changes to reveal something slightly dirty. Again, I’m sticking to my jasmine and thinking that the entire scent is some kind of grand homage to the white flower. I don’t think I would wear this as there’s too many other distracting notes here and the overall effect is just not something I could stand for very long. It’s like a jasmine with a nicotine addiction.
It was: Shiseido Message from Orchids! My entry in the Peculiar Category. I had concerns about Marlen recognizing it since he lived in Japan until recently. Notes are carnation, hyacinth, orchid, orange blossom and vanilla. This was easily the heaviest scent in the samples, and probably came as something of a shock after the other two. It is a profoundly strange fragrance, and I am never entirely sure whether I like it, but it is compelling and I don´t own anything else remotely similar. It is sweet, sharp, and green, and commenters on the blog swear it´s a dead ringer for the smell of cattleya orchids. It is not an easy fragrance for me to wear; sometimes it turns and growls at me, the green-ness so sharp and astringent that it strays almost – but not quite – into scrubber territory. Both Katie and Marlen, with the reference to BBW and nail polish remover, hit on the odd artifice of this scent. But when it is good, it is very, very good, the carnation adding warmth and spice to the rich orange/vanilla drydown. Fans of orchid fragrances, and the adventurous public, can buy decants on eBay.
Today’s special giveaway: sample set of these Three Blind Samples! I have just enough left to make one set. If you’d like to enter the drawing for it, say so in the comments.