Sample Size Me!

In case you´ve been worried that, based on recent posts, I´ve grown a little too disciplined and refined in my fragrance sampling, don´t worry – I´ve been slutting around in the candy. In fact, the last week or two brought a shameful number of samples. Not that I´m ashamed …

– three fragrances: Touch, Stella, and Florence. I´m not a candle queen, and my research is a little … half-assed, but I gather that two of these EDPs (Stella and Florence) were based on Tocca candle scents. Stella is my favorite at the outset; notes are blood orange, aquatic notes, lily, orchid, freesia, sandalwood, musk. Stella makes me think of a creamsicle – but one from your favorite nouvelle cuisine spot, made by the dessert chef using a simple syrup of blood oranges and her grandmother´s closely-guarded recipe for vanilla gelato. I get nothing aquatic (thankfully). It´s a very nice fragrance, but I´m not sure I like it any more than the new one from L´Occitane, although the Tocca bottle has an appealing, old-fashioned charm. My drydown favorite ended up being Touch (Pomegranate, Peach flower, Tiare Flower, Jasmine, Gardenia, Egyptian Balsam, Sandalwood), with the tart opening giving way to the sweetness of the jasmine and gardenia. Looking at that list of notes doesn´t excite me, but somehow on me Touch ends up being better than it sounds – I get quite a bit of resin-y sandalwood in the drydown, which turns out to be a great foil for its white-floral headiness. Finally, Florence sounded interesting (Bergamot, Drenched Green Pear, Apple, Ivory Gardenia, Jasmine Petals, Tuberose, Iris, White Musk, Spiced Woods); I expected it to be rather green. I knew something was wrong as soon as it hit my skin; while it was morphing into a scrubber I did some further online research and discovered the following at La Crà¨me: “Florence is the sophisticated essence of the old European garden rose known as Centifolias or cabbage´ rose. Bred in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Dutch, Centifolias are noted for their highly fragrant blooms as well as their one hundred (cento) petals…” In other words, despite the notes listed, Florence is pretty much a rose fragrance. Ugh. Yes, I know that´s completely unfair and useless. You rose fans will have to do your own research.

Les Nez – I tackled L´Antimatiere on Monday. Today I´ll cover the other two. Let Me Play the Lion – I´m pretty sure I´m the last person to review this, and I want to say one word: cedar. Les Nez doesn´t publish their fragrance notes, and I know everyone else was over the moon on this one. But mostly what I smell is cedar, and I am sad to say that, like the princess with the pea, cedar is a note I don´t love in quantity. Any normal person would be entranced by its woods, its smoke and its warmth, like being wrapped inside a thick wool blanket. But instead I am left with the brutal B.O. of the locker room after a grueling session at my hot yoga studio. I am still mourning my loss.

Les Nez The Unicorn Spell starts off, as Legerdenez described so well, with a perfect green bean note, and then slowly unfolds into an early spring violet. Unicorn has been described with the words frosty, chilled, cold, dark; but to me it has the vegetal warmth of damp earth, like CB Black March. It also bears some resemblance to Annick Goutal Violette, a sharp, earthy spring violet which (for all I know) might also have been created by Doyen, since she´s done a lot of work for AG. Anyone who´s looking for a violet but can´t stand the candied aspect should consider Unicorn, my favorite of the line.

Next, we have Nemo by Cacharel, a men´s cologne with lots of positive feedback on the fragrance boards. It´s been discontinued; it was also recommended to me by a regular commenter who shares the same tastes (not naming any names, Dusan). Notes are: Hinoki, betel leaf, incense, cedarwood, cardamom. I bought it unsniffed when I ran across a discounted bottle at a local retailer and – hey, look – there´s cedarwood in there! And this is a fatal flaw (see Let Me Play the Lion above), morphing the fragrance from an Incense/Woods dream into the daft but terrifying nightmare of the Grim Reaper, post work-out and pre-shower, carrying one of those little bags of cedar shavings for your gerbil cage. On you, however, it probably smells lovely.

Finally, let us all bow our heads in prayer for Andy Tauer´s soul, which he must have sold to the Devil in exchange for the ability to create one gratifyingly quixotic scent after another. I spent two days sniffing the unnamed lavender mod he´s fiddling with right now, on the heels of the spectacular Orris. I like lavender – I grow it all over my garden – but I tend to shy away from wearing anything that smells strongly of lavender. It´s too much like a sachet or laundry spray, and lavender has been sadly overworked in that department. Anyhow, if Serge Lutens´ masterful Encens et Lavande captures the exquisite mournfulness of the blooms perfuming a gentle rain in the cathedral graveyard, Andy´s lavender renders a dusty country lane in the shimmering heat of midsummer, the shade of oak trees, and the smell of the lavender field over the next ancient hill. By the way, I accidentally layered it with Lonestar Memories (you know how these things happen), a mistake well worth repeating.

Today´s giveaway: My Loss, Your Gain! Yes, believe it or not, I have one barely-used, boxed bottle of Cacharel Nemo! If you like woodsy incense, and men´s fragrances (and cedar) don´t scare you – really, it is quite nice. If you´d like to be included in the drawing, say so in the comments below.

tocca bottles:

  • cindy andel says:

    Include me, too, please!

  • Josey says:

    Oo! Incense! Me! :d

    The Tocca fragrances look beautiful! They make me wish I could sniff’em without paying $$$ for samples =/ that’s the prob with a high-end frag addiction!

  • Oscar says:

    Well who can say no to a bottle of Cacharel Nemo?
    I’m in!

  • Alica says:

    Hallo Patty, would be my pleasure to be included in the drawing :-)for possibly excellent gift for my dear husband.

  • Donna says:

    Please enter me in the Nemo drawing. Thanks!

  • Steve H says:

    Waiting for Tauer’s Orris that I recently purchased.

    Enjoyed LezNez’s offerings, although I thought Lion smelled like L’Artisan’s Fou d’absinthe.

    Please include me into the drawing.

  • evilpeony says:

    LOL! Yet another entertaining post, March. Thanks to you, I sent my condolences to Andy wrapped in snickers ;)) Please add me in the drawing! I love cedar- esp in Vol de Nuit. Dear BF loves it too… but he can’t share… shhh….. :d

  • March says:

    Carmen — I love you. Hey, FTs are very, very useful. Judith is frequently my standard model, although we have divergences. Please let me know how well you and I do… hey, aren’t you going to start blogging on Legerdenez? Looking forward to it.

    Jicky is exempt from all rules. Forever. Jicky is The Queen, and she knows it (don’t tell Mitsouko).

  • March says:

    Twibbet and Rachel — you’re in!

  • March says:

    Robin — I haven’t tried Tumulte. Honestly, though, this is why I tiptoe carefully most of the time in the men’s department (and haven’t tried a lot of them) — cedar is a deservedly popular note in a lot of colognes.

  • March says:

    BBliss — I SWEAR I had that thing in there about the original Touch — yes, I read some thrilled reviewers somewhere saying it smelled exactly the same as the first time it was released. But somehow that got cut in the edits… (hey, at least I spelled the scents right this time. I think) Anyway, give it a go.

    Re: Andy’s lavender — well, to me — no, no green. It’s sort of … dusty. Like in the direction of dirt and suede without being there. Like lavender, earth and sun. I have no idea. Maybe Andy can give us a hint.

  • March says:

    Andy — you know, I can never find my soul either when the devil stops by. It’s probably buried under all these decants/:)

    I somehow feel like I should be embarrassed, but you bring out my enthusiasm, Andy. I did have the sense to delete the part where I offered to bear your children… if Patty can offer to JC Ellena …

  • March says:

    Tom — you’re in! Your reviews were great, BTW

    Hey, I need your email, can you send it via contact me? I can’t find an email on your blog…

  • March says:

    Leopoldo — Carmencanada’s in the cedar funk gang! Yeah!\:d/

  • March says:

    Ronny — well, L certainly starts off odd…:-?

    here’s a link to Victoria’s blog, she has a fairly esoteric list of fragrances with vanilla notes.

  • March says:

    Christine — you’re in!

  • March says:

    Tommasina — you’re in! Huh, I wonder what it is about Black March that registers as warm to me and cold to you…

  • Emily says:

    Please enter me in the drawing.

  • carmencanada says:

    Well March, do *not* count me in for the draw: I was with you on rose, I’m with you on cedar, love them in their natural state, makes me queasy in scents. Ditto lavender, although oddly enough, I’m mad about Jicky and Sous le Vent. Ditto vanilla, except in tiny doses and odd perverted forms such as Bulgari Black.
    Might you be my scent twin?

  • Rachel says:

    I’d hand over my soul for the perfect cedar fragrance and I tend toward men’s fragrances as they’re called, so, please enter me in the drawing! Thanks so much..

  • Twibbet says:

    I love cedar, especially on my husband 😉 and I love cardamom, too. Sounds yummy.

    Please enter me in the drawing!

  • Robin says:

    Sounds like I might need to try Nemo…cedar usually agrees with me. I take it you did not like Tumulte Homme, LOL….

  • BBliss says:

    Loving the candy – as always!

    I think Tocca was an original fragrance of theirs, even in solid form a few years ago, and then it disappeared. I thought it was lovely, but never got around to buying it – does anybody know if it’s the same as before? Must try.
    The lavender mod of Andy’s sounds dreamy – I too adore lavender but prefer not to wear it – except there is a Lavender Thymes that is fairly green and refreshing in lotion and bath stuff. Is there a “greeness” in this one? Orris is superb and I can’t imagine Andy’s newest masterpiece – even unfinished!

  • Andy says:

    I wanted to sell my soul quite a few times in the past years, but never found it when the devil came by. I guess it still sits there, somewhere, waiting for the right moment, and then… the devil’s visit have become rare lately; looks like he’s given up on me…which is nice. Fragrant greetings.

  • tmp00 says:

    I’d love to sniff Andy’s lavender. Sounds like heaven.

    I like cedar, so I’ll gladly toss my hat in the ring for the Nemo.

    Green Beans? Perfect description! I wrote bulbs trying to catch that slightly wet earthiness.

  • Leopoldo says:

    No, I don’t March. Sorry. No club membership just yet. But surely, somewhere, there must be someone to join your cedar funk gang?;)

  • Ronny says:

    March, it’s not the ultra-sweet and linear vanillas I’m curious about. Rather, the esoteric, odd ones out there: the scents that start of smoky, or floral, or spicy and then warm their way down to a smoky vanilla. I’m sure these must exist.

  • Christine says:

    Hmm..So none of that big bad lion for you eh? I still haven’t gotten around to sniffing the Les Nez line because I am poor and lazy. Eventually.

    But please do enter me in the drawing. If it doesn’t work on me there’s a male in the house who I can try it on.

  • Tommasina says:

    Hi, March

    I never got my Nez sample, either – wonder what’s going on? Doesn’t inspire much confidence, eh? I do rather like cedar and am intrigued by the sound of Nemo; is it too late to ask you to include me in the drawing? Thanks so much!

    Ooh! Lavender that’s wearable and not knicker-drawer-sachet, 1970s-National-Trust-stately-home reminiscent?

    Btw, I get *cold* wet earth from Black March – funny how noses / memory references differ. To me it’s turned earth after rain in late fall in England – specifically, my parents’ previous garden at the house where I grew up.


  • March says:

    Gaia — lucky you, a husband who’ll share … you’re in!

    Simon, you’re in too!

  • March says:

    Sharon — you’re in!

  • March says:

    Leopoldo — but does cedar SMELL stinky to you (I mean, in a way you like?) Or does it just smell like another wood? I mean, cumin smells like B.O. to me too, but I actually like a touch of it in fragrance, usually.

    You’re in!

  • March says:

    Jill — you’re in!

  • March says:

    Dusan — no no no silly goose! I LIKE recommendations, and I’m the one who bought it unsniffed — really, at the price I paid, it was totally worth the risk. And as I’ve already commented, it’s my own personal problem with the cedar. Cedar is a beautiful smell.

    I think if you like EetL you’d like Andy’s.

  • March says:

    Elle — that Encens et Lavande. I had zero expectations for that thing, it doesn’t even sound good to me. My only issue is that it tends to make me cry when I wear it, but there you go — I’m goofy. I find it very, very sad.

    Glad you agree with the Black March reference (which is of course a smell I love).

    The Touch got better over the time. The Florence — ack! Unspeakable. And VERY strong.

  • March says:

    Judith — um, I never got my Nez samples. Patty sent me hers. The Lion atomizer promptly failed. I suspect you’ll like it, though — you don’t have my cedar issues.

  • March says:

    Ronny — to be honest, the two Marocains I liked but found too strong to wear. Andy really roped me in with Lonestar and Orris, though.

    I’m … probably the wrong person to ask about vanilla. Vanilla’s in all sorts of things, but I don’t love it as a dominant note — it’s usually too sweet/foody for me. Folks who like vanilla tend to like the Comptoir Sud Pacifiques… off the top of my head, the only ones I can think of that I wear are Hypnotic Poison (which a lot of people loathe), AG Vanille Exquise, and Lolita Lempicka L, which starts off with more immortelle and dries down into vanilla.

  • Simon says:

    Please, oh please include me in the drawing!

  • March says:

    Masha — my thoughts on the masterful FdeB are something like: hahahahahahaha, and the rest is unprintable. A number of SL scents (most of the Bois) have the same cedar, my own personal hell. I should clarify that it’s not the cedar’s fault — apparently it smells lovely on me. It’s my nose that’s at fault. I like musky stink a lot, but cedar fragrance on me is exactly the acrid note of a sweaty armpit — I can’t bear it. And I LIKE the smell of cedar — I have a cedar chest, cedar in my closet…. oh, well.

  • March says:

    Chaya — well, he’s not done tinkering, I bet. And I think he does stop by here occasionally, maybe he’ll take your wishes into consideration.

    That Orris is amazing — I spray it all over and have sweet dreams…

  • March says:

    Patty — yeah, I know. I was really not expecting much. EetL is probably the only lavender I can think of that I’d wear. But I’d wear his too!

  • March says:

    St. V — well, the notes are unpublished, but I think you’re out of luck on that one. I’d describe it as a woods/leather comfort scent (assuming cedar and sandalwood are a comfort.);)

  • March says:

    Haus — you’re in! Yes, Andy’s costing me some money these days.

  • Lavender breaks my heart, as it usually smells better on my husband than on me. But we manage to share 🙂
    I’d love to be in the drawing- I have a feeling this one might work for my cedarwood-loving skin.

  • Sharon says:

    My head has been bowed for Andy talent for some time now. I love all that he has created! Please enter me in the drawing too!

  • Leopoldo says:

    Throw me in for the Nemo honey, I’m a-heating up for a cedar stinkfest.

    I too have tried Andy’s newest model. I love the start. I mostly love the first hour, I quite like the dry down. It puts me in the mood for a fir frenzy, which I want more MoRe MORE of. I want more Autumn, less summer I guess.

  • jill says:

    I heart cedar & cedar hearts me, please enter me in the drawing! Thanks

  • Dusan says:

    Ayayayay! Marchie, please don’t hate me, I promise to never EVER recommend anything with even a slightest hint of cedar. I am so sorry Nemo didn’t work on you – honestly, I don’t get B.O. from it nor from Declaration (like Robin of NST) and the Lion which, not surprisingly, I like a lot. Still, the Unicorn Spell remains the favorite.
    Haven’t tried anything Andy, but although I’m not crazy about lavender, I’d probably like his new fragrance since I adore EeL.
    Hope I haven’t completely lost my credibility? 🙂

  • Elle says:

    Hmm…commment seemed to disappear at last moment. Maybe the lavender gods were displeased at my saying that, like you, I love it in my garden, but don’t care for it in scents – other than the totally divine Encens et Lavande. However, I have total faith in Andy and your description makes it sound swoonable. Can’t wait!
    Unicorn Spell really does have a similar note to Black March in it. Love that!
    Will have to try Tocca Touch. I doubt the other two would work for me. I like rose, but the drenched green pear and apple in Florence don’t inspire confidence. At all.

  • Judith says:

    ooo–oooo! Want that lavander!!! My Orris came last night (on the same truck as Chaya’s?):) and I am in love. I had a sample, but this is even better than I remembered!

    I like the Unicorn a whole lot too–and I agree that C. was spot on about the green bean (for some reason, I adore this unusual opening). I like the mysterious Antimatiere, too. But my Lion sample came smashed.:( A generous friend sent me a small vial, and I will have to give that more a try. . .

  • Ronny says:

    arg. well. I’ve only tried the first two Tauers and they were both awful on me. i think i’m one of the few people who doesn’t love his stuff. i’ll give orris a try if i stumble across it but it’s not something i’d seek out.

    on another notes: would you consider doing a ‘your 5 fave perfumes with vanilla’ feature at some point before xmas? all of a sudden i’m deeply curious.

  • Masha says:

    Please enter me in the drawing, and by the way, what are your thoughts on Feminite du Bois?? (Dare I ask?)

  • chayaruchama says:

    Well, Ms. March-
    Remind me not to suggest any cedar-bases for you !

    I have to admit that I’m a bit mixed about the lavender mod- in the drydown, I keep waiting for something else to happen.
    It’s terribly beautiful to begin with,with a lovely woodiness, but I feel that a few herbal, subtle notes [such as marjoram and/or thyme] would round it out more…
    It’s beautiful, but feels incomplete to me-
    And it sounds as if I’m the only one.

    Orris, however, arrived last night, and I just ordered a SECOND bottle [I didn’t realize that it was only 30 mls.-foolish me].
    I was delirious over that !
    Woke up with all kinds of aches from sleeping in a position to smell myself to sleep, no doubt !

  • Patty says:

    So agree on Andy’s new lavender mod. I hope it’s at the near completion stage, because if it gets better, I don’t think I could stand it. It’s just wondrously beautiful, and I’m with you in the lavender camp.

    He just gets better and better! Maybe he sold his soul on the installment plan? 🙂

  • St. Veronica says:

    I was hoping ‘Let Me Play the Lion’ would be a vetiveriental.

  • hausvonstone says:

    Wow, another Tauer to look forward to. Excellent, but scary. Please enter me in the drawing – I have also heard tons about Nemo and wonder wonder wonder about it.

  • dinazad says:

    I had the joy of getting to sniff Andy’s lavender last night, courtesy of Mr. W., who owns the shop which sells Andy’s scents in Zurich (thanks, Mr. W.!): heartbreakingly gorgeous. First thought: the wings of a dragonfly hovering over water sparkling in the sun. Second thought: blade of grass in the early morning, soft and yet potentially dangerous. It’s so gentle, and yet so completely unsentimental. Like sitting on the steps to the garden, squinting at a ray of sunshine trying to pierce the clouds, the herbs you cut for drying in your lap and a suddenly companionable country cat purring and trying to climb up your shoulder: my perfect moment years ago. The devil? To create a scent like that the man must be running around with a halo…. Or have been a saint in several past lives.