*** Updated today, 11ish, an email from Mark Crames, Demeter CEO: “I just wanted to let you know that when the redesigned site goes live on May 1, we plan on offering 11 ml colognes, essentially giant deluxe miniatures, for $3.00 each, in all flavors. So while we will not be making sets, per se, we will be making all flavors available for trial, and you will be able to make whatever combinations you desire. Regards and thanks, Mark.” Yesssssss!!!! *** Okay, back to the original post:
Patty and I got an email recently from Mark Crames, CEO of Demeter Fragrance Library, offering us samples of some of their newer fragrances. (We´re having Full Disclosure here.) I´m using it as an excuse to revisit Demeter, a line that started in 1996 and was doing interesting, weird scents before some of today´s fancy niche houses existed.
It will come as no surprise that I´m fond their more unusual scents, like Dirt, Snow and Thunderstorm. When they first appeared there was nothing else like them. (Christopher Brosius, of CB I Hate Perfume virtual-reality nirvana, was Demeter Man before he started his own gig.) Their extensive, well-organized website is the sort of place I could easily waste an hour browsing – they have their fragrances grouped by family (green, industrial, savory, etc.) as well as alphabetically (Bonfire, Prickly Pear, Vinyl). The default choice is the $19.00 one-ounce cologne spray, although many items come as shower gels, lotions, and other formulas. The notes are often “simple” smells, not phenomenally long-lasting, at least on me (what do you want for $19?), and contemplating their list I start thinking of ways to layer them (Black Pepper over Gardenia? Tomato Leaf over Russian Leather?) These are dirt cheap as far as what usually appears on the fragrance blogs, and my guess is the brand skews toward a younger audience who might be just as amused by the name (Earthworm, Funeral Home, Dregs) as entranced by the particular fragrance.
Demeter isn´t stocked anywhere near me, except for a few occasionally at Sephora, and I could easily pick out six scents I´d like to try in 30 seconds (here´s my list: Coriander Tea, Fiery Curry, Firefly, Greenhouse, Holy Smoke, Holy Water – and that only gets me through “h”). A glance at their homepage also triggers a general criticism that I think their scents are getting sweeter and/or “boozier” – their “new scents” scrolldown featured Chocolate Chip Cookie, Mojito, Cotton Candy and Pink Lemonade as the first four scents. Of course, Demeter´s not doing things unless they sell, and I respect that. I was less than thrilled with their Happy Hour drinks line (Fuzzy Navel, Sex On The Beach, etc.) not because I´m a humorless old fart, but again because I find them very, very sweet. Also: in my experience, Demeter colognes start with a fairly significant blast of alcohol, and I´ve learned not to stick my nose in there for a minute or two until it dries off.
I got the following scents in my Demeter gift package, which I´m going to review (there are a couple more to follow, assuming Mr. Crames isn´t irritated by today´s post.) The scents are: Baby Powder, Lavender Martini, Clean Windows, Lychee, Vanilla Ice Cream.
Baby Powder – this one surprised me. I was expecting medicinal Johnson’s powder; instead I got a sweet, mildy-anise, powder-comfort scent quite similar to Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige (at, what, one-fifth the price?) After an hour it´s very close to the skin, whereas Teint has the half-life of plutonium.
Lavender Martini – I´m guessing lavender with a light herbal twist — juniper (from gin?) and a splash of vermouth, but that´s just a guess. It is sweetish rather than dry, but nice. I would use this as an interesting alternative to my regular lavender linen spray.
Clean Windows – this one made me laugh. I was expecting Windex. Instead what I got was the smell of … clean windows. If glass had a smell, this would be it. A light, very fresh, industrial-sour, oddly appealing smell.
Lychee – this could be a tart, cheerful, simple summer scent if it were only half as sweet. On their website they call it an “Oriental fragrance,” which is true to the extent that lychees are from China, but the fragrance itself makes me think of, say, the berry opening of Guerlain Insolence.
Vanilla Ice Cream – well … I’m getting something closer to Coconut Ice Cream. Again, it’s the sort of thing my kids would like, but lordy, it’s sweet. However, I’m not the queen of vanilla comfort scents, either.
Please comment: what interesting scents do you wish Demeter would offer in their lineup?
My two cents: I want Demeter to offer sample sets in smaller 5ml – 10ml sizes on their website, grouped by various criteria (Sour? Food? Outdoors?) with an eye toward layering. Frankly I don´t want (or need) a full bottle of Mesquite, and Demeter´s inherent playfulness lends itself to sample sizes and layering. If they came in spray sets I´d end up doing what I do with my other samples – carry them in my purse and probably end up giving them to other people, thereby increasing exposure, at which point I´d … buy another set! (Yes, I know – they´re cheap – but I can wish for whatever I want on my own blog, right?)
My suggestion for the first sample set: In The Garden: Dirt, Thunderstorm, Cucumber, Green Tomato (or Lettuce), Pruning Sheers, Wet Garden (there are several more scents that would fit in here nicely).
Or At the Beach: Paperback, Green Tea (or maybe one of those drinks scents? If only Sex on the Beach weren´t so sweet…), Ocean, Salt Air, Coconut, Bonfire.
I could go on forever, but you get the idea.
Is anyone still reading this? I´m going to give away the five scents I reviewed today in one of my semi-regular drawings. If you want one, in your comment say which one (one request per person please, choose from: Baby Powder, Lavender Martini, Clean Windows, Lychee, or Vanilla Ice Cream) and I´ll do a drawing for each, which I´ll announce next week. Let´s spread some love for Demeter around.