Posse Scent Club – October, Part I

Welcome to the newly minted Perfume Posse Scent Club. We hope you’ve gotten your samples and are ready to play along at home with all or part of these.

Part II will be on 10/15.

Our theme for this month was Gramma’s house or reality scents. These are scents that are comfort – that remind us of things/places/people we love and are happy with – typically in the fall of the year. There were a couple of comments about how En Passant wound up in there, smelling all of bread and Lilacs, but for me I associate that doughy, yeasty smell with all-out comfort, as well as lilacs, as that was most often the smell my gramma/mom would wear, if they were wearing something. It is the ultimate comfort scent for me because of my experience… so in it went!

Today we’ll start with the three CB I Hate Perfumes – Wild Hunt, Gathering Apples and Burning Leaves. What we’d like, after we share our impressions and thoughts is for all of you to do the same in comments. If you want to have fuller, longer discussions that you think the comments section won’t handle, there’s the bulletin board.

Gathering Apples — We’ve talked about this one off and on, the earliest being in August of 2006, after our trip to NYC and smelling it in CB’s shop. For me, this is all of the apple — the stem, core, flesh, leaves — it encompasses the whole apple-eating experience, from the orchard to my mouth. We rarely got to pick apples ourselves as kids, but in the fall my parents would head down to an orchard a few hour away, and they’d come back with a couple of big boxes full. They were big old red delicious apples, and they were wonderful. There were evenings of popped popcorn and fresh, crisp apples and Bonanza or Red Skelton, and those are some of the best, warmest memories of my childhood. CB got it exactly right with this. Most apples veer off into the too sweet, too plasticky, and this does neither for me — it is perfect.

Burning Leaves — Again, this is another one of CB’s scents we’ve been mentioning off and on for over a year now and that we were introduced to first in the fall of 2006. Smoky, almost pit barbeque’ish, it smells of the the leaves we did burn in the fall, but with a little bit of a meaty quality to it — hot dogs? Not sure, but there’s something else in there. For a true fall comfort treat, just combine Apples and Leaves. We put them together to smell for a reason, and that’s it, they just go with each other. (March says: this one holds a special place in my heart because several hours after you’ve had it on the “burning” part fades and you just have “leaves” — that profoundly happy smell of kicking through the fallen leaves on your way home to dinner at dusk, without a care in the world, when you are six years old. I would subtitle it: Essence of Happy Childhood. Layered with Gathering Apples it makes me think of roadtrips for cider in the Virginia countryside.)

Wild Hunt — CB made this one to echo the forest floor in summer, and I think he got it right, and I reviewed it here already, so I won’t go into more detail, except to say that I don’t know that it should be limited to summer. This also reminds me of the slight decay of a fall forest or just the end of the growing season, the harvest. Growing up in Kansas, there aren’t a lot of forests around, but we had a lot of green things and green things that fermented slighted or decayed slightly when they died or were harvested, producing a deeper, richer, lusher green, before it went over the cliff into “ew, hell, that’s nasty.” Corn stalks were like that. We’d cut them and chop it and make it into silage (not sillage). When it first went into the pit, it had a similar smell. After it had been in there a while, we could have gotten drunk on just the smell of that stuff. Wild Hunt finds that edge perfectly, balanced between the new green and the old, slightly rotting green, with something slightly magical about it, like it belongs in the elven realm. (March says: whereas CB Black March holds the promise of thawing ground and a faint breath of spring flowers, Wild Hunt is more ominous — dark woods and rooty, twisted paths rather than loamy, fertile earth. Wearing it alongside burning leaves is a trip to the forest without leaving your cubicle. It’s a little more Halloween than Thanksgiving, if you follow me. I love it.)

The larger question on reality scents, are they wearable? I think they are because a scent is in your head. It doesn’t have to be a preening floral or tobacco or vetiver, it can just simply be a smell that you love and want next to that won’t offend someone else. The idea of how perfume should smell has changed. Don’t get us wrong, we like to smell like flowers too sometimes, but not every day and not for every occasion.

  • clare says:

    :(( oh crap, i just re-read this and
    realized that i was only supposed to discuss
    three of the samples. so sorry, friends.

  • Vasily says:

    My samples came today. So here’s my take on them:

    Gathering Apples – I’d use the home spray, but don’t think I’d wear this one. Very much ripe macintosh, not very tart; it does remind me of burying my face in a basket of just-picked apples on a crisp early autumn day. It’s superior to the other apple-based frag I’ve tried lately, Brandy, which starts out like apple brandy but has a harsh chemical note in the heart and drydown. This one would be a great home fragrance for the fall.

    Burning leaves – I get the slight mustardy note in there with a touch of maple too, nice take on burning maple leaves. When the smoke goes away you are indeed left with the smell of maple leaves as you kick through a pile of them in your yard. Again, I wouldn’t wear this one and probably wouldn’t buy as a room spray either. Kind of nice in an autumnal way when layered with Gathering Apples, though. If I’m going for the fire thing, I much prefer Ava Luxe’s Firewood take on this theme which is rather linear, smoky and coniferous and reminds me of sitting in front of an October wood fire in a piney wood.

    Wild Hunt – Starts out with a blast of loam and decay, but in the midnotes the conifers and moss come out to play and it becomes rather interesting. I actually find it very pleasant in the drydown in a mossy, rotten-piney way but wouldn’t wear this one either or spritz my house with it (“eeew, what’s that funk??”). Experiencing Wild Hunt makes me want to try out some of his other attempts at evoking memories of places and times past, like Winter 1972 and the Black March thing.

    Sillage on all three not particularly impressive, but longevity is adequate. All in all very nice choices, “trompe le nez” frags that evoke very pleasant memories for me.


  • clare says:

    I just spilled the entire sample of Gathering
    Apples and now my keyboard (and me) smell
    like apple cider. I like this very much, not
    so much as a perfume to wear but more as a
    scent to put on my wrist so that I can sniff
    my wrist again and again and remember going
    to a store in Harvard, Mass. where you are
    surrounded by baskets of autumn apples. Yum.
    Burning Leaves immediately brought me
    back to Girl Scout camp when I was 12. All
    my clothes smelled like that. I love this
    scent but can’t see wearing it as a perfume
    since I would be afraid people would throw
    water at me.
    Wild Hunt is gross: fetid, rotting vege-
    tation (tell us how you really feel, Clare!).
    When the initial bottom of the fish tank odor
    subsides, I smell grass which is not too bad.
    I hate Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia.
    Plastic is in there somewhere. I would get
    majorly depressed if I wore a big squirt of
    Frederick Malle En Passant. Oh my God,
    I’m back in my childhood home, sitting in
    the diningroom with its windows wide open
    and the lilacs blooming outside. My sister
    Nancy would love a bottle of this just so she
    could remember us as kids. Gotta get some of
    this stuff.
    Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque first note
    is disturbing but then it smells old and
    familiar and a tiny bit floral. I am
    reminded of an attic.
    This is a great selection of scents to
    try. I’m new to fragrance and am enjoying
    learning so much from this website.
    So far my most favorite of all the new
    scents I am trying is L’Artisan Merchant
    Loup. I am growing to love cedar.
    Thanks for a great website and an
    enjoyable fragrance journey this month.

  • Diana says:

    Great idea, this Scent Club! It’s a great thing for someone like me who’s just dipping into the perfume world and has so many things to try!

    Gathering Apples was my favorite, but it lasted a hot two seconds on my wrist. I’m thinking about combining it witha drop of BPAL Inferno for an Apple Pie kinda of smell. Mmmmmm!

    Burning Leaves was fantastic without being too strong. It smells just like a neighbor a block or two away is burning some leaves. Enough to be a yummy smell, but not ‘smoke wafting into your eyes’ kind of thing. Get me?

    Wild Hunt lasted all day! It was a great reality scent, but I’m on the fence about wearing this one. I spent most of the day getting whiffs of dirt from my wrist. Up close the dry down was a little soapy on me. Not a bad smell, but soap and dirt seemed a weird combination 😕

  • Kim says:

    I, too, fall into the group that finds these interesting to smell but not to wear, except possibly for some layering. The apples smell sweet and slightly plastic on me, although I like the slight undertone of fermentation I get – kind of like a winery far off in the distance.

    Burning leaves was acrid and sharp on me but I liked the suggestions for layering, especially with ambers which I love. So tried it earlier with Tom Ford Amber Absolute – great and still going strong, the amber sweetens the burning leaves and the smoke cuts the sweetness of the amber – perfect combo! 😡
    Will definitely keep experimenting with this one! (You guys are making me into an addict!)

    Hunt was terrible on me, smelled like mold. And I love tromping through the forest so there is something in there that doesn’t do well with my chemistry.

    My initial reaction to these was that they were too real and I wanted something not real in my perfume. But after reading the discussion above, maybe it is more that I want complexity in my perfume rather than one note or smell sensation. Something for me to think about.

  • Teri says:

    I’d have to say I fall more into the ‘nice to smell, not so much to wear’ camp. While both ‘Apples’ and ‘Leaves’ are indeed evocative, I can’t imagine wanting to wear them.

    Now ‘Hunt’ is a different matter entirely. I spent several weeks each summer as a child at a family cabin near Munising, on Michigan’s U.P. Much of the area was covered with undeveloped northern hardwood forests, complete with a stunning array of sparkling waterfalls. I learned to love the scent of these woods, so dense it would be cool, damp, and dark on the forest floor even on the hottest of summer days. ‘Hunt’ takes me instantly back to that time and place. I’ve always been a real outdoorsy type, and am drawn to green, botanical types of scents. This would definitely be something I’d find a way to wear.

    • March says:

      Teri — sorry, chiming in late today, I’ve been working :-w. I hate that. Anyway, yeah — running around in the cool, damp, dark woods, where you can feel young and old as time, both. Wild Hunt takes me there.

    • Vasily says:

      I haven’t received my samples yet so I can’t comment on these frags, but I wonder if everyone knows the story of the Wild Hunt:

      There often by him would he see,
      when noon was hot on leaf and tree,
      the king of Faerie with his rout
      came hunting in the woods about
      with blowing far and crying dim,
      and barking hounds that were with him;
      yet never a beast they took nor slew,
      and where they went they never knew.
      (Sir Orpheo, trans. Tolkien)

      A great article on the Wild Hunt:


  • JenniferR says:

    My demented travel schedule means that I haven’t caught up with my PP sampler order yet, but I’ve been sniffing and wearing Wild Hunt with enormous pleasure all summer.
    Decay of fall forest and rooty, twisted paths — you nailed it, Patty!
    Maybe I’m just twisted myself–I love to wear this one. But then, I’m wearing Bolt of Lightening today and wishing that it would revert to its opening strangeness. It’s dried down to a nice comfy white floral, but while it was doing its burnt rubber and juicy green and general lightning-strikes-in-late-spring thing I was dumbfoundedly in love. Dunno if it’s “supposed” to fall into this category, but it sure worked as a reality scent for me earlier this morning.
    How much, do you suppose, does the name or the marketing language help evoke the realities we smell in these scents? I wonder this all the time when I wear Dzing!. Circus absolutely, but I’ll never know if I would have come up with the association on my own.

  • Solander says:

    Gathering Apples smells nothing like picking apples for me. It’s true it’s not sweet, but I found it very plasticky in a more watery and schampoo-ish way. Perhaps it does smell like certain kinds of apples – the perfumey, pale taste of a store-bought Red Delicious. That’s not an apple though! The apples my parents grow in their garden is something completely different – the rich, tangy, crisp, sour/sweet taste, different for every species of apple… Gathering Apples comes nowhere close to that, but I guess it doesn’t aspire to…

    Burning Leaves is one of my CB favourites, perhaps my favourite after Too see a flower. It smells like a fire, but to me it smells more like a log fire in the stove than burning leaves. I think I might prefer AvaLuxe’s fire scent for a VR fire but I’ll have to retry Burning leaves…

    Wild Hunt is one I really want to try! It’s true most CBs don’t work for me, most often I don’t get the VR aspect but just find them comparable to much cheaper perfume oils with the same failed aspirations of smelling like real things, but I keep trying and once in a while they hit the mark!

    • Maria says:

      Solander, are you referring to Ava-Luxe’s Fire Wood? That’s wonderful.

    • Patty says:

      I’ll trade your real apple orchard smell for this one, it sounds wonderful.

      Given that CBs don’t work for you generally, I’m not sure if Wild Hunt will work. It’s very green and loamy. But if you like To See a Flower, it does roam around that territory, but greener.

      Do you do CB’s Musk or are you a non-CBMusk person? It’s like a club. 🙂

    • Solander says:

      Maria – Yes, Fire Wood. 😡

      Patty – Green and loamy sounds good, I like green as long as it’s not a certain type of herbal/vegetable green perfume note that really doesn’t work for me! I do like the tomato leaf of Memory of kindness though – I just found it a tad too simple considering there are much cheaper single note tomati leaf scents out there. And CB is definitely good with the dirt note – but again, true dirt notes can easily be found for less…
      I’m a non-CBMusk person! Definitely! Where’s my skank? Where’s my musk, damnit? To me it smells like thudding the nose against a plastic wall, I’m afraid…

      • Solander says:

        Oh, but while we’re talking skank, the civer galore of AvaLuxe’s Kama and Rasa X-treme is really something! Barnyard level something! CBMusk has nothing on those dames…

  • Elle says:

    I *adore* Burning Leaves and Gathering Apples – especially layered. Some of CB’s scents really do bring up wonderful memories for me, but the ones I love the most I have no actual, real associations w/ – but wish I had. I never smelled burning leaves growing up (and have only smelled them maybe twice as an adult) and I actually don’t eat or like apples (not even in pies), but from what I’ve read in books and been told by friends, I have uber romantic notions of fall in the New England countryside – hence my mad love of these two scents from CB. I have, however, spent a lot of time hiking in forests and, although I was sure I’d be addicted to Wild Hunt, I find I’m not. I like it, but I don’t feel compelled to wear it. I much prefer Black March layered w/ Memory of Kindness (again, love the idea of growing tomatoes in the sun, but never have).

    • Maria says:

      Elle, autumn in northern New England is miserable. If you live in an area with lots of hardwoods, it’s beautiful visually for a couple of weeks. My favorite New England autum is in Alfred Hitchcock’s film *The Trouble with Harry.*

      • Elle says:

        LOL! I realize the reality probably doesn’t match my romantic notions and I also always can hear a clock ticking in autumn, signaling that winter and frigid weather, which I dread w/ a passion, are getting closer and closer. My heart and body crave tropical climes – can’t get too hot for me. I’ve spent many winters in large cities in northern climes (including two in Moscow – brrrr!), but just never made it out to the countryside or anywhere where leaves could be burned.
        I *adore* The Trouble With Harry – such a brilliant, hilarious movie and gorgeously filmed.

    • Patty says:

      I think that’s what I like best about reality scents. Even if it’s not a memory you have, they really work for memories you would like to have, some idealized time and place.

      Dzing is a romanticized smell of what the circus/carnival smells like. The actual smell has some nastier bits that are pretty revolting. 🙂

  • sweetlife says:

    Ah… Just went to put these on so I could sniff and type at the same time. I’ve been craving my fall scents, but finding my beloved winter things are still too heavy (it’s still damn hot here) — this is perfect.

    Don’t have Wild Hunt, but Burning Leaves and Apples were the very first samples I ever ordered. I wore them often, and am happy to say that a year later I still like them very much. I don’t get hot dog, but I see what y’all mean. I wonder if its that smoke + maple sugar ends up equalling ham/bacon other sweet smoked meats in people’s minds? Definitely get both the smoke and the sugar.

    Gathering Apples is a bit too sweet for me by itself. I keep wishing for a slightly winier apple — agree with Patty that it is a perfect Red Delicious, though. And there are moments when it is The Perfect Thing: My first Christmas home after getting interested in perfume it was the only thing I could bring myself to wear in front of my parents. Everything else seemed to announce itself as Perfume — to draw attention and require explaining. But Gathering Apples was pure innocence and Christmas kitchen. It allowed me to have my pleasure semi-secretly…

    I seem to remember GA layering well with L’Artisan’s Tea for Two as well — have to give that a shot in few hours…

    • Patty says:

      Wow, what great first scents! For as linear as they are, they do hold up well, if you like them because there’s not guessing about what they’ll smell like!

  • Anthony says:

    I *loved* this review and I loved the additional commentary at the end. 🙂 Thank you!

  • Anne says:

    Wow, CB scents are amazing. Their complexity is all in the memory.

    Gathering apples: Apple. So simple. But not that simple. I could decipher different parts of the apple, the smells that sit on the apple skin, the flesh of the apple. Very 3-D.

    Burning Leaves: I got some sweetness in the opening, maple syrup? Then the weirdness began. It was all about hot dogs for me. Burnt hot dogs on a grill. I got fatty hot dog juice and I smelled mustard too. This was disappointing. My favorite season is the memory of autumn. (live in South Florida now) and I really wanted to take this journey back. I will try this with the apples, layered, maybe that changes things and makes the mustard-covered-burnt-hot dog thing go away. Glad to read others got this, as I thought I had underrated my insanity.

    Wild Hunt: I loved this. The leaves, the twigs (not just any twigs but crushed, wet, starting to decay twigs). Dirt, pine, and the mushrooms too. Going out on a wet, moss-covered limb here but hours later I got something “patchouli-ish” mixed with the dirt.

    I agree with Lee. Not really going out scents for me but I love smelling them.

    • Patty says:

      I think that’s what I like the most about the reality things, whether you can wear them or not, just finding a few that brings back a place and time is so powerful. Smell is the keeper of the emotion memory. I’m not sure if that’s true for everyone, but it sure is for me!

  • Lee says:

    I must try those accords sometime, as Louise suggests. Unlike most of you here, I rarely sniff my CBs. Must remedy that. Though it’s highly unlikely I’ll EVER wear ’em/

    • Louise says:

      Ah, hon, I imagine you would smell amazing in some of the smokey and tobacco accords-they warm stunningly on the skin.

    • Patty says:

      YOu crazy boy. YOu really should try the accords. Very simple and linear, but that’s what they’re meant for.

      BTW, that Fougere Bengal… yeeeow!!! It’s got that same fierceness that Cuir Ottoman and Ambre Russe have, just with different notes. Not sure it’s me, but it’s worth sniffing.

  • Louise says:

    Well, tarnation, Maria, we’re scent twins again. I love Burning Leaves, but could use just a touch of Oregon coast sea spray from my childhood to really activate those limbic zones. I do wear it and layer it easily, and CB has a smoky accord that I like as well.

    Gathering Apples is nice (a bit quick to burn off on me, surprise), and I plan to wear it on an orchard outing this week with some of our more disabled kids-should add to the atmosphere, or attract killer bees. I remember liking Wild Hunt very much, and must re-try from my sample bin.

    Just another plug for the CB accords-while I love the blends, the accords are a blast to play with, alone or layered (sweet tobacco is my current favorite).

    • Maria says:

      Hi, Louise! An orchard trip in my favorie fall region! *swoon* Which smoke accords have you tried? For a long time CB accords weren’t available as samples, but now that they are at the Perfumed Court, I’m getting some.

      • Louise says:

        Bonfire and smokey tobacco are great! Spicy (and other leathers are good, too. I like to layer the Bonfire with a spritz of floral, though it has sweetness on it’s own. Happy testing!

    • Patty says:

      I like CB’s accords too. Have you tried the Vetiver and Jasmine ones? The Jasmine ones are very instructive in the differences in how indolic one can get without losing your lunch. 🙂

  • capriccio says:

    My samples came in this afternoon, and I’ve been rotating scent spots since.

    Burning Leaves: nearly exactly the smell of my crappy apartment in November, 1997. Housemate’s hand-rolled cigarettes (with imported clove paper)*, the faint remainders of nag champa burned the day before, wet leaves on the porch, and maybe a few apples in the kitchen. Unfortunately, I do get a strange mustard-y thing near the end, but I like mustard a lot, so there you go.

    Gathering Apples: I agree with you entirely. Starts off with the little juicy drips that get on your chin when you bite an apple, and ends with the entire orchard. Enthralling–I’ve already used half the sample (stay longer, kingdom of apples!).

    Wild Hunt: Loved Black March, and love this one with the little creepy mushrooms peaking over moldering logs and dens with dark things, maybe with teeth. Loamy.

    *I immediately emailed said housemate, now far away, and directed him to the decant and the CB site.

    • Patty says:

      Weird how some of us love the Apple and others not.

      Love that memory for CB. I’ve got other times the Burning Leaves reminds me of — bongfire keggers out in the country in the fall during football season

  • Maria says:

    It’s funny how these fragrances are connected with happy childhood memories for you, but for me (I grew up in Cuba and Florida) they signal happy adulthood.

    I love Burning Leaves. It may be my favorite CB. At first it smells like barbecue, and that’s the only possible connection to childhood, since my father took us out to a barbecue restaurant sometimes. But mostly, it reminds me of bonfires, which make me deliriously happy for some atavistic reason I don’t understand. This Labor Day there were bonfires all over a nearby beach, and it was thrilling. The barbecue dies down to a simpler woodsmoke and then to a woody sweetness. CB Faggot is similar, but on me the drydown is less sweet, and I do like the sweetness.

    Wild Hunt is exciting to me: the floor in a deep forest full of mysteries, nymphs, and satyrs.

    I’m less crazy about Gathering Apples even though I love the appleness of fall. When we lived in Maryland, my DH and I drove out to Antietam in the fall and stopped off at the apple stands. Last fall we made a tour of shops that sold fresh apples, apple pies, and apple doughnuts in Placerville, CA. Still, smelling like apple myself doesn’t interest me much, though I throughly enjoy eating the fruit.

    I wore all of these three together Monday morning. They form a wonderful autumnal symphony.

  • Divalano says:

    Out of this 3 I only have a sample of Burning Leaves. I tried it once midsummer. I liked it but found it was Too Much in NY in Aug. I’m also wondering if the reality-ness of it makes it hard to wear … imagining being asked by coworkers if there’d been a fire in my building. I remember once doing a photoshoot in a field by a roaring bonfire. It permeated not just my clothes & hair but got into my lungs; it took a week for me to stop smelling wood smoke. So, I do like it but am not sure I can wear it by itself & am curious to hear what others might be layering it with.

    Wild Hunt is on my To Sniff list.

    • Patty says:

      Do you tend to not like reality scents to wear generally, or does it depend on what it smells like? I’m always curious!

      • Divalano says:

        Hmm. Maybe not. How would you define a reality scent? I’ve sampled a couple of CBs & a couple of Memoire Liquide & for the most part, don’t find them very wearable; those are meant as reality scents, yes? Would something that smells just exactly like one thing on you be a reality scent? If so, then I do like some vanillas & Oud Cuir Arabie which smells exactly just like a leather shirt & nothing else on me. On the other hand, if the definition is something that clearly reminds you of something else … I can’t think of any besides Burning Leaves that I’ve tried.

        • Patty says:

          For me, reality is a scent meant to bring up a certain smell. Dzing is a reality scent because it’s all about the circus.

          • Divalano says:

            Well, I love Dzing! And the first time I wore it there was a specific mental image. It was of being someplace very dark & candlelit. I imagined a deep closet full of soft, tailored leather clothes & that I had opened the door & was inhaling deeply. It was my first leather scent experience so I guess the leather struck me harder. Nowadays I don’t get the leather as much & just love it, no imagery attached. And I never did get that circus thing.
            So I guess … reality scents are fine for me if they have the ability to transcend the memory or image & gain other dimensions & sensory queues.

  • tmp00 says:

    well, I’ve reviewed these on PST and although I quoted March in my reivew I have not been moved to actually wear these, even though I do pull them out to smell them.

    Thay reming me of that line in “Rebecca” about having a scent memory bottled up, and how powerful that can be.

    Yes, March, I now you think I am crazy. but I do wear his musk, proudly…

    • sariah says:

      I’m with you tmpoo. I like to smell the CB’s, but don’t feel like wearing them. The 5 that I’ve tried I found that they moved from the top note to the base note quickly, without much of a “middle”. I like my fumes to have a more complex development. I don’t think CB is going for development, so I that’s not a bad thing, just different.

    • Patty says:

      I totally get why people may not like to wear them and just sniff them.. I know I have to be in a specific mood with each one, except Cradle of Light, which I only have to consider the skank factor before I wear it. And musk, that’s good any time I’m feeling a little feral. 🙂