Every now and again, browsing websites like LuckyScent and BeautyHabit, I play a game in my head: if I were to choose a signature scent based solely on the image a fragrance projects via the bottle, marketing, name, perfumer, what have you – anything except the notes – what would I go with? I might go with Solange Azagury-Partridge´s Stoned. I can´t help myself. I like her detailed, occasionally over-the-top jewelry, the bottle looks interesting, and I´d love to tell people I was wearing Stoned. The name´s obviously a play on her work as a jeweler, but it´s also humorous (stoned, as in high) and even dangerous (like being stoned for your sins). I´d get busy and learn how to pronounce Solange´s full name without sounding like a goober. But I never actually smelled Stoned, because what if: a) I love it, and then ack! – it´s just one more thing to covet; or b) I hate it, and then it can´t be my imaginary friend any more. I wound up with a sample recently, and I decided it was time to discover the truth.
I was heartened by the number of reviews of this fragrance on LuckyScent containing the words “old lady,” a sure sign that it might be love. The opening, all face-powder, was a bitter disappointment. Come on — look at that bottle! I wasn´t expecting that kind of old lady! My disappointment lasted approximately 20 seconds, when the muff-bomb exploded and I got my first clue what those reviewers were complaining about.
Let us detour (briefly) to the Victoria´s Secret scents. I have smelled a few, and they can be pleasant. They play at sexy, with their jasminillamber accords, but they are cupcake fragrances. They are “sexy” with a smile and a wink. If the Victoria´s Secret line is a sexy little kitten, then Stoned is a panther, with cold, glittering eyes and hot, dangerous breath. The first few minutes of Stoned is deliciously dirty. It´s a barnyard musk somewhere between JAR´s Ferme Tes Yeux and Miller Harris´ L’Air de Rien, cut with a generous dollop of Bal a Versailles´ black-hearted lollipop. If I had to guess the magic in this witches´ brew it would be labdanum; its resin-y ambergris/leather smell mimics the off-kilter sparkle and prickly heft of Azagury-Partridge´s anglerfish ring pictured here (which I would love, if Santa´s reading this. Or Satan, which is what I originally typed. There must be a soul around here somewhere I could sell…) The flowers gradually emerge, but they’re dark and dusky, adding a lover’s warmth to the scent rather than any overt sweetness. Once you get past the opening it’s a relatively linear fragrance; love it or hate it, there’s not a lot of middle ground. It doesn’t smell like Bal a Versailles (which in my opinion is the superior scent) but it’s got some of that inky allure, that sweet whiff of incense and decay you get in cold, dank stone rooms. The drydown eventually loses its magic and becomes a sensual, rather conventional musk; for something that comes on as hot to trot as Stoned does, it rolls over and goes to sleep faster than, say, vintage Femme or Bal. Am I going to pay $285 for this? Nope. But it sure was a fun roll in the hay.
Notes are: Italian bergamot, classic rose, jasmine absolute, labdanum, tree moss, musk and vanilla bourbon.
bottle image: luckyscent; ring from Azagury-Partridge’s website