Note: Thanks everyone for playing along in the week-long Signature Scent Challenge! I have a few final thoughts, but that post isn’t written yet and this one is. — March
In a time when the generic dullness of a lot of new, department-store-level perfume releases makes my eyes bleed, I’ve gotten strangely – yea, perhaps even irrationally – fond of any effort that seems even a little quirky or unusual in the perfume area. The Anthropologie chain cultivates an image of … what, whimsical, hand-knit faux-French outsider maximalism? I’m sure that image is crafted with the same corporate precision that brings you Coach and J. Crew. I’m not an idiot. Nonetheless, I like Anthropologie. I like to go in their cluttered store and browse for trinkets on dreary winter days. Their clothes are fun but mostly don’t work on me. Their housewares, however, particularly their dishes and glassware, are often wonderful and sometimes quite a bargain to boot.
Anthropologie pleases me because it stocks odd fragrances, some of which are made specifically for the brand and others which I mostly don’t see anywhere else. They have the TokyoMilks and the Rather Novel Collection from Givaudan I blogged about awhile ago, as well as some of the Histoires de Parfums. (They also have a few forgettable floral-musky scents for people who like packaging more than perfume. Lollia, Happ & Stahns… get the joke on the second one?) Online I note they stock four SIPs, and Ineke, although not in our local store.
And now they have the By the Creators of Le Labo collection of five scents, featuring a $62 EdP, a $32 candle, and a $28 solid perfume:
“A collaboration between Anthropologie and Fabrice Penot and Edouard Roschi, founders of New York cult fragrance house Le Labo, this fragrance envelops you in one of five historically inspired scents that pay tribute to the era of perfumery when artisans crafted small batches using the highest quality natural ingredients … choose from parfum in a vessel inspired by old apothecary bottles or concrete parfum packaged in tins inspired by turn-of-the-century measuring weights.”
Belle Du Soir: “musky and rich, neroli, water lily and gardenia float above notes of cedar, sandalwood and patchouli (SPICE).” March says: not at all what I was expecting from those notes. Starts off smelling very citrusy, drying down into expensive soap along the lines of Maria-Farina Extra-Vieille from Roger & Gallet. Nice, but you might as well get the soap.
Bouquet Blanc: “a decadent floral composition of cassis, bergamot, jasmine, tuberose and vetiver (FLORAL)” March says: A pleasingly indolic mostly-jasmine that lasted two days, minimal development.
Chant De Bois: “a femme-woodsy combination of bergamot, grapefruit, pink pepper, patchouli and cedar (SPICE)” March says: This is the one you’re supposed to buy your man, I guess. The nice, citrus/pepper top dries down quickly into a generic man-scent. I’m going to mock this one a bit. It’s perfectly pleasant. But for $60, you could do so much better. Go buy him Guerlain Vetiver. Or Dior Eau Sauvage. Or … (insert something else interesting here.)
Orange Discrete: “a clean citrus blend of petigrain, bergamot, mandarin zest and orange blossom mixed with vetiver, cedar and musk (FRUIT)” March says: I’d dismissed this in five minutes as a too-soapy, generic neroli. The drydown however is interesting – salted orange segments with lots of ground black pepper. Not entirely pleasant, but peculiarly compelling. I could see suddenly deciding I had to have this on a wintry December day (at which point they’ll be sold out, naturally.)
Poudre D’Orient: “exotic aromas of violet leaves, patchouli, vanilla and suede musk (FRESH)” March says: My inner cynic tells me this fragrance’s density is created with a huge overdose of a single molecule, something they buy for $50 a drum, and I’m just uneducated enough that I’m not in on the joke. You know what? My inner cynic can go suck an egg. I love this stuff, which smells like an unholy alliance between the violet-green of (new) Jolie Madame and the kind of amber-musk sweetness found in Gaultier2. Neither powdery nor exotic, and not fresh, either, thank God. Wish I had some new JM to test it against. Don’t spill it on anything you can’t wash, because it never goes away.
I’m not loving the packaging on these, although I’m hard pressed to say exactly why. They have that Le Labo brown bag thing going on, cross-pollinated with the Anthropologie whimsy. The cheap minimalism of the Le Labo “lab” packaging I’ve gotten used to. At least I’m not whining that they spent all the money on the cap design, right? But this glue-on label with its fake-aged apothecary look, and that sorta-Bakelite cap (on a shiny new amber bottle that looks like it came from L’Occitane) didn’t win my heart. The candles I have no opinion about, and I’ve not tried the perfume solids.
At the end of the day? These are fine for what they are. They’re a bit light on their feet, coming from Le Labo, although thankfully none of them is insipidly sweet, and none of them (with the exception of Chant de Bois) smells like it came from Macy’s. For less money ($48, or $10 for the perfume solid pen), I’d rather have one of the Rather Novel Collection, I think they’re more interesting scents, particularly the mint/chamomile 1856 Darjeeling, or the red tea-infused Cape of Good Hope, both testers of which had been stolen. Again.
Fragrance source: tried at the store, multiple times, without incident.