Le Labo Benjoin 19

Le Labo Benjoin 19 is the Moscow City Exclusive, the newest of the Le Labo City Exclusives.  Released shortly after they concluded their City Exclusive free-for-all where you could buy them all in the United States, we look like it will be a long wait until this becomes a little more available locally.  Finding anyone in Moscow and getting something shipped is, um, daunting.  I briefly considered a little trip to Moscow – a city I’ve always wanted to see – took one look at my checkbook and crossed that little fantasy off the list.

There was a bottle floating around a while back that got split up, and I swapped for 3 mls from a lovely fellow blogger, Waft by Carol, and I’ve studied it off and on for about a month.  She did not like it as much as I do, but I have to say it has grown on me slowly. Notes are amber, musk, olibanum ( frankincense ) and cedar.

Like all the Le Labo fragrances, the name on the bottle isn’t necessarily what the fragrance is exactly about.  Le Labo Patchouli is about birch tar with a smidge of patchouli to set it on fire. Le Labo Vanille 44 is a lilting woody somewhat vanillic fragrance. What I’ve always found  true about Le Labo fragrances is they have a gorgeous lilt to them that nets me more compliments than any other fragrance line.  I went to Kansas this last weekend, and my mom went a little nuts two days in a row when I went swanning by wearing Le Labo Ylang, wondering what I had on. She’s so used to me stinking up the joint with all sorts of things, it always surprises me most when she comments and really likes something I’m wearing.  Le Labo Patchouli mixed with either Guerlain Double Vanille or Le Labo Vanille 44 is a revelation, and both have a stunning fragrance trail. My nephew used to wear Patchouli out when he was single for a while, and would wind up with women burying their nose in his neck just to smell him.  Well, he is cute too, but he did smell divine in it.

Le Labo Benjoin 19 isn’t exactly about benzoin.  It is incensy, lovely woody amber base.  There is a little bitter that singes the hairs on my nose when I bring it in close, but like a lot of good art, Le Labo Benjoin 19 is better at a distance. This thing has amazing lilt as you walk.  It is very much like Le Labo Vanille 44. I sometimes lose the plot on it, but as soon as I walk from one room to the next, I smell nothing but this gorgeous fragrant wake following me, enchanting me far more than studying it on my hand, sorting through some of the medicinal bitterness.  Sum of its parts perfume, and I’m pretty far gone in love with it.

So you know, sometimes you gotta go with what works.  Now for the long wait to find the right combination of who you know to get a bottle transported over. In the meantime, I do have a wee bit that I can share for two very lucky commenters.  Have you found a City Exclusive to love, or have you tried any yet?  Just drop a comment either answering that question or chatting about anything else you’ve found interesting lately to be entered.  Are we all watching Downton, or are you avoiding it? I hooked my mom, my sister and one of my sons on it the last two days, and they are joining the other umpteen people I’ve talked into watching it.  Lovely soapy highbrow series.

  • Jared says:

    Another fan of poivre and vanille I’m hunting for a decant of a few others I haven’t tried. I enjoyed reading the article. Thanks

  • Lizzy says:

    I was lucky enough to jump on the sample pack of CIty Exclusives from Luckyscent while it was offered and have truly enjoyed testing them out–I especially liked Vanille 44, Cuir 28, and Gaiac 10–so I would LOVE to get my hands on a bit of Benjoin 19!! I remember Moscow from my high school days (I went for a few weeks one summer as a “student ambassador” on a cultural education tour): a darkly beautiful and gritty city, with the aging, slightly decayed grace of Imperial Russia blending with soot-stained Soviet block housing developments; so different to the sanitized suburbs I grew up in!

    I?m in the US.

  • Audrey esko says:

    Love le labo frags, I can’t decide which one.

  • Tara says:

    I have Vanille, Poivre, Gaiac, Ylang, Oud and Labdanum… Benjoin sounds right up my alley! Hopefully I will win the draw, I have a US shipping address too you can use.

  • Never tried any of Le Labo scents, I guess they are sold only abroad. Have read some reviews and I think that Iris 39 would be nice, Thanks for this draw. Greetings from Slovakia

  • Maura says:

    Unfortunately I’ve tried ALL the city exclusives besides the Benjoin 19 and love most of them. Winners for me are Poivre, Vanille, Tubereuse and Musc. I wish the exclusives were offered yearly rather than every 2 years :-(. Would love to try this!

  • London says:

    Poivre 23 is the one for me. Which is lucky as it’s the one I can get. We’ve seen all of Downton over here. Series 1 was amazing, series 2 risible but hilarious and fun, series 3 ok and series 4 dull. In my opinion anyway. But I still watched it. Perfect Sunday evening TV

  • lisa_67 says:

    I was so excited to see this post; Prada Benjoin is my HG, and I have been dying to hear a review of Benjoin 19! I was so disappointed that Le Labo didn’t include this one in their bi-yearly ‘city exclusive amnesty,’ but perhaps it’s a blessing, as it would likely have resulted in my most expensive blind buy yet :-/ I keep hoping to see it appear on STC, but realize that sourcing an exclusive from Moscow is likely a feat in itself.

    My favorite Le Labo thus far is Poivre 23 – it’s very ‘me,’ and I splurged for the 50 ml a few years ago; I always get lots of compliments on it. Your comment about Benjoin being better at a distance is very true of both Poivre 23 and Guiac 10, IMO. I have a feeling that Benjoin would be another instant infatuation for me. I also like Iris 39, Labdanum 18, and Ylang 49. Sadly, Patch 24 smelled like a hotdog that had fallen into the campfire on me 🙁

    I watched Downtown for the first 3 seasons, but felt it really ‘jumped the shark’ in season 3, becoming more soap opera than period piece, and so my Sunday evenings are now spent watching ‘True Detective’ on HBO. While it’s difficult to say I “enjoy” it – it’s quite brooding and slow to unfold – I am finding it intriguing, and have a new appreciation for both Matthew McConaughey (who seems to be getting better and better) and Woody Harrelson (whom I’ve never previously thought much of as a serious actor).

  • xtopher says:

    By those coincidental things that surround perfume, I am wearing tonight musc 25 and I love it. I dont get much civet or anything other than a beautiful lily with tons of scrubbed down to purity musc. It is not boring at all as it may sound. It s just gorgeous and quite resilient. Can I please try Benjoin pretty please?

  • tammy says:

    I haven’t tried any Le Labos OR Downton Abbey! I’ll probably wait til the series is through, then rent and watch them by the season.

    The Benjoin is the first LL that has really created a lemning in me; I think I’ve purposely avoided sampling them because I’m afraid I’ll fall hard for one of the city exclusives, which is a concept that irritates the sh*t out of me. The pricing is aspirational enough; did they really need to go there with the distribution, too?

  • Solanace says:

    I got my mom hooked in Downton Abbey too! Can’t wait for the new season to start here.

  • helical gnome says:

    Le Labo is truly one of a kind. My favorite is Gaiac 10 of which I have several samples and do not own a full bottle 🙁 My second favorite is Musc 25. Thanks for being so nice to your readers and sharing Benjoin with us. I have been meaning to try it.

  • Ncmyers says:

    I have not tried any of the city exclusives but I have loved all the Le Labos I’ve tried: Ylang, iris, vetiver, labdanum, and Lys. Ylang is my fave of those. Love it!

    Downton Abbey=avoid. I loved the first two, and saw parts of the last one, but the Bates story was so incredibly boring I became too irritated to watch. Did he do it? I hope he did. That would be interesting! Bah humbug! Lol.

  • Laurels says:

    Haven’t tried any of them. This is the second rave review I’ve read for the Benjoin 19. Still watching Downton, although at this point the costumes and scenery are my favorite parts. If that person doesn’t get his comeuppance with a quickness, they are going to lose my mother.

  • Lynne Marie says:

    The only Le Labo that really gets me is Poivre 23 and I can’t remember if that is a city exclusive or not. What intrigued me, Patty, is your discussion about some perfumes being like a painting – better from a bit of distance than up close. Relative newbie that I am I don’t think I really “got” that about perfume until just the other day. I was test driving Intense Cafe by Montale and nose to arm there was an edge there that I wasn’t loving but as I moved around I got this gorgeous coffee/chocolate/rose thing going on. I now have to go back and rethink some other scents that I may have too hastily rejected. Thank you for the draw!

  • Dina C. says:

    I’ve got a bottle of Le Labo Iris 39 that I love, but I don’t think I’ve sniffed any of the city exclusives. This Benjoin 19 sounds nice. I like all the notes listed. As for Downton Abbey, I love it. I’m a big fan of period pieces and historical adaptations. I will say that my DA-watching friends and I think that it has crossed the line into soap opera territory, but it’s still beautiful to watch.

  • Janice says:

    Joining the chorus of those who like Vanille 44. Part of what I like about it is that it’s not really about what it says on the label–much more going on than vanilla. I also liked Gaiac 10 quite a lot, and I’m looking forward to trying this new one eventually!

  • AnnieA says:

    Tried the Poivre 23 and even the SA who had just sold me a bottle of the patchouli was embarrassed at the price of the former.

  • Chiara says:

    I have tried only the Vanille 44 but I really love it. Among their regular fragrances, i love Santal 33! 🙂 Thank you for the draw!

  • Carol S says:

    So so glad you are enjoying it Patty ! I just don’t want to work that hard at loving something…one I do love is Iris Nazarena and that Ex Idolo Thirty Three you sent . You’re a peach to share that little bit I sent !
    My favorite Le Labo is Labdanum 19 , and my husband rocks in Vetiver 46…
    of course , don’t include me in the draw .

  • Nemo says:

    I haven’t tried any of the Le Labo city exclusives, unfortunately! I love your metaphor of great art and perfume. I was puzzled the first time I tried a perfume I liked much better from far away compared to on my skin (I think it was Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan). I have not watched Downton Abbey yet, but I am looking forward to the next season of Sherlock. Thank you very much for your generosity in offering the samples!

  • Connie says:

    I’ve only tried Patchouli 24 and Lys 41. Liked the first but not the second. Thanks for the draw!

  • Lauren says:

    Wow, I have been dying to try benjoin. I love almost every le Labo I have tried (despite myself and the pricing). Vanille 44 and Lys are my favorites. I have yet to try patchouli, but your mention of it is moving it to the top of my list. Thank you for this very generous draw!

  • Glannys says:

    Thank you for the draw.
    I have never tried any Le Labo scents, but I love amber and resins in perfumes.

  • Insensé says:

    I only have a sample of Patchouli 24, which I love (big fan of birch tar here).
    Benjoin sound good for me, would love to try!
    Beautiful draw, as always in this blog.

  • Sherri says:

    Of the city exclusives, I like Vanille 44 and Aldehyde 44 (quite a surprise since I generally hate aldehydes) the best. I also love the Lys, Jasmin and Downton Abbey! 🙂

  • Elia says:

    I’ve tried most of the exclusives. I’d probably pick between Tubereuse 40 and Vanille 44 as the best ones.
    I think I have my Mom hooked on Downton Abbey too.

  • zazie says:

    Among Le Labo fragrances I’ve tried so far, my absolute favorite is the Lys – it has a daydreaming quality to it, besides smelling lovely and interesting…
    Among the exclusives, I’ve always wanted to try Le Labo’s parisian Vanille… but I’ve checked myself: what if I love it?
    …Benjoin is a note I love very much (I’m a fan of the papiers d’armenie, which are loaded with the stuff), so I’m very curious about this new exclusive…what if I love it? I’ve always wanted to visit Russia, to be honest…. 😉

    Thanks for the draw!

  • jjlook says:

    Ah, a fairy godmother from here gave me some Vanille 44 and I am a bit hooked. Also love the Patch & Santal, from another awesome swap, so I’m afraid I might dig this. Really afraid.

  • taffyj says:

    My favefavefave is Vanille 44. Haven’t gotten the Downton Abbey bug yet. I haven’t given it a chance though. All my chances I gave to that yummy Sherlock.

  • foxbins says:

    I also thought of going to Moscow to get some and my pocketbook said “Nyet!” I have a sample of Vanille 44 but i haven’t tried any of the other Le Labos. I haven’t watched Downton Abbey at all, may have to Hulu it when I have a chunk of time, but I was up late last night for the season 3 Sherlock debut.

  • katrin says:

    I haven’t tried any City Exclusives, but I do have a spray sample of Iris 39 and I adore it!

  • Monoatomic says:

    I caved and bought a bottle of Vanille 44 in the fall, but I am really interested in this one as well – would love to try it!

    I travel a lot for work, and I’ve found Downton Abbey perfect for loading up on the iPad for the really long flights. I don’t get the instant gratification (and I have to avoid people talking about it) but I’ll take the trade off for such an enjoyable time-filler on a 20+ hour flight any day.

  • Kim B says:

    I love the Poivre 23 – it’s really the only one I love from the line. I tend to prefer the Prada Parfums (you know, the ones you have to bribe them to show you). The Prada Benjoin is magnificent and will be tough to top. I also find the city exclusive kind of annoying in that they are so hard to get hold of – wish they did their US access annually.

    Downton? Totally addicted. Same with the new Sherlock. And just finished London Hospital from the BBC – from 2009 but came across it on Amazon – 1906 hospital in London, great series, wonderfully done.

  • Ellen says:

    I love the two samples I tried, but this one sounds like all the notes I really really love. It sound positively divine. And I love Downton Abbey, along with Sherlock.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I have Aldehyde 44 and I haven’t gotten around to trying it. Sadly, I’ve kind of been ignoring this line. I don’t know why but it just seems arrogant to have the whole thing of having it mixed for me, my name on the bottle. Yes, sometimes the really small things can drive me up the wall. I keep meaning to try Jasmin 17 though. I’ve just recently started to watch Downton Abbey and have gotten into it.

  • Elena says:

    I honestly don’t know if it’s a city exclusive, but I have a sample vial of the Patchouli, and I think it’ll last me for at least a year. A little goes a loooong way with that stuff!

  • Stacey W says:

    Le Labo is one of my favorite houses and I’ve been fortunate enough to have tried quite a few of the City Exclusives. The one that captured my heart (and my wallet) was Limette 37. It makes me so happy when I wear it and really what more can you ask for in a perfume? Thank you for generously sharing some of your sample with us!

  • Rina says:

    Well, y’all knew this was coming….I’m Aldehyde 44 all the way. I can’t explain why I love it, but the heart wants what the heart wants…Love hearing about the others in the line, too.

  • wefadetogray says:

    I love love love Le Labo Vanille 44 and Poivre 23. you are too kind sharing with us from your little sample. Thanks for your generosity.

  • Caroline says:

    Haven’t tried all the city exclusives, but I do enjoy vanille 44–wonder what it’ll cost the next time it’s sold in the U.S? I’m sporadically watching Downton, and have found the recapper on The AV Club site to be astute & entertaining when I miss a chunk.

  • hajusuuri says:

    I love Le Labo Vanille 44 and use it to layer with a number of perfumes (e.g. Dior Mitzah, Puredistance M and Guerlain SDV). The other one I love is Cuir 28. I’m thinking of giving my sister a little homework when she goes to San Francisco in a few weeks but I’ll spare her. I’ve been curious about Benjoin 19 and am keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed that I may be one of the lucky winners of the draw. Thanks.