When I am in the perfume doldrums, everything I smell feels like eh and meh. I hate it.  It’s like a series of bad relationships – you start to think, it’s not them, it’s me!

pinroseAnd then the wonderful thing happens when I sniff a bunch of frags and I feel looooove (or hate! Which is almost as good!) and there’s that burst of excitement, just like I remember. Not necessarily because the fragrance is genius – often it’s merely charming, or fun, but at least I feel something, you know?

Thus it was when I stumbled across Pinrose at the local Nordstrom, a display I’ve walked by on the way to Guerlain without really paying attention. Visually it’s a big, boxy freestanding thing that differentiates itself by being approachable-looking. Kind of a just-plain-folks vibe, which stands out among the glittery gewgaws on the nearby shelves.   Looking at the display, with a black and white photo of the founders, two fresh-faced, pretty women (sisters, maybe?) what I came up with mentally was: this is going to be a half-step up from BBW Moonlight Path or Coastal Water Lily, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

I’m pleased to say I’m wrong. I find them charming. They hew closely to the notes listed, and if they remind me of anything it’s Diptyque, and that I do mean as a compliment. There are 10 of them on display, with a brief list of notes. I skipped the one I knew I’d dislike – Pillowtalk Poet, a laundry musk done by Vito Lenoci– and sampled the following (name of perfumer in parenthesis):

Campfire Rebel (David Apel) – seriously, this surprised me. Smoke, vanilla, vetiver that seems like it belongs in a much more niche line.

Cuddle Punk (David Apel) – apricot-vanilla with a furry saffron belly.

Garden Gangster (Ilias Ermenidis)– now this is fun. Citrus, herbs, grass, musk.

Merry Maker (Christelle Laprade)– a cheerful burst of clementine, plum and musk/woods.

gypsyMoonlight Gypsy (Ilias Ermenidis) – look at that pink and blue bottle to the left, does it not SCREAM Bath & Body Works? It’s so much better. Cardamom and orange over a woodsy patch-vetiver-sandalwood. Love this.

Pinrose (David Apel) – spicy rose, smoky leather.  This would be fantastic on your boyfriend.

Secret Genius (Harry Fremont) – a caramel/vanilla/sandalwood gourmand that’s not anywhere as sweet as it sounds like it would be and is pretty nice, actually.

Tambourine Dreamer (Nathalie Benareau) – muguet, florals, musk that seemed the least interesting of the bunch.

Treehouse Royal (Ilias Ermenidis) — a green, mossy fig with a woody-fig drydown. This is the one that got me thinking about Diptyque, and also how much I like fig scents.

The perfumers are all legit talent from Firmenich and Symrise etc., and maybe I’m delusional but these feel like they mostly had fun with whatever creative direction they were given.

At $55 a bottle and a lot of talk on the Pinrose website about target audiences leery of perfume counters, this line is clearly – one could almost say emphatically – not aimed at a fragrance consumer like me. Be that as it may, most of the scents were a more pleasant journey than what the SA’s are spritzing folks with in Macy’s. I feel about 96% confident that these are going to be mocked by niche perfumistas, if they haven’t been already (I’m a little behind in my reading), and my guess is the folks who will buy these could not care less. Any outfit that gets Jane Average wearing woodsmoke and fig is all right by me.


  • Suzy Q says:

    Hi March! I share your love for fig! I thought of you over the weekend when I tested a perfume from Pierre Guillaume’s new line, Entre Ciel et Mer. No fig in the official notes but I swear it’s like a more atmospheric and salt-spray version of Philosykos. Nice! I aim to sample all fig perfumes. Thanks for yet another one to try!

  • Mals86 says:

    I tested several of these some time ago – a couple of years maybe? The PR people sent me an email and asked if I’d like to try, and I said sure. But I think at the time they were mostly an online outfit with one physical location, or at least that’s how I remember it. You answered a synesthesia questionnaire and they sent you samples of the scents based on your answers.

    The samples were the towelette type, and I didn’t like any of the six I tried. However, there seems to be some new scents in the lineup – of the ones you mentioned, there are only four that were in the range when I tried them (Pillowtalk Poet, Campfire Rebel, Moonlight Gypsy and Treehouse Royal).

    I didn’t think they were great, but they weren’t bad either. At the same time, there are at least a couple of B&BW scents I like better than I liked the early Pinrose frags.

  • Ann says:

    Howqy, sweetie! Hope you guys are all doing well. This line caught my attention, unfortunately though as I was rushing out the door at Nordstrom, late for an appointment. But I will definitely investigate next week when I am next in the big city. Thanks for the great descriptions and info. Hugs …

  • poodle says:

    These sound nice and I like the price. Campfire Rebel has my interest with the smoke and vetiver and I must admit I’d like to have a perfume called Cuddle Punk. Moonlight Gypsy has a nice ring to it too.

    • March says:

      Paraphrasing Robin at Now Smell This — for what they are they’re very nice. They definitely have the real-perfumery edge to them, even if they’re not especially complex. Simple can be nice.

  • Neva says:

    Treehouse Royal sounds great to me. I’m looking for a fig based scent for the summer and again everything points at Philosykos although I wanted to avoid it because it’s so obvious. Maybe Pinrose’s fig would be just right…

    • March says:

      Somewhere on the Posse I did TWO entire posts on fig scents — Figmania 1 and 2. That’s about 20 scents to choose from 🙂 IIRC the two main camps of fig-smells are: more sweet/coconut oil-ish vs. more woodsy. Or you could order a fig sampler from Patty on Surrender to Chance. I had a blast sampling a bunch of figs.

  • tandaina says:

    I have been sniffing “niche” perfume after niche perfume for months and frankly I might just order a couple of these blind. The most recent sample actually smells a bit like the ferry docks here in lovely Seattle. I find it totally repugnant and somehow charming at the same time. I wouldn’t mind a bit of just fresh, pretty, simple. 😉

    • March says:

      “I wouldn’t mind a bit of just fresh, pretty, simple. ;)” Yep! My perfume world is big enough to include drugstore scents, etc.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    This line doesn’t really look like it would be my thing. Since you brought up BBW Moonlight Path, it sounds like this line is aimed for those who grew out of BBW and starting to admit to it. Or they admitted it and aren’t brave enough for an actual perfume counter.

    • March says:

      The fear of the perfume counter is something we all have to get over at some point on the way to rabid perfumista-dom; but for what these are (and want to be) they’re rather nice.