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!
And 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.
Moonlight 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.