Reviews En Bref: Jeroboam Insulo, Origino, Miksado, Oriento & Hauto

What fresh hell is this?!” That question repeatedly crossed my mind as I smelt the new Jeroboam fragrances, and it wasn’t solely because some of them were indeed “fresh” (and excessively clean). The question really arose because I physically recoiled from the very first sniff of the sample wand for fragrance after fragrance, one after another, like a falling domino. When a scent wafts a brash, often brutish amount of chemicals merely from the wand and far before the liquid has even developed on my skin, then I know I’m in trouble.

Jeroboam and its logo. Source: Fragrantica

Jeroboam and its logo. Source: Fragrantica

There wasn’t even the promise or potential of something different and interesting in the synthetic cocktail to make the effort of wearing the fragrance seem worthwhile. For some of the Jeroboam fragrances, the molecules wafting from the wand and, later, on my skin were the most generic of bouquets whose quality and distinctiveness veered between being worse than a Montale, on par with a Montale, or like something you’d find in an Arab bazaar. For others in the line, the scent was all too familiar, evoking a richer or stronger aroma of things like Terre d’Hermes or one of the thousands of creme brulée caramelized vanillas on the market. At least two of the fragrances could be summed up flatly as “Bro Juice” on chemical steroids, with the added benefit or catnip of “Beast Mode” projection. If you like that genre of perfumery, great, all the more power to you, but it’s not my thing.

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Jacques Zolty Van-ile: Delicious Simplicity

Photo & Source: The Kitchen McCabe. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Photo & Source: The Kitchen McCabe. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Move over Tihota, I’ve found something else. Van-ile is almost as good, but costs much less. Imagine airy vanilla, wrapped up with ribbons of lemon, tangy orange, orchid floralcy, and clean musk in a silky cloud that soon turns into the delicious coziness of silky, cake batter-style vanilla made from expensive Tahitian beans. That’s the essence of Van-ile (officially spelt as “Van-île”), an extremely simple, unpretentious eau de parfum that bears a strong resemblance to Indult‘s famous Tihota for almost all of its life, only for a third of the price. It’s a soft, easy-to-wear scent that is so appealing, I bought a bottle for myself. It helps that Van-ile is very reasonably priced, especially for the quality in question, and I’m a sucker for a good deal. More than that, though, it’s been extremely difficult for me to find a vanilla that is neither so sweet it would trigger a diabetic coma nor too heavily imbued with the ghastly white musk that I loathe. Van-ile fits the bill.

Jacques Zolty. Source: fless.ru

Jacques Zolty. Source: fless.ru

Let’s start at the beginning, though, since Jacques Zolty is probably not a name with which you’re familiar. I certainly wasn’t. According to Fragrantica, he was a French supermodel in the 1970s and then, in 2007, founded a perfume house whose creations celebrated the smell, culture, and vibe of the island of St. Bart’s in the West Indies. In 2014, the brand was bought by Roberto Drago, the owner of Laboratorio Olfattivo. He asked Cecile Zakorian (creator of Masque’s Tango, Majda Bekkali’s Mon Nom Est Rouge, Jovoy’s Private Label, and other fragrances) to make two new scents for the line, and one of them was Van-ile.

Vanilla orchid flower via imgarcade.com

Vanilla orchid flower via imgarcade.com

Van-ile is an eau de parfum that was released in late 2014. According to First in Fragrance, its name is a play on “vanille (vanilla) and île (island)… in French, the native language of Saint-Barthélemy. This fragrance is a passionate homage to vanilla planifolia, the sugar orchid that grows up symbiotically with the sun in the Caribbean and makes life sweeter on the most beautiful and glamourous island in the Antilles.” The perfume’s notes are:

Top Note: Bergamot, Orange, Almond
Heart Note: Vanilla, Heliotrope, Frangipani, Jasmine, Patchouly, Powdery Notes
Base Note: Vanilla Bean, Leather, Animalic Notes, Oakmoss, Musk

Source: cecilezarokian.com/fr/wins

Source: cecilezarokian.com/fr/wins

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Isabey Lys Noir & MPG Jardin Blanc

I haven’t posted over the last few days, as some personal matters have occupied both my time and attention. A family member is in the hospital, and will remain there for a few days. It’s nothing dire, but the procedure wasn’t completely minor either, so I’m a bit distracted. In addition, I’m working on a big project for the blog that will see fruition in a few weeks, but is taking up a lot of my time now. So, I thought I would give two mini, very cursory reviews for Isabey‘s new Lys Noir and its polar opposite in colour, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier‘s Jardin Blanc. I probably won’t have time to respond to comments, though, and for that I apologise in advance.

Photo: Henry Hargreaves Photography. "Smoke and Lily" Source: Trendland.com http://trendland.com/henry-hargreavess-smoke-and-lily-photography/

Photo: Henry Hargreaves Photography. “Smoke and Lily” Source: Trendland.com http://trendland.com/henry-hargreavess-smoke-and-lily-photography/

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2014 In Review: 30 Personal Favorites

Source: designzzz.com

Source: designzzz.com

My list of favorite fragrances that I’ve tried this year is quite different from yesterday’s list of the best new releases of 2014. The latter centered largely on scents that I thought were good, very elegant or interesting representations of their genre, regardless of whether they were my personal cup of tea, and they were only things that debuted in 2014. Today’s list is purely about what I really enjoyed and does not consider the date in release at all. So, this time around, there are very few qualifications and caveats, and the vast majority of these fragrances are things that I bought for myself, am thinking about buying, or would love to buy were their price not a consideration.

You will notice that a good number of the fragrances are not complex masterpieces at all, but quite simple in nature. One reason for that is that I love cozy, comfort scents, and they are generally not very nuanced or multifaceted to begin with. Plus, mindlessly simple but really well-done fragrances that combine richness with soothing warmth are, in all honesty, a huge relief to me after a long day where I do nothing but analyse every nuance and change in a scent for hours (upon hours) on end.

Ferdinand Leeke,  "The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde," (1875). Source: Wikipedia.com

Ferdinand Leeke, “The Last Farewell of Wotan and Brunhilde,” (1875). Source: Wikipedia.com

A few other points. As always, I have to repeat my mantra regarding the subjective, personal nature of reviewing in general, and how a list like this is even doubly so. With regard to the rankings, it’s always an utter nightmare, but the Top Ten chosen here are generally quite firm in order. There is a bit more leeway with the next 10 names, as a tiny handful could go up or down one to two places of where they are at the present time. I’m most undecided about the placement of the last 10 which are the most subject to fluctuations in order. One reason why is because perfumistas are a fickle bunch who can change their mind from one month to the next, and I’m no exception. The other reason is that I’ve gone back and forth on a few scents, switching their places repeatedly until I just gave up in the end. So, for now, this is where things are, for the most part. Finally, you will notice that some of my summary descriptions are verbatim from my list of best, new releases of 2014 or from my mid-2014 best or favorites list. My apologies in advance. Covering almost 60 fragrances in two days is rather an exhausting process, so I hope you will forgive me.

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