Tauer Perfumes Cologne du Maghreb

Source: hqwallbase.com

Source: hqwallbase.com

Welcome to summer. Would you care for some lemonade? That is one facet of Cologne du Maghreb, a fragrance from Tauer Perfumes that begins as a brisk, chilled draught of citruses before turning much warmer and woodier.

As the name makes clear, Cologne du Maghreb is an eau de cologne. It originally debuted in 2011, and has just been re-released, primarily for the U.S. market, though it is also available at some European retailers. The fragrance is centered on botanical, natural, and absolute oils, but it also seeks to put a twist on the traditional, often European model for colognes by introducing some oriental elements as well. As the press release sent to me explains:

Source: Hypoluxe

Source: Hypoluxe

The Cologne du Maghreb is hand crafted and created in the traditional way of cologne making: With all natural and all botanical raw materials only. Essential oils, absolutes and resins find their way into this Cologne. Not more, not less. […][¶]

With this Cologne, Andy reaches out to the origins of perfume making in Europe, with an oriental twist, adding a storyline that goes beyond classical cologne splashes. The Cologne du Maghreb is a light fragrance that bridges occident and orient, and is evidence that the lands of the orient sun bring us more tones than just oudh and dark woods.

Atlas cedar. Source: sodahead.com

Atlas cedar. Source: sodahead.com

Contrasting a bright citrus chord, cistus and ambreine add depth and a natural amber gris shade. An exotic melody with cedarwood from the Moroccan High Atlas and hints of Java vetiver oil lingers in its base and lasts longer than the classical cologne citrus chord.

Like all colognes, the Cologne du Maghreb is a refreshing joy for the moment, and its herbaceous citrus accord is composed to last a short while, bright and fresh like the morning sun rising over a citrus garden in Morocco. The Cologne du Maghreb builds on the finest grade of Bergamot and lemon essential oils, combined with other carefully selected citrus treasures, such as luxurious neroli oil, the steam distilled essential oil of orange blossoms.

Lavender and rosemary essential oils build a herbaceous contrast to the fresh airy citrus choir and join rose absolute, rose essential oil and clary sage, bringing in a green ambery floral line and adding depth and character.

Notes: Citrus accord, cistus [labdanum amber], ambreine, cedarwood, java vetiver oil, bergamot, lemon, neroli, orange blossom, lavender, rosemary, rose absolute, rose essential oil, clary sage.

Source: kitchendaily.com

Source: kitchendaily.com

Cologne du Maghreb opens on my skin with crisp lemon and lime, resembling a very tart, chilled lemonade. It is lightly infused with vetiver which always manifests a peppermint aspect on my skin. While that’s rather common for me with vetiver, it isn’t the norm for a lot of people. Still, you should expect some definite greenness to accompany the cool citrus notes.

For a brief moment, Cologne du Maghreb’s opening bouquet calls to mind Dior‘s famous Eau Sauvage in vintage form. Both fragrances have sparkling freshness, vetiver, and citruses, but there are also differences. Cologne du Maghreb’s opening is much more heavily citric in focus, with less woodiness and vetiver. Also, to my memory, Eau Sauvage did not have any lime which is a sharper, more bitter element than bergamot and lemon. In any event, the similarity is fleeting, and soon passes.

Other elements lurk in Cologne du Maghreb’s background. There are hints of ambered sweetness, woodiness and herbaceousness, creating a blend that is largely fresh and crisp, but also with peeks of warmth. The herbal elements are mostly abstract. I never detect lavender or rosemary on my skin, though a muted, quiet touch of soapy clary sage is noticeable for brief moments in the opening 10 minutes.

Cedar bark. Source: mlewallpapers.com

Cedar bark. Source: mlewallpapers.com

As it fades, it makes way for the cedar which generally smells very green and fresh. The odd thing is that there is a definite whiff of muskiness to the note. In fact, in the opening few minutes, I had detected a sweatiness that had a strange woody character. It didn’t last for long, but I’m pretty sure it is the cedar which is responsible. There is something else, too: pencil shavings. Once in a while, the cedar smells like lemon-drenched pencil shavings as well. All of this is brief, though, as the wood note recedes to the periphery 30 minutes into Cologne du Maghreb’s development. When it returns, it is largely an abstract woodiness on my skin, without any strong or clearly delineated cedar tonalities.

Source: pximagez.com

Source: pximagez.com

For the most part, Cologne du Maghreb’s opening bouquet in the first hour is primarily that of sparkling, very zesty, chilled lemonade made up of lemons and limes, with peppermint vetiver, a dash of the oils from the fruits’ bitter peel, and the occasional suggestion of woodiness in the background. The herbaceousness soon fades away, as does the clary sage’s brief, muted touch of soapiness. At no time did I experience any orange blossom, though the rose appeared later for a short period.

To my surprise, the scent doesn’t feel like a thin cologne at all. Initially, it falls midway between a strong eau de toilette and a very airy, light, sheer eau de parfum. Botanicals can be very concentrated and potent, and it feels as though Mr. Tauer used very rich ones here. I have to say, I’m relieved, as I was rather dreading a Jo Malone-style of scent or a watery cologne. I have intense loathing and contempt for both.

Nonetheless, Cologne du Maghreb is not a potent scent when taken as a whole over the span of its entire development. The sillage is initially 2 inches with the use of 2 good sprays from a small vial. The number was pushed up by a fraction when I applied more, amounting to 2 large sprays from an actual perfume bottle, but Cologne du Maghreb is generally a soft fragrance. The projection dropped roughly 40 minutes into the perfume’s development to an inch. By the 90 minute mark, Cologne du Maghreb hovered just above the skin. It became a true skin scent on me at the end of the 2nd hour, and required me putting my nose actually on the skin to detect it.

Country Time powdered lemonade mix. Source: Soap.com

Country Time powdered lemonade mix. Source: Soap.com

At the start of the 2nd hour, Cologne du Maghreb begins to shift. A sweet, sherbet powder aroma takes over that smells exactly like Country Time yellow lemonade in its powdered form inside the box. I suspect those of you who are Americans with children know the precise scent in question. That does not mean that Cologne du Maghreb is powdery; it is not. But it smells like Country Time lemonade before you’ve added in the water. In addition, there is almost a fizzy quality to the scent as well. Cologne du Maghreb no longer feels as chilled or as brisk. Its bouquet is becoming deeper, warmer, and sweeter, even as the fragrance itself turns thinner, sheerer, and lighter. The lime and its slight bitterness has faded away. So has the cedar in any clear, distinct form.

Slowly, very slowly, Cologne du Maghreb turns deeper as a faint suggestion of something golden hovers at the edges. It is too nebulous on my skin to translate to actual labdanum, but it is clearly working indirectly to turn the fragrance warmer, darker, and more rounded now. By the middle of the 2nd hour, the citruses feel sun-sweetened and ripe, instead of sparkling, cool, or tart. The woodiness has returned, but it is largely abstract now instead of fresh, green, or musky cedar. Accompanying it is the subtle suggestion of something earthy. It does not smell of actual dirt or soil, and is extremely muted, but there is a sweet earthiness. I suspect it may stem from the labdanum amber this time, not the cedar.

"Lemon Tree" poster by Leah Saulnier, The Painting Maniac at pixels.com. (Website link embedded within.)

“Lemon Tree” poster by Leah Saulnier, The Painting Maniac at pixels.com. (Website link embedded within.)

The note made me realise that Cologne du Maghreb is slowly transitioning away from lemonade powder and into something else: the scent of a full citrus tree. The main element continues to be the ripe lemons hanging heavily from the branch, but there is now also the vague sense of the wood and of the earth in which the tree is planted. There are even tiny splotches of greenness, like the leaves, from the lingering traces of vetiver in the background. It’s a symbolic, olfactory representation of a lemon tree in summer, from its fruits all the way down.

Cologne du Maghreb doesn’t change enormously after this point. The rose suddenly arrives on the scene about 3.25 hours into the perfume’s development. It is quite strong for about 15 minutes, before it retreats and joins the secondary elements that trail behind the lemon. For a short time, Cologne du Maghreb is a soft, sweet, lemon fragrance lightly flecked with roses, abstract woodiness, warmth, and a touch of minty vetiver. It’s all very gauzy and discreet on the skin.

Source: 123rf.com

Source: 123rf.com

Over the next hour, the other elements slowly fade away, until only the lemon is left standing in a cocoon of golden warmth with a hint of woodiness. In its final hour, the fragrance is a mere wisp of something warm and citrusy. All in all, Cologne du Maghreb lasted between 5 and 6.5 hours, depending on the quantity that I applied.

In the press materials that I was sent by Tauer Perfume’s U.S. distributor, Jeffrey Dame of Hypoluxe emphasized that true colognes are intended to be something refreshing and light for a hot, steamy day, and are meant to have intimate sillage. He also argues that true European colognes don’t last.

I disagree with him on that last issue, but, to be frank, I don’t understand the point of colognes as a general rule. My baseline for fragrances stemming back to my childhood is such that the scents considered to be powerhouses today are my “norm,” while eau de toilettes are my equivalent of a “cologne.” Actual colognes simply don’t register or compute for me with their 3-5 hours in average duration, watery thinness, intimate sillage, and need for endless reapplication. The point of spending money on such things eludes me entirely.

In all fairness, and to be as clear as possible, a number of those problems are not an issue here. Cologne du Maghreb is not like one of Jo Malone’s watery, ephemeral, banal, and utterly lifeless exercises in futility, but I’m still the wrong person to make any objective assessment of Cologne du Maghreb except in terms of how it smells. And it smells nice for a citrus fragrance. I can see how it may be very appealing on a hot summer’s day to go along with a cold glass of lemonade. I don’t wear citrus fragrances, but I appreciated how this one had a surprising woodiness and depth to it. In short, it wasn’t a squirt of thin lemon, and nothing else. It also lasted longer than I had expected.

A young cedar tree trunk.

A young cedar tree trunk.

There are already some reviews available for Cologne du Maghreb, and you may find them interesting as a comparative assessment. On Indiescents, one of Tauer’s Canadian retailers, the three comments range from “surprisingly pleasant” to “surprisingly woodsy.” All are positive:

  • From the description, I was bracing myself for a face full of citrus, but I think the cedar note is the real star here, the central pillar that the dry botanicals and the bright citrus dance around. It smells ancient, sacred, dry, but alive, like a secret oasis in the desert or a temple on a mountaintop with offerings of fruit and dried flowers arranged on the altar. […]
  • … Although nothing “sticks out” to me about this fragrance, it is definitely a true citrus, and one who has a trained nose can tell it is authentic in quality. Well done!
  • I LOVE realistic citrus fragrances,with a good herbal twist..NO mens aftershave here,or lemon pledge aroma! This cologne is not very long lived..but its not made to be. It is the best new fragrance from this line I have tried so far:)  […]
"Young Atlantic White Cedar Swamp" by Jason Howell at Motivepicture.com. (Website link embedded within.. http://www.motivepicture.com/?attachment_id=138

“Young Atlantic White Cedar Swamp” by Jason Howell at Motivepicture.com. (Website link embedded within.)

On Fragrantica, the one comment posted thus far is a rave review that talks about the “breathtaking” quality of the materials used in Cologne du Maghreb, and says it is one of the best colognes the poster has ever tried. I found the comment interesting because of a reference to “fetid” woodiness that echoes what I experienced with the cedar as well. “Karlovonamesti” writes:

A beautifully assembled cologne that dwells strongly on the fetid woodiness of cedar, lending it a duskier quality than your average EDC. There are complex top notes of orange, lemon, lime, bergamot, and neroli, with a significant labdanum heart, and plenty of wood in the base, which actually goes on for a while despite its cologne strength. Expect at least three hours out of this one, with a decent throw. Andy offers us the rarity of a complex cologne, and the experience of wearing it is unremittingly pleasurable. I admit that I’m not a fan of cedar in general, but the quality of materials and compositional skill on display here is breathtaking. This is one of the best colognes I’ve ever worn.

Source: fonepics.net

Source: fonepics.net

Luckyscent also has only one review listed thus far, and it is from someone who says Cologne du Maghreb is the first Tauer that they have ever fallen for:

The first of Tauer’s frangrances I have fallen deeply in love with. Many of his fragrances have a creosote note in them, which I recognized because I live in the desert and creosote bushes give off the smell before rain. Great for a preview of rain, not great for fragrance. But this one doesn’t have that creosote base. It is a perfect summer splash for hot summers. The blending is lovely, I get lime peel and then the herbaceous, cooling, dry (but not scratchy), refreshing scent. Not long lasting on me, but priced well enough to refresh during the day, which I like doing. Perfect if you work closely with people, it’s no sillage monster, or even aggressive. Lovely.

Speaking of pricing, Cologne du Maghreb costs $85 or €56 for a 50 ml bottle. As for availability, this is technically not a limited-issue fragrance. According to Hypoluxe, vendors will simply stock less of the cologne in winter, but it seems that its release this summer is largely aimed at the American market. As a side note, Cologne du Maghreb is the exact same formula as the original scent issued back in 2011.

Finally, Mr. Tauer has apparently decided to release a new cologne every summer, and the packaging will change as well. This year, Cologne du Maghreb came out in its original bottle which was a rectangular glass flacon, but the upcoming 2015 cologne (a woody vetiver scent) will be in the traditional Tauer pentagonal bottle. Cologne du Maghreb will change over to that packaging, too, next year. So, if you’re reading this review in a year from now and worry that Cologne du Maghreb may have been reformulated due to the differences in bottle, you have no cause for concern. It will be the same scent.

All in all, if you are looking for a refreshing fragrance for the summer that is more than mere citrus, give Cologne du Maghreb a sniff.

Disclosure: Perfume courtesy of Hypoluxe, the U.S. distributor for Tauer Perfumes. That did not influence this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Cologne du Maghreb only comes in 50 ml bottle and costs $85 or €56. At the time of this post, it is not available on the Tauer website. In the U.S.: Cologne du Maghreb is available at LuckyscentMinNY, Twisted Lily, The Perfume Shoppe, Tiger Lily in San Francisco, Cleveland’s Indigo Perfumery, and Portland’s Perfume HouseOutside the U.S.: In Canada, you can find Cologne du Maghreb at Indiescents, and The Perfume Shoppe. In Europe, it is available at First in Fragrance and Essenza Nobile. Both ship worldwide. In the U.K., Scent & Sensibility is the exclusive retailer for Tauer Perfumes, but they do not have Cologne du Maghreb on their website and I don’t know if they will be getting it in the future. Samples: Most of the sites listed above offer samples for sale. You can also try The Perfumed Court which sells Cologne du Maghreb starting at $4.96 for a 1 ml vial.

Tauer Perfumes Eau d’Epices

An ode to orange blossom, done the Tauer way: dusted with spices, smoked with frankincense, turned black and rubbery with elevated indoles, sweetened with candy, and infused with amber. That’s Eau d’Epices (sometimes called L’Eau d’Epices or No. 12 – L’Eau d’Épices) an eau de parfum from Tauer Perfumes.

Photo: Hypoluxe.

Photo: Hypoluxe.

Eau d’Epices was originally released in 2010 and has just been re-released. I’ve sought specific clarification on the timeline of events, and whether the sample I received was from a new batch or formula. I’ve been repeatedly assured that it is not. According to Hypoluxe, Tauer’s American distributor, Andy Tauer created one batch of Eau d’Epices in 2010 which sold out by 2012. He held off on creating more to see how customers responded to the scent, and only recently decided to create more. So, again, the formula is said to be identical, and there should be no question of batch variations.

Orange Blossom. Photo: GardenPictures via Zuoda.net

Orange Blossom. Photo: GardenPictures via Zuoda.net

The press release for Eau d’Epices describes the perfume as follows:

One of Tauer’s favorite naturals, orange blossoms absolute, plays a central role in this scent that is unique and original. Natural oils from spices orchestrate an opening that is vibrant, and warm. Red mandarin softens the spices and prepare for the orange blossoms that bloom in l’eau d’épices together with another white flower: Jasmin.  Frankincense essential oil leads over to a classical Tauer base chord featuring ambergris, tonka, hints of vetiver and the woody warm perfume of cistus ladaniferus resin, resembling a walk in a pineta.

HEAD NOTES
An Indian basket of spices with cinnamon, cardamom, clove and corriander with red mandarines.
HEART NOTES
An opulent heart of orange blossom, jasmine, orris root and incense.
BODY NOTES
A woody cistus ladaniferus resin, softened with ambergris, tonka beans and vetiver.

I tested Eau d’Epices twice, using different quantities and experienced two very different opening phases. The perfume eventually ended up in the same place, but the focal point was quite different in each test, especially in the beginning.

VERSION ONE:

Smarties. Source: imgarcade.com

Smarties. Source: imgarcade.com

The first time, I used 2 small sprays from my atomizer, and the dominant aroma on my skin was candy sweets. Specifically, Sweet Tarts (or SweeTarts) and Smarties, with a touch of the exploding, fizzy Pop Rocks. All the candies have a very sweet aroma that is powdered. Here, however, the Sweet Tarts of Eau d’Epices’ start was also accompanied by a brief lemony touch from the coriander and a hint of red fruits (more like berries). Hot on their heels was jasmine, sticky orange, flickers of vetiver, a whisper of orange blossom, and dark spices, all on an amber base.

SweeTarts candies via Wikipedia.

SweeTarts candies via Wikipedia.

The jasmine’s initial burst quickly receded, leaving a bouquet that was almost entirely Sweet Tarts with orange sherbet that had been dusted with cinnamon. There were tiny pinches of cardamom and cloves, but the cinnamon ruled them both on my skin. The orange blossom never really showed up as a floral note the way one normally encounters it, and the frankincense was barely perceptible. The whole thing was extremely sweet, but also playful and whimsical in a fun way.

Source: itsybitsyfoodies.com

Source: itsybitsyfoodies.com

For the first hour, the cinnamon orange sherbet and powdered Sweet Tarts ruled almost unimpeded by the other notes. Then, the spice bouquet became stronger, with the clove slowly creeping to the foreground. Much more significant was the vetiver which, on my skin, often manifests a minty freshness. It did so here with Eau d’Epices, too. As the vetiver swirled into the syrupy sweetness of the fruity sherbet, it felt almost candied in a way that was quite enjoyable.

About 2.5 hours in, Eau d’Epices starts to shift more dramatically. My skin often amplified or clings onto vetiver, and Eau d’Epices was no exception. The vetiver begins to take over the dominant position, trailed by the spice-dusted orange sherbet, the candied notes and the amber. The candy feels almost more like Cinnamon Red Hots now, instead of Sweet Tarts but there is still a powdered quality to the note. (It’s undoubtedly from the orris.) Slowly, slowly, the amber rises to the surface, and Eau d’Epices begins to turn into a scent that is labdanum amber with minty vetiver. The perfume feels simultaneously resinous, candied, sweet, and dusted with spices.

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

At the start of the 5th hour, Eau d’Epices is a highly blended scent that is largely dominated by the “Tauerade” signature base. That particular accord is quite identifiable, as it always features a darkly resinous amber which is simultaneously somewhat woody, sharp, smoky, and sweet.

Here, it is infused with vetiver and cinnamon candies. Again, my skin has a tendency to bring out vetiver to an unusual degree, and to cling onto it like mad, especially if it is Haitian vetiver with its minty undertones. You may not necessarily experience the same thing. At Eau d’Epices’ edges are lingering whispers of orange sherbet, but they fade away entirely as the hours pass. By the end of the 7th hour, Eau d’Epices is a whisper of resinous Tauerade with vetiver and a light sprinkling of tonka powder. In its final moments, the perfume is merely a blur of Tauerade amber.

All in all, Eau d’Epices lasted just short of 10.75 hours on me during the first test with 2 small sprays from my atomizer. The perfume was always incredibly concentrated in feel and potent, especially up close. Eau d’Epices only turned into a skin scent on me at the start of the 4th hour, but it was still easily detectable without much effort until the 8th hour.

VERSION TWO:

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

The second time I tested Eau d’Epices, I applied 4 sprays from my atomizer, amounting to 2 proper sprays from an actual bottle. The result was something that I think was much more true to what Eau d’Epices is meant to be, as it was a scent that was fully dominated by orange blossoms.

My second test of Eau d’Epices opened with orange blossoms and orange, followed by sticky resins, loads of cinnamon, sweetened powder, and hints of both cloves and lemony coriander. The perfume again smelled of Sweet Tarts and candy, but the orange blossom was only inches away this time and soon took over completely. It was very sharp, fresh, and indolic with a blackened heart of sticky resins and smoky leather. Frankincense swirled all around, and it too had a sharp bite that contrasted quite deeply with the candied feel.

This version of Eau d’Epices was powerfully indolic. Indoles are put out by white flowers like orange blossom as a signal to bees and, in their most undiluted form, can smell either rubbery, mentholated, fecal, a little urinous, plasticky, or like mothballs. Here, with Eau d’Epices, the indoles smell exactly like mothballs — something I’ve only experienced once before with a scent that used a lot of absolutes and that barely diluted the indolic element. At the same time, there is a very mentholated tonality to Eau d’Epices that almost fizzes. Something about the perfume’s opening feels as if actual menthol was used in the way that it was with YSL‘s vintage Champagne (Yvresse), though the fizziness here tickles the nose far more than in that fruity floriental.

Source: Forwallpaper.com

Source: Forwallpaper.com

Eau d’Epices shifts after 5 minutes. Hints of jasmine appear, weaving throughout the top notes and adding even more sweetness to the bouquet. The cloves and cinnamon grow stronger, while the coriander and cardamom retreat to the sidelines. As a whole, the spices feel much less dominant in this version of Eau d’Epices, while the florals and frankincense are significantly more powerful. The impression of orange sherbet and Sweet Tarts is significantly less prominent this time around, as well.

Photo: Huffington post

Photo: Huffington post

As a whole, Eau d’Epices is a very sharp, smoky, blackened, candied and syrupy floral bouquet dominated by orange blossom. It is thoroughly infused by mothball-like indoles on the top, with smoky, rubbery, almost leathered, smoky nuances underneath. The smokiness is further amplified by the sharp frankincense, and then the whole thing is dusted with cloves and cinnamon. It’s a powerful, massive bouquet that initially projects 5-6 inches with the 4 atomizer sprays.

Eau d’Epices changes over the next few hours, but only incrementally. The vetiver becomes prominent at the end of the first hour, weaving its way throughout the orange blossom. The latter is so rich, it feels almost boozy at times. At the start of the second hour, Eau d’Epices turns noticeably warmer and deeper, as the amber slowly begins to rise from the base. The flowers lose that menthol fizziness, though much of their indolic blackness remains. As a whole, Eau d’Epices is more powerfully floral, with only a little sweet sherbet; the spices seem stronger; and the perfume feels more golden in hue.

By the end of the 4th hour, Eau d’Epices is a bouquet of vetiver and indolic, mentholated orange blossom, followed by sharp incense, sweet jasmine, hints of sweetened candy powder, and cinnamon over a sticky, woody amber base. The perfume feels sharp and rough, but also soft, and it hovers an inch above the skin.

Eau d’Epices’ core bouquet remains unchanged for hours and hours, shifting only in the prominence and order of its notes. The jasmine retreats to the sidelines; the spices turn nebulous and abstract; the frankincense feels stronger; and the vetiver takes over center stage with the orange blossom. The sharp, woody, smoky, Tauerade ambered base looks on from the wings, but it joins the two leading players at the end of the 8th hour. Eau d’Epices turns into a simple triptych of orange blossom, vetiver, and Tauerade.

Photo by Jianwei Yang, I think. Source: bhwords.com

Photo by Jianwei Yang, I think. Source: bhwords.com

It remains that way for hours, merely growing more nebulous and abstract, until it fades away entirely in a blur of woody-smoked-amber lightly flecked with vetiver. All in all, Eau d’Epices lasted 14.5 hours with the equivalent of 2 proper sprays from a bottle. As a side note, that quantity of Eau d’Epices created a bouquet that was so concentrated and strong, it was almost too much so for me — and I love potent scents. So you may want to go easy on the application.

ALL IN ALL:

I’ve read in a few places that Eau d’Epices is supposed to be a “love it/hate it” scent, but I don’t feel either emotion. I don’t like it, but I certainly don’t hate it. I simply got tired of Eau d’Epices’ indolic bombast and overall untrammelled intensity. I blame my own skin for much of that, as it always amplifies base notes. (It also seems to take vetiver to ridiculous extremes.)

Photo: My own.

Photo: My own.

For the most part, though, Eau d’Epices simply perplexes me. It’s really not what I expected. Given the name and the description of the notes, I had expected “a spice basket,” but ended up instead with Sweet Tarts and orange sherbet, or with mothball orange blossoms, sharp incense and minty vetiver. I really dislike the mothball aspect of the indoles, and that turned out to be my greatest issue, along with Eau d’Epices’ overall sharpness. Even the Tauerade base to both versions felt too sharp and raw for me, unlike that which I’ve experienced in other Tauer orientals. Jeffrey Dame of Hypoluxe tried to tell me that the sample I received had been freshly prepared 30 days ago, so the perfume may not have settled and continued to be very fresh. Perhaps.

On Fragrantica, reviews are mixed for Eau d’Epices. I was interested to read the most recent review from just a few days ago which says that the perfume smells “rough”:

Amouage Reflection Man meets Mrs. Dash. I’d say it’s a match made in Heaven, but it smells rough.

Mark Rothko, "Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red)," 1949.

Mark Rothko, “Untitled (Violet, Black, Orange, Yellow on White and Red),” 1949.

I have to agree, but another chap wrote a veritable paean to Eau d’Epices just a week before with which I also agree to some extent:

One of the most-brilliant compositions I have ever smelt! Definitely orange-blossom dominates (with a hint of tuberose?), but it is bent and molded into something quite-different and unexpected with an overlay of spices (Ceylon cinnamon is, to my nose, strongest, followed by cloves, and then coriander seed), while the lower, “wood-like” facets of the flower’s essential oil are entwined like loving roots into vetiver and frankincense- it is hard to find where orange-blossom begins and ends, it is that well-married… I also sense a hint of linden-blossom bonding quite well with the “green-grassiness” of vetiver, expanding, diluting the sweet nature of the white-floral heart.

The effect is striking, with a definite character of its own. It reminds me a little of ‘Poeme’, but is not so “round and soft”: there is a “masculine”, assertive edge to Eau d’Epices- despite it’s strong floral character- which makes it, in my opinion, fairly unisex… and, also, quite oriental. Anyone with a modest attar-collection would probably not be shocked so much by this fragrance, but I can see many women of mainstream-western taste being put off by the rich, resin-backed spiciness, and just as many men being put off by the bold use of a sweet white floral. It toys with gender. It is not a crowd-pleaser by any means; it retains its unapologetic integrity throughout its long evaporation, and could be a strong, unmistakeable signature for a self-assured person.

I think he’s right a lot of points, even if we feel differently about the overall effect. The orange blossom is indeed well-married and thoroughly blended into all the other notes, and Eau d’Epices is an unapologetically dark, spicy, very unisex blend that may appeal to those who love very concentrated fragrances.

For one woman on Fragrantica, the dark, resinous base was not the problem so much as the spices:

It sprayed on with promise, a number of sharp notes appeared initially and then it dried down to a yoga studio/head shop type scent on my skin. From there eau d’epices developed into a really cloying mix of overly sweet spices. I ultimately had to scrub it and spend some time outside in a cool breeze to clear my nose.

Photo: David Hare via open.za

Photo: David Hare via open.za

For The Non-Blonde, however, the spices in Eau d’Epices created a scent that was “gorgeous.” Her 2010 review begins by noting how there is no cumin in the scent, then states:

Now that we established that Eau d’Epices is not Tauer’s answer to Arabie and its back alleys of the Souk, let’s talk about what it is (other than gorgeous). This is a classic Tauer in the sense of offering the familiar Tauerade accord in the dry-down: a balsamic cistus, ambergris and a dry woody thing in the background, but the potent potion is less assertive at first and gives a lot of breathing room both to the spicy opening and to the incredibly sensual floral heart. Eau d”epices is breathtakingly complex and requires a lot of attention the first few times you smell it. The fragrance takes you on an exotic journey and fills your mind with all kinds of Arabian Nights imagery[….][¶]

The thing is that once you make friends with this colorful vision, Eau d’Epice becomes warm easy to wear. Yes, one must love incense and spice, not to mention the Tauer accord, but if you do, this masterfully crafted and blended perfume  is a must-try for both men and women.

To that list of requirements, I would also add “very indolic white florals.” Yes, you have to love both the Tauerade signature base and a lot of spices, but the core of Eau d’Epices is the orange blossom absolute — in all of its manifestations. And that includes indoles. Even if you don’t experience the mothball note, you are likely to face one (or more) of its other characteristics.

So, give Eau d’Epices a try if you love orange blossoms, spices, incense, and dark resinous Orientals.

Disclosure: Perfume courtesy of Hypoluxe, the U.S. distributor for Tauer Perfumes. That did not influence this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Eau d’Epices is an eau de parfum that only comes in 50 ml bottle and costs $135, £92, or around €105. At the time of this post, the Tauer website is currently under maintenance or updating for a week, so I can’t link you to his e-store. In the U.S.: Eau d’Epices is available for pre-order with April shipping from Luckyscent. At MinNY, the perfume should be in stock by 3/31, so the website listing will probably change soon from the current “special order” status. Another option is Portland’s The Perfume House which already has Eau d’Epices in stock. Outside the U.S.: The new Canadian carrier for Tauer Perfumes is Indiescents, though Eau d’Epices is not yet listed on their website. That should change at the beginning of April. For most of Europe, you can purchase Tauer fragrances directly from the company, along with samples, Discovery sets and the 15 ml 3-piece mini collection, but the website is down right now. Elsewhere, Essenza Nobile and First in Fragrance currently have Eau d’Epices for €105, though bottles are probably from the original release. In the U.K., Scent & Sensibility is the exclusive retailer for Tauer Perfumes, and offers Eau d’Epices for pre-order at £92 with delivery to follow at  the end of April. Samples: Surrender to Chance had Eau d’Epices starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial, but a reader told me that they are sold out of their old bottle at this time.

Tableau de Parfums/Andy Tauer Ingrid: Antique Florals

Ingrid is a fragrance from Tableau de Parfums, the collaboration between the Swiss perfumer, Andy Tauer, and the American, Memphis-based, indie filmmaker, Brian Pera (who is also a perfume blogger at I Smell Therefore I Am).

Women's Picture. Source: Fragrantica.

Women’s Picture. Source: Fragrantica.

There are three Tableau fragrances (Miriam, Loretta, and Ingrid) and, as the Tableau Parfums website at Evelyn Avenue explains, each one is an olfactory representation of a particular female character in Brian Pera’s film series, Woman’s Picture. According to the website, “Woman’s Picture is an anthology film inspired by classic women’s films of the thirties, forties, and fifties. The story is divided into three sections, each of which presents a portrait of a specific female character.” I’d previously reviewed the tuberose Loretta, but couldn’t wait to try Ingrid given its oriental notes.

Source: Fragrantica

Source: Fragrantica

Ingrid was released late in 2013, and is an eau de parfum in concentration. Tableau de Parfums describes the scent as follows:

A fragrant floral gem in an elegant oriental casket, Ingrid is a rich woody floral inspired by classical scents of the fifties, full of contrasts. Draperies of citrus and spices open the stage for sensual frangipani and roses, with hints of lily of the valley adding softness to the flower heart. These rich feminine notes are anchored by a chord of precious woods and resins in the base. Vanilla, tolu and sandalwood add an exotic twist, and underline with the contrasting lines of dark cistus and smoky balsamic styrax the feminine melody. […]

Andy Tauer on Ingrid: “Ingrid is unique, a strong character, yet soft and feminine. She is a beautiful woman, who developed her style, found herself, she is present and demanding, with a past full of questions, unanswered. Her flower is frangipani. I have no doubt.”

Fragrantica and Luckyscent say the notes are:

Bergamot, orange, lemon, cinnamon, clove, Frangipani [or Plumeria], rose, lily of the valley [Muguet], sandalwood, tolu [balsam], cistus, vanilla, styrax

Source: apartmenttherapy.com

Source: apartmenttherapy.com

Ingrid opens on my skin with lily of the valley and dust, followed by an oddly stale, sharp, leathered, sweetness that smells like styrax resin that has gone a bit off or turned rancid. Seconds later, there is ISO E Super, more dust, a vanillic sweetness, and powdered rose. The lily of the valley tries to add some freshness but it is such a delicate aroma and cannot counter the other elements. My overall sense is of extremely musty, fusty, sweet dust with an odd edge. It’s hard to describe but, to me, it smells like the stale air in a dusty attic that hasn’t been opened in decades. The ISO E Super is a light touch, and isn’t responsible for any of this at all.

Yet, at the same time, there is an undercurrent that is sickly sweet. I suspect the latter stems from the frangipani or plumeria, a flower whose scent I find sickly and quite difficult in general unless it’s handled very lightly. Here, the plumeria isn’t individually distinct in Ingrid’s opening moments, but I’m pretty sure it’s responsible for that particular, nauseating, cloying touch. It injects its syrup from a distance into the faintly leathered, “off” dark notes and the arid dust, creating a combination that I find quite discordant and just plain odd.

Source: wallpaper.metalship.org

Source: wallpaper.metalship.org

Other elements are smoothly blended into the background. There are flickers of cloves with a touch of cinnamon. Much more pronounced is the old-fashioned floral soapiness that dances all around. A soft touch of sweetened citruses lurks in the shadows, alongside the rose. The primary bouquet, however, is of ancient, antique dust with lily of the valley, followed by a touch of fusty greenness and soapiness, all nestled within the strong embrace of stale, somewhat rancid, dark sweetness.

I’m finding it incredibly hard to convey precisely because I can’t explain why I’m smelling what I am, or the extent of the strange combination. It’s akin to the fustiest of mineralised oakmoss, infused with styrax resin gone rancid, cloying sweetness, prickly aromachemicals, vanilla, flowers that feel dried and pressed in an ancient book, soap, and some strange dark element, all doused with the dust of ages.

There is an oldness to the aroma that reminds me of an old lady’s clothes in a closet that she hasn’t opened in years, but the dusty fabrics still carry the lingering traces of her floral perfume and the soap on her skin. I almost never find fragrances to be “old lady,” and it is a pejorative term that I find offensive, but if ever I were to use it, it would be for Ingrid. Most people give that label to heavy orientals or powdery scents, like Shalimar or L’Heure Bleue. I’ve never agreed with that and if I’m using the term here, it’s for a very different reason: the fetid dustiness of accumulated years. I’ve tried Ingrid twice, and with different quantities each time, but on both occasions, I had enormous difficulty with the opening because of that one reason.

The famous, recently discovered Paris apartment, untouched and unopened for 70 years. Source: DailyMail.com http://tinyurl.com/cweo355

The famous, recently discovered Paris apartment, untouched and unopened for 70 years. Source: DailyMail.com http://tinyurl.com/cweo355

Twenty-five minutes in, Ingrid starts to change. The stale, sharp mustiness ceases to be the leading note, though it is still substantial and enormous. It now shares center stage with the soapiness and florals. The frangipani or plumeria makes its first appearance in a distinct way; the orange grows a whiff more noticeable; and the sweetened powder becomes more dominant. Then, the cloves rise up from the base, and… oh boy. I love cloves, passionately, but the note here takes on a medicinal undertone that strongly reminds me of American, clove-based, dentistry analgesics. At the same time, it’s pungent and, yes, dusty. In fact, it merely compounds Ingrid’s overall odd staleness, creating an aura of fusty antiques, florals with old-fashioned soap, strange sweetness, and spice.

Woman's dusty, antique dressing table and perfumes from the Paris time-capsule apartment. Source: Daily Mail.

Woman’s dusty, antique dressing table and perfumes from the Paris time-capsule apartment. Source: Daily Mail.

Ingrid finally softens about 45 minutes in, and the sillage drops. From a moderately strong opening, it now hovers two inches above the skin as a blur of powdered, sweet florals with medicinal, pungent cloves and a strong dash of vanilla powder over a slightly warm base. Nothing in the latter translates to my nose as richly ambered or darkly resinous. This is not the labdanum of Dior’s Mitzah or Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan. It’s not the smoky, leathered styrax resin that I’ve encountered in other perfumes either. In fact, Ingrid’s colour visuals would be powdered pastels with ribbons of brownness from the cloves, and greyness from the dust.

To my relief, the fusty staleness slowly diffuses and weakens, making Ingrid a touch easier to bear. At the 90-minute mark, Ingrid merely smells like old-fashioned, 1930s-style, feminine, powdered florals, instead of being dominated by dust from that same era. The perfume remains largely the same for several more hours to come, though the plumeria or frangipani takes the lead as the main flower, followed by the rose. The always subtle muguet has faded away completely, while the soapiness retreats to the sidelines. However, the cloves continue to blast away, though, thankfully, they’ve lost their medicinal undertone. Lurking all about is an amorphous, indistinct, dry woodiness that has the tiniest hint of something smoky about it. It’s hard to detect though, given the sweetened powder that now infuses Ingrid from top to bottom.

Plumeria or frangipani.

Plumeria or frangipani.

Ingrid’s notes slowly grow hazy and abstract, with only the plumeria and cloves really standing out. If you smell really hard and up close, the rose pops up once in a while in the background to add a very muted, muffled hint of Damask-like richness, but it’s usually indistinct on my skin. The plumeria feels unctuous, while the cloves now remind me of a Christmas baked ham. And the sweetened, vanillic powder infused them both. Yet, even those notes become blurry and nebulous around the end of the 4th hour. Soon, Ingrid turns into a soft, generalized, vaguely frangipani-like, floral powder with vanillic sweetness and cloves.

What is interesting, however, is the base which turns increasingly warm and ambered. It’s a largely abstract amber, to my nose. It doesn’t feel distinct or individual enough to separate out into labdanum amber at all, but just feels like a warm, spiced, slightly leathered, dry goldenness. Call me crazy, but the Tauerade signature seems to take on some Caronade similarities. Or perhaps the cloves in Ingrid are so dominant that, in conjunction with the growing amber, it makes parts of Ingrid resemble Caron‘s clove-based Poivre in its foundational elements. The big difference here is the plumeria with its nauseatingly sickly sweetness.

By the end of the 7th hour, Ingrid turns into a sweetened, powdery, floral oriental with plumeria nestled in a spiced ambered nest. It’s also a skin scent at this point. Oddly, the ISO E Super suddenly becomes much stronger, adding a prickly, peppered, jangling bit of dryness to the base, though it’s not enough to cut through the plumeria’s syrup. The cloves fold into the Tauer base which is actually quite nice, and well-balanced between the dry and warm elements. As a whole, though, the perfume is largely a nebulous blur of powdered, very sweet florals atop a warm base with some dryness and abstract spiciness. Ingrid remains largely unchanged until its end when, 11.25 hours from the start, it fades away as a blur of warm sweetness.

Skin chemistry is a funny thing, and I blame my own for whatever vagaries occurred with the dust, and the “off,” almost rancid, dark-sweet accord. I also need to repeat what regular readers know all too well: I don’t like scents that are either powdered florals, sweetened powder, or soapy. Having all five things together — at the same time — made Ingrid extremely difficult for me. I tried to like it, I really did, but my skin simply wouldn’t comply. The first time I wore it, with just a small amount, I came within inches of scrubbing it off after only 20 minutes, and it takes a lot for me to get to that level. To my surprise, the ISO E Super was very powerful at the lower dosage, but that wasn’t the problem at all. The difficulty was the dryness and fustiness which, in the opening 25 minutes, is excessive on my skin, regardless of the quantity used.

1930s Vancouver street photo by Foncie Pulice. Source:  chronicallyvintage.com (Link to website with a series of super cool 1930s street photos embedded within. Click on photo.)

1930s Vancouver street photo by Foncie Pulice. Source: chronicallyvintage.com (Link to website with a series of super cool 1930s street photos embedded within. Click on photo.)

In fact, the dry dustiness I experienced with Ingrid far surpassed anything in L’Air du Desert Marocain. Relatively speaking, that fragrance almost verges on the gourmand in comparison to Ingrid’s start on my skin. Plus, LDDM was never fusty or dated in feel. While Ingrid eventually loses its arid mustiness, it is simply replaced by old-fashioned floral powder and dusty cloves in a way that simply doesn’t work for my personal tastes. I kept imagining a woman from the 1930s or 1940s: older, relatively well-dressed, somewhat matronly in sensible clothing, and who had worn the same comfortingly powdered, floral scent since she was a young bride.

Others, however, seem to really like Ingrid, and had completely different perceptions or associations. The review on the blog, I Scent You A Day, reads, in part:

Ingrid is earthy and reminds me of birch or tar or dried bracken. There is winter spice too, but not in a chintzy Christmas way, you’ll be relieved to know. The Rose is prevalent, and as with other Tauer scents, no Rose is the same twice.  In this case, the Rose reminds me of dried petals in a pot pourri- they have gone paper thin and their colour has faded but their scent has gone faintly peppery. Nevertheless it can still be recognised as Rose.

Ingrid is rich and spicy, but dry rather than sweet. It left me thinking I could smell the deep dark scent of Myrrh, but it may have been the resinous Styrax which is used so beautifully.

On my skin, the base notes of Ingrid are Clove, dried Roses, Resin and Frangipani. It’s rich, dark and mysterious yet the ingredients have been used lightly enough not to overwhelm.

If further proof were ever needed for how skin chemistry makes everything different from person to person, consider the experience of WAFT… What a Fragrance Fanatic Thinks:

Andy Tauer has created a fragrance that is all  at once foody , pillowy , warm , comforting – in a word delicious . Ingrid just fits my mood and makes me want glue my nose to my wrist . Ingrid never frowns , never argues nor challenges .
This fragrance flows from sunshine and tart nectar and I loved it at first whiff . The frangipani note is so perfect…It lasts a good six hours on skin ( probably longer if you don’t cook or wash dishes – I do .) Ingrid reminds me of a fluffy whipped cream and rice confection called Glorified Rice , which has bits of tart mandarin slices in it .
If I had any complaint it would be the early drydown of Ingrid falls a little flat , but eventually smooths out .

On Fragrantica, there is only one review for Ingrid thus far:

The Cloves and Frangipani make this a great choice for Autumn and Winter. I didn’t get any Lily of The Valley: to me this is dark and full of shadows and mystery.

Ingrid wasn’t my cup of tea, but we’re all different and have different tastes, not to mention different skin chemistry. So, if Ingrid’s notes sound appealing to you, and if you enjoy either frangipani or some of Andy Tauer’s drier fragrances, then give her a sniff. 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Ingrid is an eau de parfum that comes in a 50 ml/1.7 oz bottle that costs $160 or €135, and which comes with a free DVD and movie poster. Ingrid is also available in a small 7 ml travel spray that costs $40. In the U.S.: you can buy Ingrid in all sizes directly from Tableau de Parfums, along with Luckyscent. Tableau de Parfums only ships domestically. I’ve read that the line is also sold at Portland’s The Perfume House, but it is not listed on their website. Outside the U.S.: In Europe, you can find Ingrid at Germany’s First in Fragrance which sells the perfume for €135.00 and the travel size for €39. It too carries samples. In the UK, Scent & Sensibility carries Tableau de Parfums, and sells Ingrid for £110, with the purse spray for £25. In Italy, you can find the Tableau de Parfums line at Milan’s Profumi Import, but I’m not clear about price or if they have an e-store. Tableau de Parfums fragrances are also sold at a handful of other locations in Europe, from Marie-Antoinette in Paris, to Switzerland and Lithuania. You can find that information on the company’s websiteSamples: You can get a sample of Ingrid from Luckyscent for $4 for a 0.7 ml vial, or The Perfumed Court, where prices start at $6.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. Loretta is not sold at Surrender to Chance.

2013 in Review: Best of & Favorites Lists

Source: ronienfoque.com.br

Source: ronienfoque.com.br

The end of the year is almost upon us, so it seems like a good time for a “Year in Review” post with a list of favorites. I can’t say it has been easy for a variety of reasons. For one thing, I always struggle with lists, both in terms of placement and selecting the thing which will take that last spot. For another, I think I may be a little fickle in terms of my favorites, as perfumery can be as much about mood as other subjective factors.

In the case of fragrances that debuted in 2013, it’s been even harder. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed by the vast majority of the new releases that I tested, and the ones I did enjoy wouldn’t amount to a full ten in number. I’m not going to put something on a list simply and solely to round out the numbers, especially if I was underwhelmed with the scent in question or thought it had some serious problems. Take, for example, Tom Ford‘s Shanghai Lily from the Atelier d’Orient line. It is a scent that I liked the most out of Tom Ford’s various new collections this year, but that is a relative thing, not an absolute thing. Just because I liked it more than the rest of the 2013 Tom Fords doesn’t mean I would classify the scent as one of the best of the year. I certainly wouldn’t include Plum Japonais which I found to be a badly done, distorted copy of my beloved Fille en Aiguilles from Serge Lutens.

Mohur pure parfum extrait. Source: Fragrantica.

Mohur pure parfum extrait. Source: Fragrantica.

Another problem is that I’m not sure I should include one scent that was supposed to be released this year, and which I adored when I got to test it, but whose release was subsequently pushed back until Spring 2014. It is Neela Vermeire‘s Mohur Extrait, the formerly named Mohur Esprit. It would definitely be in my list of top 2013 favorites, and I considered saving it for the Best of 2014. In the end, I’ve cheated by including it here for 2013 with an asterisk next to its name.

In reality, my absolute favorite fragrances came from a wide range of years, but since this is the first year of the blog, everything was technically “new” for the purposes of my reviews. So, I’m going to do two lists or, to be more technically accurate, 2.5 lists: my top fragrances released in 2013, even if the number falls short of ten; then my personal top 10 of the perfumes I covered in 2013, followed by the next 15 for an overall top 25 favorites.

TOP NEW RELEASES OF 2013:

  1. Photo: Oleksiy Maksymenko. Source: FineArtAmerica. (Website link embedded within photo.)

    Photo: Oleksiy Maksymenko. Source: FineArtAmerica. (Website link embedded within photo.)

    LM Parfums Hard Leather. Lust in the woods. A scent that, despite the “leather” in its name, is really more about dark woods, oud, incense, and sandalwood, than it is about leather. That said, the stunning, lusty leather and animalic musk give Hard Leather the best opening of a fragrance that I’ve tried in years. Pure, utter sex appeal, and lust. Sex in a bottle. An opening that sweeps me off my feet each time I smell it, and a gorgeous drydown as well. The middle stage isn’t particularly my cup of tea, but if one takes the scent as a whole and judges things on the basis of how intensely one wants a full bottle, then Hard Leather has to come in at first place. That said, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. For one thing, I think Hard Leather skews very masculine in nature, and even some men may find it excessively dry, dark, or animalic, but I loved it and it is my favorite new fragrance of 2013.

  2. Dress: Rami Kadi Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2013. Source: FlipZone and Tweets.seraph.me

    Dress: Rami Kadi Haute Couture 2013. Source: FlipZone.

    Neela Vermeire Mohur Extrait**  I like the regular Mohur eau de parfum, but Mohur Extrait is profoundly stronger, deeper, and richer. It has a va-va-voom oomph that transforms the pale, quiet, restrained, sometimes excessively delicate rose Mohur into Cinderella at the ball. A Cinderella with a diva’s charisma, and wearing the most opulent ball gown and jewels around. Mohur Extrait is a deep, rich, potent blend of roses, with real Mysore sandalwood, iris, and violets. There is a touch of leather, smoky elemi, and pepper to prevent it from being too dainty or femme, and the whole thing sits on an ambered base that is faintly milky but always infused with that beautiful, rich, creamy Mysore sandalwood. Mohur Extrait is simply beautiful, and a head-turner.  **I’m cheating, as Mohur Extrait’s release has been pushed back until 2014, but dammit, it debuted at the Milan Esxence show, so I’m going to include it in my list of 2013 releases.

  3. Source: Philolog at Traumwerk.Stanford.eduViktoria Minya Hedonist. A stunningly golden, happy, but refined, sophisticated, lush, floral oriental, Hedonist sparkles and soothes at the same time. It opens with Bourbon-like, boozy, dark honeycombs that are infused with lush peach, heady jasmine, citrus notes and some orange blossom, all perfectly blended in a soft, golden cloud. It eventually turns into a honey, beeswax and vanilla scent that soothes you in its soft sweetness. Whenever I wear it, I feel calmer, more relaxed, like a cat stretching out in the warmth of the sun. Hedonist has a truly classique feel of haute perfumery, but it never feels dated or old-fashioned, in my opinion. It is elegant and opulent without being excessive, heady but perfectly balanced, and sparkles in a way that reminds me both of champagne and the sunniest of skies in the South of France. Truly beautiful, and a stunning debut from Viktoria Minya.
  4. Source: it.forwallpaper.com

    Source: it.forwallpaper.com

    Oriza L. Legrand Chypre Mousse. Elfish green and the floor of a fairy forest filled with the essence of nature in a delicate but strong bouquet of oakmoss, wet leaves, mushrooms, herbs, a strip of dark leather taken over by nature’s minted greens, and a touch of balsamic resins. It’s really hard to describe in many ways, as this is not a traditional chypre, and may be the most unusual, otherworldly scent I’ve encountered. Chypre Mousse stopped me in my tracks, made me turn around on my way to the mecca of Serge Lutens to buy my bell jar, and became something I had to have after a mere 15 minutes, further tests or development be damned. Chypre Mousse won’t be for everyone, but those who love it will experience an incredibly potent, extremely green fragrance that lasts an enormous amount of time for such a seemingly delicate, ethereal scent.

  5. Marion Cotillard photographed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott for French Vogue, September 2010. Source:  Glamscheck.com

    Marion Cotillard photographed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott for French Vogue, September 2010. Source: Glamscheck.com

    Amouage Fate Woman. Fate Woman is a beautiful chypre-oriental hybrid that starts off as a very restrained, cool, aloof scent that smells of citruses, oakmoss, and cool daffodils. Like shedding a sculptured black dress to reveal the sensuous lingerie underneath, Fate Woman turns warmer, more opulent, and sensuous with roses, jasmine, animalic notes, and creamy vanilla that is almost gourmand-like at times. The sensual, sophisticated heart turns warmer and more golden as the fragrance ends on labdanum amber, vanilla, and soft musk in a creamy blend that feels like cuddles after a heated night. I’m not a fan of the soapiness that appears at one point, but Fate Woman is a beautiful scent that starts off as controlled restraint before ending in warm abandon.

  6. Mary Cassat. "Mother Playing With Child."

    Mary Cassat. “Mother Playing With Child.”

    Neela Vermeire Ashoka. Ashoka is a creamy, milky fig and sandalwood fragrance with incense, peppered woods, iris, and other subtle tonalities. It has an enormously comforting vibe that feels like a mother’s warm embrace. It is not my favorite NVC creation, as it is far from my personal style which is much better suited to Neela Vermeire’s bolder, spicier creations. However, it is very well done, and an elegant fragrance that is definitely one of the top releases of the year as a whole. If any of the other NVC perfumes have felt too intense, too oriental, complicated, or fiery, then Ashoka will be for you.

  7. Source: ambafrance-kz.org

    Source: ambafrance-kz.org

    Lys Epona Lys Epona. Lys Epona is from a new French perfume house by the same name and sponsored by Jovoy Paris. It is a beautiful scent that caught my attention from the moment I sniffed it at Jovoy and, despite its sillage flaws and longevity problems, it is very well-done, extremely evocative, and has a very vintage vibe. It is also original, taking delicate white lilies, and infusing them with dark, animalic leather, and grassy, outdoorsy elements ranging from hay to daffodils, grass, and amber. The scent is supposed to replicate the dance between a courtesan and a Hussar cavalry officer in France’s elite Republican Guard. For me, however, it conjured up a Celtic princess astride a large white stallion, garbed in a softly burnished, slightly musky, brown leather cuirass, and draped with white lilies. Her skirt is made of hay, wheat and grass; her skin is coated in ambered oil; and her long hair braided with daffodils that matched the flowers in her horse’s mane. Truly, very well done, and the vintage, antique bottles from the 1930s are a perfect accompaniment to the scent.

  8. "Red Orange Rose Yellow Abstract" by LTPhotographs, Etsy Store. (Link to website embedded within, click on photo.)

    Photo: LTPhotographs, Etsy Store. (Website link embedded within.)

    Tauer Perfumes PHI – Une Rose de Kandahar. Andy Tauer’s PHI is a deep, spicy apricot-rose confection with rich vanilla mousse, dark green elements that almost feel mossy, and oriental flourishes ranging from tobacco to cinnamon and ambergris. It’s far from your usual rose scent, and I’d argue that the deep, dark flower isn’t even the main star of the show at times. PHI is a vibrant, sophisticated Oriental-hybrid with the faintest gourmand touches in a rich blend that that even those who don’t particularly like rose fragrances might enjoy.

  9. Ewan McGregor via The Daily Mail.

    Ewan McGregor via The Daily Mail.

    Parfums Retro Grand Cuir. Contradictions and paradoxes lie at the heart of Grand Cuir, which explores leather from one end of the spectrum to the other under the most civilized and sophisticated of veneers. It starts as raw leather coated with birch tar and pungent herbs before turning into the expensive, new black leather of a biker’s jacket, then burnished, softly aged leather with amber, before ending up as the most refined of creamy Italian suedes infused with amber, lavender, and skin-like musk. It’s a journey that is at once animalic and aldehydic, soapy clean, beginning as a masculine scent that is an aromatic, herbal fougère with leather, before it transforms into something very different. And the whole thing is done sotto voce, with the quiet firmness of a confident man who doesn’t believe he has to be flashy and loud to draw attention to himself. Very well done, and very refined.

MY PERSONAL TOP 10 FOR 2013:

Perfume reviewing is subjective by nature, but whittling down those personal choices into a favorites list is even more so. No-one ever agrees fully on a Top Ten list, whether it’s for movies, television shows, food, or some other category, and perfume is no different. So, I don’t expect any of you to agree with everything or even some of the things on this list, but these are my absolute favorites out of the modern, non-vintage scents available on the market and that I’ve tried this year.

I’ve struggled for hours over the placement and order, because I can be fickle and prefer some scents over others depending on mood. After re-testing a number of these, I think I have the order set, more or less, with the caveat that there may be a standard deviation of +1 or -1 for the fragrances listed. In other words, on one day, a fragrance coming in at #4 may be at #3 or #5 from one day to the next, but not really more than that. Then again, I can be a little fickle, ranking things is an utter nightmare, and who knows if this would be the precise order in two months from now? I did my best for now, however, so this is the list thus far.

  1. LM Parfums Hard Leather. As noted in my description above, I think this is sexy as hell. I’ll spare you additional heated descriptions, as I quite lose my cool whenever it comes to this fragrance.
  2. Source: high-definition-wallpapers.info

    Source: high-definition-wallpapers.info

    Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles. At first sniff, Fille en Aiguilles is Christmas in a bottle, from the pine tree before the fire to sugar-plum treats. Look closer, though, and you’ll find Fille en Aiguilles is really all about the frankincense. Spiralling swirls of dark smoke weave its way around the pine, the crushed needles on the forest floor, and the plummy fruits infused with ginger and spices. There is warmth and sweetness, despite the chill in the snowy forest outside. From start to finish, Fille en Aiguilles is my favorite scent from my favorite house. To my amusement, each and every time that I’ve taken perfume samples to share with friends, Fille en Aiguilles is consistently the one that men fall for. The last time I sprayed Fille en Aiguilles on someone, there were precisely 6 women sniffing his neck, his arms, and his chest. I practically had to fight him from grabbing my travel decant there and then for himself. Yet, Fille en Aiguilles is wholly unisex in nature; out of all the people I know who wear it, the vast majority are women.  

  3. Source: Warren Photographic at WarrenPhotographic.co.uk

    Source: Warren Photographic at WarrenPhotographic.co.uk

    Puredistance M. A masterpiece from Roja Dove, M has a citric chypre opening reminiscent of Hermès’ vintage Bel Ami that turns to a rich, smooth leather that briefly smells like the most expensive car seats. Soon, the leather is burnished by cognac, becoming soft, rich, and oiled with honeyed roses, jasmine, spices, and beeswax. At times, it feels a little like Serge LutensCuir Mauresque (see below at #11), but the leather phase doesn’t dominate the scent. In my opinion, the true essence of M is a molten, oriental labdanum amber. Simply stunning, from start to finish, and one of my favorite fragrances. I believe that M is unisex in nature, thanks to the florals and the honeyed amber drydown with cinnamon-dusted vanilla, but it will depend on one’s yardstick. Those who love pure florals, powdery scents, or gourmands will probably consider M to skew masculine. 

  4. Source: Huffington Post.

    Source: Huffington Post.

    Neela Vermeire Trayee. Someone once called Trayee a “force of nature,” in a slightly overwhelmed, stunned tone, and I think that’s quite true. The Bertrand Duchaufour creation is fiery, spicy, smoky, dusty, and woody, dominated by genuine, almost rare Mysore sandalwood in copious amounts that runs through the fragrance from top to bottom like a luscious red-gold vein. There are also two different kinds of Jasmine absolute, cardamom, cinnamon, saffron, ginger, frankincense, oud, amber, and a plethora of other notes, all superbly blended into a bouquet that is dry, dusty, spicy, sweet, and smoky. Trayee is intense, no doubt about it, but in its later development, it loses its dry, dusty, spiced smokiness, softens and turns warm with smooth, creamy sandalwood, and deep, slightly smoky amber. Trayee is a tempestuous, stormy, fiery, rich mix that I find utterly mesmerizing. If the perfume were a woman, she’d probably be the famous, legendary diva, Maria Callas, with a touch of the young Sophia Loren in all her hot-heated, Italian ways and a dash of the fierce Mistral wind. It is definitely a force of nature that evokes India in all its multi-faceted, complicated splendour.

  5. Photo: Jon Gonzo on Flickr. (Site link embedded within photo.)

    Photo: Jon Gonzo on Flickr. (Site link embedded within photo.)

    Amouage Tribute attar. Perhaps the smokiest of the smoky greats, Tribute reminds me of Darth Vader’s perfect rose, a rose thoroughly infused with darkness and smoke. It’s utterly spectacular, though the variations in batch numbers is troublesome, leading some versions to be out-of-balance and with such disproportionate smokiness that a handful of people have reported experiencing an almost ashtray-like note. Still, the version I tested was magnificent, and makes Tribute my favorite Amouage scent thus far.

  6. Source: 123rf.com photos.

    Source: 123rf.com photos.

    Chanel Coromandel (Les Exclusifs). My favorite, modern Chanel scent is Coromandel, hands down and by a landslide. It’s probably no surprise, as it is made by my favorite perfumer, the brilliant Christopher Sheldrake who normally works with Serge Lutens. Coromandel begins on an intense frankincense note before turning into a milky Chai tea dusted with white chocolate powder and infused with deep, mellow patchouli. It is my favorite sort of patchouli with its nutty, smoky, woody, spicy, ambered warmth, instead of that vile purple, fruited, syrupy, fruit-chouli. The whole mix is perhaps the most refined, addictive, creamy patchouli-incense fragrance I have encountered. If I could take a bath in Coromandel nightly, I would, because I find something endlessly soothing and indulgent about its ambered, golden warmth.

  7. Source: layoutsparks.com

    Source: layoutsparks.com

    Serge Lutens Fourreau Noir. Nothing in Fourreau Noir should make it a fragrance that I would like, as I normally despise lavender with a fiery passion. I’m actually quite phobic about the note, and the mere mention of the word makes me shudder. But there is magic in Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake’s touch, and the two wizards created the most beautiful scent imaginable. It helps that Fourreau Noir is ultimately not about the lavender at all, in my opinion, but about the incense. From the very first moment, until the fragrance’s end in a cloud of spiced, mellow, patchouli infused with amber and vanilla, the dark tendrils of black smoke weave their way around you. It also helps that the dried lavender transforms into creamy lavender ice-cream with almonds. The real gem in Fourreau Noir, however, is that incense and ambered-patchouli cocoon at the heart of the scent. It says something when a lavender-phobe can love a fragrance with a note they despise; it says more when they go out of their way to purchase an expensive bell jar of it. Which I did….  

  8. Source: materialicious.com

    Source: materialicious.com

    Téo Cabanel Alahine. A Moroccan souk filled with spices under a turquoise sky. Sumptuous, dark, red roses concentrated to their headiest essence. Golden amber as far as the eye can see with rich, dark, toffee’d caramel, labdanum amber. A powerfully start of incredibly booziness, but a finish that is pure, vintage Bal à Versailles without the skank or dirtiness. Alahine is a fiery, spicy, incredibly complex, oriental monster that may require a bit of Stockholm Syndrome to love. Spray on too much, she’ll blow out your nose, or traumatize you. Don’t give her enough time or tests, and you’ll be misled into thinking she is all booziness, Moroccan spices, and smoke. It seems to require four tests to understand Alahine, and not be overpowered by her intense, smoldering start. It can take time to see that her real nature is the most sophisticated of slinky black dresses, cut low and deep, with a va-va-voom glamour that is opulent, French classicism at its best. Yet, Alahine ends as a really plush, soft, golden, slightly powdered warmth that is as rich as a cashmere, camel overcoat. Don’t let the roses fool you; Alahine is unisex, and I know a number of very masculine men who love its boozy, spiced fieriness deeply.

  9. Source: e-boolean.org

    Source: e-boolean.org

    Dior Mitzah (La Collection Privée). A start of dark incense that belongs in a Chinese temple, followed by an ode to labdanum amber in all its richness. Labdanum is the true form of amber, and Mitzah highlights all of its facets from honeyed, toffee’d, slightly dirty, occasionally leathery, and deeply warm in an incredibly refined blend that is also infused with smoke, roses, and patchouli. It’s a wave of richness that made Mitzah much loved, and I find it utterly baffling that Dior decided to discontinue one of its most popular scents. However, you can still find Mitzah online and at Dior boutiques while supplies last, so if you haven’t tried the scent and you love amber, I urge you to get a sample as soon as you can.

  10. Oriza L. Legrand Chypre Mousse. (See above. Or, better yet, read the review, as this is one scent that is very hard to describe.) 

THE NEXT 15 FOR THE LIST OF THE TOP 25.

  1. Source: hamillgallery.com

    Source: hamillgallery.com

    Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque. Cuir Mauresque is a shamefully under-appreciated fragrance, in my opinion. It’s one of my favorite leather scents, and, apparently, Serge Lutens’ own choice of perfume to wear. He and Christopher Sheldrake focus on taming animalic leather by infusing it first with clove-studded oranges and spices, then hefty amounts of heady jasmine absolute and orange blossoms. He uses powder to cut through the animalic skank and civet, keeping it perfectly balanced, while also weaving in dark incense, styrax, cedar and ambered resins. The resulting combination resembles Bal à Versailles at times, and oozes pure sex appeal, in my opinion. Cuir Mauresque is wholly unisex in nature. Some men find the leather too powdery, while some women find the skank to be a little too much. It will depend on your tastes. I’ve started using my parents — aka The Ultimate Perfume Snobs who taught me about perfumery to begin with– as my yardstick for other people’s perception of “skank” and leather. My father who finds Hard Leather to be too animalic and “dirty” has Cuir Mauresque as his second favorite leather scent after Puredistance M. In contrast, my mother (who adores Hard Leather and doesn’t find it to be “dirty” at all) thinks Cuir Mauresque is feminine sex appeal and utterly addictive. Your yardstick may vary, but if you love leather fragrances and some skank, then you really should try Cuir Mauresque.

  2. Viktoria Minya Hedonist. (See above.)
  3. "Abstract streams of gold." Photo: Jason Tockey. Site: jstimages.wordpress.com

    “Abstract streams of gold.” Photo: Jason Tockey. Site: jstimages.wordpress.com

    Profumum Roma Ambra Aurea. Profumum’s ode to goldenness focuses not on amber, but on ambergris in all its deep, rich, salty, musky glory. It’s a very different matter and aroma, as my review tries to make clear. Ambra Aurea is the thickest, most golden, opaque, intense, salty-caramel amber fragrance around, a veritable deluge of one note heightened to its most concentrated essence with 43%-46% perfume oils. It’s a linear, non-stop soliflore that coats your skin for hours on end, emitting a slight smokiness from incense. There are strong undertones of labdanum amber that are, alternatively, nutty, toffee’d, honeyed, faintly dirty, and almost chocolate-y at times. In its final stage, Ambra Aurea smells of amber and incense with beeswax, saltiness, and sweetness. Lovely on its own, and lovely when used as a layering base, Ambra Aurea is the single richest amber on the market. It blows all the others out of the water, in my opinion, especially Serge LutensAmbre Sultan which also has a labdanum focus but which is like water in comparison.  

  4. Gisele Bundchen for Vogue Turkey March 2011. Photo: the always incredible Mert & Marcus.

    Gisele Bundchen for Vogue Turkey March 2011. Photo: the always incredible Mert & Marcus.

    LM Parfums Sensual Orchid. A seductive floral oriental, Sensual Orchid is centered on the eponymous flower. On my skin, the orchid is a delicate, pastel, floral note that feels as crystal clear, clean, bright and sparkling as a bell rung at the top of the Swiss alps. It smells of lilies, peonies, hyacinth, rose, jasmine, vanilla — all wrapped into one in a cool, clean, crystal liquidity. It is followed by the richest ylang-ylang; custardy vanilla; a hint of smoky woods; bitter, green-white almonds; and boozy cognac fruitedness. The final result is incredibly narcotic, dramatic, opulent, and heady. For me, Sensual Orchid is all about dressing to undress, and to seduce. It is a scent that definitely skews feminine in nature, though I know a number of men to love it as well.

  5. George drawing via Vogue Italia.

    George drawing via Vogue Italia.

    Jardins d’Ecrivains George. Feminine orange blossoms turned masculine in an ode to George Sand. The potent flowers are transformed into something leathered, dark, and faintly dirty with tobacco, resins, and more. From a mentholated beginning with neroli, George slowly takes on paper, coffee, and tobacco notes, followed by heliotrope, myrrh and Peru Balsam in a play of hardness and softness, lightness and dark, masculine and feminine. Leathered orange blossoms is quite an original take on the usually indolic flowers, and I was taken enough by George to buy a full bottle. Some find the scent far too masculine for a woman, which rather defeats the whole point of a fragrance meant to reflect the particular character of George Sand. I think it’s unisex, though you have to like your neroli and orange blossoms with a dark, dirty edge.

  6. Source: 123rf.com

    Source: 123rf.com

    Arabian Oud Kalemat. Kalemat is a fantastically affordable, easy, rich oriental centered on a honeyed amber with tobacco, incense, and dry cedar tonalities. It opens with dark berries that smell like blueberry purée, infused with honey and incense, then a rich, deep Damascena rose joins the party. Eventually, Kalemat turns into a non-powdery, more concentrated version of Serge Lutens’ tobacco-y Chergui with touches of Hermes’ Ambre Narguilé, Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille, and, for some, Amouage’s Interlude Man. There is a subtle whiff of oud underlying the mix, along with dried cedar. Heady and potent at first, Kalemat becomes a sheer cloud that envelopes you in a golden haze of sweetness, dryness, woodiness and incense. It lasts for hours and hours, smells incredibly expensive, and is highly affordable. If you love ambers, tobacco-incense fragrances, or sweet scent like any of those mentioned above (including Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille), then you really should give Kalemat a sniff.

  7. Arabian Horse tumblr_m7dtkdCrFl1rwt5gqo1_500Amouage Jubilation XXV (Men). I love Jubilation XXV, and always regret that it has very little longevity on my wonky skin. What a beautiful opening! Dark oranges infused with incense, balsamic resins, cedar, patchouli, ambergris and a faint touch of oud in a deep, rich blend that often makes me think of HermèsElixir de Merveilles, but better. A few hours later, Jubilation XXV takes you to the wintery outdoors, with a large stone campfire amidst a dark, dry Guaiac forest, a brisk, chill in the air and the smell of burning leaves. There is a slightly medicinal, synthetic, pink band-aids undertone to the oud, but the fragrance is really well done as a whole. If Jubilation XXV lasted on my skin beyond a mere 5.5 hours, it would be ranked much higher.   
  8. Painting by Holly Anderson. "Spherical Romance Art Set" via Artbarrage.com. (Website link embedded within.)

    Painting by Holly Anderson. “Spherical Romance Art Set” via Artbarrage.com. (Website link embedded within.)

    Nasomatto Black Afgano. In essence, Black Afgano is a super-concentrated, richer, deeper version of YSL‘s fabled M7 in its original, vintage form. It’s a smoky plethora of darkness from the dark, quasi/fake “hashish” elements and cherry-cola labdanum amber with all its nutty, toffee’d undertones, to the incense, the oud (supplemented by Norlimbanol), leather tonalities, and resinous sweetness. I didn’t enjoy the synthetic nuances to the oud or the Norlimbanol, but I liked the fragrance as a whole. It seems Black Afgano may have been reformulated to dilute some of its super smokiness and render the fragrance more sweet, as it wasn’t the dark monster of brutish repute that I had expected. If it has changed, then perhaps the reformulation merely makes it more unisex. Those looking for a version of vintage M7 with deeper potency, sillage, and longevity, should definitely check out Black Afgano.   

  9. Source: Wallpapers4desktop.net

    Source: Wallpapers4desktop.net

    Serge Lutens De Profundis. A hauntingly delicate, evocative floral that captures the essence of flowers in purple twilight and feels like a call to Spring. It opens with its core note, chrysanthemums. that have been blended with violets, green notes, white lilies, and sweet, wet earth. Lurking at the edges are peonies, chamomile flowers, incense, a dash of light roses, a whisper of purple lilacs, and some ISO E Super. The flowers feel incredibly dewy and light, almost tender and soft. It is as though they are just waking up, releasing the airiest of delicate floral scents. De Profundis is, at the start, a cool fragrance that is almost chilly in its delicacy. As time passes, however, the floral aroma becomes stronger, more robust, almost as if the flowers have fully bloomed in the sunlight. The dew has evaporated, the petals unfurled, and the meadow floor comes to life with earthy softness, light smoke, and every bit of green around. De Profundis is a bit too watery for my personal tastes, and I’m generally not one for pure florals, but it’s hard not to be swayed by its pale, ethereal delicacy. It is really a hauntingly elegant scent.    

  10. Source: YouTube.com

    Source: YouTube.com

    Dior Ambre Nuit (La Collection Privée). If Mitzah was Dior’s ode to labdanum amber, then Ambre Nuit must be its homage to ambergris. On my skin, Ambre Nuit is smoky, liqueured, salty-sweet amber, with dry woods and a quiet touch of delicate roses that have been rendered a little fiery from pepper and a little sweet from patchouli. It is laced with black incense, creating a mix that evokes parts of Chanel’s Coromandel. There is something extremely sensuous about Ambre Nuit which often makes me think of the Argentinian tango. The ambergris’ special, unique features evoke the warmth of heated, slightly musky skin that has been rendered just the faintest bit salty from sweat. The incense conjures up the smoky, dark feel of those dance rooms, while the gaiac and cedar replicate the incredibly smooth, wooden floors that the dancers glide across. The rose never features much on my skin, though it does on others. On me, the patchouli is more prominent with its spicy, sweet, often chocolate-y mellowness. It’s a beautiful combination, and my second favorite scent from Dior’s refined Privée line.

  11. Painting by Gyula Tornai (1861-1928): "In the Harem."

    Painting by Gyula Tornai (1861-1928): “In the Harem.”

    Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour Le Soir. Described by some as beastly, by others as “dirty,” Absolue Pour Le Soir is my favorite from MFK, but how you respond to it will depend very much on your personal yardstick for honey, cumin, and animalic notes. For me, Absolue conjures up the heart of a Turkish harem besieged by musky, leather-armoured warriors. They bang on the sandalwood doors which open to release spirals of incense, as honey-swathed concubines approach to tempt with deep roses and indolic ylang-ylang. Absolue Pour Le Soir begins as an instant war between warm human flesh, the mysteries of floral-draped women, sweet honeyed intimacy, animalic leather, and feral, musky masculinity. As if tamed, the fragrance later softens to a creamy, spiced sandalwood infused with honey, dark resins, frankincense, and a dollop of roses. It’s lovely, though I’ve found myself holding it at more of a distance these days, perhaps because of the sharpness of the honey which is a core element of the scent. Still, if you want a truly skanky Oriental with the most golden of ambered hues and endless layers of complexity, you should rush to try Absolue Pour Le Soir.

  12. Amouage Fate Woman. (See description above.)
  13. Source: wallpapersnatural.com

    Source: wallpapersnatural.com

    Tauer Perfumes’ Une Rose Chyprée. I’m generally not one for rose scents, but Andy Tauer’s Une Rose Chyprée is an exception. It’s a spectacular chypre-oriental hybrid that features an autumnal, ambered rose nestled in the mossiest of green cocoons. The fragrance swirls all around you in a veiled shimmer of greens, garnet red, earthiness, and mossy trees — all rolled into one. This is a green rose whose petals were crushed into the damp, wet soil of the forest floor; a rose that lies nestled amidst fresh, just slightly mineralized, faintly bittersweet mosses; a rose infused with the concentrated essence of a thousand dark green, slightly spicy, peppered leaves, then sprinkled with hints of alternatively tart and zesty citruses. It is a rose that is fruited, but spiced with cinnamon, and wrapped with the tendrils of black incense. Some chypres can be haughty, cold, aloof numbers that keep you at a distance. Une Rose Chyprée is almost a coquettish chypre that beckons you with a sweet smile, despite the emeralds and rubies glowing around her elegant, rosy throat. If it didn’t have an enormous amount of ISO E Super and didn’t give me a ferocious, piercing headache, I would definitely be tempted to buy a full bottle. Nonetheless, it’s an absolutely beautiful scent, and my favorite from Andy Tauer.  

  14. Tauer Perfumes’ PHI – Une Rose de Kandahar. (See description above.)
  15. Edward Steichen photo, 1931. Molyneux dress. The Condé Nast collection.

    Edward Steichen photo, 1931. Molyneux dress. The Condé Nast collection.

    Puredistance Opardu. I’m not the sort to be deeply moved by pure florals, but Opardu has one of the most beautiful openings in the genre that I’ve encountered in years. It almost gave me whiplash as I smelled the bouquet of lilacs — vast fields of purple with a scent that was concentrated, pure, and incredibly delicate. It was followed by violets, tuberose, jasmine, lush gardenia and heliotrope in a stunning mix. It is pure, unadulterated, classique, haute elegance that calls back to the golden age of perfumery. On my skin, unfortunately, that spectacular start lasts only a brief hour before it fades, and then sheer, vaguely floral powderiness takes over. If there were a way to capture and retain that beginning, Opardu would undoubtedly be in my Top 10. As it is, I think it’s a beautifully feminine fragrance with Puredistance’s signature touch of great refinement, elegance, and luxuriousness.

So, that’s my Year in Review. I may end up having a separate post next week that divides fragrances into categories, from Ambers and Leathers, to Floral Orientals, Pure Florals, Gourmands, and the like. I’m still undecided, as I know it will take forever to compile, and some genres may only have one or two entries in it. Others may have far too many to choose from. In case you hadn’t noticed, I tend to focus on Orientals, and I rarely stick my toe into such fields as foodie gourmands, crisp colognes, or aldehydic fragrances. Plus, many Orientals are either hybrids or have two or more dominant elements that can make the scent fall into different categories. As a result, I’m not sure how useful or precise such a list will be, but we shall see.

As the year draws to a close, I want to wish you all Happy Holidays. I hope that the upcoming year brings you endless joy, peace, prosperity, good health, success, love and laughter. Thank you for staying on this journey with me, and here’s to a great 2014!