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Friday, June 30, 2006

From Russia With Love. Perfume Reviews and a Prize Draw

Today, Aromascope, Perfume Posse, Scentzilla and Perfume Smellin’ Things are having a Russian day. No special reason, we simply were able to sample some of the perfumes made by a Russian perfume house, Novaya Zarya, and decided to review them. OK, this is how it really happened... I got so homesick that anything Russian became more appealing than it has ever been when I actually lived there. So I got some Russian fragrances and, to humor me, the girls agreed to test them too.

Before I begin my short reviews, I must admit that they by no means represent the whole collection or even a significant part of it. Novaya Zarya is quite prolific. Moreover, those familiar with the history of Russian/Soviet perfumery, would notice glaring omissions. Such classics as Krasnaya Moskva (Red Moscow) and such modern classis as Or Des Scythes are not reviewed here. I got what I could get and I am hoping to obtain more scents in the future. To make it a little more interesting, I thought I’d do a small prize draw. If one of the scents below seems interesting to you, indicate in some way that you want to be entered in the draw, and if you are the winner, I will send you a decant of the scent of your choice. The only scent that I won’t be able to share is, sadly, Patchouli Magique, since I don’t have a bottle of it (yet).

Since this week was The Iris Week, I will start with Iris from the Melody of Flowers collection. This is a delightful, fresh, “no-brainer” iris. Very simple, very summery. It has a surprising citrusy undertone (perhaps grapefruit) and a little bracing earthiness (perhaps vetiver). It feels like a feminine relation of Terre d’Hermes and is very enjoyable in hot weather. The price, $10.00 for 1,7oz. (I hear that there is also a scent called White Iris and I would love to get my greedy hands on it too.)

Green Vetiver is another easy-going, pleasurable fragrance. It starts with a sweet citrusy accord, so sweet, it actually makes me think of lemon candies. There is a fresher, somewhat watery undertone that reminds me of cucumbers. Lemon and cucumber candy? Sounds worse than it actually smells. As the scent progresses, it gets fresher, drier and appropriately earthy. Still, as far as I am concerned, this is not so much about vetiver as it is about citruses, especially lemon. Very wearable and refreshing in summer, but not one of my favorite vetivers. The price, $12.00 for 3.4oz.

Arome Musque. The notes of this fragrance sounded so appealing to me, when I read the description (I cannot find it now, but believe me, it made it sound like the next Musc Ravageur), I had to have Arome Musque. In reality, although it still smells lovely, it is not nearly as sumptuous, warm and “dirty” as I imagined it would be. It starts with a bright, citrusy-floral accord and develops into a sweet, almost-gourmand musk. Not too sweet though and not too musky, everything here is in moderation. This is a beginner’s musk or, to borrow Guerlain’s mission for Insolence, this is the scent to attract women who like musk, “but don’t feel ready for it yet, which translates into a younger target.” The price, $12.00 for 1,7oz.

Ambre Dore. With notes of violet, rose, patchouli, coriander, amber and oakmoss, this is an interesting floral ambery scent much enlivened by the piquancy of coriander. The violet is quite apparent and goes really nicely with amber and patchouli. Ambre Dore is dark, pleasantly powdery and not in the least heavy or overwhelming. The price, $12.00 for 1,7oz.

Patchouli Magique. By far the most interesting of the Novaya Zarya creations that I have tried. After the burst of citrus in the beginning, the fragrance grows steadily darker. The patchouli here is complemented, on the one hand, by an unexpected chocolate-like accord and, on the other, by a wonderful incense note. The “chocolate” wears off fairly quickly and we are left with patchouli-incense blend that has richness and depth and is sure to please those who, like me, favor “dark and strange” fragrances with a smoky, spicy undertone. The price, $14.00 for 1,7oz

Russian Forest. An old, old favorite of many a Soviet man. (The story goes that some of them used it internally as well as externally.) This is a light, easy-to-wear eau de cologne that, without smelling like any particular tree that I know, does manage to convey a smell and an image of, well, a forest. The drydown has a certain ambery-powderiness and I can understand why Patty once, in a blind test, compared it to a Guerlain scent, namely Mitsouko. This poor (wo)man’s "Guerlain" costs whopping $3.00 for 3oz.

Muguet or Lily of the Valley. Fresh, subtly sweet lily of the valley accentuated by a delicate citrus accord. I do not think that it is very true to the flower it is meant to represent, but it is pleasant, refreshing and incredibly cheap. Again, $3.00 for 3oz.

And last but not least, Carnation. I loved this eau de cologne. It had the bright, rich spiciness quite on par with some high end carnation scents. Simple but full of character, it made me think of a line from Balmont, “Carnations softly beat their kettledrums”. At $3.00 for 3oz, this is truly a winner and a great find.

All of these fragrances can be bought online. Patchouli Magique is available at Russ-Sell.com and will be delivered (quite promptly) from Russia. The rest is sold on cosmeticbag.com, an American-based store, from which I ordered once and loved the customer service.

*The images are from novzar.ru and cosmeticbag.com

39 Comments:

Anonymous Ina said...

Your reviews sound like nicely written marketing pieces for each of these. I feel a bit awkward about posting mine now as I feel like I was a bit brutal. Eep! This is my critical blunt self talking. Please don't take it personal! OK? :)

11:46 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi - I love this blog. I would love to be entered for the draw of Carnation.

XO, Rana.
emiliania at hotmail

11:53 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Well, I won the last one, so I think it's unfair to throw my hat in the ring again. Especially since some of these are so inexpensive. I'd love to try Patchouli Magique, however.

12:08 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anne said...

I would love to be entered for a chance to win a decant. The Patchouli Magique sounds the most complex and interesting to me but my second favorite would be the Carnation, As always your reviews are wonderful.

6:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous Elle said...

Yay! Absolutely love this idea for a group posting! Thanks!! I take it that when they recently decided that Moscow was the most expensive city in the world they were not factoring in the price of perfumes - silly people, that should have been up there right next to housing costs. Amazing, practically Soviet prices! Several sound like real winners to me, but too bad about the Arome Musque - I'm afraid I'm way past the beginner's musk stage.

7:04 AM EDT  
Blogger lilyofbp said...

The carnation is an unbelievable bargain!! I tried it again, and still found that there was some slightly sour, odd note in the opening that I couldn't identify. But that went away quickly, and it becomes a really nice Carnation/Clove scent! The amber is pleasant and seems a bit Ambre-Russe-ish (I don't THINK this is merely the power of suggestion:) But I wish it were a bit more "heavy or overwhelming"--it's pretty light on me. The Patchouli sounds fascinating. . . . At these prices, everyone in Russia must smell great:)

8:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Patty said...

Thank goodness you liked the Iris too! I was beginning to think I was crazy and just found a new way to like cat pee accord. :)

Muguet was a loser for me, but all the rest were really pretty interesting and wearable. If you factor in the price, they are the best bargain I can think of and then makes me wonder about the price point on perfumes that we are used to paying.

Hmmm....

9:06 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Ina,
I do what I can for the Rodina :-) No, seriously, some were very nice (Carnation, Patchouli, Iris) some were nothing special. I am glad that none of them was a scrubber :-)

9:55 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Hi Rana, welcome! I entered you in the draw.

9:56 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

T,
I don't think it's unfair at all, but sadly I don't have enough Patchouli left for even a decent sample :-(

(I hope that package will make it to you sometime in this century! I mailed it what seems like ages ago, hrmph)

9:57 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Anne,
Thank you very much, your name is entered!

9:57 AM EDT  
Blogger katiedid said...

I think we pretty much all dug the Carnation, yes? I think if this were a contest, it'd be the clear winner by a mile. I honestly can't believe the price on it, just marvelous.

10:00 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Elle,
I believe that the prices for the Russian scents are not the right indicator for the overall perfume prices in Russia. The "foreign" stuff costs like everywhere, and some is more expensive than here or in Europe. I read somewhere, and I don't know if it is (still) true or not, but one could find SL bell jars in Moscow in a store, for 3 times the price...heh.

10:01 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Judith,
It is my impression (and I may be mistaken, mind you) that these things are much less popular there than the usual suspects, Dior, Chanel...:-)
I didn't get any sourness in carnatio, it was the same peppery, clovey carnation from start to finish. And I agree that Amber wasn't "deep" enough. The same applies to Musk.

10:05 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Patty,
I think it's just the two of us who like it :-) Well, more for us :-)

10:06 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Katie,
Carnation is the overall winner indeed. If I had more Patchouli to send around, I think it would have been a close second if not the winner.

10:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Cait Shortell said...

I like some of the bottles, from the old timey Carnation to the Angel-alike label of the Amber, Patchouli,etc...

10:14 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Cait,
Do you know a French (I think) brand called Reminiscence? Novaya Zarya's bottles for Musk, etc. look awfully like theirs. I don't know who got inspired by whom...:-)

10:18 AM EDT  
Blogger Cait Shortell said...

Dear Marina,
Huh, I saw a post on Reminiscence on one of our blogs on Coutorture, though I haven't tried them yet. Want to, though!

10:38 AM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Cait,
I'd love to try them too! I wonder if they are available to the States.

11:00 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Marina -- this was really fun! I am especially enjoying the Faux Vetiver, and that carnation is a winner. Even the Amber, which is generally not my thing, is refreshing and lovely...

That Muguet, though. Yeesh!

12:48 PM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

March,
Muguet is rather shameful. I am glad you are liking the so-called Vetiver. :-)

1:01 PM EDT  
Anonymous newproducts said...

Hi,

I went to the link provided about the blind perfume test, and that was hilarious! I hope you do something like that again soon. sounds like so much fun. I must say how impressed I am. Besides your HG (sorry about that, but lol! at the comments), both Patty and March were quite spot on in their comments!

Being a lover of freebies, I shamelessly ask to be entered in the draw. I am agonizing between Arome Musque & Russian Forest. If I win, just send me whichever of the two you like better, or better yet, whichever you like less since you are giving it away (and one woman's trash can be another's treasure:)).

3:25 PM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, I am sort of astonished at how cheap these are. Is there a mid-priced (or higher) Russian line?

3:40 PM EDT  
Anonymous colombina said...

Dear Newproducts,
Welcome! We are actually planning and plotting another blind test :-)
I entered you in the draw!

3:48 PM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

R,
I may be mistaken, since I haven't been back home and haven't looked at the prices for a long time, but I have a feeling that the $12-14 price of Patchuoli, Musk and Amber IS the mid-range. :-)

3:49 PM EDT  
Blogger boisdejasmin said...

I may be wrong, but Novaya Zarya is a low end line, or at least, these particular range. I recently tried some Dzintars fragrances thanks to Ina, and I am not planning to revisit. :) Мирра-Люкс/Mirra Lux offers much better quality perfumes. I love their No.7.

4:42 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

V,
I've read good things about Mirra Lux...if I ever see it anywhere, available to the US, I will pounce :-)

4:46 PM EDT  
Anonymous Keeg said...

I would lovr to enter the drawing for "Russian Forest".. oscarloyl at hotmail dot com

6:30 AM EDT  
Blogger Martha said...

What a great blog! It makes my attempt at blogging about perfume pale in comparison to the obvious love you have for perfume.

Perfume

5:43 PM EDT  
Anonymous dave said...

I am looking for a Russian Perfume that I purchased 30 years ago called something like "Frezzy Grant". Any ideas if this even exists any more. It is the one perfume that I have bought my wife that she will actually wear.

Dave

4:08 PM EDT  
Blogger colombina said...

Dave,
Sorry, I don't know if it is still made. Something tells me, it is long gone. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

4:09 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reviews - I found your link as my friend, Eleonore is looking for Russian perfumes in Australia. The only one that I could remember that is sold here in Melbourne is Maroussya.
With Love.
Natasha.
PS. Can you please write to me on ponchik9@yahoo.com.au if you know how my friend can purchase Russian perfumes online.

5:52 PM EST  
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Blogger eula_w said...

Great reviews on the perfumes.

I use pheromone cologne asmy perfume. :)

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