couple of months ago, Patty, March and I had lots of fun doing some blind testing
. During the course of that blind swap, a $3 Russian cologne has been compared to Mitsouko and one of my holy grails has been called “rubber feet dipped in amber”. (Holding a grudge, moi?) Time has come for a second blind swap and this time round we decided that having more
…swap partners would be more fun. So, over the course of the following weeks you will see posts like this one on various blogs and I hope you enjoy the project as much as we had. To make it more interesting for you, I decided to have a small prize draw
. If you would like to receive samples of the three fragrances described below, please indicate in your comment that you would like to be entered in the draw. The name of the winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Thursday. Do not hesitate to participate if you do not reside in the States, I can mail anywhere in the world.M
…blind swap partners (assigned randomly) were March
of Perfume Posse
. I sent them 3 samples, withholding the real names of the scents. I called my mystery samples Ad astra per aspera
, Bene qui latuit bene vixit
, and Certum est quia impossibile
. On the subject of my using Latin phrases, which are unwieldy, pretentious and have little to no relation to the actual perfumes, I have only this to say, if People of The Labyrinths can do it, so can I.Ad astra per aspera
. Says March
I had trouble getting a read on this, so eventually I dumped roughly half the decant on my arm. Sometimes this weird thing happens where I feel like the fragrance is just refusing to meld itself to my skin and start opening, and this is one of those times… okay, on me this is a sheer, powdery floral with a retro feel. I’m digging around in my candy box, looking for comparisons. It’s definitely not Miss Rocaille (did the Grim Reaper forget to put the Caron base in that one? … wow, what is that in Miss Rocaille? Galbanum? It’s sending a Vent Vert laser up my nose … no, wait … here comes the Reaper, only he’s sort of mini-me, the Petulant Reaper, more like Yoda armed with a nail file) … whoops, wrong fragrance – where the hell was I? Oh. Back to Ad Astra: what I like about the powder, which I’ll tolerate a fair amount of in vintages, is that it’s shimmery rather than dusty. Okay, this isn’t precisely the game, but I’m going out on a limb here: this smells like Soir de Paris to me – closer to the original, not the reformulated, which is sweeter. I get that same sort of violet/powder/green trifecta, which makes me want to put on my taffeta ball skirt and go dancing.
Orange Pez and white florals, with a woody accord at the base. I think there might be a wee bit of something animal in the base, too, but I cannot be sure. It died fast on me - too fast to make any strong impressions.
nd the mystery fragrance was…the strange, the unsuccessful, the discontinued Lumiere
by Rochas. According to Jan Moran, Lumiere has notes of coriander, honeysuckle, greens, fruits, bergamot, orange blossom, magnolia, acacia, tuberose, jasmine, lily of the valley, ylang-ylang, hyacinth, sandalwood, ambergris, tonka bean, cedarwood, moss, vetiver, musk. This is an odd, pale, uncooperative although not unpleasant scent that, like March said, indeed refuses to meld itself to one’s skin and just sits there, green, proud and slightly plasticy before disappearing, as Katie justly noted, rather fast and for good.Bene qui latuit bene vixit
. Says Katie
Holy incense, Batman! Marina's sample kicks off with a big whoosh of saffron, warm and woodsy, with cedaric intonations. This dries down to what I'm guessing is a mix of "num"s - olibanum and labdanum. It's nummy goodness! Aw heck, you know I'm pretty sure there's a bit of patchouli thrown in there for good measure, as well. I dunno, I might need a bottle of whatever this is someday. Someday soon. This sample smells eerily familiar to me. I can't really place it, though.
Delicious, in a peculiar way. There could be some cedar in there – it’s skating right on the edge of the B.O. thing, but as long as it doesn’t cross the line we’re good. There is something dark and sweet, but not fruity – if this fragrance had a color, it would be a deep, rich purple-blue, like the color of my favorite type of iris, or an early summer evening … wait, it’s doing something again … wow, what is that? Something more masculine. A leathery incense smell. Honey, did you pick these out just because you knew I’d love them? I don’t care if it’s Axe Man Spray from CVS, I want some. Although it isn’t Axe. It’s too expensive, and the development is too complex. Is this one of the PGs I haven’t tried? It’s got that solar strangeness. It reminds me a bit of that little part of Aomassai that didn’t make me want to vomit. Okay, now the sweet is going away, which makes me sad, but I’m winding up with a perfectly serviceable unisex-niche-frag-woody-incense smell. It has a lightly caramelized drydown, faintly nutty, and I’m going to ignore the slight edge of … something (vetiver?) I’m not wild for, but I can’t smell it unless I’m sniffing closely. There. Do I get a cookie? How about a big decant instead?
he fragrance that was such a big hit with the girls was…the underappreciated, the rarely-mentioned, the fabulous West Broadway
by Bond No 9. I reviewed
it once before wondering at the remarkable discrepancy between the official list of notes and the actual juice. West Broadway is described by Bond No 9 as a “lime gimlet”, laced with crisp greens, mate, and sheer musk, and to that I can only say, Huh? Granted, there IS something subtly limey-fruity, vaguely gourmand about this scent, but it also woody, a little smoky and certainly has quite a bit of incense. An obscure gem among the Bond No 9 fragrances, West Broadway deserves much more attention and adoration than it gets and I am so glad that Katie and March liked it as much as I do.T
he third sample was not nearly as popular with the girls. On the subject of Certum est quia impossibile
Well, this one I’m not loving, although I’m tempted to blame my skin chemistry, or my nose, rather than the fragrance. I get zero development – it is what it is. I get a fairly sharp opening with a hint of cherry, but it’s not the fresh, sparkling cherry of, say, Cartier Delices. Instead it’s that strange, plastic cherry note I associate with lollipops. The cherry is sitting on a grassy base, green and yellow and a little sweet, and that’s pretty much the whole story. Altogether it’s the type of fragrance that might be described as summery and refreshing, but I’m not feeling refreshed. I’m feeling underwhelmed. It smells … cheap. And uninteresting. And I hope I didn’t just put my foot in it and criticize one of your great perfume loves. [HA!]
Rowr! This one begins as if it's going to rate high on Marina's Skank-o-Meter (patent pending, I'm sure) with a glimpse at what looks like will lead into a tough animalic register. But does it wind up smelling like a bear rug still growling? Sadly, no. The distinct and overwhelming aroma of chewed up Barbie feet takes over. And while I can pretend to have perceived other notes, the truth is I couldn't get past the plastic feet.
heap, eh? Uninteresting? Chewed up Barbie feet? To that I can only shake my head in disbelief and wonder at the mysterious ways in which skin chemistry seems to work. The third sample was…the amazing, the rare, the vintage, The Classic…Dior-Dior
by Chirstian Dior. Created for Dior in 1976 by Edmond Roudnitska, Dior-Dior is a fresh, slightly fruity chypre with notes of peach, prune [could this be March’s plastic cherry?], cumin [here’s is Katie’s skank], aldehydes, bay oil, jasmine, narcissus, jonquil, lily of the valley, lilac, carnation, sandalwood, leather [some more skank], civet [lots and lots more skank!] oakmoss and amber. This bracing, slightly minty, very elegant fragrance seems to me (and of course IS) closely related to Diorella and, like all the best (vintage) Diors, this very refined perfume has a dirty, animalic, skanky side that I find extremely appealing.T
he image of Barbie with chewed off feet is from nancysdreamhouse.com, the Lumiere ad is from Images des Parfums
, the West Broadway ad is from Bond No 9 Fragrances
and the Dior-Dior ad is from okadi.com.