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