Soft touch: The pastel world of Arts & Scents perfumes
If you have never heard of the Arts & Scents fragrance line from Germany, you are not alone, as it is not well known in the U.S.A. even though it has been in existence since 2010. After reading about this natural brand on another site I was very curious, because they sounded quite different from the dizzying array of new niche fragrances being launched almost daily. I am very glad that I was able to single these delightful scents out from the herd. The first one I tried was Dream of India and I was quite taken aback, in a very good way. I was expecting incense and spices and whatever else one thinks of regarding Indian perfumery motifs, but it was not anything like that. There is incense in it, but it the softest imaginable interpretation of it, a gentle and enchanting suggestion of Eastern delights. I imagined a literal dream, with gauzy veils draped above a bed in a darkened room where I lay half-asleep in the afternoon with the aroma of the perfume hinting at the vibrant life outside – languid champaca flowers, curry, masala spices, rosewater. There is an aura of cool stillness about it that is very restful, and I was drawn to it over and over again.
A Day in Grasse evokes another kind of place; this one is about a sunny morning in the legendary rose fields; the day is young and the summer heat has not yet taken all the chill from the air as the heady aroma of roses drifts upon the air. If smelling this does not being a smile to your lips, nothing will. It is a fresh yet powdery rose, plump and cheerful, and definitely a vivid pink blossom, an unabashedly feminine perfume accented with the exhilaration of vetiver and red clover. There was a time when I did not care for powdery scents, and they are still a challenge for me, but A Day in Grasse is so beguiling and straightforward I can't help but love it. A must-try for rose and romance lovers.
Equally charming is Cupido's Kiss, a bouncy fruit-laden creation that is just simply delicious. Sometimes a perfume does not have to be overly complicated to be good and this is a great example, bursting with juiciness and delivering a shot of pure pleasure. Underneath the fruit lies a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting to surprise you, and another twist comes later – a warm, musky base that's decidedly sexy. It builds upon itself until it becomes a symphony of intense sensual pleasure, and I would happily buy a full bottle and splash it with abandon. Cupido's Kiss is one of those perfumes that reminds you of why you fell in love with fragrance in the first place – simply because is smells good and brings joy. This was a big win for me.
There is just a touch of fruitiness in Light of Ormuz, which seems to be the closest thing to a dedicated masculine scent in the line – all of the scents are nominally unisex – and that abstract tang of fruit, green notes of mint and vetiver and a whisper of cedar complete this understated fragrance. It does not proclaim itself as being manly the way mainstream fragrances for men usually do; it is quiet, reserved and very attractive. As subtle as it is, it lasts surprisingly well. If this fragrance were a person, it would be the young Iranian man I once met who looked just like an idealized portrait of Alexander the Great – softly curling reddish chestnut hair, a perfect high bridged Greek nose, carved cheekbones and startling, icy grey eyes, a refined beauty yet not a “pretty boy” at all.
Wild Cat Musk does not quite display truth in advertising; the name made me think I was going to be smelling another Musc Ravageur, but this cat is a sweet, fluffy kitten that wants to snuggle but is also ready for some serious mischief. It really very wearable and I enjoyed it immensely. The opening has a chili pepper tingle and the musky quality is softened by hibiscus; I really love this combination of notes. I have never been a “musk person” although I enjoy smelling musky perfumes on others. I am always afraid that I am anosmic to the particular musk in the scent, as many people are, and that everyone around me is getting an overdose. That problem should not arise with Wild Cat Musk and I would wear it with confidence; it is possible to smell sexy and cuddly at the same time and this is the perfect example. Like most of the others from this house, it is soft-focus, gentle and highly wearable.
Another that might be more of a masculine than not in concept is Cuero de Mexico, but a touch of sweetness along with the leather makes it perfectly unisex. The leather itself is of the sort found in Trussardi and Daim Blond, a civilized leather with a touch of daring, and it is supported by neroli and a light, delicate tuberose. The more I wore this the more I liked it, and I would suggest it to anyone who prefers their leather scents to be restrained and elegant. It has an open airiness, a sense of distance that feels like being on the road with the horizon rolling on before you with all its limitless possibilities, and it's another one from this brand of which a full bottle would be most welcome.
I had a little trouble with Pan Tierra – something in it smells like brick dust and kept me from fully appreciating this well done gourmand fragrance. Even though it has caramel, coffee chocolate, tonka bean and vanilla, it is not really all that sweet, which is a good thing, since I enjoy gourmands more when they can breathe a little bit. I think the problem I have is that the chocolate is a dusty cocoa instead of a more “liquid” and darker chocolate note. For those who do enjoy this style and like a dry cocoa effect, I recommend trying it out.
I saved Night & Dawn: A Vampire's Love for last – it is the most unlike the others in the line in its intensity and could easily have been one of the Devilscent perfumes, which is high praise coming from me. It is a stunner, a beautiful and unusual fragrance that would turn heads anywhere. It begins as a warm, sweet enveloping fruit scent, like sipping a glass of cordial in front of a cozy fireplace. Notes of lychee, tobacco flower and passion fruit blend with heady tuberose to create a luscious and decadent impression. As it develops on the skin, vanilla and sandalwood make themselves known, and it is all underlined with a particularly fine and profound patchouli that feels well aged and mellow and never overpowers the rest. This is one of my favorites of the group, and it's not just good “for a natural perfume” it's marvelous on its own merits. Besides, who can resist a perfume with the tag line “You are my heart's eternal night?” If this is what vampires are wearing these days, I am going over to the dark side right now.
The fragrances of Arts & Scents: The Art of Creation are all created by Manuela Pfannes-Völkel and are available via the perfumer's Web site. Sample sets are available for purchase; you will also find several perfumes that are not included in this review. (I am very curious about Beach Flower and Coco Tango now and I really need to try something named Orange Planet Space Essence!)
Disclosure: A set of perfume samples was sent to me for testing by Arts & Scents at my request.
Image credits:Pastel globes wallpaper from belchfire.net. Kitten wallpaper from dsawallpapers.com. Art for Night & Dawn: A Vampire's Love from artsandscents.com