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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Lez Nez (no need to hold 'em)

Review by Tom

The Unicorn Spell

This starts off with a sweet hit joined by spice, something that reminds me of cumin and sage. Almost immediatly starts to become green, like the smell of flowers that haven't opened yet, or better yet bulbs. Bulbs that still have a bit of the earth stillclinging to them.

Then they open. I get the violets that Colombina gets, still with the bulb. I also think I smell the faintest iris. It's still sweet, but has nothing of the gagging powdery parts of the usual violet, and has a minted coolness that's a bit like the camphored rosemary in Daim Blonde: you can't really make it out on its own, it just serves to cool. It also has the most surprising sillage; it sometimes stays close to the skin and then jumps out at you. It stays cool, but starts to soften. It dries down and the violets soften a bit and the cooling mint becomes just barely strong enough to discern on its own, with a bare, clean-skin musk.

I normally really don't like violet in perfume. Don't like as in "Get that sh&t away from me". This one I actually like

Let me Play the Lion

This starts off with the sweetness and woodiness of anise seeds, the sweet blast (well blast is a bit much, there's nothing in these that blast) quickly joined faint cedar and sandalwood. The cedar and sandalwood dance around each other as if cavorting, then freeze as a wonderfully dirty incense drops in, like a lion at the waterhole. Now that I've written that, I also smell a bare hint of aquatic.

Luckily the lion is a friendly sort and after a while starts to dance around with the cedar and sandalwood. The anise seeds come back again adding piquance (if you hate anise, you won't care for this stage) as the scent starts to settle into its drydown: the cedar mutes, the sandalwood comes forward, warmed by the musky incense and sweetened by anise. This would have been my favorite if I hadn't already tried:


On me, the first spritz is the strong smell of Vodka. Potato Vodka to be exact. As soon as it dries, I get the barest whiff of fresh mint. Slowly it starts to dry to the scent of fresh clean sheets. I never thought I'd like to smell like fresh clean sheets, but oddly, I do. These remind me sheets hurriedly taken off the line ahead of a summer storm; there's ozone, but it's not the dreaded aquatic. (Do any of you also have the almost insuperable desire to jump in and roll round a freshly made bed? Or am I the only nut here?)

Slowly, amber starts to sneak in: an oddly cool one(perhaps it's the mint). It's the antithesis of Ambre Sultan's resinous heat, but just as wonderful. Finally there's the barest hint of something like musk: but dusty, not animal. I could recognise it, but not place it. Finally on a hunch I went into my bedroom and sniffed the satin-trimmed wool blanket I got at Saks on sale a few years ago: Voila! Fresh linens and the ever-so-slightly musty smell of wool blankets.

In an email exchange with Colombina, she nailed it: a diluted L'Air de Rien. I'd say not quite diluted, just stripped of any of the ghosts that would haunt the dusty house that L'Air de Rein inhabits. L'Antimatière is that lonely disused house thrown open, scrubbed down and welcoming; if there are ghosts they are there only to look kindly over your sleeping form, perhaps tuck a corner in and smooth a furrowed brow.

Any of these are well worth the money; they aren't trying to reinvent the wheel, but they are giving a singular (and singularly wonderful) take on things; these whisper rather than shout. I'm looking forward to see what else they have up their sleeves...

Image source,


Blogger tmp00 said...

Well, this is what I get for typing at 7am on a Saturday while doing laundry without my morning cuppa. Please replace "camphored rosemary in Daim Blonde" with "camphored lavender of Gris Clair". I promise not to sleepily spritz and open the old iBook again.

And I have to add that I am getting a lot more out of L'Antimatiere as I try it more. Someone's been in my sheets! Why aren't they there when I'm there!?!

11:41 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love L'Antimatiere (actually I love them all but opted for a full-bottle of L'A) as well. I have found the more I wear the more I appreciate it. I like the abstractness of it, which is not usually something I go for in my fragrance choices.
I like almost everything that Isabelle Doyen has done at AG, and think these three are equal to them.
This is one of my favorite blogs!

5:51 AM EST  
Blogger Martin said...

I want to experience L'Antimatiere the same way! I've read about others not being able to even pickup a fragrance after application and I've always found that weird. Until now. L'Antimatiere is just othing on me. I try to sniff the spot where I put it on and get nothing. Should I soak myself in the sample?

6:21 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, my, these all sound so good, I couldn't say which one I'm lemming more based on your review...perhaps the Lion one, where the incense plays nice with the sandalwood and cedarwood. :) Not sure I want to smell like clean sheets, but clean sheets with amber sounds oddly nice. Thank you for a great review, Tom.

7:31 AM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Dang -- I was *wondering* about the camphored rosemary, thanks for clearing that up (wow, a part of DB I'd never noticed!!!)

I am sooooo jealous about your relationship with L'Antimatiere.

7:48 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Am so glad to find that someone else who loves L'Antimatiere. I *adore* that scent. The first hour really is something like clean sheets on me, but then that deliciously rich amber and musk come through. Swoon! It does the most interesting shifts on me from that point on. I adore all three scents, but this may be my fav w/ Unicorn Spell a close second.

8:24 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm less enamoured than most. I like all three, with some reservations that I won't bore you with now...

I need some tea.

9:21 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I agree: the more I wear it the more I like it. At this point it is far more a favorite than l'Air de Rien for me, and I was thisclose to popping for a full bottle of that.

This blog is one of my faves as well, and not just because Columbina is kind enough to let me ramble on..

10:53 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I read at Perfumeposse that Chris Brosius showed March and Patty an accord that a lot of people simply can't smell. I think this may be one of the big ingredients in here. It may be like rolling your tongue in a tube or whether Asparagus makes your urine smell- either you can or you can't smell it. But I hope that's not the case.

10:56 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I hope so. It's such a comforting scent. Makes you feel curled up under your bankie.

10:58 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


They do samples at their website, so you can give them a test. I've read that some people have had the samples break, but mine came through just fine.

With so many people writing that Antimatiere has no smell for them at all, I would very much caution against buying blind. Of course if you do so and can't smell it. We could work out a deal. :-)

11:01 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


There's a reason there are editors in the world. I read that when Columbina posted it and thought "jeesh, Tom; brain-fart much?". It's not even like I wrote it at 2am after a bender, it was 7 in the morning and I thought I'd be of a fresh mind. Riiiight.

11:03 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'm glad I'm not the only one smelling it; as I wrote earlier it's become my ultimate comfort scent. Like wearing your lovers cashmere sweater when you're in that first blush of passion: his slight scent on the wool like a caress..

11:07 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Why don't you do a review? I'm sure we'd likle to hear it. I know I'd be interested.

11:08 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I will. I have these sporadic blog thing at perfumeoflife after all.

11:38 AM EST  
Blogger Solander said...

I only got to try L'Antimateriere because the other two broke in transit, and I get what you mean by a diluted L'air de rien. I tried them at the same time (I mean within a few days) and they're both mainly musk scents. While I love the skankiness of L'air de rien the cleanness and subtleness of L'antimateriere leave me pretty cold though. I can feel it, but barely, and it's too much of a common clean, light, white musk to my nose.

12:54 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Is it a white musk?

I love l'Air de Rien's drydown as well, but the top notes can go wrong on me. Anitmatiere would be nice if it were a bit more definite, but I like it fine the way it is, too.

4:36 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great reviews! I especially like your comparison to potato vodka. Right on! :) I love all the scents from the line.

9:54 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Thanks- I like these a lot too.

10:23 PM EST  

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