torsdag 29 maj 2014


Picture: The entry of Gustav Vasa,
the future king Gustav I of Sweden
to Stockholm in Midsummer Eve 1523
Painting by Johan Gustav Sandberg (1782-1854)
This year I'm taking a break for summer. June is the the brightest month up here in the North with the cresendo in Midsummer. Even if vacation is far away, one really have to take care of these rare summerevenings when coming home from work. Of course I'll chime in with one or another entry, but it will not be on a regular basis.

I wish you a great summer!

måndag 26 maj 2014

Rania J - Lavande 44

Picture: King Henry VIII,  (1491-1547)
Painting ca 1537 by Hans Holbein (1498-1543)
Wikipedia commons 
Lavande 44 is the lavenderinterpretation of Rania Jouaneh, perfumer with her own house, Rania J.
Lavande 44 starts with a natural smelling sparkling lavender highlighted by slight bitter, aromatic citrusnotes. After a while some spritzy green, almost like geranium appears, probably traces from the vetiver mixed with lavender and others. When moving further there is also an almost gourmand vibe in the fragrance, maybe the powdery, sweet tonka gives that effect. In the basenotes, Lavande 44 is considerably darker in character and texture then most lavender fragrances. The combined notes, creates a very pleasant leathery note and ther is also a pleasant almost sour note that contrasts the sweetness of the tonka been. The lavender is still present in the basenotes but not as herbal as in the beginning of the fragrance. In this stage it's much more intergrated with the other notes and harder to pick out as a separate one. In the basenotes Lavande 44 reminds me of a more straightforward Vero Profumo Kiki Extrait or Kiki Voile d'Extrait, the Kikis to my nose are a bit more complicated with some more layers in the compositions. As a great Kiki devotee I of course also like Lavande 44. Just like most of the other Rania J fragrances, Lavande 44 is in the same time contemporary and timeless, which seems to be a feature of the Rania J. line. Lavande 44 is, just as Rose Isthar, a fragrance that I can imagine whiffing by in the Tudor court, the pleasant smell of lavender but with something dark and dangerous underneath. Would have been perfect as a shared fragrance between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
Picture: Lavande 44
Photo: PR Rania J. (c)
Lavande 44 is a lavender also for autumn and winter. It's close to the wearer and perfectly officefriendly. Longevity is good for a lavenderfragrance, over a day.

Even if Lavande 44 is darker and more dramatic, I think that fans of natural smelling lavenderfragrances on the higher end of the fragrance notescale, such as Maria Candida Gentile  Luberon  and Caldey Abbey Perfumes Caldey Island Lavendel (swe) would appreciate Lavande 44.

Rating: 4+

Notes: Bergamot, petit grain, lavender, patchouli, tonka been, oud, labdanum, vetiver, musk

Thanks to Rania J for the samples to try.

torsdag 22 maj 2014

Rania J - Rose Ishtar

PictureQueen Elizabeth I of England in her coronation robes,
patterned with Tudor roses and trimmed with ermine.
She wears her hair loose, as traditional for the coronation of a queen,
 perhaps also as a symbol of virginity. The painting, by an unknown artist,
dates to the first decade of the seventeenth century (c.1600)
 and is based on a lost original also by an unknown artist.
Wikimpedia Commons
Beware Rose Ishtar from Rania J is nothing of the usual roseinterpretation, either the modern or the classic take. Rose Ishtar is a special and intriguing rose. It's really a rose of its own.

Rose Ishtar starts with a blast of harsh almost sour notes. There is a herbal wibe, dry, dark, tick and dense, sharp without any rounding sweet, fruity notes. There is also something soft spicy about Rose Ishtar. As longer Rose Ishtar dries down, the more of the rose is apparent. The rose is unsweet, tangy but in the same time dry and it's a natural smelling rose with no artificial/cosmetic notes at all. This is the most unsweet rose I have tried. When I image Rose Ishtar in this stage I think of it as a powdery mauve taupe rose if there are roses in this color.When reaching the basenotes, soft patchouli combined with a well balanced sandalwood is deepening and darkening the scent further. Here there are strings of purple in the mauve. Some discrete sweet powdery notes of vanilla and heliotrophine appears and balances the edgy aspects in a pleasant way.

Rose Ishtar is a concentrated fragrance, one has to be careful when applying, it could easily be overpowering. If properly applied, Rose Ishtar has a medium sillage and longevity for more than a day. I think Rose Ishtar is a perfect fragrance for autumn, the imagened color range, texture and tonality of the fragrance is that of the autumn. There is also something eternal over this somehow insidious powerful perfume, I can imagine the glorious Queen Elisabeth I of England, a Tudor rose, wearing a fragrance smelling like Rose Ishtar.

Rose Ishtar is a unisexfragrance but to me it's a manly rose, at least in the top and middlenotes, with its powerful, harsh edges, in the base it's more feminine. Nevertheless I like to wear it but have to be in mood for a demanding perfume that day. Because Rose Ishtar is truly demanding, special and intriguing, a rose of its own

Rating: 5

Notes: Bergamot, cassis, rose damascena, sandalwood, patchouli, vanilla, heliotrophine, musk

måndag 19 maj 2014

Rania J - Jasmin Kâma

Picture: Kâmadeva, 18c engraving
Wikipedia Commons 
Jasmin Kâma is the jasmine interpretation in the Rania J natural perfumeline. As with all Rania J:s the smell, in this case of jasmine, also is very natural an unartificial. Jasmin Kâma is named after Kâmadeva, the indian god of Kâma; love, wish and desire.

Jasmin Kâma starts with a plush frutiy jasminenote in full bloom. The fruity jasmine reminds me a bit of the great opening of Montale Jasmin Full. Soon the animalic aspect shines trough but never takes over the fragrance and turns it "full skanky". This part makes me think of the skanky jasmineperfumes from Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Jasmine and La Reine Margot (from the subline Les Parfumes Historiques) but in Jasmin Kâma the animalic part is milder. The interplay between the beautiful fruity side of the jasmine and its animalic counterpart is what makes this fragrance interesting, even if quite linear in structure. In the basenotes, Jasmin Kâma is a bit darker and the a soft combination of musk and patchoul deepens the jasmine and creates a velvet like texture.

Jasmin Kâma is a straight forward, casual jasmine that is perfect for spring and summer. I think it will perfect fit a white casual outfit in cotton or linen. The sillage is close and the longevity almost for a day. Even if casual in style, Jasmin Kâma is perfect for officewear, it's notable but not at all overpowering.

Even if not an original jasmine fragrance, there are plenty in the same style, Jasmin Kâma should definitly be tried by those who are searching for a jasmine soliflore.

Rating: 4

Notes: Bergamot, Rose Damascena, jasmin absolute, patchouli, musc, vanilla, wood, heliotropine

torsdag 15 maj 2014

Rania J - Oud Assam

Picture: Before the race,
Painting, oil on panel, ca 1882-84
 Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Wikipedia Commons
Oud Assam is the oud fragrance in Rania J:s natural perfume line.Oud Assam is created by Rania Jouaneh.

Oud Assam starts with a burst of dirty, animalic notes contrasted by a discrete offsetting glimpse of dense orangenotes. The orange is not of the sparkling, light character, the impression is more like orange combined with dark chocolade, but in this case, orange combined with animalic notes. As Oud Assam dries down further, a very well interpreted leather establishes and Oud Assam is an intriguing interaction between barnyard, leather and woody notes, even if it gets more polite later in the basenotes with a note similar to dark, dry chocolade or maybe a dry tobacconote. and it's almost as the orange glimpses through together with some musc and in this stage a very pleasant, almost pure, part appears. Despite the demanding notes especially in the first part of Oud Assam, the fragrance is smooth and comforting in texture and it feels natural and very wellbalanced  in style. There are non of the harsh or peppery notes which are so common in synthetic ouds. Oud Assam is very special and a pleasant surprise, one of the very best ouds both I and Mr Parfumista has tested so far. The comforting oudnote in Oud Assam reminds me of the oud in the amber-oud fragrance from Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Ambre Doré but drier and smoother. The first part of Oud Assam is maybe not the best officefragrance but the second part would be no problem. Anyway, Oud Assam is perfect for cozy days at home or for walks in the forest during autumn and winter. Sillage is medium and longevity for almost a day.

Oud Assam is totally unisex. When Mr Parfumista wears Oud Assam less of the animalic notes appears and more of the polished ones. In the later stages Oud Assam is a gentle, woody perfume which smells pure and natural. Mr Parfumista find something in the pure notes in Oud Assam that reminds him of vintage Cartier Santos and I agree when smelling them side by side. On my skin Oud Assam takes another route, the animalic-dirty. I can still smell the stablenots in the late drydown.

Overall Oud Assam is an intriguing and very special oud that takes many twists during its drydown. Oud Assam should be smelled on skin, it's fine on the scentstrip but warmed up and mixed with ones own chemistry something almost magical heppens and Oud Assam reaches a higher level. It's a very personal fragrance as almost different perfumes are appearing depending on who is wearing Oud Assam. Mr Parfumista also want to add that he truly appreciate the lack of pepper in this oud as he is so fed up with all the bombastic, peppery oudnotes out there.

Oud Assam is a real gem and should be tested by those who like oud and wellcrafted woody perfumes. Even if not smelling the same, Oud Assam has the natural feeling of delicate and comforting oud just as Mona di Orio Les Nombres d'Or Oud and The Different Company Oud Shamash. Oud Assam is also a priceworthy alternative to those fragrances.

Rating: 5

Notes: Bergamot, sweet and bitter orange, oud, cedarwood, vetiver, incense, pepper, tonka bean, musc 

måndag 12 maj 2014

Rania J - Ambre Loup

Picture: Gum rockrose, Capsule and seeds, (labdanum)
Photo: Roger Culos (cc) Wikipedia Commons,
some rights reserved
Ambre Loup is as the name indicates, the ambercentered fragrance in the  Rania J:s natural perfume line. Ambre Loup is composed by Rania Jouaneh, just as all the perfumes of the house. Rania, while growing up, was livning in the Orient as well as Africa, is now living in France. She is inspired olfactory by her multicultural background.

Ambre Loup starts with relatively dark animalic notes, this part reminds me of the opening of one of my most favorite amberfragrances L'Ombre Fauve by Parfumerie Générale. But where L'Ombre Fauve goes further in investigating some weird notes, Ambre Loup suddenly turns in a lighter, very pleasant, almost bubblegum, a tad smokey, rubbery ambery accord. This accord is IMHO close to what could be smelled in the lovely bubblegum-amber fragrance Jean Paul Gaultier 2, but it is less sweet interpreted in Ambre Loup.

Ambre Loup is a fitting name for the composition as the fragrances seems to loop around, after a while the deep animalic amber is appearing again, then the lighter amber. The longer Ambre Loup dries down, the more of both the animalic and the bubblegum amber notes are blended together to a quite dark, distinct ambery, slight musky harmony which is very comfortable and relaxing. In the basenotes Ambre Loup reminds me of another excellent amber from the latest years which also contains a wellbalanced amount of oud: Ambre Doré by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, also a real wristsniffer just as Ambre Loup. The oud in Ambre Loup is also similar to the note in Oud Assam (will be reviewed in a coming post) but more subdued. In texture and spirit, Ambre Loup also reminds me a bit of another favorite, Le Labo Labdanum 18. Ambre Loup has an excellent longevity, the basenotes are left unfragmented 24h after application. The sillage is quite close and it is definitly officefriendly, if properly applied it could not disturb anybody. Ambre Loup is perfect for the colder months but also for a rainy and cold summerevening.

Picture: Glass vial containing Cistus Essential Oil (labdanum)
Photo: Itineranttrader, Wikipedia Commons
In summary Ambre Loup is a perfect basic amber, straightforward without any oddities. It never gets too vanillic sweet as some ambers, nor too herbal as others. The animalic notes are tempered and lends a dark dept to the fragrance. Could be recommended to those who are searching for a staple amber.

Rating: 4+

Notes: Peru balsam, labdanum, vanilla, oud, guaiacwood, cedarwood, musk

lördag 10 maj 2014

Fragrance(s) of the week (19) - An intriguing perfumeline

Picture: It's a rainy May so far....
Photo: Mr Parfumista (c)
With start on Monday I'll review fragrances from a line that I have grown to like very much. It all started with that I "inheritated" some samples from my perfumfriend S at Riktig Parfym. From what I smelled I immediately understood I had to try the whole line out properly and contacted the perfumer for samples. The perfumes in the line are of the kind that the more I try them, the more facets I discover. The fragrances is not of the most technical perfection, instead they mediate a genuine, rustic feeling and are comforting, interesting and very wearable. Stay tuned on Monday to find out about a terrific line.

torsdag 8 maj 2014

Maria Candida Gentile - Gershwin

Picture:  Publicity portrait of George Gershwin (1898-1937),
with autograph ca 1935, Wikipedia Commons
Gershwin is inspired of the wide range of music, from jazz to classic and operas, composed by George Gershwin. Maybe it's also inspired of his too short life. It's one of the first releases in the classical Maria Candida Gentile line and is classified as unisex, to my nose leaning a bit more to the masculine side.

Gershwin starts refreshing with excellent citrusnotes, underscored with a fizzy and wellbalanced pepper. The woody elements are soon coming forward and an almost juniperthree-like note appears. In both the top- and the middle stages Gershwin reminds me of a fresh, woody, chilly favorite of mine, The Different Company De Bachmakov. There is also something that slight resembles the chilly aura of Helmut Lang Cuiron.
Even if the overall impression of Gershwin is that of a linear fragrance, there is a notable difference between the top- and middlenotes and the base where Gershwin dries down in a beautiful, rounded almost honey-like incense. The incense is soft and not overpowering or sharp. Even in the basenotes, the impression of the  forest like freshness of the earlier stages of the fragrance are still present but it's not the mainplayer anymore.
Picture: Gershwin in its stylish bottle
Photo: PR Maria Candida Gentile (c)
Gershwin is just as DeBachmakov, the perfect fresh fragrance for spring and summer. It's suitable both for casual and work. The only drawback is the longevity, Gershwin fades away too fast, there are just light traces left after a workingday. Except that, Gershwin is another winner from Maria Candida Gentile.

Those who appreciate Andy Tauers Incense Extreme and Parfumerie Générale L'Eau Guerriere even if these fragrances doesn't smell too close, they are somehow common in style.

Rating: 4

Notes: Winter and Sicilian lemons, bitter orange, grapefruit, pink pepper, sycamore (maple), water flowers, cloves, sandalwood, incense

måndag 5 maj 2014

Maria Candida Gentile - Finisterre

Picture: Fisterre, Galicia, Spain
Photo: Greta, Wikimedia Commons
Finisterre is one of the latest releases in the classical line of my favorite Italian perfumer, Maria Candida Gentile. Finisterre is a contemporary representative of the, among many (snobbish) perfumistas, not so valued (to be diplomatic) aquatic genre. This genre seems to have a revival recently with Hermès Epice Marine as a forerunner. The aquatics of the 2010s doesent have the traditional melon (calone) note and re-interprete the genre.

Finisterre is inspired by the second (the first is Cabo da Roca outside Lisabon which I've wisited myself) outermost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, Cape Finisterre in Galicia, where the wawes of the atlantic ocaean rolls in over the cliffs with full power. Finisterre really captures what I image as a sunny, windy summerday at the place. The first part has something in common with the original Kenzo pour Homme but without the intriguing aromatic aquatic twisted lily of the valley note that is the characteristic of the Kenzo. Very soon a very well done, not sharp, turpentine note appears and is present during the whole dry down. It's contrasted with a green, non sweet, minty note and when these notes are interacting a sea like note appears. There are also a woody freshness of fir present softened with a discrete sandalwood and immortelle. The immortele is not at all the bombastic proportions of for example Annick Goutal Sables or leathery strong as in Histoires de Parfums 1740 Marquise de Sade. The herbal qualities of Finisterre expresses itself as an soft anise/ licorice-like nuance which discretely accompanies the other notes. A note of crisp green leaves, just like fresh tulip or other bulbflowers crispy leaves i  spring also appears and this part reminds me of the beautiful springfragrance of Oriza L.Legrand Déjà le Printemps.  There is also a relaxing, salty, balsamic aspect of Finisterre, probably the ambregris which lends the composition a true oceanic expression.
Even if no distinguishable incensenote there is also an almost churchy aspect of Finisterre, a nuance of what is much more noticeable in MCG Sideris and Exultat. Maybe this is mirroring the fact that Finisterre is the final destination of the pilgrims of the Way of Saint James, the last 90 km walk from the pilgrim metropole Santiago de Compostela. When reaching Finisterre, the pilgrims following an old tradition, burns their clothes or shoes. Finsterre is a quite linear composition to my nose and one experience most of its features at the same time.
Picture:. The stylish bottle of Finisterre
Photo: PR Maria Candida Gentile (c)
I instantly liked Finisterre for the first time when I tried it and my liking has constantly growing through the wearing from the sample supplied by Fragrance & Art. Finisterre is also drawing compliments, several people have independitly complimented this aquatic wonder. A perfect summerfragrance, both for casual and for office. Not the most complicated MCG fragrance but on the other hand, who wants to analyze the whole time, sometimes at least me, just want to relax in a good fragrance. Finsterre is just great IMO and it has joined my other two most favorite MCG:s  Sideris and Cinabre in the top.

Rating: 5

Notes: Sea notes, immortelle, pine tree, ambergris, sandalwood

torsdag 1 maj 2014

Parfumerie Générale - Grand Siècle Intense 7.1

Picture: Grand Siècle Intense
Photo: PR Parfumerie Générale (c)
Grand Siècle Intense 7.1 is the just released, fourth fragrance in the Signature Collection of Parfumerie Générale, collection which Pierre Guillaume started to create 2012 to mark the 10th anniversary of Parfumerie Générale that year. The collection will capture Pierres development as a perfumer and offers different interpretations of some of the Parfumerie Générale perfumes from the past. The Signature Collection is only avaible at Parfumerie Générales own website.

Grand Siècle Intense is a follower to the very natural smelling bitter citrus cologne Cologne Grand Siècle in which Pierre Guillaume was inspired by the court of the Sun King Louis XIV in the seventeenth century and the few and pure ingredients which then was avaible to the parfumer. 

Grand Siècle Intense starts with natural smelling bitter citrus and green notes. A realistic and refreshing, slight fizzy note of mint leaves appears after a while. This mint is also present in the original Maroocan Mint tea inspired Harmatan Noir 11, but in this fragrance, blended with smokey, spicy almost metallic notes. The minty note is also present in the easier to wear Noir Marine from the Phaedon line. Grand Siècle Intense goes on with green-woody notes, with the sparkilng green of cypress over light woods, fresh moss and a well intergrated vetiver. The cypress slightly reminds me of the sparkling green in Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien. A slight smokey touch also appears and glimpses of a very fine leather also appears and in the basenotes there is also a light, well rounded sweetness, probably the honey, which prevent the fragrance from beeing too aromatic in style.Just as in Cologne Grand Siècle there are no harsh or artifical smelling notes which seems to be quite common in cheaper aromatic/citrus fragrances. As usual with Parfumerie Générale this is high quality stuff and it's a smooth, delightful and easy to wear fragrance. Grand Siècle Intense is, just as it's forerunner, with its close sillage, perfect both for casual and office wear in spring and summer. The only drawback, just as with the cologneversion, is the longevity. Even if I applied liberally, I have to reapply every two-three hours and 75% of my 2 ml sample was gone after one wearing. On the other hand, I have dry skin so this is probably not a common problem.

Comparing the two Grand Siècle versions, Cologne Grand Siècle is more of a cologne in style (even if not fully) with citrusy, lemony notes and also with a for the fragrance characteristic note of a hard citruspastille. In  Grand Siècle Intense the cologne inspired theme is most present in the early stage of the fragrance, later it's more of a citiric, green, light woody aromatic perfume. Both fragrances are unisex even if the cologne IMO is leaning a bit more to the masculine side and the Intense is just neutral.

Rating: 4 (if rating how it smells, its structure and quality of ingredients), 3 (if taken the longevity issues in consideration)

Notes: Bergamot, bitter orange, lemon leaves, mint, cypress, vetiver, patchouli, oakmoss, tobacco absolute, hay, honey