Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Nicolai Parfumeur Createur Fig-Tea

This post will likely kick off a string of fig-based fragrance reviews. I can't help myself, there is something magnetic about figgy scents. It's sort of silly that the first fig fragrance I'm choosing to review, is probably one of the least figgy of so many fig-based formulas¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . In any case, let's dive in.

Top: fig, osmanthus, artemesia
Middle: mate, coriander, jasmine
Base: guaiac wood, amber

Fig-Tea (EDT) is very much a warm weather scent. For me, it's all about tea and herbal notes. I'm actually shocked that fig is even a proclaimed contributor; they're not even claiming fig leaf, they're claiming full-on fig. Maybe it's a very unripened fig? If you're expecting ripe, milky, creamy, dense fig, you'll be disappointed.

With the first full blast of Fig-Tea, I envision a tall, icy glass of Arnold Palmer (black tea and lemonade mixed). Once I've set aside my immediate vision and really take the time to focus on which notes I'm smelling, I realize that the artemisia is definitely stealing the top note show. No fig, no distinguishable osmanthus (that doesn't mean it's not lingering backstage). The top note show is very brief; the mid notes are very anxious to barge onto stage.

The mid notes are the longest act in this composition, and the real reason that I pick up on such a tea-vibe (hello, mate!), but there's something very strongly competing with the mate, which is 100% the coriander. The parsley-esque scent is so apparent, that when I press my nose against my wrist, I feel like I've just finished chopping parsley in my (very) tiny kitchen. Like the osmanthus in the top notes, jasmine must not have made the cut for the show, rendering her to the backstage crew (how many of us have been jasmine-d in life? heyyy high school cheerleading try outs). Amazingly, the bitter artemisia hangs on throughout the entire composition, and the base notes never fully come to fruition for me. Amber who? Woods what? Okay, maybe a HINT of wood.

I do appreciate Fig-Tea for it's light, refreshing quality; although I don't appreciate the disappearing act from the fig. I think that Nicolai Parfumeur's proclamation of love for fig has gone completely unrequited. This juice won't get you noticed, projection doesn't exist. It sits close to you, and helps keep you from feeling smothered on hot summer days. I have found, however, that layering this with one of my more beloved and fig-rich scents (something like L'Artisan Premier Figuier Extreme), adds a nice, sunny element that I've really enjoyed. As for longevity, it will faintly stick around for a few hours, but expect to reapply if you're interested in enjoying it for the entire day.

Fig-Tea is an EDT (I've also seen it listed as an Eau Fraiche), the nose behind this fragrance is Patricia de Nicolai, and it retails for $45-130

Longevity: 1/5
Projection: 1/5

WEAR THIS: for hot, humid, and casual days

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: Maison Martin Margiela (untitled)

Untitled only recently flew onto my radar, I knew of Maison Martin scents, but I'd never heard of Untitled. I stumbled upon it half on accident, and half thanks to my nosy (ha! pun intended?) nature. I'm currently in limbo in my life, after ten years of working as a hairdresser (usually miserably), I decided it was time for a life overhaul, and near the start of this overhaul, moved from Columbus, Ohio to Brooklyn, New York. I had absolutely no idea what I would be doing for work, and it was sort of complete luck that I was hired by an unassumingly posh (yet down to earth) family to nanny part time for their seven year old son; maybe it was the Fragrance Gods directing me to Untitled. Mom is Scottish, a shoe designer. Dad is French, a photographer. Boy is a well-behaved, incredibly imaginative spitfire. It only seems fitting that here is where I would be introduced to Untitled.

One evening, while M and D were out for a date night, and B was sound asleep, I meandered in to M's vanity to take a sniff of her small collection of juice (I consistently find myself completely enamored in knowing what fragrances a person uses, I feel like it gives me some deeper, sensory-based insight into who they are). I know indefinitely that her signature scent is Chloe, since it's always the scent trailing behind her... but she has a few others. I pick up Untitled, intrigued by the bottle and the hipster-esque title, and pop off the cap for a quick spritz. Once the dry-down commenced, I spent the next thirty minutes floating in a cloudy, greenery-dominant heaven, whilst frantically searching the web for anything I could find about Untitled, and where I could buy it (because that was definitely happening). Although I hadn't heard of Untitled before, there was something oddly familiar about the composition, and in my frantic web-digging, I discovered why. Daniela Andrier.


Untitled turns a classical fragrance upside down. Taking Galbanum, the principal element of this fresh, green scent, it contrasts it with resonances of incense and musky cedar as base notes. Turning its citrus top notes into a complex, sensual, smooth blend of incense and cedar. Its striking nose is then edged with a hint of jasmine, to give it a dense, floral, almost filmy warmth.

My method for testing a new perfume has always been the same; I spritz a bit in the air, and then I run the back of my hand through said mist. This is usually enough to give me a good impression of whether I will like the scent or not, and in the case of Untitled, less is more. This baby is pungent. Had I indulged myself in a full, wet blast on first try, I may have recoiled in horror. Even with that timid, introductory mist, I found myself in a temporary state of shock. Upon initial application, the best single word for Untitled is simply, "weird." However, I like weird, and this is a weird I can appreciate - especially now that I know what comes next...

...ANNND because "weird" is not at all helpful to you. Let's get into the nitty-gritty of this concoction. Untitled has, maybe, one of the greenest presence that I've smelled. Spritz. Sniff. Bitter, sharp, crunchy, aggressively green; this must be the galbanum. Sniff. I sense oiliness, but upon reading the description I pulled, they got it right when they used the word "filmy." For me, the filmiest part is at the start, but it certainly digs its heels in and sticks around. Sniff. The jasmine sneaks in to save the homicidal greenery from completely murdering your olfactive experience. I also sense the woody-incense tip-toeing in, but as for the citrus, I can pin-point none. However I imagine the citrus is mingling in the background, playing a significant part in keeping this from staying over-the-top green. It settles down to a green-woody-floral, eventually musk side-steps in to assist the dry-down. As it settles down completely, it gets softer, pretty, airy, a little soapy, and less jarring.

I admire Untitled most with a light spritz, or when there's only a whisper of it left on the skin. And because I've thoroughly enjoyed every scent I've experienced that has Daniela's name on it, my fondness for this baby is no surprise. I think if you're a fan of Daniela Andrier, you must try this. If you've sniffed several of her perfumes, you'll likely feel the Daniela vibe in the dry-down. Although very different fragrances, Untitled strongly reminds me of Prada's Infusion d'Iris (which is one of my all time favorites).

As for the longevity and projection of this scent, it's a bit underwhelming. If you happen to be in the presence of others when you've first applied, I'm fairly confident they'd notice. However, once worn for awhile, it becomes more of a skin scent. I don't have to mash my nose against my wrist, but I have to get within an inch of it to catch a whiff. Longevity is okay, in that you'll smell traces of it up close hours later, but it may leave you wondering where the once brash and outspoken Mr. Green has run off to.

(untitled) is an EDP, it retails for $100-140, and the nose behind this fragrance is Daniela (Roche) Andrier

Longevity: 2/5
Projection: 2/5

WEAR THIS: daytime, lunch dates, botanical garden visit

Friday, June 19, 2015

Lesson II: Fragrance Concentrations

The concentration of a fragrance refers to the amount of perfume oil that is mixed with a solvent (the solvent most commonly being alcohol). The higher the perfume oil content, the stronger the fragrance  concentration will be. Conversely, the higher the solvent content, the weaker the fragrance concentration will be. With this in mind, we'll explore the most common concentrations of fragrance on the market.

  • Parfum: 20-30% 
  • Eau de Parfum (EDP): 15-20%
  • Eau de Toilette (EDT): 10-15%
  • Eau de Cologne (EDC): 2-4%
  • Eau Fraiche: 1-3%

As I'm sure you can guess, the fragrances which contain the highest perfume oil content will be the strongest and longest lasting (as well as the most expensive!). Many times, individuals will favor Parfum and EDP in the cooler months, and reach for EDT, EDC, and Eau Fraiche in the warmer months. This is simply because the more highly concentrated fragrances can feel a bit stuffy and heavy in the hot summer air (and warm, sweaty skin tends to amplify scent). Of course, there is no rule, and this choice is usually made dependent upon the specific fragrance. For example, wearing an EDP with primarily floral or citrus notes will often register as lighter, airier, and fresher, versus an EDP with heavy oriental or vanilla notes.

Thanks for reading!

Review: Creed Virgin Island Water

Since it's been 90 degrees and humid enough for my hair to turn into an actual poodle (well, that and the undeniable, magnetic attraction that I have to tropical scents), I feel obligated to give the first review to Creed Virgin Island Water, as if it doesn't have enough of a cult following already. 


-Top: essence of copra (white innards of coconut), lime, white bergamot, orange
-Middle: hibiscus, ginger, ylang-ylang, jasmine
-Base: sugar cane, white musk, tonka

I held off on this guy for awhile, and when I finally decided to bite the bullet, I snagged a perfect bottle from a nice guy on eBay (please be cautious buying Creed on eBay). I can remember ripping into the package and whipping off the cap for a sniff, and faintly crinkling up my nose. From the nozzle, it didn't smell like the VIW that I'd sampled from my small vial, and for a long time I really wasn't sure what I was smelling, but as I'm writing this and continually sniffing my wrists and the nozzle, I think it may be dry, sour bergamot that I'm experiencing. 

Just sprayed, I'm overwhelmed by sweet, faintly floral limes, this is my favorite part of VIW. The coconut creeps in with a whisper, and the rum is a constant linger throughout the whole experience. It's worth mentioning that if you're looking for a super sweet, sticky coconut, this isn't your guy. VIW is fresh and breezy, with citrus as it's main contender. For the first thirty minutes, I feel like I'm on a white-sanded beach, with a cocktail in hand, coconuts in the palm trees, and a cool breeze blowing through. 

To expand more on the floral notes, they're sort of an afterthought to me. I know that they are there, and I think they contribute to the overall composition in an important and methodical way, but the lime and rum are the stars of the show here. However, I definitely get the sweetness from the sugar cane and tonka to round it all out.

The biggest downfall of VIW, is that thirty minutes is its peak. From that point on, you're on the other side of the really terrifying part of the rollercoaster, and the excitement will all be over soon. It slowly turns into the concoction that I first smelled from the nozzle, and eventually disappears completely. That wouldn't hurt so bad if it didn't retail for $175 for a 30ml bottle. But hey, it is a lavish tropical treat while it lasts. Side note: I've read multiple times that the intensity of each note in VIW can wax and wane depending on the batch.

Creed retails for $175-350, the noses behind the fragrance are Oliver & Erwin Creed

Longevity: 1/5
Projection: 2/5

WEAR THIS: summer, beach day (or to feel like you're on holiday), tropical vacation

Lesson I: Olfactory Group Overview

Oh hi! Thanks for stopping by. It only feels appropriate to begin a blog about fragrance with some of the chief components of fragrance. Keep in mind that these are basic umbrella groups in which fragrances are clumped into; there are more complex sub-groups to each of these. Let's start simple.

Main Olfactory Groups:

  • Common Characteristics: fresh, pretty, airy, classic, clean, powdery
  • Composition: a singular flower, or an array of flowers at the heart (ex: rose, lilac, lily of the valley, violet)

  • Common Characteristics: fresh, zingy, clean
  • Composition: fragrances with a core focus on citrus notes (ex:orange, lemon, bergamot, mandarin, grapefruit)

  • Common Characteristics: green, grassy, herb-y, aromatic (ha!)
  • Composition: a core of green, natural notes (ex: rosemary, basil, cumin, sage, lavender)

  • Common Characteristics: earthy, mossy, woody, 
  • Composition: fragrances with sort of a mish-mash of notes belonging to other groups, typically includes a citrus top note, a labdanum mid note, and a mossy-animalic base note (ex: oak moss, patchouli, musk)

  • Common Characteristics: deep, woody, some dry, some balmy, smokey
  • Composition: a heart and base comprised mainly of woody notes (ex: sandalwood, cedar, vetiver)

  • Common Characteristics: warm, exotic, spicy, sensual
  • Composition: a fragrance with a focal point on oriental notes (ex: amber, vanilla, spices, resins, exotic flowers)

  • Common Characteristics: smokey, errr...leathery...
  • Composition: while leather is a pungent component, fragrances which include leather often use other softer notes to counteract the negative, strong odors that can come from leather

Thanks for reading!