Providence Perfume Co. Divine Noir

12 May

Divine Noir is sweet, woody, earthy, balsamic, warm, tangy, and aromatic. It smells like a complex artisan root beer with a spritz of bergamot and a shot of patchouli-infused wheat grass mixed into it. It is such a beautiful offering of naturally sweet and aromatic earthiness, I feel like eating it would make me stronger and more beautiful.

It is spicy, smooth, rich and deep, but its vibrant botanical quality lends the ingredients a translucency, which prevents it from ever becoming too much. In the dead of summer I could see it being a little too heavy, but on the right person, Divine Noir is so balanced and unique that it could easily be dressed up or down. The juice is dark (obviously) so be careful when applying because if you spray directly to a small area, it can temporarily stain skin the color of sunless tanner, until your next shower. Don’t let this deter you. Just spray over a larger area so the color isn’t concentrated like a splotch, and always apply before you dress, and you’ll be fine.

Divine Noir is an invisible door you can open into a private exotic environment. It’s like chocolate and wine-colored velvet curtains draped behind antique paned-glass windows. It’s a fragrance for feeling centered and confident while at the same time welcoming and alluring.  That said, it’s definitely not a perfume  for everyone, and probably not for most, which could be a good or bad thing depending on what you are looking for.

The bergamot and patchouli are prevalent in the opening, as well as the sarsaparilla and well, countless other things! Ahhh! It’s blowing my mind!

It honestly took me a while to find my footing in Divine Noir (as it is VERY strong and bold with good sillage and excellent longevity), but once I did, I could not stop sniffing the part of my arm I had sprayed. The most gorgeous vanilla emerges in the dry down; what a stunning finish to an incredible journey.

the difference

L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse: Vanille & Narcisse

11 May

Vanilla & Narcisse is a very unpredictable fragrance on my skin. Each time I wear it, it goes in one of two directions..

1. Soft, feminine, and lovely.

The first one is light, warm, powdery vanilla like a marshmallow (though less sweet), with an abstract floral element which possesses a tinge of what I would equate to wintergreen, though it’s really more like wintergreen gum or candy than the essential oil. It’s like a powdery vanilla-mint without any bite. Projection and lasting power are moderate.

2. Totally gross.

The second direction is sweet powdery vanilla changing to body odor. This is the smell of body odor on the back of my freshly washed hand, and when it goes this way, I want nothing more than to wash my hand again immediately.

Could my body chemistry be fluctuating THAT much? My first experience with this fragrance was so enjoyable, and I walked around wearing it in the warm late afternoon, planning to go back the following day and ask for a sample. However the next time I tested it, I thought “YUCK! It’s baby powder mixed with grown-up stink!”

Do not blind buy this or gift it to anyone based on the notes. You really must sample it several times to make a determination about it. Though this is true of many if not most fragrances, it holds especially true with ones like Vanilla & Narcisse.

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L’Occitane La Collection de Grasse: The Vert & Bigarade

11 May

The Vert & Bigarade is my favorite Green Tea centered fragrance to date. The tea is crisp and smooth, never bitter.

The bitter orange is not strong at all, and merely acts as a stage hand to round out the fullness of the refreshing green tea. I hardly notice it. This one is more of a single note fragrance than the original The Vert which has a very prominent lemon especially in the opening. I strongly prefer The Vert & Bigarade to the original. It is what The Vert should have been.

I don’t know how it compares to Elizabeth Arden’s green tea collection, but as far as tea fragrances go, I think I actually also prefer TV&B to L’Artisan’s The Pour un Ete, though it is lovely in its own right, and also features a green tea accented by citrus. The Pour un Ete starts off with a sweeter and more gentle lemon than the lemon tea combo in The Vert, and the dry down of The Pour un Ete is a more prominently jasmine-green tea.

The Vert & Bigarade stays pretty linear on my skin: Straight smooth and sparkling green tea all the way. I might drink it. It has very good longevity for a green tea fragrance. Applied in early evening, I can still smell it on my skin the following morning. It’s projection is average. The dry down is a rich matcha green tea. So beautiful! Well done, L’Occitane!

I love to layer this translucent light green scent with Pacifica’s Island Vanilla to make a matcha green tea ice cream fragrance. Wonderfully simple and well done. Great for casual daily wear as with most green tea fragrances (and L’Occitane fragrances for that matter). Do not say that green tea has been done to death before trying this one out.

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Pacifica Island Vanilla

9 May

Okay I’ll admit it. I’ve been on a crazy vanilla hunt recently. After Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille recharged my hope for the note, I have been looking for an exceptional, affordable vanilla.

Pacifica Island Vanilla is everything I wanted. It has none of the artificial, “this isn’t lime and vanilla, it’s fruity plastic!” of Burberry Brit, Jessica Simpson Fancy, and even Viva la Juicy (my favorite of the vanillic generic trio.) It does not fly at your throat and sinuses and try to strangle you like Lush’s Vanillary or Sud Pacifique’s Vanille Extreme . It doesn’t have that sugar on steroids quality that Pink Sugar has (fun, but not appropriate in many situations).

You do not have to wait for the dry down to love Island Vanilla. It’s great from beginning to end.

Island Vanilla is honey-laced. It is milkier and more complex than the vanilla essential oils you might have resorted to after a long and disappointing quest to find the affordable vanilla of your dreams.

This my friends, is vanilla paradise.

From the moment I sprayed Island Vanilla on my skin at whole Foods, I knew it was exactly what I wanted in a vanilla for $20/bottle. I normally can’t stand Pacifica. Their Mexican Cocoa made me run to the nearest sink, and Wakiki makes me feel physically ill. Indian Coconut reminds me of car air freshener. But Island Vanilla is as far as I can tell (and I have smelled most of their fragrances) one of the few exceptions.

From the opening, Island Vanilla smells soft, sweet, milky, fresh, and damp. There is something very natural and intimate about it. The slight traces of fruitiness at the opening, as well as the absence of musk (thank God), and the absence of powder, all make me think of the flavored fruity vanilla milk I used to drink when I was in China nine years ago. The fruits are mere suggestions, the way wine can smell from leather without a belt strap soaking in it. It’s not actual fruit smell. It’s a fruity quality. Fruity as opposed to smoky, etc. but NOT actual fruits.

I say flavored milk, but this was not at all like the super sugary brands of sweetened flavored milk in America. The flavored milk in China was not any one particular “fruit”. It was just gently sweetened, with a very mild, ambiguously vanilla/fruity element. When imbibed straight from the refrigerator, it was so incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day. Summery vanilla at its best and most accessible!

Island vanilla is smooth, sweet but not too sweet, vaguely fruity, with a very prominent honey/ milk note. It’s like the vanilla bean ice cream drizzled with honey that I use to eat as a girl. The ice cream would melt as the honey chilled and became chewy like caramel.

I straight up love Island Vanilla. This may sound corny, but when I first smelled it, I thought, it’s a kiss from a beautiful girl who has been drinking vanilla milk!

I encourage anyone that loves sweet vanilla with access to this brand to go out and give it a try. It shocked me into buying it at first sniff, and I still love it just as much after wearing it for a solid week.

This would be amazing for layering, but I prefer it on it’s own. While I am saving my money for a niche vanilla, I am thrilled and relieved to have this in my collection.

Jo Malone Osmanthus Blossom

4 May

Osmanthus Blossom is a boldly green citrus with water/flower notes. I would rename it Petitgrain Blossom. The reps at my Jo Malone boutique were very generous to give me a big fat sample when I stopped in to say hello.

Osmanthus Blossom opens with sweet and tart, crisp juicy lychee-ish, fruity “water” notes, accompanied by bright, ambiguously green citrus medley (petitgrain with sugar-dipped lime wedges and bergamot oil…maybe even a tea note?)..

The dry down loses some of the sparkle and tang of the opening and contains mostly mild, sunny-sweet powder and green notes which again lean more toward the lotus, petitgrain-citrus direction, than any other. There is also a hint of light, ambiguous woods with the water and powder (a high-quality aquatic musk) toward the very end.

I feel that this is an easy composition, green, sweet, springy, and not representative of anything realistic.

It is an impressionistic fragrance, but my impression of the actual osmanthus bush/tree (one of my all time favorites) is not similar to this fragrance. I don’t usually get hung up on names and review for what I smell, not for what I hope, but I couldn’t help but want a true osmanthus scent from JM, since her Red Roses and Orange Blossom hit the nail on the head with such precision.

I think OB is about as compelling as the new Jasmin & Bergamote by L’Occitane. Longevity and projection are average. I won’t be owning this, but I’m not in the market for a green citrus floral.

OB is a safe bet for someone who wants to smell fresh, feminine, and ready for spring with open arms, but isn’t really sure what she wants in a fragrance, and abhors the idea of offending anyone around her. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

Personally, I would be eager to see Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume Co. attempt an osmanthus soliflore in the same vein as her Hindu Honeysuckle (also a petitgrain-rich composition). I feel that the osmanthus blossom must be nearly impossible to replicate, and if anything can approximate it, the palette of natural perfumery may have the upper hand.

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An Answer to the “Glade Plug-In Generation”: Providence Perfume Company opens its doors!

2 May

WOO-HOO! I received my sampler pack of fragrances from the Providence Perfume Company yesterday, and I could not be more excited.

Providence Perfume Sampler

My order arrived in record time which is a testament to the level of quality customer service provided by Charna Ethier, founder and perfumer of Providence Perfume Company. She has just opened her first brick and mortar retail and classroom space in Providence, R.I. yet she was still able to get me my samples without delay… Talk about efficient!

I was first introduced to the Providence Perfume Co. and its founder,  at the Elements Showcase in Autumn of 2012 in New York City. I was really moved by Charna’s positive attitude and warmth, as well as her vast knowledge of perfumery and her willingness to take the time to share with me and introduce me to her collections of fragrances. After meeting her in person and sampling some of her offerings, I knew that she stood out from the crowd, and that her creations were something to be honored.

I am putting my money on Charna, not just by literally investing in her fragrances, but also in an idealistic sense.  Providence Perfume Company uses all natural ingredients.  This is not natural in the Pacifica sense of the term. I mean ACTUALLY all-natural. And yet, her fragrances smell like so much more than a combination of tinctures and essential oils mixed together, which is the feeling I get from so many all natural and organic perfume companies.

Charna understands perfume as art, and perfume as beauty, and most importantly, ART AS BEAUTY, which is something the art world, and arguably the perfume world, has largely let fall by the wayside in favor of more lucrative considerations.

What good is an “interesting creative” fragrance if it is not also a thing of beauty? Charna Ethier understands this, and I eagerly look forward to her continuing success and her future creations. She gives me hope for the world of perfume,  and unquestionably, for the art world as well.

Check out my reviews of Moss Gown and Hindu Honeysuckle to learn more about some of her  exceptional fragrances.

For more information on Providence Perfume Co.’s new boutique, check out this lovely article on

Also, see the Providence Perfume Co. website, where I purchased my awesome and very reasonably priced sample kit!

In an excellent interview with Charna by Jodi Battershell of Fragrantica,  Jodi quotes a card that she received from Charna which perfectly sums up the goal of Providence Perfume Co.:

“I want as many people as possible to get to smell osmanthus flower, real buttery tuberose, exotic coffee flowers and tonka beans. It’s so sad to think about kids growing up never getting to smell a real lilac or lavender. I call them the ‘Glade Plug-In’ Generation.”

The Glade Plug-In generation, the CGI floral generation, the SSRI floral generation: no matter how you characterize the fragrances marketed to us, or the generation(s) we are a part of , we are fortunate to have artists like Charna relentlessly working to show us the value of the authentic.

My congratulations and sincere gratitude to Charna Ethier and Providence Perfume Co.!  We are so lucky to be able to share in your beauty.

Profumum Roma Arso

1 May

Arso is a dry pine that is encrusted with sticky, highly flammable sap. It starts out Christmas tree, and ends up blackened fire pit.


On the exhale, I get the faintest trace of something that has burned, like the smoldering remains of a campsite cookout.

The almost undetectable leather and incense provide a faint saltiness, which enhances the dimension of the burned smell as Arso dries down, but it never plainly spells LEATHER, or INCENSE. It’s projection and longevity are both very good.

The slightly charred pine is the feature here from start to finish. It is 100 percent unisex, (how could smelling like a tree be masculine or feminine?) and it can be worn whenever you wish to smell like you’ve been camping.

I could see this being really confusing to people in an office environment:
“You look like you’re working, but you smell like you’re about to roast marshmallows!… Either my co-worker is wearing Arso, or I’m having a hallucination.”

Or something.


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