Tag Archives: sweet fragrances

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.

All the pics From the Old Computer 3385

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.

Providence Perfume Co. Hindu Honeysuckle

7 Apr

At last! My search has officially ended.

I have finally found the sweet, airy and powerful true-to-life honeysuckle-centered fragrance of my dreams. Hindu Honeysuckle is magical. It is the perfection of summer, distilled.

One spray to each arm, and the most gorgeous realistic cloud of honeysuckle aroma enveloped me. It was euphoria.
Moments later, my boyfriend (who is extremely discerning about fragrance) turned his head and from ACROSS THE ROOM exclaimed, “that smells incredible.” I looked up at his face and there were tears in his eyes. I kid you not.


Hindu Honeysuckle is a clear and transportive honeysuckle fragrance, conjuring memories of peaceful childhood summers in nature. It has amazing projection and longevity just like the real honeysuckle vine. This is an especially grand accomplishment considering that all-natural fragrances tend to be lacking in the sillage/life-span department.

Hindu Honeysuckle also has depth and complexity, with a prominent ambrette note from the opening, along with lighter coriander and bergamot, then vetiver to give it a green aromatic earthiness. These elements set off the features of the honeysuckle flowers even more, so that they are sparkling and full of light. Jasmine and bergamot linger in the dry down. It is extremely well blended, yet it retains great note separation.

The earthy/herbal elements also enforce that this is a unisex fragrance. It is very impressive that it is an all-natural fragrance because it is so vibrant and layered. However, by any standards (natural or synthetic, niche, indie, or whatever), it is a transcendent and awe-inspiring feat of alchemy.

I would say that Hindu Honeysuckle is worth every penny, but to me it is priceless. It seems wrong to put a figure on something of such arresting, unquantifiable aesthetic value. I personally feel that it is too beautiful to be an every day fragrance (though it’s easy to wear and definitely could be one if you chose), and instead something to wear when you want to create beautiful memories and lasting positive associations. It would be ideal for a special occasion or a sacred personal ceremony. This joyous peaceful fragrance would be a great gift to the person for whom you want to show infinite gratitude; that’s just what I think of when I smell it!

If you love honeysuckle or have never smelled it before and want to know exactly what it smells like, this is the fragrance for you. Trust me, it does NOT get better than this.

Aquolina Pink Sugar

2 Apr

Here’s the progression of Pink Sugar on my skin:
black licorice—->pink spun sugar—->vanilla caramel

Pink Sugar opens with the strong sweet scent of chewy black licorice candy and little else. After about 20 minutes, the black licorice diminishes significantly and is replaced by fluffy vanilla spun sugar and a sweet milk note, which by a long shot- could translate to pralines, creme brulee or caramel and nougat. Take your pick.

Pink sugar is a unique gourmand because of the heavy and prominent licorice top notes, and even if you aren’t a huge licorice fan, just wait patiently until the top notes have dissipated. The dry down is softer and milkier, without ever becoming obnoxious or cloying. Apply responsibly!

If applied with discrimination (one spray), it does not project a lot, so it’s appropriate for any situation where you’d want to smell like a candy ball. It’s longevity is considerable. I like it because it ends in sweet milk, as opposed to the dusty shapeless musk so common in contemporary gourmand scents. Absolutely worth experiencing…
for the experience.

This lasts close to forever on skin. It’s like an olfactory temporary tattoo. Be ready for the commitment.

A Perfect Vanilla? Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille (Revisited): An Updated Review

29 Mar

I have come around to this fragrance. After sniffing my way through quite a few vanillas, including niche, designer, and drugstore (as well as a bunch of organic vanilla essential oils),

I have come back around to this one.

Here’s why: Un Bois vanilla is layered and complex, the vanilla is  unquestionably the focus, and yet it has the most beautiful, natural,  cool translucency and airiness that I have ever experienced in a vanilla. It isn’t weak, it is just so artfully constructed that it never evolves into all of the things which are so easy to dislike (or like?) about a vanilla.

BV is very well blended but has great note separation, and is paired with such high quality, complimentary notes of beeswax and various woods, it really is quite memorable, and is not a projection monster (thank God) but instead settles into a beautiful very natural woody sweetness that stays with me quite a while.

Un Bois Vanilla is much more complimentary to one’s own skin than those vanillas which are opaque, excessively rich, and viscous-smelling.

Also, it doesn’t break down into a musk, which is frequently an easy cop-out for  fragrances that otherwise have merit until their unfortunate final stage of development. So far this is my favorite vanilla on the market, and if I had the money I would definitely own a FB, despite the fact that I am not usually attracted to gourmands.

After revisiting Un Bois Vanille, I tracked down a more technical and beautifully written review on Fragrantica by commenter jtd (author of ScentHurdle.com), which reinforces my new found observations. Here are his conclusions about Un Bois Vanille. I could not have said it better, so I am including his review in its entirety. Enjoy!

“Vanilla is a key component to both the contemporary dessert/gourmand and the classic amber oriental. Vanilla is almost inescapable in perfumery, but it’s usually found in the familiar company of labdanum, balsams, resins, spices or ethylmaltol in the above genres. It takes effort to dissociate it from the foody, cuddly feel. Despite its brief plastic/cotton-candy camouflage topnote (wonderful!), un Bois Vanille does just this. After the foody misdirection, BV avoids the expected. The tease of edibility shows itself as a licorice note, not cotton candy. The licorice also keeps BV from going the amber/oriental route since the genre is almost by definition warm, round, thick. Licorice here comes off as anise-like not candy-like. It’s cool and focused and it brings out vanilla’s sharp, bitter side, making it more potent than plush.After the expansive opening the heartnotes are fairly quiet, with a dry, airy feel that I would think to associate with frankincense, not vanilla. By drydown BV is dusty but still taut, reinforcing the point that vanilla can be strong and direct without being lush. BV stays cool as it winds down and resists becoming a skin-scent, further bucking a vanilla stereotype.BV solves a problem for me. One of very few in perfume fan-dom, I don’t like Caron’s Pour un Homme. The lavender/vanilla combo has no synergy and reminds me of the feel of a stuffy head. In BV, the cool side of the licorice fuses with the vanilla in a way that I imagine Pour un Homme’s minty lavender and vanilla combo works for the rest of the world.”

*  *  *

Un Bois Vanille also solves a problem for me. I have been on a search for a wearable, vanilla-dominant fragrance, and it wasn’t until I became better acquainted with the spectrum of vanilla offerings out there (I realized there is much work to be done still) and came back around to this one, that I was finally able to see it for everything it contained, (or didn’t contain) in order to make it so welcoming and unique.

At last, I can finally rest with this one for a while before moving forward in the never ending quest for a transcendent, exceptionally well constructed vanilla fragrance. Much thanks to jtd, Fragrantica, and of course, to Serge Lutens.

Here is my original review of Un Bois Vanille, if you want to see an example of how much perception can change as our experiences continue to inform us.

Jo Malone Sugar & Spice Collection: Bitter Orange & Chocolate

17 Mar

Bitter Orange & Chocolate is BEYOND GOURMAND.

It opens with amazingly true to life candied orange peels dipped in rich dark chocolate. I can almost see and taste them.

Out of all the offerings from Jo Malone’s Sugar & Spice collection, Bitter Orange & Chocolate is BY FAR the most true to its name, and the most original. I say it is beyond gourmand, not because it is ridiculously sweet (it’s not), but because it is more like an olfactory mirage than a fragrance.

It doesn’t project very far, but that’s fine since I don’t want to share this coveted chocolate with the entire room. They can get their own! BO&C lasts a long time for a JM, with a sweet milk note emerging in the dry down.

It is really difficult to do an authentic chocolate and candied orange peel scent in perfumery, but JM succeeds. This is one of a kind.

It is such a succinct and literal interpretation of candied orange and dark chocolate, I am not even sure when I would wear this. Probably whenever I felt like it. 10/10.

Aquolina Gold Sugar

13 Mar

Jelly Belly jelly bean candies feature “recipe ideas” on the backs of their bags, which are very similar to the fragrance layering concept.

The idea goes something like this:
Hot Cinnamon Jelly Belly + Green Apple Jelly Belly=
Apple Pie!

Lemon Jelly Belly + Cream Soda Jelly Belly=
Lemon Meringue Pie!

I think the notes in Gold Sugar by Aquolina have a similar quality, and the outcome is a complete recipe for a tropical vanilla CGI milkshake. Gold Sugar is a great example of the Japanese concept of Kawaii, meaning “adorable in a cool way.”

Gold Sugar starts off with diet lemon-lime soda in the opening, and a generic coconut-flavored jelly bean note… not exceptionally creamy yet, but extremely sweet.

Once it opens on my skin, faint and pretty CGI florals appear, as well as a creaminess which is half-way between a bubble bath, and a vanilla ice cream or cream soda-scented body lotion.

Once the diet lime soda fades, the heart reveals a warm almost spicy sweetness on top of the milkiness which really does smell like a loose interpretation of vanilla custard with caramelized sugar on top. Maybe it’s vanilla custard realized as a scented lotion or a candle… or, a fragrance.. Miles from the real thing, but pleasant nonetheless.

Gold Sugar projects well and the warm sugary milk scent goes on and on. The diet lime soda in the opening had me suspicious, but once it calms down, it’s a creamy vanilla (jelly)bean…

If this really was a jelly bean, I would save it for last along with my other favorite flavors. I bet it would combine really well with the peach…

Tasha Pilot-Slow

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