Rose Praline, Les Parfums de Rosine- No pralines here

I'm back with a fairly simple little review. 
Let's get one thing straight first: "praline" here, in Rose Praline, means "chocolate bonbon" not "sugared almond." Ok? It's French. I Googled. Anyway, that info will change your expectations of this scent dramatically. 

This offering by Les Parfums de Rosine, who does all rose perfumes, starts strong and fast with a heady, sharp rose that has a bright and juicy citrus twist. Sadly, I'm missing the cardamom, one of my favorite things, but other reviewers find it notable. 

After a short time, tea unfolds like blossoms. For me, it's dry and soft. Other reviewers find it prominent and dominant. I swear my nose is working again - I just don't pick up what other people are putting down.

Shortly, a deeper rose emerges, softer than the opening, paired with a nice dry chocolate. This is the part I snuffle my nose into on my wrist.

The drydown is a natural progression to amber, cocoa, musk and sandalwood.

This perfume is powdered cocoa-dusted rose and a cup of tea. 

Rose Praline is linear, maybe. But full. Not cloying (once that first hit dies back). Not overly rich. A gentle intro into roses but not fully gourmand in my opinion. 
"Oriental Vanilla" per Fragrantica; projection is moderate with a dabber sample, perhaps I could imagine it more dramatic, sprayed; longevity is good, I get hours and hours. This scent is  feminine-to-unisex.  
Top notes are cardamom, bergamot and rose oil; middle notes are geranium, dark chocolate, rose and tea; base notes are amber, musk, sandalwood and cacao. (Fragrantica)
Disclosure: sample provided by reviewer


This blog has been out of commission due to seasonal allergies. 

I have never had Spring allergies before! I also caught a helluva cold that turned into bronchitis. Joy. 

Between those situations the schnoz hasn't been registering scents. I put on a perfume and minutes later it's dead air. 

Hey, do you get that nasty pollen covering everything like we do here in the Mid Atlantic? That stuff's almost gone and I'm hoping my nose starts working again once it is.

So tell me: do you have allergies? Have you ever developed one outta nowhere? 


Bat: a new scent by Zoologist Perfumes has me flipping!

Those of you who know me well are aware of my affinity for bats. To the rest of you, that may come as a surprise. But I love those little (and some not-so-little!) pollinators.

When I heard about Zoologist Perfumes' new addition to their animal cruelty-free line shortly before they released it, I went-- well, a bit batty.  It was going to be called - it is called - Bat

Ok, there was dancing. Really. And lots of squealing and emojis. Ask Victor Wong, owner and creative director of the line. 

And when I found out the nose (perfumer) for the scent was Ellen Covey, the dancing and squealing and emojis started all over again. I swear I'm lucky Victor and I are still friends.*

*We are, right? Victor? Victor? 

Ahem. Let me sort that all out later. 

Anyway, I was ecstatic to receive my sample and immediately sprayed it on. There may have been more dancing, and squealing, and emojis, and an immediate Facebook post- but really, can you stop fixating on the dancing? You're embarrassing me. 

Let's talk perfume. Here's what happens when you wear it:

Immediately you're transported to the world of the fruit bat. Any one. Pick one. (There are 173 species of fruit bats)

Here's a leaf-nosed bat, like the one on the packaging.

Our Bat loves a little banana and some fig. There's also dense vegetal earth and rich plant life, and that sweet smell of fruit. A mineral tang from home -a cluster of rocks or a cave- cling to the air. 

Slowly... ever. so. slowly... the scent turns. Musky and furry smells unfold. We're smelling a watercolor version of the bat himself now. Not too strong or pungent, but decidedly animalistic. This scent is not dark, rather it is dusk toned. The bat's preferred launch time, their favorite hunting time. Leather notes sketch out the bat's soft wings...

Eventually, the night ends and the stronger base notes begin to fade. As the moon sets and the bats return to roost, we're left with a faint but beautiful sandalwood and tonka sunrise. 

I've never quite experienced a nuanced, two-step beauty of a base quite like this one! 

Projection: moderate-to-close depending on how heavy-handed you are; longevity: 6 hours-ish or more; Smells like a watercolor painting of fruit and earth, then musky leather with a sandalwood drydown. Price: good for niche; samples available.

Available December 31st, 2015!

Apologies: for the layout of this post due to computer problems. Usually my posts are a little more nicely laid-out. 

Disclaimer: Sample provided by Zoologist Perfumes

Spritz Me With Mexican Chocolate!

Chocolatl, by Euphorium Brooklyn, was a scent that had me pacing back and forth by the mailbox while I waited for the sample to come for me to review.

I'm a little obsessed with all things Mexican and that most certainly includes champurrado, or "Mexican hot chocolate," something I was particularly craving at the time I found out about this scent and learned I was getting a sample of this new release. 

Chocolate originated in Mexico, originally called xocoatl, an Aztec word, which was originally a bitter (not sugary sweet!) drink made from cocoa beans. (I used to make chocolate - I have weird chocolate knowledge.)

When I was in Oaxaca, I eschewed morning coffee for the delicious champurrado each morning, hand mixed with a special wooden whisk (I own one) to create a fabulous blend of spices and chocolate that ended up oddly gritty and thickly foamy. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, that craving was running high and I was drinking my own sub-par homemade version (I can't get it thick enough!), when this sample landed. 

Sprayed immediately. 

Here's what we are expecting, according to the website:

tzapotl ("chocolate pudding fruit")

Translations: piloncillo is a cone-shaped sugar kind of like brown sugar; tzapotl fruit is the name for something also called "chocolate pudding fruit."

I'd say Euphorium Brooklyn satisfied their brief well. This is a definite dark chocolate scent through most of the development. Not sweet (though not as spicy as my drink). It's got some sweetness to it, a honeyed stickiness. Delightful. I'd say your top and heart notes are pretty much the same. Not much change there. 

About two hours in, though, when we're headed to dry-down, some of what I consider Brooklyn Euphorium's signature, quirkiness, kicks in. 


This is odd. 

At first I started to get a bitter note. A green bitterness creeping in. I was put off, to be honest, as it was still lingering with the chocolate, but then as it started to truly swap itself for the heart notes and came into its own, I was won over. And mind you - this is all me sticking my nose in my wrist at several-minute intervals. Subsequent, less-attentive wearings skip the awkward teenage gangly phase because I'm not looking for it. 

The drydown-proper is balsam and musk and a little raunch, without which it just wouldn't be a Brooklyn Euphorium scent. Since I'm recently a balsam/fir ho, this pleases me. 

I find it interesting the choice to add Tolu Balsam, as it does keep this a little on the "odd" side. Tolu is a bit more medicinal and sharp than Peru Balsam, also used here. It's noticeable. As I said - quirky. 

I'd classify this as a comfort scent times ten.  I'm truly pleased with this scent. I may splurge and buy it.  

Mexican Cocoa, Nutmeg, Clove, Cassia, Black Pepper, Myrrh, Coffee, Neroli, Davana, Raisin, Prune, Labdanum, Angelica Root, Honey, Vanilla, Caramel, Palm Sugar, Peru Balsam, Benzoin, Tolu Balsam, Castoreum, Musk

Unisex. Sillage: Skin scent to close-to-skin; wear: 5 hours-ish;  Pretty much chocolate, then balsam and musks. Available exclusively at Twisted Lily. Prices are niche-normal. 
To be released in December. 
Visit Brooklyn

Disclosure: sample provided by the house for review

Down-and-Dirty Review: Porcini mushroom bouquet

Perfume .025ml $125
Cepes and Tuberose is weird. 

I like weird.

This perfume, by Aftelier Perfumes, is intensely earthy, like picking up a handful of gritty Spring dirt, bursting with both decay and new life, and letting it run through your fingers. 

It is also deeply floral, like sticking your full face in the most gorgeous bouquet of expensive tuberose, accented with a few pristine white roses bred for scent. 

This is one of those scents that needs to be smelled to be understood, as cepes -porcini mushrooms- seemingly makes no sense whatsoever with perfume. 

By mixing the two essences, cepes and tuberose, perfumer Mandy Aftel brings an earthiness out of
EDP 1ml $180
the tuberose that is unexpected and simply startling in its loveliness. 

This scent picks up an almost leathery tone, like the inside of a very old and worn vintage bag hiding a perfume-laden women's hankie inside. A musky scent is folded in (that's musky, not musty!). And the scent fades slowly away. 

So, in the end, it all makes sense. It gets where it gets in an unconventional way and ends up being stunning. 

Cepes and Tuberose is weird. I like weird. It's one of my favorites in the Aftelier line-up, and my next purchase. I consider the whole experience quite sensual. 

Perfume & flask (so cool)

Unisex. Sillage: skinscent to moderate if you are an enthusiastic sprayer; length of wear: 4-5 hours+; price: reasonable for niche; the mini makes it quite affordable. This is a unique fougere scent that may not be for everyone, but I highly recommend. Personally, I think it's highly sexy. Samples of perfume or edp for $6; mini perfume bottle for $50; other sizes available:

Disclosure: Review based on the edp; sample graciously provided by the perfumer. 

Speed Review: Hermes Eau Claire des Merveilles

Hermes Eau Claire des Merveilles by Hermes makes me think of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Bear with me.

I wear it and think of wonderful vintage, classy, amazing things a la The Great Gatsby, or any of Fitzgerald's other works set, as they are, in the Jazz Age. I'm not saying that women of this period would necessarily have worn this, but that wearing it puts me in this frame of mind, if you follow me.

Like a glass of champagne, Eau Claire has a beautiful sparkly opening, this one a bright citrus, subtly bubbling over. Then a lovely powdery vanilla-slash-floral, light, airy thing happens that's simply charming and leaves a smile in its wake. Lastly, a soft, ever-so-faint touch of the woods that are typical of Eau de Merveilles lingers warmly.

Oh, and since it's Hermes it smells expensive and classy, darling.

Unisex. Sillage is minimal-to-moderate; wear is about 4-6 hours; price is reasonable. Find it in fine department stores. This is an Eau de Merveilles flanker, but should get more attention in its own right. Besides, the bottle - at any size - is amazing. 

Quick & Dirty Review: Raghba

A nice "quick and dirty" review for a great cheapie perfume that every Oriental lover should have on the shelves.

Raghba came my was as many perfumes do, in a bag of samples from another perfumista. He was sure I'd love it.

Well, he was correct!

This is "Middle Eastern Shalimar." That's funny, because "Shalimar" is a Middle Eastern word, but anyway...

I don't know where this comes from but that's Arabic on the front and "Raghba" is sure sounding Middle Eastern. It's made by Lattafa Perfumes. (Aha! They are from the United Arab Emierates! Quick story. When I was in grade school, we had to pick a country to do a report on and I picked the UAE and it became a bit of a joke, because back then no one had heard of this tiny Middle Easten country before. My family often joked about it. Who's laughing now, bitches?! Anybody heard of a little "town" called Dubai?!)


The formula is a oud-based one, so "check," Middle Eastern. But don't get your knickers twisted, any of you, this is not all-caps-exclamation-points OUD!!!!!

It's a soft oud with candy on top. There's loads of vanilla. Supposedly sugar. I smell some incense. Apparently there's sandalwood - yeah, I'll buy that. And musk, but not all hairy man chest and chains stuff.

(Wait, I said no more notes parsing. That's difficult to do!) 

Raghba is a sweet Oriental scent in the vein of Shalimar but modern and low-key oudy. And cheap. If you think that sounds fun, you can't beat the price and it's one of the few times I suggest a blind-buy.

Hey, I love it and I don't really even like oud!

(Got mine on Amazon. Seems to be the cheapest --- and fastest shipping)

Unisex. Family: Oriental; Throw/sillage: Pretty damn good. Your elevator mates will smell it; Longevity: if this is a scrubber you'll hate me; Price: inexpensive. Creamy, rich, sweet woods and vanilla. Could see some people finding it a bit cloying. Wouldn't wear it in the heat probably - only I totally did. 

Have you tried Raghba? Any of the others from the Lattafa line? What are your feelings about oud? Does it bother you when people compare things to Shalimar? How do you feel about hairy chests?

Smoking vanilla with Mandy Aftel


This blog only temporarily seems like an ode to Mandy Aftel. She simply is one of the first to pick up on the fact that I am blogging again, and I also like to imagine that we're friends, so she has submitted quite a bit of recent work for me to review. Also, she's just so good I have no reluctance to write because there are none of those not-so-glowing reviews that are always waiting around the corner for a perfume reviewer. Don't worry, I have other reviews coming (DSH (!) among others). 

Today I'm wafting quite literally. I'm smoking! I have an edp on the left hand and a parfum concentration of the same scent on the right. I am so dang lucky I can't stand it. I've got on Vanilla Smoke, and it's so stunning I had to ponder on this review a while before I could get my mind together to write it. (It didn't stop me from buying mini.)

Vanilla Smoke 0.25oz Parfum

Vanilla Smoke edp 1ml
in organic alcohol
Vanilla Smoke 1/4 oz Parfum
 in organic alcohol

So, as is clear from the above, Aftelier Perfumes' Vanilla Smoke comes in two concentrations: an edp/eau de parfum and a parfum/perfume strength. I'll do ye olde compare/contrast here. Remember those papers we had to do in school, comparing and contrasting things? It's going to be like that, but a little more interesting. Well, I hope so. I mean, you're here because you want to be, not because someone forced you to read this review, right? If they did, let me know who did so I can slip them a fiver. That's awesome. 

The general rundown of what this scent smells like is going to sound the same. It's a smokey vanilla, folks. Try not to fall over in shock. 

This is a fairly straight-forward, "simplistic" scent, but don't let that statement fool you. This is not to say the scent is basic or not dynamic. 

According to the perfumer, top notes are yellow mandarin, Siam wood, saffron absolute, and vanillin. There are no "heart" notes listed.  Base notes are listed as vanilla absolute, lapsang souchong (tea), ambergris, and coumarin. 

My vision of Vanilla Smoke edp
Vanilla Smoke - THE EDP

I'm sort of "over" breaking down scents into notes. I'm finding it tedious, trite, and insulting to the perfumes themselves, but due to the fact that I'm comparing/contrasting two versions of the same scent, I'll do it this one last time.

When I wear the edp version of this scent, I find it more transcluscent and bright than the other.

This scent opens with a bit more of the sparkle brightness of the mandarin and the Siam wood.

I get a distinct rootbeer note (or more distinctly, birchbeer - have you had it before?).  I spoke with Mandy and we decided this little trick was most likely the saffron. It made me giggle the first time I smelled it, but now I do find it annoying. It passes quickly, to my relief.

I find the edp airy, bright, sheer, open. It's got more space in it than the perfume.

The edp version of Vanilla Smoke stays lighter and more flirtatious, in my opinion, than the parfum strength, though she does pick up a bit of depth from the ambergris, tea, and coumarin later in her development.

This is a lovely version of the scent and I do adore it.

Vanilla Smoke - THE PERFUME

My vision of Vanilla Smoke perfume
When it came time to order one of these, because I totally "needed" this in my life, I ordered the perfume mini. I'm addicted to these minis, by the way. They are petite little bon bons that should be available by every perfumer - price-wise, right in the zone, size-wise, so portable (I always have at least two in my wallet (my wallet!).

I am totally off topic now, aren't I?

Let's do this. When it came time to order one of these, because I totally "needed" this in my life, I ordered the perfume mini. The perfume strength speaks to me more.

While the notes list seems identical, the way they play out on the skin is subtly, but markedly, different.

The "birchbeer accord" is present, but fleeting. The perfume strength Vanilla Smoke dives more directly into vanilla, spending less time flirting with the mandarin and Siam wood. I smell them. They peek out and then they're gone. This is all about the vanilla and the tea and the coumarin, though.

We're all basenotes, all the time, in this version. And once those deepen, we get that ambergris, and the musky husky depth happens and we get sexy vibes all over the place. This is flirty vanilla all over. And yet it still remains breathy and open, never cloying and heavy.

It's brilliant, really, as any other vanilla-centric scent I've smelled with darker notes like this has always taken that heavy-breathing into a smothering place that isn't terribly unpleasant but certainly gets cloying in hot weather. This, Vanilla Smoke, would never! I can see wearing this in any temperature whatsoever.

And so that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I had to have a bottle. And I may go back and get some of that edp, as well, because it is also beautiful. Speaking of gentlemen: YES, you can wear this. PLEASE DO. I encourage it. Either strength.

Unisex. Projection: skin scent; Length-of-wear: edp- 4-6 hours+, perfume 6-8 hours+. The premise of the scent, as set out by Mandy, is that Vanilla Smoke is meant to be sexy, exotic, mysterious. I accept that premise, however I find the edp's version of sexy to be a more innocent, flirtatious type of sexy and exotic, like a young woman in a foreign bar you'd meet on a vacation, while the perfume is more like meeting the Mata Hari.  The pricepoint is reasonable for niche perfume, and the packaging is always a beautiful experience. Samples are available for $6 each. Aftelier Perfumes: Vanilla Smoke.

Disclosure: samples submitted by the perfumer

Photo Credits
Vanilla Smoke perfume photo representation: Esmerelda Seay-Reynolds, Vogue Germany; Photo: Mario Testino

Vanilla Smoke perfume photo representation: Emma Karlsson,Vogue Australia; Photographer: unknown

Meet Miss Hummingbird, Zoologist's newest edp

Hummingbird Eau de Parfum is the latest offering from one of my most favorite houses, Zoologist Perfumes

It's a departure from the heavy footfalls of Rhinoceros and the rutting skank of Beaver. It's closer in tone to the light, transcendent Panda - but not in the same genre of scent. 

Hummingbird is a flirtatious, fun, flickering thing. A "fruity floral," I'm hesitant to say, as I know that name makes some people wander off, but please don't!

Our fun-filled Hummingbird is a delight to wear and nothing like those department store confections. So please, let me describe her.

As first we meet, she is darting about, making preparations. We catch pungent whiffs of juicy pear, a sumptuous rose, sweet and innocent violet, some chilled citrus juice, and a hint of a lilac breeze. Miss Hummingbird likes things sweet but realizes we may not want to go overboard, so she shows delightful restraint. The perfect hostess. 

When next she flys by, shimmering in the sun, she presents us with a brilliant, glimmering bouquet. Again, always considerate, nothing dominates heavily. Everything is effervescent, sparkling, and incandescent like the lady herself. We smell, at times, lilac & peony & ylang ylang & honeysuckle & mimosa. Sometimes we smell them all, like a brilliant flash of colors - daresay like Miss Hummingbird herself?

Miss Hummingbird, tired from flitting about, settles down gently into a creamy musk-laden woods. One is almost surprised to see her resting this softly, but always the genteel lady, her repose is as gorgeous as the rest of her.

Hummingbird Eau de Parfum was created by perfumer Shelley Waddington , of  En Voyage Perfumes, for the brief created by Victor Wong, designer of Zoologist Perfumes

Family: fruity-floral; Projection: good/strong; Length-of-wear: 6 hours+; This is a gorgeous floral blend with a sparkling fruity top and creamy woods bottom. Full bottle worthy and perhaps my second favorite in the line. At $125 the pricepoint is reasonable for niche perfume, and the bottles and labels are divine. 

Disclosure: Sample provided by Victor Wong