Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince
I probably shouldn't even be writing this review yet, but I'm going to. I'm ornery like that.
You see, I haven't quite made up my mind about this Enchanted Forest. I seem to be one of the few who hasn't. It's getting crazy raves throughout Perfumeland. Leave it to me to be the one who doesn't fall in line.
In case you haven't heard about this perfume, here's the super-duper quick rundown. Enchanted Forest is the first scent in a line called The Vagabond Prince, created by Fragrantica founders Zoran Knezevic and Elena Knezhevich. The perfume itself was masterfully blended by Perfumeland's perfuming sweetheart Bertrand Duchaufour, who has been quoted a bazillion times about this scent. In fact, there's such a flurry of quotations dropping from the sky down into reviews and discussions about Enchanted Forest, I sometimes wonder how many people have actually smelled the stuff!
About Enchanted Forest, the phenomenonThere is so much copy associated with this product, one gets weary sorting through it. Here's the website, in case you haven't seen it: http://www.vagabondprince.com/.
Add in references to a pagan festival ("Kupala—a Slavic tradition that continues, more festive than other things at present, as a kind of homage to nature and the mysteries of the forest."), a little bit of magic ("After the exciting hide and seek game, the fairy will comfortably cuddle in your mind and on your skin."), a stretch of the imagination ("It's the smell of the forest, when you step in it in the night."), a bit of exclusivity to tempt those who like that kind of thing ("It is the only perfume I know of that is built around blackcurrant as the sole raw material"), a splash of factual sounding info ("The blackcurrant is the MOST IMPORTANT fruity note of the range that exists in perfumery." - emphasis not mine), a little fear ("I wanted to work the dark, mysterious, almost scary effects of the forest, all that evokes mysterie [sic] and, to man, seems almost supernatural in the forest: animals whose existence have been forgotten...") and you have not only a whole lot of marketing but also a lot of big expectations.
For a lovely video review of the bottle and packaging, please visit my friend Dan, aka MyMickers on YouTube:
About Enchanted Forest, the perfume
But back to the juice... According to Duchaufour, Enchanted Forest is a modern soliflore. In the copy I have seen, he goes on to explain that there are two focuses: blackcurrant and fir. Well, color me puzzled, as I thought "soliflore" meant "one flower". Oh well. So many things about perfumery mystify me.
[via]Top notes: pink pepper, aldehydes, sweet orange (traces), flower cassis, blackcurrant leaf, hawthorn, effects of rum and wine, rosemary, davana.
Heart notes: blackcurrant buds absolute (by LMR from Grasse), CO2 blackcurrant (by Floral Concept from Grasse), Russian coriander seed, honeysuckle, rose, carnation, vetiver
Base notes: opoponax resinoid, Siam benzoin, amber, oakmoss, fir balsam absolute, Patchouli Purecoeur®, castoreum absolute, cedar notes, vanilla, musk
An enchanted forest.
But not this one.
Take a look at the picture above. That's what I picture when I hear "Enchanted Forest". Dappled light deliciously contrasted with a little spooky shadowing; a magical pathway one dare not leave; some pretty, flickering, mystical light; maybe a fae creature or two; perhaps some oversized, technicolor mushrooms à la Alice in Wonderland.
If you asked me to downsize my expectations, I think I'd probably back into something green and loamy, a bit gritty, full of mulch and dirt and dark green leaves.
When I apply The Vagabond Prince's Enchanted Forest, that's not what I get. Were I to be blindfolded and presented this scent, it would seem a lot like this:
Sitting on the chair, I wait for my first sniff. Suddenly, I am pelted in the face with juicy berries of some kind, and maybe some pears. And there's something a bit... off. Maybe rank. I can't think with all this fruit landing on my person.
The onslaught continues for several hours before I am allowed to remove my blindfold and realize I'm sitting in front of a sweaty guy in a tank top who has finally stopped throwing fruit at me and is now presenting me with one-third of a serving of a delicious berry cobbler with a teaspoon of vanilla icecream on top.
Yeah. It's a lot like that.
Not present in this perfume.
A whole-freakin'-lot of blackcurrant. At least, I assume it's blackcurrant. To be honest, I do not know what that berry smells like. To my nose, this is a berry-pear-B.O. blend. That's right, I said "B.O.", as in body odor. Some say blackcurrant has a cat urine scent, but I'm here to tell you that at least in this scent it's B.O. and not cat pee. I spent 10 years working in the veterinary industry and have lived with cats most of my life. I have scooped a ton of pee-soaked litter and this is not what it smells like. Dial down the ammonia expectations and twist the sulfuric, sweaty knob towards Max and you've got the weird facet of blackcurrant that many people pick up.
Before you assume that I am insulting Enchanted Forest with this B.O. descriptor, please relax! It's similar to the body odor description that often arises in grapefruit-heavy perfumes. It doesn't mean the scent is unwearable! No, indeed. Perfumistas are made of hearty stock and it takes more than a little sweat to scare us away!
I have searched this scent high and low for the fabled fir note, and I think I have finally pinpointed it. Honestly, it's more like a two-sided coin than a single note that can be teased out of the perfume. One side of the coin is the face of blackcurrant, the other side is a green fir. If you're looking for a distinct pine tree smell you're not going to find it. This fir absolute blends beautifully with what I must assume are the natural green and woody aspects of blackcurrant (a fact Duchaufour alludes to somewhere in the pages of text written about the perfume). Yes, it's there, this mystical fir, but it's not slapping you across the face like the blackcurrant. It's much more subtle than that, at least on my skin. (A special thank you to Mandy Aftel for at one point sending me a sample of fir absolute which I pulled out to assist me in finding the note in this perfume!)
The drydown of Enchanted Forest is an anemic vanilla-tinged berry musk that, while pretty, does little to support the incredibly intense top- and heart-notes. It's beautiful, don't get me wrong, but there just isn't enough oomph after all the pomp and circumstance of pounds of tossed fruit and a whiff of B.O.
My review and opinions were formed after dabbing from a sample vial. Is it wrong that I hold out hope that this scent presents differently when sprayed and that I get all of the promised magic? ;)
As always, feel free to disagree with me in the comments!
You can purchase Enchanted Forest for $180 via...