Monday, 24 April 2017

Al Rehab Sultan Al Oud: Review

Charles H Pabst, Grand Canyon Light.

The afternoon light fires on every fragment of the sawdust that hangs in the air, air that is tinted rainbow by the high stained glass, scented with the fresh wood shavings and beeswax polish. Each footstep echoes, the sound of your breathing fills the room. You stand in this magnificently huge, empty space that is your new home and wonder where the couch goes…

If a single word were enough to sum up any fragrance, gentle would do it for Al Rehab Sultan Al Oud (SAO). This makes it definitively NOT your standard oudh based scent. Oudh has something of a reputation for being a very challenging perfumery ingredient. The extreme dirtiness of some mixtures or bitter medicinal nature of other can make Westerners baulk or find them inaccessible; it also tends to be an intense note. Even the Moth Woman had a moment on encountering her first medicinal oudh scent and she has a high tolerance for the strong, unusual and downright stinky end of perfumery. In fact, SAO’s very tameness may well come as a shock to those who have only experienced the harsher kinds of oud based scents and come to enjoy them. Thusly, if you have not tried oudh before, the Moth Woman STRONGLY recommends SAO as your first experience.

It opens gently with cedar and honey, sandalwood far in the background. It is very quiet, calming and delicate, evocative of standing in a cathedral, enjoying the silence. Right from the outset, it does not project much beyond and inch or so above skin level.  An hour in and paper daisies/wattle appear and take over. Two hours, back to cedar, lightly sweetened at this point. Three hours, it becomes a lovely sweet musk and sandalwood with a little cedar. Projection has neither increased nor decreased.

This is an odd feature of this scent. It opens at the volume that it remains throughout its lifespan. Stability of volume from front to back, in terms of projection, is a very rare quality.

Four hours and it's a little lighter but otherwise unchanged. Five hours and wood and musk dominate again. It lasts between seven and ten hours in total.

The Moth Woman recommends this scent for those days and situations where you just want or need something restrained, something that just makes YOU smell better but does not project. This one would make an ideal office scent. There is nothing sharp or intrusive about it. It is unlikely to trigger allergies and you would have to look hard to find someone that is offended by SAO. An additional bonus: this loveliness will only set you back $4-7!
Available for sale here.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Fragrance Shop Mitsouko: Review

The World With, Rukuku

"you know I hate installation art... " Your partner's voice disappears into the background. Champagne glass in hand, you stare at the screen, transfixed. Guests mills about in small groups, enjoying canapes and discussing the other artworks for sale but none really paying attention to this piece. Bright blue sky fills the screen before your eyes, then a forest in autumn colour. The camera is moving. You walk a path with it, leaves crunching under foot. Still moving, the camera pans downward. Hands peel an orange. From your left, an icy wind hits you, scented with orange peel. The screen fills with the face of a redheaded woman; she blows you a kiss.... Your partner's hand is on your arm, dragging you:" …You have got to see this portrait by Em Milan..."

The Fragrance Shop Mitsouko (FSM) is a fitting tribute to its namesake. This company does an excellent job with its dupes and the Moth Woman greatly admires their approach. Yes, this is a replica scent and of spectacular quality but it is in no way a clone of the original, more of a homage. FSM is particularly interesting in that it strongly suggests an alternate direction that Jacques Guerlain might have gone with the idea of original Mitsouko.

The beginning is very intense at close range but only delivers moderate sillage.  Orange is the main theme, flesh, peel, pith, slightly bitter with a tingling effect like peeling an orange, at a guess, probably created by the inclusion C8 or C10 aldehydes. First impressions are of something very perfumey but in a good way. There is also a tinge of the medicinal, old hospital smell normally associated with some oudh-based fragrances.  There are also tiny hints of something indolic, sugary sweetness, powdery opium poppies and a little of the peach skin traditionally associated with the original. An hour after application, the already meagre sillage has halved.  Something green and clean, like a sharp breeze in the country dances through, freshening everything. The fruit elements have reduced proportionally, the opium is fore-fronted and powderiness has lessened. Two hours out and a strong clove note appears in the mix plus something the Moth Woman could only describe as nutty cardboard?! There is soapiness but in a good way, very classy. A sombre feeling overlays the mix. Overall, the middle recalls the pomander accord most people recognise upfront of YSL Opium. At three hours, it is five inches from the skin but close in, it is still overwhelmingly powerful, suggesting it is seemingly heavier than oxygen. The fragrance has, at this staged, evolved into peach skin/orange peel aldehyde powder recalling more the original Mitsouko, if it had been intended to be a duet between oranges and peaches rather than a peach solo. At 14hrs, it is still very strong on the Moth Woman’s skin, still though the projection is minimal. At this stage, the striking resemblance to YSL opium is the dominant trend. A full day later, it is still there though reduced to a light, salty, oakmoss scent.
There is no denying the quality of the oils produced by The Fragrance Shop. However, they are expensive, falling on the high end of the price range for perfume oils. The quality is easily equal that which they imitate, in superb artistry and the quality of ingredients used, so the cost is not unjustified. These would be a good option for those who can afford the original but find alcohol based scents far too fleeting.
FSM is a fitting tribute to the original but with improved longevity and more office-friendly levels of projection. It t should appeal to those who hold Guerlain Mitsouko close to their hearts but in no way should be considered a clone or dupe.
Available here.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Alkemia Green Carnation: Review

Sydney Long, Sadder than a Single Star that Sets at Twilight in a Land of Reeds

Behind the pines, the sky is turning blue-pink. You shiver as you wander, lost in thought. Suddenly music, distant, at the very edge of your hearing. It comes and goes but never enough for you to recognise the tune. Something green darts between the trees ahead of you...

You do not wear Alkemia Green Carnation (AGC); it haunts you. This fragrance is the best bunch of the eponymous flower you have ever encountered in spectral form. You can almost smell the velveteen nature of the petals.

The Moth Woman loves carnation very much. She has very pleasant memories of carnation. Sadly, carnation, as a perfume note, is wildly out of fashion, relegated to the increasing pile of things labelled old woman smells. IFRA has regulated the ingredients needed to make a decent carnation fragrance almost out of existence, so good renditions are getting rarer, furthering the note’s unpopularity. AGC is, therefore, a thing out of its time, so of course, this makes the Moth Woman love it more.

This is an uncomplicated fragrance verging on a soliflore; this is one of its charms. It opens with something sharply green and herbal, suggesting the freshly snapped stems of the blooms, accompanied by bay and carnation. Within ten minutes, carnation alone remains but what a carnation it is, super naturalistic, 3D vivid. At three hours, a nice soapy note creates a duet. The longevity runs to about twelve hours. In terms of featured notes, pretty much unchanged from the three-hour mark.
It is worth noting that this fragrance needs a far longer than usual rest period; a full month. It does not smell different in terms of notes before that time, it just lacks persistence and vigour. Rest, then enjoy.

In some ways, finding this scent was like opening a book and finding a letter from a long-dead lover. AGC plucks at the Moth Woman's heart strings. The pleasure in this scent is not just in its ability to evoke nostalgia. AGC is a highly wearable scent. The Moth Woman has bought a full bottle and recommends you do too.
AGC is available for purchase here.