Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Haus of Gloi Autumn sampler #2

I got my Gloi autumn sampler today, the #2. I missed getting #3, I'm hoping it will restock, and I already have most of the scents from #1 (which I'll discuss later) as they are all repeats.  #2 Seems to be the foodie selection, as everything in it reminds me of some sort of autumn treat. There's only one scent in this particular batch that's a must have, but they're all quite pleasant. The overall effect is very delicious and childlike, as if I were standing outside a sweet shop smelling all the wonderful treats waiting just inside. Not just any sweet shop, these scents all have a milky richness to them, that reminds me of something old fashioned; a shop in a Dickens' tale, or perhaps Honeydukes. If I close my eyes and sniff the various samples I can imagine a Halloween haul from another generation, before mass-manufactured candies and desserts, before fear, suspicion and crazy neighbors ruined trick or treating for everyone.

This is in New Zealand. Sadly, I am not.

Ghost Puffs - (Buttery popcorn and marshmallow goo orbs, presented on a wooden stick.) I came of age in the 80's and the world of mall shopping. Back then, just about every mall had at least one shop that sold a variety of popcorn treats. Kettle corn, popcorn balls, cheese corn, buttered popcorn, caramel corn, candied popcorn on a stick, anything and everything sweet you could make out of popcorn. The buttery, candy-coated aroma would waft out into the mall, luring you in. Once you'd smelled it you had to buy some. I usually got the caramel corn. A whiff of Ghost Puffs captures the sweet, sticky aroma of walking into that store.

Pumpkin Eater -(Cream, glowing pumpkin, rich vanilla bean and the tiniest touch of nutmeg butter.)
Creamy vanilla and pumpkin. This smells like sweet frosted pumpkin cookies, or perhaps a pumpkin custard. It's got a very strong cream and vanilla overtone, very desserty but not any one particular dessert. Have you ever had Life Savers Creme Savers? They're a blend of fruit and creamy vanilla hard candy. If they made them in pumpkin, this is exactly what they'd smell like. It's a wacky description, I know, but that's what I get, ribbons of sweet pumpkin and creamy vanilla with just the tiniest hint of spice.  Do they make pumpkin milkshakes?- I think a sweet pumpkin shake with a tall head of whipped cream might be another close match for this tricksy little scent.

Pixie Sorceror - (They look cute, but beware! Deceptive pomegranate candy floss, beneath that a spiteful blend of coffee co2, vetiver and myrrh.) For the record, this scent is driving me mad. It smells like...just like...almost...and then it's gone. Something, something I remember from years ago, but I don't know what and I don't know when. It's absolutely infuriating - every time I take a whiff the memory dances in to view and then out again, like a shadow in the mirror that I can't quite catch. I'm thinking it must be the vetiver, but I've no idea what I remember that has vetiver in it. Some sort of salve or cream that my grandmother had, maybe. That frustrated memory makes it hard for me to judge this. It smells brown to me, warm antique brown, like a piece of victorian furniture or an an old trunk in the attic. It's a good smell, slightly resinous, and very haunting. I'd like it even without the thread of memory tangled in it, but that association takes this from a good smell to a must have. Even if I never remember why, this fragrance gives me a powerful sense of goodness and old pleasures forgotten, but not quite lost.

Old Cider Haus - (Old oak, sweet drying hay fields, crushed apple pulp and vanilla bean husks.) Butterscotch. For some reason, Old Cider Haus smells like butterscotch to me. I wasn't sure I'd like this one, as I'm not generally fond of apple scents.  I love apples, but apple-scented things almost never capture that crisp scent you get when you bite into a ripe apple. Instead it's usually the smell of apple juice or cider, or worse, that fermenty scent of overripe apples, none of which I like. Fortunately, the oak, the hay and the vanilla are blended in enough that the apple gives a just warm, slightly spicy note to the mix. The whole thing, overall, is buttery and creamy smooth. If you like Pumpkin Queen, you'll probably like this, it's the same sort of  warm, goldeny sweet kind of scent, like autumn sunshine on a field of haybales.

I'm liking this particular sampler, although most of the scents are things I'd want in room fragrances or bath salt, which, sadly, are not options. They're generally a little too sweet to my taste for daily perfume wear. Pixie Sorcerer, however, will be finding its way into my shopping basket, and hopefully one day I'll remember what it smells like.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary. The candy shop is in Oamaru New Zealand. Image courtesy the same.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Solstice Scents Autumn sampler

I got my autumn sample set from Solstice Scents today. I've been very excited about this set as it seems to vary from the traditional pumpkin and spices melange usually offered this time of year. Not that I don't love all that, I do, passionately, but it's fun to sample some of the other fragrances this time of year has to offer, like drying herbs, the last fruits of the year or a few faded flowers.

Thornwood Thicket -(Sugared Blackberries, Black Agarwood, Aloeswood, Sweet and Smokey Guaiacwood & Amber) the last harvest of summer. Robust ripe berries and fruits and a glass of mulled autumn wine. Deep, rich and dark, this one is delicious, like a bowl of black grapes, blackberries and a smoky wine and cheese sideboard. Imagine a Dutch still life distilled into an essence - this is it. Wine, fruit; it smells like wet purple silk, or a plate of juicy damson plums. I'd almost call this a late summer perfume - somewhere between the dregs of summer and the creep of autumn, the last few gatherings from the garden while the golden light of summer's afternoon fades into fall.
Frans Snyder 1616

Foxcroft - (Ozone, Rustling Leaves, Rich Black Soil, Chimney Smoke & Woods) Pumpkin guts. And I mean that in the best possible way. This one smells like walking through a pumpkin patch on a damp, chilly autumn day. There's the scent of earth, the promise of frost in the air and the green and spice scent of melons, the ones waiting to ripen and the overripe ones, that have spilled their entrails on the ground for next year's harvest. That smell, unique to the inside of a pumpkin, whether hollowed out for a jack-o-lantern, or split into the damp, leafy ground. This one really captures the essence of an autumn day in the country, more than anything I've ever smelled.

Witch's Cottage. (Warm Baked Goods, Dried Herbs, Sweet Annie, Soft Woods & Fragrant Hearth Smoke) The faded green scent of drying herbs with an undercurrent of spice and smoke. Stand outside the kitchen window on a warm autumn day. Breathe in the scent of the last of the garden, the herbs and a few diligent vegetables waiting to be gathered in for one last harvest. Through the open window you can smell something rich and savory in the oven. The more this dries down, the spicier it gets as if you were moving from outdoors to in. I hope she makes this one in a room spray. This is what I want my house to smell like all the time. The perfect blend of garden, kitchen and hearth.

Devil's Tongue - (Chypre, Brown Leather, Warm Tobacco, Woods & More) A brackish stream winding through the woods to a forest grove. There's green in this one too, but the deep shaded green of a well-worn path through the woods. The brightness of the bergamot and the creamy amber are like dappled light along the road. A mossy dampness lies underneath it all. This is a masculine scent, a woodcutter or huntsman in an ancient forest. I smell Robin Hood or Wayland Smith in this, but a Maid Marion could wear it as well, with a tomboy's grace and nonchalance. Devil's Tongue is a variety of Arum, also called Corpse Flower, Voodoo Lily, Snake Palm. They like shade and wet, loamy soil.

Manor - (Woody-Vanilla Musk, Vanilla Accord, Glorious Black Agarwood & Exquisite Aloeswood) Resinous. Almost sweet, like incense way. This one surprised me. It is rich and dark, like an old, wood-paneled room, but there's a creeping sweetness mixed in. The site describes this one as an abandoned manor house. I'd call it an abandoned plantation, an old southern home just on the edge of the bayou. Old and forgotten, with burnt down candles, dust-covered, warping furniture and the gardens turned dark and wild. It's a skeleton of wooden walls and silken drapery, silently waiting for the swamp to reclaim it. This is the most haunting scent of the collection, full of echoes of things that once were and will never be again.

Gehenna - (Red Musk, Dragon's Blood Resin, Burning Wood, Somalian Myrrh & Egyptian Musk) This one has musk in it, red and egyptian, at least one of which is triggering a migraine for me, so I'll only give it the briefest sniff.  It's sweet in a musky, incens-y way. Similar to Manor but with more the feel of an exotic oil or sticky resin. It's a good smell, but it doesn't seem autumnish to me. I'd put this in a Christmas set, as a "We Three Kings" type aroma. Probably the myrrh that brings that to mind. It's  like a warm, costly golden perfumed oil, glistening in the shade of an oasis. Shame about the musk - I'd like it otherwise. Gehenna is a place just outside of Jerusalem where the pagans sacrificed their children to the god Moloch. I didn't know that until I just now looked it up, but it's an apt name for something that smells like the desert and anointing oils and resins.

I like them all, as I expected, and it's hard to put my finger on a favourite. I think Foxcroft and Witch's Cottage are the ones I like the most, but I expect I'll get Manor and Thornwood Thicket in one form or another as well. I'll have to pass on Gehenna, and I'm still up in the air about Devil's Tongue - I like it, but I like some of the others better. It'll come down to time and funds, I expect.

All products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What's that smell?

Let's talk about sillage. It's a french word, and it basically means the traces of scent that surround someone and linger after they are gone. If the gods are kind, that scent originates from perfume or cologne. If not, well...I feel your pain. I was stuck behind a fine specimen of cro-magnon in a sweltering hot KFC yesterday and he had some serious 'natural sillage' going on. He also had a bunch of prison tattoos, including one that said "White Pride". Oh, the irony.

Anyway, sillage. A funny word, but the idea of someone wafting about in a cloud of exquisite perfume sounds so romantic in books. It's alluring when you picture, say Lauren Bacall in a film noir, wrapped in satin and pearls redolent of Shalimar or something by Chanel*. You want to scent yourself all over, put on a silk blouse and pretend you're getting ready to meet Philip Marlowe or Frank Chambers.

Sadly, I never get to be around those hedonistically fragrant people. I always get stuck with Ogg- exemplar of the white race. Or some woman who hosed herself down with Eau de Skunk Butt before doing her shopping. In theory, sillage is a wonderful thing. All too often it turns out to be air pollution of the worst kind.

This is a particular problem for people - like me - with severe allergies. I have one friend I make very certain only to wear the lightest of fragrances around - anything else sends her into a swelling, sneezing fit. As for myself, lavender and several musks are both severe allergy and/or migraine triggers. Same with certain artificial pine scents.**

This is why I sympathise with people/places that want to ban perfumes. Much as I adore scent - and I wear it every day - I wear it for me, not for everyone in a fifty foot radius. I think the optimal amount of sillage is something I can detect and people close enough to whisper in my ear, or put their arm around me. Scent should be an intimate murmur, not a bellow.

What are your thoughts?

*Except Chanel #5 which smells like industrial waste.

**I can't actually smell most musks. I don't realize it's there until the throbbing starts in my temples. As far as pine goes - ugh. I survived I don't know how many Christmasses with the family putting up an artificial tree and then my Mom would soak the room with 'pine scented' air freshener; horrible soapy sticky-smelling stuff that made me sick. I still get flashbacks.