The name “Madagascar” brings to mind notes such as ylang ylang, geranium and vanilla (the only real orchid used in perfumery). And so, I was expecting vanilla from Lisa Hoffman's Madagascar Orchid. Instead, I got lilac.
Nestled in a pebbled-green, soft leather travel pouch were four little roll-on bottles with a golden cap. The “Variations” took me by surprise when each one of the four bottles turned out to contain a different scent – each one a variation on the theme, made to fit a certain moment during the day: morning, daytime, evening and bedtime. Interesting concept, with some practical implications: The nose does get tired if you wear the exact same fragrance all day, and the olfactory bulb does goes through different degrees of sensitivity throughout the day. It is also particularly fun for perfumistas, who enjoy exercising their refined sense of smell by comparing the subtleties between each variation. And lastly, it is definitely much cleverer than the flankers we see popping out only several months after the “original” scent comes out (usually it won’t be original at all).
The morning variation would be light and not overpowering, as to not overwhelm you before you had your coffee; the daytime variation seems quite strong, and I have a feeling it is going to come handy as a pick-me-up scent when the energy goes down in the afternoon; the evening is the most sultry and rich of the four; and lastly the bedtime variation is soft and a little powdery, to help you wind-down and drift into sleep.
The Madagascar Orchid Morning variation is quite soapy, but also dewy and a little crisp, like what you’d smell on a cluster of lilacs early in the morning, with hints of crushed green leaves in the garden.
The Daytime variation is a little more full-bodied, but still within the fresh light floral realm. The lilac note in here is quite pronounced but with a bit of powder and sweet notes as a backdrop. It took me a while to figure it out, but it really did remind me of the lilac-scented deodorant I got when traveling in Quebec 12 years ago, which brought me some fond memories.
The Bedtime variation is more delicate but my least favourite. It’s not as floral, and a even more powdery than the previous two. I think I can smell lavender in there.
The Evening variation is distinctively different, with warm, sweet notes of incense crawling from beneath. It was the first one I gravitated towards, and it’s the only one in the collection that really could remind me of an exotic orchid. It does not have much of the lilac as in the other ones, but instead, has a scent reminiscent of the East Indian “Night Queen” perfume, and with trails of sweet incense smoke swirling around it.
Personally, I enjoyed the Evening variation more then the rest, which is not surprising
at all considering that I usually gravitate towards the heavier scents. The contrast between the smoky incense and the heady flowers is mediated by a tad of sweetness (perhaps vanilla) yet never sugary sweet. Like I said the other day – it makes for a perfect fall floral scent.
Orchids are usually "fantasy florals" - a composition made of several different notes (natural and/or synthetic). Sometimes they are completely "made up" from the perfumer's imaginations; other times they are captured using headspace technique from exotic orchids in faraway lands. In other words - what perfumers call "orchid" could smell like anything or like nothing else. This particular orchid perfume is both exotic and intoxicating and whether it smells like a particular orchid or like something familiar from my daily life is not important; but the fact that it creates the sensation of a fragrant blooming orchid.
The "official" notes for the Madagascar Orchid collection are: sheer jasmine, ylang dew, mimosa mood, and pink peony. Another interesting thing to note is the medium for this collection: the base for these roll-on perfumes is made of a mixture of nut and seed oils such as sesame seed oil, rice bran oil, macademia nut oil, brazil nut oil, acai pulp oil, jojoba esters, squalane oil and vitamin E.
The Variations series come in a leather wallet, or you can get a refill. You can purchase them directly from the Lisa Hoffman website, and also enjoy the following discounts offered to SmellyBlog readers:
Effective until October 15th: enter LHB4DC to receive a 35% discount on all orders.
And until the end of the month (October 31st), SmellyBlog readers can enjoy a 15% discount on all Lisa Hoffman products with the coupon code SMELLYBLOG.