Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang

Amber by Andy von der Wurm
Amber, a photo by Andy von der Wurm on Flickr.

Amber Ylang Ylang is the second in the Private Collection series (the first one being Tuberose Gardenia and the third - Jasmine White Moss).

Although the first one was very true to the name and smelled like a big tuberose gardenia bouquet; the name in this number is a little misleading. It’s really more about amber than ylang ylang; and if anything – it would have been more accurate to call it either “Amber Heliotrope” or “Amber Incense”, or many other things that are much more apparent to the nose in this perfume.

Amber Ylang Ylang begins with a hit of citrus (which is hardly surprising; I can say with almost 100% confidence that almost any perfume on the planet has some citrus to being with). I’m smelling mandarin, though the website is listing bergamot. There is also a woodsy-powdery-sheerness that I would attribute to either rosewood or linalool (practically the same thing). But very quickly something floral creeps in, and it’s not ylang ylang. It’s the powdery, sweet, candied butter scent of heliotrope – vanilic yet with a hint of bitter almond or cherry pie to it. It smells deliciously addictive. There is also a certain floracly to it, but it’s not from any particular flower – I suspect it is actually from styrax – it has that lilac-and-glue-like quality without any petals anyone could point their fingers or count. The only hint or suggestions towards ylang ylang is perhaps the tiniest hint of methyl anthranilate and salicilates. If it’s there, it is so subtle that I keep asking myself - why bother naming it this way?

Then a powdery incense note weaves through the perfume with grace and refinement – a muted nag champa kind of smoking sweetness, making it easily appeal to the hippie crowds that could probably not afford even the lower end, gem-less eau de parfum bottle; and amber. Loads of amber resin just like what you’d find in Banyen Books (the 4th avenue shop of new age books and incense – good-quality and cheap-smelling, all side by side), with glorious resinous benzoin, coumarin, and a smidgeon of patchouli and labdanum. At long last (some 9 hours or more later), as the perfume dries down completely, you’ll find there is more than just a basic dosage of musk at its base. Amber Ylang Ylang could easily be called Amber Musk and give you a much better idea of what to expect. It’s a warm and cuddly kind of musk – not the “white musk” you find in most everything that comes out nowadays; but a more powdery, somewhat old-fashioned musk, reminiscent of the musk ketone of yesteryear.

Amber Ylang Ylang is not exactly boring or linear, but you’ll find very little surprises along the way. If you’re an amber lover, incense lover, musk lover or all three together – all the better for it. The price is a bit steep, and I suspect goes mainly to cover the costs of the gemstones embedded on the bottle's cap. It's not particularly original - it's just a cuddly ambery floriental, nothing ground breaking - but it sure smells good.

Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia

White Beauty, originally uploaded by tropicaLiving.

Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia delivers what its name promises and does it well. The execution of this grand floral is surprisingly tame and not in the least obnoxious. Although I can’t say its lacking sillage, it is definitely quieter than most of Estee Lauder fragrances not to mention many other tuberose-themed perfumes.

Tuberose Gardenia remains polished and soft like a white novak purse that’s inevitably saturated with it’s owner’s perfume. Inside the purse you’ll find very few accessories - just what’s necessary for that particular outing. In this case: tuberose and gardenia accords underlined by a woody vanilla base (which halfway through the journey brings to mind the overall impression of Songes). If Fracas is the point beyond which everything is too loud, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia marks the point on the same spectrum beyond which tuberose starts to whisper.

While Fracas makes me think of other things (disturbingly intoxicating and unrecognizable flowers at night), Tuberose Gardenia leaves me just comfortably pampered with buttery, creamy tuberose and gardenia. There is none of the greenness or complexity you can find in Fracas and which makes it so intriguing as it bounces between gasoline, white flowers, rubber and greenery until it settles down into a creamy tuberose. Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia is straightforward and shows all its card right from the start: it reminds me more of tuberose floral wax than anything else, with its velvety, pampering tuberose headiness. Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia seems to give us what we need in this day and age (aside from the very long name to type over an over again - a trend that I hope would come to an end one of these days!): it brings a simple pleasure just like a much needed vacation.

Same Lady, Change of Gown

In my recent browsing at the various perfume counters in town, I noticed something of the unusual: two limited edition scents that I have grown very fond of have made a sneaky comeback. Sneaky because they have now returned with a new name, new bottle yet the exact same fragrance as far as I can remember.

In the fragrance world, the opposite is more common: every day, an old favourite is reformulated while its visual representation and name are maintained. Observing the opposite is encouraging, especially when the two fragrances in questions are two that I have grown to enjoy and love quite enormously in the past three years.

Allow me to introduce the first lady: Opium Poésie de Chine, formerly known as Opium Fleur de Shanghai. With notes of magnolia, star anise, vanilla, mandarin and myrrh it has captured my heart three years ago when it was released, for summer 2006. I have done everything I could to make it more popular, including stocking up on it and raving about here on SmellyBlog. My efforts seem to have paid off as the scent is back now, with a new name and new packaging. The magnolia floral printed bottle with (somewhat cheesy) ivory plastic cap is now replaced with a minimalist red frosted bottle decorated with verses of poetry in Chinese characters.

The second dame is non other than the not-exactly-a-perfume - Estee Lauder’s Bronze Goddess, formerly known to us as Azuree Body Oil. The scent remains exactly the same, the body oil formulation seems the same as well. It is also offered in a glittered body lotion. While the delightful turquoise is replaced by shades of brown and orange, there is no mention of Tom Ford’s name anywhere on the packagin whatsoever, which is somewhat a relief (if your affection for the line was thrown off by his pornographic campaign for his recently launched namesake masculine scent).

Sand, Sun, Skin…

This indecisive product swings in between a perfume and a body oil, but to judge by the fact that 1/5 of the bottle was gone only 5 days after Azuree joined my glass clan – I think of it as a body oil. The scent is mild and non-overpowering. Despite its definite presence and unique odour, it does not seem like an improbable act of insanity to wear other fragrance on your wrists while your skin is covered with the glowing aura of this subtle, sensual scent. I was a bit surprised when I smelled it first because it is rather spicy. With all the coconut and gardenia hype, one might grow to expect Azure to be just another fun suntan oil scent. Azure is mostly a woody scent, warmed with allspice and cloves. It has a spicy-sweet and woody-dry, warm presence at first, with less-than-obvious melted-honey-comb top notes. Than it gradually melts into the skin and radiates an aura of warm sand and skin, or shampooed hair heated by direct sun light. The gardenia is very subdued and so are the coconut and myrrh. The overall feeling when wearing Azuree Body Oil after a while is what one would want a sun tan lotion to be: a non-obstrusive complement to one’s skin. And that’s what I love about it.

The packaging is simple and exquisite, the exact colours of Youth Dew Bath Oil. The apple did not fall far from the tree in this case…

The oil is made mostly of silicone (cyclopentasiloxane caprylic/capric triglyceride), it is made friendly and moisturizing with olive oil, macademia nut oil, kukui nut oil, grapeseed oil and wheat germ oil. I believe it's that combination that makes the oil absorb so fast and not feel so oily (like most suntan oils are!). The list of ingredients definitley makes me like this oil more...

A downside is, though, that all the cinnamic acids and spicy aromas can be a bit tough on the skin. If you have a sensitive skin don’t apply it all over your body – it may result in a burning or itching sensation or irritation to the skin. This is why it would be nice if it came in a more concentrated oil that can be applied discreetly to pulse points, or just a perfume, a-la-Youth Dew Bath Oil.

Another issue is the price: if (and I repeat: IF) Azuree was a perfume, the price (below $40 CAD) would have been very attractive. But, considering the fact that it is a Body Oil, and is meant to cover more skin than a perfume – it goes faster that I wish it would, and so the price is actually not as great as it seems…

The gorgeous photograph titled "Fraingipani" is courtesy of The Haliimaile Hippie

Private Collection

Strange, mysterious and elegant, Private Collection is a perfume of rare beauty and originality. Although I liked the EDP very much, I find the parfum far superior, and this is the version I chose to review here.

The opening notes are impossible to pass by without notice: green and strange. Galbanum, freshly cut grass and twigs, along with a hint of beetle-like scent, slightly apple-y notes, flying like fireflies in the summer above wedged watermelons specked with black seeds.

An elegant crisp white floral heart complements the green notes with orange blossom absolute, neroli and rose and a tad of jasmine and lily of the valley. Underneath it all there is a warm and soft undercurrent of oakmoss and sandalwood.

This is an exceptional perfume with a frosty aura of crisp elegance - just as the bottle so beautifully portrays. It’s cutting edge yet classy. It comprises of an interesting counterpoint of a distant, well preserved beauty and a warm and loving personality that is very approachable. It’s the combination of elegant florals, childhood-invoking, playful green notes along with more grown-up, warm, mossy and woody notes that make this perfume’s personality so well rounded and lovable.

Top notes: Galbanum, Freshly cut grass
Heart notes: Orange Blossom Absolute, Neroli, Rose, Jasmine, Lilly of the Valley
Base notes: Oakmoss, Sandalwood

For a different view of Private Collection, visit The Scented Salamnder and read
review from February 5th 2007.

Photo: Cyclamen leaves in Clil

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