Autumn List

Autumn 2013 by Ayala Moriel
Autumn 2013, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Time for a Fall 2013 List! I'm always fascinated by the majestic abundance of this season. Rich colours, warm textures, mysterious transitions and intriguing transitions take place. Flaming leaves make room for dark, barren trees and the sun is gradually replaced by shadows and hidden growth process. My favourite scents for fall usually are smoky-leathery-tobacco or Chypre, and this season is no exception. However, I'm happy to discover some new beauties every year to expand on these themes. Life is never boring when there's perfume!

1) Mitsouko
I enjoy Mitsouko year-around, but it's not fall without it. I've mostly reaching for the Eau de Parfum, which has a light dusting of cumin. In the winter it's time to pull out the parfum extrait, which has more pronounced peach aldhyde, orange and vanilla notes; and spring and summer are times for the lighter, more citrusy and dry-woody.

2) Anima Dulcis
My new discovery this year at Barneys in San Francisco has turned chilly autumn mornings into a delightful experience. Anima Dulcis wraps around like a halo of sweet steamed milk, a cloud of spices and brown hues of caramel, dark chocolate and fallen leaves.

3) Forest Walk
Once you get beyond the musty, realistic wet earth and rotten leaves crunching beneath my feet - my brisk walking warms up my skin to reveal the woody-balsamic sweetness of black hemlock absolute, rockrose resin and moss. True to its name, Forest Walk conjures the imagery and tactile sensuality of a walk in the woods in fall; and like a vigorous stroll rejuvenates as it reconnects to earth and the seasons.

4) Magazine Street
Sophisticated, seductive and complex, Magazine Street is not exactly a seasonal perfume, as I can see myself wearing it year around. I just so happen to finally have gotten enough supply of it to lavishly enjoy it as I please. Rooty vetiver and botanical musks make it truly sing on the skin, alongside its Southern beauties of blooming magnolias. It blends so beautifully with the skin, creating a unique aura around you.

5) Cocoa Sandalwood
Surprising combination of powdery, warm sandalwood with a dust of cocoa and - the surprise - intriguingly violet-y osmanthus. Cocoa Sandalwood is a quiet, soft-spoken creaminess that is very comforting.

6) Egoiste
On my last stopover at Schipol airport, I picked up a gigantic bottle of this unavailable-in-North-America masculine gem. It is the younger sibling of Bois des Iles. Creamy sandalwood brightened by light rosewood and citrus, and hint of aldehydes. It's not as spicy and creamy as its sister, but is just as classy and lovable. Equally great for black-tie events or an evening cuddled in your favourite woolen wrap reading a book by the fireplace. 

7) Lampblack
Fall being a time of transition and contemplation, writing (or drawing) in one's journal is one of the best ways reflecting on the inner life. Black India ink serves this purpose most dutifully and truthfully. And that is the core of Lampblack - a mineral, inky concoction of smoky cyperus (nagramotha) and earthy vetiver, sulphuric grapefruit and flamboyant pepper.

8) My Vanilla
Mysterious and grown-up, this beautiful and original creation is about vanilla's seductive power and exotic nature. Paired with dry cedar, warm spices and smoky-sugary notes. In contrast, there is also strange and unusually green-resinous mastic note and heady champaca and orange blossom to create a remarkable oriental veil.

9) Volutes
Wood varnish, burnished pipe, tobacco, dates, vanilla, musk, honey and incense... Volutes is multi-layered and complex yet addictively easy to wear. It's wonderful to finally have a "darker" Diptyque scent enter the world.

10) Feuilles de Tabac
One of the most intriguing perfumes from the tobacco genre, and definitely my favourite from Miller Harris - though I've been giving it far less attention than it deserves on this blog. Wearing it instantly boosts my confidence, but not in a tacky "I'm now assertive" kinda way (aka what you'd imagine a public speaker to put on before doing a TED talk). It just creates a sense of strength and courage. It's melange of tobacco, cascarilla bark and pimento berry creates is out-of-the-ordinary, although immediately conjures a very masculine presence. I love that bold opening, and even more so what it morphs into, when the softer nuances of tobacco emerge, wrapped in patchouli and garnished with tonka.

What are your fall favourites this year?

Magazine Street

Just Hanging Around by Yonaton13
Just Hanging Around, a photo by Yonaton13 on Flickr.

In a balancing act, sweet florals and earthy musks create one of the most harmonious and interesting perfumes. Simultaneously wearable and intriguing, it evokes summer nights spent outdoors, armed with mosquito repellent, and enjoying the murmurs of grass creatures at nights and the whispers of climbing vines and nocturnal butterflies.

Beginning with the sweetness of white magnolia and the effervescent, clean-woody linalool of ho-leaf. Don’t let Magazine Streets’ initial Southern Belle demeanors fool you with her crisply starched linens and satin-bowed hairdo: these fruity, innocent white petals are only one part of the equation; Her other half is a street musician containing green yet sensual botanical musks, husky vetiver, just a smidgeon of patchouli only ever so slightly sweetened with the complexity of woodsy-smooth vanilla absolute. And the most beautiful thing about it? The whole thing diminuendos smoothly into a skin-scent that can become deceivingly a part of you.

It’s no secret: Magazine Street is my favourite of all the Strange Invisible Perfumes I’ve sampled. It was love at first sniff several years ago in Venice, and I had to get a sample online, which soon should be replaced by a proper supply – probably the EDP spray, because I find this format gives the line much more justice than the dense, dark extraits which often suffocate the essences (this is true to most natural perfume lines, I’m afraid).

Top notes: Ho Wood
Heart notes: White Magnolia, Jasmine
Base notes: Vetiver, Botanical Musks, Vanilla, Patchouli

Strange Invisible Perfumes

Only a couple of hours before I had to board on my plane back to YVR, Persephenie took me to Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique in Venice, CA for a little visit. Located just 1138 Abbot Kinney Blvd Venice, CA 90291, United States - (310) 314-1505 and virtually at www.siperfumes.com

The store design is a minimalist interpretation of new age. The crystal bottles are displayed among hollowed crystal rocks and on chunks of tree roots. A long glass displaly table greeted us at the front, and behind it, manning the desk was a lady intently reading book about plants and hiding behind it shyly for a while, allowing us both to sniff our way without much disruption. Deeper into the shop, lines of organic body care from other brands (i.e.: John Masters and In Fiore’s boday balms), and baskets with sachets of Douglas fir needls caught my nose the most. Further in, there is a little capsule which looks like a glass train compartment of two benches in front of one another. This is where Alexandra Ballahoutis conducts her custom perfumes, where the client gets to taste different floral waters and apply different essences on their skin.

Up until recently, the entire line was only made into the pure parfum concentrnation. I tried a few (Trapeze, Fair Verona, Pearl Dragon) and found them to be dense, medicinal and even muddy – in short, quite unaccessible. Recently, most of the perfumes were made into an Eau de Parfum formulation (contrary to the website, as far as I could tell the entire line is available in the new Eau de Parfum concentration).

I smelled most and narrowed down my interest into the following (which I plan to order samples of so I can wear them and experience them properly):

Creamy gardenia, not overly heady. Tropical and rich. Will have to write more about it later after I try the sample on my skin. I also learned that Lady Day, which I always wanted to try is no longer made since the launch of Epic Gardenia. If anyone has an idea of how the two compare I would love to hear more about it.

From the new trio of modern, natural soliflores this one intrigued me the most. The intention behind it is to “FOLLOWS THESE FLOWERS BENEATH THE GARDEN FLOOR AND REVEALS THAT SWEETNESS BELIES STRENGTH”. It does not smell like lily of the valley on the blotter paper, but it does have an impressive lily of the valley suggestion on the skin – only richer and more complex. A narcissus note amplified as it progressed on the skin through the heart note phase. I will post a full review of that shortly as I received a sample at the boutique.

There was something intriguing about this perfume, and I wish I could wear it to follow its evolution. It has blue lotus and high quality aged patchouli as a base, which reminds me of Pashmina scarves.

The most intriguing of them all, with its interplay of mystery and familiarity. It is subtly floral at first and mostly musky in the dry down, warm with hints of spice.

Much headier than the Epic Gardenia. The dry down is sultry, honeyed and sweet with hints of orange blossom.

I have tried this before from a sample at home (the EDP I believe) and it’s a beautiful leathery musk, that reminds me very much of my Espionage only much lighter.

This one, unfortunately, smelled completely vile to me, with its harsh greenness at first. I am partial towards green smells, so take what I say with a grain of healthy doubt. It was so omnipotent though that I wasn’t able to not mention it here. It's not the kind of fragrance that can go unnoticed in the first few minutes at least. I think it was also the first one to be published as an EDP in the line.

A pretty rose. Haven't kept the scent strip but ordered a sample too (you can only order samples online, which makes sense - at the store you can try them than and there).

Unusual and mesmerizing although I’m not sure it’s for me. Tannin and leathery with its black tea notes but also lighter than might be expected with hints of florals and mint. It strikes me as one of the scents you absolutely cannot form an opinion about unless you’ve tried it on your skin. So I just ordered a sample online now.
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