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"The Muse" by Anne Kushnick

After over seven years of buying and writing about perfumes, we have an amazing selection of decants in our Decant store, any of which you can order and try for yourself. Here’s a niche fragrance that you may not be familiar with, although we’ve sold a lot of samples over the two years since I originally wrote about it. It’s called Muse by Rouge Bunny Rouge, and it continues to be one of my most favourite niche scents. I wore it today, a cold sunny winter day in Toronto, and enjoyed its gorgeous waft all day long. I fell in love again with Muse. Read on….

Originally posted as Muse – Falling in love -  June 13, 2014

Rouge Bunny Rouge is a quirky name for a cosmetics company born in Moscow and raised in London. I discovered this niche line while trolling the beauty blogs. I loved the somewhat retro vision of Alexandra de Montfort, the creator and Artistic Director of the brand, described in detail on the Rouge Bunny Rouge website. She sees make-up as “intriguing and mysterious” transforming women “into whoever they want to be”. Also, she makes credible products – she’s dedicated to merging craftsmanship with technical prowess.

I met Alexandra de Montfort at the Elements Showcase in NYC in February 2014. She was there to introduce two new scents to her Fragrant Confections range, Allegria and Muse, among others. We talked for a while as she described the new scents, I can tell you that she is charming, very passionate about her perfumes, and extremely knowledgeable about fragrance in general.

Petite, quietly spoken, Alexandra explained that she set out to create her olfactory visions using the best quality standards in every aspect of the design process, from the noses she sourced for the individual scents, to the ingredients, the bottles, the graphics and the packaging. She also emphasized that it was very important to her that all the Rouge Bunny Rouge Eau de Parfums are phthalate-free, paraben-free and suitable for vegans.

The scents in Fragrant Confections and Provenance Tales represent “vapours of captured memories”. Both ranges were born in the “Enchanted Garden of her imagination”, and Fragrant Confections are the florals, truly beautiful and unusual florals. Muse is the one that captured my imagination.

Muse is dramatic. Created by Nathalie Lorson - Encre Noire for Lalique is one of her best – it’s been listed as a woody floral or a floral chypre, both of which are clumsy descriptions, because in fact the fragrance is a sensuous delight that slips in and out of the light, creating an intriguing aura as it unfolds over several hours.

The top notes are bergamot, freesia, gardenia and green leaves, so Muse opens bright with creamy florals with an undertone of earthy unripe greens. Then the jasmines join the crowd and everything changes.

Muse goes from light to dark and takes on a deeper tone, the scent thickening, becoming damp, even more earthy from moss, and then the jasmine indoles add a true animalic note. When mixed with the sweet labdanum and the musk and ambergris from the base, Muse for me, becomes almost hypnotic, with a dangerous edge. Resins from cedarwood and oud add woody leathery notes, which bring Muse back into the light, and when joined by the musks and soft florals, it transforms into a warm and comforting scent in the drydown.

I love Muse. The jasmine note can sometimes be like chalk on a blackboard for me, especially if a big dose of aldehydes is included. But, in Muse, Alexandra and Nathalie take the white florals, including Jasmin Absolute and Jasmin Sambac, and create a fragrance that feels very modern, yet other-worldly at the same time. Light and dark, earthy and heavenly, mysterious and familiar, Muse has an emotional pull that surprises me.

The bottle is gorgeous, too. A frosted cube with etched design, topped with smaller silver cube, it has real heft, like the scent inside. Alexandra gave me samples of several of her other scents. I can feel the love building.

Muse is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00 for 1 ml.

 

 

 

 

Black Heart v. 2 by Map Of The Heart bottle - colognoisseur.com

My first find of Black Heart v. 2 by Map Of The Heart was on Mark Behnke’s blog Colognoisseur.

On November 5, 2014 he wrote: “It has been seven weeks since I was in Florence for Pitti Fragranze and there is one perfume which has consumed my thoughts since trying it there. One of my favorite new lines I discovered at Pitti was Map of the Heart. Map of the Heart is a debut line from co-founders Sarah Blair and Jeffrey Darling. They have collaborated with perfumer Jacques Huclier on three perfumes. They also have brought in bottle designer Pierre Dinand to fashion heart shaped flacons. Map of the Heart Clear Heart v. 1 and Red Heart v. 3 are nicely executed aquatic and tuberose perfumes, respectively. They are good but the middle volume Black Heart v. 2 is something wholly unique, a perfumed journey into darkness that never compromises by letting in even a tiny sliver of light.”

There it was: “Black Heart v. 2 is something wholly unique, a perfumed journey into darkness that never compromises by letting in even a tiny sliver of light.” I had barely finished the reading the sentence, when I knew I wanted that fragrance.

So what happened between November 2014 and now? The search, dear readers, the search. Before I could buy it, I had to try it and before I could try it, I had to find it. I searched, I Googled, I emailed, I phoned, I asked, I visited – but I never gave up.

Truth is, Black Heart v. 2 eluded me until the day I walked into L'Eclaireur Sévigné, the iconic Parisian concept store. The irony of finding the fragrance I had been hunting for so long, in a store the name of which translates as ‘scout’, was not lost on me.

And, of course, I was looking for something else entirely when I walked into the store, but there it was, Black Heart v. 2 sitting on a shelf. I sprayed it, went for a drink, went back to the store and bought it. A case of find, smell, love.

Regular readers know that it doesn’t take long for me to know if I want a fragrance once experience it.  And that I rarely regret a quick decision (actually, I can’t think of one case of buyer’s remorse at this moment). The only regret I have with Black Heart v. 2 is that I didn’t buy an extra bottle.

Black Heart v. 2 opens with nose-tingling bergamot sweetened with a note of juicy Brazilian orange. Right up behind the citrus comes a camphourous note of eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is potent stuff and its moth ball smell can really take over a fragrance, but here it is softly heady and green. It balances the citrus fruits beautifully. The top notes linger as Black Heart v. 2  moves to a heart of darkness – sweet, spicy resinous cardamom, warmed by hot, earthy black pepper and sweet, spicy cinnamon. This is a heart full of warm beauty that rests on a base of smoky wood accords and Australian sandalwood - rich, deep, woody and balsamic.

The Map Of The Heart website says that Black Heart v. 2 was Inspired by the beauty and terror of Australian bush fires that are both destructive and regenerative. It is the moment the flames subside and the blackened tree trunks remain smouldering in a snow of white ash - the piercing sunlight slicing through.

This description is too harsh and violent for such a beautiful fragrance.  The drydown is balsamy, warm and smoky, with a delicate thread of green brightness running through it. The smokiness is not heavy-handed, just very sensual so that Black Heart v. 2 smoulders on my skin for hours and hours. Every time I catch a whiff of it, I am moved by its deep beauty.  It was worth all the effort I made to track it down.

Black Heart v. 2 is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

 

 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

 

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."
                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.
 
What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

Over the past few years, we’ve tried hundreds of samples, and when we deem a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let other perfumistas buy and try samples from our collections, and share their experiences with us, too, through Comments.
 
WHAT WE DO
 
We blog
On weekends we post an story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent experts, so these aren't critical reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.
 
Mid-week, either our friend Esther posts "Sniffing Around",  which is all about news in the perfume world - what's new and wonderful, upcoming launches, what's on sale where, etc. Or we post "Nose-to-Nose", our conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention over the past week. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to buy our selection of 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.
 
We sell
We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.
 
Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 
When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.
 
Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

 
If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retailer or online source.

We provide
A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
 
We hope you enjoy perfumeniche.com, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.