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Christmas card collage - julekort

We’ve sniffed, spritzed, splashed, dabbed, read about, dreamed about, longed for, searched for, paid for, and written about a lot of fragrances, and now 2017 is coming to an end. Our fascination with beautiful smells is as passionate as when we began writing about them in 2010.

We thought you might like to know some of the fragrances from this past year that we think are so gorgeous that we’ve added them to our Faves List. Some were new releases, some have a longer history, but all them have that thing, the olfactory magic that transports us to Perfume Heaven. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

1.  Black Heart v. 2 by Map Of The Heart:

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.

2. Cologne Sologne by Nicolaï Parfumeur Createur

THE cult cologne. Here’s the thing about Cologne Sologne that set it apart from other colognes: the ingredients are top drawer, and they smell that way; the opening is softer than most colognes because the citrus isn’t as harsh; it actually has some development and the base notes give it more longevity than most other colognes. For all of this, it’s a traditional European warm weather/casual scent.

3. Bohea Bohème  by Mona di Orio

Bohea Bohème is built around the smoky notes of black Wuyi tea.  Citrusy, resinous with pine and strong black pepper, the burning tea note is pungent and upfront for the first few minutes. It’s the scent of the black tea being cured, resinous and powerful, but it softens and becomes smoky, vaporous, and in the heart, with earthy iris and osmanthus and hay. From monadiorio.com:… facets of fresh, sweet and earthy notes…bright and spicy accords of Bergamot and Sichuan Pepper…powdery elegance of Florentine Iris…fruity florals of Osmanthus Absolute…dry Hay and subtle green notes of Geranium ...The warmth of the scent deepens and lingers as the sophisticated tea is steeped in nutty Amber, honeyed Poplar buds and an infusion of Balsams, Oakwood, and Gaiac…. a luxurious woody fragrance with a balsamic vibrato, unconventional and seductive.” Great on men, great on women.

4. Dilettante by Hiram Green

The glorious, heady scent of orange blossom – floral and sweet, lush and indolic –  is the smell of sunshine, of summer, of happiness. Petitgrain, gives it a gorgeous green aspect that seems to extend the orange blossom before it gets warm and spicy from cinnamon. The citrus is balanced at the base by warm, resinous, ambery, tolu. Dilettante’s drydown is incomparable.  Fruity, floral and softly resinous, with no bitterness or citrus tang. It’s so refined and, yes, uplifting, that it’s more than a summer fragrance and so balanced that it can be worn by a man or a woman.

5. Eau de rhubarbe écarlate by Hermès

Brand new in 2017, and now a favourite summer cologne. The bottle which holds Eau de rhubarbe écarlate is the most beautiful rich rhubarb-red glass, and the scent that rushes out with the first spritz is beautiful rhubarb green. It is vegetal, sappy, savoury, citrusy, all in one sniff. It is definitely rhubarb, bold and beautiful. But soon the green gives way to red rhubarb as red berries are added, raspberries rather than strawberries, and the rhubarb note transforms to the deliciousness of stewed fruit rather than raw fruit. Sweetened, cooled, and accompanied with smooth velvety custard, which is represented in Rhubarbe écarlate by soft rounded notes of musk, this refined scent finishes with a mellow radiance. By Christine Nagel, new House Perfumer for Hèrmes.

6. Green Water by Jacques Fath

This is a new version of the  original Green Water from 1946 for French fashion designer Jacques Fath. Designed as a masculine, Green Water was built around three notes, neroli, mint, and moss, with the bitter-orange orange blossom note, neroli, as the star from top to bottom, which gave it a glorious verdancy. In 2016, perfumer Cecile Zarokian hit this new version of Green Water out of the park for Jacques Fath Parfums. The opening accord is fresh and rich, with lemony-orange citrus notes and a hint of slightly sweetened spearmint. The mint deepens and is drawn out with wafts of herbs, tarragon, basil, caraway into the heart, becoming almost spicy before drifting into a cloud of green vetiver and oakmoss. In the drydown into the base, the mint disappears and the mix of the floral bitter-orange of neroli with the herbs, grass, and moss and musk notes, makes the green accord shimmer on the skin. Green Water is just wonderful.

7. L’Attesa (The Wait) by Masque Milano

l’Attesa features one of the most poignant notes in perfumery, the iris note. Iris is a tricky note in fragrances. It has a very subdued character that is easily overwhelmed by heavier notes such as florals and woods, but on its own, iris also has a very definite “crusty bread” nuance to it. In L’Attesa, the iris is paired  with a yeasty champagne note that creates a solid base for the tenuous iris, and uniquely deepens the “iris character”. The floral, earthy powdery facets are preserved. The opening notes give a sensation of earthy dampness, but it is immediately lifted with the sunny citrus-brightness of bergamot and neroli. The iris increases in volume, accompanied by the champagne note, sparkly and yeasty and tantalizingly noseworthy, and when the white florals of ylang-ylang and creamy tuberose quietly join the chorus, it’s La La Land. Faintly sweet aromatic sandalwood, green oakmoss, and smoky leather musky notes form the base, adding a smooth rich sensual contrast to the iris and champagne notes. L’Attesa is luxuriously smooth and hauntingly beautiful. If you want to experience the opulent beauty of the iris note in fragance, your wait is over.  This is the one to try.

8. Nuit de Bakélite by Naomi Goodsir

Tuberose at centre-stage in this latest fragrance from Naomi Goodsir. But it’s not the tuberose I was expecting. This tuberose is surrounded by a veil of green so that it smells, and feels, like the stem more than the flower. And it isn’t indolic, that aspect has been stripped out so that the lush, creamy aspect of tuberose becomes the star, heightened by buttery orris. Right about here in its development, I get a whiff of camphour, that aspect of tuberose that always draws me in. It may be put here to reference the plastic smell of Bakelite, but I don’t get that effect on me. At the base, Nuit de Bakélite gets leathery, deliciously leathery, supported by rich, aromatic tobacco and with resinous, smoky, woody undertones from styrax and gaiac wood. You can’t hide a big flower, like tuberose, but you can showcase other dimensions of it, which makes this EdP a new, exciting original interpretation of tuberose. This is one fragrance that’s not to be missed. 

9. Stash by SJP perfumes

Sarah Jessica Parker, of Lovely fame, now has a new success story with the launch of her new fragrance, Stash SJP. Described by SJP as Lovely’s naughty subversive sibling, Stash is the opposite of floral, and was inspired by men’s fragrances Parker wears and mixes and matches, scents with vetiver and frankincense, citrus and spices, smoky wood notes, patchouli and musk. Leathery, sweaty, boozy, aromatic, sexy. With the first spritz, I’m in love. A nose-tingling accord of peppery gingery notes and sweet grapefruit, not over-whelming or too heavy, but warm, light and dry. And then Stash opens up and becomes this wonderful swirl of incense and cedarwood, so aromatic, silky smooth and smoky with hints of tangy sweetness from the grapefruit.  The sensation is dryness but overlaid with creamy wood notes much like sandalwood and with the addition of patchouli and musk, the scent becomes downright sensual.  Stash owns a come-hither attraction that is unfettered, ungendered, and wafts softly and sexily for hours.

10. Tobacco by Franck Boclet

It opens with a note of bright, spicy ginger surrounding a note of rich warm tobacco. I smell plum here too – fruity, sweet and lush. As it blooms, clove comes forward and extends the spiciness of the opening deeper into the fragrance. Tonka bean, adds aromatic coumarin, the smell of hay to the heart making it beautifully aromatic. Cedar gives it a woody backbone that is extended to the base with vetiver. Benzoin, with its amber aspects, and vanilla are at the base too, sweetening up the woods just so. The drydown is rich, warm, sensual and intimate. The thing I most love about this EDP is that the tobacco is prominent, and on me stays right through to the drydown and the sweetness in held back, which makes it smell more like true pipe tobacco.

So go ahead, try some of these wonderful niche fragrances. They could become your faves, too.

 

 

Photo: Courtesy Zoologist Perfumes

One of my favourite Christmas films is ‘Love Actually’ and Karen, a stay at home Mom played by Emma Thompson, is one of my favourite characters in the film. I love the scene where Karen’s daughter, Daisy, comes home from school, all excited to tell her mother that she has landed a big part in the nativity play at school:

Karen: So what's this big news, then?
Daisy: [excited] We've been given our parts in the nativity play. And I'm the lobster.
Karen: The lobster?
Daisy: Yeah!
Karen: In the nativity play?
Daisy: [beaming] Yeah, first lobster.
Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
Daisy: Duh.

I’m with Karen on this. I’m fairly certain there wasn’t a lobster present at the birth of Jesus, but I’m pretty sure there was a camel involved since camels were a mode of transportation in biblical times. Goods and people were moved across the desert by camel. It’s how Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem, it’s how the Magi travelled to see the new baby king.

Camel is also the latest fragrance from Zoologist Perfumes, a Canadian niche fragrance line that is making some of the best fragrances of the last few years: Hummingbird, Bat, Civet, Beaver, and Rhinoceros. Camel is a fabulous addition to the Zoologist stable.

Here’s the description from inside the box:

“On a track through an unforgiving desert, starting point and destination are indistinguishable from one another. Terracotta-hued dunes twist and writhe, their shapes ever-shifting. Only the merciless sun and aloof constellations can be trusted to point the way. Weighed down by treasures - some tempting the eyes with their glittering sheen, others enticing with exotic aromas - the camel plods towards a far off marketplace. Water is but a dream now, the taste of sweet dates a distant memory. There is nothing but an endless ocean of sand.”

Wow.

It opens with the smell of dried fruits – apricots and raisins for sure – that soon mixes with resinous, balsamic-spicy Frankincense from Oman, rounded out with the warm, honey-sweet smell of palm date. A note of lush rose completes it. This is what I smell on my arm but what I feel is an exotic journey unfolding on my wrist. Warm, resinous and sweet-smelling amber is up next, along with the balsamy woody smell of cedar. A note of aromatic cinnamon keeps the mix warm and spicy as it evolves.

There’s more incense here too, this time from India. Two different incenses, give Camel two different dimensions of the note making the fragrance even more compelling. Bitter, pungent myrrh, warm and woody, just the way I like it, brackets the incense beautifully. Sweet, narcotic jasmine, wafts through the incense, as orange blossom adds a lovely fresh floral counterpoint to the incense.

At the base, there’s civet, not enough to make it skanky or fecal, just enough to give it an animalic warmth, before a sweet, rich, woody note of oud appears resting on creamy sandalwood and bolstered by vetiver. Tonka bean and vanilla sweeten it just perfectly.  The drydown is smooth and seductive, resinous, spicy and woody and that OUD! It lasts and lasts on my skin.

This really is the smell of a caravan traveling through the Arab desert as I imagine it where the smell of the  pack animals and the smell of the marketplace, where exotic treasure of all kinds have been bought, sold and traded, are now being moved across the desert, all mingle together in the desert air.

Victor Wong, creative director of Zoologist Perfumes never skimps on quality and nowhere is that more evident than with Camel. And what makes it extra-lux is the extrait de parfum concentration. And, while camels may be a reference point for me for Christmas, this gorgeous juice isn’t just a seasonal pleasure – it can be worn anytime by men or women.

There are many great fragrances in the desert-genre (the stunning L'air du Désert Marocain by Andy Tauer leaps to mind) and Camel is a stand-out among them.

Camel is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 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
We blog once a week and 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.
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.