Fluxit's Perfume Reviews
Natural scents that are close to the wilderness are a niche in the niche. Some of you will know Juniper Ridge at least by name. Barnaby Black is their little brother, so to speak. And Firn Fragrances? The little sister! Who also lives in the forest, however with a curious glance into neighboring areas with awake eyes. To the mossy ground, to the swamp, to the wasteland, to the smouldering fire in the undergrowth. It is strange like its siblings, authentic and independent to unobliging. I like the variations beyond the pure forest theme quite a bit, even though the individual scents are very different in terms of pleasure.
Rose usually is an awkward visitor for me. A note that's theoretically sympathetic to my nose and in practice almost always too flowery, especially as a single actor. Sure, you can combine it, like the roughly 17000 times this has been done with oud. And, hey, nothing against oud. But oakmoss ... holy moly, REAL oakmoss, I'd take that over oud 362 days a year. Despite all my love for German natural fragrances with their strict law requirements, I for once praise the fact that the US perfumers are not yet DIN-standardized and can be experimenting outside the EU regulations that ravage any sad oakmoss ingredients here. Rose Evernia has enough moss to send me happily dreaming into Lichenland. In the beginning, in the middle, at the end. So exposed that the single rose bends down questioningly at times in order to look at the mossy foundation in disbelief. Great, really great. Rough, slightly woody hot, green. Almost harsh - and I mean that in the most positive sense, because it is this raspiness that makes Rose Evernia wearable for me as a rose fragrance.
After three days of testing in early winter temperatures, the verbose image of Meggi's winter rose in the comment below (see German site) warmly roughened up by Mr Evernia complements each other beautifully. But I'll bet that this perfume will be integrated smoothly into the daily weather all year round because I find that both rose and oakmoss are fantastic warm summer companions as well. Two antagonists connected in harmonic counterplay. Without wanting to diss synthetic fragrances, the aromatic variety of fewer ingredients is one of the strengths of (some) natural fragrance brands. Less is more? One thing's for sure: I do not need less, but more of this substance, the bottle will be following this comment directly on the way to my home.
I'm a fan.
I'm conviced that some brands here aren't tested because the flacon doesn't appeal to you. And I'm also convinced that in many cases the flacon photo is just outdated ;) Like here with Aftelier, which I figured to classify as esoteric vintage for women, whereas the actual bottle design looks brilliant and fit far better to this beautiful Unisex scents.
Fig is green-fruity, a juicy bouquet of slightly sourly raisins, a ripe sweet oriental fig (date even?) and a sun-flooded pine forest. A deep, rich forest, you won't hear any echos back when shouting. Or maybe the echo is "fiiiig!". Stunning aroma, it reminds of liquorice and thuja. Intense and astounding, I love it! And it lasts. Over the hours, the scent becomes softer, a bit powdry even, but the fig arboretum grounds the fragrance. Its sweetness whispers of gourmand, yet everything but sugary, rather warm spiced liquor with hints of cinnamon. Nothing for Summer, instead a unisex cuddle for cold autumn days.
It should be noted that no actual fig is inside, but a wicked combination of lavender, fir absolute, jasmine and yuzu. It should also be noted that several of my parfumo friends do identify most of the actual ingredients (fir + lavender); not me, though, the fig illusion is playing delicate and delicious tricks on me. And for what it's worth, I don't care, it's fragrance I want. Or maybe just a tiny decant, as the prices are confident to say the least.
The scent, though? Ten of out ten. Like!
With 85$ per 30ml, this is the most affordable perfume of the Saint d'Icis completely limited collection. Not exactly a gift nonetheless. In exchange, you get valuable 100% all-natural ingredients and a powerful 25% perfume oil concentration. Fair!
The first seconds are mouth-watering: Juicybitter mandarin including wet shiny pieces of its skin, a tangible pleasure. Resins follow quickly , dampened cedar wood and sweet orange as well. The scent is brighter and lighter than some of its resin-creaking siblings.
Over hours, I indulge. Delightful citrus with delicate incense as counterpoint, everything has been done right here. And, wait a moment, this smells familiar ... "Italian Citrus"! One of my two D.S. & Durga favourites, just with more tangerine punch and a tripled intensity. Maestoso passion! Pour moi, si vous plaît!
It's no reason for surprise that citric accords are more fleeting than their smokey escorts. Yet, in the base note I mourn the departure of this wonderful fruit that leaves me unflinchingly after its first-class company, while too bright incense (or rather Labdanum, according to Marie) consoles me in vain for too long. The dual charm evaporates and leaves me longing - apply anew? If it wasn't for this ending, the flacon would have started its way from Johannesburg right away to my collection.
If you on the other hand show appreciation for a somewhat clerical incense ending and maybe couldn't esteem all-natural fragrances because a possible lack of impression, I can only vividly encourage you to try Une Mandarine pour Mon Homme. It's a beauty to behold.
Saint d'Ici is a small South African label unter direction of Marie Aoun. So many French names - something must be wrong here, no? Indeed, the citizen of Johannesburg spent a great amount of time with her grandparents in Saint Jeannet near Grasse. After her education by natural perfumes AbdesSalaam Attar by La Via del Profumo, she made the connection to Africa, her "here" (French: "ici").
I blissfully accompanied the birth of the first Saint d'Ici perfumes on Indiegogo, where the collection of Marie and three further parfumers saw the light of the day. Professional and transparent, Fluxit figured, and purchased a sample set. I liked the philosophy, too: Support for local farmers and a limited production (50 - 350 flacons). That not only helps with sustainable farming, but also avoids the yearly variance of natural ingredients. Like a year for a wine, says Marie.
The Company's Garden; as name slightly strange for someone like me, who associates the corporate world. Wrongly.
The fragrance starts with a slight piquancy, spicy, herbaceous, resinuous needle forest with honey. Not too surprising after my test of Myrrha Ambrata, all perfumes of the collection carry or notes of resin or smoke. Here, I like best how the "floral notes" - decrypting their complexity is an impossible challenge for my nose - smoothen its edge mildly, giving the fragrance a soft depth. A field full of wild grass, flowers and herbs bleached by the African sun. An apothecary from my childhood, where each ingredient comes out of individual tea boxes. Healing potions on the side shelf, maybe. And with this image of a rather alchemical workshop, the company and its garden suddenly makes sense. A lot.
Meanwhile, I learned that The Company's Garden is actually a public space in Cape Town. I've yet to confirm with a South African traveller if it in fact does resemble the garden scent.
In the later hours, The Company's Garden develops more incense, but way darker than e.g. "Nomvikeli", not the bright clerical kind. Resins burns softly to the end. On the whole, less fervor than Myrrha Ambrata, and yet, one of my favourites of Saint d'Ici. Wearable? Oh yes: When the sun scorches the meadows to a pale yellow and my thoughts travel to another continent. A rich repose. Scenic!
Some of you will have experience this: You test a fragrance, discard it as nothing special and on a re-test later you are dumbstruck by its surprising quality. Somewhat shamefully I must admit that this happened to me for the whole brand. After some rushed tests on paper strips, all perfumes appeared to have a weirdly eucalyptic note, all being to similar and maybe even boring. How blind I have been to these furious treasures of resin & incense!
Now, during the re-test, I can hardly stop writing, so rich and aromatic are the notes that strike my nose. Myrrha Ambrata starts with a crunchy green, eucalyptus bite, menthol. I'm wide awake, clear nose, certainly. Pine forest in a flacon. Several minutes later, the resinuous fierceness turns more balsamic. Green myrrh? Slightly sour, sage-like. Healthy. Everything radiates, harmoniously blended in a elaborate spectrum of intensity. I'm sitting in an African tent, ghostly figures dancing around me. A full journey in a bottle!
Some research was necessary on omumbiri: This myrrh-resin is gained from trees and used as natural perfume by African tribes for a long time already. Fruityspicey, slightly citric, orange, sweetly. Yes, YES. Ich assume this is the main carrier for the heart note, as all of these notes embrace me as creamily smoking veil.
As the day passes, Myrrha Ambrata turns sweeter. Clearly darkviscuous pine honey, gourmand even, yet not too syrupy.
At the end of the day, I'm at my end too, exhausted after this rich trip to Africa. A great scent experience! Juniper Ridge (head) + Soivohle (heart & base)? This is stormy stuff.
Just when would I wear such a fragrance? Never, really. Not even as room scent, too heavy, to challenging, too intensiv in longevity and sillage (as 100% natural perfume, mind you!). Maybe for a meditative holiday, without people, just me and my thoughts. Yes ... an energetic morning, a thoughtful afternoon and a placable evening.
A retreat for a day.
In the night we're hunting in style,
with cognac and fruit we beguile
the most innocent souls and invoke
warm pictures in wood set to smoke.
In the dawn we caress our prey,
and before the sun turns them grey
we bed them, soft coffins of lust,
till the night rewakes them, I trust.
For once, a poem, born out of the olfactoric struggle to decompose the scent pyramid ;)
I entertain a certain fondess for the brand Arts & Scents, mainly because of their values: No conservatives, recyclable packages, good handicraft made in Germany. At the same time, the flacons and in particular the website design pulls me to pieces: The amount of esoteric creativity that confronts me appear like a psychedelic joke to me. I almost come to believe that payments are not made with money here, but by otherworldly nude mating rituals with unicorns whilst chanting occult mantras! But wait, the flacons are available - and I sincerely, unironically want to applaud - in various and thankfully also small sizes (5ml / 30ml / 60ml / 120ml) so that maybe a short yet intense prayer to the knickknack gods is sufficient. The designer in me is split between speechlessness and despair, hah.
Alas, a passaround package made it easy to overcome my slight unsettledness. And Night and Dawn knew to surprise! In several ways, first I actually considered that the head note may have gone bad. Even the next hour remained in fruity-smokey dissonance. But the following note schmoozed my nose in such a wonderful way ... ambra, I would guess, animalic and embalmed by a soft vanilla. These vampires stand in full blood, voluptuous fleshy corpses instead of dry-wrinkling bat skeletons. Warmbodied with an almost sinister aura that cajoles temptingly. Hours later, warm patchouli finds me, not the earthy dusty type but rather full and fruity, almost edible. The clearly wooden coffin can't be found in lost cryptas but in velvet red, darkened noble's living rooms.
After several tests, the head note started to find my liking as well, meanwhile I catch, too. And when I discovered that no otherworldly nude mating rituals were necessary, I at last surrendered to a small bottle for my collection.
I explicitely want to mention the heartful contact with the perfumer, even some extra wishes from my side were no problem for Manuela. Bonus points!
If you care for big names: Chandler Burr as a (usually harsh) perfume reviewer of the NY times, owns a bottle of this fragrance and looked upon the scent with merciful pleasure.
And now, fly on. May the night come.
Whoa! Great longevity AND sillage for an all-natural perfume?
But let's start somewhere else: Sharini perfumes originate from Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, 40 km Northwest of Montpellier. Less than 300 inhabitants, yet, with its cloister at the Hérault valley, it's been certified as one of the most beautiful villages in France. And those requirements are strict, 157 little towns are in, whereas thousands apply.
Certified as well are the 100% natural fragrances from Sharini by Nicolas Jennings, EcoCert to be precise. Cultivation of their own crops guarantee that no pesticides or insecticides find their way into the crafted products. In fact, when I ordered my set of samples, I got the prompt reply that there would be a one day delay as Monday was already reserved for the lavender harvest. And indeed, when opening the somewhat oversized package, I found two handful of lavender flowers, which I appreciated as gesture, although they protracted my testing because my room turned into a provencal landscape that rendered any perfume analysis impossible ;)
Short impression of the set: High quality. Fairly viscuous, concentrated perfumes, I bet that some would leave traces on white garments. All of them floral in various interpretations, not my core competence exactly, so I have to defer to other members for detailed accords.
In Ambre Essentiel, I first recognize a dark fruity sweet sage. Maybe cinnamon - a quick reminiscence of pancakes with apples & cinnamon even. On second sniff: That's amber actually, the powdery spicey kind. Imagine "Ambre / Amber" by L'Occitane and decorate it with flowers. Complex and intensive.
In the basis, vanilla follows, slightly woody. Rose certainly. The fragrance remains fairly sweet and heavy.
Heavy in general, actually, fantastic performance in sillage and longevity, especially considering that all natural perfumes are not laden with synthetic fixatives. Not necessary here. That alone tells of a high perfume concentration. Others of the Sharini family don't quite reach the power of Ambre Essentiel, this is the most powerful of the siblings to me.
Being floral in nature, all of the scents I tested I'd classify as fragrance for women. The statements on the German site rather claim the opposite for this very fragrance, so your mileage may vary.
24€ plus shipping for 8 x 2ml samples, 62€ for a 50ml-Flakon. Keep in mind that we're talking natural scents here, 8kg of (often handpicked) flowers for 1ml oil! This an absolutely fair price which gets you more value than in pretty much any perfume with synthetics that cost a tiny fraction of their natural equivalent. I believe that this fact tells the passion of a perfumeur, who is more interested in spreading great scents than in greedy marketing (I'm looking at you, Roja!). Either way, good stuff that's worth the money.
A joyful recommendation for this brand from my side.
Ah, it says right here: Jasmine in the cast. Main antagonist. Yes?
If I was perfumer, I'd give some fantabulous phantasy names to my inventions, only vaguely associated with the real ingredients. For example, I like Imaginary Authors fictive titles. We can envision the nature of their fragrances, but just because they bear those names, nobody expects them to actually contain bull's blood or a city on fire. Whereas if jasmine is on the label, everyone expects jasmine.
Well, fine. It DOES contain jasmine. In fact, 600 times, carefully picked, says the website. And oh yeah, this kind of decadency is exactlly what any shiny advertisement brochure would claim, accompanied by a great marketing shot. But I do believe Sharini. One of the reasons is the extensive amount of media on the slightly chaotic website, where perfume creator Nicolas squats in the lavender field, swinging his hand scythe and fills copious amounts of flowers in coppery cauldrons. If anyone knows the old German show Hobbythek (which was all about creating your own stuff, in fact including perfumes): He reminds me of Jean Pütz, in his best years, maybe with a slight hippie tint. Artist by dedication, I reckon!
My problem with Jasmin Celeste is rather a logic one: That is to say, while I do recognize the flower scent, there are two further perfumes by Sharini, which display jasmine way more prominent than this one: "Musc d'Hibiscus" and "Iris véritable". Maybe this jasmine is so celeste that it's already on its way heavenwards? Fortunately, it's in good company in the flacon: 300 rose buds, 120 orange flowers and much more. It's exemplary how Sharini lists the complete ingredients (if only split on two different pages, but still) transparently. I wish all brands did that, but of course, which big mainstream brand would ever want to proactively inform their customers of the toxicity that are wide-spread in perfumes (and other products) nowadays? Hmm.
And thus, jasmine only acts as side role in the play with her name. I don't mind really: Of the three mentioned Sharini scents, Jasmin Celeste is my favourite. Nothing is indolic or too florid, attributes that jasmine carries all too often for my taste. Would I wear it? No, unsurprisingly too floral for me as a guy. But it's an enjoyable one.
Conclusion: Dulcet piece of theatre. Watch it.
... I would allow her to breathe into my face.
If Ambra Nera was a raisin in my cereals, I would allow it to stay.
If Ambra Nera was black vanilla, I would allow it to get stuck between the gaps of my teeth.
If Ambra Nera was a date, I would allow her her to invite me into a cheesy chick-flic movie marathon.
Filled with testaments of love, I can state: Ambra Nera IS all that!
The head note starts with a kind of juicy black rum raisin, which I occasionally notice in benzoe fragrances (and which may very well be coincidence as benzoe absolue smells differently). Confidently, the black panther sneaks by and projects animalic wickedness, sweaty almost, but without any stable-stinging oud. If I had more hair on my arm, I would start to lovingly brush it now ;) In the base, I find soft vanilla, which pleasantly unite with gentle patchouli. Altogether, Ambra Nera stays about 24 hours; obviously, cats are active in the night.
Some comparisons with other ambers that I love:
* Ambra Nera (Ortiga): Same DNA, but Farmacia is fuller. Ortiga's four-legged animal likes to flash a bit of vetiver teeth and is rather the "struts around your leg"-type, while Farmacia's darling takes an euphoric leap into your arms.
* Ryder: Both are rich charmer, but in spite of Ryder's oily extrait consistency, Ambra Nera feels more saturated and due to the animalic note less complaisant, in all the good ways. The incense note of the Ryder is out here, a certain smokiness however is featured in both perfumes.
What I like most about Ambra Nera is its name-giving darkness: In all its debonair courtesy there is a raunchy independence, which keeps tension and sets the fragrance apart from the often gourmand or occasionally characterless solo-ambers. In particular, it's not the bright powdery type like e.g. Ambre / Amber or Hermessence Ambre Narguilé, both initiatlly favoured by me, now just provoking an allergy-like rejection. Without any allergy, I declare Farmacia's wonder cat enthusiastically as my new amber reference. Rrrrawr!!
In German tea stores - most likely in others as well - I sometimes encounter tea creations with constructed phantasy names like "Beautiful evening", "Elixir of Peace" or "My partner just left me, lemme get something hot for myself" (not really, of course). Why do I mock that? Because I get the occasional impression that lower quality ingredients are meant to be up'ped in value by a mouthful of a name. I should add that with my two dozens cup of teas per year, I'm rather clueless than expert. But as someone who enjoys smelling the non-watered ingredients and sampled Masala Chai in Nepal, Holy Tulsi in India or green Gyokuro in Japan, the erman aromatized mixtures sometimes come across to me as perfumed potpourris. Oh, I'm absolutely certain that there are equally precious discoveries to be made here as well, I just lack patience and test volume.
If Assam of India would have gotten such a marketing name, it would be a good-mood-tea like "Fresh Joy" or, if you would have to stick to its initials, maybe an "Absence of Irritations". Today, this appears to be in particularly fitting, as the Berdoues by its delightful delivery carried me patiently across an unnerving multi-hour IT struggle with my new laptop at work. Possibly this positive attitude coloured off the big grey animals on its flacon? ;)
Assam of India combines the sweet quirkiness of a fresh Summer punch with the lively transparence of a sparkling water. The first minutes reveal orange calippo - anyone knows that retro water ice candy with its fizzy white pieces? - before the scent outgrows its childhood and positions the lemony-sweet citron with such a delicious flavour that it brings the corner of your mouths up in a smile. Its progress into base note is smooth to follow, uncomplicated and harmoniously blended. "Indian Tea"? I don't know ... the Assam tea that I digged my nose into was of a (great!) dark smoky seriousness, which I can't detect here in the slightest. Bright and in light-footed dance the tea note joins our lemon, without vanishing into glaring airiness like some other (usually non-black) teas that I had sampled. What my beloved "Vanille Insensée" is for vanilla fragrances, the base note of this Grand Cru is for tea fragrances; both colognes are elating souls of happiness.
The sillage of about a meter comes closer during the day. Unlike several complaining voices among the German reviews, the scent stays with me well over a full office day. Maybe that's due to the season, as this January day can't bring much heat that would encourage both transpiration and vaporization. Surely this IS a classic water for Summer, however, in its cheerful clarity, I find it fitting throughout the year, given some sun and not too much humidity.
Consequently, after testing 50+ fragrances with diverse tea notes, Assam of India skyrockets into my personal Top Three for this category. If you're interested in others of my highlights, I invite you to try "Myrrhiad", " Yu S?n", "Armani Privé - Figuier Eden", "Paco", "Menthe Fraîche". In spite of many black teas in my test series, to my own surprise the fresher creations seem to have easier chances of winning me over. I react too sensitively to the smoky kinds and even the expensive Jo Malone series with its Rare Teas passed me without much passion.
Two small points for criticism remain: Next to the only moderately fitting name, it's - of all things! - the flacon with its cute elephants, not because of the design but because of its size. 100ml is simply to much for me. But that's hardly an argument against the fragrance, so I leave this with a warm ... no, fresh recommendation!