Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Alkemia: L'Encens à la Vanille

I'm going to one of my "comfy t-shirt" perfumes for this review (a scent I can wear just about any time and like): Alkemia's  L'Encens à la Vanille. I waffled on doing a review, simply because I feel like Alkemia is one of my secret corners of the internet, and I want to hoard it to myself. However, Alkemia has some lovely fragrances, and people should know it. You can find Alkemia on Etsy.

To the review!

Alkemia's description: "Madagascar Vanilla, golden amber, and resinous incense swirled together with a selection of beautifully aged incense woods and a dusting of aphrodisiac Silk Road spices. Intensely sexy in a mysterious kind of way..."

In the bottle: I get something a little sweet that is almost vanilla (but not quite), spices, an underpinning of polished wood, and something that almost comes across as a fake green/grassy note (almost aquatic, almost grass).

I will admit, when I got my sample of this, I was tempted to not try it. I was unimpressed by what I sniffed, but being the curious sort that I am, and knowing that a lot of perfume oils don't come out to play until they are on the skin, I dabbed.

On my skin: At first, this is almost off-putting. The spices pop out, and that fake green/grassy note rises and becomes a touch plastic-y to the nose. However, within a minute, what I thought would remain discordant notes begins to smooth out and resolve into something sweet, spicy, warm.

As it begins to dry: On my left arm, I get vanilla on the rise, cinnamon, a bit of nutmeg, and a faint hint of that polished wood. On my right, the amber is starting to come forward as a faint powdered note, the spices are less sweet, and the vanilla is tinged with the pod.

As it continues to dry: The spices pick up a bit more, the wood becomes a bit less polished and a little more raw, the amber threads in and out--rising and falling on its own whims--and that almost green note smooths out to add to the spice and wood. The vanilla is a dominant note in an understated way all the way through. There is a point in this continued transition where the amber funks out on me and makes me think of urinal cakes. It's here that I was tempted to scrub this off the first time I tried it. I thought, "Ewww, no, not for me," and then I forgot to scrub this and I went about my day. Imagine my surprise when in about five more minutes this shifted again and headed toward the final dry-down.

Final dry-down: Vanilla, the very best of chai spices, warm--almost mahogany in depth but not quite so dark in note--wood, and a swirl of somewhat powdered amber snuggle close to the skin. In some ways, this reminds me of a fireball--one of those sugared cinnamon jaw-breakers that I used to hoard as a child. This has a touch of that same fire with the sweetness coming in behind. But that's only about 10% of this fragrance. The rest is vanilla with depth, something that makes me think of worn but polished wood floors, chai spices, and the continued weave of amber. This is an amber that I still can't quite put my finger on. It's not very powdery (until the fragrance begins to fade), it's not too sweet, it's not very sparkling or bright, it's just...there. It provides a steady note to this, keeping the perfume from going too sweet or spicy.

Note: This perfume changes a lot based on where it is on my arms. Closer to my left hand, this is more amber/vanilla, and I do get a bit of that initial funk note on a nose to wrist test (although, I don't get that note even an inch up from my wrist). On my right, it's sheer but dusty spices. Closer to my elbow, this is spicy wood floors, with vanilla extract doing a little bit of a tap dance.

This ends up as more of a skin scent that invites cuddles. It doesn't have much throw, but it does make getting close worth it.

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