Monday, August 26, 2013

ZOMG Smells: Lola

A few months ago, I was able to buy a bunch of samples from several of the stores that had been on my wish-list for a while. I wanted to review them here as I tried them, but the summer got away from me and I didn't have a chance to do so.

However, one of the samples I tried has stuck in my head and I decided that today was the perfect day to bring it out again, dab some on, and give it some love here. It's so delicious, and it deserves to be talked about.

This perfume comes from ZOMG Smells. One reason ZOMG has been on my list for a while is because I love their slogan: "fine nerdy scents for fine nerdy people." Nerd love! YAY! After going through their website and writing down all of the scents that I wanted, I realized I needed to trim my list down considerably, so I started with a sample pack of 10 (a squee party). I picked scents that had mechanic vibes, gear oil, flowers, fruit, spices, and musks because I wanted a nice rounded idea of what they offer. I was particularly looking forward to trying Lola (although, I have to admit that it's not my favorite name--even though I have friends with a dog whose name is Lola and she is pretty darn cute) because Lola has spices and I love spices.

Here is the official description from ZOMG: "Lo-lo-lo-lo lo-laaaaaaaaaaaaa.... Surprisingly unisex, appropriately enough. ;) Vanilla and spices doused in sticky-sweet frankincense and propped up on sky-high platform heels." Link to the product: Lola

Even though I was looking forward to the spices, I did have some reservations about the frankincense, because sometimes that goes straight to dryer sheets and corn cakes on me. However, I tried it on and was pleasantly surprised.

So, with that, to the review!

In the sample vial: Mmmmmm, sweet baking spices: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and allspice. It also has a nice deep woody note, and a faint thread of sweet vanilla. So far, this is reminding me of what I love about Thanksgiving cooking: the spices.

On my skin: It smells like a very dark wood floor was coated in a spice wax and left to warm in the sun. It's layered and very warmly beautiful.

As it begins to dry: it begins to soften some and the spices begin to merge together to create a warm base. The wood floor aspect drops down a few degrees, but it helps to round out the scent and give this a slightly roughened edge that keeps this from being too foody or too sweet.

As it dries further: the frankincense begins to peep out. This is not a very incensy frankincense, rather it's sweet (as the description says), and comes across as soft and very smooth. It's a beautiful mix with the spices, and this is where I begin to Zen out with this perfume. It's cuddly and cozy, calming but uplifting at the same time. It's warm, with a sexy edge.

As it continues to dry down: I want to eat my arm. I smell so delicious. I love spicy perfumes, but I can be rather picky about them. I don't want musty spices. I either want them very fresh or baked so that I can get the pep and lift of the bright fresh spices or the deep nuances of the baked ones. This seems to have both the bright fresh pep and the deep undernote (although the fresh is much more dominant--and I think some of that deep baked undernote is coming from the frankincense). I do tend to shy away from some spice perfumes because they have been known to make my skin turn several interesting shades of red, so I was a little worried about trying Lola. However, every time I've worn it, I've not had an allergy issue--for which I am so thankful, because I want this one on my skin. On. My. Skin! It needs to be so close, nothing can come between us. :D

After the first thirty minutes or so of shifting and settling on my skin, this rides out in a beautiful mix of dark wood floor, sweet frankincense, a warm and cozy vanilla, and spices. If I was forced at gun point to list my top twenty perfumes (top ten is completely impossible), this would definitely be on it. It's warm. It's comforting. It's bright and uplifting. And there is something about it that is so very sweetly sexy. Perhaps on someone else this would be totally vavoom, but I happen to like that it's not sky-jacker heels and little red dress on me. I like that it's warm and soothing, and utterly snuggle worthy. It reminds me of days when I drove up to the mountains to see the changing leaves with my love, and how we hung around to watch the sun set, how the sky seemed so brilliantly blue, the sun so soft, and the leaves so bright. Although there is always something to be said about the red-hot lick of vavoomy-ness, there is also something so amazing about sexy that comes around in the quiet moments of holding hands, driving on a winding road, with nothing more than the next tree ahead to see. This is that perfume to me. Perhaps that's why I love it so: when all of the craziness of life is shoved to the side and we get down to what really matters, I find that I want the comfort of love more than the hot flash of it. I want to slow down, kiss, enjoy, and remember that even though life goes too quickly, we can still have those bright brief moments that remind us how beautiful it is to be alive.

My one complaint about this one is that it does seem rather fleeting. The throw is decent, but my skin eats this one up rather quickly (or was that me just licking it off of my skin? I'll never tell).

Oh, if you need to ask: this one is definitely full bottle worthy (fbw) for me. It may even be ten full bottles worthy, but I need to pace myself. I still have more samples to try, perfumes to buy, and smells to sniff (and fall in love with).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Alkemia: new sample day!

I entered a drawing to win samples of the new Alkemia fall release perfumes. Imagine my absolute utter delight when I was notified that I had won! (That's a happy booty dance, right there!) Winning anything fun is Yay! But winning perfume? Oh yeah, that's amaaaaaazing!

I checked my mailbox and saw that my package was here today (omg! squeeeee!), and I immediately had to come home and tear it open. Before I opened any of the samples, I decided that I needed to make this a test day and share the spoils with you all. You'll get my take on them--good or bad.

Here's the breakdown of the loot awesomeness that came in my package:

Vixen: "A captivatingly shapeshifting blend of sexy white amber and luminous late summer night blooming florals awakened by warm caresses of autumnal spice, golden musk, varietal apple peel, sugar pumpkin, jasmine tea, and a whisper of woodland mosses." Link to Vixen

Devil's Dandy: "A diabolically seductive blend of elegant dark leathers, wild black currants and forest blackberries soaked in blood-red merlot wine, mahogany wood, and brooding musk with a whiff of carnal patchouli and the faintest whisper of brimstone." Link to Devil's Dandy

Magus: "Rare black Ethiopian frankincense and High John the Conqueror root blended with the sensual musk of ambrette seed and the evocative mystery of labdanum and opoponax swirled with a smokey touch of vetivert root, Cambodian oud, and Somalian incense." Link to Magus

Hellcat: "A dark and ferociously sexy blend of Black Oud, Black Musk, Labdanum, and spiced Pipe Tobacco blended with a seductive purr of Black Opium." Link to Hellcat

Moss Maiden: "A delicately feral blend of luxuriant mosses, crushed wet ferns, earthy calamus root, piquant cedar tips, galbanum, balsam pine, lichen, disturbed autumnal leaves, and aromatic incense woods." Link to Moss Maiden

Mesnée d'Hellequin: "
The breath of the wild northern forest on a full moon night. An uncivilized tangle of balsam pine, cypress needles, cedar bark, teakwood, vetiver root, galbanum, lichen, moss, dried leaves, damp earth, and forest fungi." Link to Mesnee d'Hellequin

First of all, don't those all look scrumptious?! If you've followed me for any amount of time, you know I whimpered at the leather in Devil's Dandy and drooled my way through the rest of them (even if some of them didn't first strike me as "me").

Now to the fun (I'll take them in the above order):

Vixen: In the vial, I get cinnamon, soft sweet flowers, a faint hint of fall (perhaps that's the pumpkin), and something that comes across as almost mossy green. On my skin: sweet cinnamon, almost like an atomic fireball that fades almost immediately down to flowers (at first almost air-freshenerish, but that drops down quickly to become softer), some dry leaves, sweet moss/green, the faint faint hint of fruit (I'm thinking both the apple and pumpkin have a hand in that), and oh here comes the jasmine tea. Nice. This is an interesting blend for me. It's not something I would gravitate toward wearing (I tend to shy away from cinnamony fragrances for my skin because I'm more delicate than I want to be), but as it dries down, it's lifting some and creating a delicate airiness that I was not expecting--with something slightly powdered lurking on the bottom. This comes across as an Indian Summer kind of day: the sun is out, but you know the chill is lurking around the corner. It's a scent of contrasts that begin to resolve into something rather pretty. This strikes me as much more femme and smooth than I was expecting from a Vixen label, but she definitely has some bite--as all good Vixens do.

Devil's Dandy: (Oh, please, oh please be amazing!) In the vial, oh yeah! Leather, tobacco, dark wood, and a hint of something sinister. This is making me think of a very clean but old library at the stroke of midnight, flowers dying in the corner, and something sly tapping up the stairs toward you. In a word: getitonmenow! On my skin: Mmmmmm that leather is rough and jagged. Nothing smooth or saddle worn. Those dying flowers are purple, or come across to me as purple. I'm not getting any grape from this, but I'm definitely getting purple when I sniff. It's dark, it's rich, and it's slightly sweet. I just scrolled up to check the notes again, and yes I can totally see the black currants and blackberries soaked in Merlot. It gives a smooth sweetness, without candy or sugar. As it dries, the leather begins to soften and age, but the wood stays pretty solid--giving this a delicious bite. I am enjoying the sweetness the currants and blackberry give this, although I think I would also really like this without those notes. This smells like a very expensive store catering to vampires and bibliophiles. I think part of me wants this a little bit more untamed, a bit more rough, but that may come in time as the patchouli opens up (which I get little of here). This scent would be absolutely perfect in the fall or winter. It's deep, rich, cozy, and just a bit on the outside of expected.

Magus: In the vial, oh my, what is this? Impressions: fresh, holy, rich, golden, incense. On my skin: Oooooh! Wow. I normally don't go for incense perfumes, but this is pretty. I get the edge of frankincense, the soft rounding of oud, an incense that isn't too harsh or headshoppy (or even smoky), something that's a bit soapy (but clean soapy not powdered), and a touch of soft sweetness rounding out the bottom. This almost comes across as a very clean tea to me--not in flavor, but in tone. It has a golden quality to it that is very clear and unmuddied. It feels clean and lifting. Happy and bright while being serene. Yes, serene is the word I'm looking for. It has a peacefulness to it, and comfort. Although this isn't something I would typically wear, it draws me and makes me think it would be perfect to calm down the stress of the Holidays ahead. This makes me think of looking out of frosted windows on a cold night, seeing the bright stars, the reflection of the flicker of fire from the fireplace, and feeling the warmth of being snug inside while the world grows quiet outside. If you are an incense fan, you want this. Oh, yes, you do.

Hellcat: Hmmm. Time to go sniff some coffee to clear my nose. Be right back. Ahhhh, much better. In the vial, I get a velvety vibe. I also get a bit of tobacco that can sometimes come across as incense, and something almost medicinally sweet. On my skin: Sweet tobacco that almost comes across as cola-ish (oh yummm!), something a bit fizzy (still thinking dark cola), and ooooh is that a dark oud I smell? It's oudish, but more soft and deep. This is a very velvety fragrance. It has an almost fuzzy vibe, but it's a soft fuzz. It's layered, rounded, cola-ish without being too sweet. It does have an almost medicinal quality to it, and I'm thinking that it's a bitterness that may be creating that, but it's a bitter that resolves into giving this just the right edge. I keep thinking of a dark cola: sweet and bitter and totally satisfying. To be fair, it comes across to me as a bit more hellkittenish, but it's a kitty with some claws it will grow into--and I am aware my perfume tastes are a bit out there, so to those who aren't used to dark fragrances, this may seem more cattish than kitteny. When I close my eyes and sniff, the image that comes to mind is a midnight dark cat with golden eyes. And she may or may not be on the prowl. Meow!

This is where I'm starting to feel a little sad. My pile-to-try is getting slim. I love the unexplored adventure ahead--the possibilities of something new to experience--and it makes me feel a bit wistful for more new things to discover. However, I DO still have two more to try, so, with a big sigh and a bit of delight, it's onward to Moss Maiden.

Moss Maiden: In the vial, I get green--green, green, very green. It's a sweet green like the sweetness of grass or even the sweetness of cucumber, without coming across as grass or cucumber. It has a faint herbal tinge, and something that feels like fresh leaves poking out from under a bush in the forest. On my skin: This stays very green, lush, ripe, almost beyond dewy to wet green. It's making me think of cloud forests in Costa Rica--the damp, the lush, the deep green--but this is much sweeter and more light in feel. It has a prettiness to it that is softening it and turning it into perfume. It also brings in a touch of trees--damp trees, with water making the trunks darker than they normally would be. It feels like a soft forest, a wet forest, soaked in a warm rain, with little animals scurrying around in the underbrush, and eyes that may or may not be of this world peeping out between fronds. This actually may be my surprise favorite. It's sweeter than I expected, and a bit more lush than I normally gravitate toward, but there's something compelling about it. The whole time I've been sniffing it, it has been reminding me of something, and I just got it: pear skin. Down at the very bottom of this, I'm getting a faint hint of bitter green pear skin. It adds a nice touch to the sweetness, gives this some depth, and makes this more complex than I expected. This would be perfect on a blah winter day to remind us that spring is ahead. It would also be perfect in spring as a way to celebrate the season. I think it would also be lovely in summer since it feels fresh and cooling. And, it would probably give a gray rainy autumn day the perfect little lift. What a surprise delight!

Mesnée d'Hellequin
: In the vial, mmmm! Fresh, a bit of menthol/pine, a teensy touch of the pitch of green needles (pine or other pokey trees), brisk, serene. If Moss Maiden is a cloud forest, this is back country in the pines of the Rocky Mountains. Oh lovely! On my skin: Hmmm, not sure about this. It better resolve quickly. It's pine air-freshener and floor cleaner. Whew, there it goes. This is strong on pine and the sticky sap that comes from those types of trees and needles. Under that, the cool brisk mountain air rides, bringing in the faint hint of dying grasses and approaching night in the pine forest. I also get a faint whiff of cedar rounding this out some. This is a very cool fragrance. Cool and almost brisk, with a touch of the wild in it. It makes me think of times I spent camping in the Rockies: the cold and dry, the big sky, the way the stars seems so bright. Everything was sharper, more clear, up there. This is a very unisex scent. On the right man, it would be bracing and downright dangerous. On me, it's chilly, and a bit lonely--but those can be very good things on a hot and gross summer day.

All in all, I'm absolutely delighted with my package. One reason I love perfume oils is because so often the oils--even if very different from each other--seem to connect or have a cohesive quality that tie them together from the same maker. Each company is unique and has a totally different vibe. Even though these are not the typical "foody" type scents that come out around Autumn, they all have the same Alkemia thread running through them, making them unique, fun, very wearable, and call to mind the joys of nature in its many forms. I call that a win!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Possets: Allen Ginsberg--Howl

I took several steps away from writing recently, and I found (again) that not writing ends up making me feel like my soul has been sucked into a black hole. Being candid: sometimes I already feel like I've been sucked into a black hole, which leads to the not writing, but the not writing black hole is infinitely worse than the black hole I feel when I am writing. Each day away made me more miserable and cranky. I finally decided that if I couldn't write about perfume (something that is so deeply embedded in my core) then I have serious problems. After struggling to peep over the edge of the black hole for a few weeks, I finally popped my head out completely (I can't talk about the rest of me, but I suppose that's neither here nor there), and I decided to come back to the blog with a Possets perfume from the summer release.

So, onward to the review (and thank you for my moment of catharsis).

A little bit of back story: The Possets summer release focuses on poets and their poems (link to the main page for the summer release is here: Possets Summer of 2013 Release ). I write poetry (some can be found on my "serious" blog here: Maya's Poety Stuff ) so I was determined to be allll over this release. I've found some hits, some misses, but one that keeps calling me back again and again is the perfume inspired by Allen Ginsberg's Howl.

The Possets description: "Perhaps the iconic poem of the Beat Generation, Howl needed to be cast as a perfume. By "cast" I mean to make a mold of it, as in the lost wax process, so that you can feel the time it portrays with your mind through scent. This was a time of big perfumes, the discovery of patchouli, cigarette smoke, chypre with a wild touch of something from the east. There was sweat and sex, the world was discovered for the first time.

Possets' interpretation of Howl is unabashedly sexy, driven mad by welling passions. Black, red and amber musks wrestle furiously with sandalwood and opium tar resin. There is nothing light, sweet, or gentle about this scent. A burning incense backs it up, black patchouli stands in the forefront. Dark, musky, resinous.

Tremendously savage, dark and sweet like molasses rather than sugar.

...and yet, there is something innocent about it all."

In the bottle: I have been (since day one) unsure about this fragrance while it sits in the bottle. I get a little bit of dryer-sheet-aisle waft and that always makes me do a squinty face. However, wrapped around that is a really deep and dark hint of something that wants to come out to play, a rough edge (and oh do I love those rough edges), and a drop of sandalwood (very light drop), threaded through with a shot of something that makes me think of very dark brown sugar with some of the sweetness cut out.

On my skin: Oh my. Deep, perfume-y, and rich, this goes on with almost a chocolate vibe (cocoa chocolate, not milk nor mild) with a hint of smoke, a touch of Fabienne's chypre (I cannot get enough of her chypre blends), and a deep dark musk that seems threaded through with a faint touch of something that feels like caramel without all of the sweetness. I also get a faint touch of spiced incense.

As it begins to dry down: the smoke roughs this up a bit, which I love. It's not a heavy smoke because the other notes are stronger, but the undernote of smoke gives this a gritty edge that makes this intriguing and compelling, and adds a lot of depth. I have to admit that I (so far) haven't fallen in love with most red musks I've tried, so I was nervous about this perfume. I can get some of the red musk vibe, but it's whipped into shape by the black and amber musks so that makes me happy. The rest of this is a little bit sweet, but not sugared in its sweetness. This comes across as a very dark perfume without feeling too heavy or oppressive.

As it dries further: The black musk (sweet and velvety) comes out to play some. It gives this warmth and body, and plays beautifully with the opium tar resin. I think some of the smoke that I'm getting is from the opium tar resin, but the opium tar also adds a note of sweetness to this and a bit of the grit to round out the edges. The amber musk adds a touch of powder to this, helping to keep this from being too heavy and overwhelming. The faint incense note fades down even more to give support to the base.

Final dry down: this has staying power and decent throw. Despite the heavy-hitting notes, it ends up being deep and dark without being overwhelming or smothering. That dark cocoa note rides along for a while then merges into the smoke and the grit. I keep coming back to the word gritty for this one. It's not gritty as in dirty, but gritty as in having teeth and edge and fortitude. I think of gravel, but despite that rough edge, this has a lot of smoothness to it. It's lush, velvety even, and rich. I think the patchouli helps to add to the grit in this, but this is no head-shoppy patchouli. It's dark and growly and plays beautifully with the other notes.

At first sniff, I wasn't sure about this one. And, I have to admit, that there's something about this that for the first five minutes makes me wonder if I'm going to want to scrub it off. It feels...unresolved...(for lack of a better term) for those opening minutes. But when it begins to pull together it becomes a thing of beauty.

This is a deeply satisfying perfume for someone who likes contrasts and balance and dark but not too-heavy fragrances. It has some sweetness, but it's not so sweet that you feel like falling into a sugar coma. It has depth. It has teeth, but those teeth only nibble, and there is something about it that is definitely worth a nibble or two (or five, or more--whew!). It feels velvety and lush, but it has a prim backbone that keeps it from going overboard. It's perfumy and makes me think of some of the dark heavy-hitters from the 1980's, but this doesn't have that nose-clogging sneezability like those did. I feel powerful and strong while wearing it, but hours later when it's completely resolved and faintly riding the skin all I want to do is snuggle up somewhere with my favorite book and a nice fire because of how comforting and soft it feels. I love perfumes with nuances and edges, and this one definitely has that for me.

In short, the name says it all: Howl. When I put it on I want to prowl, I want to stalk, I want to wait for the darkest night with the faintest light, put this on, and yell at the moon, then find someone to drag back to my lair to...well, you can fill in the rest. I'm pretty sure I'll be voting for this one to become permanent. :D