Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Grieving Today, and a Love Note to Perfume

Just a few minutes ago, I heard from someone who follows Possets that Fabienne Christenson passed away in hospice. Link to her obituary: Fabienne Christenson

This summer had been difficult for her, and she had let us know on the forum that she was "helping a loved one" in hospice. Looking back at some of her posts, things that were a little confusing now are much more clear. For example, she loved Halloween and always looked forward to making Halloween fragrances, but this year "unexpected things" had come up, and we would not be getting our yearly release. I remember thinking how very out of character that was for her. And, I admit that I was tempted to write her several times, but I know how busy helping someone in hospice can be, and I didn't want to intrude. (Now I'm wishing I had intruded, a little bit.)

She was the first perfumer that I discovered when I started going down the Indie perfume/niche path (not one that someone recommended to me).

I still remember going through the website and ordering samples, getting the samples, and immediately turning around and ordering a few bottles and more samples. Some of the perfumes worked. Some didn't. Such is the nature of skin, chemicals, bodies, and perfume.

One of the things that charmed me about Possets was that Fabienne would include a little personal note on each invoice, and her turnaround time was impressive. If she had issues with a mail carrier, she let us know. She hated delays. She liked to be connected. And it showed. When she had to raise perfume prices, she did so with apologies and warning. All part of her dedication to customer service.

She is one reason that I decided that perfume didn't have to be fussy or full of alcohol or headache inducing. I found more from her that worked for me, that I enjoyed, and when I found out that her company had been started as an essential oil company, that made sense to me. She seemed to care about what she created, and it showed to those who purchased from her.

When I heard the news today, I had an urge to find all of my Halloween bottles, and open them. This was one of her favorite times of year, and it showed in her Halloween releases. In some ways, I find it oddly fitting that somehow she waited until autumn. It was a season she loved, and it was a love she shared with many of us on the forum in her posts, and also in her perfumes. Where else would you find perfumes called Ghost Fart; Gingerbread Whorehouse; or Pumpkin Tied Up, Covered in Honey, and Licked all Over? Her sense of humor, her fun, her delightful approach to an art that some take much too seriously (although to be fair, some don't take seriously enough) charmed me and made me realize that perfume is just one more fantastic way to express myself.

Oh, Fabienne, you will be missed. Thank you for being part of the scent memory of my life, and for sharing your art with us while you were here. I am deeply grateful that I found Possets when I did, and that it was part of what helped start my ongoing love affair with something as small as scent molecules. Science and art can be utterly wonderful when they come together, and Possets is proof of that.

Today, as I watch more leaves being shaken down by unseen winds and I think of all that I love about autumn, I am going to find my Halloween bottles and decide what I'm going to smell like today. I can tell you this: I'm going to be delicious. And I owe that to Fabienne.

Monday, September 12, 2016

DSH Perfumes: Chinchilla, Kaleidoscope, Mahjoun, Firefly, Vanille Botanique, Nourouz

Every now and then, a bucket list wish gets to be crossed off. This week, I had the honorable pleasure of being able to visit DSH (Dawn Spencer Hurwitz) Perfumes' shop, the Essense Studio, in Boulder, Colorado. (Link to the website: http://www.dshperfumes.com/ )

She greeted me when I entered, and when I explained that a friend had gotten me into niche/indie perfumes several years ago and I was there to find something for her, Dawn (I hope she doesn't mind me calling her that) seemed immediately interested in helping me find The Fragrance.

Here's something to note about this amazing perfumer: She is nice, like SUPER nice. She not only took a lot of time out of her day, but we chatted and it quickly felt like I was in the company of not just a friend but someone who actually likes and cares about people (not just being nice for a sale).

She took time listening to me, and as I described what my friend liked, we also talked a little about what I liked, and pretty soon we had a pile of sniff cards on the table. Not too long after that, I realized that a bottle wouldn't do--I needed to take samples, and lots of them.

Quick note: There is something a little scary about ordering samples online. Samples can take the stress away from buying a bottle untested, but sometimes it can still feel like throwing darts at a mirror in the dark. Being in the shop and able to sniff anything I wanted was a beautiful experience. Comparing notes on the website to what I found in person was fascinating for me. Things I probably never would have grabbed online were ones that I HAD to have samples of in person, and things I probably would have felt I needed to grab online were ones I passed up in person. Having the experience of BEING there was wonderful, and I do highly recommend an experience like what I had. However, if you can't do something like that, this reinforced to me that if you can get as many samples of someone's perfume you should. You will probably fall in love with something your brain told you wouldn't like.

It was also wonderful to listen to Dawn talk about her process and what made her interested in making certain lines or certain perfumes. It felt like Christmas.

But then it got better.

My friend likes animalic perfumes. Get it rough and dirty, and she is all over having them on her. To be fair, they also smell amazing on her (too often animalics go straight to serious stank on me). As Dawn and I talked about my friend and that I would like to, but often can't, wear animalic fragrances, Dawn said she had something in back she wanted me to try. It is a new perfume about to be released, called Chinchilla, that was based off of the scent of warm and clean furry critters. Was I interested? Absolutely. Even more so after she mentioned that it also has a honey note. (Honey is a Must Try for me, every time, even though it often can go into urine on me.) (Note: I did not ask DSH's permission if I could review the perfume. So, this may be a really big secret I'm letting out of the bag--if so you didn't hear it from me.)

So, she put some of the extrait on my skin, and then we sniffed, then waited, then sniffed some more.

Oh. My. Word. Y'all, Chinchilla is amaaaaazing. If you can't wear animalic fragrances but want to try one this is the one for you. If you love animalic fragrances but want to expand, this is the one for you. If you like honey, if you like soft, if you like comfort and home and happiness, this is going to be for you.

My official review of Chinchilla: (reminder this is the extrait, so the EDP may be a little different. Your mileage may vary.) Also note: this isn't out yet, so there are no notes to list from the website. So, if there are notes of death in here, I don't know it. And frankly I don't care. It's that good.

In the vial: it all comes at me at once--a lemony honey, a rounded old worldness (like old perfume from the old world), a soft cuddly nuzzle of freshly washed small animal fur. Something lightly greenly acidic. It smells good, a mix, compelling, intriguing my brain, making me want to know what this is.

On my skin: the honey pops. This is liquid delicious golden sunshine honey. Rounded. Rich, Perfect on a morning to drop into tea, and just watch the sun catch the gold of it as it slides from the spoon to the teacup. Immediately behind that comes that old world, classic perfume fragrance. It's a little cuddly, a little vampy, intriguing. Then the furry/fuzzy comes in. I really don't know how perfumers do this (probably a mix of this and that), but I truly admire and adore when a perfume has a texture. This one does. It's fuzzy. Soft. Cuddly. It reminds me of when my birds take a bath and have just finished drying off and preening and I stick my nose right in their feathers at their belly. I just want to nuzzle them, soak up that fresh softness. This reminds me of that. I completely get the small furry clean animal feel here, and I love it.

As it continues to dry, this shifts a lot, but wraps around itself and on my skin in a luxurious way--evocative of a critter lazing in the sun, then stretching--arching the back, the legs, the body in a decadent display of utter contentment.

There is a bit of that sharpness that comes through from the old world perfume vibe (not sure what that is--seems a bit chypre-esque, and very glamorous). And you know what? This perfume is sexy. It's all rawwwwrrrr pet me so I can snuggle with you, but I may be tempted to bite you because I smell so good. This also has a sheets freshly ironed feel to me. It's soft and crisp. It's full of contrasts, that should feel sharp, but instead are soothing.

What I love about this one is that when my friend tried it, it was also amazing on her. She, the one who can wear any animalic and make it smell amazing, and I, the one who can't wear animalics because they go to rank-skank on me, have finally found one we both can wear. Full bottle worthy? Oh yes. I can easily see this being a comfort fragrance on gray and nasty days, but there's so much to this one that is also equally perfect and would be utterly fitting for a night at the opera. It's just that good. And that honey? Probably one of the better honey notes I have smelled in a long time. Mmmm!

As I continued around the shop, sniffing, trying to pin down what I like, what I'd like to try, what my friend would like, Dawn kept coming up with ideas and offering sniffs. One of those is one I immediately fell in love with. It is from the summer of 2016 collection, and has grapefruit notes in it (I love grapefruit perfumes, they are so fresh and zingy, so it's no surprise that I liked this one). The name is Kaleidoscope, and this is the review:

In the bottle: fresh, sparkly, with the grapefruit coming out to play. This is like a mix of the pith and the juice, so it has zest but also softness. The notes she included for this perfume are: lettuce, grapefruit, jasmine, mandarin, sandalwood, lemon, orange flower, pink peppercorn, and a few others.

On my skin: This opens very bright, very sparkling. It has a very fresh feel, slightly green (the lettuce maybe, it's refreshing the way cucumber is in a perfume). But the flowers follow that very quickly, and I do love the way the grapefruit and the jasmine dance together.

As this dries: this is somewhat evocative of the late 80's/early 90's softer fruity florals. This comes across on my skin as having a papayish vibe, and that in turn goes a tiny bit animalic--which is kind of fun in perfume that is supposed to be light and fresh. Dawn calls this a vegetable gourmand, and I can see where that is coming from. This is bright, fresh, light. Perfect for a stroll down at the beach, or wandering through small-town coastal shops on a summer day. It feels young. Young and hopeful and happy.

I have to add here, that when Dawn was looking for a sample vial of Kaleidoscope, she couldn't find one, so gave me a small bottle instead without charging me for it. THAT. That right there. She didn't have to do that, and I didn't expect her to. I was completely humbled and charmed by her, and I will be even more interested in her perfumes just because she's good people, and I like knowing my money is supporting good people. She has had enough publicity and reviews that she legitimately could be snobby and rude, but she isn't. I am thankful for good people.

Next, based on my love of the honey note, she recommended that I try Mahjoun. This is a perfume based on a Moroccan delicacy that includes spices, flower buds, and honey.

In the vial: Ooooooh, yeah, yummm. Spices, honey, dry dry woods all weave around together, and it combines with a pastry smell. This is decadent and delicious.

On my skin: The spices are soft baking spices that are both warming and soothing. The dry wood flirts and dances with the spices to give this a dry feel, while still also coming across as rich. The honey seems to be stronger than in Chinchilla, but it floats underneath in a lighter dance, that makes this feel lush and lighter than I expected. This feels like being in the dessert, but surrounded by every luxury.

As it continues to dry, I keep getting whiffs and flashes of a variety of things: dried oranges, a smidge of pomegranate. The pastry drops off, and the other notes keep fluidly moving and merging then dancing around each other.

One of my favorites is Tea for Two by L'Artisan. This reminds me a little of that, but the spices are softer, this is more lush, more decadent, and so totally something I want and would wear. The wafts from this are warm, calming, comforting, but when I stick my nose right into my skin, the spices are definitely holding strong (and didn't burn my sensitive skin, so yay for that!). This is a perfume that would wear well in polite company, but if someone chose to get close they would probably feel compelled to nibble. Just a little bit. Or a lot.

This is sexy, in a gourmand way. Sexy, warm, rich. Lickable. Without being sweet or sugary. Mmmmm, yes. Also full bottle worthy for me.

The next perfume is one that is labeled as masculine on the website, but I found it to be completely wearable for me (and I can be a girly girl sometimes). When I first tried this, Dawn told me that she created this based on a specific time of year for her. It builds off certain fragrances with leaves changing, and the way the air would smell where she lived, and all of the smells she remembered also wrapped around the time of year when the fireflies were at their peak. She called this a transitional perfume, and I could see why. Here is Firefly.

In the vial: I get a faint whiff of apple skin, something very dry, and not much else. (I get a lot of what comes across as the alcohol.)

On my skin: this opens with damp autumnal earth, a faint whiff of men's cologne, dry leaves, and dry smoke. Lurking underneath is a sense of caramelized apples, a sweetness that wants to come out to play.

As it dries, I get a masculine edge, but it's one that makes me think of deep skies with sleek cars riding down a dark highway. The faint caramel edge keeps holding steady, making this a bit softer and a little more sweet than I expected. I get the sense of bobbing for apples as well. This would be very spectacular on the right man, but I can also see myself wearing this on any kind of autumn day, where I am completely and utterly celebrating the season (whether cold and rainy or sunny and golden with blue blue skies). My skin devours this one though, fading it down pretty quickly within an hour. Booo!

I can't do a complete review without adding something vanilla to the mix. I do like vanilla notes, but I really like when they are deep and rich. I was wandering around the shop doing some sniffs, then stopped at one and said, "Oooh I need a sample of that!" So here is Vanille Botanique.

In the vial: Spiced vanilla with a bourbon vanilla edge. Pretty, and very promising. (Not cheap lotion vanilla.)

On my skin: This pops, and I means pop with spices (more like pepper, less like cinnamon) and comes across as dry dry dry, with a faint luscious thread weaving through. This comes across as what I can only describe as a dark cola. Syrupy, but not too sweet, warm, and definitely not a linear vanilla.

As it dries: the dark cola aspect builds around the deep dark vanilla. It threads through in a way that hints of seduction with rounded edges that fade down to snuggling under the covers after the seduction is complete. Dancing through that is a more sweet vanilla that keeps showing a bit of leg, and that loves to laugh--which adds brightness and moisture to this.

This one is very intriguing. It wears very well on my skin, but on a man this could be completely captivating, especially if paired with a tobacco or wood to keep the edges more dry.

I like vanilla that isn't all batter (although I also do have a guilty fondness for the confectionery type fragrances), and this one definitely has some hard edges and sere notes that keep this firmly away from cake batter. Having said that, it also has a nice lilting sway, a lift, a sparkling side that is really charming.

This is a vanilla for vanilla haters, but also one for vanilla lovers. It's a good balance against the sugary gourmands, but also plays very well with its sweeter side (just dialed waaay down). It has depth, but feels airy. It's warm, but isn't too in your face. It's pretty. Plain and simply a comfort pretty fragrance that doesn't scream sugar or teenybopper. It's delightful, very delightful and I'm so glad I got a chance to try this. I have a feeling I'll be getting a bottle of this one at some point, too.

The final review (for now--I have a lot more to get through in the next few days!) is Nourouz. This was a Holiday Edition perfume, and she created a Black Pomegranate note for this one that was really compelling in the shop. I hope it plays out on my skin the same way.

In the vial: this is deep, dark, fun, rich. It smells like someone created a potpourri to celebrate the holidays with, and added some extra pepper and dark spices that become almost jam like and decadent.

On my skin: Oooooh! Smoke, warm baking spices, winter fruit. This feels deep and velvety purple. This, to my nose, is playing out of the image of everything I've ever wanted the Holidays to be: baked goods, deep rich smells, decadence, and yet filled with coziness and light to ward off the darkness.

As it dries: I'm getting a candle essence from this now. It's still deep and spicy, but instead of evoking home and hearth, this now gives me the feeling of being in a beautiful church with no ceiling so you see the night sky, with lit candles, and the last note of Silent Night is hanging in the air. Serene. Deep. Beautiful.

As it continues to dry, it merges both images together to create dark velvet, comfort, serenity, and something hopeful. This is really lovely and makes me feel like I'm somehow fancier and prettier than I thought I was before I put it on. It does keep softening as it wears down, and I get more of the wax feel as it does so, but this is so pretty I would be happy to keep applying if my skin proves to want to gobble it all up.

All in all, my time at the DSH land of dreams (as I will now think of it) was very delightful. The perfumes were wonderful to wander through, the company was fantastic, and the day was just perfect. I am so glad I had a chance to really play around with her fragrances in the shop because I feel like I have a much better understanding of what she is doing, what her vision is, and what I will be able to wear from her collection (it's a lot more than I once thought). I can't wait to see what she keeps coming out with.

My next list of reviews will contain some of her Cannabis Collection. I can't wait to get to it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Possets Yule 2015

I have slowly been adding my reviews for this release on the Possets forum, but since the Yules will be coming down soon and some folks may want to grab some of the perfumes before they go away, I decided to compile the reviews I've already done and post them here.

Winter (Mucha)--"I was playing around with chypre again and thought that a delightful variation on it would be a winter blend with a light call to the spring which will reward us in March. Just as the world is heading into the cold times, ice, and storms it's nice to know that there is another spring waiting for us at the end of the season. Oakmoss from France, and French lavender, a very smooth amber which is thick and very golden lays the bed for a brilliant and true violet to float on top."

First, I have to say that if I could I would buy every single chypre that Fabienne makes. This from someone who detested chypre before finding Possets. I have become a fan, but I admit to degrees within that. I'd still buy them though, because who just wants one Monet? True to the description, this opens very much as a Fabienne chypre. For a moment, I get a very rich pop of oakmoss which immediately shifts down to Silver Chypre on me. I started to think, "Hmm, I love Silver Chypre, but don't want two of them," and then this began to shift into smokey chypre, then slightly citrus chypre, then the violet slowly drifted to the top to smooth it all over. 

Do I even need to say I love this? If you aren't sure how I feel: I love this. It's Silver Chypre meets smoked violets laced in...wait...there it is Apep. It reminds me of a chypred Apep wreathed in smoke and violets. On my skin it's almost a touch plastic and woodsy from the oakmoss, but the air around me is the MOST stunning. 

*eyes rolled to the back of the head gone

Osmium--"What a grand tangle of beautiful scents: strong vanilla, refined leather, and a hint of pepper, and a bit of lime. Foody where it should be, leather where it's right, and the rest fit in beautifully. This one is great for seduction, flirtation, contemplation, exasperation, the works. Enjoy it with just about everything."

In the bottle, I get a very smoky vibe and when I first put it on my skin it came across as smoky and sweet. I completely forgot this had leather in it until it shifted later on and then I remembered this was supposed to be leather. At first though, this is more smoke than leather. However, in the bottle, the leather is definitely there, but it's a soft and warm note not a glossy and hard leather. The lime is also evident, but doesn't scream lime. It's a soft lime and provides the bite this needs, without being too assertive and abrasive. Under it all is a nice rounded sweetness that is probably the vanilla.

Once this is on the skin, it opens and opens wide without shrieking. The smoky vibe dominates for about five minutes as the other notes shift around. Quite frankly, as soon as this was on my skin I went straight into wanting to nibble my arm. The notes in this are so nicely balanced and blended, and the whole of it just rounds out beautifully. This is both a warm and cool perfume, and yet the whole of it is both commanding and comforting. 

This is beautiful in so many ways. I could see it being really fantastic on a guy, but I wouldn't call this masculine, per se. It has strength and backbone, and lasts for about 6-8 hours, but it's not overpowering (unless you put too much on--which would be tempting to do because it does smell fantastic). I like that the leather in this never really softened down to a suede note, but stayed gleaming and leather the whole time while still somehow conveying soft leather with a backbone. This is perfumey and rich without being cloying. It has depth, but still comes across as very pretty and very wearable. It has sweetness and tang. Rich but not fussy. Deep and gleaming, while somehow also conveying lightness and lift. It's lovely, and I think this is going to be worn heavily during this cold and wintry time of year.

Emine--"Named after the only French consort to the Ottoman Sultan, this is a perfume worthy of one of the most splendid eras in perfumery. All the beauty of the East is spread before you in shimmering profusion. The most beautiful of frankincense, the most subtle and luxurious of white oudes, the most sweet of myrrh (a very special type of golden myrrh), a light golden patchouli, and a drop of styrax. This is a very Eastern, thick, and resinous blend, a comforting and sweetly languidly seductive thing."

Soft and beautiful, rich and warm, this is Emine. However, I'm discovering that there is a note (and now I'm going to have to find some other perfumes, because I am learning toward the frankincense or myrrh) that opens on my skin and goes straight to sandalwood on me and skews what I think I'm smelling. This is beautiful though (despite the note that makes my nose believe I'm wearing nothing but sandalwood), and very comforting and warm in these cold days we're having. But I can also see this being utterly gorgeous and sparkling on any soft night when the stars are out and something lovely just needs to be worn.

Nell Gwyn--"
Pink cedar, cream, Thanksgiving pudding all together. It sounded very strange to me and somehow all the ingredients dance along merrily. The "seriousness" and almost bitter wood is sweetened up to a positively jolly state thanks to such rich creamy and sweet asides."

In the bottle, this is so delicious. I get a rich nutty pudding and a rounded cedar note down on the bottom that merges BEAUTIFULLY with the pudding.

On my skin: Mmmmm, yes. The cedar is a beautiful beautiful backbone to this. As this dries, the cedar remains soft but solid in the background, and merges with what smells like a pecan note with warm custardy pudding. It comes across as a mix of woodsy and foody. I like that this is softly sweet--no cavities in this one--and the sweetness helps to create a nice contrast to the cedar and nuts.

Have you ever walked by a cart that is selling toasted nuts with cinnamon and sugar on a very cold and wintery day? This smells similar to that to me, without being quite as sweet. It's warm and toasted (without coming across as burnt toasted), and adds an element of something triumphant and celebratory against the cold. The cedar is brilliant with this, utterly brilliant. It adds a cinnamonish vibe (and there may actually be cinnamon in here, but thankfully my skin isn't freaking out--although I did just dab a small dot so it may change if I expand to cover more of me), boosts the wood but in a soft and creamy kind of way, and rounds out the whole in such a way that makes this a delightful perfume. While this is foody, there is definitely a lot more going on here that leans this a bit away from the foody category and more into woods and spices and plain old fashioned happiness categories. 

More will be added soon (before the collection goes down).