WHAT I SMELL: Essence Rare opens with what seems to be fading aldehydes that are quickly met by a spiced geranium. The perfume deepens quickly as the perfume moves to a civet and amber making it very mature almost from the start as there’s nothing light nor fluffy about it. As it continues to develop, the oakmoss pushes itself to the forefront and it’s here the perfume puts out a strong forcefield as it’s all powdered and dry oakmoss, spice and civet. After quite some time, the perfume begins to retreat a bit and thankfully a beautiful sandalwood laced with warm florals begins to take the perfume from the overt to the almost sublime. In the end, Essence Rare is still mature, but it’s much more approachable, albeit with a strong personality.
Essence Rare Notes:
Top: aldehydes, bergamot, lily of the valley
Heart: geranium, rose, iris
Base: sandalwood, ambergris, vanilla, oakmoss, musk, tonka bean, vetiver, civet
WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE TO ME: Forgive me, but the image of Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” popped in my head. The perfume seems stuck in the 70s, is a bit unforgiving and begs to be noticed.
THREE WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ESSENCE RARE: solid, stocky, bold
BOTTOM LINE: I found the iceberg bottle pictured above at an antique store for $15, so I thought, why not. As many of you know, I love vintage perfumes, but Essence Rare is a rarity where it’s anything but a love. What I typically like about these small extrait bottles is that they generally stay fresher than some of their larger counterparts. I’m sure that there has been degradation with this, but I believe that Essence Rare was pretty much a powerhouse from day one and it does feel very dated. So my 2 bones rating is based solely on this bottle…but maybe it’s just that bottle and some day I’ll run into one that makes me reconsider.
It should be noted that Essence Rare was reformulated in 2018 and the perfume was once again created by Jean-Claude Ellena. But everything that I have read about it states that this new version is much lighter and rather pretty and no doubt more approachable to today’s market.
I am having a hard time believing that I have been blogging for two years now (actually, my anniversary date was January 4th). But I have to admit that at present my muse is hiding in some closet somewhere and ever since coming back from a wonderful holiday vacation I have not been able to get back into the groove, thus my late anniversary post. And since I failed to do a “best of” list at the end of the year, this post is going to be a combination of anniversary ramblings, observations, best ofs and of course a fabulous draw…thus the uber supercalifragilisticexpialidocious title of this post! So here we go…
Anniversary Ramblings and Observations:
How lovely…the perfume urns at the Caron boutique!
When I started this blog, I was new to the niche marketplace. My first discoveries and loves were the amber fragrances, which included Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens and Ambra Nera by Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561. They are strong and powerful fragrances which drew me in with their boldness. I don’t know if I am fickle, or I have learned that more subtle scents are now what I find I prefer, but I have moved into a stage where less is more and where traditionally feminine fragrances are now my siren songs. At present, kicked off by my love for Nuit de Noel by Caron, I have now stepped into a “I need to learn more about Caron fragrances” phase and recently purchased French Cancan (it will probably be my next post) and am now itching to get to Lexington Avenue in NYC to visit their store so I can stock up on pretty little bottles of traditional feminine fragrances. So I have the feeling that 2014 will be my “Year of the Woman” in terms of my favorite fragrances as it seems that 2013 ended up that way. As I tell my friends, I’m butch enough to carry off such fragrances. And when I declare that, they just look at me and reply “uh huh, whatever you say.” In any case, at my age, I’ll wear what I want, where I want and when I want!
Also, when I started blogging, there were a handful of wonderful established perfume bloggers out there, but in that two-year time span, there are so many new bloggers that it’s hard to keep up with all of them and they tend to come and go so quickly which just validates the fact that blogging isn’t all that easy. Add that to the numerous Facebook groups and the video reviewers, the number of resources can be a bit overwhelming. Since I don’t seem to have the time to write for myself, I have to be choosy about what I read and what sites I visit. But I want to give some shout outs to some terrific new bloggers who have joined the scene this past year: Epiphany, The Smelly Vagabond and Odiferess. Please check out their sites!
One lesson that I learned these past couple of years is that I just can’t keep up with it all. There are just too many releases and not enough time for discovery and review. So instead of chasing every new launch, if something strikes my fancy I’ll search it out. But to keep on top of all the newest is just impossible. I have been sucked up in the past (it still happens, but not quite so often) with the latest that everyone seems to be raving about, only to find that the fragrance being touted isn’t all that special. So I try to keep an open mind combined with some sense of control. As you’ll see below, my “best of” list is “my” best of, meaning that the fragrances are not necessarily ones that were released in 2013, but ones that I discovered in 2013 and fell in love with. So I guess this is probably a good segue into my…
Best Fragrances of 2013:
Remember, the fragrances aren’t necessarily released in 2013, but to me they were new:
Nuit de Noel Parfum Extrait by Caron: My new Christmas tradition to be worn during the holidays. I can’t speak for the EdT version, but the parfum extrait is classic and heavenly. If you love chypres, you’ll love this.
Enslaved Parfum by Roja Parfums: Roja perfumes are priced out of my league. Every year my concept with what is reasonably price is obliterated by something that I want that is ridiculously priced. I stayed away from samples because I knew if I like them, I’d have a hard time saying no. However, I did have the chance to check out a few in the line by a generous gift of samples and then again at Sniffapalooza. Enslaved was love at first sniff. Big, bold, beautiful and over the top, this is a killer fragrance. Thankfully, my wonderful husband bought me a bottle this past Christmas and even managed to get Roja Dove himself to sign the bottle for me. Is it wrong to come home from work and put on sweatpants and then spritz yourself with your most expensive perfume?
Fate Woman by Amouage: Finally, a real 2013 release. I can’t believe I haven’t completed a review of this yet. Forget Fate Man; Fate Woman is a femme fatale. This beautifully constructed muted floral is just the opposite of the over the top Enslaved, but just as beautiful.
Onda EdP and Kiki Parfum Extrait Vero Profumo: I was late to the Vero Profumo line of fragrances, but now I own four of Vero Kern’s lovely creations. I like lavender, but Kiki’s caramel coated lavender is sweet without being sweet if that makes any sense. I love to wear this out on special nights as I always get compliments. Onda was the big surprise. I wasn’t quite sure if I liked it upon my first application, but something happened that made me surrender to its charms. Onda has changed my mind regarding my disinterest in vetiver.
Noontide Petals by Tauer Perfumes: Tauer perfumes can be hit or miss for me. This is a major hit that harkens to nostalgic femininity. Andy takes me back to the early 1960s with this masterpiece that was launched in 2013.
Silver Iris by Atelier Cologne: Released in 2013, I originally purchased Gold Leather and received a smaller bottle of Silver Iris as an added gift. Out of the two fragrances, I have to say that Silver Iris has turned into the bigger winner for me. I find that this is the perfect fragrance for the office as it’s slightly sweet and muted tones are as comfortable as a wonderful suit. Funny though, my husband keeps stealing my Gold Leather which to him is the better of the two.
Vintage Fragrances: I went through a slight vintage stage this past year and added to my collection some really lovely fragrances that I wear on a regular basis…Ysatis by Givenchy (parfum), a 1980s big floral that makes me happy; Samsara by Guerlain (parfum), like silk, the smooth and warm fragrance is like a blanket of calm; Miss Dior (parfum), the perfect chypre that’s made for a woman, but seems to be kind of butch for a “Miss.” You can find some great deals on eBay and on small bottles that don’t cost too much if you are looking to give something a try.
The Best of…
Discovery of the Year: Maria Candida Gentile. I was haunted by Cinabre which was one of those perfumes that I wasn’t quite sure if I liked, but kept getting drawn back into. I tried Exultat and then bought a bottle of Sideris and I was hooked. Her fragrances have a consistent feel across the board, like a unique fingerprint that’s recognizable as hers and they don’t smell like anything else out there. OK, I have to admit that I was a bit underwhelmed by her two latest releases Finisterre and Noir Tropical, but I look forward to what she has coming next. Oh, and I love the fact that you can order 15ml sized bottle online at her website.
Event:Sniffapalooza. We all fantasize about being able to go to Sniffapalooza, the biggest of events for perfume fans. Thankfully, I was able to go this past fall to see what the fuss was about. OK, for the most part the event is designed to introduce and sell product. But you get to hang out with folks that are just like you and I made some wonderful new friends. I think that all of us feel like we’re a little outside the norm from our friends and families in regards to our love of fragrance. Sniffapalooza creates a family atmosphere where we all share that common DNA. It was so much fun and I look forward to doing it again.
Packaging: Besides having created one of the most haunting fragrances of the year, Cuir Gardenia; Mandy Aftel knows that packaging is the icing on the cake to a great perfume. The packaging from Aftelier Perfumes is instantly recognizable, pretty, interesting and most importantly fun to open. I wish all perfumers would give their outside packaging as much thought as this. If you haven’t experienced receiving a package from Aftelier, purchasing the lovely Cuir Gardenia might just be your excuse. Of course, one of my other favorites Haute Claire is just as good of an excuse! Check out Mandy’s products on her website.
Blind Buy: Yes, I am still horrible about completing a blind buy. After two years of trying I still can’t help myself. It’s like the old game “Mystery Date”, you never know what you’re going to get, the dreamboat or the dud. Fortunately for me, I usually get a dream. This year, I have to say the biggest dreams for me were my Caron’s, Nuit de Noel (parfum) and French Cancan (parfum). As for the dud; thankfully I didn’t spend much money on this, but I got a small bottle of Boucheron Trouble, which I never even heard of. I can see why it was not on my radar…talk about a discordant mess.
Blogging: Actually there a couple of categories, first is the “How Do They Do It?” group and that includes Kafkaesque and I Scent You a Day. Both are wonderful blogs, Kafkaesque with her prolific in-depth posts and reviews that are incredibly researched and thoughtful. And then I Scent a Day whose goal was to write a review every day of the year and she almost did it this past year…but even running short a few days from her goal, the volume and tenacity that it takes to complete such numbers is incredible. I commend both bloggers for the artful prose and commitment to their passion!
The second category is for the blogger that brings other bloggers together, Jordan River from The Fragrant Man. Out of all of the blogging community, Jordan really keeps his eyes out for us all and creates community posts (posts with links and info from multiple bloggers) based on themes and subjects. I always love how he ties it all together to create these wonderful and unique collective posts.
Marketer/Distributor: Jeffrey Dame has been in the business for many years, but in 2010 he began his own company Hypoluxe, a distribution company of fine niche perfume brands. At present, he currently represents the following brands: Parfums M. Micallef, biehl.parfumkunstwerke, Teo-Cabanel Paris, Tauer Perfumes and Parfums Retro. And note that I say “at present”, because Jeff will no doubt be representing many other exciting brands in 2014 as he is one of the hardest working in the industry and knows the importance of the blogger community and their influence in helping to market perfumes. And if distributing isn’t enough, he also has a website designed for all of us who love to read about and discuss perfumes…Perfume of Life. If you haven’t already, please check it out.
Because every anniversary needs to be celebrated with presents (and I said presents), I have a few items that are up for my readers to win. Unfortunately, I have to limit the draw to US persons only. So what are the prizes?
3. To 30 lucky winners, a 3ml sample of the 2013 released nostalgic leather fragrance, Grand Cuir by Parfums Retro. This is a leather fragrance that lovers of leather, and non-lovers of leather can love.
The draw will close on 6pm Eastern Time on Friday, January 24, 2014. To enter, please leave a comment telling me what your favorite perfume of 2013 was (it doesn’t have to be a new release, just your favorite of the year). Remember, the draw is open to US readers only.
Thanks to all of my readers for a wonderful 2013. I look forward to this next year and my 3rd anniversary with you!
WHAT I SMELL: Orangers en Fleurs opens with the most beautiful warm orange blossom and rose. It’s rich and thick and deep in its construct. Much too quickly for my taste however, the tuberose comes into play. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t dominate, but it makes its present known and as many of you know, I’m not a big fan of tuberose. Thankfully, my fears subside as after about five minutes, Orangers en Fleurs begins to brighten. There is a tinge of wood and spice that seemed to be layered below the floral aspects giving the fragrance some dimension. I like the fact that it seems that every time I bring my wrist to my nose I smell a different floral; one time jasmine, the other rose… tuberose, etc. all mixed with orange blossom. Continuing on, I find that there is almost a brown sugar (maybe the nutmeg) note that emerges that gives it a slightly gourmand trait that makes this seem slightly crystalized. In the end, the surprisingly projectable drydown wraps the floral in a warm and cozy musk. Absolutely beautiful.
BOTTOM LINE: Orangers en Fleurs was a big surprise which thankfully wasn’t taken over by the tuberose which I cite in my description above, nor did it get sweet or soapy. This may go on my wish list for a FB. I just wish Houbigant would have offered this in a smaller than 100ml bottle. Overall, good job Houbigant!