Best Perfumes of 2010: A Blogging Event

December has been a whirlwind for most of us, and I’m still reeling over how fast it went. Fortunately, there were moments of quiet calm this month, and several of them were spent revisiting perfumes from this last year. Throughout 2010, I enjoyed testing and reviewing an abundance of beautiful, newly released botanicals, and was very pleased that the natural perfumers themselves received a lot of positive press via magazines and blogs. With all my heart, I hope this trend continues as it is so important to support independently owned, artisanal businesses, especially when they are creating such gorgeous works of olfactory art.


The following are my favorite naturals from 2010, (as well as two non-naturals I fell for) but it’s truly just a sampling of what I enjoyed. I did decide to make a list though, so I have chosen the ones that will become lifetime loves.


Bed of Roses by Velvet & Sweet Pea. I don’t want to over-analyze this gorgeous fragrance too much, but Bed of Roses is like a study of contrasts. It’s vintage-esque but also modern. It’s powdery, but at the same time fresh and vivid. I give huge kudos to Laurie Stern for her expert hand and for creating such a dynamic and interesting rose perfume. Her skillful blending of aged sandalwood and cognac (vintage) with green mandarin and rose leaf absolute (fresh) allow different facets of rose to be present at the same moment. At its heart, Bed of Roses is a perfume that contains nine different rose distillations, so it’s richer and lusher than any other rose perfume I have experienced. Rose lovers, you will not be disappointed.

Mejica by A Perfume Organic. Mejica took me by surprise. I was not expecting anything new from this vanilla based fragrance as I thought I had pretty much smelled all that the bean could offer. Clearly, I was wrong. Mejica is smooth and spicy with cloves and hints of orange in the opening. It has a rich vanilla heart and a drydown made of sweet resinous musk. It’s been lovely to wear through the holiday season, and I eagerly anticipate what it will do on my skin when the days become warmer.

Bancha by DSH Perfumes. Bancha came along early in 2010 when it was still cold outside and I was craving a soothing balm. Bancha slipped into my life and provided just what I needed. Bancha is very grounding, and I liken it to scooping up limes or lemons that have fallen into dark, minty soil. Basil, rose and jasmine sambac add an herbacous floral quality while sandalwood and cedarwood round out its base, giving an aura of woods, like heat rising off a sauna’s walls. I loved Bancha last winter and have worn it frequently throughout the year. In addition to the perfume, I have the Bancha scented oil which is an exceptionally restorative balm for the skin and soul.

Mecca Balsam by La Via del Profumo. Mecca Balsam received rave reviews throughout the blogging world, and they were much deserved. Mecca Balsam revolves around labdanum, frankincense, benzoin and tobacco which suffuses the air with a gentle suggestion of incense. It never becomes overwhelming because it is so well-blended and subtle. Tobacco balances nicely with the labdanum, making it soft and cozy. For an all natural perfume, it has striking sillage with impressive staying power. Another excellent fragrance for the winter months.

Wildflowers by Aftelier Perfumes. Mandy Aftel released (at least) four fragrances this year, all of which I adore. But Wildflowers made this list because it’s centered around a note that for me, is crazy-making…in a good way. Hay. Yes, hay drives me a little wild. It gets up in my scalp and makes it tingle. Its scent generates the desire to frolic in a meadow of wildflowers and twirl until punch-drunk dizzy. Not all hay notes do this to me, just the ones that smell golden and have honey dripping from their stacks. Wildflowers is all about this kind of sweet, sunkissed hay and begins with a tart burst of lime and ends in a glowingly honeyed drydown.

GreenWitch by Roxana Illuminated Perfume.  GreenWitch is unquestionably a chypre as oakmoss, galbanum, violet leaves and rose petals greet you from its start. After a bit, it gets a nutty, salty air from vetiver and tonka with floral nuances like boronia and honeysuckle. Honeysuckle is not in the notes, so I’m guessing the mimosa, ylang ylang and beeswax create a hybrid honeysuckle accord on my skin, and I love it. It smells like a day at the beach when you are blessed with warm skin, salt in your hair, and suntan lotion that barely lingers on your body. Green Witch has incredible sillage and staying power which lengthens the fragrance’s evolution, and it might well be Roxana’s most multi-layered perfume yet.

The Purple Dress by Ayala Moriel Parfums.  Technically, The Purple Dress was released in December 2009, but for all intents and purposes, it was a 2010 perfume. The Purple Dress is a black tea based fragrance, steeped in a tannicy anise that is dark and smoky, moody and sexy, and has a gorgeous honeyed-wood drydown. Champaca is the featured flower in this beauty, but is tempered by the lightheartedness of magnolia and an easy touch of honey. According to Ayala’s website, this fragrance is a salute to Alexander Argov, who composed the famous Israeli song, The Purple Dress. You can hear an excerpt of it here and enjoy its evocative melancholic beauty, similar to its namesake perfume.

Guerlain Arsène Lupin Dandy. As I mentioned, there are two non-naturals that I fell in love with this year, and Guerlain’s Arsène Lupin Dandy is one of them. Dandy is being promoted as a masculine fragrance, and it does smell incredible on my husband, but it also smells pretty darn good on me. So let’s not cramp Dandy’s style with labels. Dandy begins with a nod to the legendary guerlainade brew which for me is sadly short-lived but for others, that might be preferred. Regardless, it grants Dandy an opening of distinctive familiarity that segues beautifully into a spicy, woodsy, violet tinged fragrance. Cardamom and an ultra-smooth sandalwood comprise the spicy woods while Dandy’s violets infuse a supple leather note that weaves its way through the fragrance’s entirety. The drydown finishes with a leathery-sandalwood-cedar musk that takes Dandy from its guerlainade opening to a modern finish.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore. Here’s the other non-natural perfume I could not pass up, and it happens to be another violet-leather fragrance, albeit a very different one from Dandy. Traversée du Bosphore’s opening is full speed ahead leather and violet. It’s a dry leather, nearly heat cracked and edgy and you can feel the little violets struggle against the unyielding hide. The opening is interesting, but not entirely likable and it’s not until a softness emerges that I find myself succumbing to this uniquely compelling fragrance. Once the leather allows the dewy violet to soften its parched surface, it becomes more full and welcoming. The heart continues to expand upon the iris-leather accord but incorporates a gourmand aspect which on my skin is a delicious vanilla-almond confection. It’s quite an evolution when one considers Traversée du Bosphore’s arid beginning evolving into a gentle, sugared and musky rose at the drydown.


Don’t forget to visit the other participating blogs. I can’t wait to read what their favorites have been!

Share

Tabac by La Via del Profumo

First things first, the winner of the Mecca Balsam giveaway is Chasa! Congrats!


This review comes on the heels of my recent La Via del Profumo Mecca Balsam review. If you read it, you’ll know that I am not the only one who is smitten with its labdanum laden redolence. Most every blogger who has written about it has sung its praises. Tabac is from the same perfume house, a natural indie-perfumery in Italy, and is just as accolade worthy as Mecca Balsam.


Mecca Balsam is all about labdanum with undertones of tobacco. Tabac is the reverse. It’s tobacco-filled with undertones of labdanum. Labdanum’s mossy warmth emerges from within the tobacco in the opening. It grounds the experience with an earthy floral tone, setting the stage for a soft and soothing tobacco experience. Vanilla and tonka are also responsible for Tabac’s soft edges giving a subtly sweet pipe tobacco impression.


I did a side by side comparison of another gorgeous tobbaco scent, Alaya Moriel Parfums Espionage. I adore Espionage and any other tobacco scent needs to stand up to its beauty. Tabac certainly does, but they are different. Espionage is a drier, more intense tobacco fragrance that exudes bold topnotes, only to be quieted somewhat by elegant florals in the drydown. Tabac on the other hand is a more diffuse tobacco, possessing an immediate subdued quality. They are both full and beautiful with Espionage having a sharp, clear tobacco articulation and Tabac being more tempered, almost downy. So yes, it it entirely justifiable having both in one’s perfume collection, just in case you were wondering.


Tabac is available at La Via del Profumo € 38,33 for 16mls and € 104,17 for 50mls.

posted by ~Trish

Disclosure: Samples from La Via del Profumo were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.


Share

Mecca Balsam by La Via del Profumo

There’s so much to love about labdanum. I love the sound of the word. It’s a potential tongue twister but once you get it, labdanum is a fun word to say. I also love the story of this resin. Goats would feast on Mediterranean rockrose shrubs filling their bellies while unwittingly collecting the sticky substance in their beards allowing their keepers to harvest the fragrant goo. Labdanum is still obtained via trusty goats, but more often with *leather rakes empowered by human hands.


What I love most about labdanum though, is its complex yet soothing aroma. All at once it encompasses a vegetal mossiness, subtle floral tones, calming incense and supple leather. The following was my impression the first time I smelled labdanum on its own:  …”utterly rich and musty. It also struck me as quite leathery with great depth and amazingly animalic for a botanical”.  How lovely I thought it would be to have a perfume composed mainly of this compelling essence.

La Via del Profumo, an Italian all natural perfumery,  has recently launched an ode to labdanum in Mecca Balsam that exudes what I described above. Benzoin, frankincense, agarwood, tonka, tobacco, Indian tuberose and Damask rose help comprise Mecca Balsam, but it is labdanum that most inspires this olfactory visit to Mecca. La Via del Profumo’s website has an eloquent description of Mecca Balsam that is truly on point:

“Wrapped in the amber fragrance of Tonka and in the mystic aroma of the Arabic Frankincense, Labdanum wildness is tamed in an almost ecclesiastic scent that evocates at once the perfume of the mosques and the music of the wind organs in cathedrals.

The scent of raw Tobacco, always present in the background, is like an anchor that binds the base accord, giving them a common denominator.

The flowery notes of Indian Tuberose and of Damask Rose enrich the base of the balsam in the fashion of Arabic fragrances, bestowing to the perfume an opulence worthy of the precious aromatic elixirs worn by the royal family of Saudia.

Mecca Balsam is a fragrance that is liked by men and women alike, its aroma is warming, full, aromatic, and somehow gives a fatherly sense of security.”


My dad has never smelled like labdanum and the florals didn’t blossom on my skin, but otherwise, I fully concur. Mecca Balsam’s quartet of labdanum, frankincense, benzoin and tobacco suffuses the air with the caress of incense. The fragrance anoints your skin with a soft richness that has striking sillage and impressive staying power. It also layers beautifully with floral tobacco perfumes like Hermes Kelly Caleche and Ayala Moriel Parfums Espionage.


Dominique Dubrana (AKA AbdesSalaam Attar which is his Mulsim name) is the perfumer at La Via del Profumo whose creations have been given much praise in print. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez have given Dubrana’s Grezzo d’eleganza, Hindu Kush and Tabac four stars in “Perfumes: The Guide” and please see the following blogs for more on Mecca Balsam:

Indie Perfumes

Perfume Posse

Perfume Shrine

Bittergrace Notes


 

Dominique Dubrana has been very generous in offering a full 50ml bottle (worth $125 USD) to a Scent Hive reader. Please leave a comment to enter. You can also get extra entries if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. (Check the right sidebar for the Scent Hive links). We have our winner!

Mecca Balsam is available at the La Via del Profumo website. € 34,17 for 16mls and € 91,67 for 50mls.


Posted by ~Trish


*labdanum rake image from labdanum-creta.blogspot.com

Please visit the NYT website for a feature on La Via del Profumo and Mecca Balsam.

Disclosure: Samples from La Via del Profumo were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Share