Feeling safe in your arms, Volnay Ambre de Siam

In the recent years we have witnessed some of the older perfume houses being reinstated in the modern era of perfumery. Once widely known around the globe and worn by most influential, renowned and iconic names of past times, some brands somehow lost their glow for a  while. But there’s nothing lost for them as present times and future are open to welcome them back and allow to regain their past glory. Remastering old formula is even more challenging though…

One of the brands with a longer history is Volnay. Established in 1919 (96 years ago!) by Rene Duval. This maison de parfum has built a solid position in the perfume market of 20th century. Nowadays great-grandchildren of Rene and Germaine Madeline Duval: Muriel & Olivier Madeline are the ones who run the company and continue the heritage of their family. So far there were 5 fragrances in the line and this past March they have presented a new creation – Ambre de Siam.

Composition of this perfume bases on the original formula first created in 1920 (later there have been some editions of it in 1922 and 1925). Of course it had to be adjusted to the current regulatory documents. On my skin Ambre de Siam starts with a tart and gentle aroma of bergamot rind that is almost immediately followed by the freshly vibrant smell of ginger. Apart of being a carrier of fresh accord, ginger also introduces a mild spicy aroma that instantly warms up on the skin. I think this was a well-thought idea for the top notes of this new “old” Volnay fragrance. Why? Because it remains warm for the rest of time you will be able to smell it on your skin.

Shortly after I detect a lovely and balmy aroma that is build around amber. For some time it’s fiery warm, hot like a cracking fireplace. But after a few minutes it settles and becomes a very pleasant balsamic structure that has a sensual feeling to it. It’s like someone dear to you was holding you in their arms, where you feel safe. The feeling of safety helps you to feel relaxed and at the same time you can smell that person and some sort of sexual tension builds up.

This is how I see Ambre de Siam from Volnay. As a soft, delicate perfume that has a power of seduction. This encouraging smell of amber gains another dimension when benzoin joins the composition. It’s slightly more balsamic than amber was, it also feels a tad more smoky, kind of gooey. This impressions lasts for around 10-15 minutes and then benzoin reveals more sweet side that smells a bit of vanilla and caramel, but these two notes are not officially mentioned as part of the composition. Even though I smell what I smell, could be just an impression of different notes.

3 hours into fragrance development and Ambre de Siam reveals another ingredients that are considered as those responsible for building a feeling of sensuality. We have here a very nice saffron accord. It’s warmth and spiciness introduce an element of serenity and reassurance. Later on it is possible to smell the woody notes of cashmeran and sandalwood. To continue the comforting aura of this warm and tasty fragrance, both of the notes have been presented in substantial, yet soft way that has a lot of creamy and smooth molecules attached to it, so the overall impression is quite milky. I have to admit that new Volnay perfume is very crowd-pleasing scent.

In the drydown of Volnay Ambre de Siam you’ll find a reasonable dose of patchouli. I say reasonable because it’s strong enough to smell the earthy vibe from it but it’s not overly strong to cover the gorgeous smell of amber, resins, saffron and woods. There’s also plenty of white musk that brings powdery finish to the composition. It feels very appropriate to end this perfume this way, to go from fresh spices, through resins, warm notes and to complete the story with a powdery vibe.

Such a warm and cuddly perfume as Ambre de Siam might not be a perfect choice to wear right now, when every day it becomes warmer but it will serve right when autumn kicks in. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I found out that this perfume will premiere officially in September, that’s when you can start looking for it in perfumeries. New Volnay perfume is made in eau de parfum concentration and it’s a work of perfumer Amelie Bourgeois. It will come in brand’s signature 100ml bottle. My tests have proven longevity of around 8 hours, sillage is more intimate here.

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Rose of Semiramida, Jul et Mad Nin-Shar

Wouldn’t you agree with a statement that good idea for a fragrance is like 50% (or maybe 30%, no less) of a hard work that has to be done before a succesful perfume will be released to the market? When it comes to concept behind a scent, Jul et Mad know how to do it right. They charmed many of us with their four-chaptered love story. This season Julien and Madalina take a foray into different grounds by launching Les White, a new collection inspired by ancient civilizations and their beauty.

This new trio was gloriously introduced to the public during Esxence 2015. I was very happy when Madalina personally invited me to sit by the table they had at a stand and she introduced me to the new collection, talking in detail about each fragrance. Just upon first sniffing I knew one fragrance attracted my attention more than the other two. It was Nin-Shar. This particular fragrance was inspired by the Babylon and its Hanging Gardens. I don’t know much about ancient civilizations, I’ve never been an ace at history when I was going to school. All I know is that it has the opulence that many fragrances don’t. A perfume for Semiramida.

On my skin Jul et Mad Nin-Shar opens in an intensive and rich manner the very moment I apply it. It immediately burst with a splash of tart bergamot that in my case disappears as fast as it appears. It’s just a blink of an eye. Just then I can smell the accord described as rose liquor. This is a very accurate description as I smell the alcoholic richness (a bit like rum) blended with dark and mysterious rose. Funny thing is that my skin somehow gives it a very delicate cherry undertone. After 20-25 minutes the perfume starts to develop more and more body. First it happens with davana accord. I’m not very fond of the note but here it entwines with liquory rose close enough.

Before the fragrance continues to evolve it takes over 45 minutes. That’s when rose starts to smell kaleidoscopic, multifaceted and complex. Nin-Shar contains a rose absolute obtained from Turkish rose. It’s very rich, pungent but at the same time very sensual and elegant. And it’s the best absolute of rose Jul et Mad could get as it comes from Robertet, which is renowned for highest quality of rose essences. Hand in hand with this amazing rose comes the jasmine flower. It makes the floral bouquet grow bigger, their smell amplified. Little indolic part brings a dramatic facet worth of Byzantine era. Once I smell it, I’m trapped, enslaved. It’s so luscious and erotic as hell.

Interesting thing about new Nin-Shar fragrance is that it’s a real shape-shifter. Not only regarding the composition that evolves with time but it’s also influenced by the person who wears it. As I was spending my time with Julien and Madalina all of us wore this fragrance and on each of us it smelled different. Beautiful rose was in unison for all of us, but other notes were playing differently. In my case it was the patchouli that had the most echoing voice. They used a selected fraction in this Les White perfume. Thanks to that process it lacks the unpleasant rotting leaves odour but smells purely earthy/woody in a pretty way that was more than acceptable for someone like me, who doesn’t like patchouli in their daily fragrance. I’m enjoying it, slowly falling for it badly.

Patchouli & rose concoction makes me swoon for the next couple of hours without taking any drastic, noticeable changes. Not earlier than after 5 hours of wearing Nin-Shar it begins to move towards its own base notes. First sign of that is the fast that the composition becomes even more substantial. The perfume “gains weight” mainly with the woody accords of cedarwood and sandalwood. Both have been presented here in more realistic way, with their roughness and some of dirty naughtiness as well. There’s also a bit of oud to make this Jul et Mad fragrance more shady.

At some point these woods become remarkably smoother thanks to the balsamic note of benzoin that makes the woody part smell more round and sophisticated. Benzoin is a carrier of pleasant balmy richness that has been sweetened with a hint of vanilla. Tandem of benzoin and vanilla is quite common and it usually never fails. It certainly didn’t fail in Nin-Shar. Final touch to this perfume is a smoky yet transparent-ish incense accord that calms this perfume blend and allows it to slowly fade away.

Nin-Shar is one out of three fragrances that build Jul et Mad Les White collection. Common question at Esxence was – “why Les White?” It’s because their name is Blanchard (Blanche – white), friends started calling them Les White and since this collection represents their fascination for old cultures, it’s like their DNA, so it stayed like that, Les White. Nin-Shar is an extrait de parfum developed by perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur. Trio will be available as of May in Love Dose format, as a collectible edition (50ml flacon with gold frame, gold Nomad travel spray in white lacquered box) and as simplified edition (called Love Basic, matte glass finish instead of gold, no travel spray included, neat carton box). Personally I found the Love Basic to be enough gold details for me. If you’re looking for rich, intensive rose of oriental background, something that lasts for 14 hours and projects like an invisible veil behind you, Nin-Shar is for you.

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