Category Archives: perfume review

Solar Romance, Van Cleef & Arpels Néroli Amara

There’s a hint of romanticism in the fact that orange flowers have been nicknamed as ‘neroli’ after Anne Marie Orsini – a princess of Nerola, Italy in 17th century popularized its use by scenting her gloves and bath with the essence of bitter orange tree blossoms. For me neroli was one of the first aroma materials I explored after discovering a wider world of perfumery. After all these years I still hold it dear and continue to enjoy smelling the fragrances that feature this essence. It’s usually quite cold, citrus-flowery with orange-green tinge. Newest addition to Van Cleef & Arpels high-end range of Collection Extraordinaire is a more romantic, graceful and subtle take on this white flower.

After applying Neroli Amara on the skin, it blooms slowly just like a flower that reveals its beauty gradually. First aroma that reaches my nose is a delicately zesty lemon. It’s quite subdued and not very juicy but more tart instead. After a couple of minutes bergamot joins the composition. When its tangy, bittery aroma marries with lemon zestiness the perfume starts to smell slightly different, reminiscent of Nimm 2 candy – there’s both sweet & sour flavors present at the tip of the tongue simultaneously. Once mandarin arrives at the scene it makes everything around softer.

The latter one reduces that light sharpness of lemon and bergamot – even though both are rather quiet on the skin it could be perceived when smelling Neroli Amara close to the skin surface. Mandarin makes the blend sweeter, slightly more juicy and there’s also a powdery backnote that smells a bit like albedo (the white part under the peel). Despite the fact that so far we’re only dealing with citrus fruit if I were to determine the color matching Neroli Amara I’d say pastel green. As the perfume develops a cypress accord is revealed and it starts to play on the green aspect.

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Cypress in Van Cleef & Arpels Neroli Amara is a source of an aromatic wave that adds more color to the scent. When you smell it, it goes deep inside your nose and makes you want to make a big breath, as if you felt more relaxed and at ease. Thanks to it pleasant shade the green feels more saturated. Not a pastel green anymore but a darker shade. Then finally neroli appears, or to be more precise it’s finally becoming more crystallized. Earlier it was somewhere far in the background which made it not that easy to notice. Now it’s taking more central place in this perfume.

‘Surprise, surprise!’ neroli would say if it could speak… Where is its diffusiveness? Where is its airiness? Cold splash of freshness? No, none of these give shape to Neroli Amara. It smells more oily instead of diffusive and stays relatively close to the skin. Its white floral vibe reminds me more of a light jasmine accord with a delicate taste of pear. Could it be that it’s because it was an absolute of orange blossom that was used by a perfumer? Black and pink pepper add a sparkly fizziness that provides a little lift up. Spicy portion of warmth rests comfortably on a soft musky base.

New Neroli Amara from Van Cleef & Arpels makes me a little upset. I thought I’d love it and that a bottle of it would join the other 4 compositions that I have from this brand. Don’t get the wrong idea – this really is a wonderful perfume but not quite how I imagined it. I thought it would be more diffusive and lively while in fact it’s more quiet and shy. It’s also relatively simple but that’s not an issue for me. Perfumer Quentin Bisch didn’t make me fall in love with it but he still did a good job. The sillage is low and after 2-3 hours I stop noticing it (but others do!) I’ll happily use my decant anyway.

[note] photo is a courtesy of W. Rennebaum on Parfumo; all rights reserved

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Emerald Flicker, Les Liquides Imaginaires Succus

A beautiful sunny morning. You open up your eyes as you wake up and the moment you do that you realize you’re in the heart of the forest. It’s summer time so you’re feeling a bit lazy and not in a rush to actually get out of bed. The next moment your still sleepy eyes gaze up into the sky and you’re in awe. You see the light filtering through the crowns of the trees, shadows flickering among the leaves. So simple yet so breathtaking and beautiful. What if I told you that you don’t have to only imagine this picture but you can also smell it! With Les Liquides Imaginaires Succus it’s possible.

Succus greets the wearer with a delightful scent of rhubarb. Its tartness and crispness are absolutely mouth-watering & I immediately want to smile thanks to it. After around 5 minutes it develops a slightly sour but still very appealing flavor with a little bit of a green tint to it. Shortly after a wonderful mandarin appears, spilling its delectably sweet juiciness all over the place. The combination of these 2 works really well, creating the energetic bomb you just want to eat. After a while Succus changes its character a bit. When laurel joins the composition a new dry & dusted facet appears. I have to admit it smells pretty and harmonious next to mandarin and rhubarb.

Some time later the verdancy of Succus becomes more prominent but no matter the moment I smell it, I continue to perceive it as pastel green rather than bright green. Rosemary gives a fantastic touch of aromatic facets – it smells quite airy and spacious, outdoorsy. Afterwards juniper adds some of its own fragrance. That one is also green but also has a light metallic undertone you could associate with gin. Sage and cedar leaf give Succus a slightly more masculine character through their powdery/dusty impressions. At this point grapefruit also appears – its citrusy bitterness has more of a zesty effect compared to more juicy mandarin. It’s also not sweaty which is a good thing.

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As hours pass I notice how a mild spiciness builds up in Les Liquides Imaginaires Succus. It’s first revealed through a lemony fizziness of ginger and later also black pepper joins the ensemble. The warmth they effuse is rather solar and bright, they definitely haven’t been set up in a more heavy context. At some point a tropical floral note arrives at the main stage. Orchid that is featured in this fragrance is really something else. It’s slightly sweet and more creamy. It’s tropical but not exotic (if you know what I mean) and definitely adds a vivid color to the scent. Orchid is also slightly vanillic but way less dense than vanilla itself. Succus becomes more charming with time.

Drydown of Succus is mainly woody but also provides quite a lot of complexity. Firstly there’s vetiver but it smells neither dry nor grassy. It’s way more woody-solid than I’d expect. It has a pleasant smoothness that helps mandarin to come out more – it’s like vetiver becoming a background to the juicy fruit from before. Texas cedar gives more substantivity to the blend while frankincense creates a contrasting layer of balsamic ‘airiness’. It’s smoky in a great way but also light. There’s also a musky element via Moxalone and clear woodiniess via Georgywood (Givaudan molecules). I especially liked this vetiver-mandarin effect that gave Succus an uplifting vibe.

Les Liquides Imaginaires launched Succus as part of a perfume trilogy called Eau Arborante and this particular creation was meant to evoke the crowns of trees. I truly love this idea and how well it’s been executed by a perfumer – Shyamala Maisondieu. Succus really makes you feel as if you were sitting on top of a giant tree. Longevity and sillage of this creation are very good. Succus is available in 100 ml bottles and in eau de parfum concentration. If only smaller flacon was offered by the brand I wouldn’t hesitate to get it as I’m really into this perfume. It’s a great addition to summer wardrobe.

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