It’s fantastic! Swaptastic!


I don’t know about you but for me swaps and perfume splits are the best and most efficient (and friendly!) ways to discover new things. As an unexperienced perfumista I usually participated in splits but as I gained some trust in local perfume communities I started offering parts of the scent I wanted to add to my collection. In fact a greater part of my wardrobe consists of partial bottles. Then came the swapping – a funny way of giving away something you probably didn’t love strong enough to keep and receiving in exchange something that the other person didn’t mind parting with. I made some friends that way and even though I don’t do as many splits or swaps than a few years ago but both still bring me a lot of joy and fun when they happen. It’s always an exciting thrill.

I especially love to exchange things with fellow bloggers because not only do we get to try perfume from brands that are hard or even impossible to try where we live but we also exchange opinions and sometimes fall in love with the new findings. But I want to tell you about this particularly lovely story. Just a week before I was departing on my holidays Now Smell This was holding another Splitmeet (15th in their history). I put up a list of fragrances I thought deserve a better home but I wasn’t hoping for much. Most NST readers are from the US and knowing how hard it is to send a perfume across the ocean they just don’t do that. Imagine my surprise when I got an email from someone who offered Memo Winter Palace for one of the fragrances I offered. And not just a large sample (™ – Hajusuuri) or a decant but almost a full bottle. I’ve been thinking about Winter Palace since I reviewed it and this was my chance to invite a dragon to my house. We agreed on the swap. Fast forward a couple of weeks and both sides were happy owners of new perfume we dreamed of having. I appreciate the effort and risk she took to mail it from the US. Thank you once more!

I promise to give a good and loving forever home to your Memo Winter Palace.

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Walking on Air, Jul et Mad Stairway to Heaven

I have a special connection with Jul et Mad since my early days as a perfumista. I remember receiving one sample in a swap and I liked it so much that I decided to send an message to a generic contact email of the brand. I got a reply from Madalina who was so sweet to send me travel sprays of their first 3 releases. When I first went to Esxence in 2014, they were one of the first brands I met. I also fell in love with Aqua Sextius then. But Jul et Mad haven’t released a new perfume since 2017. One wonders what Julien and Madalina could’ve been doing during this silent time in perfume universum. Recently they’ve been hiking in the Himalayas, on their way to conquer Annapurna they found happiness, inner peace and also inspiration for a new fragrance.

Stairway to Heaven opens with a peaceful and quiet manner. Aldehydes are the first to make way to my nose as the most volatile. They quickly start to fizz on the skin creating the impression of cleanliness. During the next couple of minutes the aldehydic fizziness becomes stronger surrounding the wearer with airy purity. Lurking far in the background is a slightly sweet scent – something like maltol, evoking candy floss. This delicate sugary facet blends in nicely with the aldehydes, giving this perfume a twist that nobody else could’ve expected from a fragrance that starts like this one.

Through its entire lifespan new Jul et Mad composition remains a clean scent however at different stages some different interpretations of clean are being revealed. After some time orange and bergamot join Stairway to Heaven at the top to mix things up. They create very specific feeling on my skin. I get no juice or fragrant peel at all. Instead I recognize a citric fruitiness that is exceptionally dry. It’s a muted note that to my nose feels powdery and starchy. Even thought there’s a bit of fatty undertones, I know it’s clean. But it’s dangerously close to a fabric detergent powder territory.


Close to 1 hour mark the perfume starts to shift and floral notes rise to the surface after the aldehydes dissipate, making more space. I can smell a nicely balanced orris accord that maintains a constant equilibrium between powdery purity & buttery richness. When I smell this particulat phase of Stairway to Heaven and think of the most suitable color to represent it, only white or light grey come to my mind. Rose note appears later and adds some color but nothing more vibrant than light pink. But this hue goes well with red berries accord that follows. They are somewhat frozen and they make me think of cranberry or blueberry – it’s not as full of flavor as blackberry or raspberry.

Delicate flowery facet of heliotrope blends with its own milkiness to create a fragrant cotton sheet – plain canvas to paint on with scent. Flossy maltol feeling comes back to me like a boomerang but now it’s more vanillic, sweet in a smoother, more sensual way. Jul et Mad Stairway to Heaven in the drydown is like a soundless explosion of clean fluffs of cotton, linen. Thanks to 8 white musks used in the composition you can feel as if you were surrounded by soft clouds. Cashmeran and Ambroxan make everything more cuddly and warm. Modern patchouli fraction provides long-lasting effect. A gentle hint of smokiness comes from frankincense and Dynamon molecule (gunpowder).

Stairway to Heaven from Jul et Mad is an unexpectedly good new release from this brand. I’m not a fan of white musks in general but to own surprise I like it more than expected. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that musks and aldehydes here become more sheer, translucent over time and they have a fruited and honeyed effect that I find appealing. Coincidentally I liked another musky overdose released this year – my impressions of Chanel 1957 were also enthusiastic. This neo-musk fragrance was composed by perfumer Cecile Zarokian who also did my favorite Aqua Sextius. Stairway to Heaven lasts all day and after initial pungence becomes a calm skin scent. This extrait de parfum is available in 50 ml bottles of 2 formats (luxury or basic) and in 7 ml travel spray.

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