There are very few occasions when I well and truly dislike a perfume, but I do have what I’d call a scent profile. In general, I gravitate toward the woody orientals and away from fresh florals, and of course this fact will bias all my opinions of fragrances that I come across.
These days the main way I procure new scent is through samples, and to get my samples I either go to a sample provider or get them through a subscription service. Sadly, Japan (where I live) is not really a scent culture, so I don’t have much brick and mortar experience.
Anyway, although I feel sample sizes don’t offer enough volume of fragrance to determine whether or not I can fall in love with a scent, they are often more than enough to tell me whether or not it’s a “me” scent. Over the past couple of years I’ve been collecting sample sized perfumes and now have what I feel is starting to become a collection of sorts. There are only a small few out of that pile that have made it to a love-at-first-sniff list, which is not surprising. But what is surprising is when I procure sets of several perfumes all from one company and nothing really grabs me.
The following are three companies with which I was disappointed, not due to the objective quality of their fragrances, but simply because not one of them managed to float by boat. Of course, if your tastes differ from mine – you absolutely adore florals in particular – at least a few of these might be massive winners in your book. I’ve not gone into great detail regarding the scent structure for this post – for that you can visit their websites or head over to Fragrantica (where you will definitely find happier customers than me!).
1000 Flowers is a niche house founded by perfumer Jessica Buchanan, who was driven by the ideal of “beauty in balance.” The formula of the first perfume, Réglisse Noire, was created in Grasse France, where Jessica learned the art of perfumery working at Mane and Robertet (oh la la!). As I love the ideal of more eco-friendly perfume as well as the fact that the company hails from Canada (my nation of origin), I bought her 5-piece sample set of the entire line from the website.
- Fleur No. 1 smells fresh and green but acidic – what I imagine skunk pee might be like (on a good day). It’s also very old lady to me – too old school floral.
- Réglisse Noire (black licorice) is a bit plastic-y and minty. I’m not a mint fan – on lip products, yes – but not in perfume. The licorice is very much present and is tasty, but it fades fast. I thought I would like this more than I did, since I quite like Lolita Lempicka and Blue Sugar (Aquolina) but although there was a lot of deliscious black licorice in this for me, I guess it was the mint vibe? Hats off to Jessica for blending an anise vibe with vetiver-y florals, though!
- Narcotic Flowers reminds me in way of Bubblegum by Heeley (due to the jasmine and tuberose) or 100% Love by S-Perfume (it must be the chocolate-cherry vomit vibe) – loud and sweet and medicinal. It’s actually rather well-made, but too sweet and floral for me. I think this one should be worn with caution, like all white floral based scents.
- Love is Sweet is neither rose and iris in full unabashed bloom nor a handful of wilting petals; it’s a decent balance of florals peppered with a dusting of cinnamon and vanilla sprinkles. There are violets in there, too, which all make my allergies want to flare up.
- Ode for Him to me was the most wearable of the 5 scents. I feel it is more unisex than masculine, with notes of coriander, cardamom, and a bit of rose and oudiness. Nothing for me personally to jump up and down about though, and to me all these fragrances have less than average longevity and sillage.
Jessica also does bespoke perfumes, which I think would be the cat’s meow if it is at all possible for a perfumer to really anticipate what a customer will love. Maybe it is possible, but I’m not yet convinced!
CognoScenti is “for those who know,” however you care to interpret that. Because this house has received several awards, from their website I decided to purchase their sample set, which includes their whole line – no.1 (Bergamot Sage), no.8 (Aldehylic Oakmoss), no.16 (Tomato Leather), no.17 (Civet Chypre), and no.19 (Warm Carrot). I admit I did go through no. 8 and no. 17 quickly, so they cannot have been unpleasant (sorry – I can’t remember what they smelled like, which says something?) but the remaining three I still have are either nothing much to sniff at or too out there, in my opinion. For me, no. 1 is too soapy, no. 16 too tomato-y, and no. 19 too carrot-y. Obviously I am not one who likes to smell of either soap or vegetables. The veggie replications were very unique, however! I would imagine that is what earned CognoScenti the awards. Definite points for that!
Lili Bermuda is an old perfume house, with the earliest scent created in 1932 and the newest in 2013. The fragrances were made in collaboration with perfumers David Bothello, Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone, Vito Lenoci and Jean-Claude Delville. I got their pretty Scent Library as a gift one year from my parents, who had visited – you guessed it – Bermuda. Of the eleven vials that came in the set, I have only half used one, and that’s because I was feeling grubby one day and found a just-in-case vial in my purse.
The fragrances included in the package included fragrances called Coral, Pink, Lily, Petals, Oleander, Passion Flower, Alegria, Paradise, Fresh Water, South Water and Calypso. If you take a wee visit to their website, they encourage you to “try them all to see which ones suit you best.” In my case the answer was none. How so? Well, I’m not up for outlining all 11 profiles here, but suffice it to say that they were simply all too pretty and soft and lacking in any umph or uniqueness, and though I cannot confirm for sure, having not really used them for a full test run, my guess is that based simply on the notes, they are not powerhouses in the longevity and sillage areas, either.
They all have a fresh, floral, summery feel to them, so they’d be appropriate for the hot and humid summer weather where I currently live in southern Kyushu (yes, I moved out of Tokyo!). Perhaps I will wear them to see if others might appreciate them more than I. I have a feeling that might be the case, since as I sniff them now, they definitely impart a feeling of quality, and for the price at which they retail, they bloody well should!