martes, octubre 16, 2018

StClair Scents - Frost, Fresh Cut and Gardner's Glove



For those of you who, just like me, spent their childhood on the countryside, surrounded by green fields, open land, orchards and colorful gardens of vegetables and flowers, StClair Scents will be like taking a wonderful trip down memory lane. Even if you are not aware of Diane's inspiration from the surroundings of her homeland, the sense of natural you get from the first burst of small particles that gently touch your skin is utterly vivid... The nature is almost palpable.
StClair is a simple, uncomplicated, natural smelling line of fragrances that create an evocative image of being in the nature breathing it through all of your pores. This is what i like to call honest perfumery - perfumes that don't pretend to be more than they are, and that succeed in creating an all natural effect without falling into the aromatherapy oils category.
Owner of a homestead creamery called Animal Farm, in Orwell, Vermont, that produces high quality butter, Diane decided to launch StClair Scents - an indie line composed of three fragrances for the moment. (Boy, many things come to mind when hearing Animal Farm and Orwell in the same sentence - especially when growing up in a communist country!) 

Frost (bergamot, mandarin, coriander, petigrain blossom, Meyer lemon, honeysuckle, rose geranium, elderflower, petitgrain, cistus, labdanum, vanilla, vetiver, cedar, smoke and clove) is a smoky herbal fragrance inspired by the poet Robert Frost and the verses of his To Earthward:


Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air


That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of—was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they're gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.

 Unlike the sensuality of the poem, Frost is a cold and crispy fragrance, warm only at base where speckles of a cozy amber make are hiding in the shadows of a smoky and spicy geranium, just like a late Autumn day when the metallic feeling of dark and cold meets spots of sunshine. Although it's not my type of fragrance i can't stand indifferent in front of its artistry, especially of its swirls in between the cold of the entry and the warm spiciness of the base, the transition is beautifully composed and fascinating. 

First Cut (bergamot, yuzu, rosemary, basil, tomato leaf, lavender, rose de mai, rose geranium, immortelle, hay, tobacco, oakmoss and vanilla) opens with a burst of aromatic citruses - creating one if the most realistic and natural aroma of zesty hesperides i experienced, followed by a dry vibe of a haylike tobacco that wears a honeyish aura. The dry down reminds me of Mown by Hendley taking off the smoky effect and adding a subtle hint of vanilla. 

Gardener's Glove (Meyer lemon, tomato leaf, galbanum, bergamot, jasmine sambac, apricot, black currant bud, linden blossom, lily, rose, leather, saffron, patchouli, amber, vetiver, benzoin, castoreum and fir needle) it's a special fragrance and the one that touched me the most with its nostalgic waves. A bunch of flowers hold by an astringent greenery of the tomato leaves, covering a butyraceous leather that bring memories of my grandfather's old leather gardening gloves. The slight bitterness of the tomato leaves makes the fragrance to be as interesting it is and to differentiate it from the other leather fragrances i know.

As far as i know Diane is interested in creating and adding a new fragrance to the line, one inspired by her other passion - the animals, which i hope it will be just as good as the others are.

StClair Scents are available on the official website at 65$ for 13ml, and a sample set for 18$.

Samples provided by Diane, opinions are my own. I don't get paid for my reviews.

viernes, septiembre 28, 2018

The Lover's Tale by Francesca Bianchi


"This is a story of by-gone times about a secret encounter of lovers. It represents the contradictions between sense and sensibility, pruderie and passion. The lovers are full of desire but their education holds them back."

Picture taken by me. The Kiss by Klimt. 


If you are expecting The Lover's Tale to be some sort of Romeo and Juliet, The Kiss by Klimt or another romantic love story represented in perfume accords, then you couldn't be more wrong.
Characterized by a certain amount of wildness, The Lover's Tale is only romantic in a primal way, and it could easily pass as a Zoologist release if named Tiger. 

The Lover's Tale is not an easy going fragrance - it's intense, it screams and it may result disturbing for people that are not used to or are not into animalics (read fecal), especially in the opening, where the leather accord is potentiated by castoreum and jasmine, with honeyed specks of an half-hidden violet, that creates an indolic aura around the scent.
This is not a "fine pair of gloves or a new bag" type of leather - it's more of the "Tarzan's and Jane's splendor-in-a-jasmine-bush that would make Cheetah blush" kind.

I can easily see the vintage Cuir de Russie by Chanel inspiration that Sergey Borisov mentioned in his Fragrantica article, an almost fecal leather that could make even an elephant faint with its funkiness.
The barnyard odor easily noticed in most of the leather fragrances comes from the combination of various animal-smelling ingredients, one of them being the birch tar, that gives the specific tarry smell that the Russian leather* has. 

The leather accord in The Lover's Tale mimics at its best the Russian one, but, in this case it's well mannered despite its rawness and it dominates the fragrance from head to toe passing from noisy to muffled, from an image to another while it interact with the rest of the ingredients.
After an immense opening, where it settles as the protagonist, the leather develops under the wings of a slightly oily and powdery floral gathering that adds a fluffy texture to the composition smoothing it and preparing it for the warm base, where a deep labdanum lays. The presence of a ripe peach that levitate like an invisible veil above a silent oakmoss stands as a stark reminder of another great classic - Mitsouko by Guerlain, but contrary to this great chypre, in The Lover's Tale's dry down the presence of both, the sandalwood and the labdanum, gives a sense of calm and richness, and places the leather in a secondary position where is wrapped in a soft mimosa that ads a baby-back-head smell.

In conclusion, The Lover's Tale is dense and it has pointed teeth, is strong and daring, and it doesn't melt into the wearer skin becoming one like it happens in Under my Skin case. It's a leather fragrance for the bold ones whose elements combine to perfection to create this powerful potion that sets a high standard for the others of its kind.

The Lover's Tale will be released by the end of October 2018.


*Russian leather distinguish from the other types of leathers by the very difficult to replicate process of manufacturing. First, the leather is tanned using tree bark. The whole process takes five weeks to complete - the leather is soaked in tanbark (it takes 2880 liters of it for 150 hides of raw leather) with agitation twice a day and replacement of the tan once a week. After the tanning the process continues with oiling of the leather by birch oil which is applied on the rear face of the leather. Russian leather was a major export product in Russia in the 17th and 18th centuries due to its high quality and variety of uses. The birch tar was also used for a long time by the Russian soldiers to tan and to waterproof their boots. Cuir de Russie is linked to Coco's affair with the Grand Duke - Dimitri Pavlovich Romano, and it was created in 1925 by Ernest Beaux who most definitely used materials, like musk, that are completely prohibited nowadays to recreate the leather accord. Recreated in 1983 by Jacques Polge, the actual Cuir de Russie is a toned down version of what it was.


Sample provided by Francesca Bianchi, opinions are my own.