Now Sampling: February 2017

Like most perfumistas, I collect fragrance samples. (I have a spreadsheet to keep track of all of them.) It would be impossible to write about every single one. And, let’s be honest, not every single scent merits an entire write-up either. But, I did a Luckyscent haul at the beginning of the year and I’d like to do a short bit about a few scents that were interesting. Hopefully, I’ll do these posts periodically throughout the year to keep track of what I’m currently testing.

Blackpepper by Comme des Garçons

I’m in a black pepper mood, what with Poivre Electrique from Atelier Cologne and now this from CdG. Luckily they are two very different takes on the same theme, and this one is perfect for the dreary winter weather we’ve been having lately. Blackpepper is a warm and rich take on a cool spice, with heavy doses of patchouli and cedar. For such deep notes, it wears very close to the skin. I really enjoy it, but this is not a huge one for sillage or longevity.

Intense Café by Montale

I will try almost anything that relates to coffee or has coffee/cafe in the name. Similar to Café Rose from Tom Ford, Intense Café is a gourmand rose scent to me. The coffee note here is mixed with vanilla, and is more like a rich vanilla latte from Starbucks than the bitter coffee note I’m looking for. Intense Café is very pretty, and very long-lasting, too. But my search for my ideal coffee fragrance continues.

Gold Leaves by Regime des Fleurs

Sometimes there just has to be a scrubber in the mix. The description and the notes for Gold Leaves sound gorgeous, including: iris, oakmoss, and cardamom essential oil — sounds interesting! On my skin, it’s a strange lily note and absolutely nothing else. It’s a scratchy, eye-watering, allergy-inducing, chemical lily. I’m sure Gold Leaves works better with other people’s skin chemistry. It’s just not for me.

Vetiver de Java by Il Profumo

This is the kind of masculine scent I love and wear for myself. The vetiver is very green, mixed with a strong cedar note. However, on my skin, this isn’t a deep smoky woody scent. It leans more green/soapy in that traditional English after-shave type of scent (all that’s missing here is the lavender note). It strikes the perfect balance for me between clean and woody, and this is going to be my transition scent as we head into spring weather.


As stated, I purchased all of these samples from Luckyscent.

Photo taken by me.

Rousse by Serge Lutens

Notes: amber, Mandarin orange, cloves, resin, cinnamon, and cedar.

Rousse is a special one to me. It was initially released in 2007 and it is sadly now only available as part of the exclusive Serge Lutens bell jar line. I suppose it wasn’t a terribly big seller. On the one hand, I can understand why. But, on the other, I love Rousse. It’s the perfect type of warm spice you’d want to wear in the doldrums of January/February. And it’s my go-to for Valentine’s Day.

I was lucky enough to snag my 50 ml spray bottle shortly before it was announced that Rousse was moving to the bell jar line. You can see it has the old Serge Lutens Palais Royal logo, which I love. I still have a substantial amount left. The juice has definitely changed over the years but, like a fine wine, Rousse has aged well. The fiery hot cinnamon is still very present. It always reminds me of Red Hots and various Valentine’s Day candies.

Rousse was initially famous for a waxy lipstick note paired with the cinnamon. It’s much less waxy now. I find it has developed into a warm rich musk and something like orris butter. I can’t find any specific floral notes listed for Rousse. (Least of all on the Serge Lutens website. Uncle Serge is always cryptic.) I’m guessing there’s a touch of iris and some kind of white floral. Kafkaesque guesses that it’s magnolia, which makes sense to my nose. Whatever the floral note, it’s become much more prominent and creamy over time.

Overall I think Rousse has become a little bit more smooth with time. It still has a quirky edge to it though, so it’s not completely mellow. That cinnamon still crackles right off of the skin with heat and intensity. The supporting notes seem to have become more rich and creamy, as though Rousse has now grown into itself. If you happen to track Rousse down, it’s absolutely worth it. There are so many greats from Christopher Sheldrake and Serge Lutens, but this one is a real gem.


Rousse is available directly from Serge Lutens in the 75 ml bell jar bottle.

Image taken by me. Info on notes from Fragrantica.

Galop d’Hermès


Notes: saffron, quince, osmanthus, rose, leather, and white musk.

Galop was released in 2016, and it marks Christine Nagel’s first pillar fragrance for Hermès after Jean-Claude Ellena’s departure. (She did create Eau de Rhubarbe Ecalarte while Ellena was still with Hermès.) I’ve been so interested to try this release but, as with most things Hermès and considering that it’s a parfum concentration, it’s rather pricey. I finally got a small decant for myself, and I’ve been testing it for the past few weeks.

On my skin, Galop actually opens right away with the leather note. There’s no leading up to it, the leather immediately takes center stage. This leather is definitely elegant, but it has a strength to it at this opening stage. I see people commenting on Fragrantica saying that this is a “masculine” leather and perhaps that’s what they mean. To me, it’s the leather of a saddlery here. You can clearly see the Hermès heritage but it’s not quite the refined leather of a Birkin. Not yet. This leather has a peppery bite to it, and just a tiny bit of a wild edge.

Of course this is Hermès, so Galop is going to be about sophistication above all. That opening leather note never turns too harsh, and the rose and the fruit notes quickly come into play to balance it out. I get a jammy vibe from the quince. It’s almost like a blackcurrant jam. It adds some texture to this composition without becoming foody or gourmand. The jammy fruit texture makes the rose comes across as both rich but also delicate by contrast.

In fact, Galop is all about contrast. The leather and the rose are both equally the stars of the show here. As I wear Galop, the rose and leather intertwine with one another, both coming across as strong and delicate in different moments. As mentioned, Galop is a parfum concentration. It has excellent sillage and projection during the first few hours of wear time before noticeably drying down to a skin scent. Some people may want a little more projection out of this one, but I don’t mind because the leather is beautiful in the skin scent stage. The dry down has a refined yet alluring sensuality to it that is both very Hermès and very Christine Nagel.

I love Galop d’Hermès and I’ve gone through my decant alarmingly quickly. I’m still not sure about a full-sized bottle. Again, Hermès is always an investment and, I have to admit, I find the stirrup bottle a bit gimmicky. But, if anything, Galop makes me more excited for future Hermès releases from Christine Nagel. She nailed it in this case.


Galop d’Hermès is available directly from Hermès and in person at boutiques and counters. It’s a parfum extrait concentration, and is available in the stirrup bottle and a refill bottle. I purchased my small decant from The Perfumed Court.

Image and the info on notes are both from Fragrantica.