Comparative Perfumery

I posted this photo and a little summary on my instagram, but I wanted to do a more in-depth post here on the blog.

I recently ordered a sample of Casablanca from St. Clair Scents, which is an indie artisanal brand based in Vermont. Diane St. Clair is the perfumer. Casablanca is the newest release for 2018 and it’s definitely a winter-appropriate scent. You can tell just by looking at the juice in the bottle, this scent is a rich and intensive experience.

Soon after first applying and testing Casablanca, I was reminded of Baptême du Feu from Serge Lutens, which I recently wrote about. Both scents have a striking animalic undercurrent. They have a dark vibe, a sort of dark fairy tale. I decided to wear one on each arm and do a little comparison test.

The result is that they are definitely not dupes of each other, but I feel they are in the same family. Baptême du Feu leans more foodie. There is a gingerbread note and the familiar Lutens dried fruit note. It’s not quite gourmand, but it’s a well-rounded composition and feels very festive for this time of year. Casablana is not foodie at all. It opens with some lovely citrus notes that bring a real radiance to the composition. This bright radiance balances out the deep animalic notes, which include civet and hyrax. Casablanca is really an animalic scent for me. There are white floral notes in the heart, including jasmine and tuberose. But the animalic notes are most present on my skin.

The animalic note in Baptême du Feu is castoreum, and it has a dark oily undercurrent for me. The hyrax and civet in Casablanca are also dark and have a black oiliness to them, like oily animal fur. It’s sensual, but it goes even further than that. It’s like an unnamed beast lurking outside the castle grounds. This is the dark fairytale aspect. It’s the theme of a beast that cannot be named but is undeniably present.

My favorite book from 2018, The Essex Serpent, deals with similar themes: the fear of a medieval beast re-appearing to wreak havoc in the present day. Both Baptême du Feu and Casablanca recall these medieval kind of superstitions. Both scents feel appropriate right now, as we come to the winter solstice and the darkest day of the year. But, ultimately, these scents and The Essex Serpent aren’t about fear, but about wonder and awe related to the unknown out in nature.


I got my sample of Baptême du Feu from Luckyscent (and I have now completely drained it!)

I ordered my sample of Casablanca directly from St. Clair Scents.

The Essex Serpent was published in the US in 2017 but I did not read it until this year. I highly recommend it!

7 thoughts on “Comparative Perfumery

  1. Love that you were able to try Casablanca!!!! My favorite release of 2018!!!!! On my skin it reads like an unctuous luxurious orange blossom with black currant, citrus and honey….I get a bit of the animalic as well….so heartbreakingly beautiful….and even on my scent devouring skin one spray lasts all day. Gorgeous stuff.

    Now I am off to read your post on Bapteme du Feu 🙂

    1. OOOO! and dying to know if you just ordered Casablanca or a discovery set which has her three other fragrances? I have tried them all and have a bottle of First Cut at home.

      1. I ordered a sample of Casablanca and a sample of Frost, which I also love. I know you love First Cut so I’ll have to try that as well sometime! I was trying to limit my samples, as I want plenty of time to actually wear them. (Plus I have a couple DSH Perfumes samples now too!)

    2. I am so glad I got to try Casablanca, too! Thanks for mentioning St. Clair Scents to me!! Oooh, how interesting, it sounds like it wears a little differently on you. I don’t get much orange blossom. Maybe in different weather I’ll get more florals!

      1. Yes, I think the weather plays a part in how it reads as well. I will give it a try in warmer weather as well. I am wearing it today because of your post and also because for me it is my favorite release of 2018 and I want to wear it a few more times before we hit 2019!
        And happy Holidays, Caitlin!

        1. Casablanca is just beautiful! I wore Fille en Aiguilles today but I’ll have to make time for Casablanca before the end of the year, too! ❤️

          Thank you, Brigitte! And Happy Holidays to you, too!! I’m trying to get one more post in before Christmas (my DSH sampling) but we shall see if I get it done this weekend!

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