Olibanum by Profumum

Notes: orange blossom, sandalwood, incense, and myrrh.

I’ve tested several scents from Profumum over the years (and even written about some here and here). I have liked each and every scent I’ve tested. There doesn’t seem to be a dud in the bunch! Olibanum is yet another winner. The only problem is that Profumum Roma is a niche brand from, you guessed it, Rome. It’s not the easiest to find here in the US. It’s fairly pricey as well. The brand now offers an 18 ml travel size for $83 which Luckyscent carries. The 100 ml size is better value for money, but that travel size might be how I acquire my first Profumum scent, and Olibanum is a potential contender.

As you can guess from the name, Olibanum is a resinous, incense-focused fragrance. Indeed, it opens with a very true-to-life incense note. It’s like walking into a yoga studio and recognizing that they’re burning the good incense. It’s not smoky or acrid. It’s not plasticky or synthetic. It’s just true incense. This is a dry, yet well-rounded composition. The other notes come through sparingly, but they do their job in supporting incense as the star of the show.

Looking at the notes, I expected to smell orange blossom first. I expected a clean white floral scent. However, this orange blossom is actually very citrus-driven and more like true petitgrain from the leaves rather than the orange blossom itself. It’s a zesty yet dry orange citrus note that blends with the incense to give a bit of life, a bit of vivacity to the composition. It’s not floral at all though. I find that this citrus note comes through more on the skin rather than testing on paper. And it comes through as you wear it, rather than as a top note.

Sandalwood is also listed, and this is not your typical creamy sandalwood. This is not Santal Blush. Again, it’s as dry as can be. My nose reads it more as cedar than sandalwood. But then, I love cedar so much, my brain could wish it into any composition! Regardless, this piece of the composition serves as a dry woody anchor for the resinous incense to play off of. Just today, I tried layering Olibanum with Jo Malone’s Wood Sage and Sea Salt, and it is delicious! The woody notes are intensified and the grapefruit note in WS&SS plays well with the bitter orange blossom of Olibanum.

Of course, you don’t need to layer Olibanum. It’s a stunning fragrance on its own. However, it’s very somber and contemplative. This is incense, after all, the scent of sitting in quiet meditation or prayer. I do get church vibes, but I grew up Catholic. I will always get Catholic mass vibes from incense. If you don’t want to project Catholic mass vibes, layering Olibanum with a more floral or fruity composition is probably a good idea. On its own, Olibanum is a stark but beautiful fragrance. It makes an impression with few notes. It’s meant for reflection, and it’s gorgeous at this time of year. It’s definitely worth testing, as are so many scents from this line.

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Profumum is available from Luckyscent in the US, which is where I ordered my sample of Olibanum.

The info on notes is from Fragrantica.

The photo is of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I took it on a rainy morning when I was in New York in September.

Au Delà by Bruno Fazzolari

Notes: coriander, neroli, jasmine, orange blossom, amber, resins, and oakmoss.

The original version of Au Delà was released in 2013. It is now Au Delà Narcisse, which is a different composition, and one that I have not yet tried. I’m currently working my way through Bruno Fazzolari creations, including his most recent one, Vetiverissimo. I debated whether to even write about the original Au Delà at this point, since it’s no longer available from Bruno Fazzolari in this formulation. I decided to write about it anyway because, if we’re not writing about discontinued or reformulated compositions, that leaves very little perfume left to talk about! I got my sample of Au Delà in the original formulations from The Perfumed Court, where it is still available.

As soon as I apply this to the skin, it’s like a rush of notes just blooming in front of me. I definitely get a tangy coriander in the opening. This coriander is green and sharp. It bites at your nose and your attempts to sniff it. I also get a heady neroli. It takes several minutes for this composition really settle into my skin.

The jasmine and orange blossom in particular feel a bit soapy. Not soapy as in clean, but rather, a literal bar of soap. I can sense those tiny decorative soaps that my Grandma still keeps in the soap dish in her powder room to this day. Au Delà conjures up all sort of memories like this. It has a distinctive old fashioned chypre smell, which many people might call “old lady” or “grandma.” For me, Au Delà is “grandma” in a good way, bringing up memories and associations that I have with my own Grandma.

It’s also warm, sensual, and animalic. The amber in particular stands out for me as Au Delà deepens and heads toward the dry down. This amber is incredibly warm and enveloping. I wish it were a blanket that I could just sink into. The oakmoss adds to that feeling, since it really has a texture here. It reminds me of a sponge — and not a beauty blender sponge, but a sea sponge! There is a touch of saltiness here which is giving me that sea salt association. This oakmoss also has a damp earthiness, like it has recently rained. It’s not a cool or refreshing rain though. It’s like we’re in the heart of a forest, where it’s still warm (from that amber) and a little bit decadent from the jasmine petals still unfurling in the background. Au Delà is simultaneously heady and deep, luminous and dense.

It has taken me two weeks to finish this write-up and I’m still not sure that I’ve really done Au Delà justice. It’s the kind of fragrance that can’t be easily summed up. It’s a throwback to the glorious chypres that have now been discontinued or reformulated. And now Au Delà itself has been reconfigured as Au Delà Narcisse, which I am curious to try! And yet, it doesn’t feel old fashioned or dated. Bruno Fazzolari can’t help but be modern. I may order a larger sample of Au Delà from The Perfumed Court just to savor it for awhile. This is one of those special fragrances that isn’t just something to smell, but a full experience.

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I got my sample of Au Delà from The Perfumed Court. The photo of my sample was taken by me.

The info on notes is taken from Fragrantica.

Fève Délicieuse by Maison Christian Dior

Notes: lavender, mint, bergamot, cherry, freesia, jasmin, tonka, benzoin, caramel, cedar, dark chocolate, coconut, leather, sandalwood, and Madagascar vanilla.

Fève Délicieuse was originally released in 2015 as one of the Dior Privée fragrances. It is now part of the Maison Christian Dior line. I tested this current version a few months ago at Saks (when I bought Belle de Jour). I knew it was one of the older Dior Privée scents that had been grandfathered into the new exclusive Maison line. I was curious about the older/original release and so I ordered a small decant from Surrender to Chance. Fève Délicieuse is a tonka-centered composition, so it’s definitely a gourmand. I also get cedar and incense notes on my skin, which add dimension and make this not purely a gourmand for me. However, if you’re truly not a gourmand fan, you can likely skip this one altogether!

The notes here don’t develop for me in a traditional pyramid fashion. And yet, the development isn’t linear either. Fève Délicieuse is a bit of a wildcard on my skin. The most prominent note I get in the opening is a deep cedar wood from the base. I also get a cloud of milky coconut hanging over everything, like someone has just grated coconut over top of the rest of the composition. I wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint bergamot if I hadn’t read the list of notes. but there’s a hint of zesty citrus. I don’t get any mint or lavender, so I don’t know what happened there. Fève Délicieuse then settles into my skin as a creamy, toasted vanilla, which is the type of scent profile that I associate most often with tonka bean.

As it develops, Fève Délicieuse reminds me of Jeux de Peau from Serge Lutens, in that it is a bit of a game. As I said, this composition is focused on tonka. François Démachy’s game here is to bring out as many facets of tonka as possible. I already got the creamy toasted vanilla facet quite early on in wear time. After a little over an hour, I also get a sweet praline mixed with cherry soda. It’s very odd, but this is the cherry note. This is not a fresh fruit kind of cherry. It has just a hint of the cherry cola vibe from L’Artisan’s Mon Numéro 10. I can still smell the cedar going strong here, and it makes for a surprisingly yummy blend of flavors. This is the festive side of tonka. This cherry praline would fit right in as one of the Starbucks holiday drinks.

It’s not until several hours into wear time that I get probably my favorite aspect of Fève Délicieuse: the resinous part. This isn’t something that I associate with tonka, but it really clicked with me here. Fève Délicieuse has great longevity and sillage. But, as it starts to quiet down, an incense vibe shines through. It’s a little bit sweet and there’s a little more of that toasted vanilla note. But there’s also that contemplative benzoin resinous current running through everything. It’s really lovely and I appreciate this more understated aspect, especially in such a powerful gourmand composition.

Sadly, I don’t get the dark chocolate note at all, but maybe it’s still waiting for the right time to come through on my skin. The very last bits of Fève Délicieuse are a surprisingly dry leather smell. I love the way this fragrance seems to develop into something more dry as it wears. Some fragrances start out woody and dry, and then develop into rich base notes. Fève Délicieuse is almost the opposite. I really like this composition and I think it’s surprisingly interesting and thought-provoking for a gourmand.

However, I wouldn’t touch this in hot weather. It would be way too much and overbearing. For that reason, I’m sticking with my decant for now. Maybe I’ll do another decant in time for next Fall/Winter. But, just considering the price point and how often I’d wear this, I can’t justify purchasing a full bottle. It has fantastic longevity (9 hours easily) and smells of high quality materials (i.e. not reformulated to death with cheaper ingredients). Fève Délicieuse is well worth testing and purchasing. And it’s a must if tonka is one of your favorite notes.

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Fève Délicieuse is available directly from Dior and in store at Saks Fifth Avenue. I ordered my decant from Surrender to Chance.

The info on notes is from Fragrantica. It’s worth noting that the only note Dior officially lists is tonka.

The photo of my little decant was taken by me.

Woody Mood by Olfactive Studio

Notes: bergamot, ginger, clary sage, saffron, sequoia, black tea, incense, patchouli, leather, styrax, and cacao.

Woody Mood is my first experience with Olfactive Studio. I just couldn’t resist these notes for fall/winter and I ended up purchasing a full bottle! Olfactive Studio is a niche line that explores the connection between photography (visual) and our sense of smell (olfactory). I haven’t tried a wide range from Olfactive Studio, but I imagine that memory is usually the connecting factor between the photographic image and the fragrance composition. Each full bottle comes with a copy of the accompanying photograph so that you — now both the wearer and the viewer — can contemplate any personal connections that may or may not arise. As you might guess, the photograph for Woody Mood is of a forest:

The photograph is by Roger Steffens. I’m not much of a photography critic, so I will stick to discussing the scent here!

Woody Mood was created by the grand master himself, Bertrand Duchaufour. This feels like a pared down composition for him. Part of the reason Woody Mood feels minimalistic is because it’s very dry. There is no creamy vanilla or rich amber to warm up this composition. In the opening, I get ginger, black tea, and what I assume is the sequoia note. The sequoia smells very much like cedar to my nose. That means, this opening smells like woody, ginger tea without any milk or sugar. If you take your tea with lots of milk, or prefer your perfume rich and creamy, you likely won’t enjoy this scent.

I love a woody cedar note, so I enjoy the opening and mid-notes here. The composition remains on the dry tea and wood side of things on my skin. I get a little bit of incense, but nothing overly smoky. I get a dry, dusty patchouli in the base. The cacao note is also present in the dry down. It’s a yummy note, but it’s not decadent or a full gourmand chocolate. The base has depth but, again, it doesn’t feel rich or creamy.

I really enjoy Woody Mood and I find it to be a really interesting composition. I hadn’t realized how accustomed I had become to the pervasive vanilla/sandalwood base notes until wearing a composition that doesn’t contain any of these notes. Now, the drawback to all of this is that the longevity of Woody Mood is not great. The absent creamy base notes aren’t here to help the dry down last those couple extra hours on the skin. I get five hours of wear time from Woody Wood before it has truly faded. I’m happy to re-apply, but I know that poor longevity is a deal breaker for many in the perfume community.

I have to say, it’s nice to have a more minimal fragrance for Fall/Winter. I’m not always in the mood for an opulent Tom Ford Private Blend-esque experience. Woody Mood is crisp and dry, which feels eminently appropriate for November. I’m curious about other Olfactive Studio scents. I wonder if their other compositions have a similar issue with longevity or if this is a one-off. I’m not as into photography, so I don’t personally connect with that aspect of this line. Please let me know if you’ve tried anything else from this house and what your thoughts are!

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Woody Mood is available from Olfactive Studio and from Luckyscent. When I purchased my bottle, Luckyscent was offering 20% off on Olfactive Studio, so do check if that’s still going on.

Info on notes is from Fragrantica.

The Roger Steffens photograph is from Olfactive Studio. The photo of Woody Mood is taken by me.

34 boulevard Saint Germain EdP by Diptyque

Notes: pink berries, citrus, clove, cinnamon, cassis, tuberose, iris, geranium, rose, violet, sandalwood, vanilla, woody notes, and amber.

Diptyque is one of my favorite houses. I love their candles, scents, and even body products. But, I could never get along with the Eau de Toilette formulation of 34 boulevard Saint Germain. It just did not work with my skin or suit me at all. When I read that Diptyque had released an EdP formulation, I figured it would be more of the same with my skin chemistry. However, Luckyscent included a sample of the EdP with one of my orders and I couldn’t resist testing it. I’m glad that I did because I love the EdP and I’ve drained the tiny original sample.

As expected, the EdP is heavier and more rich than the EdT. This heaviness is lifted by a berry note in the opening. When I initially looked at the note pyramid, I thought it was going to be a pink pepper note. But it’s more of a tart pink berry, very similar to a cranberry note. I also get a cassis liquor note, although this is not boozy. It’s probably just my brain associating cassis with drinking creme de cassis in kir royale cocktails. I don’t get much of the citrus notes listed, but I definitely get the cinnamon and clove. The effect of this opening makes 34 boulevard EdP holiday party appropriate. It definitely has a festive feel to it.

The heart notes come in, and it’s fairly linear from here on out on my skin. It’s lots of vanilla, more cinnamon, and a rich sandalwood. This is a composition with a lot of depth. However, the sandalwood and vanilla don’t come off as creamy on my skin. It leans the tiniest bit dry, but still warm and enveloping. It gives off quite a formal air. You can certainly wear this dressed down, but it really calls out to be worn for an occasion. I don’t mind the linear nature here because it settles into the skin nicely. And being the EdP concentration, it lasts forever. This is one I can wear to bed and can still smell traces of it in the morning.

The bad news for us as perfume lovers is that, since this is an EdP, Diptyque is able to set a higher price point. At $190 for 75 mls the 34 boulevard EdP is quite pricey. I’m putting it on my Christmas wish list and am hoping to come by it that way. At this time, The Perfumed Court offers samples and decants of the EdT but I don’t see the Eau de Parfum yet. If you have a Nordstrom or Saks nearby, I recommend trying this in person. It really settles into the skin in a lovely way and it lasts for hours!

Have you tried 34 boulevard Saint Germain as an EdT or EdP? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts. I love Diptyque and I’m so happy that I can finally embrace something from the 34 collection!

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The 34 boulevard Saint Germain EdP is available from Diptyque and Luckyscent. I received my sample from Luckyscent.

The info on notes is taken from Fragrantica.

The photo is of my 34 boulevard sample vial and my beloved Figuier room spray, which has lasted me two years so far!

Poison by Christian Dior

Notes: coriander, plum, wild berries, anise, Brazilian rosewood, carnation, jasmine, African orange flower, tuberose, opoponax, cinnamon, incense, rose, white honey, vetiver, musk, sandalwood, Virginia cedar, amber, vanilla, and heliotrope.

The bar at the Ritz Central Park in New York is one of my favorite meeting spots in the city. The bar itself is small, but usually not overcrowded and not too loud either. My sister and I have used it as a meeting point and just a place to grab a drink and rest our feet. (It’s also a good place to stop and use the bathroom if you’ve been running around the city all afternoon!) I bring this up because I was sitting at the bar having dinner one night when I recognized a familiar scent: Poison. That huge all-enveloping tuberose is unmistakable. A French woman came in and sat down at the other end of the bar and ordered for herself. I assumed she was French even before I heard her speak because who else still wears vintage Poison these days? I could smell Poison wafting towards me all evening. It’s a beautiful smell, and all-consuming one. I think we all left the Ritz that night smelling of Poison.

In the US, I feel like Hypnotic Poison has definitely taken over as the Poison scent to wear. When I worked at Sephora, we didn’t even carry the original Poison in store. We carried the flankers: Hypnotic, Pure Poison, and we got the new Poison Girl in. (I actually don’t mind Poison Girl. There is something of the original Poison in the base). The original Poison was created by Edouard Fléchier and was released in 1985. It is unquestionably an 80s fragrance, in that it’s huge, in your face, and demands all of your attention. You can kind of see how the pendulum swung from this extreme to the other extreme with the 90s acquatic calone-infused fragrances. The US is still a little bit enamored with these clean scents. One thing I used to hear all the time from women looking for a new scent was “I don’t want to smell like perfume.” What they meant was “I don’t want to smell like No. 5. I don’t want to smell like Poison.”

Even Poison does not smell like Poison anymore. I have a bottle of the EdT that I purchased from Dior in 2016. The opening is lovely. It’s an explosion of fruity, jammy plum, creamy tuberose, and a little bit of sharp, spicy cardamom. It settles into my skin nicely. I get smoky incense and a spiced carnation in the heart. But, as it wears, this Poison takes on a manufactured grape juice smell. Going into the base, the composition feels thin. It’s missing that rich, syrupy, creamy texture.

I’m happy to own a bottle of the Poison EdT. I love the apple bottle shape and the deep purple — so dark that it’s almost black. But it’s not my favorite to wear. I am keeping an eye on ebay for samples or small decants of older formulations. I know that The Perfumed Court also offers decants of the vintage Eau de Cologne formulation. Ami Loves Perfume has a fantastic video here on her channel about Poison. She shows examples of the different packaging and bottles over the years in case you’re looking at Poison on ebay and are wondering what’s authentic. It’s also just a very informative and lovely video to watch!

I’m publishing this post on Halloween and, yes, I am wearing Poison for my Halloween scent! Although, the truly scary thing is how quickly Dior seems to reformulate their fragrance compositions these days. All the reformulation drama aside, I love Poison. Love it or hate it, once you smell Poison, you will recognize it forever. It’s a haunting perfume, indeed.

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I ordered my bottle of the Poison EdT online directly from Dior. They also have an extrait available. I’m very curious as to what the modern extrait smells like.

The info on the notes is from Fragrantica.

The photo is taken by me.

Cinéma by Yves Saint Laurent

Notes: clementine, cyclamen, almond blossom, peony, amaryllis, jasmine, amber, benzoin, white musk, and vanilla.

I personally love that bottle design and packaging is part of the whole experience in the perfume world. There are some beautiful bottles out there — some more beautiful than the juice inside! The best is when an iconic scent has an iconic bottle to go along with it, as in the case of Shalimar or JPG Le Mâle. They are are bottle designs that even non-perfume lovers would recognize. YSL Cinéma has one of my favorite bottle designs. It’s not overly elaborate or a completely unique type of bottle. I simply love the play of light through the glass, emphasizing different points of the gold bottle design. It’s a bit of a trompe l’oeil because sometimes it looks as though Cinéma has flecks of gold in the liquid. (Which is a real thing now thanks to Atelier des Ors, if you’re looking for your perfume to contain gold flakes!)

Cinéma opens with a juicy mandarin citrus note. This is not a fruity floral, but the mandarin adds a freshness to a composition that could otherwise become very dense. It’s a lovely bright opening, and it makes way for a floral heart of jasmine and peony. My nose isn’t advanced enough to pick out cyclamen on its own, but I find this to be a very appealing floral bouquet. It has an effortless feel. I think a lot of people could pull off this mandarin and floral opening, and feel good about what they’re wearing.

The almond blossom note makes things a little bit interesting. I sense it more in the heart of the fragrance, which starts to come through an hour into wear time for me. The floral bouquet is still present and it takes on an even more lush white floral feel. In fact, the whole fragrance is so lush and full-bodied at this point that it reminds me of a white wine. The almond blossom adds a soft nutty note, while the jasmine continues to bloom on the skin. Cinéma takes on a buttery chardonnay feel for me here. It’s very textured, creamy, and yummy without being gourmand. I’ve sometimes gotten a red wine vibe from fragrances, and even a champagne vibe from aldehydes, but not chardonnay before. Cinéma is really unique here in that way. I will clarify that it’s definitely not a boozy scent. Rather, it’s full-bodied in the same way that buttery California chardonnays are.

The base is more of a typical vanilla/amber/musk dry down. The composition still has a rich, buttery feel. It’s a comfort scent for me at this point. The musk in the base gives me Tocca Margaux vibes (a personal favorite) in that it’s a warm, comforting musk that doesn’t come across as synthetic. This is a lovely base, it’s just a little bit less unique than the interesting heart notes.

Overall, Cinéma is a delicious white floral/vanilla that has some uniqueness, and doesn’t tip over into full-on gourmand territory. It’s a happy scent and a comfort scent for me. Cinéma will put you in a good mood. I also get beautiful sillage and wear time from this one. It easily lasts me a typical eight hour work day and it doesn’t offend anyone in an office setting. Cinéma always puts a smile on my face. It’s a scent that I enjoy and the gold-flecked bottle only adds to my enjoyment!

I would love to hear about any favorite bottle designs, please share! Likewise, are there any bottle designs that have put you off testing/buying a perfume?

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Cinéma is a little harder to find in the US these days. It’s currently available directly from YSL. I purchased my bottle a couple of years ago from Fragrancenet.

The info on the notes is from Fragrantica.

The photo was taken by me.