I recently attended a trunk show at Tigerlily Perfumery in San Francisco, featuring the exquisite creations of Neal Peters, the nose behind Mirus Fine Fragrance, a San Francisco Bay Area-based line of hand-crafted, artisan perfumes.
When I walked into Tigerlily, Neal was greeting customers and chatting about his perfumes. I was very attracted to the simple yet elegant 15ml clear bottles with their electric blue wax seals. On another tray, Neal had a nice spread of some individual essences. He took a lot of time explaining his creative process and even allowing us to take a sniff of some of the essences he uses, including white and silver ambergris, sandalwood, white musks, ambroxan, etc.
Neal is a wealth of information, which is really exciting and refreshing. I love perfume so much that I want to know absolutely everything about it. I also love to simply discuss opinions. Perfume is art, so it is truly a pleasure to learn what inspires an artist, what each piece means to its creator and what mediums an artist uses to take his vision from his imagination into tangible reality.
Speaking of meaning, "Mirus" means "wonderful" or "amazing" in Latin, and it is the root word of "miracle". I think the name is fitting because I find the perfumes to be wonderful and amazing. Far from being something you will find at Sephora, each perfume by Mirus is like a tiny little work of art, independent of all others within the collection.
And that leads me to something I wanted to point out about Mirus. When you read the perfume notes on their website, what you see is what you get. That doesn't mean you will 100% be sure to like what you get, but the odds are good that if you are anything like me, you can read notes and just know that the perfume will be "your kinda thing." Another thing you might notice about Mirus is that they use a lot of those beautiful, natural-smelling notes such as ambers, incense, woods and rich florals. Almost everything in they make is something I would wear.
On my other arm, I wore the sultry Wicked Stepmother...and let me tell you, that stuff is WICKED GOOD! So good that it's in competition with Driftwood as my next Mirus purchase. It has the intense, full-bodied quality of many perfumes of days gone by. With classic notes like heady sambac jasmine, amber and carnation, Wicked Stepmother seems like a modern perfume with vintage inspiration. But it doesn't smell "old," you know what I mean? It smells like we are in 1940 and just opened a brand-new bottle of perfume. Hmmm I'm thinking that if you like L'Air du Temps, you might enjoy Wicked Stepmother. They are not the same, but they have some notes in common and, if anything, they are good examples of nice carnation perfumes. The nose also skillfully uses fruity notes in the composition, much to my delight. Read full review.
Mirus will eventually release two more perfumes. We had the opportunity to test out the "prototypes" at the trunk show (I smelled them on other people or on tester strips). While they are still in the works, they already smell incredible! In the meantime I have my mind set on sampling a couple more, such as:
Amber & Oud - While oud is definitely not one of my favorite notes, and I am very, very tired of Middle Eastern style oud perfumes, the nozzle of Amber & Oud actually smelled distinctly non-Middle Eastern. It didn't smell terribly dark as perfumes containing oud often smell. Very intriguing, as it would be nice to find a new interpretation of oud to enjoy.
December Kiss - This perfume was originally a bespoke fragrance. The client fell in love with the perfume...AND the perfumer. She moved to the Bay Area from Brooklyn so they can be together. With such a romantic story, I must sample it next time! I also had the pleasure of meeting this lovely client-turned-girlfriend at the trunk show =)
Thoughts about Mirus Fine Fragrance that I would like to leave you with:
NOTES: Bulgarian Rose. Rose de Mai. Oakmoss. Beeswax. Hay. Ambergris.
A lush, velvety, extremely sensual, crimson rose. I smell moist hay, sticky balsams, a civet-like animalic note, and honey-dipped rose petals. Tobacco Rose is a celebration of the night. It is a perfume I would wear if I were going to see a show at the Moulin Rouge. It makes me picture velvet curtains, elegant black dresses, and skin illuminated by candle light.
Tobacco Rose stayed on my skin for 14 hours before I went to sleep for the night. A few hours in, the hay note faded, and the perfume headed down the rose confiture road. I happen to like jammy roses. What sets this one apart from the rest is the ever-present animalic note that gives it a certain edge.
I adore the entire Papillon collection and wear every single one of them. I crave them. While Anubis, Salome, and Angelique are equally beautiful and sensual in their own ways, when I wear Tobacco Rose, I start having thoughts like, "I am a beautiful woman!" There is just something about this juice that makes me want to get my hair, makeup, and nails done and just bask in the glory of being a woman. It's so unlike me to talk like that! This velvety red scent will be perfect for the turning of the leaves and the crisp breezes. Dark rose perfection.
I absolutely love musk, and at last Pierre Guillaume, one of my favorite noses, has decided to grace us with his contribution to the white musk genre.
Le Musc La Peau is naughty and nice. It's a sweet crystal musk with an animalic side that peeks out from time to time, if you look for it. The perfume is a bit floral (I thought violets for a moment) and quite soapy in the base. There is a vague impression of rosemary that I quite like. It gives the perfume a subtle woodiness, a bit like men's cologne.
The pop of masculinity in a crystal musk is just my style. I find it sexy, much in the way that D&G's original "red cap" pour femme has that bit of basil that adds just the right touch of testosterone. Le Musc La Peau is white hot.
Available at Parfumerie Generale in 30, 50 and 100ml sizes
NOTES: Rose, cedar, musk, vetiver
I have scanned a few reviews, and people seem pretty pissed off that it doesn't smell like cedar like the name implies. Let's just let that cat out of the bag right now.
Super Cedar is loaded with aromachemcicals. The most prominent note to my nose is that highly synthetic, ethereal rose, the same one that was so confusing for me in Le Labo's Rose 31. I couldn't understand Rose 31 for the longest time. Nothing about it smelled natural. Don't get me wrong, it smelled damn good, but I am still hard-pressed to believe there could be any real rose in it.
Now Super Cedar seems to contain that same synthetic, sweet, magenta rose, and it is amped up by the cedar-like scent of Iso E Super plus ambroxan and a musk cocktail similar to that which is found in their own Mojave Ghost, so for me this perfume might be more aptly called Super Rose. I like it a lot! It smells sweet and clean, Super Simple and Super Modern (hahaa!). Compared with Rose 31 it doesn't have any spice, where I a get a tiny dose of some distinct chemical spices like cinnamon and pepper. But I like both perfumes very much.
I think anybody walking into this with expectations that it should smell like real cedar on steroids is going to be sorely disappointed. But if you realize that Iso E Super smells like cedar to a lot of people, and maybe that is where the name is coming from, then the name makes a lot more sense and your expectations are more likely to be met.
Byredo can do very little wrong in my eyes (but I still have to say, God, what is up with that dull, bland perfume we know as Gypsy Water?!), and despite the comparisons to other aromachemical perfumes, like Escentric Molecules, I still firmly like the stuff. I am beginning to see that I actually very much enjoy these highly synthetic perfumes for their cleanness and ethereal factors.
Personally, I don't see this as a 100% Iso E Super perfume as I have noticed others saying. They don't seem to get the chemical rose that I detect, and Iso E Super doesn't smell like rose. I am not saying this is the greatest stuff out there, and I am not saying that there are more than 5 ingredients in this perfume, I don't know about that. But at the end of the day what a person likes is highly subjective, and to me, this smells good. Thumbs up!
Available at LuckyScent
I loved the Bois des Îles EDT that I sampled years ago. It shared a lot in common with No. 5. It had the aldehydes, but it smelled a lot woodier. I was never able to put it out of my mind entirely, so I went out on a limb one day and purchased a bottle of the Parfum. Instead of opening it, I let it sit for almost a year. With all due respect to myself, what was I thinking? How could I let this magnificent siren smolder in its box, all alone, all that time?
When describing Bois des Îles (parfum), where does one begin? The Parfum also resembles No.5, with aldehydes that smell like a dry, fizzy champagne. They last hours on my skin.
Bois des Îles is a master at "now you see it, now you don't." One moment I smell lilac, the next I don't. Another moment I smell coconut, the next I don't, and so on and so forth with notes of vetiver, benzoin, vanilla, orange and some ethereal white flower.
But one thing that is evident without fail is the generous amount of creamy sandalwood that is the focus of this timeless beauty. Bois des Îles (parfum) must be the best sandalwood fragrance in existence. It is effortlessly silky and somehow exotic, capturing the true nature of the precious wood.
The sandalwood is beautifully supported by a lactonic peach, which brings a syrup-like sweetness to the Parfum. While I love both concentrations, the sweet, rounded scent of the Parfum makes it seem more voluptuous, and even a bit sexy, whereas the word "sexy" never crossed my mind with the EDT.
The other thing about Bois des Îles Parfum that I can not get enough of is the animalic musk. It smells very much like the one used in No. 5. It caught me off guard, as I didn't really think of Bois des Îles as a musky perfume, but it is on my skin. It's very musky! The musk melts into my skin like butter.
I know that Bois des Îles is an old perfume, and I have never smelled a vintage, but the current interpretations seem perfectly modern at this point in time. Vintage-style modern perfumes are all the rage these days (e.g. Maai, Salume, This Grand Affair, etc.), and Bois des Îles seems as though it belongs in that category.
In my book, Bois des Îles is a masterpiece, especially the Parfum, which I am so glad I purchased blindly. It is every bit as stunning and memorable as No. 5
What an oddity. At first it smelled like dirt, like patchouli with some powdered flowers. It quickly became something else, like a crispy, crunchy, spicy, bitter herb, maybe like arugula in a way, mixed with a massive green moss note. This perfume is what I would reach for if I wanted to smell exactly like I walked into an antique shop and found an ordinary bath soap from the 60's. I can imagine the paper it is wrapped in, a faded picture of a blond-haired maiden with curls in her hair, wearing an apron, with a wooden wash tub at her feet and blue birds flying about. Think Cinderella from the Midwestern USA. On the other hand, I can also imagine a field full of fragile, bell-shaped flowers dangling wildly in a summer breeze.
It certainly mellows out over time. The sharpness and bitterness become a lot more approachable and soft. We go from the scent of dusty brown dirt to a relatively clean smelling drydown, which is a tad sweet and fairly pleasant.
If I had to choose a perfume that Delicate reminds me of, I'd say Cristalle due to the sharp moss and the soapy drydown...but they are far from the same perfume; just the same style.
For me this is a love/hate relationship. I appreciate it. I think it is artistic and beautiful. If I were collecting purely for the sake of collecting I would buy it. But I don't think I would ever reach for it if I owned it. And, oddly, I think it would smell exquisite on the right person.
In my epic quest for milky, woody perfumes, I was so sure this would be my holy grail, but it was not to be. It's nice--I like the slightly smoky vetiver and the lovely green cypress, but I did not get enough of a milky/creamy scent like I hoped. The vetiver note is really beautiful, and it smells freshly dried, if that little oxymoron makes any sense to you. The citrus was too tangy for me. I was hoping any citrus would burn off after the first several minutes. It did not. It blows my mind, the price of this. On some level it reminds me of Eau des Baux, but I think the latter is just as good of a perfume, if not better, and the price makes a lot more sense. Eau des Baux is less than half the cost of Vetiver Moloko. However, if tart citrus does not bother you, I would recommend giving this a try, especially if you love vetiver and want that note to be the focus of your fragrance.
Available at LuckyScent
If you love woods like I do, especially green, coniferous forests, this smells amazing. Take Russel Crowe as the Gladiator, with dry, brown dust clinging to his heels and sandals, and send him off on an expedition to the Pacific Northwest in the 1800's, and you have Explorer. It smells like the smooth, moist, young wood from the core of a redwood tree, maybe some aromatic cumin, and just a whisper of worn, brown leather.
There is some menthol in the beginning. I swear that patchouli, a member of the mint family, has to be missing from the pyramid because Explorer smells strongly of fresh patch as well, as though somebody grabbed a whole handful of it...unless somehow all of those other notes blend together to create an earthy, dusty, mentholated, patch-like effect.
One surprising facet of Explorer is that it's a masculine orris root perfume. Think 28 La Pausa (Chanel)--starchy, chalky, gray but take it in a completely masculine direction. This is the first time I have smelled orris root used in this way. It is a completely androgynous fragrance, yet in comparison to other orris root perfumes, Explorer seems distinctly masculine.
I love dry woods, and I find Explorer to be absolutely gorgeous. The quality is exceptional as well. Sillage is fantastic, and so is longevity. This is one perfume that was a no-brainer; an absolute must-have for me.
Ligne St. Barth is a house I am just getting to know. I chose 3 of my favorite perfumes from the house to review, I really love these!
FLEUR DE CANNE A SUCRE - This is a tropical perfume in a way that few Americans are familiar with. The name translates to "cane sugar flower". Instead of a perfume full of synthetic tropical fruit and heady white flowers, here we have a perfume that smells like sugar cane (flower). I think it's ingenious.
While traveling in the Philippines, I got to enjoy drinking fresh sugar cane juice. It tastes like water with sugar in it, but it is hard to describe how truly fresh the juice tastes. Sure, you can simply mix water with sugar. but sugar cane juice doesn't quite taste like that. It also *feels* different. It somehow tastes cleaner and lighter, and the feeling of the sweetness is refreshing rather than nauseating.
The notes suggest pineapple, and I do smell it mixed-in with the sugar cane. It smells like a slice of fresh, ripe, juicy and sweet pineapple that has been roasted on a grill to the point where the edges have begun to turn brown due to the caramelization of its natural sugars. I love the taste of roasted pineapple, but I am astounded to smell it in a perfume. The scent of pineapple is extremely delicate to the point where I am not certain I would pinpoint it without having read the notes ahead of time. Some perfumes that contain pineapple smell syrupy sweet. Not this one.
Bravo for this simple and unique tropical fragrance. Fleur de Canne a Sucre captures the spirit of sugar cane very well. It is a light, clean, and sweet fragrance that is nice for warm weather, but it could easily work year-round.
I personally don't care much for light, fresh perfumes. For example, if a perfume's name begins with the word "Eau", I tend to run in the polar opposite direction. But this a tropical twist for when you want something easy, light and refreshing to spritz.
PATCHOULI ARAWAK - I'm sure that like me, you also go through phases where you often feel the desire to wear a particular note. Patchouli is a weird one for me. I despise the hippy stuff, personally. But every now and then, I like one of the good niche patches that make me see this plant as less of the "dreaded patch" and more as the pretty little herb from the mint family that it actually is.
Patchouli Arawak is a really nice patch. When I first sprayed it, I immediately noticed amber and patch as the dominant notes. I also noticed something else that was not easy to pinpoint. Let me start by saying that I am one of those people who loves that mildewy, damp type of patchouli. Montale's Patchouli Leaves has always been my Holy Grail for that type of patch. Patchouli Arawak reminds me of it. It smells dark, damp and a little mossy. It has a smooth chocolatey feel. A picture developed in my mind that caught me off guard. I saw an old, wooden ship that had sunk in the Caribbean. The kind of wooden ship you would imagine seeing in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The wood broke apart, weathered in the salty turquoise water, and then washed up on an island of white sand that no human had ever set foot on. That is the note I smell that makes Patchouli Arawak irresistible to me--decayed wood. It's faint, but it's just enough to make my eyebrows raise a little.
Patchouli Arawak is a light patch fragrance. While so many niche patches are ultra rich sillage monsters, this one feels discreet, melding with my skin chemistry to become less of a perfume and more like the scent of a perfume that is lingering on a chiffon scarf.
How DID they do it?! They managed to make a patchouli perfume with a distinct island feel. Very well crafted, very beautiful, very addictive. I don't buy patch perfumes often, but next time I am in the market to buy one, I am pretty sure Patchouli Arawak will be The One.
VANILLE WEST INDIES - Mmmm I absolutely love this vanilla. It smells like homemade vanilla bean marshmallows. It distinctly smells like raw vanilla beans. I have a bag of fresh vanilla (not the pods, but the tiny black seeds that have been scraped out of their pods), and Vanille West Indies smells so much like them. In their raw state, vanilla beans smell oddly rubbery and perhaps a tad smoky. Here some sweetness has definitely been added, and voila!
I wore it in both hot weather and in moderate weather, and I never found it to be cloying. Instead the beautiful scent of vanilla bean marshmallows softly make their way to my nose throughout the day, for about 8 hours before I felt like I might need a touch-up. Delicious yet, surprisingly, rather elegant.
WHERE TO FIND - The entire Ligne St. Barth perfume collection, as well as their other beauty products (shower gels, facial care, etc), are available at BeautyHabit.com.