Neon

Neon, by Roads, is meant to be “florescent and alive.” Although the note list consists of nutmeg, cinnamon, heliotrope, wild iris, vanilla, and so-called woody aromatics, to my nose Neon projects as a fruity spicy fragrance. If that sounds off-kilter, then the description is probably about right. It’s an unusual combination, and it doesn’t seem as structurally simple to me as this list suggests.

Wearing Neon, I have been reminded of Jennifer Lawrence’s character in American Hustle, a woman trying desperately to stay afloat by not delving too far below the surface of things.

The brilliance of her character is that she does know exactly what is going on in her marriage, and she has carefully honed the persona she uses to deal with the realities of her life. There is a scene early in the movie where she talks about how much she loves the smell of a certain nail polish that smells like “flowers and garbage.” It might be a little bit of an obvious metaphor, but it works, as a representation of this woman who understands a certain kind of relationship between innocence and worldliness, and knows exactly which one she wants to cultivate.

That is the relationship I see reflected in Neon. Innocence in the fruity notes, and worldliness in the spicy notes. It is vivid and compelling, but not exuberant—and it may be the more interesting for that.

For another take on Neon by Roads, consider this review from Fragrantica: “It is an unreal eye-gouger from nearby: spicy cinnamon Big Red gum and dry clove bud for breath, vanilla pudding with powdered sugar, some sweet and bubbly Pear soda, Mommy’s powder and a red-pink boa.” I guess I’m not alone in finding the traces of a world-weary woman beneath the girlish notes. 

Sample sent to me gratis, at my request. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.

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Supernova

Supernova, another fragrance by Roads, is a covertly fresh fragrance. I recently read an interview with Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors on Olfactif*, and he had this to say about the term “fresh.”

“‘Fresh’ is a bad term in general because it has so many meanings to so many people, and after a while it doesn’t mean as much. But when I say “fresh,” I mean that it’s bracing and invigorating, rather than ‘sporty’ or ‘spicy.'”

I do think the word gets a bit of a bad wrap in fragrance circles, because things that are billed with the term usually smell about as fresh as (and remarkably similar to) an Axe-drenched teenage boy at the gym. But like Josh Meyer, when I say a fragrance is fresh, I mean it is bracing and refreshing.

littleflamingcocktail

Supernova initially smells of lime zest and effervescence. Surprisingly, this zingy stage lasts for more than an hour on my skin. However, Supernova also has another trick up its sleeve, which is to shift from the very dry, almost gin-and-lime opening into something damp and earthy. I smell mossy notes, patchouli, and a tendril of campfire smoke. The official notes are petitgrain, bergamot, grapefruit, limeleaf, juniper berries, cognac, ginger, cardamon, cedar, oakmoss, and amber.

I find the drydown of Supernova simultaneously invigorating (to borrow Josh Meyer’s word) and grounding, similar in feeling to vetiver fragrances like Vetiver Tonka by Hermes or Sycomore by Chanel.

To date, I haven’t found any reviews of Roads’ Supernova, but I will update in the future to add links.

Image courtesy Little Flaming Cocktail. Sample sent to me gratis, at my request. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.

*Side note: I really like the idea behind the new Imaginary Authors scent, Mosaic (discussed in the linked interview).

Graduate 1954

There should be a word (preferably a German word of many syllables) for the moment when you realize that a perfume is as good as its concept.

Roads Perfumes

This represents the woman who, as a result of the limited freedoms offered to her, had to use her femininity and elegance to achieve her goals. The headiness of tuberose, frangipani, old rose and heliotrope is lifted with mandarin, muget and clove and grounded in green moss, cedarwood, virginian sandalwood and patchouli.”

That is the description of Graduate 1954, by Roads, that enticed me to seek out this brand.

Right from the opening, Graduate 1954 (perfumer not released) presents an elegant face. A very convincing moss (let’s call it fauxkmoss) blends with frangipani and with a tuberose that smells like the buttercream frosting version of itself. These softer elements are sharpened not only by the moss, but by a slightly sour tea rose, a very green lily of the valley, some clove, and perhaps a hint of carnation and bergamot. They keep everything standing up straight, and keep it from becoming languid or overblown. This is, after all, a very chypre chypre floral. As for the drydown, it feels to me like an homage to the Guerlinade—less sweet, but with the same quality of being a mélange of the most essential parts of the fragrance. The drydown wears close to the skin like a Guerlain, too. The perfume equivalent of smudged eyeliner.

I always seem to fall for fragrances like this, the ones that feel classic but also new, not like vintage reproductions. Graduate 1954 definitely deserves a place on the shelf next to perfumes like Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere, Krigler’s Lieber Gustav 14, and (recently) Courtesan by Worth.

I have not seen any other reviews of Roads’ Graduate 1954 yet, but will update in the future when I do.

Since some of you may wonder about distribution (as I did), Roads perfumes are available at Barney’s in the US, at Jovoy in Paris, several Selfridge’s in the UK, the Galleries Lafayette in Berlin, and Klein Perfumery in Melbourne. Other stockists are listed on their website. My samples were sent to me gratis, at my request, and I have to add a big thanks not only to Roads’ PR, but to their Australian distributor T2M FashionReviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.

Terracotta Le Parfum

Birds singing, flowers blooming, butterflies and rainbows and kittens and … you get the idea. I’m in love.

It’s not often (especially lately) that I go completely bananas over a perfume, but ever since I first read about Guerlain’s limited edition Terracotta Le Parfum, I had a sneaky feeling it would be perfection. Who wouldn’t want a suntan, beachy scent by Guerlain? The past Terracotta perfumes (Vol d’Ete and Sous le Vent) have not met my ideal, but the early reviews of Terracotta Le Parfum (and comparisons to Bronze Goddess) convinced me this year’s edition could be the one.

terracotta

Terracotta is heavy on rich jasmine that would probably be very indolic if it wasn’t tamped by the suntan oil quality (which is only very lightly coconutty). It also incorporates a lot of tiare, orange blossom, and vanilla. The sweetness in Terracotta comes from the vanilla (which I perceive as a group of vanilla accords, some sweeter and some spicier), that creates a Guerlinade-light effect. It is indeed perfection.

And now for the comparisons. To my nose, there isn’t as direct a comparison with Bronze Goddess as other reviewers have found. Yes, they have a lot in common, but Bronze Goddess is much more coconut-forward, its white florals are more buoyant, and its sweetness is pina colada sweetness. The Terracotta has more dimension. I would say Bronze Goddess is the day to Terracotta Le Parfum’s night.

I also didn’t find Terracotta very similar to Lys Soleia (although of course it does have a general feeling and some notes in common). Lys Soleia was almost all lily on me, and was more aggressively indolic than Terracotta.

For more reviews of Guerlain Terracotta Le Parfum, see Diary of a Beauty Banker, The Candy Perfume Boy (links to his post on Escentual.com), or Tinsel Creation (links to her post on NST).

Perfume was my own acquisition. Reviews are never compensated, and posts are never sponsored. See my Media & Disclosure policy for details.

Postscript:

If you live in the US, you might be able to track down one of the last remaining bottles by contacting Dillards. The UPC code is 3346470417694. Go forth and buy. xo

Milano Caffe

I have been itching to try some perfumes by La Via del Profumo, an Italian company under perfumer Abdes Salaam, since reading about his creations on Suzanne’s Perfume Journal. I was lucky enough to win Milano Caffe in a draw on Australian Perfume Junkies, so today’s review truly comes from the bounty of the perfume blogosphere.

milano

If you’re a regular reader, you know I have sought out coffee scents for years, without finding one that is truly my ideal. The reigning favorite is Coffee & Cedar, by what appears to be a defunct tiny Etsy operation.

As Suzanne noted, Milano Caffe can’t really be compared to any of the well-known coffee scents on the market. It’s richer and more “roasted” than Bond No. 9’s New Haarlem, and just plain richer than Jo Malone’s Black Vetyver Cafe. It’s not as one-noted as Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s coffee frag, and it’s more coffee-centric than, say, Bell Antonio or L’Eau de Navigateur.

The opening of Milano Caffe is, to me, overloaded with several natural molecules that I am familiar with from other fragrances—but particularly several by Neil Morris. At this stage, it smells very much like a muddy and blurred-out patchouli, although patchouli isn’t a listed note. Milano Caffe isn’t as vaporous as Borneo 1834 (lacking the menthol that gives Borneo its amazing heavy lightness), but I agree completely with Suzanne that it hearkens a bit to Borneo. I also agree with Portia that wearers would be advised not to bury their noses in Milano Caffe for at least an hour after spraying.

After several hours, Milano Caffe does soften considerably, and I enjoy a few moments of a mellow, slightly sweet blend of coffee and spices before the scent fades. But unfortunately, the messy and muddy opening (far too typical of natural perfumes, in my opinion), spoils Milano Caffe for me. I have tested it many times, striving to experience the elegant and wonderfully complex scent that Suzanne and Portia describe, but it just doesn’t sing on my skin.

Have you tried Milano Caffe? What is your favorite coffee-based scent?

For reviews of La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe, see the links above or check Fragrantica.

Sample was won in a draw. Posts are never compensated or sponsored. Image courtesy Fragrantica. 

 

Winner of Courtesan

Random.org has spoken, and the winner is (I swear to goodness – I never manipulate draw results in favor of particular ‘fumie friends): Undina! Undina, please send me your preferred shipping address, and thanks to everyone else for entering the draw.

winner

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