It was hard coming up with an idea for the accompanying photo. I finally decided on an image of a talc that’s quite well known here in Italy but have to put off setting up the studio and taking pics because there’s just too much to do. So the pic will either have to be inserted later (probably not) or this will simply have to be a post sans pix. Sometimes you gotta prioritise.
Notes in the powder family that I’m going to be evaluating are: cedarwood, vanilla, ion one blend and benzyl aldehyde. Let’s dig in!
Cedarwood: the opening is soft and tender, impressions of wood, a forest, faintly green. I’m noticing an impulse to force an association but I have to resist it and allow myself to willingly accept this note for what it is. Soft, gentle and powdery, I would describe it as plumes, tendrils that waft through the air, but there’s definitely a softness there that could be described as powdery. Towards the drydown there is also a hint of spice, oddly enough I think the powdery aspect lasts longer than the wood facet in cedarwood. Volatility: low
Vanilla: it starts off with that tell-tale raisin quality that is unmistakably vanilla for me, fruity, soft and round. I also get cognac, woody, casky, complex and a bit animalic. In the drydown it’s still very fruity and rummy, but now starting to fade a bit. My nose is beginning to lose the powder trail, it’s drier now, less sweet but very warm. Volatility: low
Ionone blend: (we were instructed to evaluate this for no longer than a second and not to inhale but to waft!) soft, powdery, magical! Hints of floral, soft, much less perceptible through my right nostril for some reason. Floral, with fruity nuances, gentle, cool. Drying down it is fruity and floral with a woody nuance, much more noticeably powdery now, billowy, and still pronounced on the strip. Volatility: low
Benzyl aldehyde: opens with a bitter almond impression, marzipan, with a bite. Sharp, bitter, gourmandy, desserts. Sharp, warm, almond extract, baking pleasures, cherry and coffee come to mind. In the drydown it’s still very almond, vanilla, but not too bitter, warmer. Volatility: mid-low
And that’s a wrap of the powder family. Coming up this week: Spicy and Amber families. I’m off now to test my nose on the chemical components in common between Jasmine grandiflorum and Ylang Ylang extra. Class is definitely getting harder.
Next to the resins this has got to be my favourite perfume family. These are the notes that ground, guide and instruct me, not just in my daily life but also on the importance of constructing a perfume upon a solid base – firm and lasting. This in essence is what I extract from this family.
Some favourites that I have in my collection that are part of this group but are not part of the evaluation are: Davana, Oakwood CO2, Birch Tar rectified, Rosewood and Himalayan Cedarwood.
Myrrh: this opened with a freshness that was surprising, strangely I couldn’t smell it out of the left nostril. Faintly woody, dry and brittle, reminiscent of paint somehow. It was light, citrusy even and vaguely camphoraceous. The dry down 6 hours later presented a warm, woody, bark, cinnamonish, drier than before but still present, almost seemed imbedded into the paper. Volatility: mid-low.
Cistus Labdanum: oh, my God, I’m in love! Resinous, penetrating, sharing aspects in common with citrus for me, woody. Light, warm, reassuring yet sharp (that’s gotta be the camphene I’m detecting). There is a dark side to this, it’s moving and has the ability to stir the soul, touches the belly, ancient and balsamic. Drying down reveals tendrils of smoke wafting into the air that are still distinctly resinous, ritualistic, conjuring impressions of an orthodox church, comforting in its permanence, captivating, earth-bound, recalling sounds of Gregorian chants; medieval. Volatility: still very impressive, so low-mid volatility.
Patchouli: how do I love thee, let me count the ways! Patch equals inner peace for me. Dark and woody, mysterious and creamy in quality. It expresses the woman I aspire to be at my core. Ritualistic, lush, narcotic, dense and bold. Reverent, true to itself, mature, like an anchor, raw power, untamed and unorthodox. After 6 hours it is still vibrant, but in a much more contemplative way, still creamy, devout and evocative. In a word: sultry. Volatility: very low-mid volatility.
Vetiver: reminds me of citrus, dry and woody. I can pick up an animalic note, fecal even, but so soft. Grassy, cabin in the woods, damp, wet sensation, a feeling of deepness, character, dense, expansive wilderness. I get the ghost of an impression of Iris root, with a sense that these two could blend very well together. This note is very persistent, whenever I leave and re-enter the studio I can smell it above all the others I’m currently evaluating! In the dry down it is still very powerful. Grassy, beige quality, like a blanket. Now it is very warm. Volatility: very low volatility.
Oakmoss: opens clean, fresh, soggy and wet, earthy. Out of the right nostril I can barely detect it only an impression of “clean”. Wet woods, green forest sparkling after a warm rainfall, a bit sweet, somewhat dark and leathery. After 6 hours it has faded to a sweet, balsamic quality, thicker than in the beginning. Something I hadn’t noticed when I first evaluated this months ago is a faint smoky quality in the dry down, almost of tobacco. Perhaps it is this sample that has that facet. Volatility: low to mid volatility.
Cedarwood: awakens with a resinous appearance, soft, clear, clean, crisp with a touch of sweetness, balsamic. I get an impression of the outdoors in the middle of winter, snow, exciting, white! Shortly after I am struck by a sense of majesty, immenseness, a bit sticky, sharing common elements with Birch Tar rectified, leather! Could be a good marriage. Volatility: after 6 hours this dries down to a zingy bite, a touch citrusy, sweet, almost balsamic, similar to Davana, sort of spicy! Low to mid volatility.
Sandalwood: brighter than Cedarwood, woody, I can barely smell it out of my left nostril and it’s almost invisible through my right. With both I get soft, dry, a bit sweet, exotic, graceful and delicate, creamy, impressions of the Middle East. Hushed. This note lurks in the shadows! What other mysteries is it leading me to? In the dry down it reminds me of an Indian store I used to work in as a teen. I get wooden jewellery boxes, filled with treasures. The gem of this note seems to be coming out now after 6 hours with a distinctly round, soft character. Sandalwood is unapologetic in its nature. In one word I would describe this note as: Ageless. Volatility: very low to mid volatility.
Next up is the Powder family and a class experiment. Finally some mad scientist stuff!
UPDATE FEBRUARY 02, 2014:
Myrrh: 48 hours later still soft, I have to get up close but it’s more intimate now.
Labdanum: 48 hours later it’s very present, less incensey, now just a very lived in feeling, smokey leathery.
Patchouli: 48 hours in and it’s more leafy, comes and goes, softer, more powdery, less noticeable somehow.
Vetiver: 24 hours after and to me this is sort of soapy, still dry and very much out there! Clear and decisive but tamer though.
Oakmoss: 24 hours later and I still get tendrils of tobacco, plumes of leather, less of an impression but the impression it does leave is darker if that makes any sense.
Cedarwood: 24 hours into the dry down and if this were a colour it would be yellow/green now with a light citrus edge, hints of similarities with African Bluegrass, and still quite perceptible.
Sandalwood: 24 hours on and this note is much more powdery, softer, talcum soft, reminds me of a talc I used to have as a pre-teen with a puffer. It also brings to mind embers in a hearth early the next morning.
Photo credits: whenever not mentioned the images are taken by me. Door handle image credit goes to our friend: Luca De Nale.