Music and Woods: Scents and Scentsibilities

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I love this time of year for a variety of reasons, one of which is that there are all sorts of new fragrances to try. You shouldn’t feel obligated to wear heavier fragrances in the colder months, especially if you work in an enclosed space. Even with the lightest of perfumes, some restraint is in order, which I wish I had mentioned to the woman on the train platform today! Nonetheless, more powerful perfumes have their allure, and when worn properly, they can enliven even the gloomiest day. Right now, I’m wearing one of my new favorites and dreaming of spring flowers and a walk in the woods, even though it’s gray and rainy outside.

Carillon pour un Ange, by Andy Tauer

There are two things I can never resist smelling: lily of the valley and any perfume by Andy Tauer. Lily of the valley is one of those flowers that is perfect in nature yet often less so when interpreted in perfume. Given Tauer’s penchant for incense and big statement perfumes, I couldn’t wait to see what his take on this scent would be.

Notes for Carillon pour un Ange: rose, ylang, lilac, lily of the valley, jasmine, leather, ambergris, moss, and woods.

Despite its apparent fragility, lily of the valley has a slightly chilly, almost metallic, note whispering underneath its delicate floral scent. I always think it has to do with the deep chill this little belled wildflower needs in order to blossom, and it’s one of the things I love most about the scent. Carillon pour un Ange opens big, the chilly metallic note I love so much mingling with a green, lilac-hyacinth note. To my nose, it’s pure and sharp, just like the early spring in England when spring flowers are about to bloom but biting winds can still come around the garden wall and freeze you to the bone.

Carillon gradually moves into a smoother phase, a creamy floral with a small hint of leather. I like the contrast between the floral and the leather, as it gives this very feminine fragrance a bit of toughness and attitude. Anyone who has seen a patch of lily of the valley blooming wild on a street corner in the middle of town will immediately understand why this combination works so well in Carillon. The drydown is a warm, earthy, spicy floral, but it retains a bit of a sharp edge, which I think befits the sturdy spirit of lily of the valley. One of the things I like most about Carillon is that while it’s beautiful, there’s nothing ladylike or reserved about it. It opens big and stays interesting throughout the day. The lasting power is excellent, and one spray will last you most of the day. I love it, and so does everyone who has smelled it. I get a lot of requests from friends to sample the perfumes I review, but Carillon pour un Ange has been a huge favorite, and I’ve been happy to share.

If you’re wondering about the name of the perfume, a carillon is a musical instrument consisting of twenty-three or more cup-shaped bells hung together in a belfry or bell tower; when the bells are rung, the sound of their pealing is released into the sky. If you look at a lily of the valley, the imagery is perfect.

I wish I could say something glowing about the bottle, but it’s basically a decant spray bottle. Luckily, it’s small enough to fit in your purse because Carillon pour un Ange is a wear-all-the-time kind of a perfume. I’m hoping Tauer comes out with a bigger, prettier bottle at some point, but at least I’m sure he spent all his money on the perfume!

Eau de Parfum Riche, 15-milliliter (0.5 ounce) bottle for $75 at Luckyscent

Sensuous Noir by Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder just released this scent as a follow-up to 2008’s excellent Sensuous.

Notes for Sensuous Noir: purple rose, night-blooming jasmine, rose essence, black pepper, melted woods nature print, crème noir, patchouli prisma, spiced lily, benzoin (a vanilla-scented resin), vanilla, honey, and amber.

Sensuous Noir is being promoted as a sexier, evening-oriented counterpart to Sensuous. The opening notes are sweet and spicy, with the floral notes taking a backseat for the moment. As Sensuous Noir moves toward its middle range, it becomes warmer and woodier. The sweetness becomes creamier and smoothes out as the patchouli and lily come to the forefront of the fragrance. The drydown is dry and woody, with a lot of the spiced florals still present. I don’t know that I find Sensuous Noir more seductive than Sensuous. It’s deeper and warmer (instead of darker) than Sensuous, but it’s not in the super sexy, femme fatale category. That’s a plus in my opinion, as the perfumes that are considered very sexy usually give me headaches. I like its warm, spicy floral, and the fact that it’s very wearable. Like all Lauder fragrances, Sensuous Noir is well done, and if you don’t have anything like it in your fragrance collection, it’s definitely worth trying. It’s also not so heavy that you couldn’t wear it during the day if you spray sparingly. The lasting power is excellent, and the bottle, a purple version of the original swirled bottle, is very pretty.
Eau de Parfum is widely available, including at Estée Lauder and Macy’s, in 1- and 1.7-ounce bottles, $48$60

Parting Note: Music at times is more like perfume than mathematics.Gabriel Marcel

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