New Perfume Review Creed White Amber- More Jasmine!

Creed is a perfume house which prides itself on its luxury. It is one of the few brands which lives up to its reputation. There is a certain style of sophistication baked into every Creed release. Even when it is a simple perfume the creative team at Creed knows how to create this effect. The latest release in the Les Royales Exclusives collection, White Amber, displays what I am writing about.

The Les Royales Exclusives are an ultra-luxe collection within Creed where Erwin and Olivier Creed are making it even more Creed than the regular line. Of the previous five releases I am very fond of Spice and Wood as well as White Flowers both of which I think, creatively, achieve what the Creeds wanted from this collection. White Amber, from the name, had me expecting a fresh take on amber. Instead it is a very open floral featuring one flower, jasmine.

Olivier (l.) and Erwin Creed

As I wore White Amber I was reminded of one of the most famous sketches from Saturday Night Live. In the sketch, a documentary is being filmed on the making of a classic rock song. The cowbell player is feeling extra feisty to the annoyance of the band. The producer walks into the studio after the first take and asks for “more cowbell”. It leads to more fun as the cowbell player follows orders. When I was wearing White Amber I had a thought of father and son smelling a mod of White Amber and saying to each other “more jasmine”. I highly doubt that is what happened but they did decide to make a huge jasmine soliflore out of White Amber.

If you’re looking for the amber advertised on the label make sure you enjoy the first few minutes of White Amber because it is the only place it is detectable. It is contrasted with a bit of vanilla along with blackcurrant bud but this accord is only temporary. The jasmine arises early on and keeps rising. There are multiple sources of jasmine here. The only commonality is the indoles have been stripped out of them; perhaps this is the white part. What they are replaced with is benzoin. This removes skankiness in favor of resinous warmth. When I smelled it on a strip I didn’t care for the exchange. When I was wearing it, my opinion changed as the benzoin adds a comfy quality to the jasmine. The jasmine never stops radiating and the only modulator over the end of White Amber is some sandalwood.

White Amber has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

I came to like the benzoin and jasmine combination much more on my skin than on paper. It is a caution that if you are interested in White Amber to spray some on before making a decision; I found a significant difference. If you are someone for whom the idea of “more jasmine” is appealing I think this is a good interpretation of a jasmine soliflore from Creed.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Creed.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Chanel Gabrielle- Things Change

For any brand to remain relevant it must adapt to the changes within its consumer base. It is one of the reasons I am so fascinated with the current consumer landscape. With two large generations for brands to court they will obviously tilt towards the younger one. Over the last 18-24 months this has played out in the fragrance area. The older the brand the more they will have had to figure out the changes and try to stay ahead of them. When it comes to perfume I can make the case that Chanel as a fragrance brand has not only signaled the changes they have called the tune for others to dance to. Because of that the new releases from Chanel have larger significance than just a new fragrance from one of the founders of modern perfumery.

Last year No. 5 L’Eau was the first look at where Chanel might be heading. In-house perfumer Olivier Polge is given the opportunity with this change to claim the next era of Chanel fragrance as his own. No. 5 L’Eau was M. Polge’s attempt to find a middle ground between the past and the present. I thought it was a fantastic perfume brilliantly executed. M. Polge’s next fragrance is meant to be a new pillar for the house it is called Gabrielle.

Olivier Polge

M. Polge describes Gabrielle as an “abstract floral”. I am coming to realize when a fragrance brand uses “abstract” that is PR speak for a transparent style of perfume. The more correct description of Gabrielle is as a transparent floral. What is fascinating here is M. Polge is doing what he did with No. 5 L’Eau. He is taking some of the heavier perfume ingredients; finding a way to make them more expansive. Gabrielle succeeds with this task as M. Polge finds that same middle ground that he did with No. 5 L’Eau.

Gabrielle opens with a transitory citrus top accord using grapefruit as the focal point. The flowers begin to arrive straightaway. Neroli and ylang-ylang come first as they pick up on the sunny quality of the citrus transforming it to a floral version. There is a faux-aldehydic sparkle to this. The heart is all white flowers, orange blossom, tuberose, and jasmine. M. Polge doesn’t remove the indoles completely. They are dialed down but they are there and that choice makes the heart a more relevant accord than if M. Polge played it safe using non-indolic versions of the notes. What is here is an effusive version of this white floral bouquet without being insipid. The base is sandalwood and a few white musks which provides a linen-like closing accord.

Gabrielle has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Coco nee Gabrielle Chanel

The name of this perfume is Ms. Chanel’s name that she was born with before she became Coco. While wearing this and bearing that in mind it made me think Gabrielle the perfume represents Gabrielle the aspiring fashion icon. Still searching for exactly what she stands for while knowing there are some things which are going to be part of Gabrielle or Coco. This is also going to be how many perfume lovers approach this. If you have come to Chanel through Coco; Gabrielle might seem to be a trifle. If you are someone who has stayed away from Chanel because it is “too strong” or “too old” I believe Gabrielle might bring you to Chanel for maybe the first time. I do think Chanel is trying to send the message that you don’t have to go as far towards the transparent as many other brands seem to believe. Chanel seems to be saying that things change but the underlying style is ever present.

Disclosure: this review was based on a preview bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Commodity Bergamot- Bergamot Brilliantine

I am a sucker for a good bergamot focused perfume. I probably smell no ingredient more that bergamot. It is a staple of top accords of a huge amount of various fragrances. It is so common it is easy to forget it can be beautiful when given an opportunity to shine. Allowing the forgotten ingredient some time in the spotlight.

The most recent example of a fun bergamot perfume has come from a brand I sort of forget about, too. I receive a box of samples from Sephora quarterly. The brand Commodity has been a part of these boxes since their inception in 2014. The overall brand aesthetic is one of creating a minimalistic style of fragrance which reflects strongly whatever is on the label. For the most part I have found this stripped-down style to not have engaged me enough to wear one for a couple days so I could review it. This is not to say that I tossed the strips to the side. Most of the perfumes are done by some of my favorite perfumers and they deliver what is asked of them. When it came to Commodity Bergamot, perfumer Stephen Nilsen turns this style to his advantage.

 

Stephen Nilsen

The reason there are not many bergamot perfumes is because it doesn’t last very long. Even if a perfumer empties their bag of tricks the bergamot will be gone in a few short hours. Mr. Nilsen does his best to keep the bergamot around. Which is why there are only two other ingredients to note; amber and violet leaf.

The fragrance opens with a giant shot of bergamot. Every time I experience bergamot in this quantity I am reminded of the way light moves on silk fabric with flow and presence. Bergamot is a fast-moving ingredient. To extend its stay Mr. Nilsen uses some mandarin oil to extend the citrus feel although there is nothing like the first half-an-hour as the bergamot shines by itself. As the mandarin begins to become more present violet leaf gives a green platform from which amber eventually warms things up in the end.

Commodity Bergamot has 6-8 hour longevity and average sillage.

There is a shiny fabric called brilliantine that was used in fashion. As I wore Commodity Bergamot I kept thinking this was a perfume of sparkle given flow. It is a brilliant choice for midsummer because its simplicity makes it a refreshing unobtrusive companion.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Sephora.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Masque Milano Mandala- Harmonics

The best perfumes are all about harmonics. The ability to have a fixed focal point over which several specific notes provide overtones in a pleasant way. At least that’s the idea. There are lots of brands which mention this as a principle but Masque Milano Mandala used it as inspiration.

Riccardo Tedeschi and Alessandro Brun

The creative directors of Masque Milano, Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi, were inspired by the manner of singing by Tibetan monks. It is called overtone singing. It is a concept of two parallel singers finding a middle path between them by sticking to their choral lane. It is at its most compelling when widely different styles find within the combination something not found in either by themselves.

Christian Carbonnel

Sigs. Brun and Tedeschi brought in perfumer Christian Carbonnel to try and accomplish something similar with Mandala. They wanted to take a resinous track and in parallel run a fresh one. A mixture of deep and airy. It makes for a tricky effect to pull off for the entire time you wear Mandala. I also found less of the fresh line and more of a consistent spicy through line which was in the same pitch as the resins.

Sig. Carbonnel uses a silvery austere frankincense to set up the first moment of the resin line. The other line is nutmeg and a bit of angelica. This is where I got thrown a bit because the nutmeg is much more prominent than the angelica. Which is like another singer arriving and shoving the fresh one out of the way. That is compounded in the heart as cinnamon picks up the tune laid down by the nutmeg and asks clove and cardamom along. I think the cardamom was meant to be the fresh but it is happier playing with the warmer clove and cinnamon. The incense becomes stronger and some cedar is used to separate it from the other notes keeping it humming along. In the base myrrh adds some sweet tonality to what has been something severe to this point. The spices finally give way to ambergris which finally does provide the briny contrast to the resins. The woods remain as chaperone keeping the two sides apart.

Mandala has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Based on the description I was looking for something which really attempted to work disparate fragrance tracks into something memorable. I can see where there was meant to be that fresher presence but it never makes any impression until the end. Up until then it is spices and resins. Mandala is a good version of that style of fragrance as it still finds something worth sniffing even if this harmonic has been seen before.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Masque Milano.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Gucci Bloom- White Flower Emotions

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The Gucci fashion empire is amid change. Two years ago, the creative brain trust at the brand was overturned with young designer Alessandro Michele becoming the Creative Director. Of course, first on his list was to oversee the fashion aspect. Now he finally turns to the fragrance business with the first release under his creative direction; Gucci Bloom.

Alessandro Michele (Photo: Jamie Hawkesworth)

When it comes to fragrance Gucci has really never had a consistent brand identity. It doesn’t mean there haven’t been some great perfumes with Gucci on the label just nothing approaching cohesion from release to release. In many of the interviews Sig. Michele gave after being named to his post he would talk about how fashion is an emotional experience when it is at its best. I would also say that kind of attitude would be paramount in designing a perfume.

Alberto Morillas

For his first fragrance Sig. Michele couldn’t have chosen a better collaborator than perfumer Alberto Morillas. When I saw the photo of the bottle which accompanied my sample I didn’t even need the prompting from the PR to think it was in #Millennial pink. Which lead me to expect a transparent floral gourmand inside that container. Imagine my surprise to find a full-throated white flower fragrance instead.

The construction of Bloom is kept very simple with it being most easily described as a tuberose and jasmine perfume. Except where nearly everyone else is going for opaque Sig. Michele and Sr. Morillas go to the opposite. There is meant to be a fragrance with presence here.

Describing this is facile. It opens with tuberose and it is the creamy, buttery version of tuberose. The indoles are here but are the only part of the white flowers which are dialed back a little bit. Not gone but not enough to provide the full-on skank you find elsewhere. The jasmine is kept just a notch below the volume of the tuberose making it a supporting note but one which has an important role to play. The final note I experience is iris which provides a powdery finishing effect. There is supposed to be a proprietary note used here for the first time called Rangoon creeper, a version of Chinese honeysuckle. If it is here it is being used so subtly I was unable to experience it as a distinct presence. Maybe when I smell it in something where it is most prominent I’ll be able to re-visit Bloom and go, “Oh, yeah now I see it.”

Bloom has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Sig. Michele is definitely willing to allow a perfume lover’s emotion to carry the weight of how they will feel about this. It is an excellently executed white flower mainstream release. How you feel about that will probably decide your emotion when it comes to Bloom.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Gucci.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Aftelier Perfumes Curious- Another Roadside Attraction

The essence of curiosity is to look around the corner, walk through the door, open the book, or look inside the drawer. A life where one avoids these things is one where something inspiring is most likely missed. When we went on family road trips I had some of my most fun poking around in the roadside shops. The ones which had signs like “If you break it, you bought it.” Each place was an undiscovered country where possibility could present anything to me. I still have some of the items from those road trips on my desk. Those early discoveries remind me of what I might still find today.

Mandy Aftel

I wonder if the curious, today, spend too much time swiping and clicking their way through the electronic roadside shops. A step away from experiencing things on the electronic highway is something perfumer Mandy Aftel just opened recently.

Ms. Aftel has been a consistent source of reference for perfume lovers. Her first book “Essence and Alchemy” was one of the earliest essential fragrance references. Through her work with the Natural Perfumer’s Guild, in its early days, along with the classes she has taught her knowledge has been easily shared with many who want to try their hand at perfume making. I have no interest in making perfume myself although Ms. Aftel, through her books, has explained the basics I should be aware of. What all of you who have read my words know has been a consistent fascination for me are the ingredients. The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents is a museum of over three hundred natural sources of perfume ingredients. I don’t know how or when but I am going to go spend an hour inside this magnificent collection.

Until then I have to satisfy my curiosity with Ms. Aftel’s latest perfume inspired by her museum called, Aftelier Perfumes Curious. The idea behind the perfume is what it might smell like if you stood in the middle of The Aftel Archive of Curious Scents and inhaled. What comes to life in that breath is a mixture of smoky muskiness contrasted by spicy citrus.

Curious opens with a full-spectrum orange accord. Ms. Aftel combines the green leaf with a bitter orange. In the sour, the green finds some purchase to form an accord which feels rounded out. It gets roughed up a bit with some spices cutting through the citrus. The heart is smoke over wood. The wood is identified as Siam wood. It smells like an exotic hardwood after being charred a bit. This is a light smoke not the obtrusive kind you more often find. Out of the smoke comes tobacco absolute. Ms. Aftel calls it the ultimate botanical musk. I have never looked at it from that perspective. It is made more malleable by also using hay absolute as a catalyst to spark the development.

Curious has 8-10 hour longevity and minimal sillage.

Come Inside My Friends To the Show That Never Ends….

Curious is like the carnival barker enticing you closer to the attraction just through that door over there. Like those family road trips, I want to take a drive to Berkeley to visit this newest of roadside attractions wafting Curious the entire way.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Aftelier Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prada Candy Gloss- Cherry Baby

When it was released in 2011 I thought Prada Candy was one of the best mainstream fragrances released in a few years. In-house perfumer Daniela Andrier composed a perfectly pitched gourmand fragrance for the masses. It continues to be a big success and that of course means flankers must surely follow. The first couple kept the caramel core in place but last year’s Candy Kiss signaled a move away from that as vanilla was the gourmand note. The 2017 flanker, Candy Gloss, finishes the move towards a more transparent gourmand; which is only part of the story of what Candy Gloss provides.

This lightening up of perceived heavy accords is presumably to lure younger perfume lovers to the brand. What is particularly interesting in Candy Gloss is that the path to that is also inspired by notes and accord also seemingly favored by the young. It comes together in one of the best mainstream releases of this year, so far.

Daniela Andrier

The simple description of Candy Gloss is cherry, orange blossom, and vanilla; which is accurate. If you read that note list and think giggly thoughts you might be surprised at what unfolds once you wear Candy Gloss. One of my favorite soda drinks is a Cherry Lime Rickey. It is made with cherry syrup which is what Mme Andrier evokes here. It also has the effervescence of that drink in the early stages before the floral and gourmand phases arrive.

The cherry syrup is apparent in the first seconds. What Mme Andrier does with that is to take the slightly sour green of blackcurrant buds with a tiny amount of peach lactone to give it much more structure than just sticky fruit syrup. The choice of the blackcurrant twists the cherry into a near sour cherry accord and probably would have if not for the peach lactone pushing back. The orange blossom comes in and it reminds me a bit of the orange blossom water used in European versions of marshmallow. That is confirmed as the vanilla-almond-cherry nature of heliotropin mixes in with the orange blossom. Using heliotropin allows for the cherry to return in the later stages with a lighter presence. The warm benzoin which has been the connective tissue of all the Prada Candy fragrances is combined with a few musks to provide a warm embrace at the end.

Candy Gloss has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you get the impression I think Candy Gloss is a fun fragrance you would be correct. I don’t want to lose the fact that Mme Andrier has done a fantastic job at choosing her notes in-between to make this a fragrance of fun but one also constructed as solid as they come. It also brought back my memory of an old song of the 1970’s “Cherry Baby” by Starz. On the days, I wore this I couldn’t help myself humming the chorus of that classic while jonesing for a Cherry Lime Rickey.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Prada.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Minerale- Oud Tide

It is difficult to find some new way to present oud in fragrance. It was with some interest when I received my press sample and press packet for the new Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Minerale that they promised me something never been done before. It is a bit of classic PR overreach to say this is the first to graft oud on to a marine style fragrance in all of perfumery. As far as mainstream releases go it might be more accurate. It is certainly not a style done to death and it has not produced a memorable incarnation either.

Karyn Khoury

Tom Ford Private Blend creative director Karyn Khoury collaborates with perfumer Shyamala Maisondieu on Oud Minerale; the fourth in the Private Blend Oud collection. One of the most interesting aspects of the four Oud collection releases is all of them rely upon an oud accord to provide the titular note. Oud Minerale almost has to employ an oud accord because anything approaching the real stuff would have run roughshod over the rest of the fragrance. You can even say that this is why there are not a lot of oud marine perfumes because that balance would be very difficult to achieve using the real thing. Mme Maisondieu is able to take the flexibility using an accord gives her to find a place for oud to insert itself without being overwhelming.

Shyamala Maisondieu

The opening of Oud Minerale is one of the more accurate marine accords I’ve tried in quite a while. Mme Maisondieu uses a mixture of baie rose and seaweed. It evokes the clean smell of low tide in the early morning or twilight. There is a damp green vegetal note sharpened by the herbal focus of the baie rose. I found it natural as it grabbed in all of the seaside milieu. A bit of fir captures seaside pines while ambergris accord provides the briny ocean as it recedes. The entire marine effect is now assembled for Mme Maisondieu to take a mixture of salicylates, the synthetic aromachemical Pepperwood, and cypriol to form her oud accord. It uses the spiciness of the pepperwood to imitate the bite of real oud without it turning into something threatening. Once everything is in place the combination is expansive as being outside; it fills up all the space in a transparent overall effect. It rests on a base of vetiver, cedar, patchouli, and ambroxan which provide some depth to the oud as it lets go of the marine accord over time.

Oud Minerale has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Oud Minerale is a departure from the other members within the entire Tom Ford collection. It is a fresh take on oud which is perfect for the remaining summer months.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Tom Ford Beauty.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Naomi Goodsir Nuit de Bakelite- Artistry Rewarded

There are moments when I just feel that a creative project is going to be magnificent. I’ve recently received the proof that one of those has come to fruition. When I first met the creative team behind the Naomi Goodsir fragrance brand, Naomi Goodsir and Renaud Coutaudier, I felt like they were artists who had a real vision. Not only the vision but the determination with which to keep working at something until that vision was achieved. The other thing happened at that first meeting was they were telling me what they were working on. From the moment, I heard the name and the perfumer I knew this was something I could not wait for, but I would wait for over three years. The name was Nuit de Bakelite and the perfumer was Isabelle Doyen.

Just the name was going to draw me in because we had a whole stack of old Bakelite cooking dishes. The smell of those dishes all stacked up was fascinating to me in the way other industrial smells were. Bakelite was also used as costume jewelry from the Art Deco period until the mid 1970’s. It was in those later years that a group of free spirited women I was spending time with wore each wore a set of matching Bakelite bracelets which I associated with a certain type of experimental thinking. The sound of the bracelets coming together fell in between plastic and metallic. It was another unusual sound in which I found beauty.

Isabelle Doyen

Mme Doyen has been a pillar of the artistic niche perfumery sector since its beginning. She has been known mostly for her work with one brand, Annick Goutal. It is a body of work which shows what niche perfume can be. What has always set Mme Doyen apart for me is the more artistic experimental work she has done. Nowhere was that more evident in the three vetiver variations she produced for The Turtle Project. Those three perfumes are some of my favorite for the complete creative freedom they showed.

I also must mention Ms. Goodsir and M. Coutaudier. There are only a few creative teams in the niche perfume world who do not bow to the pressure of making perfume on a timetable. In many discussions with them they stress to me that they won’t release a perfume until they feel it is what they both want it to be. As a result, the entire Naomi Goodsir collection stands out for this dedication. Heaven knows I bugged them enough times about when Nuit de Bakelite was going to be released.

When I finally received my sample in the mail I was a bit afraid to tear in to the package and try it. There was so much that could be wrong. It sat on my desk for a full day before I finally did. What greeted me was a green tuberose. Once I sprayed it on I understood what Mme Doyen when she said, “Nuit de Bakélite evokes to me, a tuberose sap, peeled tuberose, tuberose in a cage made of green and leather, a focus on the small peduncle that connects the flower to the stem, the sound of plastic when several stalks of tuberose tangle, the wild majesty of the Persian tuberose.” I have always found there to be a strong plastic undercurrent beneath tuberose. That is captured here, it is the Bakelite part of Nuit de Bakelite. The tuberose here is not the flower, per se, it is the stem and sap primarily. You can’t really keep a note like tuberose down but you can find a way to display it differently which is what the creative team has done here.

Nuit de Bakelite opens with a strong green pairing of angelica and galbanum. It leads to an accord which evokes the green camphoraceous nature of tuberose along with the Bakelite plastic note. Bakelite is made from a reaction including aldehydes. There is an almost faux-aldehydic lift happening in this transition from the sharp green of the top to the more floral heart. Here Mme Doyen chooses a source of tuberose essentially scrubbed clean of the indoles. That has the effect of enhancing the buttery aspects of tuberose a skillful use of orris provides depth in place of the indoles. Over time a base of leather and tobacco provide the final brushstrokes. Most often these can be afterthoughts, not here. The tobacco softens the floral accord while doubling down on the natural narcotic quality of tuberose. The leather is a playful reminder of the vintage tuberoses which finished with a swaggering version. This is a hipster version hanging on the sidelines only interacting intermittently; when it seems right.

Nuit de Tuberose has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Although I’ve just spent a lot of words writing about Nuit de Bakelite I could go on and on. This is a concept which has been brilliantly realized using a focal point in a modern retelling of a vintage era. There are a few brands I point to when I want to exemplify all that artistic perfume can be; Naomi Goodsir continues to hold that place as Nuit de Bakelite is artistry rewarded.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Naomi Goodsir.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Anya’s Garden Strange Magic- Tincture Thaumaturgy

Natural perfumer Anya McCoy and I share a bond of geography and perfume. Ms. McCoy lives in South Florida where I grew up. The fragrance connection is obvious. Ms. McCoy is one of the people who tirelessly support the art of natural perfumery. She has been the long-time head of the Natural Perfumer’s Guild which I previously thought kept her from being as prolific as I might wish. When I received her latest creation Anya’s Garden Strange Magic I was perhaps given an alternative reason for so much time between perfumes; she doesn’t do it the easy way.

Anya McCoy

A consistent theme I take up when writing about the smaller independent perfumers is they can source and use materials a larger brand could never imagine using. Ms. McCoy has regularly sourced many of her focal points in her fragrances from a material of her own making using the traditional extraction methods like enfleurage or tinctures. That is one or two ingredients, out of many, but just that provides nuance because of the non-destructive extraction method. For Strange Magic, she decided to really go all in as 95% of the materials used are from tinctures she made herself.

I am going to give a quick primer on tincturing; if you want more I have included the link to Ms. McCoy’s story on how she tinctures here. What it is in the simplest of terms is placing a botanical material in cold alcohol and allowing it to sit at room temperature. After a few days, you remove the extracted material and recharge with new material. You keep repeating until the desired strength is achieved which can also be altered by allowing some evaporation, too. In any case this is not a process you do over a weekend, or a week, or even a month; it takes months to do correctly. Ms. McCoy explains on her website that she sees using tinctures as a more sustainable way of using natural ingredients. In theory, you can have tinctures going of everything you grow in your garden; recharging when the next set of flowers bloom.

White Champaca Tincture

Another oddity of tincturing is the color of the tincture doesn’t always match the color of the flower. On her website, she mentions the inspiration for Strange Magic began with her tincturing of white champaca flowers. As they were placed in the alcohol it didn’t stay colorless it instead turned a light shade of pink growing deeper in shade with each recharge. The picture above is from Ms. McCoy’s website. From there she decided to concoct a floral fantasia of tinctures.

What this results in is a symphony of floral notes carrying a different presence than you might normally encounter when they are used as essential oils. The first thing I noticed was how soft the entire perfume was. It is like the tincturing process removes any sharp edges. It is not that there aren’t moments of green or indoles shot throughout; it is just that they don’t blare and bully. Instead they hum at a moderate volume with a sustained presence. The other thing I noticed is Strange Magic doesn’t really have a top, heart and base pyramid; it is all there at the beginning and the end. The real magic is in seeing these very hard-won ingredients interact with each other to create a memorable floral natural perfume.

Strange Magic has 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Strange Magic is a perfume only an independent perfumer could make which makes it stand out more. Ms. McCoy has become the patron saint of tincture thaumaturgy in the 21st century. I am happy to wait to see what’s next while Strange Magic tides me over.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Anya’s Garden.

Mark Behnke