Verbena Absoluta by Acqua di Stresa

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: citrus, lemon verbena, geranium, neroli, freesia, sandalwood, white musk
Similar to Heeley's Verveine d'Eugene, Verbena Absoluta is a minimalist and soapy verbena effort.

The citrus, lemon verbena and geranium convey a verdant balminess, with a modest citrus infusion. Although it isn't as bracing as expected, it's still pleasant. The florals aren't noticeably sweet and they serve to underscore the composition's green aromatic premise. Sadly, its evolution is uninspiring and the woody-musk base is both apologetic and forgettable.

As always with this house, longevity and sillage are both underwhelming.


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Mentha Citrata by Acqua di Stresa

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: bergamot, citrus, absinthe, mint, violet leaves, camellia, cedar, white musk
Mentha Citrata is based on a herb of the same name, also known as bergamot mint, lemon mint, orange mint, lime mint, horsemint and water mint. In addition to the listed notes, one also catches the possible inclusion of some verbena. The absinth reveals itself shortly afterwards but the composition rapidly fades into oblivion.

Overall, it's both a timid and forgettable citrus-aromatic, lasting less than three hours.


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Calycanthus Brumae by Acqua di Stresa

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: tiger balm, black pepper, ginger, calycanthus, honeysuckle, nutmeg, frankincense
Opening with a pepper and ginger coupling, a mentholated camphor chord shines through almost immediately. The calycanthus is very apparent but exudes an unmistakable plastic nuance, with the honeysuckle relegated to the background. Emitting a sombre aura, with minimal sweetness, waves of spicy frankincense intensify as its drydown ensues.

Calycanthus Brumae has respectable lasting power and modest sillage.


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Camellia Soliflor by Acqua di Stresa

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: black pepper, clove, camellia, jasmine, white woods, white musk
Camellia Soliflor is a well-composed but simple creation, mainly consisting of camellia, possibly a hint of rose, and some jasmine. With soft pink hues, it's delicately sweet, warm and reserved – even the spices are timid in their general demeanour. During the drydown, a faint musky woodiness is also discernible.

Sadly, with regards to longevity, it's disappointing to say the least. Personally, one would only recommend it to those who appreciate the minimalist creations from Heeley.


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Osmanthus Fragrans by Acqua di Stresa

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: osmanthus, peach blossom, peppermint, white tea, cedar, white musk
Osmanthus Fragrans commences with a jammy floral sweetness that's extremely persuasive, before promptly fading to reveal a rather verdant tea accord. The transition from fruity sweet to fresh is admirable but, like most of the offerings from this house, longevity is a deeply concerning issue.

With virtually no projection, it comes across more as an Eau de Toilette than an Eau de Parfum. The quality is there but it lacks sufficient substance.


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Electra by Sigilli

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: sage, leather, woods, benzoin, ambergris, labdanum, patchouli, frankincense, musk
Supposedly revolving around ambergris, Electra isn't the sensual elixir that one was expecting...

The sage is too aggressive, the serving of the woody-leather aspect is somewhat heavy-handed, and its overall construction is clumsy and leaves one cold. One also can definitely discern some cedar, amongst a piercingly fresh patchouli accord that resides in the base, which doesn't really help matters. And although the composite of base notes gradually sweetens and improves things, it fails to compensate for what went on before.

Personally, one considers Electra to be an inferior version of l'Ó Profumo's Kalos (especially into the drydown). So, if you're passing through Florence any time soon, consider getting a bottle of that instead.


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Bayan Mulak by Sigilli

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: pine, grass, flowers, woods, moss, animalic notes
Bayan Mulak is the name of an area that stretches from the taiga (a biome comprising of coniferous forests) to the tundra (a biome consisting of dwarf shrubs, sedges, grasses, mosses and lichens), given by the natives of northern Mongolia.

Intended to be a woody-floral aromatic, Bayan Mulak is a complete failure. Most of the notes are discernible to a certain degree, especially the pine and florals, but a synthetic body cream aroma is omnipresent throughout. It also worsens when the moss surfaces, reminding one of the synthetic abomination that is Givenchy's Pi.

There's nothing either beautiful or panoramic about this oppressive toxic mess.


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Hymba by Sigilli

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: citrus, myrtle, milk, vanilla, omumbiri, birch, cedar, sandalwood, ambergris
"Himba is the name given to a semi-nomadic population living in the deserts of northern Namibia... The Himba women extract a particular resin, called omumbiri, from a plant that originates in that area... They mix this with butter and red soil to make a compound, which they rub on their bodies..."

Hymbra is a wonderfully resinous woody-gourmand, with velvety milky undertones. Interestingly, it's also one of those few occasions where the description of the fragrance matches one's olfactory perception of it.

Both the citrus and myrtle are fleeting but leave a lasting impression, as a milky resinous heart unfolds against a woody backdrop. With omumbiri being the star accord, it emits a gentle yet fine spicy nuance, while discreet traces of vanilla weave throughout. Overall, it never becomes too earthy but, instead, transforms into something lighter and brighter. During the drydown, both the cedar and sandalwood are buttery, sweet and powdery.

With moderate projection and respectable longevity, one views Hymba as the male counterpart to Volumna. It's also one of the more rewarding offerings from this house.


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Coccobello by Heeley

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: sea salt, palm leaves, gardenia, coconut, Bourbon vanilla, benzoin, Virginian cedar, sandalwood
Coccobello is a woody-floral, which attempts to encapsulate the raw aroma of a freshly opened coconut, within the context of a verdant tropical olfactory setting.

It opens with a sharp and salty palm leaf accord, alongside some gritty cedar. The coconut only plays a minute role and remains watery in its stature. At the same time, it's not milky, sweet or in custody of the suntan lotion connotations that plague such offerings. However, although the palm leaf provides a good contrast, the cedar is annoyingly overbearing.

Midway through its development, the gardenia gradually surfaces but never overwhelms the woody properties of the composition. Combined with the vanilla and benzoin, a creamy floral aura melds with the dry cedar note, as a faint green coconut nuance is ever-present. Unfortunately, the further it develops, the more synthetic it smells – not even the sandalwood helps to turn things around.

While its performance is largely mellow, both sillage and longevity are just as lacking as most of the fragrances from this house. While the concept is admirable, its execution could have been a lot better.


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Hippie Rose by Heeley

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: Italian bergamot, green moss, Bulgarian rose, patchouli, frankincense, Haitian vetiver, amber, musk
As opposed to the soapy, animalic or woody renditions of rose, Hippie Rose goes for the earthy option but fails to hit the mark by a large margin.

Opening with some bergamot, the composition is greatly marred by the ill-judged addition of green moss to the top notes. Maybe it was intended to accentuate a grassy earthiness, to further highlight the hippy concept, but it results in the rose smelling both unrealistic and synthetic.

Harbouring a somewhat murky undertone, the clarity of the rose and patchouli pairing improves over time but is too candied for one's liking. As it calms down, delicate wafts of frankincense materialise with the vetiver lurking in the shadows. As for the ambery musk finale, it's both sweet and clean but nothing more.

Compared to other rose-based fragrances, it offers nothing new and smells more like a generic designer scent. Furthermore, projection is so-so and its lasting power is unremarkable.

An Eau de Parfum?! Not by a long shot.


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