Living Lavender by Esperienze Olfattive

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: grapefruit, lemon, lime, bitter orange, lavandin, lavender, tonka bean
Living Lavender is a deliciously sweet citrus creation, where the name is somewhat of a misnomer.

The citrus introduction is both deliriously candied and powdery, and is redolent of sherbet lemon boiled sweets. The grapefruit intensifies the lemon's acerbic properties, while both the orange and lime merely serve to provide an extra citric dimension. And just like the confection, the olfactory effect is excessively sweet, full-bodied and extremely tantalising.

As it progresses towards the mid notes, the lavandin and lavender coupling gradually emerge, in the midst of a lemon-induced sugar frosted haze. The tonka bean, which was already evident from the offset, slowly increases its stature while the citrus accords begin to recede. It's at this point that one is briefly reminded of Profumum's Dulcis in Fundo and, later on to a larger extent, Chypre Palatin by Parfums MDCI.

With the late-drydown consisting of tonka bean, traces of citrus and lavender, and possibly oakmoss, one feels that the name fails to adequately describe the fragrance itself. And although some lavender is quite perceptible throughout, it pretty much resides in the background. But, in saying that, it's still a lovely powdery and creamy citrus offering for those who have a sweet tooth.

Projection is moderate but it gracefully lingers on the skin for at least six hours.


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DolceDesiderio by Esperienze Olfattive

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: geranium, Bulgarian rose, Turkish rose, patchouli, labdanum, benzoin, vanilla, rosewood
Inspired by the 18th century novel No Tomorrow, by Dominique Vivant Denon, about a tryst between a Madame and her young lover, in a villa outside Paris, Dolcedesiderio is a luscious and romantic rose affair.

Devoid of any citrus accords, the geranium immediately sets the scene. The rose coupling that soon follows is radiant, voluptuous and very seductive. The Bulgarian rose stands out the most, with its crystalline, spicy and creamy elegance, and smells as natural as the very absolute itself. This exuberant and velvety stage lingers for some time, before a hint of patchouli comes to the fore. But, instead of going down the dreaded woody route, it heads down a creamy ambery path, which does more justice to the rose bouquet.

With a gentle dusty aspect, during the late-drydown, it's a beautiful rose creation with a timeless aura about it. Like most of Roberto Dario's offerings, it's seamlessly blended and possesses an organic quality. However, one wished that it had significantly more presence on the skin.

Lasting power is under two hours.


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Lavanda d'Oriente by Esperienze Olfattive

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: bergamot, lavender, patchouli, cistus, Atlas cedar, vetiver, tonka bean, oakmoss
With a professional background in chemistry, and a course with the Grasse Institute of Perfumery (GIP) under his belt, Roberto Dario is the founder of the Italian niche house, Esperienze Olfattive.

Using all natural ingredients, his creations are masterfully blended and are evocative of the traditional Eaux de Cologne of yesteryear. Available in Eau de Parfum concentration, Roberto's compositions are largely fresh and organic, and often possess a lavender theme. Lavanda d'Oriente is one study of this accord.

The first thing that one notices is how, unlike Roberto's other lavender-themed offerings, the floral aspect of the lavender is allowed to breathe. This is probably because it's also the only lavender-themed release that doesn't feature any lavandin, which tends to be drier and more camphorous. As a result, the lavender is sparkling and fresh, exhibiting various olfactory properties of this material.

Its overall aroma is rustic and serene, as a woody-amber backdrop materialises. With a smooth transition from beginning to end, the patchouli, cistus and oakmoss are clearly identifiable, while the cedar gradually provides a darker and woodier denouement.

While one finds it enjoyable, it seems to be missing something towards the drydown. Possibly some animalic musk could have made a difference but, after the opening, its oriental woodiness is somewhat bland. And then there's the lack of tenacity and sillage, which doesn't help matters.

Although Lavanda d'Oriente isn't a personal favourite, it still has some redeeming qualities.


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Attimi by Esperienze Olfattive

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: grapefruit, clary sage, lavandin, chamomile, rosewood
Being 100% natural, Attimi isn't tenacious nor a powerhouse by any means.

Instead, it's very reminiscent of a traditional Eau de Cologne, with grapefruit, light woods and aromatic accents. After the grapefruit, the next noticeable accord is the clary sage, adding a green herbaceous touch. And both the lavandin and camomile further reinforce that herbaceous aspect, instead of revealing an outright floral core. One can also discern a suggestive spiciness throughout most of its lifespan.

As for the drydown, it's slightly citrusy yet sublime, featuring rosewood and possibly a hint of either castoreum or civet. With a gentle creaminess, a discreet faecal quality and a sweet sherbet-like texture, towards the end, one finds its evolution positively engaging.

Lasting under four hours, it's extremely pleasant for what it is. One's only reservation is that the grapefruit isn't as fresh or bracing as originally expected. Still, the quality of the ingredients is apparent, it's well-executed and is very affordable for an Eau de Parfum.


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A Come... by Esperienze Olfattive

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: bergamot, cardamom, cinnamon, neroli, rose, jasmine, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, vetiver, amyris
A Come... starts out vaguely similar to Living Lavender but with a heavy spiciness to it.

Featuring a prominent cardamom note, A Come... isn't as candied and lush as Living Lavender, but that lemon sherbet aspect is still discernible beneath the spices. Any comparisons are halted when a floral core emerges and interacts with the top notes. With a sweetness that's more subdued, the rose and jasmine gently pulsate, while mild woody facets brood in the background.

By the time it reaches the drydown, the woods and vanilla are more evident, and any spiciness is reduced to a bare minimum. This stage is quite alluring but, at the same time, it doesn't come across as structurally sound as most of its siblings. With the sandalwood-esque amyris in the base, the final moments on the skin result in a dusty woody-vanillic sheen.

For those who found Living Lavender too sweet, A Come... would be a reasonable substitute, especially given its woody foundation. However, one feels that it could have been executed better. The cardamom is sometimes at odds with the rest of the composition, some clarity is lacking and the floral notes could have been given a bit more emphasis. Still, one can't deny that the late-drydown is rather intoxicating.

As always with this house, projection is moderate but its staying power is at least six hours.


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Lavanda Fizz by Esperienze Olfattive

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: bergamot, grapefruit, verbena, lavandin, lavender, neroli
As the name suggests, Lavanda Fizz is a sprightly hesperidic, spiked with some lavender, within the context of a classic Eau de Cologne (but in Eau de Parfum concentration).

With a wonderfully effervescent citrus and lavender blast, its natural freshness is truly captivating. The demure verbena reinforces the citrus aspect, but it's the sweetness of neroli that adds a lovely touch to the composition as a whole. Right until the very end, all the ingredients are well-proportioned and blended exceedingly well, with a drydown that's just as sweet, bright and clean as the mid notes.

Perfectly unisex and extremely easy to wear, it's literally a breath of fresh air when compared to many modern, and somewhat ostentatious, niche releases. Possessing modest sillage, and persisting for around three hours, one wished it lasted just as long as other releases from this impressive niche house.

Regardless of this minor quibble, it's an excellent effort that all lovers of Eaux de Cologne should investigate.


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Spicy Lavender by Esperienze Olfattive

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: lemon, nutmeg, clove, verbena, lavandin, lavender, Virginia cedar, sandalwood
Spicy Lavender practically bypasses the citrus top notes and, with a pungent blast, showcases an almost pure lavender accord.

Not only is it natural and true-to-life, but the lavender exhibits more of its camphorous, herbaceous and woody properties instead of any floral suggestions. There's also a skanky facet that accompanies the opening, leading one to assume that this is primarily due to the combination of the lavandin and emerging spices.

As the lavender eventually settles down, a bold clove accent increases its volume, resulting in a dusty, peppery and austere heart. With subtle animalic undertones still evident, this stage presents the perfect moment for the cedar to emerge – resulting in an even drier aura. During the drydown, a dark woody spiciness ensues, but the sharp herbaceous properties of the lavender are occasionally discernible from time to time.

Out of all of Roberto Dario's creations, Spicy Lavender is probably his most masculine to date. However, even though one finds it intriguing, one is unable to fully appreciate some of the intentional rough edges. But, overall, it's an interesting woody rendition of lavender that's worth looking into.

Sillage is low, with longevity of close to three hours.


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L'Eau Scandaleuse by Anatole Lebreton

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: bergamot, peach, davana, ylang-ylang, tuberose, nagarmotha, leather, oakmoss, castoreum
L'Eau Scandaleuse is a sensual leathery-floral, which isn't too aggressive or overpowering.

The juicy opening of bergamot, peach and davana sets the scene for the white florals. Although still somewhat narcotic, the presence of both the tuberose and ylang-ylang are more restrained than heady, as they emanate their creamy floral properties.

As for the leather, it's more of an aged, tanned and gentle leather accord, which is devoid of any tarry or smoky facets. A touch of oakmoss is discernible, in the base, but it's the castoreum that truly shines – accentuating the indolic properties of the tuberose, while providing an enchanting animalic backdrop.

By and large, it's a very sultry and harmoniously blended effort, and serves as an indication of interesting things to come from Anatole Lebreton. However, one's main concern lies is in its minimal projection and disappointing longevity. If it performed much better on the skin, one would have given it an extra star.

Regardless of this, L'Eau Scandaleuse would be a great alternative for those who found Frédéric Malle's Carnal Flower too earthy and clinical.


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Bois Lumière by Anatole Lebreton

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: mandarin, clary sage, Corsican juniper berry, fir balsam, rose, carnation, honey, beeswax, immortelle, benzoin, Atlas cedar
Bois Lumière is based on the inhospitable climate of a garrigue (a shrubland ecoregion found in Mediterranean forests and woodlands) during drought season.

The opening is candy sweet, slightly smoky and intensely aromatic, with the clary sage acting as a foil for the mandarin, juniper and fir balsam. Both the honey and beeswax are present right from the start, and continue to linger throughout the fragrance's lifespan.

Towards the mid notes, the florals are discreet but the carnation emits spicy subtleties, which sets the scene for the emergence of the immortelle and benzoin. The cedar base attempts to reinforce a dry or resinous aura but, with the sweetness from the other notes being so overwhelming, it ultimately fails.

With animalic nuances from the beeswax, it's a respectable woody effort. However, the olfactory depiction of a sun-scorched garrigue could have been more accurate if it wasn't so sweet. Also, the cedar-infused drydown is too predictable. Still, one can't dispute that the first half of the composition was worth experiencing – it's just a pity that the final act is so derivative.

Projection is moderate, with disappointing longevity of under three hours.


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L'Eau de Merzhin by Anatole Lebreton

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: angelica root, galbanum, violet leaves, water hyacinth, cassie, acacia, hawthorn, orris, heliotrope, vernal grass, hay, coumarin, anisaldehyde, tonka bean, oakmoss, ambrettolide, cresols
Anatole Lebreton is a new and upcoming French niche perfumer, and L'Eau de Merzhin takes it inspiration from childhood memories of the great outdoors.

Described as "the perfume of a childhood spent running around in meadows, venturing through the deep mossy woods and the mysterious moors of the Breton countryside", it commences with an exuberantly raw and bitter freshness.

Opening with some angelica root, one instantly discerns a sharp body cream aroma. With some galbanum and violet leaf providing a verdant touch to the top notes, the light florals are more aromatic than floral. With regards to the orris and heliotrope, they aren't noticeably powdery, but the orris does provide a vegetal earthiness.

With vernal grass, hay and coumarin in the heart, the greenness detected at the very beginning is successfully maintained. It's also very well-blended, without the coumarin being overwhelming. As it approaches the base, the aroma is somewhat redolent of wild grass and fresh hay.

However, even at this stage, that piercing body cream aura still persists, which interferes with one's enjoyment of the composition. Chances are it's due to a heavy-handed serving of anisaldehyde – an aroma chemical with a strong almond odour and spicy-floral nuances. Whatever it is, it does ruin the overall experience.

During the late-drydown, traces of oakmoss and musk remain discernible. But the performance on the skin is so faint that it's almost completely overlooked. Poor tenacity, coupled with an overdose of anisaldehyde, fails to completely win one over, thus making L'Eau de Merzhin just another green-themed niche fragrance that misses the mark.


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