Amouage Fate Woman and Man: Impressions

Dear Scent Diary,

1013034_506257356094855_493262217_nThere are few niche perfume houses that can get perfumistas as frothed up about a new release the way Amouage can. The respect and reverence for the house, Creative Director Christopher Chong, and the perfumes themselves are palpable, if not overtly stated in every tweet, fragrance board comment and blog post devoted to them.

I was lucky enough to participate in a very early split of the two new Amouage Summer 2013 releases, Fate Woman and Fate Man, hosted by a fumie in Dubai who attended the launch event where she not only met Christopher Chong, but had the lasting thrill of having him sign her bottle.

After a couple of wearings of both fragrances, here are my impressions:

Unknown-4Amouage Fate Woman: From the first spritz, this chypre oriental is instantly likeable and wearable. The fresh bergamot at the open over the rich, sweet, woody base is likely responsible for my positive knee-jerk reaction. As things develop, the trademark Amouage rock rose lifts its head, followed by jasmine, though never far above the crowd – they stay within the woody, slightly spicy, insence-y, syrupy blend that strikes me as a relative of Andy Tauer’s famous base, affectionately known as ‘Tauerade’. An animalic hint gives it complexity and juxtaposition. After about 10 minutes, the sweetness thickens the perfume, though it never becomes sugary or dense. Instead, it becomes stupidly gorgeous. It begins to waft at this point and continues to project for the rest of its (very long) life on your skin.

images-1Amouage Fate Man: The first spritz of the pale green liquid took me by surprise with its complete lack of familiarity. I’ve never smelled anything quite like it. It opens with an inky, dense ‘blackness’ that is smokey, bitter and intense. It’s a brick of spice, cumin in particular, that’s been wrapped in black liquorice and set on fire. What you’re smelling is the thick black smoke the fire is producing. It is fascinating. After about ten minutes, the density breaks and the perfume turns softer, allowing you to smell some lovely woods, lavender and immortelle, with the cumin/liquorice fire still burning in the foreground. The projection is low but the lasting power is great, much like its sister. After many hours, the fire burns out and a slightly sweet warmth develops over the calm.

Unknown-3In my opinion, both these perfumes are fantastic. They last well over 12 hours, with Fate Woman throwing her weight around most, even at the end. Fate Man stays powerful but close to the skin for most of its life. At the very end, both scents share some notes in common and their resemblance as siblings is apparent. While Woman is beautiful and knowable very quickly, Man is a mysterious enigma that you want desperately to understand. They are each other’s yin and yang.

I would consider Fate Woman to be quite unisex as the florals never dominate and its sweet woodiness is akin to the drydown of any of the Tauer masculines. But I would imagine many women finding Fate Man difficult to pull off since it lacks any feminine cues. It is killer though, and of the two, it is the one I would consider Art (perhaps unapproachably so). I would recommend sampling each, regardless of your gender.

Perfumer for Amouage Fate Woman: Dorothee Piot.

Perfumer for Amouage Fate Man: Karine Vinchon-Spehner.


Smelling Hip: Osmia Organics Cedar Smoke

Dear Scent Diary,

Unknown-2I believe in natural products. I do.

I believe that our bodies are better able to process natural materials than chemicals. I do believe that we don’t know the safety of all the chemicals we are in contact with, that while safe in isolation, are unknown in all the multitudes of combinations we experience in daily life. I only buy natural hair and skin care products and clean our counters with vinegar and water. I don’t fully buy the staunch rebuttals I occasionally read in the fragrance community defending the use of chemicals in perfumes.

So. Do I have the conviction of my beliefs when it comes to the perfume I wear and purchase? Of course not. You overestimate me. I am a perfume whore.

I have tried many natural perfumes and own several, though they make up only a small fraction of my overall collection. I was, however, first in line to try the Honore des Pres natural range created by Olivia Giacobetti and own a couple. While I’m far too weak and under the spell of all perfumes, including synthetic and mixed media to reject any works of art, I am always looking for interesting new natural lines and a way to assuage my guilt for being a hypocrite.

529539_353204208114195_1049539819_nOsmia Organics is a relatively new brand of skin care, soaps and perfumes started in 2010 by ex-emergency room doctor, Sarah Villafranco. Cedar Smoke is one of ten perfume samples sent to me by the owner and perfumer, and it’s the one that jumped out at me right away – perhaps because I live in the Pacific Northwest and it smells just like a hike in a lush forest after a rain. Paradoxically, it also smells like it would be very at home worn by a hipster with a beard, wearing Japanese raw denim, a $200 plaid shirt and reading Norman Mailer in a coffee shop. Somehow, it would fit the aesthetic perfectly.

Unknown-1Cedar Smoke is a sappy, young cedar wood fragrance that opens quite green (like the scent of a cedar twig that you’ve tried to break but can’t because the wood is too new and young). It dries to a sweet, woody, insence-y, bone dry, eco sexy scent that lasts around four hours. If you live in Brooklyn and fit the description above, you need this fragrance.

And if you can afford the $300 jeans and $200 flannel shirt, you can probably afford Cedar Smoke better than the rest of us. It’s $150 for .48 ounces. However, all of us can afford to sample – Osmia Organics scents are available for only $2 per 1 ml vial at While you’re ordering, try Couro, their new and very interesting leather fragrance made of an accord of oud, amber and tobacco, and Taza, a sweet, spicy, buttery gourmand scent that’s delicious and lasts and lasts.

*This review was not sponsored and I’m not affiliated with the link.

The Beauty of Sadness: The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

Dear Scent Diary,

To my husband’s utter dismay, I’m a jasmine lover.  If I wear a jasmine perfume in his presence he respectfully pretends not to notice, but if we’re in the car, he’s been known to roll down the windows dramatically and hang his head out, mock gasping for air. You now know what I’m dealing with. We’ve finally traced his repulsion to an association he has with his mother wearing jasmine perfume in the car when he was a boy during a time when he was prone to being carsick. Okay, based on that, I suppose I’ll allow the goofy histrionics.Unknown

Jasmin de Nuit is not exactly a jasmine scent. I know this to be true because my husband likes it. He nods his head and pushes his bottom lip out when I slip my Jasmin de Nuit perfumed wrist under his nose.

Jasmine is of course a part of the perfume’s composition but the impression the fragrance gives is not of a sweet, bright white floral. Clearly. The dry down is in fact more akin to carrot cake than it is to a flower. But something about this spicy, amber-y jasmine tinged with humanity and sadness breaks my heart.  Just like a chord of music that can somehow embody the feeling of heartbreak, Jasmin de Nuit takes me to a melancholy place almost immediately. Guerlain’s L’heure Bleu, while a different scent altogether, has a similar effect on me.

Unknown-1images-2The fragrance opens with cardamom, cinnamon, anise and an undercurrent of low-register indolic jasmine. Musky humanity is present, either as a part of the indoles or as a note unto itself. Within ten minutes, the cardamom and other spices become even more dominant while sandalwood and amber begin to seep in. Still present though is the low-pitched, melancholy indole of the jasmine. The bright, sweet, high register portion of the note that we expect when we hear ‘jasmine’ is missing, and with it, its cheer.

everything's going to be alrightPerhaps if perfumer Celine Ellena and The Different Company had named this scent Sunday Evening (in French of course), fewer people would be frustrated by their expectations of a heady, uplifting jasmine scent. Perhaps instead, they would enjoy the spice, sandalwood, amber and indole of this gorgeous fragrance and succumb to the exquisite sadness its beauty brings.

That, or just have a spouse that keeps the perfume’s name a secret.

Action packed: Mona di Orio Vanille

Dear Scent Diary,

MonaDiOrioVanilleI’ve tried few perfumes that move as quickly as Mona di Orio Vanille. Without exaggeration, you must smell your wrist every couple of minutes or you’ll miss a twist or turn in the development of the fragrance. I kid you not, you must put aside an hour or so if you’d like to catch everything. Half an hour at minimum.

Here’s a recap of the action I witnessed:

The opening is surprisingly fresh with an orange note that second by second gets surrounded by others: vetiver, rum, leather, clove, amber. Within five minutes, it smells almost completely different. Gone is the bright freshness, replaced wholly by darker, thicker notes whose texture you’d visualize as a paste. Tonka bean and amber begin to dominate as well as something, well, burnt.

Within another five minutes that ‘something burnt’ starts to demand more of your attention. Something smouldering, or perhaps smouldering only a few moments ago but now stamped out. Give it a few more minutes and yes, the smell is fully formed: it’s a butted out cigarette – but in a lovely way! I admit to stupidly feeling invincible enough at one time in my life to have smoked and I remember this smell very well. It’s the densely bitter smell of tar combined with the aroma of fresh dried tobacco leaves (the remainder of the cigarette) and a whiff of smoke. Blended seamlessly with the vanillic amber that’s sweetening by the moment, and you have Md’O Vanille at the 15 minute mark.

Within another five minutes the plush vanilla finally begins to take centre stage (a balsamic, leathery bean, not a cupcake). The warm, dry sweetness makes me wonder if it might be twinning L’Artisan’s Vanille Absolutement, another vanilla with a dry, bittersweet tonka note. A spritz of that one denies the resemblance – the remnants of the cigarette butt (in a good way!) makes Md’O Vanille its own perfume. This stage lasts the longest of all the stages so far. A whole half an hour!

The change that happens next creeps up rather slowly. But before you know it, the heavy, burnt darkness of the last stage lifts and reveals a balmy, uplifting vanilla scent that’s rich, feels slightly floral and is grounded with amber, tonka, vetiver and resins.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 7.11.51 PMWatch Mona herself describe the story she had in mind when developing the fragrance in this video. The entire thing is  fascinating and heartbreaking to watch but she talks about Vanille from 6:25 to 11:12.

As you may know, Mona di Orio died on December 9th, 2011 at the age of 42 due to tragic complications after back surgery. This is the announcement on her facebook page on the day of her passing.

I continue to be shocked by her death to this day.

Celebrities Who Wear Niche Perfume

Dear Scent Diary,

There are lists scattered around the internet of the perfumes celebrities favour, most of which are messy and missing key information (which one from Dior??). Mainly, I find them frustrating and tiring. But I admit to being curious as to which current celebs are partial to niche perfumes (I don’t particularly care who wears DKNY Be Delicious). Since I couldn’t find what I was looking for, I took it upon myself to compile the darn thing. Turns out L’Artisan and Annick Goutal are quite popular, as are Creed and Guerlain. Anyway, here’s the list.

(Main source: The Celebrity Fragrance Guide.)

Alanis Morrisette ~ Serge Lutens A La Nuit, Serge Lutens Douce Amere

angelina-jolie 1969-120ml-4floz1-e1359470291659Angelina Jolie ~ Blvgari Black, Creed Love In White, Histoires Parfums 1969

Anne Hathaway – Byredo Rose Noir

Ashley Olsen ~ Dior Bois D’Argent, L’Artisan Mure Et Musc

Billy Idol ~ Diptyque L’Ombre Dans L’Eau

Cate Blanchett ~ Clinique Aromatics Elixir, L’Artisan Mure Et Musc, Donna Karan Black Cashmere

Christina Hendricks ~ L’Artisan Premier Figuier

David Bowie – Creed Silver Mountain Water

Diane Sawyer ~ Vast fragrance collection including Annick Goutal, Frederic Malle, Jo Malone, Shalimar, Chanel

Drew Barrymore ~ Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, Diptique Fig room spray

georgeclooney.png UnknownGeorge Clooney ~ Creed Green Irish Tweed, Carthusia Mediterraneo, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur

Gwyneth Paltrow ~ She wore Calyx in the past and now loves: Fresh Index Pear Cassis, Chanel Coco, Estee Lauder Pleasures, Rouge Hermes, Il Profumi di Firenzi Ambre Del Nepal, Chanel 19, Antonia’s Flowers, Kisu Tann Rokka, Tom Ford Black Orchid. Has a collection of over 50 bottles.

Halle Berry ~ L’Artisan Premier Figuier, MPG Tubereuse


Jemma Kidd ~ Serge Lutens Fleurs D’Oranger

Jennifer Aniston ~ L’Artisan Dzongkha

Jennifer Lopez ~ MPG Tubereuse, Creed Tuberose Indiana, Creed Silver Mountain Water

Jennifer Love Hewitt ~ Lalique EDP, Creed Tuberose Indiana

Jessica Alba ~ Chanel No. 5 (her mothers when she was a child) Jo Malone Blue Agava & Cacao, Miss Dior Cherie, Hermes Un Jardin En Mediterranee, Narciso Rodriquez Essence, Honore Des Pres Vamp A NY

Julia Roberts~ Creed Spring Flower, Kai, Guerlain L’Heure Bleu

Unknown-2imagesKarl Lagerfeld ~ Annick Goutal Heure Exquise, Guerlain Apres L’Ondee, Le Labo Neroli 36

Kate Beckinsale ~ L’Artisan Fleur De Carotte, Robert Piguet Fracas, Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Kate Bosworth ~ L’Artisan La Chasse Aux Papillons, Bryedo Gypsy Water

Kate Hudson ~ Aftelier Jasmine & Orange Blossom

Kate Middleton ~ Dior Dune, Illuminum White Gardenia Petals

a76ae91af91273a1_0-katemoss.xlargeUnknown-1Kate Moss ~ Demeter Dirt, Penhaligons Bluebell, Chanel No. 5, Acqua Di Parma Colonia, Agent Provocateur, Stella McCartney Stella, Escentric Molecules Molecule 01, Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, Dior Passage No. 8, Tocca Cleopatra candles

Katie Holmes ~ Clive Christian No. 1 for her wedding ($865 for 50 ml in case you’re running low…)

Kirsten Dunst ~ Serge Lutens Chergui, L’Artisan Passage D’Enfer

Leonardo Di Caprio ~ Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien

madonnaUnknown-3Madonna ~ Robert Piguet Fracas, Dior Hypnotic Poison, Estee Lauder Youth Dew, Demeter Dirt, Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien, Caron Narcisse Noir, Guerlain Nahema, Lorenzo Villoresi (Sting & Trudy commisioned LV to create a custom musky oriental scent as a birthday gift), Guerlain Habit Rouge, Creed Tubereuse Indiana, Escentric Molecules Molecule 01, IF (orders it in bulk)

Michael Douglas ~ Annick Goutal Petite Cherie (good for him, I think)

Mick Jagger ~ Chanel Cuir De Russie, Guerlain Vetiver

Mila Kunis ~ Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, Kai

Naomi Campbell ~ Creed Spring Flowers, Caron Muguet du Bonheur, Guerlain Vetiver, Creed Green Irish Tweed, Dior Diorissimo, L’Artisan Ambre Extreme

Nicole-Kidman-9364474-1-402 Unknown-4Nicole Kidman ~ Annick Goutal Eau Du Sud, Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien, Diptyque Olene, Thierry Mugler Angel, Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose, Annick Goutal Mimosa Pour Moi, Chanel No. 5, mixes her own oils (vanilla, patchouli and musk combo)

Nicole Richie ~ Houbigant Quelques Fleurs (she’s been wearing it since the 7th grade), Bond No. 9 Bleeker Street

Penelope Cruz ~ L’Artisan Merchant Loup, Chanel No. 5

Prince Charles ~ Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien, Creed Green Irish Tweed, C&E West Indian & Sicilian Lime Extract, Penhaligons Blenheim Bouquet

Unknown-5 mblenedtPrince William ~ Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet

Russell Crowe ~ Creed Green Irish Tweed

Ryan Reynolds ~ Le Labo Patchouli 24

Sandra Bullock ~ Annick Goutal Eau Du Ciel, Acqua di Parma Colonia, Dior Dune

Sarah Jessica Parker ~ The famous personal mix of Bonne Bell Skin Musk, Egyptian Oil and Comme Des Garcons Incense Avignon, Penhaligon’s Violetta body lotion, Guerlain Vetiver and a few others (see below)…

Sarah Jessica Parker's bathroom and perfume collection.

Sarah Jessica Parker’s bathroom and perfume collection (this photo is from when her apartment was on the market). I spy a Frederic Malle, Bvlgari The Vert, Hermes Eau d’Orange Vert and is that a Prada Infusion D’Iris?

Sean Combs (P.Diddy) ~ Creed Green Irish Tweed

Sofia Coppola ~ Robert Piguet Fracas, Diptyque Olene, Serge Lutens Fleurs D’Oranger

Sofia Vergara ~ oils from the Middle East, Hermes Elixir Des Merveilles, Creed Jardin D’Amafi

Tom Cruise ~ Annick Goutal Eau de Sud, Guerlain Vetiver, Annick Goutal Eau Du Ciel, Annick Goutal Eau d’ Hadrien, GendarmeUnknown-7Unknown-6

Tory Burch ~ Guerlain Vetiver

Vladimir Putin – Amouage Gold Man