Serge Lutens: ‘Perfume is potentially a carrier for the imagination’

I seem to have fallen out of the habit of reviewing perfumes, even though perfumery is still a major interest of mine. (But being the space cadet that I am, I cycle through interests and get all weirdly intense about one thing before losing focus on it and moving on to something else completely different)

Hence, here’s another 30 day (of sorts) challenge in which I review mainstream perfumes that I currently own in my collection. Think of it as a cross between a long-overdue perfume wardrobe 2018 update and a Autumn/Winter Indie Perfume Collection review challenge, if you will.

This will eventually be the master post of the perfumes that I’m reviewing over the course of October, and because I am not a monster, the list will be arranged alphabetically in terms of perfume house and perfume name.

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Sixteen92; 2016 Winter Collection

it’s been a while since I did one of these, isn’t it? I don’t think I’ve even gotten around to fully testing out the Halloween/Fall collections, which I’ve received quite a while ago. Why? Sheer laziness, I suppose, and a general sort of tiredness regarding indie perfumes. Not that I’ve been blown away with mainstream/designer/crazily priced niche houses either. These days my go-to scent is Maison Martin Margiela’s Flying, which I’ll be posting about next week, when I’ve put my floating thoughts down into words.

Sixteen92 always has impeccable presentation and branding, and perhaps it’s this clean sharp image that keeps me coming back despite the fact that their perfumes don’t always resonate with me. But the website is so nicely designed, the perfume vials/bottles are neatly labelled with clear logos and a good font, plus the card describing the notes looks good pinned on my walls… yeah, I’m a sucker for branding.

The 2016 Winter Collection is inspired by the elements as represented by gemstones/crystals.

Black Tourmaline (earth: purification, grounding, protection from negative energies)
☾ Notes: saffron, oud, blackened woods, tonka, vetiver, copal, suede ☽
To be honest, I gagged a little when I gave the vial a quick whiff. Too much suede and vetiver for my liking. On my skin, it’s definitely an overload of suede, but not as bad since I can smell the oud, and oud is one of my go-to scents. Anyway, definitely earthy, very grounded sort of scent. Overall, it’s one of those warm perfumes with a twist of darkness, like you’re all bundled up indoors but you spy a pair of golden eyes in the distance while looking out of the window, and your heart beats just a little faster.

Carnelian (fire: creativity, courage, passion)
☾ Notes: fiery clove bud, espresso, dry coconut husk, black vanilla pod, blood orange ☽
Oh my god, I thought I was going to hate this because I don’t do clove, but this one may be my favourite out of the lot. Coffee, it smells like a strong dose of authentic java, sweetened slightly with vanilla with the lightest dusting of coconut flakes. There’s a hint of clove, but it’s not overwhelming, instead it floats in the background to give the perfume a kick and amplify the coffee.

Kyanite (storm: channeling, psychic energy, meditation & dream recall)
☾ Notes: smoked resins, hazelnut, caramel, temple incense, white sandalwood ☽
This one is good too, but not as delicious as Carnelian. A little nutty, but sweet overall thanks to the incense and white sandalwood, and I also want to describe it as creamy though I don’t know exactly why I’d say that, but Idk, I can imagine this perfume being spread evenly with a butter knife.

Labradorite (wind: magick & transformation, psychic development, aura protection)
☾ Notes: mandarin, narcissus, licorice, warm amber, labdanum, sandalwood ☽
I wanted to like this, since I find labradorite to be a very pretty stone. Buuuut I’m not sure, maybe it’s the weird mixture of narcissus and amber and labdanum. I find narcissus to be a sort of light watery musky sort of scent which doesn’t exactly jive with amber or labdanum. To me, it doesn’t feel like a scent about wind it’s too green, like a sort of lotus flower.

Moonstone (water: intuition, spiritual guidance, introspection)
☾ Notes: white iris, amaryllis, tuberose, winter violets, chilled honey, ozone, vanilla ☽
The perfect winter floral scent – it’s cold but earthy, because of the iris and tuberose, but not too green since the honey note helps to sweeten the overall scent. But you feel a chill, almost metallic, from the ozone. It’s good, in the way it reminds me of Serge Lutens’ Silver Iris Mist – it’s the same sort of coldness that speaks to me.

Sixteen92; Blanket of the Dark

Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry “Hold, hold!”

Lady Macbeth – MACBETH

☾ Notes: narcissus absolute, two Jasmines, yellow Champaca blossom, coffee bean, bergamot, oakmoss, benzoin ☽

Okay, the notes said two jasmines, but honestly, it feels like all of the jasmines are in this scent because it is that overwhelming. It’s like walking into a room of jasmine flowers and getting smacked with the floral smell. Around the edges of the scent is a slight smokiness, which I only noticed once the jasmine cacophony has quieted down a little, like say, in half an hour’s time. And okay, maybe I’m weird, but I keep getting the hint of uncooked rice grains whenever there is a jasmine note, so yeah, there is that as well.

But once the floral note is gone, you get the dark bitterness, which is probably the coffee bean or the oakmoss. It’s quite a change from the original atmosphere of the perfume, which was a welcome for me, since I’m not exactly fond of the jasmine overdose.

Sixteen92; All the World’s a Stage

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.


☾ Notes: rum-soaked apricots, dark chocolate, hazelnut liqueur, praline, amber, bourbon vanilla ☽

All the World’s A Stage is a Circle exclusive, so we all got a full size instead of the normal samples.

A boozy, dark scent, it’s not overly sweet despite the chocolate and liqueur notes listed. A bit on the roasted coffee (hazelnut’s causing it?) with a shot of mocha, with the faintest touch of vanilla and amber underneath. I don’t seem to be getting the apricots… but the whole scent kind of reminds me of a traditional Christmas pudding. (which is totally not what a pudding is supposed to be! I mean, they’re supposed to be wobbly and yellow in colour…) I also get a strong dose of honey after the initial drydown, midway into the scent, which I’m not sure if it’s perhaps the amber but my nose doesn’t know what amber is supposed to smell like, since it’s a warm sweet note.

Medium sillage, and slightly longer longevity, 4 hours give and take, but I’m not too fond of this scent. It doesn’t feel very Spring either? I think it would be good as a Winter type, since it’s so warm and chocolatey, with a slight powdery feel during the dry down.

Sixteen92; A Thousand Times More Fair

Though for myself alone
I would not be ambitious in my wish
To wish myself much better, yet for you
I would be trebled twenty times myself,
A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times more rich


☾ Notes: Honeysuckle nectar, magnolia blossom, passion flower, white peach skin, ripe plum, bright vanilla bean, delicate musk ☽

Oh gosh, why is this so beautiful. Which is a weird way to describe a scent, but it is so gorgeous – fresh ripe peaches wafting out underneath a floral bouquet and a slightly sweet-sour passionfruit note. The vanilla is not obvious as the floral notes dominate the scent. It’s mostly a floral-fruity safe type of perfume you can wear for loads of different occasions.

However, the drydown was kind of disappointing. Yes, it’s a linear scent, and no, that’s not my gripe, I’m totally okay with linear scents that don’t really change much. The drydown smelled really fake and plasticky on my skin, almost like the air freshener in bathrooms and that is one of the things I can’t stand to smell.

To Test: Elie Saab; Rose Couture Le Parfum

Rose Couture is derived from the heart of the original and its signature notes of orange blossom, complemented by rose petals. The composition begins with a combination of orange blossom, silky rose petals and peony. The heart continues with accords of rose nectar, fruity nuances, jasmine and vanilla. The base tops it all with a woody accord of patchouli and sandalwood. Rose Couture’s bottle is tinted in pastel pink and decorated with embroidered motifs of rose. (source)

Omg, Kurkdjian, will you give my wallet a break? Seriously, I’m still quite annoyed that we didn’t bring in the Elie Saab La Collection des Essences line up, because those were so interesting!

But I know for sure that this Rose Couture will be a winner, the notes are so… safe and feminine. There’s the orange blossom and vanilla throwback to the original Le Parfum, which is found in all the flankers, from L’Eau Couture to the Resort Collection. Might probably be the sweetest out of the range, and oh-so-perfect for Valentines’ Day, considering it will launch in February.

WTB: Maison Martin Margiela

Pink Pepper | Orange Flower Petals | Clove Oil

Chestnut Accord | Gaïac Wood Oil | Cade Oil

Vanilla Accord | Peru Balsam | Cashmeran

I sampled this at the department store the entire day, and was super tempted to just drop cash right then and there, because this is so my thing – dark and smoky, sweetness creeping and coiling about you. Oh and the oud, definitely going on strong. The sales assistant sprayed the tester card once, and when I retrieved it from my wallet (because money is lovely but stinky), the perfume is still noticeable.

I think I’ll get this by the end of next week?? Idk. Tangs has a 12% rebate thing going on till the start of next month, it might be worth getting it…

Sixteen92; Waking in Winter

I can taste the tin of the sky — the real tin thing.
Winter dawn is the color of metal,
The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves.

– Sylvia Plath

☾ Notes: fir needle, hemlock, soft snow, pale woods, delicate mint, frost-blanketed leaves, cold metal, distant hearthsmoke ☽

Last Sixteen92 Winter Collection perfume~

In the bottle: Faint icy snowflakes and almost metallic undertones.
Wet on skin: green notes like fir needles and strong peppermint (some people might see the mint note and think toothpaste or breath fresheners, but nope, it definitely doesn’t give off that feeling), a hint of cold earthiness, like stomping through an evergreen forest. As the scent settles on the skin, you start to get a hint of smoke and you kind of want to marvel how the perfumer can create scents that evoke the feeling of distance, because that’s how the smoke feels like, as though it’s far away and the wind is carrying it over to where you are.

Sixteen92; This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

– William Carlos Williams

☾ Notes: cake flour, cocoa powder, osmanthus, plum & apricot jam, tonka bean, dried fruits, tangled vines ☽

A cold sniff from the bottle suggests dark chocolate cake, a thick and rich scent.
Wet on the skin, I got a mixture of osmanthus flower and chocolate, a bit jammy underneath the cocoa powder. Sweet, slightly fruity and almost powdery, perhaps one would imagine a white snowy landscape, with the hints of tiny buds opening in the snow? The dry down reveals more fruit, amping up the sweetness.

Unfortunately, This is Just to Say has a low throw and slightly above average longevity on the skin.