Monday, September 26, 2016

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Rose and Nirvana Bourbon

Out of all the celebrities the Olsen twins would not have been my first pick for who would come out with a thoughtfully curated and generally respected perfume line. But perhaps they should have been. They started acting at the tender age of nine months old, sharing the role of Michelle on the television series Full House, a role that would continue for the next eight years. This was followed by a series of television shows and movies playing to part, adorable pig-tailed twins. Their acting came to a stop at around seventeen. Very shortly after, Mary Kate and Ashley began building their fashion empire and have never looked back.

What I find intriguing about this duo is that they were able to resist the allure of celebrity and pursue other passions.  Maybe having all that fame at such a young age made them weary of it; maybe they genuinely decided it was not where their real talents lay; maybe their passion for fashion superseded the desire to devote any time to acting. But I find it admirable that in this celebrity obsessed, selfie-driven society we live in, they seemingly walked away from all that and have kept a pretty low profile. They launched The Row, a couture fashion label, and the more contemporary Elizabeth and James, both to great success. So it should come as no surprise that their perfume line would be just as well thought out as their other businesses, and at the same time a little edgy and out there, just like the two of them. When they introduced Nirvana White I liked it well enough and was very fond of Nirvana Black. The two newest additions to the brand, Nirvana Rose and Nirvana Bourbon,  are very worth trying and should find some love among the perfume community.

There is a moment when I first spray Nirvana Rose that it smells like ironing starch, crisp and clean. I think this is geranium's moment. But after one hot second the vetiver rolls in and it is not a background player.  It is rooty and earthy and dark. The first time I wore Nirvana Rose I was thinking, so where is the rose? It took a long time to appear. In subsequent wearings since,  the rose is much more apparent. It is a darkly fragrant, but not sweet. The longer the perfume is on my skin, the more the vetiver recedes and the rose blossoms.  I never, ever get the impression that I am wearing a rose soliflore perfume, as the name might lead you to believe. Rose is an ingredient, but at least on my skin, vetiver plays an equal role. Because of these dark notes I think this would wear beautifully in cooler weather.

I had read a couple of reviews that spoke of Nirvana Rose giving the effect of walking through a garden of roses. This is not at all what I smell or imagine, so I would say that skin chemistry plays a big part in this one as to what notes are accentuated. My skin has always liked wood notes so maybe it is amplifying the woodiness of the vetiver. There is something about Nirvana Rose that slightly reminds me of Atelier Rose Anonyme, but that one is all about the patchouli. I think it is the dark aspects of both perfumes which are reminiscent. Though not groundbreaking, this is a different sort of rose for the celebrity scent market and I will be curious to see how it is received. I enjoy it more, every time I wear it.

I didn't look up the notes before trying Nirvana Bourbon so I was imagining bourbon, the liquor. Actually the name refers to bourbon vanilla, which is one of the featured notes along with oak wood and tuberose. When I first spray the perfume there is just briefly an odd rubbery smell. Tuberose can present mentholated aspects before blooming into the heady scent is it famous for, so I give this note credit for the moment of petrol and rubber. Others have described this as a smokey smell but I don't get that. However I've now spent more time discussing the note than the amount of time I actually smell it before it moves on. After this smell disappears the bourbon vanilla and oak notes slowly grow in intensity, and their intermingled smell gives me the sense of a vat of fragrant buttery vanilla-tinged bourbon fermenting in an oak barrel, with warm and grainy cereal note aspects. It is mildly gourmand but never sugary sweet like some vanillas. This scent starts out slowly on me, taking it's time to heat up and have any projection, but after a couple of hours it had brewed into a very comforting toasty and oaky vanilla. I never smell any floral aspects of tuberose at all so it must have been used very lightly. Just as the Rose perfume doesn't scream rose, this one does not hit you over the head with vanilla and that makes it much more wearable to my taste. This would be a great perfume to wear to greet the first cool days of autumn.

Both of these perfumes are just different enough to match the non-mainstream personalities and persona that Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen project. They are not so different, though, that they will scare away the less exposed perfume shopper looking to expand their tastes. I think these two additions to the line fit the brand and will find their fans.

Top photo from The samples were my own from Sephora.

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