Sunday, February 21, 2021

Fragrant Snapshot: Maison Christian Dior Ambre Nuit

I couldn't begin to count the number of niche perfumes I've sampled over the last few years, but one area of fragrance I've neglected are the classic brands, especially their more exclusive lines. A fantastic giveaway-with-purchase at Dior tempted me to do something I almost never do, blind buy a perfume I hadn't sampled. I love amber scents, and Ambre Nuit had a lot of good reviews so I took the plunge. Although I don't recommend blind buys and almost never do it, this one was successful.

The opening of Dior Ambre Nuit features bergamot and grapefruit which blend with the amber, and I get a vision of polished wood floors, but in a lighter gold-toned honey hues. The scent is bright and slightly sharp, but as the amber increases, it buffs away the rough edges of the citrus notes. Amber has a cushioning, enveloping note and I slowly feel myself being surrounded by this protective cover of warmth. Some reviewers speak of a strong rose presence but I honestly don't smell it, other than as a grace note.

The amber is appropriately the star of the show here, and it is a beautiful. It starts out rather sparkling and transparent, but then deepens. I smell spices, smooth and warming. No spice notes are given in the description other than pepper but I smell a woody cinnamon. The amber is deep and beautiful, with characteristics that are creamy, salty, and resinous. There is a slight smokey, incense smell  that makes this feel meditative and deep. I have a few amber perfumes but what I like about this one is that it is not overwhelmingly syrupy and sticky. Amber is by its nature a heavy note, but here Dior makes it feel silky and billowy. 

As you may have heard, we had a cold snap event this past week in Texas. I found that Ambre Nuit kept me wrapped in a feeling of warm comfort and sensuous beauty.

Both the photo and the perfume are my own.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sana Jardin Part 3: Celestial Patchouli and Nubian Musk

I come to the review of the last two perfumes from Sana Jardin in this series, Celestial Patchouli and Nubian Musk. I call these two Earth and Sky. Even though patchouli is an earthy substance, when used in perfumes it sometimes can remind me of the vast dark universe, all the unknown out there, and maybe the creators at Sana Jardin agree, having given this patchouli the name Celestial. Nubian Musk on the other hand, opens dry and dusty as the earth. But as dissimilar as these descriptions sound, I found them to be the proverbial "brothers from another mother." Although they have differences they share a strong DNA, and I have a hard time deciding which I prefer.

Celestial Patchouli opens with coriander seed but quickly the patchouli makes itself known, along with the nagarmotha, both supposedly base notes but unable to be restrained. The patchouli feels almost tobacco-like, wet and green, and the nagarmotha or cypriol oil adds both earthy and spicy notes. The dark notes are strong, but also a little fruity. Leather, another base note, is evident. It as if the perfume is turned upside down, beginning with the ending. 

If Celestial Patchouli stopped there it would be a nice patchouli forward perfume, but not that different from many others. But an hour or so into the wear, the heart notes of rose, osmanthus, orris root, and iris begin to peep through. They are subtle; there will be no big floral rush. But I sense them each in turn; a winey rose, leathery osmanthus, and dry rooty iris. The notes are elegant and slightly austere, stars twinkling in the darkness. One thing I love about the scent is that these notes keep reappearing: the earthy patchouli, the iris, the rose, and so on. It eventually fades to the base of woods, leather, and patchouli, and a dusting of warm and spicy cinnamon.

I was curious about the name Nubian Musk. I had a vague notion that this referred to Africa but there my knowledge ended. It turns out the Nubians were an older civilization that predates the ancient Egyptians, and lived along the Nile River in an area that today encompasses southern Egypt and Sudan. 

Musk perfumes are often a big yawn for me, but this is musk in the more animalic sense of the word. There is grapefruit oil in the opening, but I don't really smell it more than an instant. There is vetiver and I smell it almost immediately, very dry. There is nagarmotha in this perfume also, but here it has a medicinal smell for the first few moments. I don't see any notes listed that would account for the anamalic bent to this fragrance, but it is there, obvious but not overstated.

Later there are very faint notes of rose, sandalwood, and vanilla. They give more body to the fragrance but you won't get a strong whiff of any of these notes. Jasmine is also listed, and I don't smell any floral that could be jasmine, which makes me wonder if maybe they just harnessed the indoles and this contributes to the more musky aspect of the fragrance. What is more apparent to me is a green patchouli note, along with the musk. I really enjoyed wearing Nubian Musk as I found it to be a more interesting combination of notes than is sometimes found with musk perfumes. 

As these two scents wind down, they begin to have a somewhat similar smell to me. I like them both but if I had to choose I'd pick Celestial Patchouli as I am a patchouli lover.

I have really enjoyed trying all the scents from Sana Jardin and will be adding a couple of them to my collection in time. I'm happy that these beautiful fragrances have contributed to improving the life of the women flower harvesters in Morocco. If you would like to read more about Sana Jardin or read reviews on the other fragrances in the line, go to Sana Jardin Part 1 or Sana Jardin Part 2.

Top photo is by and can be purchased at their website. The Sana Jardin discovery set is my own.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Sana Jardin Part 2: Tiger By Her Side, Sandalwood Temple, and Jaipur Chant


As discussed in Sana Jardin Part 1,  Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed founded this luxury perfume company in 2017, and part of the business plan is economically empowering the women flower harvesters in Morocco who pick the blossoms that ultimately are transformed into perfume. In Part 1, I looked at three vibrant floral perfumes. Today I'm writing about three perfumes that remind me of India, a place very special to my heart as I spent the first four years of my marriage there, and I call them The India Trio.

India is a land of contrasts, timeless beauty next to absolute squalor. A cacophony of people, crowds pushing and jostling for position. Noise, constant honking horns, a regular assault to the senses. It is a love it or hate it type place. Despite what may sound like negatives, I've never felt as alive as I did those four years I spent in Bombay (now Mumbai). These three perfumes I'm highlighting today all bring back olfactory memories of a time that now seems like such a distant memory.

Tiger By Her  Side

Rose is a pervading scent in India, paired with saffron or sandalwood, or as it is here, with patchouli. When I smell rose and patchouli it takes me back to that heady scent combination that I often encountered in India. It is a common combination, yet here, it manages to be exciting and different. The opening is bright with bergamot and spicy notes of coriander seed and cinnamon bark. The cinnamon is warm and yummy, a note I particularly like in perfume. Heart notes are rose, benzoin resin, and patchouli, and it is a sensuous and velvet smell. What makes it different for me though, is that the fragrance still holds a certain lightness, not transparency, but something akin to that. It is not as heavy and weighty as this scent combination sometime can be. 

Base notes are labdanum, olibanum, and vanilla. The scent at this point smells to me like an ambery rose, grounded with patchouli and this spicy thread of cinnamon. It is voluptuous, yet bright enough that I could see wearing this in warm weather, not true of most rose and amber combinations. It is a special scent, and even if you think you've seen this done before, you might be surprised if you try it.

As an aside, I love the name, Tiger By Her Side. It was inspired by the Ancient Egyptian High Priestess who was so powerful that she could walk unharmed alongside a tiger. And don't let the "her" in the name dissuade you guys from trying this. It is definitely unisex.

Sandalwood Temple

Sandalwood is very sacred in Hindu worship and because of that, there is now a shortage in India and Australia has taken over as chief sandalwood producer. The sandalwood can be burned as incense in the temples, and it is ground into a paste which is placed on the foreheads of devotees to calm the mind for meditation and prayers. Sandalwood has a creamy, milky aspect which does make it a calming scent.

Sandalwood Temple wears on my skin as a straight up sandalwood scent. There is bergamot, neroli, and orange flower water in the opening but for me and my skin, I go straight to the woody notes. There is cedar wood, guaiac wood, and sandalwood, and the later is enhanced with a faint vanilla note, which ups the creamy aspects of the sandalwood. The perfumer added vetiver oil to this scent, and at times I got a faint whiff of smoke which I can only attribute to the vetiver.

I find this a very pleasant and easy scent to wear but it is faint on my skin, and I prefer my perfumes to be a bit more apparent. Sandalwood lovers will find this a very nice take. I wore it to bed for a couple of nights, and it was a beautiful scent to drift off to sleep with.

Jaipur Chant

Another lovely name, and an ode to one of the most beautiful cities in India, the Pink City of Jaipur. When I went to Rajasthan Jaipur wasn't my favorite, that honor went to the mystical city of Jaisalmer. But Jaipur does "wow" one, with its Amber Palace, City Palace, and the wedding cake confectionary building, Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). Ladies in vibrant pink and gold saris and elephants with elaborate painted pink trunks help create the illusion of "The Pink City" and make it a memorable stop in Rajasthan. 

One can't explore far in India without running into someone selling flowers, which are used as offerings in religious ceremonies, or simply to adorn women's hair, the white petals of the tuberose a stunning contrast against their black silky hair. In Hindi tuberose is called Rajanigandha, which means fragrant at night.

Jaipur Chant is founder Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed's ode to a religious ceremony she took part in when visiting Jaipur. Tuberose is a flower associated with love and strong emotion due to its strong floral scent. Tuberose can be divisive, a love it or leave it type scent. I'll say from the outset that I find Jaipur Chant to be quieter on the spectrum of tuberose perfumes. The tuberose is there, of course, but I find it less sweet and pungent than many of the tuberose perfumes in my collection. The perfume added clove oil to the opening notes, and although I don't get a strong clove scent, it does give the tuberose a more spicy and almost smoky feel, like you would find if you were in the busy temples. It is a bit more contemplative than one would normally expect from a tuberose perfume.

I find it a good representation of what one would actually find if you were attending one of these ceremonies. The floral scent is there, but it doesn't blast you; it creeps its way into your presence, almost a background scent, lovely and soft. This makes this tuberose feel more unisex, and it would be a good perfume to try for those who don't like the full on tuberose smell. I actually  find it to be a very restful and contemplative take on tuberose and it is different enough from the other perfumes I have that feature that note that I could see adding this one.

For more about Sana Jardin scents go to:  Sana Jardin Part 1 and Sana Jardin Part 3. 

You can shop for the beautiul painting featured here at: Sana Jardin samples were gifted to me. All opinions are my own.