Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First Impressions: Sonoma Scent Studio

Oh, I've found myself a new addiction and it is...PERFUME.

Never thought this would be me, what with my long-standing disdain of the department store fragrance counter, but no escaping it now: first my PBFF (that's "Perfume BFF" to the novices out there) Ki introduced me to the Wiggle (Nani, the proprietress, makes incredible scents including limited edition Rosalba, that was the first scent that ever triggered a "back-up bottle" purchase)--which touched off an exploration of small-scale, artisan perfumers such as The Morbid the Merrier (I fell for Athelia, a dark and edgy fig) and Solstice Scents (Lace Draped Spectre is a beautiful spicy-incensey carnation).  Our online convos also took in the conventional fragrance scene, leading me to the perfume shelves at my local Sephora--and a bottle of Lavanila's Vanilla Passion Fruit plus a rollerball of their Vanilla Grapefruit, as well as the discovery that some "men's" fragrances (Burberry for Men, Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver) smell really, really good on me.

Then another friend, Jeni, schooled me on Twitter about BPAL--aka the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab--and I still can't decide whether to send her virtual hugs or raspberries because when one falls for the BPAL they tend to fall HARD, and I am no exception.  A scent by the odd name of The Grave Pig (rich earthy spicy figgy goodness!!) is actually my favorite BPAL, though I have found several to adore among their general catalogue and limited edition scents.  Ouch, my bank account!

My own explorations led me to the Perfume Posse blog and it was through this group of fragrance aficionados that I discovered a little perfume house--practically in my own backyard!--called Sonoma Scent Studio.  Owned & run by Laurie Erickson, a very personable woman who has an obvious passion for blending beautiful and inspired fragrances, Sonoma Scent Studio offers a relatively small (fewer than 20) catalogue of scents--but oh, how wonderfully well-crafted those scents are!  Laurie recently released a new scent, Fig Tree, and because I love figs (dried, fresh, and, it turns out, in perfume) I put in my first order of sample sizes (a few 1mL vials and some 2.5 mL sprays--so adorable, these!).

My choices included:

Rose Musc (Rose petals, ambergris, labdanum absolute, skin musks)
Tabac Aurea (Cedar, sandalwood, tobacco, leather, vetiver, patchouli, clove, tonka bean, labdanum absolute, amber, vanilla, musk.)
To Dream (Violet, rose, heliotrope, cedar, amber, frankincense, oakwood absolute, vetiver, tonka,orris, vanilla, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss absolute, subtle suede, cocoa, and aldehydes.)
Egyptian Musk (Musks, sandalwood, patchouli, very subtle floral notes.)
Fig Tree (more about this later)
Jour Ensoleille (Orange blossom, neroli, tuberose, jasmine, beeswax absolute, labdanum absolute , myrrh, sandalwood, ambergris, vetiver, green leaves, oakmoss absolute.)
Sienna Musk (Musk, sandalwood, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, clove, mandarin, cedar, and cypress)
Velvet Rose (Damask rose, bergamot, carnation, violet leaf, musk, patchouli)
Vintage Rose (same as for Fig Tree)
Wood Violet (Violet, plum, cedar, cinnamon, clove, sandalwood, violet leaf, musk)

Laurie, the sweetheart, included sample vials of Winter Woods, Lieu de Reves, and Voile de Violette with my package--mahalo, lovely woman!  It may have been because I only ordered samples,  however the TAT was lightning fast (I had a ship notification the very next morning for an order placed late at night!) and arrived at my door in fairly short order (roughly 2.5 days after I placed the order).  Hooray for nearly instant gratification--hey, it has its place ;)

Here's what I tried today:

Fig Tree ( Green fig, vanilla, cedar, patchouli, tonka, muskIf you've read this far, you may have noticed a pattern in the scents I've listed among my favorites--fig!!  Somehow, fig notes in perfume just LOVE my skin, and they give a very unique quality to a scent I'm wearing, imparting sweetness without being cloying, fruitiness without smelling artificial, candle-like, or fermented, and freshness without being soapy.   So when I saw this I just had to try it out!  Though on the site it states the scent opens with more of the green fig--and it does in the bottle--I do notice the sweet fig once it's on my skin and it is BEAUTIFUL.  Fig Tree combines many notes that I've discovered work well on me--fig of course, certain vanillas (I'm going to toss the tonka in with this category), spicy woods like cedar (or sandalwood), patchouli (PLAP, anyone?), and some musks.  Complex, earthy, spicy, just a bit sweet--that's the kind of woman I am and Fig Tree opens up upon wearing to include all of these elements.  It is a wonderful, fresh & green, sweet & rich, multifaceted fragrance with moderate throw and I will be glad to pick up a full-size bottle of this someday soon.

Vintage Rose (Rose, plum, amber, labdanum absolute, sandalwood, cedar, vetiver, tonka bean.Rose is another note that loves my skin--which is a plus, because smelling the roses is literally one of the great pleasures in my life.  I purchased samples of all three of Laurie's rose scents; what drew me to try Vintage Rose on first was the concept of a "plummy rose" scent--rose and plum?  Fascinating.  When I first spritzed it into my inner elbow I got a waft of lush apricot rose (joyfully similar to the one that grows outside my bedroom window) and sweet plum wine; as it dried down the amber, incensey woods, and vetiver emerged giving the whole scent a beautifully sensual feel.  I'm still getting whiffs of this as I type and it is incredibly seductive.  It is the perfect blend of femininity (sweet, floral) and the notes traditionally associated with men's fragrances that are "comfort scents" for me--cedar, vetiver, tonka.  This scent on me is sexy in a way I've not found in mass-produced fragrance, anywhere--it makes me feel authentically, confidently sexy rather than "OMGI'MSOSEXYRIGHT?  RIGHT???" More grounded, less strident.  Vintage Rose has a stronger throw on me than Fig Tree but I doubt it would knock out my coworkers the next desk over ;)

Sonoma Scent Studio offers perfumes in samples (1mL vials or 2.5 mL sprays, $3.25-$8) and full sizes (5 mL purse sprays, 17 & 34 mL sprays); selected scents are also available as alcohol-free perfume oils and as body lotion & shea cream.  I'm definitely looking forward to trying the rest of Sonoma Scent Studio's offerings, and soon!

Me ke aloha,