Some days I retreat to a quiet room and read George Sand's Histoire de ma vie; other days I kick back with a two-pound Italian Vogue and look at the pictures. Some days I turn out the lights and get wrapped up in a Mahler symphony. Other days I get just as excited listening to Mama Cass sing Make Your Own Kind of Music. Some days I dress up: suit, tie, cufflinks, the works. Other days, shorts and sandals suffice. This post is dedicated to "other days" — days when you want to ignore the landmarks (Guerlain Mitsouko), avoid the trouble-makers (Serge Lutens Muscs Koublaï Khan, Caron Yatagan), shun the ‘high end’ (Amouage Jubilation XXV) and wear a perfume that’s SIMPLE, casual, “quaint” even, a perfume that doesn’t cost a fortune.
Possets Perfume Lamp Black & Adamus
Recently, when I lamented the lack of black tea fragrances on the market, a Now Smell This commenter recommended Possets Perfume High Tea. I hadn’t tried ANY Possets perfumes so I placed a large sample order. High Tea is a nice “black-tea-with-lemon-and-sugar” cologne (it gets an ‘honorable mention’ here; I’d love to have a candle scented with this perfume) but two other Possets fragrances caught my “nose”: Lamp Black and Adamus.
Lamp Black makes me laugh; it’s very Serge Lutens-ish (even the name), but only $10! Lamp Black is a dark, syrupy-sweet (on the verge of “edible”), spice-musk Oriental perfume. As I smell Lamp Black I detect hints of ‘bright’ amber, vanilla, perhaps some cardamom, and an undercurrent of cumin; it’s a tad ‘jammy’ at first but smells like “liquid powder” by the end of its development. Lamp Black’s listed ingredients are vague: black tea, spices and musk. It’s NICE! If it’s not quite ‘advanced’ enough for your tastes/nostrils give it to the little perfumista/perfumisto-in-training at your home to encourage good perfume habits in the future.
Adamus contains hay, tobacco flower and moss; it smells lovely and more expensive than its $10 price tag. This scent is almost pure golden “hay” with a bit of smooth moss and a touch of tobacco leaf. When I wear Adamus, I get into an “autumn” state of mind.
Possets perfumes are sold in oil formulations; I usually don’t like to wear perfume oils, but these are fine thanks to quick absorption (no tell-tale shine on skin). The lasting power for Lamp Black and Adamus is good.
Pacifica Malibu Lemon Blossom
Pacifica's Malibu Lemon Blossom has been a favorite of mine during Seattle’s scalding summer (a summer that has been so hot my LOTUS bloomed!) Malibu Lemon Blossom contains litsea cubeba, lemon and lemon blossom. The fragrance starts off with lemon peel and lemon juice notes and then presents flowers: citrus blossom and litsea cubeba blossom (litsea cubeba is a member of the laurel family). The floral notes are sharp and refreshing, and I’m surprised at how true the litsea cubeba note is — I remember smelling that delightful aroma each spring in Los Angeles. At night, during blossoming time, I’d walk my dog, Diego, to a park near my home where litsea cubeba grew, and we’d both stop under litsea cubeba trees and sniff the heavily (and heavenly) scented air.
Malibu Lemon Blossom fades on skin after 4 hours so you’ll need to reapply at least once during the day. A 29 ml Malibu Lemon Blossom spray perfume is $22. For buying information, see the listing for Pacifica under Perfume Houses.
(Note: if you love a particular Pacifica soap or lotion fragrance and think the perfume version of that scent will smell the same — beware. Pacifica Sandalwood soap is a favorite of mine but the Sandalwood body cream and perfume don’t smell like the soap; ditto with Tunisian Jasmine.)
Speziali Fiorentini Tè Nero (Black Tea)
I’ve been using Speziali Fiorentini soaps for a couple of years but just got around to buying their Black Tea/Tè Nero fragrance (after a few gentle nudges from March at Perfume Posse). There are two formulations of this perfume: Speziali Fiorentini Black Tea Body Mist Fragrance/Acqua Vivificante al Profumo di Tè Nero (200 ml/$28) and Speziali Fiorentini Black Tea/Tè Nero Eau de Parfum (50 ml/$38).
The Black Tea Body Mist is an invigorating, straightforward black tea fragrance that lasts all of 90 seconds on my skin. It’s great for a 'hose-down' after a shower in hot weather and also wonderful to spray on sheets/pillowcases before bed. Black Tea Eau de Parfum is more complex with citrus and tea top notes, a clean leather-tinged tea note in mid-development, and a vanillic-benzoin accord, a dab of patchouli and powdery musk in the base. I enjoy wearing Black Tea Eau de Parfum; it has very good lasting power (but minimal sillage). Now, I want to try other fragrances from Speziali Fiorentini.
Apart from samples and discount buys, 2009 has been a very frugal year for me and fragrance. I’m saving my money for autumn releases that seem GUARANTEED to appeal to me. Please, share your own “cheap thrill” fragrances; they fit in perfectly with the current economic climate, don’t they?
Note: unless otherwise noted, all images via flickr (Some Rights Reserved): Top left: Dollar Close UP (by shyb); top right: green bottle image (by ginnerobot); Youth from Antikythera (by agelakis); Lemon Trio image at Wikimedia Commons; and Speziali Fiorentini Black Tea Perfume bottle photo by the author.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the Possets, Kevin. Hey, I haven’t tried Lamp Black or Adamus … perhaps I’ll have to give them a whirl!
Ducks: thank YOU for the tip!
I have been hounding friends and perfumers to help me find a decent hay scent – would Adamus qualify as unisex, or is it distinctly male?
Also, how awesome is this rain, Kevin? I mean, I know I’ll be sick of it come late November, but I’m looking forward to some of my neighborhood lawns turning green!
AndreaD: LOVE the rain…as do the poor trees! Adamus is a unisex I think.
Kevin, for a moment I thought you would be telling us what fragrance George Washington liked to wear! (LOL – I think it was something by Caswell-Massey, right? Or so they like to tell us). I confess I am very dull. On those “off” days, I give my olfactory system a break and don’t wear fragrance at all. Although all the above that you reviewed sound delicious.
Fleurdelys: usually Sunday is my “off” day and my nose is grateful.
K – I succumbed to the Te Nero as well, but haven’t quite formulated an opinion yet. It wasn’t instant love, and my mini-perfumistas wrinkled their noses at it, but after awhile, it warmed up nicely. You should try their White Tea body cream: it’s very rich, feels and smells fantastic (for hours and hours, no less), but was a little too masculine for me.
Boojum: it’s So hard to try the Speziali Fiorentini scents! You have to buy a bottle it seems…
Thanks for the enjoyable post, Kevin! I succumbed to P1’s 25% off sale and bought Jolie Madame (an enjoyable chypre) and Thunderstorm which is appropriate for the South Florida rainy season. (OK, I also bought Sonia Rykiel, Vent Vert, Amber Gris, and Pink Lemonade-I was suckered by the prices and the additional %25 off)!
Dixie: ha! what a bonanza!
Ok, pleading ignorance here…. Dixie, what is P1? And tell me more about this 25% off sale. I’m intrigued. Not that I have any room to be–I just bought four different things at Beauty Encounter.
Don’t worry, you’re safe. It’s Parfum1, and the sale ended Aug 9.
Adamus sounds perfect; I loved the scent of hay baking in the sun for years, before I’d even worn my first perfume. I’m usually disappointed in scents that claim to smell of it. And for only ten dollars!
Thank you for your review. This may turn out really well.
asuperlongusername: I hope so!
These all sound great to me, especially Lamp Black and Adamus. I’m all for spending less on perfume lately … this past week I’ve been wearing Demeter’s Gin & Tonic, which I got for $3.99, and really enjoying it in our humid weather. Thanks for the reviews!
Jill: you’re welcome…perhaps I should have had Ben Franklin as my illustration today: “a penny saved…”
I’m SO glad to see a review of some Possets on NST. I love love love possets. A lot of them are very gourmand and fall into the comfort scent category, but if you’re into that kind of thing you’re missing out if you haven’t sampled these. Silver Carnations and Gingerbread Whorehouse are my favorites, but Fabienne has something for everyone, and they’re cheap…$10 for most, $20 for a few. The oil rubs right in and they all have great longevity. Yay, let’s talk about Posets!!
“Gingerbread Whorehouse”! — I love it!
Do you guys feel like Possets is very literal? For example, I loved the descriptions of BPAL, but when I smelled them, they were exactly a copmosition of their notes, very literal. I like a bit of artistic creation to my perfumes…I’ll prob get samples anyway, but I wanted your opinion.
yonahleyah: a few are “literal” I guess…the High Tea for instance…but others are not at all like their “titles” or descriptions lead you to believe.
An open letter to the person who came up with Gingerbread Whorehouse: You have created a monster. Because you just know that come the holiday season, I am most definitely going to be making a gingerbread whorehouse. I’m going to start shopping for gingerbread whorehouse accoutrements now, before the rush.
Please post pics.
I’ll warn you now, I’m a little out of practice. My mom was THE gingerbread house maker–she made a three story one when I was little that won an award in Better Homes and Gardens or something. She trained me well, but it’s been a long time. I may have to enlist her help in doing this. That’ll be a fun conversation: “So, here’s the deal mom: I’m making a gingerbread whorehouse. And I need your help.”
I could rifle through the huge box of naked barbies in my attic for decorations…..I should warn you though, the Ken dolls are no where near anatomically acceptable…
Yeah, I think Barbies are the only way to go. I don’t know what else I could use for whores. The Ken dolls… well, we’ll make do. The whores won’t mind.
(I’m going to get kicked off for this, aren’t I??)
nah, we’ve all been a little suspicious about how Barbie has been financing all those corvettes, motorhomes, speedboats, townhouses, private airplanes, and fancy gowns all these years, it’s all getting a bit clearer now!
You need really, really red frosting for the flocked wallpaper. And why bother with Barbie and Ken? You can bake your own, ehem, anatomically correct gingerpersons. For the whorehouse.
Posset also has Gingerbread Crackhouse.
Perfect for my set of white trash Barbies! Oh, I am going to be busy this December…
mandypantsruns: Possets has SO MUCH to try…to go thru that line would take awhile….
They do have a huge selection. I definitely haven’t tried them all. I’ve probably tired 30 of them, and she throws in several samples with every order.
I was just bad and ordered a Posset sample set. Dammit. Why do I come to this blog?
I’m very tempted to do the same … just spent WAY too long looking at their site!
Favorite cheap thrills? Stetson (original), and Kiehl’s Musk Oil, both under ten bucks. Unfortunately, both are (to my nose, anyway) too heady to wear in all this heat!
sayitisn’tso: thankfully it’s COOOOOOL here in Seattle today…some rain even.
I always enjoy your posts and reviews. Alas, I’m afraid I have extremely expensive champage tastes! But my “cheap thrill” of the day was seeing the green bottle in your illustration and being reminded that I want to try Amouage Epic! LOL!
Rappleyea: oh, no!
Hi Kevin – today is the perfect day in Boston for my favorite cheap thrill: it’s about 90 degrees out and incredibly humid, so I am wearing Monsieur Balmain. The combo of lemon and sandalwood cuts through the most humid air and is instantly refreshing.
Dzingnut: that’s a good one for hot weather….
We share the same weather and I’m refreshing myself with Asprey’s Purple Water – Pledge top note or not, the heart and base are fantastic in this weather.
Alltheprettythings: JUST got a sample of that…thankfully, “lemon” doesn’t mean “Pledge” to me
Favorite cheap thrills for me are: Speziali Fiorentini Fig & Poppy, and Body Time’s Egyptian Musk.
Smokeytoes: fig and poppy…that’s one I want to try. I do like the soap.
PS- SL’s MKK is a bit of a trouble-maker isn’t it?? ;P But I love it!
Ha! Ha! My favorite trouble maker is Miel de Bois.
Dixie: love that one too.
Oooh – cheap thrills. I have to say, I’m down with that. I’m going to give a few of these a try, based on your wonderful descriptions!
RusticDove: hope you have some luck with at least ONE of them
very cheap thrills – LUSH solid perfumes. I love Karma and Go Green…
Rachelsf: still haven’t overcome my solid-perfume-phobia!
I love Pacifica Lemon Blossom. Smells just like a Strawberry Shortcake doll I had (Lemon Meringue, to be precise). Yeah, the candles, lotion, soaps and perfumes are all different. I actually have learned my lesson (after more tries than I care to admit) and no longer buy the soap–it actually leaves me feeling more dirty than what I started with. Not what I look for in a soap.
One of my former favorite cheap thrills was Archibald Sisters in Olympia, Wa. I think their prices have gone up, so “cheap” may be a misnomer now, I don’t know. I used to love their China Rain, and I still buy copious quantities of their body lotions in Lime Vanilla Musk and Jasmine Musk.
There was supposed to be a comma after “lime,” although who knows, maybe Lime Vanilla Musk might not be so bad. No, I take that back, it sounds awful.
Sounds like key lime pie to me. … mmm
Ooh–that does sound good! Lime vanilla, maybe. I’ll have to try some mixes. I think the musk might kill it, though. I’ll have to leave that out.
MissK: and the Pacifica soaps stopped LATHERING at my home…don’t know if the water changed? or the soap formula.
No, they definitely don’t lather. I think that’s why I feel like I’m not getting clean. I was going to try buying the body washes from Sephora, and then read the reviews. Every single one said the same thing: NO lather! I know it’s not *supposed* to make a difference, but I really don’t think it’s just a psychological thing (foamy, soapy lather=clean). I need some bubbles.
On the other hand… the foamy/lathery effect is caused by some seriously suspect chemicals. Just did a little search and confirmed the Pacifica line is sulfate-free. That’s why you get no lather…but it’s actually a good thing, if you can get used to it.
Nope, can’t get used to no suds….gotta have the suds…..here’s my solution to the not-enough-lather problem: mix with some unscented suave shampoo….AND if the EPA comes knockin at my door I’m gonna know who squealed…
Your secret is safe here.
Kevin, what is it you like about Histoire de Ma Vie? I suppose you like the George Sand perfume too. Did you see that movie “Impromptu” about her?
Monstabunny: I do NOT like the George Sand perfume…I don’t think she would either! I love G Sand’s letters, her books on her visit to Majorca with Chopin, to Venice with de Musset. I love her non-fiction best…she had a big heart and loved many of the things I do: books, music, animals, gardens, travel == and jam-making. HA!
Kevin, thanks for this great post – I’m now adding Pacifica’s Malibu Lemon Blossom to my must-buy list!
ATPT: hope you like it
Hi Kevin – thanks for the tips on all the tea scents!
My fav cheap thrills are that old drugstore standby – Skin Musk, and then Caswell & Massey Honeysuckle which is a nice soapy clean honeysuckle white floral. Crabtree & Evelyn has a nice Rosewater eau Fraiche that is really pleasant and inexpensive. Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose is cheap and completely indestructible in very hot weather, and then it’s debatable whether it’s “cheap”, but a $10 bottle of Shalimar eau de Cologne from Kmart in that cool ribbed bottle is what I call a very awesome cheap thrill!
Anns: I like some of the Caswell-Massey scents too.
I bought Pacifica Malibu Lemon Blossom for myself as a treat this summer – I adore it. I had the solid, which does not have enough sillage for me, and passed it on. I am finding that I like citrus in general – I have that bottle of Roger & Gallet Bois d’Orange I won from Robin and use it all the time, and today I am loving myself in Malle’s Bigarde Concentree.
I probably have more cheap thrills than expensive ones :-/
I spritzed myself with Burt’s Bees Natural Cologne not too long ago and have been kind of pining for it ever since. It is a pretty basic cologne scent but I really fell for it. It’s about $25 a bottle and is part of the men’s shaving line. Have you tried it?
Tama: I have not tried it but I am impressed with the scents of their shampoos and conditions…LOVE the scent of BB’s Green Tea & Fennel Seed.
I adore the scent of their Carrot Facial Mist stuff – yummmmmmm
Tama, I think I’m going to enjoy that Pacifica solid (thank you!). I have heard a few favorable comments about the Burt’s Bees cologne. I plan to try it…
Laughing at encouraging good perfume habits. I did think of you during Seattle’s recent horribly hot weather. My brother, who lives at the foot of Queen Anne in an apartment with no AC, swore he was going to sleep in the International Fountain.
Favorite cheap thrills: a number of the Pacificas (Lotus Garden, Egyptian Bergamot Rose, and Madagascar Spice), Bourbon French Orange Blossom, and a new love – Tokyo Milk Ex Libris (fig, musk, magnolia, cardamom).
Aparatchick: it was a nightmare! One night at 1 a.m., A.M., it was 87 degrees outside. Unheard of!
Hey, Kevin — I love a cheap thrill, it’s always nice to see something new and different on here that doesn’t cost $300…. and thanks for the link! I’m fortunate to have an apothecary-type store near me that sells the Speziali Fiorentini, Pacifica and some other stuff so I can preview it. I’m sorry about the lasting power — everything lasts forever on me, so I forget that others don’t get the same mileage.
Several of the Pacificas are excellent value for the money. I am particularly fond of their fig, if you like figs. I get the soap for the powder room and have had more people ask me what it is…
March: I still love the light Black Tea scent…whether it lasts or not (not a great tragedy at $28 for a huge bottle!) I’ll have to try the Pacifica fig
I want to know what these autumn releases are you’re saving up for!
Jared: I ain’t saying! Can you imagine come Sept., Oct. and Nov. when I review them and they turn out to be crap? HA! I shall not be eating crow.
Kevin, the Pacifica Malibu Lemon Blossom sounds gorgeous. When perusing their line, I get so overwhelmed by what I want to try first that it’s hard to know where to begin. I do have a fondness for lotus (or many fragrant interpretations of it), and am tempted to try their lotus perfume as well.
I also think samples from Possets are definitely in order. I mean Gingerbread Crackhouse and Gingerbread Whorehouse? I just thought of engineering lighting tinted by one of those little cinnamon discs of candy to complete the garish genius of such a wanton confection, and can’t stop my mind from running with the idea…
As for cheap thrills, I’ve been wearing The Body Shop’s Lemon Tea now and again. It’s discontinued, but can easily be found on Evilbay. It doesn’t have a huge amount of ‘tea’, but the lemon is really pretty and lasts forever. I was throwing some things in the wash and one of my shirts caught my nose. I couldn’t quite remember what I’d sprayed on that day and spent an hour or two trying to recall it. Then I remembered it was TBS’s Lemon Tea. It’s glorious stuff.
I also bought a huge bottle of the C. O. Bigelow Lemon EDP for 20% off the normal $35, and while the staying power is pretty poor, it smells very bracingly of lemon straight out of the bottle and feels so refreshing spritzed on out of the fridge on a hut summer afternoon.
Sometimes if I’m making lemon tea, I’ve been known to just rub a bit of the peel on my wrists to enjoy throughout the day since citrus oils directly from the fruit tend to linger so long on skin. That’s also an easy way to avoid the dreaded Pledge note.
Absolute Scentualist: all those lemon-y things sound good. I keep meaning to try the Bigelow Lemon…their lemon cream is great.
Great post, Kevin! So glad to see Possets get some love in a big-time perfume blog. Fabienne is known for her yummy gourmand scents, but she shines brightest when she breaks the mold and does something different. Lamp Black is one of my favorites, too. Hayden (creamy lemon musk with a touch of green), Indigo (lavender w/vanilla and spice), and Madame X Squared (ginger, coconut, wheat flower) are really nice as well.
Me, too, Kevin, I loathed the perfume. And I’ve read everything of GS’s except most of the novels which I don’t think have aged very well (and are probably better appeciated in French because she apparently had a uniquely flowing style). Did you see Impromptu? Judy David was awesome as George, and Hugh Grant the best he’s ever been.
I loved that movie. Thank you for mentioning it, since I can never remember the name of it.
Monstabunny: Judy Davis is great…and I did like her in the film.
Again, coming late to the discussion. Lately I’ve been enjoying Provence Sante’s Lavende and Vervein (22 bucks and change each for 3.5 ounces at my local health food store). Lovely and refreshing!
Julesinrose: I agree…they’re nice.
I just got Malibu Lemon Blossom based on this review and having seen it mentioned favorably in a comment on another site…it’s so delightful! I tried L’Artisan’s L’Eau de L’Artisan earlier this summer and was really carried away by the initial burst of lemon sunshine that fragrance gave me. Wanted to buy the full bottle, but exercised financial restraint However, I wasn’t about to resist an inexpensive lemon fragrance and I’m glad I didn’t — the Pacifica is filling the same general scent need for me and also didn’t burn a hole in my wallet. Thanks for mentioning it!
Chasa: glad you liked it!