The pounding rains have arrived in Seattle, and the winds, blowing into town from the Pacific, are stripping the trees of their beautifully colored fall leaves. My poor house-bound cats don’t know whether to blame me, each other, or their nemesis — mean girl (cat) Donatella from next door — for the wet, slippery balcony, the absence of interesting birds to watch, and the non-stop twinkling of the tiny brass Thai bells that hang from each corner of my house. We’re all stuck inside: bored and feeling a bit soggy. We’re in a mood.
The cats are shifting their focus to the comforts of the indoors: finding warm, soft places to nap and stalking treats instead of birds, moths, spiders and falling leaves. Me? I’ll read more, listen to music, and perhaps…go through the 200+ sample vials of perfume in my “to review” box on my desk.
This week, I didn’t know what to write about. I have a candle review in the works, a “shopping” post I’ve been working on and two other articles in the gestation phase. With hundreds of scents to choose from, I looked inside “The Box” and pulled out Boadicea the Victorious Explorer, and it’s a PERFECT time to experience it.
Boadicea the Victorious makes so many fragrances (10 new releases on top of [ed. note: at least] 35 established scents for a total of 45 perfumes!) they apparently can’t provide accurate ingredients lists to retailers*. At Basenotes, Explorer’s ingredients are “Sicilian lemon, citron and cypress” and at Luckyscent and here at NST, Explorer’s ingredients are listed as Sicilian lemon, citron, cypress, orris, violet, tobacco, Tuscan leather, and oud. On the Boadicea the Victorious website, Explorer’s ingredients are bergamot, galbanum, cistus labdanum, cedar and “amber balsam…with precious orris butter.”
My nose says Boadicea the Victorious’ list is the most accurate. Explorer starts off with rich citrus tinged with bold, almost “floral” galbanum. A mélange of notes follows: leathery cistus labdanum, a “charred” birch-like note, and deep, resinous cedar wood. I detect no obvious orris butter unless it provides the sweet, powdery finish to Explorer.
Some will no doubt find Explorer too simple…more a perfume base than a fully developed fragrance. Not me. I appreciate and wear many “austere” perfumes that remind me of places (an attic, lumber yard, spice shop, or incense-filled chapel) and even objects (a leather box, a fragrant bar of soap, a newly sharpened pencil, a turpentine-soaked paintbrush, or pipe filled with burning tobacco). Many people categorize such fragrances as ambiance scents — perfect for candles or room sprays. Well…I’ve worn many room sprays over the years and, recently, almost screamed with pleasure when I discovered Cire Trudon is making room sprays.
Explorer isn't complex; it's a natural-smelling, slightly smoky, long-lasting wood/leather perfume. Every time I wear it, I think of ancient wooden Japanese Buddhist temples, filled with soot-blackened statues of Buddha and bodhisattvas. Closer to home, I can say Explorer smells good on cat fur too. I don't spray Explorer on my cats, but they can't help getting scented with my perfumes, because come fall and winter, there are more lazy days — more time for hugs and snuggling.
Boadicea the Victorious Explorer is available in 50 ($175) and 100 ml (£130) Eau de Parfum. For buying information see the listing for Boadicea the Victorious under Perfume Houses.
* They also can’t be bothered to print the names of perfumes on sample vials. I once received over 10 carded Boadicea the Victorious samples and the vials had come loose from the cards; I had no idea what vial went with which card.
Note: top image is "Nikko, Japan, Ancient Stone Dog Guarding the Temple of Nikko from Evil." stereocard view, c. 1900 via Wikimedia Commons.