Friday, December 23, 2011

Sweet Anthem at the Urban Craft Uprising

A couple of weeks ago, S. and I went down to the Urban Craft Uprising in downtown Seattle with some friends. Sweet Anthem had a booth there, and I had the chance to meet the lovely Monika (Rocaille Writes) and Meredith (the owner and perfumer of Sweet Anthem) in person! It was supremely awesome.

The booth was very, very busy (the UCU is always crazy!) so I didn't have a lot of time to sniff perfumes, but I did manage to pick up two eau de parfum sprays (each one was 10 mL for $18, though other sizes are offered), as well as a set of the six Winter 2011 perfume oils (6 sample sizes - 2 mL each - for $12; this was a really great deal, as it's usually 3 for $12). Since it's still De-Grinch Week, I figured this was a good time to talk about the Winter release.

The first time I tried to sniff these, I was a little too overzealous and sniffed them all at once, in an extremely haphazard manner. I dabbed just one of them on my skin, but I had no idea which one it was after it was all over. And of course, I ended up with some of it on my nose (I need to stop doing that. I'm a chemist, I know how to smell things. Waft, damnit, waft!) so then I was smelling something else entirely, but who knows which it was - or what combination of scents it was. Amateur, right? So the second time, I went at it alphabetically and methodically, spending adequate time with each one in order. I bring to you my thoughts, as well as the official descriptions from Sweet Anthem's Etsy site. The Winter 2011 scents are available until January 31, as per Meredith's post.
1. Ayn: "Just a dab prepares you for any philosophical discussion. An objective perfume for him or her featuring deep herbs, fruits, and spices."

• Top Notes: Blackberry, Rosemary
• Heart Notes: Hollyberry
• Base Notes: Sage

My thoughts: In the vial, it's too sweet; it almost has an almondy-rich scent. On my skin, it's suddenly spicier, like cinnamon and nutmeg (which I think is the hollyberry). I get whispers of sage (how's that for synesthesia?), floral and green - I kind of wish it had a stronger green note. The spicy, cinnamon scent is stronger than I'd like, but I was amused to find that I could actually smell all three layers, one after another. 

2. Eugene: "All your wits will vanish this season with a dry spices blend perfect for making merry. Green spices and black pepper celebrate with clean woods and musk.

• Top Notes: 
• Heart Notes: Orris, Black Pepper
• Base Notes: Musk, Sandalwood
" [this is how it was presented on the site]

My thoughts: On my skin, extremely powdery. The kind that gives me a headache. I couldn't give this one too many tries, because it immediately morphed into a powdery scent that simply doesn't agree with me. Kind of clean, kind of floral, kind of powdery.

3. Linda: "A gold-wrapped chocolate infused with sweet liqueur, enjoyed in a cozy leather arm chair by the fire. Nothing entirely too fancy, but a staple nonetheless.

• Top Notes: Cherry
• Heart Notes: Black Pepper, Currants

• Base Notes: Cocoa, Gold, Leather"

My thoughts: In the vial, it is richly sweet - the cherry came through strongly, and cherry is not one of my favorite flavors or scents. On the skin, it was at first a bit green, but dried down to a sweeter, leathery finish. I get a hint of the black pepper throughout, with a subtle fruity softness, a faint hint of cocoa, and an almost powdery note. I'm still undecided on this scent, though I do have one question: what is gold supposed to smell like?

4. Sheila: "Oh, most gracious of beings, my queen. A commanding perfume with sharp, herbal top notes that demand to be heavy, smoky, green, and woody on skin.

• Top Notes: Chamomile, Rosemary
• Heart Notes: Lotus, Tuberose

• Base Notes: Myrrh"

My thoughts: In the vial, it's kind of like those green-scented candles, with perhaps the slightest sweetness. On my skin, it starts out kind of like chamomile, but ends up quite soapy. The smallest dot lasted forever on me, as well. It might be interesting layered, because that soapy note could be interesting if it were melded with something else. Although, who am I kidding? I don't know how to layer scents - the end result will be me, smelling like I accidentally spilled fifty bottles of perfume on myself. It smelled good with my raspberry hand cream...haha.

5. Stanford: "Made for tarts, harlots, and chastised sweethearts. Herbal teas and heady liqueurs are softened by sweet woods and fruits.

• Top Notes: Absinthe, Orange Peel
• Heart Notes: Cassie, Fig
• Base Notes: Angelica Root, Green Tea"

My thoughts: Kind of piney and almost reminds me of Christmas trees in the vial, but also quite fruity, somehow. On my skin, it's immediately kind of...bad. It's like how grapefruit turns horrible on some people - yeah, this, on me. Funny how that happens sometimes, huh? As time passes, more of the green tea note comes out, which I rather like; most "green tea" perfumes just smell like citrus to me, but this one is actually reminiscent of green tea - it has an earthiness to it that I associate with tea. However, that odd note still lingers (Meredith, via Twitter, said it must be the angelica, which is apparently a rather polarizing scent). I'm really kind of torn about this one! Incidentally, S. says it doesn't smell strange to him at all, so it must be a combination of my skin + my nose. 

6. Sylvia: "How frail the human heart must be. When a hot bath won't cure what ails you, this perfume surely will: a bit of bubbly under the mistletoe, with wreaths of osmanthus and tuberose, will make anyone merry and bright.

• Head Notes: Champagne, Mistletoe
• Heart Notes: Osmanthus, Tuberose
• Base Notes: Cedarwood"

My thoughts: In the vial and initially on my skin, it smells like soda! Like fizzy, lemon-lime soda. I suppose that's the champagne in action, as well as the osmanthus (the slightly fruity aspect). I smell hints of the tuberose and a slightly spicy note - the cedarwood? This lasts and lasts through the drydown. Altogether - love!  

Final thoughts:
All in all, I guess wintery scents are not quite my cup of tea, though I am kind of in love with Sylvia. With some of the others, there were notes that I wanted more of, but they were not the focus of that particular perfume. However, perfumes - and perfume oils, in particular - are extremely personal experiences, and subjective, so if any of these descriptions sound interesting to you, I definitely recommend you giving them a try! Sweet Anthem is closed for the holidays, but should be open shortly after the new year.

I will say that even though some of these scent notes weren't for me, I had a lot of fun smelling these - I'm training my nose! They are all quite complex and the experience is completely different from the vial, to the initial skin test, to the drydown. They all last quite long on my skin, as well. I will have to make a trip down to Sweet Anthem's brick and mortar shop to give their other perfumes a sniff - perhaps when the next season's collection hits us? In the meantime, I'm putting Sylvia on the wishlist!