Monday, January 23, 2012

Sweet Anthem Juliet and Elliott

Lots of "t" sounds going on there...JulieT and EllioTT. :D I'm a geek, I know.

But a geek with perfume! Bwahaha.

Anyway. I've already confessed that I have the least sophisticated perfume preferences in the world. I like light, floral, green, citrusy, sweet scents, in general (though not necessarily all at once!) and I've got a lot of them. I decided I needed variety. I want to be one of those dangerous, sultry chicks who smell like leather and erm, other manly scent notes (???) and all of that, but those fragrances just don't suit me. My nose is like "red alert! Abort!" and it's back to the fruity, sugary sweet concoctions my brain apparently loves.

In an effort to break out of the rut, when I visited Sweet Anthem's booth at the UCU in December, I deliberately tried to seek out perfumes that were different from my norm. I was surprised to find that I liked Juliet (described as a "spice" scent on the site) as well as Elliott (described as "woodsy,") as they are both from scent families that I've had limited or no success with in the past.

The descriptions are from Sweet Anthem's site; my thoughts follow. I bought both of these in a 10 mL eau de parfum format, thinking that the alcohol based version might be slightly less intense than the perfume oil. I didn't want a full-strength variation when I wasn't sure that these scents would work well on me.

Juliet: "A starcross'd love – balmy jasmine sambac flowers and orange blossoms are encircled in enchanting spices. Nips of fresh mango and a faintly glimmering sea shore lay the scene in fair Verona. (Spice)

• Head Notes: Mango, Pink Pepper
• Heart Notes: Clove abs., Jasmine Sambac, Neroli
• Base Notes: Muskwood, Tobacco"

My thoughts: Since I have an eau de parfum of Juliet instead of a perfume oil, the experience is a bit different than with other Sweet Anthem perfumes that I've tried in oil format. My initial thought is that this EDP isn't at all "watered down" or diluted because of its alcohol base; it's plenty strong. It can get a little too strong, if I'm not careful - one spritz is more than enough! I usually spray a cloud, wait a moment, and then walk through it (and then leave it lingering for S. to walk blindly into, *giggle*). On first sniff, I get lots of jasmine sambac, but the powerful floral is sweetened by the mango and the orange blossom (neroli). I honestly don't get a lot of fruity mango here, but I do get its sweetness; it keeps the jasmine sambac from completely dominating the scent and turning it into a boring white floral. I also recognize the neroli; it's a favorite of mine because it contributes a sweetness that is also almost musky, and it tempers the floral aspect well. The drydown is softer, sweeter; I get a musky, creamy, almost vanilla note out of it. The spice of the clove is there, and the floral note remains. Most scents, given a fair chance, tend to turn sweet on my skin, and this one is no different. If I'm careful and manage not to overspray, this is a very feminine and youthful scent. I have to admit that it's not one I pull out very often; I appreciate the sentiment and the complexity of the perfume, but I think I am, in the end, more Beatrice than Juliet.
Pikake lei. Image source: Sweet Blossoms Hawaii
Interestingly enough, Juliet also kind of reminds me of home. Jasmine sambac is called "pikake" in Hawaii and it is often made into very fragrant leis. Thus, the smell brings me back to Hawaii, and Juliet reminds me of the ocean, rather than the doomed Shakespearean heroine. Don't get me wrong - it's not a tropical scent, and there is nothing traditionally aquatic about Juliet. But you know how everything smells stronger, clearer, sweeter at the beach? True here. Think of clean white flowers, the spice of the salty seawater crashing foaming against smooth shores...that is Juliet.
Hoh Rainforest, Olympic Peninsula. Image source: wikipedia
Elliot: "Our favorite parts of summer here in Seattle. Strolling down by the waterfront, hikes through the Puget Sound rain forests, and days down on the beach. But it wouldn't be a Seattle summer without just a hint of grunge. (Woods)

• Top Notes: Pine, Rain
• Heart Notes: Labdanum
• Base Notes: Oakmoss"

This was another risky choice, as anything under a "woods" category usually doesn't suit me. The first time I gave Elliot a try, I was a bit wary and nervous, because I really wanted it to work for me and I wasn't sure that it was going to cooperate.

As with Juliet, I spray a bit of it, wait, and walk through it, so that I don't get a full blast to the face. Even though the bottle says Elliot is "for gents," it is, of course, unisex. It is probably aimed toward men, and it does have characteristically masculine notes - the pine, the slightly resinous labdanum, the clean rain. It smells a bit spicy, a bit woodsy, a bit clean - notes I do like on men. Do I like it on me? Well, I don't object to it, although I have to say that I could probably live without the oakmoss. I know that's what the scent was crafted around, but it's not my favorite. I like the first few sniffs of Elliot, but then it grows a bit more bitter, a bit musty and mossy - exactly like the wet rainforests around here - and then I fall out of love with it. Outdoorsy men are not my type, I guess. If they are yours, though, I'd definitely give this one a try; it's multi-faceted, like those gruff, quiet hiking types who look all rugged  and bold, but have a soft spot for, say, teddy bears. And spicy, warm cookies. And you.

And then, because I know you want to know, I did make my "gent" wear it. It didn't even take too much wheedling. S. gave it a spray and mulled over it. Verdict? "I don't know, I don't like making opinions." Um. Yeah. But he said he'd wear it (which is as high a compliment as any, with him), so it's been gifted to him. I like it on him better than on me, anyhow. 

I do have to say that while I enjoyed testing each of these, trying to identify the notes and pick out the complex layers, neither of them is really me. But I think that's part of the perfume journey, you know? Even the ones you don't end up loving, teach you something.   

Sweet Anthem has all kinds of new things going on this year; Meredith has introduced "The Vault" (which is explained here) and I've already pre-ordered a spring sampler set of perfume oils (available now) - before the ban, of course! I love reading other perfume reviews, so if you try anything, please do share!