Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sweet Anthem Spring 2012

I like to buy the Sweet Anthem seasonal sets, because even though I know I may not like all of them, it's a good way to train my nose, and experience notes that I normally wouldn't pick out for myself. Sometimes I am happily surprised, sometimes my initial wariness is validated, but either way, it's a good experience.

This spring, when I ordered the Springtiming sampler, I received a set of solid samples, which is nice - I don't have much experience with solid fragrances, and I've been meaning to give them a try. In the sample clamshell packaging, they take a little bit of work to warm up with my fingers; I have to rub my finger vigorously into the disc to get anything out of it. However, there is an option to get a 5 mL twist tube, which I think will work wonderfully and be very easy to apply.

The fragrances are Corrin, Esther, Gwendolyn, Margaret, and Rowena, a nice quintet of ladies. I went through them in reverse alphabetical order, so that's how I'm going to list them here, just to change things up a little. Official perfume notes and descriptions are taken from Sweet Anthem's website.

Rowena: Cassis, Cognac, Green Tea, Golden Champa, Lavender, Pink Grapefruit, White Champa
"Hypnotic: white and golden champa, green tea infused with lavender, all adorned with a trio of quintessential citrus notes — cassis, cognac, and grapefruit."

Rowena is fruity and citrusy and girly. On the dry sniff, I get a lot of cassis, which almost smells tropical when paired with the citrus notes. It's sweet but not syrupy, which makes it spring-appropriate. However, Rowena is a little too tart for me; the citrus notes are definitely the champions here, lasting through the drydown, tart and strong in their own right.
MargaretGuava, Rose Otto, Vetiver, White Tea
"When the war is too much to bear, find comfort in this ancient melange of rose and vetiver, and settle into the evening with a guava-sweetened white tea." 

At first, it's rose, rose, rose. I learned what Rose Otto is (it reminded me of my undergraduate days in o-chem lab and I shuddered). I don't get a lot of fruity guava, but I get a sweetness, which seems to be characteristic of the fruit notes in many of Sweet Anthem's blends. I do get the vetiver on first sniff, though; it hit me before I even realized what vetiver was. It's green. Grassy, earthy green. You'd think that'd make this a green rose scent, but that earthly combination lives and dies like real flowers do, and at the end of the day, Margaret is wholly tea. Sweet, lovely tea, with a hint of roses still wafting in the air. All that, while remaining light and green and fresh; I like it.
A Study for the Quarrel of Oberon and Titania (image source)
GwendolynAmber, Black Tea, Lily of the Valley, Honeysuckle, Hyacinth, White Ginger
"A friendly springtiming tea suitable for any queen we know – steeped with wild, aldehydic florals, a dash of soft ginger, and a slightly tepid musk to leave our heads swimming." 

This one is my absolute favorite of the Springtiming collection. It's subtly sweet, with a faint fruitiness - almost like candy, but not syrupy. It's a sweet floral, and not at all what I expected from simply reading the notes and description. The honeysuckle is there, the hyacinth is there, and there's a slight musk to keep everything real and grounded. It reminds me of fairy queens, wrapped in garlands of white flowers...
EstherAlmond, Coconut, Honey, Lychee, Orchid, Sandalwood, White Chocolate
A gourmand meeting of sweet chocolate, flowers, and candies. Flirtatiously yummy with a fluffy white chocolate-sandalwood dry down. 

This one is foodie all the way. It smells familiar to me, a heady combination of the sweet almond, coconut, and honey, brightened with a splash of floral orchid and tempered by white chocolate. It's all there, but it's not crowded; it melds together beautifully, like one of those black teas that is mellowed out with a chocolate note. It's delicious, but sweet, and something I'd use sparingly on myself, as I am not the biggest fan of chocolate scents (as I don't like eating it, either). If you've a sweet tooth for gourmandy delights, though, I'd suggest you take a sniff.
CorrinBlack Tea, Civet, Cherry Blossom, Moroccan Rose, Myrrh, White Ginger
"Hey, don't you wanna buy her candy? Fruity strawberries, a smoky rosy center, an old trade route tea and expensive resins in between." 

Okay, maybe Gwendolyn and Corrin are tied for my favorite of the Springtiming collection. With Corrin, the solid perfume smells like strawberries and rose, but once it's on my skin, it transforms in tendrils of wispy, curling smoke into something subtler, and almost herbal. I get a fresh wash of tea - iced, cold tea - with a cool, almost minty sense of myrrh and cherry blossom. It's all delicately balanced and I really, really like this one, though I admit I'm happier when the strawberry fades away. This is a spring-summer scent, for sure.

The collection as a whole is full of florals and tea, with subtle variations throughout - a sweet note, a whisper of candy, a mellow chocolate coating, a strong citrus backbone. They're different enough to merit owning several, though there is a thematic entwinement of roses and tea; these notes are subtler in some, stronger in others. It's a lovely spring release, alternately ethereal and heady in the right ways. I can't say I'd wear all of these, but I always enjoy the experience of smelling them and feeling the way they evolve. With any collection, I think I usually find one or two that were meant for me (sometimes there aren't any, sometimes there are more) but it's not necessary to fall in love with all of them. They were probably all not even meant for me, you know?
Sylvia is not a spring release, but this is just an example of the "twist" solid packaging. I find these more convenient than compacts.

As for solid perfumes, I'm not sure why I was previously wary of these, though I suspect it's because I don't like getting my fingers into things. However, once I resigned myself to the situation, I found myself rather pleased with them. The sillage is obviously not as strong as with the perfume oils or the alcohol sprays, but if you're into a subtler scent trail, you'll probably appreciate that. As I mentioned above, they do take a bit of warming up; when I store them in my perfume box, they remain a bit hard, but once I start carrying the clamshell around or rubbing my finger against the surface of the solid perfume, the substance warms up beautifully and then it's quite easy to handle. I've been using these as a cuticle balm, too, which I'm sure my cuticles are happy about - they are often neglected. The idea of delicately perfumed fingertips delights me, for some reason. In general, I'd say that these are good for softer days, when you want just a hint of a scent, but don't want to go the whole nine yards with it. They don't last as long, so you'll have to reapply. It's nice to have variety and ways of toning down the intensity of my, erm, aural scent cloud, though on the whole I think I prefer the ease of roll-on oils and sprays.

If any of these have caught your eye (nose?), you can find them at Sweetanthem.com, but only for the remainder of the season or during a Sweeps week. They are available in a variety of formats: oils, solid compacts, or alcohol-based sprays. I may pick up Gwendolyn - and/or Corrin, ha! - just to have them in one of my preferred forms. Are you tempted by any of these? Which?