Monday, May 4, 2015

Sweet Anthem Enchanted Fragrances

[Samples were provided by Sweet Anthem for review.]

Sweet Anthem perfumes make up a nice portion of my perfume stash - there is a lot of variety in the range, and I love reading about the inspiration behind many of the scents. Plus, it's a Seattle-based perfumery, and that city is near and dear to my heart. I was excited to hear that Meredith put out a new "Enchanted" collection, with four scents inspired by fairy tales and familiar stories: Briar Rose, Snow White, Black Queen, and Red Queen.

Briar Rose: tomato leaf, rose otto, beeswax, white amber
"Hidden behind a rose-covered castle lies a sleeping beauty, waiting for true love's kiss. Sultry beeswax, a waxy rose otto, bright tomato leaf, and white amber to soften the cursed affair."

I had to try this one first, because beeswax and tomato leaf are two of my favorite perfume notes (see my reviews of Sweet Anthem Joan, Edith, Lizie, Fox), and I was not disappointed. Sleeping Beauty has never been my favorite fairy tale, but this perfume showcases a wildness of spirit in Briar Rose that I had never imagined before. It opens with green tomato leaf, hinting at ripeness, but it is most definitely a beeswax scent; the combination of beeswax + rose otto gives it a tart apple juiciness, which is completely enticing. Any prince who passed by and caught this in the air would stop and peer into the castle's hazy depths, seeking the spark of life that must exist amidst the dust and thorns. White amber rounds it out - the slab the princess rests on, its stones smooth with time. It's a great spring-to-fall scent - youthful but refined.

Black Queen: apple, linden blossom, oakmoss, tonka bean
"Overly obsessed with her apple orchard and being the fairest in the land. A dark, green blend of apple, melon-y linden blossom, damp oakmoss, smoky tonka bean."

I approached this one warily. I love tonka bean and linden blossom, but I am usually not a fan of apple or oakmoss (I know, I said that the perceived apple in Briar Rose above was enticing, but that's a bit of an anomaly for me). It's like the proffered apple of the fairy tale - tempting, but still suspicious. On first sniff, I definitely got caramel apple and oakmoss, but I courageously dabbed some on, and oh, this may be my favorite way to wear oakmoss. The tonka bean + oakmoss combination is soft and smokey; the apple and linden blossom form a beautiful facade over darker intentions. It's an ancient orchard and a secret dungeon, moss and must and smoke and just one mirror. Black Queen was an unexpected love for me - welcome to the dark side.

Red Queen: cardamom, fig, white pepper, honey, rose, leather
"A familiar face returns to finish what she started. All smoke and leather, a drunken rose, ripe fig, white pepper."

Full disclosure: I overdosed on rose perfumes two or three years ago, and can't really bear to wear them anymore. I wore Red Queen only once, but I did let it develop on my skin over a few hours. It is an aged rose with a spicy leather heart; the honey + fig add balance rather than stickiness. If you're tired of the ingenue, sparkling roses, this one might speak to you.

Snow White: petit grain, osmanthus, white musk, vetiver
"The fairest of them all, or so sayeth a magic mirror. Bright green petit grain, apricot-tinged osmanthus blossoms, on a base of sheer, woodsy vetiver."

This one is not at all sweet. It is a clean, tangy, gauzy sort of scent - pure of heart. As you might guess, Snow White isn't one of my star heroines either, and likewise, none of the notes are my go-tos in a fragrance. It is an artfully balanced blend, though - there is just enough vetiver to keep it from floating away, but the base notes still preserve the transparent and innocent character of the fragrance. This one's for those who like green, lively, effervescent scents.

I hope we see more explorations of fairy tales in the future, but this is a very satisfying start. There is something for everyone (although, ok, if you prefer woodsy orientals or traditionally more masculine scents, you may not find something here. Even though Black Queen has the fougère tonka bean + oakmoss base, the caramel apple sweetness may appeal to more gourmand tastes). All four can be purchased at Sweet Anthem (individually or in sets, in EdP and solid form) - you can even get a sampler set!