I'm gonna go ahead and review these fragrances without taking into account their name, design or founder, because I feel like they are so, so misrepresented and they are some of my favourites.
The first time I smelled Black Orchid I got a blast of fruit jam (I wanna say melons and apricots but it's meant to be blackcurrant) , it quickly goes into dark chocolate and reminds a lot of Angel. But it's all laced up in a condiment that could be cumin but isn't, and that reminds of the cult-favourite Donna Karan Chaos. The ripe fruits never leave.
The chocolate remains and the spices turn to amber and (patchouli?), and the base of vanilla softens the concoction considerably.
I don't find this fragrance particularly "sexy" or "sensual"- not more than any other fragrance can be depending on occasion- but I find this a rebellious scent and I love that. Making a big effort to abstract myself from all the connotations in the adverts, Black Orchid is kind of 60s hippy: It has that strong, dirty oil quality. For a blondie this doesn't suit me very much but it's a necessary option; I have my moments.
I must make another reference: It reminds me very much of the Histories de Parfums line, it could be a cross between 1969, Amber 411 and Patchouli Noir, if you're familiar with those. I am a fan of all three, and while I don't find myself reflected on any one, the merging of all those ideas kind of works. VIOLET BLONDE
Violet Blonde got me hooked from the moment they announced the title (as I've heard has happened to most of us). Simple but so effective- the adverts too are just arresting.
It bursts open with greenery which I love, it's fresh and so me. Sharp violet leafs and just a dusting of violet petals- this scent is really not about the violet. The green only lasts a minute and it immediately gives way to the white flowers of which jasmin is the most prominent. Again, sensual is not the first word that comes to mind to describe it…but the flowers are certainly deep and earthy at first, and then soften into a more common, velvety white bouquet. I regret that transformation, I think the sharp greenery and deep jasmin is just so unusual.
Nevertheless it's a very pretty formula for a white floral/iris, and I detect the suede and cedar- not so much the vetiver. The drydown is classic, inoffensive and comparable to many jasmin fragrances to be perfectly honest. I do really like it- but then I'm a fan of classic white florals and jasmin is one of my favourite flowers. I bet anything that if the marketing had been different (under an Elizabeth Arden label in a square bottle with a picture of Julia Roberts behind it) it would have missed most of the 20 something party crowd that so adore it.
(And yes, they both smell fab together! I don't recommend it to anybody because it has the potential to be quite a toxic fume, but my skin absorbs fragrance like nobody's business so that's never a problem, it's all dissipated in a couple of hours)
The more I grow and the more fragrances I go through, I've realised I can't wear a lot of scents that I consider masterpieces because they're dated, and they just do not feel right. Consequently I'm very happy that brands like Tom Ford and Agent Provocateur reproduce these elements that we find (arguably a lot better utilized) in so many glorious "old" fragrances, and put them together in a modern, wearable way. I feel like fragrances, just like clothing, are a mirror of their time, and there is an evolution that you can't ignore. Yes, some 40s dresses are fabulous but they are still dated. 60s is "in", but only as an influence: If you revisit original 60s material you'll see that the colours have changed, the materials have changed, things are put together differently, clothes nowadays are lot more stylized, it's very very different. I'm not saying it's better now but I'll never defend vintage for the sake of vintage, I don't find any inherent value on old stuff (other than historical) and I feel the same about fragrances. Many old fragrances are precious but they don't go with the times, and just like with an original Mary Quant total look, you feel a bit like you're in costume.