A stroll in Provence at the end of Spring. The scent of peaches and orange blossoms in the air. Fresh citruses and sparkling champagne. Heavily-laden mimosa trees adding colours of yellow, white and green. Bees buzzing everywhere, zipping from the fragrant flowers to honeycombs dripping with thick sweetness.
Those are the images evoked by Hedonist, a new perfume and the first in a line from the independent Paris house of Parfums Viktoria Minya. Ms. Minya spent many years studying the art of fragrance production in Grasse — the center for French (if not world) perfumery that is located in Provence — and then in working for various fragrance creation companies. Ms. Minya recently explained her philosophy and the goal behind Hedonist in an interview she gave to Fragrantica:
Impregnated of Grasse’s spirit, in the cradle of perfumery, I thought a perfume should be a celebration, it should be crowning your day, and it should be a moment of pure joy. I created Hedonist according to these values in my mind. I wanted it really to be a piece of beauty[.]
The spirit of Grasse is very strong in Hedonist and is probably why images of Provence are so vivid in my mind, recalling part of my childhood summers in the area. And the perfume is, indeed, beautiful, though I have to admit that hedonistic excess is not really the feel of it for me. Instead, it makes me feel extremely serene, soothed by the sweetness of honey and fruited flowers.
Nonetheless, Hedonist is described as follows:
A powerful and provocative perfume for a woman who dares to be true to her desires. Lush notes of jasmine and orange blossom absolute flirt with the dark intensity of rum and the world’s finest woods for a scent that is as captivating as it is unforgettable.
Hedonist is presented within a beautifully crafted bottle filled with hundreds of genuine bohemian crystals that sparkle brilliantly in the divine golden liquid and the bottle itself is enclosed within a handmade wooden box fashioned to capture the sleek look and feel of snakeskin leather.
The notes in the perfume, as compiled from both Fragrantica and an interview there with Viktoria Minya, are:
Top notes: Rum CO2, bergamot, peach;
Heart notes: Indian jasmine absolute, Tunisian orange flower absolute, osmanthus absolute, tobacco;
Base notes: Haitian vetyver, Virginia cedar oil, Indonesian Patchouli, and vanilla.
Fragrantica classifies Hedonist as a “woody chypre.” Frankly, that leaves me utterly baffled. The perfume is hardly a chypre and has no oakmoss. On my skin, it’s not particularly woody, either! Instead, it’s a lovely, very sweet fruit-floral with a very cozy feel, thanks to its honey and vanilla heart.
From the very first whiff, Hedonist is pure honey. A tidal wave of honey that is rich and warm with an element of almost bourbon-like richness beneath the tone. Yet, surprisingly, it’s not very thick, boozy or heavy; it doesn’t feel like the sort of boozy heaviness of Guerlain‘s Spiriteuse Double Vanille with its genuinely rum (and rum raisin) accord. Here, instead, it feels more like very dark honeycombs, infused with florals.
Seconds after that opening burst, there is lush peach, heady jasmine, citrus notes and some orange blossom. The jasmine is beautifully intertwined with the peach which is so ripe and sweet, it feels as though its juices are dribbling down your chin. The fruity note is also quietly underscored by the honeyed apricot aspect of osmanthus. There are no significant orange accords, however, and the orange blossom is very muted at this time.
In comparison, the citrus notes are much more prominent in the opening minutes. They are fresh and sparkling, seeming at times like bergamot, while, at other times, adding a very subtle, quiet nuance of lemony freshness. They are joined by just a hint of green vetiver, but it is bright and a bit more like lemon grass than the usual earthy, dark, rooty note. With the citrus notes, it creates the image of the green leaves surrounding a peach.
The interesting part of Hedonist’s opening is the distinctly soapy undertone to the perfume. While I suspect it stems from the orange blossoms, what’s unusual about it is that it really feels like soapy woods! White woods, soft and light, but soapy nonetheless. The conjunction of that soapy note with Hedonist’s fizzy brightness calls to mind aldehydes, but also champagne. In this case, both the drink and YSL‘s Champagne/Yvresse perfume which I adore and which is one of my long-standing “happy” perfumes. It is a beautiful, fruity-floral fragrance with peaches, nectarines, apricots, vetiver, and fizzy aldehydes.
That same sparkling feel exists here with Hedonist, and its bubbly pop leads me to think that either aldehydes or hedione are part of the perfume. For one thing, hedione has long been a key part of 20th century perfumery, especially for French perfumes. While it is often used in place of jasmine absolute, hedione is also sometimes used for its own characteristics in order to create a bright, green, lemon-nuanced fizzy note. Here, the jasmine note is not indolic, over-ripe, sour or plastic-y but, rather, very airy and almost green — the way it would be if hedione were used.
As for the aldehydes, they too are often added to create that shimmery brightness which is evident here. For the record, Ms. Minya says there are no aldehydes in the scent, but it sometimes feels like it. Not merely because of the occasionally soapy aspect to the perfume (though that vanishes after an hour), but also because of the sparkle and airiness. For all that Hedonist feels like a very heady perfume, it’s actually not opaque or thick at all. After that initial heaviness from the honey note (the Rum CO2) in the opening minutes, the perfume is actually quite light in feel. It’s definitely not oppressively weighted down or indolically narcotic.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other notes in the perfume that are not included on the list. For some reason, it almost feels as though there is a subtle mimosa note to all the cheerful, happy, sweet yellowness of the scent. I think it’s because I keep seeing yellow before my eyes when I smell the perfume. (And, also, because mimosas were also a big part of my childhood in the South of France.) At the same time, Hedonist also seems to have a light musk note underlying everything. That accord becomes more evident as time passes and the perfume develops more into its core base: honey, peach and beeswax over a light foundation of musk with vanilla.
After an hour, the notes change a little in nuance, but the perfume’s fundamental characteristic remains the same. The citrus notes have faded away completely to be replaced by more woody ones, along with the advent of orange blossom. The latter is subtle and well-blended into the jasmine. As time progresses, however, it becomes even less evident on my skin, though it occasionally pops up, here and there, in different degrees of strength. On my skin, Hedonist is not really an orange blossom scent, but a peach and honey one. As the other notes start to drop away, the honey becomes even more evident, strengthened by beeswax and the image of rich honeycombs. There is also the start of the vanilla undertone; it’s very soft and gauzy but, simultaneously, rich and creamy. When combined with the honey, beeswax and ripe, juicy peaches, the overall impression is of great sweetness.
The woodsy notes are very muted on my skin. There is a quiet element of cedar wood in the background, but it is just the barest shimmer. As for tobacco leaves, the first of my two tests of Hedonist showed the subtle hint of sweetened, dry tobacco leaves in the opening ten minutes of the scent, but it disappeared soon thereafter, never to reappear in any significant way. During my second test, however, both the tobacco leaves and the cedar wood were much more evident. They appeared at the end of the second hour, and I suspect it’s because I applied a far greater quantity of Hedonist than I did during my first test.
Another reason for the (small) difference might be because Hedoniste is a beautifully blended scent. Everything melds together in one very harmonious balance, making a few of the individual notes hard to detect in any significant way (with the exception of the honey). The background notes add to the richness of the scent in an indirect, subtle way, but they never visible morph the perfume into one thing or another. Instead, the core essence remains the same.
And that essence is a very classique scent. Hedonist has a very old-French aspect to it, though it’s not weighted down by some of the more traditional elements in French perfumery like oakmoss, powder, civet or patchouli. (Ms. Minya said in her interview with Fragrantica that patchouli was one of the notes in the perfume; I can’t smell it.) I think the airiness makes Hedoniste a very modern sort of classique fruity-floral. It is not trying to be revolutionary, unsettling or edgy; it simply wants to be beautiful and elegant.
Hedonist succeeds in that goal. Personally, however, I found it a much more soothing, serene, cozy scent than something sensuously hedonistic or sexy. It actually reminded me at times of Couvent de Minimes’ Honey and Shea body wash that I always turn to for its soothing, comforting qualities. Whatever Hedonist’s other elements or nuances, on my skin, it was first and foremost an uncomplicated, fruited honey, honeycomb and beeswax scent — and I loved it for that. And the perfume’s final drydown of honey, beeswax, vanilla and light musk was so pretty and cozy, I felt like curling up like a cat.
Hedonist is a strong perfume (though stronger if you apply more than the equivalent of 2 small sprays), but, as noted earlier, the feel is surprisingly light as a whole. The sillage starts as strong but, after the opening hour, became a touch above moderate in its projection on my skin. However, I was dabbing it on, so I suspect the perfume would be stronger if you applied Hedonist via an aerosolized spray bottle. Nonetheless, the first time I tested it, I was surprised by how quickly the fragrance became soft — which I think will be a definite bonus for those who prefer a less powerful scent. The perfume became very close to the skin only around the third hour, detectable only by bringing my nose to my arm. It hovered there as a soft, sweet veil for a number of hours. In terms of longevity, Hedonist lasted just about 9 hours on my perfume-consuming skin when I applied a lot, and approximately 7.5 when I applied less.
Hedonist’s richness is underscored by its utterly spectacular, luxurious presentation. Though I haven’t seen it in person, the photographs show a bottle that is filled with 500, genuine, Bohemian crystals which create a glittering, sparkling, jeweled effect that I find to be really stunning. I also think it happens to mimic the perfume’s very fizzy, champagne-like feel.
All in all, Hedonist is an extremely sweet, very feminine scent and would be perfect for those who love sweet fruity-florals. Even those who normally shy away from florals and prefer gourmand scents may be drawn to it, thanks to all that lovely honey and the quiet vanilla in the background. It is far too feminine, in my opinion, for the majority of men to pull of it off, but men apparently love it on their girlfriends or wives. In her interview with Fragrantica, Ms. Minya said women who tested Hedonist “all liked the perfume, but their boyfriends/husbands were actually going crazy for it and begging their wife/girlfriends to wear it.”
I wear perfume for myself, not for others or their reaction to it, and I would definitely wear Hedonist. It’s one of those easy, uncomplicated scents that makes me feel very cheerful, cozy and warm. It’s a very happy scent that seems to have bottled the bright sunshine of Provence. Sparkle, cheerfulness and sweetness — all with beautiful crystals. I’m a fan.
The fact this is a fruity floral feminine scent is what attracts me to it, but peach can be a bit tricky for me. Lovely review my dear.
I don’t think it’s actually supposed to be as predominantly peach-y as it turned out to be on my skin. I have the impression that the orange blossom is/was supposed to dominate or be a much stronger thread in the overall tapestry. But, as you can see, skin chemistry is a funny thing and, on both occasions, the orange blossom was very muted on my skin. I think that, if the notes intrigue you, the sample is a great deal, especially given the free shipping. I do think that you’d really enjoy the rich honey notes, but I also know that you’re skittish about orange blossom, Mr. Hound.
Oh yes please! I love honey fragrances and am very lucky that they always smell like honey on me and not . . . well, you know. The bottle and the presentation box are gorgeous!
And the perfumer is quite striking. I must confess that I am dying to know what brand mascara she uses. That’s weird, right?
If you love honey — and super rich honey at that — then I would definitely recommend that you try Hedonist! The thing is, this is supposed to be a *orange blossom* scent much more than a honey one! But, on my skin, the Rum CO2 ended up being the strong note, not the orange blossoms, the vetiver or some of the dryer woody elements. You know how much I adore orange blossom, but I didn’t mind one bit that it wasn’t noticeable on me, given the rest of the perfume. I loved the final outcome for how soothing it was. The honey was sooooooo relaxing and comforting. I swear, I think my blood pressure went down a few notches both times I wore the perfume. LOL.
As for the perfumer, she’s not only striking but seems to be an incredibly fascinating person, in my opinion. Oxford-educated, then NYC for some companies and HR, then Grasse for many years of perfume education, and more. The Fragrantica interview was really interesting to me. And there is a link on her website to an equally striking photo (if not even cuter) of her.http://viktoriaminya.com/en/about/ But most of all, she seems like an exceptionally nice, incredibly warm person and I hope she goes far with her perfume (or, perfumes, plural, in the future). There is a very classique, rich, luxurious aspect to Hedonist which I greatly appreciated and which I think is becoming a bit rare amongst some perfumes today.
As for your curiosity on her mascara… ROFL! You never fail to make me smile, Baconbiscuit. I’m afraid I won’t be the one to ask her what she uses. 😉 😀
Baconbiscuit, I found out what mascara she uses. (Don’t ask. LOL). It’s L’Oreal One Million Lashes (the voluminizing one) — two coats. If you try it, let me know how it works on you. (And I can’t stop smiling as I type all this out. I really love all of you who post here. It’s like the happiest, little family of quirky eccentrics.) 🙂 🙂
HAHA! OMG! Okay, I won’t ask 🙂 I will only say that I am in awe that you found out!
L’Oreal One Million Lashes. Got it! Brilliant!
What I really like about the brand is that it came out with just one perfume! I think it’s very considerate.
Honey perfumes are tricky: some ofthem I love, others do not play nicely on my skin. When Iget a chance I’ll see to which category this one belongs.
I’ll be very interested to see what you think of it when you get the chance to test it out. 🙂
I completely agree with you, Undina. I am cautious about the honey aspect, but looking forward to trying this.
Another blogger called it an incredibly “photorealistic” honey, though I don’t know if that alleviates or increases your concern about the honey note. LOL! If you try it out, let me know what you think, Natalie. 🙂
Peach frightens me. I love the smell but on my skin it often brings back memories of cleaning the cat room at the animal shelter. Some peach notes smell like cat pee on me. Not a favorite of mine. Once in a while they are okay though but I’ve learned to always sample first when peach is involved.
I love the crystals in the bottle.
“Peach frightens me” — LOL!!! I feel the same way about Lavender, so I can definitely relate. 🙂 I hope you’ll get the chance to try the perfume, Poodle, or perhaps order a sample for the approximate $6 price. It has some of the notes in the Seville à L’Aube that you like — orange blossom and beeswax — so you may enjoy Hedonist. 🙂
Lavender?? You hate it? Hate is too kind. I despise it. It makes me feel totally
nautious. I must have had a bad experience with Pledge when I was a child.
You had me at orange blossom!!! But the rest of the notes sound absolutely fantastic as well! And that bottle!
The way you wrote about your time in Provence reminds me of one of my favorite perfumes- the 1994 limited edition Escada’s Un Ete en Provence- the “fruited flowers”
The bottle is spectacular, isn’t it?! As for the Escada, don’t you hate it when a favorite perfume is limited-edition? Incredibly frustrating. Speaking of Provence, have you ever read Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence? One of my favorite books on the subject. It made me laugh out loud repeatedly. Given your love of all things British, if you haven’t read it, I definitely recommend it! It takes place in true Provence, as opposed to the more Cote d’Azur parts I know, but it’s a glorious celebration of the area, its food (so much food and drinking in that book, you’ll gain weight just reading it!), and the culture.
Off to the library I go (btw, Jordan chides me that my list of “need to read” is just about as long as a book itself 🙂 !!)
I just ordered online to pick up at my local library- A Year in Provence, Toujours Provence and Encore Provence…and if indeed it will put some meat on my bones via reading them as you have promised, all the better (I am a mere 93lbs)
You tiny thing, you! I haven’t read the sequels, though I’ve wanted to, but I really, really hope you enjoy A Year in Provence!! (Whatever you do, don’t rent the Netflix film first. It’s not good and definitely does not do the book(s) any justice!) Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it. xoxoox
I ALWAYS read first and then,if interested, see the movie (and the mean mother that I am make all three of my children do the same!!). All three should be coming in soon so as soon as I complete I will let you know my thoughts 🙂 !!
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Simply love honey perfumes! I may have to look into this further.
Oh I hope you do, Kellilee! It’s such a cozy, soothing, relaxing scent and, at the same time, wonderfully feminine. 🙂
It is the first time I hear about this brand. Never heard about it earlier
It’s a brand-new line, Lucas, and the perfume was just released but I think we’ll hear much more from Parfums Viktoria Minya in the years to come! 🙂
O, that explains why I didn’t hear about the line.
We’ll see how they grow up
Sounds quite lovely! Although I, too, have a different definition of hedonism than she does! LOL. The peach note is interesting, as I agree with the other commenter who mentioned it can be a difficult note. Peach is one of my favorite fruits (and scents), but I think it often can smell very artificial in perfume. Although, to be fair, I haven’t tried many things that had peach notes. I know Mitsouko is famous for its peach note, although to be totally honest, I do not get peach from Mitsouko. Maybe I just need to concentrate more when smelling it, but I don’t smell it. At all. I love it in spite of that fact, though.
At any rate, this sounds like it would appear to many people! The packaging is absolutely beautiful.
I think that the sensuality of orange blossom — which is intended to be a much stronger note on people than it was on my skin — is perhaps one reason for the definition. Jasmine’s sensuality and lushness, too. The ripe peach notes that were so juicy would probably be the third aspect, especially as peach — on some people’s skin — can very much replicate the scent of a woman’s body when combined with more animalistic, skanky notes like civet or musk. Again, I don’t think the perfume was intended to be *quite* so honey-dominant as it was on me — but that’s the funny thing about skin chemistry as you know yourself. 🙂
I don’t have problems with peach myself and it’s in a number of perfumes that I adore from YSL’s Champagne to Hermès’ 24 Faubourg, but I know a number of people can find it to be an iffy note, depending on its treatment. I definitely think the perfume is worth testing out for those who love the notes, fruity florals or honey perfumes. And yes, isn’t that packaging stunning? It’s like a little glowing jewel in that dark box. Such a visual feast with such attention to details. Love the Bohemian crystals SOOOOO much!
Yeah, I can definitely get “a woman’s body” from Mitsouko, but I can’t pull out peach in particular – it must be the melding with everything else going on. However it works, I love and adore Mitsouko. I need to smell Champagne/Yvresse one of these days. Do you know if it would be available somewhere like Macy’s? Maybe I’ll go check on my lunch hour! 🙂
But I suppose all of that is besides the note of this perfume so I should stop rambling. LOL. In theory, this perfume doesn’t sound like something I’d buy or wear, but I will definitely be on the lookout for samples, as this sounds really bright and cheerful.
But yes, the packaging is wonderful. I’m sure we pay a pretty penny for that level of loveliness, but I suppose that’s part of the fun in perfume collecting! Wouldn’t be too much fun if they came in sad little oil cans. LOL.
Champagne/Yvresse is discontinued. 😦 But it’s definitely available on eBay where I got my Yvresse bottle (I have some remnants in my Champagne one, but I’m not touching it). I’ll send you some Yvresse (completely the same thing) when I put together your next package.
As for the bottle of Hedonist, I think the perfume is very affordable given the ingredients, the packaging and those 500 crystals. There are perfumes that cost $160 which don’t have anything close to this degree of luxe packaging. Montale, I’m looking at you!
Ahhhh, I didn’t realize it was GONE! Crazy! Luckily, it’s still quite prolific on eBay (for reasonable prices, though I suppose as time goes by, those prices will become exponentially more unreasonable. Ug.).
Ug, don’t get me started on Montale’s packaging. I think it is so, so ugly!
That is to say, I knew the name had changed some time ago but I didn’t realized production had ceased altogether! I just looked it up and apparently it happened a while ago. What a bummer. Better stock up! LOL.
Dear Kafka, The perfume bloggers are conspiring against my wallet this week! There are so many NEW (for me) perfumes reviewed that seem to be tailor-made for me. I’ll be ordering a sample – you get a mini-lemming 🙂
Now if only bees were not dangerous, I would love to tickle their furry little bodies…
What else are you yearning for? BTW, have you gotten your decant of Dries Van Noten yet? Even BaconBiscuit said it was all snickerdoodles!
As for “Mini-lemming” with this one, is it because others are more dominant in your interests? What’s the main thing you’re lusting for?
“mini” for now since I am ordering a sample :-). The others I’ve got my eyes on include Haute Clair, Noontide Petals, Cartier Baiser Vole EDT (I have the EDP already) and actually, I am almost positive I will get a FB of Iris Poudre.. OK, I need to stop. I am still “searching” for my Dries van Noten (a split didn’t work out but I am patient…I may go to Barneys to check it out in the meantime.
eeek, this was supposed to be a reply to you!
Oh, I’m so glad you’ve found a number of things that are tempting you! Seems like a lot of florals on the list which will be so wonderful for Spring. As for Haute Claire, Mr. Hound’s review of it had me DROOLING!!! It’s definitely one I want to try too!
I’m very sad your Dries van Noten split didn’t work out. 😦 You are so intertwined in my mind with that perfume! I hope you can get even a small vial from Barney’s in the meantime because I just know you’ll love the gourmand nature of this. Snickerdoodles & Hajusuuri…. a perfect love match! 🙂 🙂
Oh fun! I got the well blended – very smooth and silky – but I got more rum than anything. Or tobacco and vetiver and rum. Florals are very much in the background for me. And honey – not a twizzle! – though it may also have been hiding behind the rum…
Interesting how the Rum CO2 manifested itself on you. I know rummy scents aren’t your thing. Did you get a lot of peach?
Somewhat, yes indeed. It reminded me in particular of a little known Patou, and when I checked it out, it was a big peach production!
In my complete exhaustion and fatigue the other night in replying, I actually meant to ask if you smelled orange blossom as well. I have the impression that it is supposed to be a far, far stronger note in the perfume than it was on my skin. I think Freddie of SmellyThoughts got more peach than orange blossom too, but I keep wondering about that aspect of it. Also, how was the vetiver on you? Very earthy, or very fresh and green? I had very little vetiver, so I’m fascinated by the diff. ways this perfume manifests itself on people, especially given how you and I are total scent opposites in taste. 🙂
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I’m sure you won’t be surprised when I say ‘I’m in lust for the bottle’!lol I’m such a sucker, for a beautiful bottle!
After trying and loving Chergui(ordering next month when lily directs starts shipping to Canada) My curiosity with honey has been piqued! Think I’ll have to order a sample:) xo, Jackie
I hope you do, Jackie. This is such a photorealistic honey and such a lovely perfume. As for that bottle, I haven’t seen it in person but from the photos, it looks jaw-droppingly beautiful!
It’s officially on my list now. I plan on ordering a few more samples this weekend, especially since I have to put my iso e project on hold 😦
I got my sample yesterday! First sniff impression – wonderful. I will try it this weekend!
YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I actually straightened up a little in my chair when I saw that “wonderful.” I’m so glad and can’t wait to hear more after your usual tests! Seriously, I’m so thrilled that your first impression was a very positive one!
Hi Kafka, last week I received my sample. I was curious what to expect for a honey accord. I’m a newby and are just learing to recognise all the different fragrances. With the first sniff I immediatly recognised the honey your reffered to however this is not mentioned in the notes. It’s sweet but not cloying, For me it’s a completey different perfume from all others I have smelled till today and I really enjoy it. The dry down works well on me, I keep sniffing my wrist. Unfortunately it will remain a sample as a full bottle is much to expensive for me. But no problem there are a lot of other perfumes I would like to get to know better, and with samples this is a good and affordable way.
Hi, Thirme! So lovely to see you again on the blog. 🙂 I’m so, so glad you enjoyed Hedonist! As for the honey note, it really stems from the “Rhum Absolute” which seems to be more honey than boozy rum on most people’s skin. It’s lovely, isn’t it? And you’re right, it’s definitely not cloying. A very well done balance, since honey that is *that* strong often *can* be cloying. I’m glad you’re enjoying sampling and, hopefully, you’ll find a perfume that works perfectly for you in terms of both smell and cost. 🙂
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