LM Parfums Ambre Muscadin

Ambre MuscadinAmbre Muscadin is an unusual fragrance for an amber. It starts off as the dryest, smoked woody fragrance with sharp animalic notes, before ending up as something quite different. Its progression actually reminds me of a horse race where the three dark, woody, smoky, animalic sprinters burst right out of the gate to lead the pack before, suddenly, everything changes. A small, golden, amber gelding and a powerful, creamy, vanilla stallion both surge ahead to tie, neck and neck, with the front-runners, before gradually overtaking them in a long haul. Midway during the race, like Secretariat or Barbaro in days gone by, the mighty vanilla stallion sweeps them all with a flourish.

Ambre Muscadin is a fragrance from LM Parfums, a French niche house founded by Laurent Mazzone. I’ve met Mr. Mazzone and he is a rather adorable man, with a passion for very classic, but bold, perfumery done with a modern twist. That philosophy is certainly visible in Ambre Muscadin, an eau de parfum (with 15% perfume oil concentration) that was released in 2011. It is unclear who was the nose who collaborated with Mr. Mazzone on the fragrance. Rumour has it that it was the late Mona di Orio, with whom I know Mr. Mazzone was quite close.

Atlas cedar. Source: sodahead.com

Atlas cedar. Source: sodahead.com

LM Parfums describes Ambre Muscadin as follows:

The opulence of the atlas cedar adorned with mystery.
A bold violet, a charmer vetyver rise up its natural elegance.
White honey, lascivious vanilla, highlights its facets flesh and velvety. Then Amber reveals its heart of a sensuous mosaic cryptic, balsamic radiates the charms of the Orient …

Top Notes: Mount Atlas cedar, vetiver java, Violet
Heart Notes: Madagascar vanilla absolute, white honey
Base Notes: Siam benzoin, amber, musk

Ambre Muscadin opens on my skin with a ferocious blast of cedar, then vetiver. The notes are all coated with the faintest sliver of vanilla, white honey, amber and a very sharp musk that veers between feeling wholly animalic and, initially, a wee bit synthetic. I must confess, I’m not a particular fan of how Ambre Muscadin begins on me, because it consistently reminds me of some murky cedar swamp, infused with mossy, peaty, smoked vetiver. Once in a while, I think of the cedar chips underlying a hamster’s cage, only this cage is also filled with vetiver, and the whole thing lies under a dome of sharp smokiness, intense dryness, and the feral, urinous whiff of a musky animal. Ambre Muscadin is a very masculine amber on my skin in these opening moments, very much a woody fragrance first and foremost, then animalic, with amber and honeyed vanilla coming in absolutely last on the list.

"Young Atlantic White Cedar Swamp" by Jason Howell. http://www.motivepicture.com/?attachment_id=138

“Young Atlantic White Cedar Swamp” by Jason Howell. http://www.motivepicture.com/?attachment_id=138

Five minutes in, Ambre Muscadin slowly begins to shift. The vetiver becomes as prominent as the cedar, and it smells just like the note in really expensive, single-malt Scotch. The mossy, peaty aroma has a slightly burnt nuance, however, and both woody elements merge together to create something definitely quite leathery in feel on my skin. For some odd reason, the overall bouquet sometime reminds me of a significantly less sweet, drier version of Profumum Roma‘s Arso, only with a slightly honeyed tone, sharp animalism, and very little amber. Ambre Muscadin is hardly as thick, dense, sweet or sticky, but there is something about the profoundly dominant cedar focus of both fragrances, along with their smoked sharpness, that feels distantly related. 

Civet. Source: focusingonwildlife.com

Civet. Source: focusingonwildlife.com

The impression is fleeting. The amber in Ambre Muscadin starts to rise to the surface ten minutes into the fragrance’s development. Trailing behind it is the honey which most definitely feels like the white, creamy kind. It is a light touch, never very strongly sweetened, and delicately coated with the sheerest breath of vanilla. Like horses in a race, the notes stalk the front-runners, trying to catch up and tame Ambre Muscadin’s sharpness. They don’t succeed for the next 15 minutes, as that pungently feral, almost civet-like, urinous edge fights with the cedar and vetiver for the lead. It’s not my favorite combination in the world, so it’s quite a relief when the fragrance finally starts to mellow about 20 minutes in. The cedar pipes down to a medium hum, the vetiver feels more woody than burnt, and that animalic pungency is lightly diffused by a sweet, golden warmth.

I frequently feel as though I should write the beginning of this review from the perspective of someone other than myself. I’ve sprayed Ambre Muscadin on a lot of people; at no time has it smelled quite so intensely masculine, dry, woody, or sharp on their skin from the opening burst. In fact, on almost everyone, the aroma bouquet which wafts from the first spray is of a dry, but slightly sweet, caramel flan. Women, men…. it’s always caramel flan. Actually, to be precise, it’s rather more like “sexy flan,” to quote my friend and fellow blogger, Caro of Te de Violetas. She deserves full credit for the term, since she was the first to label it as such. And, yes, lest you are curious, there is a difference between regular flan and “sexy” flan, which all comes down to the degree of sweetness or having a subtle heart of dry darkness amidst the golden hues.

Adding a dry, smoked touch to food using a chef's cloche. Photo: my own.

Adding a dry, smoked touch to food using a chef’s cloche. Photo: my own.

I end up with “sexy flan” too, but it always takes me a whole hour to even begin to reach that same point. The first step occurs around the 20-minute mark, when the flan slowly merges into the drier, woody top notes, resulting in a cedar fragrance that is still smoked, but now also softly tinged with caramel amber. It’s not a fluffy, gooey, or dessert-y amber by any means. It is light, filled with a musky, animalic edge, and flecked with creamed honey.

Then, at the end of the second hour, Ambre Muscadin finally metamorphoses into pure caramel flan that sits on a plate with a tiny sauce of dry vanilla and atop a thin layer of white honey. There are the merest lingering, smoky traces of dark cedar and vetiver at the edges. Much more noticeable, but temperamental, however, is the animalic musk which hovers around like a ghost. It rears its head from time to time behind the sweetened amber, then traipses off, before popping back in unexpectedly. The musk continues to linger as a slightly urinous, Jack-in-the-Box undercurrent before it finally gives up near the end of the fourth hour, and vanishes.

Source: taste.com.au

Source: taste.com.au

By the start of the fourth hour, I smell rather delicious, even if I do say so myself. Delicate, sheer caramel-vanilla amber coats my skin, with a subtle whisper of honey. the bouquet is still too dry and woody to be really “foodie” in nature, though. In fact, the unusual nature of the vanilla element leads me to think that the rumour may, in fact, be true, and that Mona di Orio might have created this fragrance. For one thing, she loved Bourbon Vanilla extract, but often tried to make it rather dry in nature. Something about the amber-vanilla here reminds me of her Ambre, though Ambre Muscadin thankfully never manifests that fragrance’s heavily powdered nature on my skin.

Instead, Ambre Muscadin is a sheer organza of dry, caramel-vanilla, amber flan that continues to feel smoked and somewhat woody in an abstract way. As time passes, the vanilla starts to overtake even the amber, eventually turning Ambre Muscadin into a fragrance that is primarily a dry, abstractly woody vanilla with only the mildest dusting of sweet benzoin powder. It dies away in much the same way, a full 12.75 hours from the time of the first spray.

Source: onlinefabricstore.net

Source: onlinefabricstore.net

Ambre Muscadin is very pretty in its secondary manifestation, and lasts a prodigiously long amount of time for such a sheer, airy fragrance. On my skin, it was never unctuous, heavy, thick, or very sweet. The sillage was initially moderate, despite the fragrance’s sharpness, and hovered 2-3 inches above the skin. Ambre Muscadin started to soften after the first hour, in both forcefulness, weight, and sillage. It took about four hours to turn into a skin scent on me, but the perfume clung on tenaciously despite its sheerness.

My favorite review for Ambre Muscadin comes from Caro of Te de Violetas, though I notice her detailed description sadly never mentions the utterly wonderful “sexy flan” phrase. (I absolutely love that summation, and can never think of Ambre Muscadin as anything else since the moment I heard it!) According to Caro, it is indeed Mona di Orio who is behind the fragrance. Her review also finds some thematic similarities to the late perfumer’s Ambre, and it reads, in part, as follows:

Ambre Muscadin brings instantly to mind two other fragrances that I love: Mona di Orio Ambre and Editions de Parfums Musc Ravageur. Deeper, sweeter and more intense than any of those two, it also smells less abstract.

The opening is all about cedarwood at its most opulent and resinous. For a moment, I wonder whether this should be renamed Cèdre Muscadin. A dark, velvety violet briefly peeks from underneath the coniferous greenness. Before I can even realise it, I am carried away by a whirlwind of honey, amber and vanillaAmbre Muscadin is thick and sweet but the omnipresent cedarwood note cuts through the sweetness keeping it at bay; consequently the composition never becomes cloying. The drydown is powdery and musky, slightly animalic but not excessively dirty.

There is an aura of nostalgia about Ambre Muscadin, but the result is not passé. Nothing in it smells synthetic and I find it wondefully comforting. Its tenacious vanillic embrace holds me for hours on end.

I’m not in love with Ambre Muscadin the way she is, no doubt due to the fact that I had, quite obviously, a very different experience. From the nature of the musk to our perceptions of Ambre Muscadin’s density, to the peaty vetiver in lieu of violet, my version was substantially drier, woodier, smokier, dirtier, and more pungently animalic. There was more of a modern twist on me, with little sweetness, powder, or aura of nostalgia. Yet, I very much agree with the core of her review, and I think she summed it up well. I most definitely share her feeling that the fragrance seems, at times, to be more aptly described as Cèdre Muscadin. In fact, I wrote the exact same thing in my notes. Verbatim. (That should tell you how much the cedar dominates Ambre Muscadin’s opening phase!)

Caro’s experience seems similar to that of Juraj from BL’eauOG who writes:

Ambre Muscadin … is very powdery and woody oriental. Ambre Muscadin is very soft, thick and sweet perfume with generous amber dry down. It feels like the liquid gold on the skin. Opening of Ambre Muscadin is very woody with vetiver, cedar wood and later on, the softness takes over – vanilla, violet, honey notes. Dry down is made of gold because it has beautiful, soft amber and benzoin. For the grand finale, everything is wrapped with musk.

For Lucas of Chemist in the Bottle, things were a little different. For one thing, the musk was as dominant on his skin for the opening stage as it was on mine. It was also somewhat dirty, though it doesn’t seem to have been half as animalic as my experience. His review reads, in part:

Musk plays a significant role in this perfume. It’s sensual and erotic. Not exactly clean as it has some dirtier facets bringing to mind a view of sweaty, sporty body. Amber is luminous here. Not plastic at all but more mineral, slightly marine-salty with a noticeable tones from cedar wood. Later on vanilla and benzoin amplify the amber accord adding it more depth and weight. They add a creamy and slightly gourmand feeling to the composition of Ambre Muscadin. The notes of amber, musk, honey, entwine with each other creating a harmony of aromas.

Most of the people upon whom I sprayed Ambre Muscadin had slightly different experiences from all the above-mentioned bloggers, and even myself. To my surprise, on two of the four people’s skins, the opening had very little cedar and no animalic pungency at all. On one person, Ambre Muscadin was almost entirely a dry, slightly smoky caramel-vanilla flan from the very start. On all of them, I never detected any thickness or strong sweetness. And the sillage was incredibly discrete on two of them after a mere hour, though the longevity was excellent as it usually is for all LM Parfums. 

I generally like Ambre Muscadin, but only after its sharp opening has passed. In fairness, however, the perfume seems to be a little bit of a chameleon, with the nature of that starting phase depending largely on individual skin chemistry. While I may not be swooning over the fragrance as a whole, or tempted to reach for it frequently, I do think Ambre Muscadin is well done. If you’re a huge fan of cedar perfumes, Mona di Orio’s fragrance style, and/or dry, woody, amber-vanillas, I think it’s definitely worth a test sniff.

Disclosure: My sample of Ambre Muscadin was provided by Laurent Mazzone of LM Parfums. That did not influence this review. I do not do paid reviews, my opinions are my own, and my first obligation is honesty to my readers.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Ambre Muscadin is an eau de parfum that comes in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle. It costs $175, €125 or £125. In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances are sold exclusively at OsswaldNYC. Unfortunately, none of the U.S. perfume sample sites currently offer samples of this fragrance. However, Osswald offers a special sample offer for its US customers where any 10 fragrances are available in 1 ml vials for $10, with free domestic shipping. You have to call (212) 625-3111. Outside the U.S.: In Europe, you can buy Ambre Muscadin directly from LM Parfums for €195. Samples are also available for €14, and come in a good 5 ml size. In the UK, the line is carried exclusively at Harvey Nichols which sells the Eau de Parfums for £125. In France, you can find all the LM Parfums, along with the 5 ml samples of each, at Laurent Mazzone’s own Premiere Avenue. In Paris, it’s sold at Jovoy. Germany’s First in Fragrance carries the full line and sells Ambre Muscadin for €125, in addition to samples. You can also find LM Parfums at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Netherlands, you can find the line at ParfuMaria. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well. 

LM Parfums Sensual Orchid: Dressed to Seduce

Gisele Bundchen for Vogue Turkey March 2011. Photo: the always incredible Mert & Marcus.

Gisele Bundchen for Vogue Turkey March 2011. Photo: the always incredible Mert & Marcus.

The urban jungle seemed very far away as she dressed in the bedroom of the villa at St. Barts. It hadn’t been a planned visit, but her seduction of him had been a long time in the making. He’d stolen her heart the minute he’d walked into the room, with his black, leather jacket, devil-may-care tousled blond hair, chiseled Nordic face, emerald eyes, and wide grin. He smiled at everything, and she hoped he would smile at the new lingerie she had bought. She felt nervous, but excited, as she awaited his arrival. She gave herself another big spray of perfume for good luck.

Source: wallpaperstop.biz

Source: wallpaperstop.biz

The swirl of orchids, velvety ylang-ylang, jasmine, vanilla and sweet musk curled in the air around her, mixed with the tropical hint of coconut that wafted in from the trees on the beach. She had loved him for so long, not daring to think he may feel the same way, and she almost couldn’t believe their time had finally come. She hurriedly poured herself a snifter of expensive, aged cognac to relax her nerves, and a few drops fell on her golden skin, mixing with the sweet flowers and tropical headiness. She smiled as the fragrance and boozy liqueur enveloped her in their narcotic touch. How could he resist their heady lure? She was wearing Sensual Orchid, she was ravishing, she was invincible, she would tempt him beyond all belief.

Source: Fragrantica

Source: Fragrantica

I generally try not to review fragrances that are exclusive to Europe, extremely hard to track down, or difficult to sample. I couldn’t help it this time, as I was quite surprised by a sexy, heady, gorgeous fragrance from LM Parfums called Sensual Orchid. LM Parfums is a French niche house founded by Laurent Mazzone, and its fragrances used to be exclusive to Europe until just recently. A short while ago, New York’s Osswald perfumery started carrying the line. Yet, I still hadn’t intended to officially review the fragrance that I obtained last year by complete happenstance from eBay.

Then, a few days ago, after having a bad day, I just decided to put a tiny, single, minuscule sprayed drop on my hand. For hours, that almost nonexistent smear emitted a smell whose delicate tendrils curled in the air around me. I couldn’t believe it, and every time I sniffed my hand, I couldn’t get enough. So, I said limited access be damned, I just had to had to tell you about this wonderful perfume and the house behind it.

Laurent Mazzone. Source: unique.ru.com

Laurent Mazzone. Source: unique.ru.com

LM Parfums is the brain child of a Frenchman with Italian origins, Laurent Mazzone, who was fascinated by fragrance from a young age. As Essenza Nobile explains, “[a]s a young child, he analyzed and mixed samples of perfumes to discover new scents…. a passion for scents was born.” In 1998, “drawn by fashion catwalks and workrooms,” Mr. Mazzone decided to dedicate his life to fashion, opening up a boutique called Premiere Avenue. (I believe it is the same Premiere Avenue site that I so often link to in the Details section as a perfume retailer.) When Mr. Mazzone decided to enter into the world of fragrance, he initially started with scented candles but, in 2010, he expanded into actual perfumes. He launched LM Parfums which now has eight fragrances to its tally. As that Essenza Nobile biography explains, his “desire is to convey his passion to fashion through a line of perfumes evoking luxury fabrics. […] He came across renowned noses that he had always admired by their creation fulfilling his emotion.”

Sensual OrchidOne of those noses is Jerome Epinette whom Mr. Mazzone hired to create the second Extrait pure parfum in his collection. In 2012, LM Parfums released Sensual Orchid, a floral oriental with 20% perfume concentration. Believe me, its opulent richness and luxuriousness shows! Sensual Orchid’s description, as quoted by OsswaldNYC, reads:

Like a feminine model on the catwalk, Sensual Orchid captivates your senses with its incredible aromas. The second essence of perfume will take you to the front of the stage. The carnal pleasures evoked by this sumptuous arrangement of natural sophisticated fragrances. A first subtle scent of citrus fruit and almond leads you into a refined heart of orchid, jasmine sambac, Lysilang, peony and heliotrope then leaves a voluptuous final touch made of vanilla, musk, blonde wood, white cedar wood, labdanum and benzoin.

Source: Topwalls.net

Source: Topwalls.net

The notes, as provided by OsswaldNYC, include:

Top notes: Mandarin, almond, neroli

Heart notes: Orchid, jasmine sambac, Lysilang [ylang-ylang], peony, heliotrope

Base notes: Vanilla, musk, blonde wood, white cedar wood, labdanum, benzoin

Fragrantica adds ylang-ylang to the list, but it seems to be a reference to Lysilang. According to the Academia del Profumo, Lysilang involves a special and different sort of ylang-ylang scent due to the “fractioning” method of perfume processing:

The technique of fractioning can be used to dismantle the odour into its various components or groups of components, before proceeding to select the fractions that are nobler or more interesting from an olfactory standpoint. The result is a cleaner, purer end product.

This technique is used with vetiver, for example, removing its earthier parts: the smell of the roots and its less attractive notes.

Lysilang (by Robertet), a very pure, natural and fresh odour, is obtained in this way from the essential oil of Ylang Ylang III from the Comoro Islands.

I think the description is important because ylang-ylang is a big part of Sensual Orchid, and its aroma feels unusually concentrated, rich, heady and creamy in the fragrance, while simultaneously being oddly clean in a way. It’s just one of a few unusual aspects of the fragrance.

Source: de.flash-screen.com

Source: de.flash-screen.com

The key to Sensual Orchid, however, is the eponymous flower in the title. It’s an odd flower because it doesn’t have any one, particular, easily identifiable aroma. Orchids are not like tuberose or roses, to give just one example, with a clear, set fragrance. Instead, it can be almost anything, depending on the species of flower and what pollinated it. Fragrantica has a very fascinating exploration of the subject, in which Dr. Ellen Covey of the Olympic Orchids (both an actual perfume house and an orchid nursery) talks about the flower’s various, different, possible aromas:

There are about 20,000-30,000 species of orchids belonging to about 900 different genera. Orchid scents are all over the place from the most beautiful floral scents to odors that we find unpleasant, such as feces or rotten meat. The scent depends on what insect pollinates the orchid. Bees and butterflies are attracted to floral scents, and flies are attracted to rotting animal matter. Each genus of orchids has a range of scents, but there is generally some predictability within a genus. Cattleya orchids all have floral-type scents that range from light and citrusy to heavy and indolic. Bulbophyllum orchids often have rotten meat odors, or other stinky smells.

I have orchids that smell exactly like coconut suntan lotion, butterscotch and cedar wood, cinnamon, sweet clover, roses, or baby powder. If there is a “typical” orchid flower scent, it would probably be a generic cattleya, but more often the “orchid” note in perfume is a fantasy note of some sort. Vanilla is extracted from the seedpods of an orchid, so maybe it could be thought of as the quintessential orchid scent.

Source: hd4desktop.com

Source: hd4desktop.com

I have no idea what species of orchid is in Laurent Mazzone’s Sensual Orchid, but I can tell you it smells wonderful! The fragrance opens on my skin with a burst of booziness. It’s pure cognac, as explicit, sharp, liqueured and slightly fruity as very aged, extremely expensive cognac can be. The note is then followed by: the richest ylang-ylang; custardy, rich vanilla; a hint of smoky woods; and bitter, green-white almonds.

On their heels is a delicate, pastel, floral note as crystal clear, clean, bright and sparkling as a bell rung at the top of the Swiss alps. It smells of lilies, peonies, hyacinth, rose, jasmine, vanilla — all wrapped into one in a cool, clean, crystal liquidity. It is all of those things, and, yet, none of those things. It’s a floral orchid in 3D. Mixed with the powerful ylang-ylang and the sweet vanilla, backed by that boozy cognac fruitedness, the final result is incredibly narcotic, dramatic, opulent, and heady.

Source: Foundwalls.com

Source: Foundwalls.com

Other notes are layered underneath. The orchid has a coconut characteristic that Dr. Covey talked about above, as well as some sort of subtle, intangible, sweet spiciness. There is also a whiff of juicy, sun-sweetened mandarin, lying heavy and ripe on the branch. The heliotrope’s almond note is interwoven throughout, and the whole thing sits atop a base of white woods with slightly smoky cedar.

Within minutes, the cognac’s sharpness softens, as the vanillic, creamy, floral facets of the orchid increase, along with a sensuous muskiness and the coconut. The latter feels both like chunks of the fresh fruit, and its rich cream. My feelings about coconut generally range from ambivalence to dislike, especially if there is a suntan oil feel or anything cloying. On my skin, Sensual Orchid manages the feat of having a rich coconut scent that is nothing like Hawaiian Tropics, and yet, conveys a wholly tropical feel in a very light way. I have no idea why I find it so intoxicating, but I think it’s the overall combination of notes that renders Sensual Orchid a very sensuous, compulsively sniffable experience.

Model Lara Stone, French Vogue.

Model Lara Stone, French Vogue.

There is a very classique richness to the scent, but it also has a very modern feel. Sensual Orchid is very airy in feel, though it is also extremely potent, heady, and strong in projection. Not Amouage or ’80s powerhouse levels of potency, but definitely enough to wrap you in a very shimmering haze. Despite the old-school richness, nothing about the fragrance feels dated or centered on traditional tropes. Sensual Orchid doesn’t call to mind the famous Dior models of old in their New Look dresses, or the grand dames of Chanel. It’s not a scent that I would associate with Guerlain’s divas, but with a very fashion-forward, confident, strong woman who is assured enough to flaunt her own sensuality. She is the sort who would wear Sensual Orchid with a skimpy dress to go out clubbing, then come home to toss the bottle in her carry-on bag and go on a quick, impromptu, romantic, weekend get-away to St. Barts. 

Ylang-Ylang. Source: Soapgoods.com

Ylang-Ylang. Source: Soapgoods.com

Thirty minutes in, Sensual Orchid shifts a little. The dry, slightly smoked cedar stirs more prominently in the base. Up on top, the jasmine now appears to dance a merry quartet with the ylang-ylang, the orchid’s coconut, and the vanilla. The peony, the almonds, and that lingering, crystal clear, liquid note that feels so much like lilies, all look on from the sidelines and clap. From afar, the fragrance smells like an extremely seamless, well-blended bouquet of boozy sweetness, indolic flowers, and creamy vanilla. Up close, it’s almost too powerful and rich, with an opulent depth that reminds me of Amouage‘s Ubar mixed with some of my beloved Alahine‘s boozy overlay. 

Sensual Orchid is a rather linear scent, and its core essence never changes. Over the next few hours, the differences are primarily ones of strength, deepness, and projection. At the end of the first hour, Sensual Orchid becomes smoother, richer, and deeper. The boozy cognac fades away, the mandarin orange retreats to the edges, and the fragrance feels mellower as a whole. By the 2.5 hour mark, the fragrance feels like a soft cloud. I wish the notes were better delineated with less overlap and haziness, but Sensual Orchid is nonetheless an intoxicating swirl of creamy, indolic, sweet florals, infused with vanilla, touches of coconut, and the vaguest whisper of dry cedar. The word “lush” keeps coming to mind, along with visuals of a billowing white and yellow cloud, and scantily clad women with golden skin. On occasion, the image is that of a naked woman on a beach because there is a clean, warmed muskiness to Sensual Orchid that feels like heated skin touched with a shimmering, floral, slightly tropical oil. It’s never animalic or sweaty, it’s not even a very prominent note, but it adds to the languid sensuality of the fragrance.

Model Isabeli Fonatana for Muse Magazine via trendhunter.com

Model Isabeli Fonatana for Muse Magazine via trendhunter.com

Near the end of the fourth hour, Sensual Orchid hovers as a potent veil just above the skin. It’s a blend of ripe, blooming white florals infused by a dry woodiness, and the subtlest hint of booziness. The jasmine, ylang-ylang and orchid are fused together as one. The vanilla has now turned almost dry, thanks to the impact of the cedar and its quietly smoked character. The coconut is almost silent, and the almond has vanished. The mandarin which was never an integral part of Sensual Orchid on my skin is now merely a vague suggestion that pops up occasionally, but you have to sniff damn hard to really notice it. Finally, there is a tinge of synthetics in the base, whether from the “white woods” or from something else, but it’s muted, minor, and soon fades away.

Sensual Orchid remains that way until the middle of the seventh hour when it finally turns wholly abstract. It’s a soft, nebulous, indolic, musky floral sweetness that covers the skin like the finest silk lingerie. In its final hours, Sensual Orchid is merely a trace of sweetness, muskiness and abstract white flowers. All in all, it lasted just over 14 hours with very strong projection for the first 2 hours, then good to moderate sillage for a number of hours, before ending as a soft, unobtrusive veil for about 6 hours. It only became a true skin scent around the middle of eighth hour. I used about 3 small sprays. While aerosolisation definitely increases both longevity and projection, Sensual Orchid is generally a strong fragrance with a very soft weight that I think is intended to go from hardcore diva glam, down to an increasingly intimate scent, before ending as a “my skin but better” musky sweetness in its final stage.

At no time is Sensual Orchid an edgy or revolutionary scent, but it’s a very luxurious, opulent, and sexy one. It feels like the sort of perfume that a woman would to seduce, and consistently calls to mind the image of a woman in lingerie, lying languidly on a bed as she awaits her lover. It’s a scent that seems intentionally meant to intoxicate and captivate a romantic partner with its narcotic sensuality and brazenly diva-ish, dramatic headiness. Part of it is the sheer indolic nature of those lush, ripe, blooming white florals, and part of it is the quiet, golden muskiness of the scent combined with the creaminess of both the ylang-ylang and the vanilla.

Photo: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott for Roberto Cavalli feat. Elisabetta Canalis. Source: CityinAds.com

Photo: Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott for Roberto Cavalli feat. Elisabetta Canalis. Source: CityinAds.com

I couldn’t find a single blog review for Sensual Orchid, either in-depth or otherwise. However, the fragrance does come up in two Basenotes discussions. One is a thread in the Men’s Fragrance Discussion section called “SUPERNICHE- Best Frag No One Has Heard Of,” and asks for suggestions. Sensual Orchid is the very first name given by a male poster called “Hednic.” Later, down below, another commentator adds: “This whole LM line has some real crackers – Sensual Orchid but hey guys we got Black Oud by LM too which is really well done! We gonna hear a lot more about LM I assure you.” Sensual Orchid gets mentioned again in a very short thread from August 2013 in the Female Fragrance Discussion section about LM Parfums in general. The original poster purchased a bottle from Italy for supposedly $190 and thought Sensual Orchid was “soooo gorgeous!”

You may wonder why I’m bringing up the location of the Basenotes threads. It’s because I think Sensual Orchid can work on a guy’s skin, and there are clearly men on Basenotes who agree and have no hesitation saying so in a discussion of Men’s Fragrances. Yes, Sensual Orchid is a very lush, floral scent that skews feminine, but I happen to think that a confident, assured man could rock this type of fragrance just as much as an Amouage oudh or Creed’s Aventus. Perhaps not every guy would feel comfortable with orchid and vanilla, but dammit, they should be! Sensual Orchid would smell unbelievably hot on a guy’s skin, and I’m not budging from that belief, all my photos of scantily clad women notwithstanding.

Lastly, I have to talk about the price. Sensual Orchid costs $225 or €195. While that may seem a lot, it’s for 100 ml of extrait de parfum. When was the last time any of you saw that concentration being offered in a 100 ml size and for a price less than some smaller eau de parfums?! I never have. 15 ml for Rubj Parfum extrait is $325! 50 ml of Amouage’s Lyric Extrait costs $470, and it’s half the size of Sensual Orchid. Puredistance’s Opardu is also an extrait that comes in a 100 ml size, but it costs $590! My point is that Sensual Orchid is a gorgeous fragrance whose price may seem high, but it’s almost a steal for what it is, let alone as compared to the price of other niche extraits on the market.

Now, I realise it’s almost sadistic to bring up a fragrance that my American readers can’t sniff or test unless they live in New York. For that, I deeply apologise. As part of my penance, I’d like to offer one reader a small sample from my own decant. It won’t be much, just around 1 ml, but my own decant is very small and I’d like to have a bit of Sensual Orchid to wear when I go on holiday at the end of the month. So, in the comments below, leave a comment letting me know if you’re interested.

Given LM Parfums’ wide availability in Europe and New Yorkers’ access to it at Osswald, I’m afraid this mini-drawing will be limited to American readers who do not live in New York City’s Tri-State Area or have access to Osswald. You have until Friday, September 13th at 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST) in the U.S. to let me know if you’d like to be entered. I will select a name using Random.org at some point the next day, and will update the end of this review with the winner’s name. So, check back Saturday the 14th, and if you’re the winner, you have three days (until Tuesday, September 17th) to contact me at the blog email with your shipping address. (Failure to contact me in the appropriate time frame means I’ll give the sample to someone else.) If lush, floral Orientals are your cup of tea, and if you’re not bothered by sweetness or indolic headiness, then I think you may like Sensual Orchid.

[UPDATE: GIVEAWAY & General Samples: Random.org has chosen and the winner of a small sample is POODLE! Please contact me with your address, and I’ll send some Sensual Orchid off to you. 

For everyone else who wants to test the perfume, Osswald has a fantastic deal that I would strongly recommend in general: 10 samples for $10, with free shipping in the U.S., and it’s for any perfumes that they stock! That means Profumum, the full LM Parfums line, and some other goodies only found at OsswaldNY for less than a $1 a vial! The deal is only available for telephone orders, however, so you have to call (212) 625-3111. I hope you take advantage of it to try Sensual Orchid and some of the Profumum line that I love so much!]

[UPDATE – 10/17/2013 – If the OsswaldNYC link to Sensual Orchid doesn’t work, it’s because Osswald is currently sold out of the fragrance. Rather than update the page with a notice that they are awaiting more stock and are temporarily sold out, they take down the whole page. It’s stupid, but that’s what they do, according to a Twitter response that I got. Osswald informed me that they should get more LM Parfums in soon, but gave no precise date. In the meantime, you can directly order from LM Parfums or from their Premiere Avenue store (which is also owned by Laurent Mazzone). Both sites offer a good-sized decant of Sensual Orchid for a very reasonable €19.] 

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Sensual Orchid is an extrait de parfum (or pure parfum) in concentration. It comes in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle that costs $225, €195 or £195. In the U.S.: Laurent Mazzone’s fragrances used to be European exclusives, but the range has just come to America. It’s sold exclusively at OsswaldNYC right now. Unfortunately, none of the U.S. perfume sample sites currently offer samples of this fragrance. I hope that will soon change, and I try to remember to update this post at that time. Outside the U.S.: In Europe, you can buy Sensual Orchid directly from LM Parfums for €195. Samples are also available for €19, and come in a good 5 ml size. In the UK, the LM Parfums line is carried exclusively at Harvey Nichols which sells Sensual Orchid for £195. In France, you can find Sensual Orchid and the 5 ml sample at Laurent Mazzone’s own Premiere Avenue. In Paris, it’s sold at Jovoy. Germany’s First in Fragrance carries the full line and sells Sensual Orchid for €196, in addition to samples. You can also find Sensual Orchid at Essenza Nobile, Italy’s Vittoria Profumi, or Alla Violetta. In the Netherlands, you can find Sensual Orchid at Parfumaria. There are many Russian vendors for LM Parfums, but one site carrying Sensual Orchid is SpellSmell. For all other countries, you can find a vendor near you from Switzerland to Belgium, Lithuania, Russia, Romania, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and more, by using the LM Parfums Partner listing. Laurent Mazzone or LM Parfums fragrances are widely available throughout Europe, and many of those sites sell samples as well.