Part two of my review of Arcana’s Valentine’s Day releases! The main Valentine’s collection is here. On with the smelling things and writing about smelling things.
The New Orleans Trio
Erzulie’s Soft Kiss: Sweet, vain, flirtatious Erzulie Freda is the luxe Loa of beauty, sensuality, love, and pleasure. Ripe pink strawberries smeared with honey and bee pollen.
In the vial this is sweet strawberries and honey. It doesn’t have that plasticky, artificial, Strawberry Shortcake doll smell that strawberry scents sometimes do. On skin the fruitiness is toned down a bit. It’s sweet and smooth and after a few minutes there’s a bit of something slightly powdery in there, but not baby powdery – I’m assuming that’s the bee pollen.
I love this one – it’s a definitely bottle purchase for me. It’s not a super complex scent journey, and that’s fine, because sometimes you just want to smell sweet and fruity and have what you put on be what you smell like in an hour, you know? And it’s hands-down the best strawberry scent I’ve tried so far.
Maman Brigitte: The bawdy, fun-loving queen of death, Maman Brigitte guards the cemetery, protects prostitutes, gets down on the dance floor, and curses like a Somali sailor. Black amber, cherry-infused red musk, animalic musk, cocoa absolute, white amber, clove bud, tobacco, and the smallest sprig of graveyard mint.
In the vial I get mostly cherry and mint with that fuzzy white amber underneath. (I feel like if mint is mentioned in the notes at all, it’s one of the only things I’ll smell.) On skin the cherry is still the strongest note, with the mint fading back a bit and the amber and musk coming out more. The cherry isn’t sharp or medicinal – it’s fairly smooth and a bit candied. At first I don’t get any cocoa, but after a few minutes it’s there, more of a dark chocolate scent, not overly sweet. As it dries, the cherry fades away and the mint gets stronger again, so that I’m left with amber, mint, and a whiff of dark chocolate. Once it’s fully dry the clove makes an appearance as well, but it’s not overwhelming.
White amber and I are generally not buds – it always reads as “fuzzy” or “cloudy” to me, in a headachey sort of way – and that feeling is exacerbated here by the mint. This isn’t a bad scent, but it’s not for me.
Simbi d’l’Eau: A Loa with the unpredictability and immense power of the oceans, he is pleased by offerings of water and green ribbons. A fresh, aquatic mix of tart raspberry, rainwater, green musk, clematis, osmanthus, tiare blossoms, and ambergris.
In the vial this is very ocean-y. Heavy on the ozone, quite floral, and green, and there’s something unpleasant that reminds me of dead things washed up on the shore. The ambergris, I’m assuming. On skin it’s heavily floral with a touch of airy ozone and a good dose of musk. There is little to no raspberry on my skin , and every once in a while I’ll get a whiff of that unpleasant dead note, decaying and almost salty. But mostly it’s just very, very floral.
I don’t like this one at all. It’s a scrubber.
(A note on ambergris – it’s an intestinal secretion of sperm whales, traditionally found floating or washed up on the shore. It’s generally a waste product, but obviously not vegan in any case. But it’s very rare and therefore very expensive, so it’s pretty much always synthetic anymore, even among conventional perfume houses. If I found out that an indie was using real ambergris I’d eat the intestinal secretions of a sperm whale. So seeing it in the notes listing doesn’t turn me away for vegan reasons, but after this scent it WILL turn me away for other reasons, like the fact that I think it smells like ass and dead fish.)