Surrati Musk Mutasaliq: A Review.

Pale pinks and baby blues tint the sky. You wander that fields, enrobed in your thoughts. The forest on the nearby hills is already filled with night. A plover cries out nearby but otherwise you think you are alone.

You crest a hill and the scent of rose water fills the air. You are surrounded by the sound of their voices but somehow they sound distant. Glasses clink about you. There is laughter…and then it is gone.

This is one of the most ladylike fragrances the Moth Woman has ever encountered. It makes her think of Downton Abbey and high tea. Refreshing without being sharp and not too sweet, is the perfect rose for hot weather.

Surrati Musk Mutasaliq (SMM) opens with soft, wine-like roses. There is a sweetness at the back, a little musk and the suggestion of something dirty.

Fifteen minutes in, it is very quiet. The roses are antique, more like rosewater than modern blooms. A lemonade note overlays the roses, similar to the Guerlain accord that features in Shalimar and Jicky. I believe it is intended to reflect some of the complexity of older rose varieties such as hybrid perpetuals which frequently have a sharp, resinous edge that is entirely absent in modern hydrid tea roses.

An hour in and the wine element re-emerges and the lemonade accord is completely gone. Volume and projection remain the same. It opens up and develops an airy feeling at this stage. There is also now a light dusty dryness suggesting deftly-handled iris in the mix.

Two hours and there is a slight increase in
volume. It is essentially antique rose at this point.

Two and a half hours and a quality iris note overtakes the rose.

By three hours, the perfume is a delightful combination of rose and iris. The volume remains the same.

Four hours and the volume has diminished. It is closer to the skin and the scent has changed to a white musk with a rose element.

By 8 hours, it is two inches from the skin, largely unchanged in composition from four hours but the mixture is shifting toward an Arabian style white musk (classic white musk elements present in western versions plus nondescript floral notes).

At twelve hours, it is a very strong skin scent

Total longevity is more than thirteen hours.

This is a cool scent with no sharp edges and has an enjoyably melancholy element. There is a delightful, open breezy quality that the Moth Woman has only ever encountered in Arabian perfumery which is refreshing in hot weather. SMM also seems to orbit the wearer at about a foot from the body whilst not always being particularly noticeable up close or against the skin. Despite being quite a delicate scent, it is astonishingly tenacious. Twelve hours wear is easily attained even in hot weather.

The Moth Woman would recommend this scent for office settings, great longevity, an inoffensive nature and low sillage make it perfect for work. Also, because it is from Surrati’s line that is available in bulk sizes, it is excellent value for money.

Available for purchase here.


Alkemia Mona Lisa Drive: A Review. 

In your dream, Ophelia emerges from the river and hands you a bunch of pansies.
“These are for your thoughts…” she whispers. Her body disintegrates to rainbow dust and drifts away.
Next morning, you lean against the kitchen windowsill, half awake, coffee in hand. The sun is glistens on rain from the previous night’s storm. You can smell the earth and the flowers and grass. In the distance, the sky is already the colour of pewter….

Alkemia Mona Lisa Drive (AMLD) opens oddly, giving the impression of a bright summer’s morning that forebodes a stormy afternoon. It has a pensive quality, uncommon in violet scents, which generally tend to lean towards lacy feminity. The first notes are a distinct violet, crushed green leaves and a muted muskiness that hints at something more intense and dark. It is, initially, sharp, green, effervescent over the prominent violet. It has a sociable level of sillage, staying very close to the body but still possessing an intensity unexpected in a perfume with low projection. 

As AMLD settles, it becomes greener. In many ways, it resembles a more modern Yardley April Violets with its focus on the interaction between violet leaf and bloom. 

After 20 minutes, the prophesied darkness appears in the background. It is a quiet, old, leathery. The violet is more prominent now and the green aspects, regressing. To the Moth Woman’s nose, it has become not a violet scent but pansy instead. Given that rarity of this note, it is worth the purchase alone. A fascinating blackcurrant (fruit) note with a hint of menthol weaves in and out of the shadows of the scent at this stage, creating a dappled light effect. 

At an hour, AMLD smells like walking through a garden after a sun-shower, with turned earth and heat making the green things, fragrant. There is also a suggestion of distant lawn mowing from the violet leaf element. 

At two hours, dark cold violet/pansy with a hint of fresh turned soil dominate, making AMLD quiet and melancholy thing at this point . The green elements have markedly diminished . 

At three hours, it largely unchanged but for the re-emergence of the leather element. 

Four hours and it has morphed to a dark, ancient leather scent, smooth, cool and a touch dusty. The violets/pansies are still present but markedly reduced . The melancholy feel continues 

It has surprisingly good longevity lasting over 14hrs 

AMLD is an olfactory snapshot than a scent. The Moth Woman loves these kinds of fragrances as they are an experience unto themselves, like a mini movie in smells. It adds an extra dimension to the perfume experience. Alkemia does this style of fragrance especially well. If you are a pansy fan, this is definitely for you. 

The ultime is recommended. 

Available here.  

Alkemia Krampus: A Review 

She slinks past, her full length, leather coat rustling. A cabbie calls her Neo. She snaps a threat back. For a moment, I imagine her cracking a whip at him but then she crosses the road and disappears into the pines…

Alkemia Krampus (AK) is part of the Winter seasonal line, inspired by the eponymous German folkloric figure. Krampus is essentially the opposite of Santa Claus, punishing naughty children and giving them coal instead of presents. AK’s listed notes are leather and, fittingly, coal. 

It opens with the anisic note that Alkemia is famous for, especially in its men’s line. Here though, rather than being a feature, it is minor player, a complication in the  mix. AK is largely worn sheep leather, clean at first, dirtier after warming. An appealing coal tar soap element that appears towards the fifteen minute mark.

During the first hour,  a photorealistic black-tea-in-a-cannister note passes through. It is unexpected in this fragrance and oddly suggests something Russian, samovars, snow. 

Around the hour mark, the leather cleans up again.  

Two hours and AK becomes black shiny leather ala classic Doc Martens. 

AK is largely unchanged at three hours, perhaps a little sweeter

Total longevity is five hours.

The Moth Woman is fond of leather fragrances. They go with her extensively black wardrobe. They are, however, not the easiest scents to wear in an Australian summer. Most are bombastic and become unbearably huge in the heat. AK is a quiet. The projection is low. This is not a criticism. This makes AK a leather that is a delight in the heat.

Unfortunately the trade off is in its longevity. You can, however, reapply, so not something that should put you off.

Available here. 

Alkemia Ýdalir: A Review

Sparks fly from the bonfire into the darkness, competing with the stars for a moment, then dying. The air is full of smoke. Wind hisses in the pine needles. Outside the ring of firelight, absolute blackness. It is only you and the sounds of the fire for miles around.
That night, you dream of Corsica, of lying on the beach, stone pines perfuming the air, your skin, salty and warmed by the sun but you wake to a white frost. 
Whilst the Moth Woman mostly tries to avoid reviewing scents that may have short runs, Alkemia Ýdalir (AÝ) is so good, it is worthy of an exception. As a limited edition, it is also a little more costly than the rest of  Alkemia’s line but the inclusion of rarer ingredients make the extra spend worth it. 

The Moth Woman ummed and ahhed for months before purchasing AÝ because initial reviews were completely polarised. Half of purchasers said it was high magic; the remainder’s opinion could be summed up by saying it was like choking on smoke. Based on experience, the latter opinions were the result of a testing without giving the oil adequate rest. The Moth Woman’s bottle took roughly two weeks to switch from a burning-at-the-stake experience to magnificence but it is definitely worth the wait. 

Intial impression are of  bonfire smoke, complex resinous woods, vegetal greens, all laced with hints of patchouli. It is big and effusive, with a ten foot projection but manages not to be offensive if open fires do not bother you.  After warming, the order changes to greens, smoke then resinous woods; the patchouli disappears entirely.

Twenty minutes and an appealing sour note emerges, somewhat pine like, a little odd in the context of such a woodsy scent.

An hour in and AÝ imitates the olfactory impression of standing by a bonfire, made with resinous woods and surrounded by fallen pine needles, almost perfectly. The projection is down to six feet by this stage. 

At an hour and a half, the pine sweetens significantly, becoming reminiscent of the pine note in Pino Silvestre.

Two hours, the smoke element has reduced and the sweet pine increased. Oakmoss  is becoming evident.

Three hours, projection is down to arms length. It becomes all cold pine forest, dominated by pine needles. The oakmoss is gradually increasing in intensity but it is still only faint. The smoke is still present but no longer as a  foregrounded facet. 

It continues to develop at four hours and the smoke is further diminished. 

Five hours and it is reduced to a few inches above the skin. The oakmoss and pine are roughly equal now and there is only a hint of smoke.

By six hours, AÝ is smokey oakmoss. Projection is an inch from the skin, though it is still quite strong at that level.

Around eight hours, something magical and rare occurs, a complete transformation. AÝ becomes a sun-warmed, salty scent with a hint of pine, like sunbathing on a beach head, surrounded by a conifer forest. 

By 13 hours it is still projecting a little but is much fainter. 

Total longevity around 15 hours. 

Alkemia is at its finest with olfactory snapshots and AÝ is no exception. On the site it is described as “…mysterious, smoky and primal.” This is apt. Equally at home on men or women, this is definitely the scent for those who love smoke. 
Available here

Abdul Karim Al Faransi Tataouine: A Review. 

​Abdul Karim Al Faransi Tataouine (AKAFT) was a curiosity buy. The Moth Woman was  enticed to  the brand by reading a series of posts on Fragrantica’s forum. Over the course a week, a fellow user wrote a detailed account of the evolution of another perfume in this company’s line, Baghdad, how it was difficult at first but mellowed to dirty leather and roses. It sounded fascinating. Having been lured to the site, the Moth Woman purchased a number of other scents as well; Tataouine was in that mix.  It turned out to be the pick of the litter. 

The Moth Woman’s initial impressions of AKAFT were of a soft white musk decorated with sweet, but unnameable, white flowers. These are without a trace of indole and vague, as if smelled from a distance. There is  a hint of dirtiness in this scent though, something human, carnal.  

As the oil warms, after about fifteen minutes, the white flowers become more defined and clearly jasmine sambac. 

An hour in, hints of earth appear. The scent becomes cool and open, like air over water but this is effect does not come from menthol. This is not a mint-type coolness but identical to the feeling before a storm, captured naturalistically. This effect is quite startling on first encounter. At this point, the scent remains dirty and flowery, the white musk is backgrounded.

After hour and a half, the flowers take a break, replaced by sweetened petrichor. 

Another two hours and it is dirty jasmine sambac again.  

The volume picks up again around the three hour mark but the nature of the scent is largely unchanged. 

Three and a half hours and it has a moment of renewed intensity. The white musk reappears.

By four hours, the white musk becomes cooler in tone, with added vegetal elements. 

Five hours in, AKAFT  has transformed into airy petrichor again. Only hints of the white musk and flowers accompany it at this point. This phase  gives the impression of cold air coming off disturbed undergrowth. 

By eight hours, it has neither changed in intensity nor composition. 

Nine hours and it has reduced considerably in volume. The dirty note has re-emerged and combined with the white musk, overall giving the fragrance an incredibly intimate, almost sexual feel. 

Longevity is around twelve hours. It never exceeding an arm’s length in throw throughout the wearing. As the perfume oil warms on the skin, it does pick up intensity but not projection. The Moth Man noted that around the two hour mark, it began wafting about the Moth Woman’s person and that this quality was very enticing. 

If the Moth Woman had to describe AKAFT in a few words, then she would choose the following : Soft, subtly floral, airy and  faintly dirty. It is the olfactory equivalent of a whispered secret. The scent is extremely well constructed and distinctly a perfume in the Oriental style.  This is a white flower scent for people who struggle with this type of fragrance. 

Available here