Al Rehab Elena: A Review

Earlier in the afternoon, the storm blew the last of leaves off the liquid amber in front of the store. Though damp, they are still scuttling about in the wind. The world seems damper and chillier in the twilight.

You, however, are warm inside the store, serving at the counter and watching passing pedestrians.

As she leaves for the day, the boss drops a box of newly arrived vintage clothes in front of you. You open it and pull out the garment on top, a chocolate corduroy jacket with little daisies embroidered above the breast pocket. Perfume drifts up at you, the one you wore in high school. For a moment, you are lost in memory, gazing into the distance…then you realise you are staring your high school boyfriend. He is looking in the store window, arm is round a blonde woman. She is pointing at something in the window display. He kisses the top of her head and they walk on. The evening light becomes bluer.

Many years ago, when the Moth Woman was a much poorer insect, she loved the Body Shops oils but couldn’t afford them. She did visit the testers whenever she was in a capital city. Al Rehab Elena (ARE) has a reputation for being a solid dupe of Body Shop Ananya. One whiff and the Moth Woman was transported to the 1990s. ARE lives up to its reputation.

On first application, there is a hit of synthetic banana and musk. As it settles a little, fruit soda, hints of incense and an haunting musk. Truly massive on application.

Despite this description, this is NOT a cheery perfume. Most fruit scents have an upbeat, sparky mood. ARE is low key and hints at sombre things.

After five minutes ARE is largely composed of fruit incense, grape musk and something dirty/indolic. There is a sharp drop off in intensity.

Ten minutes and it has changed again, now grape musk, fruit incense and a tiny hint of bitter crushed petals. By this point, the volume and projection have halved.

Around the half-an-hour mark, it is incense, musk and something slightly nutty. Medium strength. This overlays a light soapy notes. The musk is dominates the fruity incense and the crushed petal note is stronger. There is a hint of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant (brunfelsia that appears quite unexpectedly and seemscat odds with the other notes. It is fleeting though. A suggestion of bubblegum tuberose drifts through too.

An hour after application, ARE is a more melancholy thing, cooler in temperature. The grape musk is dominating. There are new hints of strawberry and a sense of dryness.

By the two hour mark, ARE is a quiet, dry, dusty grape musk.

It remains unchanged for the next two hours then morphs into delightfully skanky honey. This explains the dustiness earlier as honey notes can have a dusty/powdery aspect.

By the seven hour mark, ARE has become a lingering skin scent of fruit musk and honey

At around eleven hours, it rallies, nearly doubling in strength again and is a honey-grape musk.

Total lifespan is around fifteen hours.

ARE came and went throughout this test entirely disappearing and reappeared twice in the first hour. By the four hour mark, it had vanished and reappeared half a dozen times. The Moth Woman actually thought she had a perished bottle but it appears to be a feature.

The Moth Woman would recommend Elena for those who loved The Body Shop circa 1990s or younger folks who are seeking a unique fruity scent. You cannot go wrong at the price.

Available on Ebay.

Surrati Musk KL: A Review

Five miles into the forest and you are exhausted. Despite the shade from the canopy, the humid heat is draining you, so you flop down on a little log. From your backpack, you pull a water bottle, take a slug, put it on the ground beside you. Next out is a orange. The scent of the oils from the skin tingles you nose as you peel it. As you take your first bite, a ray of sunlight make its way to that ground and lights up the bracken…

Surrati Musk KL (SMKL) exists on a continuum between the infamous Arabian black musks and the utterly declawed but wonderful Al Haramain Musk Al Ghazelle. The big difference being, is that you never quite know what you getting when you apply it. The first time the Moth Woman trialed it, she went for a walk with the Moth Man and Larva. As the sun warmed her clothes, she surrounded by a cloud of fizzy citrus musk. She kept asking the Moth Man what he was wearing. The scent was completely unrecognisable as the fragrance she had recently applied. Only after wearing this scent a couple of times, did the Moth Woman discover that it flips between a forest musk with minty aspects and a bright, clean, citrus scent when warmed by the sun…but only randomly.

On first application, SMKL is big petitgrain with hints of diesel and a chocolate patchouli; the chocolate patchouli dominating. There is a strong after-dinner mint vibe, much like Abdul Karim Al Faransi Musk Al Aswad but without the animalic notes. Strong with good projection at this point.

Fifteen minutes later, it is still a big, complicated, after-dinner mint scent. There is a suggestion of dust lurking.

Around the half-hour point, hints of musk appear, similar to Bal a Versailles, honey-like and skanky. This fragrance is supposed to be masculine and generally conforms to this but at this stage, it reads unisex to the Moth Woman, perhaps a little feminine.

An hour and a half in, the skanky musk is stronger in proportion to the after dinner mint. SMKL is now has around a third less strength and projection.

By two and a half hours, the skanky musk is increasingly dominant. The after-dinner mint effect has lessened sharply because the chocolate patchouli is fading. The petitgrain remains the same strength though.

Three and a half hours and SMKL morphs into powdered essense of an ancient forest. Very, very calming.

It remains unchanged for around another 11 hours by which time, the intensity has waned to skin scent level.

This fragrance is brilliant value for money. It is very much a unisex that can be worn in summer when you want a smell to mitigate the heat.

A word of warning though. It can be remarkably tenacious approaching permanent on leather, so be cautious.

Available here.

Rasasi Arba Wardat: A Review

The herb garden is warm with the morning sunlight and so fragrant. You stand at the potting table, handwashing your lingerie in a bowl. The Sunlight soap reminds you of your grandmother’s house. There is a breeze It kicks up the scent of the rose geranium hedge. You brush past mint as you go to hang up a camisole. The scent of orange blossom drifts up from the orchard in the valley. The wind picks up. You can smell the sea. How strange. You are at least 100 kilometres from any ocean…

Rasasi Arba Wardat (RAW) was an unexpected and wonderful gift from the owner of The Fragrance Company. This scent is completely different to anything I have smelt before. It is so different, RAW lacks any reference points. It is utterly itself and what it is, is the best bright sunny morning of your life, frozen into ice cubes and served in a glass with mint and orange blossom syrup. A weird description but apt.

On first application, this orange blossom. Hints of lemon. A little Sunlight soap.

The orange blossom in RAW is extremely well blended. This is a note that tends to decompose into its component aroma-chemicals on the Moth Woman. This never happens with this fragrance.

After five minutes, the original notes remain but dirtied up. Touches of mint and rose geranium appear. The familiar Sunlight soap accord begins to become noticeable.

Half an hour in and the dominant feeling is an impression of light, airness and morning.
The orange blossom dominates, backed with mint and a fatty, animalic note. There are also hints of fruit and of ambrette.

At the hour, oakmoss is beginning to emerge and the mint is getting more intense. Clean, culinary mint, not the mint of dental care products.

Around the two hour mark, a short lived, spicy, barber-shop note materialises. It is quite surprising because it discordant with the composition as a whole it works. You just would never expect something like this in a scent of this nature.

Two and a half hours and RAW has developed a strange property. It is undetectable at skin level but has follows the Moth Woman around in a cloud. This is not the first time she has encountered this effect in oil based perfumes and it is always fun. It passes after about fifteen minutes.

By three hours, the order of prominence has changed. It is now, mint, musk, touches of sunlight soap, indole and oakmoss.

Three and a half hours and RAW in now entirely oakmoss and mint. An unlikely combo, one which the Moth Woman has never met before, but airy and lovely, like a forest on a sunny day.

Some time around the five hour mark, a fleeting note of expensive lotion passes through.

At six hours, RAW morphs completely for the third time. It smells very masculine at this stage, like really smooth aftershave

It remains in this form for the rest of its lifespan, at least ten more hours.

This scent is fascinatingly nonlinear and prone to backflips.

Just when you think it has been reduced to its base notes, then the orange blossom will reappear.

It manages to be light and have great sillage and longevity simultaneously. The primary trait is airiness. It gives an impression of open space and sunshine.

This scent is definitely feminine, perfect for Spring. It screams to be worn with a light, floaty dress on a warm day.

Available here.

Arabian Oud Mukhalat Al Seraj: A Review

You can see your breath as trudge up the hill. The light is shifting from pink-dawn to golden-morning. As you crest the hill, you find yourself standing beneath a feral sunflower, the yellow petals highlighted against the azure sky.

The village is nothing like your great grandmother described but it has been abandoned for fifty years since she was last there. One of the houses has burnt to the ground recently. The smell of burned wood is still in the air. You enter the garden of your great grandmother’s childhood home, brushing past lavender. There is a rose bush near ruins of the front door, covered in fragrant pink blooms, just as she described. You remove your backpack and pull out the cedar box containing her ashes. You spread them beneath the roses.

“Promise kept Granny…”

Arabian Oud Mukhalat Al Seraj (AOMAS) was a speculative purchase that became an instant love then a bit of a problem. Arabian Oud has an odd habit of running multiple names for the same fragrance. So far, the Moth Woman has found AOMAS listed as Siraj, Seraj, Mukhallat al Seraj, Mukhallat al Siraj and Mukhalat al. Seraj Intense. Arabian Oud not an inexpensive brand. Mistakes could be costly. The Moth Woman’s advice if you wish to sample this brand: shop with the same seller consistently.

The first impression of AOMAS: liquid, golden light. It is a wild and polleny concoction, so potent and it made the Moth Woman instantly recall that flowers are sex organs. This opening is quickly followed by a powdery, dusty aspect, roses, a lavender and angelica root, the last two ingredients delivering freshness and a little smoky complexity, in that order. A suggestion of something dirtier haunts the background. It is impossible to pin down though and never evolves into a full fledged note. Sillage and strength are moderate. It remains close to the skin for its lifespan but it is very persistent.

After five minutes, it is primarily cambodi oudh but cambodi oudh in all its glory; sweet, floral and fruity, backed with a suggestion of wood.

Fifteen minutes more and the lavender/angelica root becomes more prominent, subduing the oudh.

An hour in and the major impression is of AOMAS is of sweetness and old roses complicated by cambodi oudh. There is laundry musk becoming prominent in this phase. It makes the scent in this phase reminiscent of standing by a line full of sun-warmed washing on a breezy day.

Two hours, AOMAS has become lighter, sweeter still and the woodiness from the oudh is more noticeable.

Three hours in, the intensity rallies. The fragrance has become oudh dominant, woody rather than sweet.

About a hour and a half later, a hint of barnyard, dirty cowshed hay enters the mix. This is not the dirty note implied in the opening and it is fleeting.

At the five hour mark, there is a powder element and the scent has returned to something sweeter. This is how it continues till it fades away more than 15 hours later.

AOMAS is like a blue-sky morning in a bottle. It not a Western perfume by any measure. There is an untamed strangeness about it that is highly appealing and it is very easy to wear. It is hard to go past something that is so like wearing sunlight.

Available here.

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.