Ex Nihilo Fleur Narcotique, Sweet Morphine & Love Shot ~ fragrance reviews & a quick poll

Ex Nihilo Fleur Narcotique and Sweet Morphine, brand images

This month marks my 10-year anniversary as a writer for Now Smell This, and I’ve been thinking back to my original impulses for applying for this fantastic gig. I love to write. I love fragrance. I wanted a chance to share my impressions of the perfumes I was exploring, from classics to the newest independent releases. On that latter point: for me, the gold rush of niche perfumery has gone from a thrill to a frequent frustration.

Be warned: this week’s review is a also bit of a rant. Ex Nihilo, a Parisian house founded in 2013 by Sylvie Loday, Olivier Royère and Benoît Verdier, has positioned itself as an “alternative” within the world of luxury perfumery, but I’m not too sure about that. I can’t help feeling that this brand embodies many niche fragrance trends that bother me these days…

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4160Tuesdays Tart’s Knicker Drawer ~ fragrance review

Model with Flapper Pillow and Pointy Shoes

I’m still happily working my way through a handful of sample vials from the independent perfumery 4160Tuesdays, and my latest crush from this house is Tart’s Knicker Drawer, a “floriental amber” with top notes of bergamot, orange, grapefruit and pink peppercorn; heart notes of raspberry, rose, jasmine, sandalwood, cedarwood, violet, tuberose and guiacwood; and basenotes of amber, musk, vanilla, benzoin and tobacco.

“Tart’s knicker drawer” is the phrase that 4160Tuesdays founder and perfumer Sarah McCartney’s grandmother used to describe women who wore too much perfume (and whose behavior was therefore questionable); McCartney created this fragrance after she’d spent a long day in her lab and was scented with the traces of six different perfumes-in-progress. When she tweeted, “I’m about to get in the E3 bus smelling like a tart’s boudoir,” she got so many enthusiastic responses (“Can I buy some?!”) that she decided to concoct a proper perfume inspired by the experience…

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Loewe 001 Woman ~ fragrance review

Loewe 001 brand image

What’s with all the his-and-hers fragrance duos this fall? Kevin and I have already teamed up on a few. This week, we’re tackling 001 Man and 001 Woman from Spanish luxury brand Loewe: “Two unique fragrances, Man and Woman, created at the same time. Two accomplice fragrances, non-existent one without the other, in constant conversation … Perfectly complementary, when they are combined together, the two fragrances create a third scent.”

Although I do think of Kevin and myself as “accomplices,” we won’t be able to “combine” our fragrances for these joint reviews, since we live on opposite ends of the country…

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Burberry My Burberry Black ~ fragrance review

Lily James for My Burberry Black

We’ve had the usual wave of “dark” and “noir” flankers this fall, and here’s another one: Burberry’s My Burberry Black, a flanker to My Burberry (2014). Like the original My Burberry, My Burberry Black was developed by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. It’s described as “an intense and sensual reinterpretation…a London garden amidst a gathering storm; heavy rain contrasting with the warm and captivating flora,” and its notes include jasmine, candied rose, peach nectar, amber and patchouli.

I tried My Burberry when it was released and it didn’t make much of an impression on me. I just revisited it and it still seems to me like an inoffensive sweet pea perfume, easy to wear to work or brunch. My first impression of My Burberry Black, on the other hand, is that it’s best reserved for evening wear…

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Providence Perfume Co Love-In-A-Mist ~ fragrance review


The newest perfume from the independent natural line Providence Perfume Co is Love-In-A-Mist, a feminine floral fragrance named after a wildflower of the same name. Its composition includes notes of love-in-a-mist, mimosa, pink peppercorn, sandalwood and sweet clover.

The flower Love-In-A-Mist (Nigella damascena) is an annual plant with pale blue blossoms surrounded by delicate, ferny leaves. I’ve never seen it in “real life,” but it sounds like something that would have been mentioned in Elizabethan and Victorian verse, doesn’t it? And apparently it has inspired artists and artisans to create textiles and jewelry as well as some beautiful illustrations…

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