I was sent two samples to try (one oil-based, one alcohol-based) and I am very happy to report that not only does the scent of the perfumes correspond to exactly what you’d expect from the descriptions (playful, fun, exuberant indie scents that are very faithful to the listed notes) but also that the quality is of high standards, with clear evolvement, great lasting power and excellent projection. Too, if you do not like oil-based scents have no fear: all available fragrances are also offered in alcohol format as well. Before getting on with the reviews, I also have to say that I was very impressed with how highly concentrated these perfumes are - I’d venture that they are at least EdP strength.
The first perfume I tried was The Diva, belonging to the Leading Ladies Collection. This absolutely incredible gourmand presents such a life-like explosion of notes to the senses, it had me travelling down memory lane. Growing up, my favorite cake of all was Black Forest Gateau and it still remains my number one indulgence. As a child my mom was bemused by my choice (“How prosaic, darling..!”) and the occasions when I could actually convince her to buy it for the house or for friends was rare. Perhaps due to the craving left unsatisfied I have developed an extreme fondness for this confectionary delight and stubbornly (but with great satisfaction!) serve it at each and every one of my birthday celebrations ever since I can remember. The Diva unfailingly delivers the most realistic rendition of Black Forest Gateau in its top notes (The boyfriend declared “I don’t know if it smells like perfume, but I want to eat you!” and that’s good enough for me!). The genius of Black Forest lies in the combination of devilishly rich chocolate and cool sour cherries. The function of the sour cherry freshness is of course to cleanse the palate of the luxurious chocolate and to keep it from overwhelming. This is exactly what happens with this perfume: beautiful, lavish, bittersweet chocolate is tempered by the fruity freshness of cherries and is rendered luxuriant by a dose of Kirsch spirit, just as in the real deal. As the fragrance evolves, delightful red, fresh strawberries peek through the lashings of chocolate, slowly replacing the cherries. Again, the fruit is incredibly realistic. Raspberries, the freshest, most aromatic and pungent of berries start showing through even further down the line and will continue to accompany the darker scents far into the drydown. The chocolate itself becomes progressively calmer, till it reaches a stage that it is no longer perceptibly edible but takes the form of deep, dark cacao. At this point, the base notes truly shine, with a moist, earthy patchouli taking center stage, caressed by musk and subtle hints of rose petals. The deep drydown finds the raspberry and patchouli becoming ever more abstract, leaving an aromatic, dark feminine whisper on the skin.
The White Almond Cake might be listed on the site under the “Single Note Scentsations” category, but in reality this is a non-linear scent with its own evolvement. It starts out with delightful, intense bitter-sweet Amaretto and goes on to reveal yummy butter-cookie dough infused with orange peel and light hints of cloves. Mmmmm! The bitter almond scent is so convincing and strong, it is a huge surprise that the scent evolves past that, but evolve it does. The almonds get progressively subtler and softer, all the while caressing the skin with their nourishing, comforting scent. Soon, a sugar accord manifests, glazed and positively edible. I am not sure if all readers will be familiar with what I am about to say, but the scent mimics the scent of candied almonds exactly! No, I am not talking about the white bridal sugared almonds, I am talking about the candied roasted almonds with the delightfully crispy crust. Yum! As strange as it sounds, White Almond Cake manages to capture the crunchy, sugary/nutty scent and project it over a bed of cream. As time goes by, the scent becomes milkier (and ever more comforting I might add). Adding incredible warmth, cinnamon blooms on the skin and stays strong, lively and spicy to the very end, over a golden brown, sweet ambery accord. This might be completely out of season now, but it will make an incredible, festive holiday scent. I crave to wear this when it’ll be snowing outside.
Images: www.starringfragrances.com, flickr by mwri, flickr by busymommy, www.notenexpres.nl & Flickr by 00dann