Sunday, July 3, 2011

Summer, Sun, Fun! - slumberhouse reviews & Drawing Winner!

Perfume Challenge Week 24: Monday, 6/27/11, to Friday, 7/1/11

"As long as I get to pee on a stick and eat my delicious jerky, I'm in." - Katherine Heigl, "Killers"

Surprisingly entertaining film if you haven't seen it and are into spy stuff (which I am), even if the premise is silly and the plot twist is transparent. Anyhoo, I'm posting this from my OlympicPeninsula/Canadian adventure by the time you are reading this. It's my first time out of the U.S., which I am absurbly excited about despite the fact that it's a very short trip to a very close place. What can I say? I've been all over the U.S. I only need 10 states to make my "50 before 40" goal. But leaving and going somewhere, anywhere, else, it's a first step to a bigger life.Who wouldn't be excited about that?

Also, a little housekeeping - Congrats to flavourfanatic, who won the drawing for a copy ofPerfumes: The Guide. Please email me at feminine(dot)things @

If you didn't win this time, take heart. More drawing plans are underway, and they are going to be really good, if I do say so myself. And now...

More slumberhouse perfumes!

Monday: slumberhouse Miel - Rich honey and leather. Includes notes of: leather, honey, rose, cigarette accord, ambergris, black tea absolute, castoreum musk, saffron. A very imaginative and complex fragrance comprising 54 separate components diluted at 40%.

Very like new thick stiff leather, conjuring in my mind a pair of pristine new saddle shoes. Honey is the note I don't get until very late (2 hours in?), but yes, a lot of saffron and musk right from the beginning. On the whole Miel is a rich industrial scent or the high-fashion, super urban varity that is so gritty and urban, I can't decide which of these two outfits it seems to fit more: very structured black dress with wide belt, sleek-lined military in style or this intense pseudo-regal stiff collared dress that screams "Victorian Space Royalty" to me. Not a scent I see fitting with my current style, but very nice for the edgey, fashion forward type. 3 of 5 nods.

Tuesday: slumberhouse Grev - The interpretation of the dapperest embodiments of a true gentleman. A deep, spicy, earthy, rooty fragrance with an elegant kick of herbs tinted through shades of orris, clove, birch and fir. A completely post-modern version of an elegant masculine cologne, grev is a very intriguing fragrance - truly nothing like it. Notes: Copaiba, fir balsams, clove, birch, orris, cedar

Fir and cloves and cedar make for a smooth, polished scent. It has a littl menthol aspect at the beginning, but the middle is more like a strongly clove and menthol tea. I think it's a very modern scent, but still elegant and classic, reminiscent of those moments when big fashion houses seize on and attempt to reinvent fashion staples, like the little black dress or the the taupe trench coat.

Walking over to me, mi marido said, "I don't know what it is you smell like, but it's nice." Since he rarely makes such comments - he's not that into scent, tragically - I always make a note when he actually notices enough to say he likes the way I smell. You should take that as a recommendation, because I'm over here spray and dabbing and rollering all the live long day and it rarely evokes commentary. Grev is a great scent and I would not restrict it to just men. 4.5 of 5 nods.

Wednesday: slumberhouse Vikt - Dark balsamic woods slowly oozing sweet metallic oils - motions of soft smokey black agar woods through syrupy bronze resins. Incredibly deep & well rounded fragrance with a mellow darkness at its heart. Notes: Oud, styrax, ravensara.

Balsamic woods is a good assessment of the opening of the scent, which smells a bit like a campfire made of scavenged antiques in some post-Zombie apocalyptic future. I agree with mellow and dark, woody and sweet; it's well-made and might work well as a deep dark coffee/licorice liqueur. It's like sucking on hard coffee-flavored candy, like dark polished wood colored painted nails. Classy, smooth, subtle and at the same time unexpected, unorthodox. 3 of 5 nods.

Thursday: slumberhouse Jeke - The concept for this started in autumn 2008 with a batch of smokey cade oil and the idea of a night time stroll with burning autumn woods in the distance - something fiery and burnt yet chillingly desolate, November illusory, breath of fog, ablaze. Into this design I sought to embed a defined masculinity - something well-worn yet intellectual, a refinement streamlined with rustic attributes - warmth of cigars in humidors, old leather shoes & odd buckles, traces of a fragmented sweet spice, the mysterious atmosphere that adorns the well traveled. Notes: Cade, tobacco absolute, patchouli, labdanum, benzoin

Tobacco and labdanum, but with what seems like a strongly citrus edge. It reminds me of a richly fantastic like a fistful of fresh tobacco leaves macerated in an orange/lemon/lime puree on a bed of patchouli leaves.

You know what else it reminds me of? My friend Ashley spent a year studying in Africa, and when she came back she brought some 'beer' back from my ale aficionado husband. This beer? Basically hooch by any other name. It was made with banana leaves (hubby also loves banana) in a hole in the ground with some other materials and left to...cultivate, while in a second hole nearby a fire was set to warm the ground and aid in the fermenting process. The result -- quite frankly will knock you on your ass. How Ashley even got it back into the states remains a mystery to me. (Though she is, generally speaking, a woman of mystery so that's not really surprising).

Long story longer? This scent reminds me of the mysterious, primal, earthy 'banana beer' she brought us. I'm loving it. 4 of 5 nods.

Thursday:slumberhouse Ore-An affection for Carmex lip balm, so Slumberhouse did something about it. Imagine an intensely bastardized version, thickened with sweet scotch and bitter cocoa, made slightly mean with a splash of pure black peppercorn and smeared in a creamy lactonic backdrop. One hell of a dark and sexy beast[.]Notes:Guaiac wood, peru balsam, black pepper, cocoa absolute, palmarosa, clary sage.

Carmex lip balm and chocolate. Yeah, I can actually see that here, because on me the opening was a combination I described to my travel companion as "chocolate-lemon-pine." In the immortal words of the late Johnny Carson, "weird wild stuff." Twenty minutes in the dry cocoa aspect is still there, but the lemon has backed off, and the whole spice aspect has muddled together in a curry sort of way. I even get a civet-like note happening. An hour in it changes drastically again, and I smell blood/warm copper, sage, sugared lemon rind, and celery salt. One of the weirdest scents I've ever tried. I can't say that I really enjoyed the opening, but the middle was decent and the end really nice. Definitely one of those scents you have to see through, though, and not going to be for everyone. 3 of 5 nods.

Winner of the Week : Grev edges out Jeke. All of the scents above are available at Indiescent, bottles and samples.

Also, I want to say a word about slumberhouse while I have your attention. I have been surprised, honestly, by the mixed commentary I've been encountering about the line. Personally, I think their work speaks for itself and certainly doesn't need me to defend it. That said, I think slumberhouse is more of the most unique and complicated lines I've tried in the three years I've been doing this. Many of their perfumes are pretty, even beautiful, but that doesn't seem to be the goal. If you accept the premise that scent is an art, like visual art or auditory art, meant to be experienced and impact the person having the experience or to convey a feeling or thought on behalf the creator, then I think slumberhouse is more toward that end of the spectrum. It isn't ultra-realism, like CB I Hate Perfume. It isn't classic like Chanel. It isn't an epic mastery of a particular collective goal, creating some sense of Aristotlean form of that aspect of beauty. It speaks for itself and that either reaches you or it doesn't. That's not a judgement on you, as the sniffa, but it also isn't a judgement on the scent itself. But in the great mental museum of olfactory art, there has to be a po-mo/contemporary wing, and this work slumberhouse is doing would belong there.

A girl I know was participating in a performance art piece on behalf of the art department at the college for theinaugurationof our new college president. As she and the other students were getting ready to begin their piece, one particular art professor came by and hissed, "Remember: what you're doing isn't art. It's decoration." The professor did not believe, given the context of the piece and circumstances surrounding it, that their collective performance piece could really be art. Instead, it was there to be looked at and to entertain, but not to speak for itself as art. When I see critiques of slumberhouse, I'm often reminded of this story. I think too many times people come to perfume looking for decoration, for something that will enhance the wearer. I believe there's a legitimate place for that. But I also hope there is room for us to experience some weird, wild stuff and be moved by it, be challenged by it, and through it, to find aspects of being ourselves as people and being experienced as ourselves in relation to the scent by the world and those around us in new ways, ways we might have missed otherwise.

Because that is art, and adventure, and risk, and reward. In the face of an often routine and stolid world, isn't that something worth appreciating?

I like to think so.

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