Fragrance Reviews Niche Fragrance Reviews: A Review of My January Sens Unique Box

Niche Fragrance Reviews: A Review of My January Sens Unique Box

02/11/17 10:50:05 (9 comments)

by: Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Sens Unique box photo

Last month, Sergey told you all about the new Sens Unique Box, a curated monthly collection of 6 niche fragrances shipped from the Sens Unique boutique in Paris (they also have a 2nd location in Caen). The price was surprisingly affordable (about $12 USD a month which includes international shipping) and the samples are quite generous (2ml each). Should I decide to purchase one of the scents sampled in my January box, I can apply the cost of the box to that purchase. Considering how many amazing niche fragrances are constantly launching but how limited my options are (currently residing in south Florida), I figured this would be the perfect way to explore aromas I typically wouldn't have access to. Let's take a look at what Sens Unique's Renata and Victoria chose for me in January.

Two beautiful girls of Sens Unique boutique

Two Sens Unique girls: Renata F. & Victoria K.

The January 2017 box is titled Winter Joys and contains 6 oriental and gourmand aromas. I was surprised that I actually liked all of them, already knew one of them, and absolutely loved three of them.

I took a unique approach to experiencing the 6 scents upon their arrival - I avoided reading the info card and labels! One of the most exciting aspects of a monthly sampler is being able to blindly test each one without any preconceived notions. In this way I could evaluate each aroma as a unique scented experience devoid of brand, pyramid or price knowledge.

Sens Unique Box sample sprays

I was impressed by the presentation and variety. The 6 samples arrived in a lightweight, black foam box with the store logo imprinted on the front, an ingenious choice of packaging that is both stylish and functional. Accompanying the samples were 6 paper blotter strips for testing the aromas; a brochure with descriptions, images and olfactory pyramids of the 6 scents; and a postcard with an image of a fir tree, star-shaped cookies and a coffee mug set against a snowy background. So without further ado, let's take a peek inside the box.

Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere

CADJMÉRÉ

The first fragrance in the box is Pierre Guillaume's Cadjméré, a 2007 creation for Parfumerie Generale, 68,00 € tax incl. for a 30ml spray. This is a scent I actually owned once but later gave up when downsizing for a cross-country move.

Cadjméré is primarily a sweet sandalwood and vanilla themed scent that would likely be perfect for those who love resinous, woody or ambery aromas. There is an almost gourmand edge to it with a fascinating hint of cypress resin. I very much enjoy wearing Cadjméré though the sillage is modest and longevity moderate. Reviews here at Fragrantica are all over the place for this one; everyone seems to find something different!

The softness of Cadjméré evokes a precious cashmere blanket, in which it is so comfortable to coil during winter evenings.

It is above all the sandalwood, caressing and maternal, which reminds the delicacy of cashmere and the comfort that it can bring when the cold rises...

Top : Tangerine, Aromatic Sap
Heart : Rosewood, Kenyan Cypress Resin
Base : Sandalwood, Ambrette Seeds, Vanilla

Beaufort London Coeur de Noir

COEUR DE NOIR

The next fragrance is Beaufort London's 2015 Coeur de Noir from Leo Crabtree, 130,00 € tax incl. for a 50ml EDP spray. No nose is publicly listed for this composition. Coeur de Noir is a fascinating, dark, inky, leathery aroma and immediately called to mind Lalique's Encre Noir (though Encre Noir feels downright fresh and bright compared to Coeur de Noir's depth and richness); I'm surprised vetiver is not part of the composition. This was an instant love for me and also brought to mind similarly dark, earthy aromas such as Tiziana Terenzi's Laudano Nero which I earlier reviewed HERE.

Coeur de Noir offers strong sillage and excellent longevity and most excitingly, takes the wearer on a journey through its development; every few hours the fragrance morphs to reveal another facet. I love dark, brooding aromas as long as they offer a touch of sweetness. Luckily, Coeur de Noir includes rum, vanilla, labdanum and birch tar which all help prevent it from becoming too dry or bitter.

"A dark heart beats gently in obscure dusty rooms ..."

Crabtree makes use of his grandfather's drawings of luxurious yachts, his father's nautical fiction library, as well as his own tattoos and travels as inspiration.

Here the Black Ink dominates, the spicy rum of the West Indies; Lost and found documents; The familiar dry chords of leather-bound books harmonize with the enigmatic hot notes of vanilla pipe tobacco. The whole finely articulated around a dark heart of resin of birch and labdanum.

Top notes: Citrus - Spicy - Woody: Bergamot, lemon, Black pepper, Rum, ginger, ink
Heart notes: Leather - Woody: Leather, suede, lavender, dry wood
Base notes: Wood - Soft tobacco: Cedar wood, incense, tobacco, birch resin, labdanum, vanilla

Technique Indiscrete's Indiscrete

INDISCRÈTE

Heading in a completely different direction from the above two woody orientals is Technique Indiscrète's eponymously named Indiscrète (2008) from nose Libertin Louison, 88,00 € tax incl. for a 50ml EDP spray. Indiscrète brought an instant smile to my face! It felt so tangy, fresh and bright. A friend was with me while sampling and he, too, had an immediately positive response.

Though Indiscrète is really a gourmand with its blend of fruit and caramel, it never strays into heavy, syrupy or candied territory. For those familiar with Hanae Mori's first fragrance (often referred to as Butterfly), the compositions are similar, but whereas Hanae Mori is full-on Angel-era gourmand, Indiscrète is like its eau de cologne cousin. In this way it also recalls Hermés' Un Jardin sur le Toit. And though a chypré accord is mentioned, I don't perceive it. My only problem with Indiscrète is how fleeting it is; longevity and sillage are both on the low side.

Indiscrete is a perfume of absolute lust that reveals irresistible notes on the skin. A deliciously enchanting elixir, inspired by the freshness of the orchard of the apple of love, between soft flesh and crisp clothing, to seduce and charm with its Chypré accord.

Top: Bergamote, Apple, Mandarine
Heart: Rose, Jasmin, Tuberose
Base: White Musk, Soft wood, Caramel, Chypre accord

Bottega Profumiera Gourmand

GOURMAND

Bottega Profumiera's 2013 Gourmand is next in the box, 140,00 € tax incl. for a 130ml EDP spray. Created by perfumer Maurizio Lembo, Gourmand is a yummy composition that focuses on vanilla and caramel. Whereas Indiscrète was a juicy, gourmand, Lembo's fragrance is pure creamy goodness without any of the fruit. This is a vanilla-lover's paradise with additional notes of coconut, caramel and amber.

Many folks here at Fragrantica have suggested that Gourmand smells quite similar to the bargain fragrance Golden Sand by Al Rehab which I reviewed HERE. I have to concur. And though I liked Gourmand, this was the least compelling of the 6 and the most familiar. 

A sweet and enchanting marriage between warm vanilla and delicious caramel, which will awaken you into a winter fairytale... It may be cold outside but within is cosy, warm and an enticing new day begins.
 
Top: Caramel, Vanilla
Heart: Benzoin, Coconut
Base: Amber, Musk, Woody notes

Evody Onde 7

ONDE 7

Onde 7 by perfumer Amélie Bourgeois for Evody Parfums is another standout of the 6 and elicited a "WOW!" response for me upon initial spray. This 2016 release sells for 99,00 € tax incl. for a 50ml EDP spray. Onde 7 feels familiar, immediately recalling the vanillic warmth and spicy tang of D'Orsay's Le Dandy (pour Homme) minus the fruity notes. Longevity is excellent while sillage is above average.

The brand writes, "This scent is inspired by Egypt and particularly by the Kyphi which is the first origin of perfume. The honey notes present in all recipes for Kyphi are highlighted through the flower of narcissus. This perfume, a true plea to serenity, is hypnotic, magnetic. Animal notes of an extreme sensuality give it a captivating and terribly attractive power." Onde 7 opens with a honeyed cinnamon, though oddly cinnamon is not listed in the pyramid. As such, Onde 7 with its added ginger also recalls spiced tea scents such as L'Artisan's Tea for Two.

Lurking in the background are the castoreum, patchouli and beeswax, and I suspect these notes contribute to a slightly offputting animalic bitterness that runs through the composition's first few hours. But the drydown is heavenly with its woody musks and resins.

A moment with family, cocooned in a wooden chalet sipping delicately fragrant honey tea. This fragrance evokes a feeling of serenity which you want to re-live again and again: bewitching, addictive...
 
Top: Ginger, Honey, Narcissus
Heart: Beeswax, Guaiac Wood, Tonka Bean
Base: Castoreum, Labdanum, Musk, Patchouli

 

Aedes de Venustas Cierge de Lune

CIERGE DE LUNE

The "special guest" of the box, as Sens Unique calls it, is Aedes de Venustas' 2016 creation, Cierge de Lune. Composed by Fabrice Pellegrin, Cierge de Lune is an homage to the Queen of the Night, 210,00 € tax incl. for a 100ml EDP spray. More than anything else, it is a powdery vanilla that warms as it develops to reveal its sueded amber basenotes. Read Sophie's (our French editor) review HERE.

I do appreciate powdery notes but here the powder is just a bit much in the opening. But once I get past this, the remainder of the experience is quite intoxicating and the longer I wear it, the more I like it. The suede is the standout aspect for me and recalls such past favorites as Biagiotti Uomo, Michael for Men from Michael Kors, and Donna Karan DK for Men. Imagine the rich suede notes rom any of these covered in a cloud of dusting powder and sweetened with vanilla. In fact, the reminder of these three scents is likely what I find so compelling about Cierge de Lune. Sillage is moderate while longevity is actually quite good.

The cactus after which this perfume is named blooms only in the early nocturnal hours and then disappears quickly at dawn. As it flowers it exhales a spicy vanilla scent, tinged with incense, which evokes a sweet nocturnal dream: Ephemeral splendor in the service of timeless elegance.
 
Top: Powdery notes, Musk
Heart: Pepper, Vanilla, Ylang-Ylang
Base: Amber, Musk, Incense, Suede

 

So my first experience with a Sens Unique box was a total success! Which one was my favorite? I think Coeur de Noir is truly something special with Onde 7 and Cadjméré my second and third favorites. I can't wait to see what Sens Unique will share with me in February. I'll be back next month with another niche report!

 

Image of the author

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison

Managing Editor & Columnist

Dr. Marlen Elliot Harrison’s journalism in the fragrance industry has appeared in international print and online publications such as PlayboyMen’s JournalMen’s Health and the New York Times. Marlen is also a regular contributor to BeautyAlmanac.com and works as a graduate professor, thesis advisor and faculty supervisor for MA programs in TESOL, Education, Writing and Literature. Learn more about Marlen by visiting:  www.MarlenHarrison.com.

 



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moonfish67
moonfish67

Lovely review! :)
I got my box either - and would love to get me some Cadjmere PG as well, while the other bottle - Coeur de Noir by Beaufort London - I already had as my Xmas gift!!! :)

Feb
13
2017
too_many_macarons
too_many_macarons

It's interesting that you should like the BeauFort best, as it was unequivocally my least favorite. It smells like a campfire. I really enjoyed the rest, though. So much so I talked myself into a six month subscription. I hope the rest of the boxes are as enjoyable as this one.

Feb
12
2017
BloomPerfume
BloomPerfume

Exciting, they followed our example (Bloom have been doing packs for 2 years), although we went as far as including raw materials in each monthly pack. We did peru/tolu/elemi resin pack, ambroxan, cashmeran, benzoin, labdanum, etc. as we beleive it's essential to give perfume lovers an opportunity to learn to recognise raw materials as well as to discover their origins and history.
We also offer for her/him and unisex options and release each pack individully once all subscribers got their samples.

Feb
12
2017
joyjoy
joyjoy

I'm so sorry I didn't sign up for this sooner because this Jan. box looks & sounds amazing. It's so inexpensive too-2ml *spray* samples?! I've spent way more than $12 for one 1.5 or 2ml sample. Plus there's three lines here that I've never even heard of which doesn't often happen. Such a great idea. And I love that they send blotters!!

Feb
11
2017
SuzanneS
SuzanneS

Love your new pic Marlen!

Feb
11
2017
LeanGreenBean
LeanGreenBean

How wonderful! I went to purchase and it says the one-time purchase box is unavailable, though longer subscriptions still are. I assume they got overwhelmed with new subscribers!
I hesitate to purchase a long subscription because it is extremely hot where I live in the summers (Arizona). I'm wondering what the experience of other hot climate dwellers has been with receiving perfume in the mail in these temperatures. It is above 100 Fahrenheit for 6 months out of every year, and it's already 80 degrees today. I worry, especially because mail trucks are absolutely not air conditioned, that the samples would be damaged or even combust! Does anyone have any insight?

Feb
11
2017
henri345que
henri345que

I loved the idea! I will see if they ship to here

Feb
11
2017
NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

Looks like a great selection of scents!

Feb
11
2017
Tiwalii
Tiwalii

Great review. I've ordered my first box just a few weeks ago. It shipped yesterday I believe. Very exciting! The theme for february is love. :)

Feb
11
2017

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