The last five or six perfumes I've tried from M.Micallef have left me pretty cold (see the Vanilla Collection and Ylang in Gold), so I was about ready to give up on the line when I came into a decant of Nasreen, thanks to a fellow Perfume Posse reader, and a sample of Le Parfum Denis Durand Couture by way of the company. I don't know if they've changed perfumers or what, but these two are way more my speed.
Le Parfum Denis Durand Couture – This bewitching perfume opens as a bubblegum floriental, with the juicy-spicy quality (tangerine and cinnamon) of Sacrebleu, the powdery rasp of Loulou, and a bit of the woody toastiness of Le Maroc pour Elle. It's supposed to be orange blossom, but to me the main floral accord smells like rose and jasmine, topped off with a big old glob of honey. There's a metallic edge (what Angela at Now Smell This calls a "metallic tang") that I think of as the meeting point between jasmine and honey. With the powdery notes and honeyed white florals, it's distantly related to Love, Chloe, but without the crassness. This is restrained, not overly sweet, and with just the subtlest hint of furry animal warmth. To me it smells like hammered gold, shimmery but not flashy. Tres chic!
Nasreen – Nasreen is just the kind of thing I always immediately like: a jammy, apricotty rose with saffron and honey, giving it that same metallic edge as Denis Durand. It's sweet and sly in equal measure, not the gourmand you might imagine seeing "gingerbread" in the notes, but a sexy, nutty (vetiver?), smoky orientalized rose. The word "smoldering" comes to mind. There's something scratchy about it, too. Not itchy – it's as though smelling it could scratch an itch at the back of my throat. I love what Micallef is doing with texture in these two scents. If DD is hammered gold, this is a snakeskin clutch, buttery soft but only between the scales that catch your fingers.
By the way, a quick note on oud: Nasreen is supposed to contain it, and some reviewers have sworn they smell oud in Denis Durand as well. I suspect, as I've noted in the past, that none of the recent "oud" releases actually contain oud; I also suspect that "oud accords" are created in part by association. Rose, saffron and oud are so often seen in tandem that rose and saffron together (plus woody notes like incense and patchouli) automatically conjure the idea of oud. But for me, unless there are peaty and/or petroleum-like characteristics (see By Kilian Pure Oud, which smells downright toxic), it doesn't read as oud, and these two perfumes are too smooth to trip my oud sensors. That doesn't mean other people aren't smelling oud; it just means "oud" doesn't really refer to one specific thing. So are they oud perfumes? Sure, why the hell not.
Here are a couple others I've been testing lately:
Smell Bent Little Miss Panda – Lime (think Green Otter Pops – seriously, the top note IS Sir Isaac Lime) plus slightly musky tropical flowers. It's simple, bright, clean, refreshing fun, perfect beach scent material. Makes me want to wear a white bikini. Alas, I've never owned a white bikini and have never had the tan to pull one off. Which reminds me, I lost about half an hour of my life looking at pictures on this tribute Tumblr of models from the '80s and '90s (discovered via Alice Bolin). Isn't Kate Moss just the prettiest person alive?
Also, check out Angelina Jolie with "HER OLD NOSE" (I always hear that phrase in the voice of the plastic surgeon from Space Balls):
I keep forgetting that all of the beautiful people have had nose jobs. Really, all of them.
Anyway, one more:
Yves Rocher Comme Une Evidence – I received a mini of this in a package years ago (from Mals, perhaps?), tried it once or twice, liked it, then put it away and forgot about it. Something made me think of it recently – I was craving something fresh and delicate for spring – and I pulled it out and tried it again. It's actually lovelier than I remembered, and looking it up I see that it was done by Annick Menardo. No wonder this is good. It reminds me obliquely of Guerlain Insolence EDT, but don't let that give you the wrong idea – it's similar in structure but not style. The floral accord is rose, violet, and lily of the valley, getting most of its character from the fruity, green aspects of violet and violet leaf. (Violet leaf is one of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's signatures, and sometimes CUE strikes me as a budget version of her La Vie en Rose.) It's very feminine and soft and just slightly powdery. This isn't a perfume-lover's perfume (too fresh! too wearable! too office-friendly!) but it's instructive to compare this to something like Champs Elysees; the balance is so much more comfortable. Good luck figuring out which version I'm talking about, though, because I sure can't.