Today, we’ll look at a four releases from Lubin, Amouage, Roja Dove, and Byredo: Epidor, Bracken Woman, Tuberose, and Velvet Haze. They’ll be briefer takes than normal; I’m behind on covering recent niche fragrances after my long absence and I’m afraid I’ll never catch up if I write one of my typical reviews for each scent. Plus, the only way someone as verbose as myself can manage to write short descriptions is if I stick to the most impressionist overview possible, and skip the usual detailed breakdown in development, sharing other people’s perspectives, or arduously looking up retail links around the world. I’ll try to provide a few relevant details or links at the end, should you wish to pursue the scent further, but not many. So, let’s get to it.
LUBIN EPIDOR (2017):
Notes: Violet, plum, jasmine, orange blossom, cedar, sandalwood, tonka bean, vanilla.
Epidor opens with honey poured over a transparent, airy, but rich floral bouquet of jasmine and orange blossoms. Dollops of ripe plums lie on top of the petals, while a mix of rum-like booziness, creamy vanilla, and soft white woods runs underneath. When taken as a whole and simplified to its nutshell essence, Epidor is basically a semi-gourmand, fruity-floral white floral with vanilla and sandalwood. It’s not intensely sweet at first, although that changes at the end of the first hour.
What strikes me is the way Epidor carefully straddles the fine line between femininity, sexiness, and fruity flirtatiousness, and it does so in a very adult fashion. There is none of the over-the-top candied, pink sugar fluff or fruitchouli-like goopy excess that would send the fragrance into youthful, girlie territory. Instead, there is a nicely calibrated balance which feels lush, sweet, and feminine without being cloying or bashing you over the head with things. In fact, for all its boozy rum, honey, and vanilla, Epidor feels surprisingly lightweight, and it’s also softer than I had expected. There is moderate sillage at first, but it’s not intrusive at all and I ended up having to double my quantity application in one test because I wanted more of it. I’ve had a rather stressful 5 weeks between various personal, family, and natural disaster situations, and I tested Epidor more often than I had to simply because I really enjoy this fragrance.
One reason why is because it is a close twin of an old favourite, Roberto Cavalli‘s lush fruity-floral orange blossom oriental, Cavalli, which I believe is now discontinued. The note list is almost identical, except Epidor has plums instead of peaches. As a whole, it’s boozier, sweeter, more luxurious, significantly smoother, and not at all overtly synthetic. Cavalli used to be one of my guilty pleasures until the synthetic cedar and sandalwood became too much for me, so I was quite delighted at encountering a better quality clone or dupe.
Initially, there are also similarities to other scents. In the opening phase, when Epidor’s jasmine still shares center stage with the orange blossom, the fragrance felt like a richer cousin to Viktoria Minya‘s Hedonist combined with LM Parfum‘s gorgeous Sensual Orchid. Later, when the orange blossom takes over completely at the 40-minute mark and is now drenched with as much rum or plum liqueur as honey, Epidor is more like a mash-up of Cavalli, Viktoria Minya’s Eau de Hongrie, and Sensual Orchid.
Epidor is a very simple fragrance. Roughly 1.75 hours in, its nutshell essence is a lush, feminine, fruity-floral orange blossom bouquet that is drenched in wave after wave of honey, boozy rum, and vanilla. Slivers of soft, clean woods lurk underneath, while a cloud of a benzoin-ish ambered sweetness and warmth envelops everything. From the 3rd hour onwards, Epidor is simply a quiet, soft, hazy blur of white fruity florals, vanilla, boozy sweetness, woods, and ambered goldenness. It’s an airy but cozy scent that hovers two inches, at most, above my skin. In its final hours, all that’s left is honeyed, golden sweetness with abstract floralcy woven in. It lasted between 8.5 and 10 hours on me, depending on amount (several big smears amounting to 2 sprays from an actual bottle or a larger quantity).
As a whole, Epidor is quite a linear, uncomplicated fragrance on my skin. There is nothing wrong with linearity or simplicity if one likes the notes in question. I do. But I fully concede that there is nothing novel, striking, original, or particularly earth-shattering about Epidor. It’s just an easy, very wearable, feminine fragrance that goes from being quietly seductive to being more “cozy comfort,” one of my favourite genres or styles of perfumery. I thoroughly enjoyed testing Epidor and, even though it becomes a little too sweet for my personal tastes, I’m thinking of hunting down a large decant.
If you are a fan of lush, sweet, ambered floral orientals, vanillic white florals (especially orange blossom), or if you like any of the fragrances mentioned here, then I think Epidor will be right up your alley and you should consider getting a sample.
AMOUAGE BRACKEN WOMAN (2016 or 2017):
Luckyscent notes: Bracken accord, wild berries, lily, narcissus, chamomile, smoky leather accord, patchouli, vetiver, birch.
Bracken Woman (hereinafter just “Bracken”) opens on my skin with dewy, watery lilies coated with dark berries, soapy lemon, and a powerhouse synthetic green accord of wet ferns, crushed wet leaves, earthy moss, bitter greenness, smoky greenness, mud, and slightly stale pond or vase water. Narcissus and dried chamomile are sprinkled lightly on top, while a smoky, chemical shoe leather and shoe polish accord runs like blue-black ink underneath.
Bracken shifts within minutes. The narcissus blooms and expands, joining the lilies on center stage and then overtaking them as the central floral note. The citrusy, soapy cleanness also grows in strength, and it’s now trailed by a bitter, peppery galbanum infused with a drop of lemony, violet leaf.
The cumulative effect is both unusual and familiar at the same time, a slightly off-kilter but interesting take on the 1960s and 1970s green scents of old. It evokes a wet spring morning roaming through meadows filled with green-white floralcy, next to brackish ponds, and hedgerows bearing red-black berries. But there is also a distinct whiff of shoe polish as well as a note that is very reminiscent of a soapy-lemony toilet bowl cleaner we used to use in France, and those are the off-kilter parts.
Style-wise, Bracken is clearly related to its counterpart, Bracken Man, but it’s as though that stylistic theme has been interpreted through the lens of classic green florals (specifically, Chamade mixed with No. 19), re-imagined and then combined with more modern (and aromachemical) approaches to leather, smoke, and darkness. It’s as though Penhaligon’s narcissus-daffodil Ostara had been turned on its head, given a brackish wetness, darkness, muddiness, earthiness, and a heavy dose of shoe leather coated in smoky, inky shoe polish that someone has attempted to clean with a lemony household product. As I said, the bouquet is both familiar and off-kilter, sometimes disconcertingly so.
Bracken continues to change with every passing moment. The notes constantly realign themselves, jockeying for position in the lead. One minute, the focal point is the narcissus; the next, it’s the red berries that veer between smelling of blackberries and juicy, tart, tangy, musky red cassis. Moments after that, things switch up again, and the dominant, lead note becomes either the lilies, the smoky shoe leather polish accord, or the green “bracken accord” with its mossy, earthy, muddy, galbanum, peppery, leafy, vase water, and dried herbs.
After an hour, the floral, fruity, clean, and citrusy notes turn more impressionistic, and they’re also increasingly, heavily shadowed by a strong, smoky, peppery, synthetic darkness, as though an eclipse were slowly starting to pass overhead during a spring walk through the meadows, berried hedgerows, ponds, and forests of the English countryside. Roughly 1.25 hours in, Bracken smells of soapy lilies, red berries, soapy lemon, brackish greenness, mud, wet earth, and smoky shoe polish, all tied together by thick chords of smokiness. 1.75 hours in, Bracken is primarily centered on chemical, smoky shoe polish and shoe leather that has been covered in bracken greenness, mud, wet earth, and slightly fetid pond water. By the middle of the third hour, there was only a peppery, highly synthetic, and intensely smoky green-blackness or black-greenness.
I had to scrub Bracken Woman not long after. While there were some very appealing parts to the scent in its first 40-50 minutes, the synthetics became increasingly difficult for me to handle as the scent progressed. Roughly 40 minutes in, my throat began to feel scratchy and to seize up; at the 90-minute mark, I felt a little dizzy if I smelled my arm up close for too long; by the end of the second hour, the dizziness was joined by a bizarre ringing in my ears, and I felt slightly nauseated as well. Most of you either can’t detect aromachemicals or don’t share my sensitivity to large amounts of them, so I don’t expect you to have a similar experience.
Having said that, even without the issue of aromachemicals, Bracken Woman seems to be one of those complicated Love It/Hate It fragrances, so I would advise you to read up on it and test first instead of blindly buying. It’s a total pass for me.
ROJA DOVE TUBEROSE (2016):
Luckyscent note list: bergamot, mandarin orange, petitgrain, orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, labdanum, peach, plum, cinnamon, vanilla, musk.
Tuberose is part of Roja Dove’s Extrait Collection and, as the name indicates, is a soliflore centered on one central note, no matter what other ingredients may be in the note list. The fragrance opens on my skin with tuberose that is syrupy, sweet, honeyed, and almost candied in feel. At the same time, however, the flower is also rubbery, fleshy, ripe, lush, and lightly veined with soft, fresh greenness.
On my skin, the tuberose is only moderately indolic, and far less so than the note in something like Serge Lutens‘ Tubereuse Criminelle or Histoires de Parfums‘ Tubereuse 3 Animale. While there are streaks of camphor and smoky blackness buried in there, but they’re not the flower’s primary character (that would be syrupy sweetness, in my opinion, followed by a certain plastic rubberiness) and they only last about 20 minutes. Basically, if you take the tuberose core of vintage Fracas, skipping its jasmine and gardenia elements, then reduce that core down to its sweetest, most concentrated essence, you end up with Roja Dove’s Tuberose.
Tuberose changes after two hours. It turns creamy in both texture and in the scent of the flowers themselves. They’re still quite sweet, but they no longer feel candied to the same degree. There is no sense of rubberiness or greenness. It’s simply heady, lush, ripe, and creamy tuberose. The fragrance doesn’t change in any way after this. It simply turns softer, airier, and quieter before it finally dies away as a blur of floral sweetness.
Tuberose is a very heavy scent with major heft and chewiness initially. On my skin, it is heavier, denser, and stronger than Dusita‘s Melodie de l’Amour, and the opening sillage cloud extends about 7 or 8 inches with a dabbed amount equal to 2 sprays from an actual bottle. The numbers drop at the start of the 4th hour which is also when the fragrance turns discreet, airy, and thinner in both body and weight. In total, Tuberose lasted just a hair over 8.75 hours on me. I expected it to last longer, frankly, since it was an extrait, but it seemed to lose steam after the 6th or 7th hour. Still, for a tuberose lover, it was an enjoyable fragrance to test, although I think it’s extremely expensive for something so simple.
BYREDO VELVET HAZE (2017):
Luckyscent note list: Ambrette, coconut water, patchouli leaves, cocoa absolute, cotton musks, wild musk.
Fragrantica and First in Fragrance add in Hibiscus, and I very much agree with them. There is definitely a white, semi-tropical floral component to the scent.
Velvet Haze opens on my skin with sweet coconut milk lightly dusted with milk chocolate, and a fresh but tropical floralcy. It’s not a heavy, beachy, plastic “coconut” note like so many that one finds in perfumery, but more like sweet milk that has a tropical and faintly nutty character about it. The milky, sweet bouquet is then infused with patchouli that is more like a gentle aura than a hardcore patchouli note. It’s clean, quietly spiced and just barely veined with leafy greenness. The whole thing is then bundled up in fluffy, clean white musks which, to my surprise, do not smell of laundry notes at all. They’re simply fluffy, pillowy, almost downy in feel.
The result is a rather cozy, comforting, soothing fragrance that envelops you in softness and sweetness. At times, the opening 20 minutes called to mind sweet breakfast cereal milk, only this is better and more interesting, thanks to its extremely gentle auras of patchouli, cocoa, spice, and tropical floralcy.
Velvet Haze changes after 20 minutes. The patchouli emerges properly, trailed distantly by tiny wisps of smoke, and fuses with the coconut milk chocolate, fresh florals, and cashmere-soft musks. There is a slightly powdery quality to the scent. The cumulative effect reminds me a lot of Narciso Rodriguez’s For Her, only milky and creamier, with different florals, a significantly greater focus on gentle, clean patchouli, and a quiet touch of chocolate layered within.
Roughly 1.75 hours in, Velvet Haze changes direction. The musks take over, followed closely by the hibiscus which has now turned into a largely abstract, clean, white floralcy. The patchouli becomes a muted, muffled layer infused within the two central notes, now smelling of a quiet, clean, pale, faintly woody, milky spiciness more than anything else. The cocoa is a ghost at this point, although it does pop up every once in a blue moon before flittering away. The most noticeable thing about Velvet Haze continues to be its textural quality, that cashmere softness and plushness.
Slowly, inch by inch, hour by hour, the musks expand and the scent begins to take on a laundry-like cleanness in addition to greater powderiness. By the middle of the 4th hour, Velvet Haze is primarily a clean, fresh, slightly creamy musk on my skin infused with an equally clean, fresh, but semi-tropical abstract white floralcy. From time to time, there is a suggestion of soft spices or something indeterminately patchouli-ish, but they’re fleeting and basically inconsequential. For all intents and purposes, I’m wearing the drydown to the Narciso Rodriguez fragrance and that is particularly true in the final hours when only the musk remains. In total, it lasted just shy of 10.5 hours, the opening projection was average, and the sillage was initially moderately big at 5-6 inches before turning soft in the 3rd hour. Velvet Haze turned into a skin scent on me after 5.75 hours.
I wasn’t the only one struck by the strong Narciso Rodriguez (“NR”) similarities. Quite a few people on Fragrantica have remarked on it as well. In a similar vein, one person wrote that a “a DIY dupe” for Velvet Haze would be “equal sprays of Bronze Goddess and SJP’s Lovely.” She regretted her purchase, saying she was “Kicking myself (yet again) for paying big bucks for a subpar niche fragrance.”
If you’re a die-hard “Patch Head,” I think you’ll be disappointed by Velvet Haze, but fans of NR’s “For Her” collection will probably enjoy it. It remains to be seen whether they will think it’s worth the higher Byredo price simply for more patchouli, some coconut milk, and some chocolate added in. I’ve noticed the fragrance is currently sold out on Neiman Marcus’ website, so I’m guessing that a number of people have fallen hard for its cozy, pretty opening hour. And it is, indeed, cozy and pretty. Even comforting, soothing, and delectable at times. It’s just that it doesn’t last long before Velvet Haze turns into a NR flanker.
Eh. I realize that’s not a professional or adult way to conclude a review, but it’s the only to summarize my shrug of indifference at the majority of Velvet Haze. It’s got some nice bits, and then it smells like a much more affordable fragrance you can find at Sephora. White musk fragrances do absolutely nothing for me, so I fully concede that I’m not the target audience, but even so: Eh.
Disclosure: My sample of Bracken Woman was provided by a friend. Samples of the other fragrances were provided by Luckyscent. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.