The Dark Heart of Old Havana is a vanilla fragrance from 4160 Tuesdays, which I fully expected to love, judging by its description as a “tobacco, fruity oriental” with notes which include: vanilla, sugar, tobacco, orange, bergamot, coffee, tonka, and geranium. I was sorely mistaken.
The Dark Heart of Old Havana starts out as a complete, absolute copy of Profumum Roma‘s much loved Dulcis in Fundo, from the bright, fleeting citric start and hint of booziness, right down to the waffle cone, dark vanilla. Then, it turns into a virtual copy of Serge Lutens‘ Un Bois Vanille, the reformulated version. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible interpretation of both scents. [UPDATE 7/5/14 — Since 4160 Tuesdays owner believes that my comparisons and statements are libelous, let me be clear about what I’m saying: the perfume’s aroma opens on my skin with the same bouquet of notes as that in the Profumum scent before turning into the same bouquet as that of the Serge Lutens. That is my opinion of what is appearing on my skin, and the way I am describing how The Dark Heart of Old Havana’s opening smells like to me.]
There are differences, but only of degree, balance, and quality. For example, The Dark Heart of Old Havana is nowhere as rich, luxurious, opulent, or dense as the Profumum scent. More importantly, it isn’t as well-balanced in its sweetness which is wholly cloying in Old Havana, and verges on really bad burnt sugar, mixed with a dash of dirty, dark tobacco lurking in the base. For the same reason, it is also substantially sweeter than even the reformulated version of Un Bois Vanille, though it shares a similar sort of acrid darkness.
And where Old Havana differs most from both scents is in having such a massive amount of synthetics that I quickly ended up with the most walloping migraine, one which not even 4 Tylenols could fix. In addition, the back of my throat seized up, something which almost never happens to me, despite my occasional sensitivity to the heavy use of synthetics. Yet, it occurred both times that I wore The Dark Heart of Old Havana, and regardless of the quantity that I applied. In contrast, I didn’t have any reaction to “The Sexiest Scent On the Planet. Ever (IMHO),” even with all its ISO E Super and white musk, so that should tell you something.
I think the problem in Old Havana is something vaguely soapy, clean, but also distinctly bitter that lurks at the edges. Perhaps it’s the geranium note that is listed. Or, it might be the very abrasive, sharp, clean musk. Then again, who knows? It might well be the diabetes-inducing, dripping sugariness and cheap vanilla. Those of you who think Un Bois Vanille is too sugary after its reformulation, pay heed; the amount in The Dark Heart of Old Havana is at galactic levels in comparison.
The bottom line is that The Dark Heart of Old Havana is synthetic to high heaven, with a gross imbalance in the sweetness, and some distinctly unpleasant, acrid, or sharp bits. It does improve at the end of 4 hours, but it’s too little, too late. Plus, all that really happens is that The Dark Heart of Old Havana returns to its Dulcis in Fundo clone state as a waffle-cone vanilla that lies on the skin as a sheer, translucent smear of sweetness. It isn’t terrible at this point and the sweetness is finally balanced, but, frankly, I wasn’t in a good mood after the earlier hours. It had taken a lot of effort to persists and not to scrub the damn thing off.
As a blogger, I find it difficult to know how I’m supposed to review the scent. After all, what is there that I could really say about it that would warrant a full, individual analysis, other than to say that 4160 Tuesdays has taken two very famous vanilla fragrances, combined them, and treated both of them badly? Ms. McCartney is a self-taught perfumer and one wants to support a one-woman show, so I’ll censor the words which I would have if I were reviewing a fragrance from a large perfume house. I do want to note something, however. On a Facebook perfume group, I saw a post by a her a few days ago — but now deleted — which said something to the effect of how she’d gotten the Guerlain Meteorites and could now copy the scent. I remember vividly both the comment and the attached photo, so I looked for it last night to screen-cap it as proof but, as I said, it’s now been deleted. My advice would be not to copy other perfumes.
[UPDATE 7/4/14 — Ms. McCartney has responded in the comments below, stating that she has never intentionally copied anything, and clarifying as well the situation with the Guerlain Meteorites and the missing post. She did not delete it, but it seems to have mysteriously vanished as she cannot find it, either. Since its disappearance led to a incorrect conclusion on my part, let me apologise here and again to Ms. McCartney as I did down below. You can read Ms. McCartney’s response in full, but it is only fair to highlight right here her explanation of the Guerlain Meteorites situation and what she meant by her comment:
I haven’t taken down a post about Les Meteorites, but I can’t find it either. The point i was making was that I love it, I was delighted to have got a bottle off eBay, and it’s discontinued, so if I want something like it – for myself – I would have to make my own. I think it said that I was relieved to realise that I might be able to recreate it.
But in perfume this is normal. At perfume school – like art school where people used to spend years copying other people’s works to develop their skills – students learn to make copies of all the classics. As you say, I didn’t go to perfume school, but I still did the coursework. What I didn’t post or imply was that this is my usual method for the scents I make to market as my own. The one post I did find was a tweet @Guerlain to ask M Wasser to remake it. Perhaps that helps to explain the spirit in which I wrote the mysteriously missing message.
I stand by my opinion about how The Dark Heart of Old Havana smells on me, but I do apologise for misinterpreting her comment about recreating the scent of the Guerlain Meteorites.]
On Fragrantica, there are some people who love The Dark Heart of Old Havana, but the majority of the reviews are negative, and talk about its burnt, plastic, bitter, “dirty ashtray,” or rotting garbage aromas, as well as its “sickening” sweetness. To be fair and to counter my own take on the perfume, here are a few of the positive comments about The Dark Heart of Old Havana:
- I can see why this would get mixed reviews. This is not a ‘safe’ frag. This is dark, dirty, sweaty, sweet and nasty – in the sexiest possible way. This fragrance is fighting and fucking and laughing and fighting again, without showering. The sugar here is almost black. It’s crude, unrefined, boiled until it’s a black, smoky syrup. The tobacco is smoky and hot. The fruits, those glorious fruits!, are overripe to the point of rot. Sitting in the hot sun, beginning to ferment in the heavy, still miasma. [¶] I agree there is an undercurrent of rotting sweet flesh here, but to my nose it makes it all the sexier. The rotten thread adds a beautiful counterpoint to the unrelenting, burnt-honey sweetness that pervades this.
- Wearing this perfume feel like doing something wrong, something dirty, something forbidden but yet oh so enjoyable. The overwhelming sweetness was a bit too much in the beginning, but I soon developed a kind of stockholm syndrome to it and kept sniffing all day and reapplying when it began to fade after 5-6 hours. All day at the office it kept giving me flashbacks from good one night stands I had forgotten. In a good way. This is a dirty scent, like “watching True Blood and getting surprisingly turned on by vampire sex”-dirty. I love it.
I’m glad it works for someone.
Disclosure: My sample was kindly provided by Luckyscent. That did not influence this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.
Hello dearest Kafka. I recently got my 4160Tuesdays sampler set and pulled out several to try out first, one of which was The Sexiest Scent (tried this) and the other The Dark Heart of Old Havana (not yet tried). I thought The Sexiest Scent was quite good and it has a smell-alike in VC&A Orchidee Vanille. I would like to think that at some point, those of us who may have smelled more than the average person’s share of perfumes will eventually encounter smell-alikes but I’m beginning to wonder about a pattern of similarities.
In any case, I will report back once I’ve tried this. Perhaps I should stay away from my mom when I try it 🙂
I have a sample of the Van Cleef Vanille Orchidée, but haven’t tried it yet, so I’ll keep your comparison in mind when I do. As for your mother and Old Havana (sorry, all the 4160 Tuesdays’ names are so bloody long!), I had to laugh. One day, I hope to meet her, and to compare notes on synthetic perfumes. LOL. 😉
Kafka, dearest, I’d be very very VERY curious about your review of the Van Cleef’s Vanilla, which is one of my favorites of the genre.
I had planned to cover Vanille Orchidée as part of a mini, brief series on vanilla (and, in part, orchid-related scents) starting at the end of next week, but my schedule has become a bit screwed up lately. (O’Driu took longer than I had thought, and I haven’t even finished writing about all those. I’ve decided to put off the rest of them for a short while, though, as they really drain me.)
That said, I am testing a fragrance tonight that made me think of you actually, Mi’Lady Grey. And it is a vanilla scent, though not a floral vanilla… 😉
Now, that’s turture. When will the review come ? (I can’t wait – I feel like a five years old few days before Christmas…)
Sometimes its the moms who like it best. 🙂 Adding the smiley face to avoid misunderstanding.
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It’s a pity somebody has made this scent already, and made it better. I’m a happy owner of a bottle of Dulcis in Fundo – and have a sample of Old Havana too. Trying the latter one forced me to ask, whether there were more resources invested in finding the perfume names in this line, than into the actual juices…
How was Old Havana on your skin?
As for all the perfume names in the line, all I’ll say is that they’re bloody long, and a bit of a hassle to write repeatedly in a review. To be fair, however, Ms. McCartney did spend 15 years in copywriting/marketing for Lush, so some of it must have seeped over.
For the sake of politeness, I’ll stay mum on the rest of my thoughts.
Money saved. 4160 Tuesdays don’t sound like my cup of tea. I loathed the new Un Bois Vanille. On the other hand your reviews are making me want to pull the trigger on Profumum. Expensive but worth the $$$.
The parfums of 4160 Tuesdays just fall apart on my skin, I smell ingredients (not particularly interesting ones) and not a composition. Also, there is that interesting thing with expectations : when reading those very suggestive names I expect a lot (for example a very sexy scent…), which then doesn’t come.
Sorry to hear that. I’m starting to wonder if they don’t like air travel…
I didn’t mean that seriously. 🙂 But I really am sorry to hear that the ones you try don’t suit you. I quite like making perfume the traditional way, to give you varied wafts. Linear fragrances aren’t really my thing.
It takes me between an afternoon and 18 months to formulate a perfume, and usually the name is already in my head. With this one it started out as The Dirty Heart of Old Havana. Maybe I ought to have kept it. The perfume started out at a week’s workshop with Karen Gilbert in 2011 when we were experimenting with orientals. Mod one took me a day. The name took about 30 seconds.
It was interesting to read what your course tutor said (“How are you going to finish it off?”), because it was my first thought when trying the scent. I thought it smells like not yet finished, or a fragment of a scent.
Hello and thanks writing a review. The problem of course is that only our team knows what’s in my scents, and any intelligent guesswork can only be partly right.
Your views are valid and very entertaining, but
I think your statements that I’ve copied other people are possibly libellous. It’s not a copy or an interpretation of anything, except the way Havana smelled when I was there. When I made the first version my course tutor said, “No one would ever wear that! How are you going to finish it off?” And I said, “It’s finished.” Although I did make it a bit dirtier later on.
I haven’t taken down a post about Les Meteorites, but I can’t find it either. The point i was making was that I love it, I was delighted to have got a bottle off eBay, and it’s discontinued, so if I want something like it – for myself – I would have to make my own. I think it said that I was relieved to realise that I might be able to recreate it.
But in perfume this is normal. At perfume school – like art school where people used to spend years copying other people’s works to develop their skills – students learn to make copies of all the classics. As you say, I didn’t go to perfume school, but I still did the coursework. What I didn’t post or imply was that this is my usual method for the scents I make to market as my own. The one post I did find was a tweet @Guerlain to ask M Wasser to remake it. Perhaps that helps to explain the spirit in which I wrote the mysteriously missing message. It’s four days old. You can find it if you like.
Thing is, I wanted to make the smell of Havana the way it was when I was there in 1998 and that’s exactly what I did. It stank. I have quite a few fragrances in my collection but I’ve not smelled the ones you mention, so while it’s perfectly valid to compare mine and state your view, going on to say I’ve copied them is something quite different. So I’ll tell you that you’re wrong. One thing I never do is set out to make something that belongs to someone else. Just today I worked on a bespoke scent which I described on Facebook as rather like Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat after a weekend at Glastonbury. I wasn’t intending it to smell like a Guerlain scent, but I put cedrat in it because I like it, so ours has a passing resemblance, but is dirtier. There you go. It happens.
So The Dark Heart of Old Havana. I completely get that it’s not for you, which is fine, but it’s got hardly any synthetics in it. Your conclusion from your comparison to The Sexiest Scent isn’t based on fact.
The Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. (IMHO) has a higher proportion of synthetics than the Dark Heart. Exactly 70% of the perfume is synthetic and 30% is natural bergamot – a far higher proportion than most modern perfumes, but still not as high as Dark Heart. The name is a joke by the way, and a quote from a journalist. IMHO stands for “in my humble opinion”, which is irony, not “in my honest opinion” – which would be 1) unpleasantly boastful and 2) not true.
There is no musk in it. The musk note comes from something else. Although you’re right about the Iso E Super. It also has way more vanillin in it than Dark Heart. Vanillin is an industry standard. There is a load in Shalimar. It’s not cheap.
Dark Heart’s composition is 18% pure tobacco leaf absolute. Beautiful quality, costs a bomb. Working strictly to EU regulations I know there’s nothing in there that can give you a headache except the stress of wishing you could wash it off. I rather wish you had… oh well. There are citrus fruits plus pure natural jasmine with extra added synthetic indole – the stinky bit – and the vanillin, and strawberry furanone. And loads more, but some of it has got to stay secret.
There’s also vanilla absolute, the natural expensive one.
I don’t like to play safe and if only 0.001% of perfume lovers like it, I’m pleased. I’m not surprised that others don’t, and I accept that lots of people can’t stand it. It’s a tricky one to appreciate especially when they haven’t smelled Old Havana’s slums, and I expect some people might wonder why I bothered. I had a great time there, learning to dance tango and I wanted to make it in perfume form.
From now in, if you’d like to know what proportion of naturals to synthetics I use, please ask me. I like tellung people about what I do and why. Please don’t make things up especially unkind and untrue things like saying that I’d copied other people’s fragrances when I haven’t, or taken down Facebook posts when I haven’t. That’s not nice and it’s not fair.
I do admire your writing and your opinions.
Good evening, Ms. Cartney. Thank you for your detailed reply and for the time you took to cover various points.
First, reviews are about a person’s subjective, personal opinion, based upon what appears on their skin. On my skin, The Dark Heart of Old Havana starts of as something extremely similar to Profumum’s Dulcis in Fundo, before changing into Un Bois Vanille, with the differences that I noted. That’s simply how it smells on me.
In addition, I’m afraid that there is something in the end result which smells synthetic to me based on what is appearing on my skin. My opinion on that point has nothing to do with my experiences with The Sexiest Scent. I approached The Dark Heart in a vacuum when initially testing it. It merely surprised me that that was the fragrance which turned out to be a problem, when the Sexiest Scent with its ISO E Super didn’t cause a reaction.
The Sexiest Scent may have a higher percentage of synthetics than The Dark Heart of Old Havana, but that is merely a relative proportional issue. It doesn’t mean that there are no synthetics in The Dark Heart. But, even if there were absolutely none at all and even if, hypothetically, The Dark Heart of Old Havana were a totally all-natural fragrance, there is something in there that simply did not work well on me. I made a point of saying that I don’t know which one may be the source of the problem, but I stand by my opinion that, on my skin, something in the perfume makes it smell incredibly synthetic. I’m sorry, but that is just how I feel.
Second, you are right that similarities between fragrances occur inadvertently, but your Facebook comment regarding the Guerlain Meteorites seemed at the time to indicate something different to what you’re now saying here. You have clarified the situation, which I appreciate and I take your word that no copying was intended. I apologise for misinterpreting the situation with the post vanishing. I don’t think you can blame me for thinking it was deleted, since it is no longer there, and even you yourself can’t find it, but obviously Facebook must be acting up and doing something beyond either of our understanding. Nevertheless, I apologise for misinterpreting both the situation and your Facebook comment about wanting to recreating the scent.
With regard to the Sexiest Scent, I do know what “IMHO” means and I do know the story behind the name. I described the entire story, using your own words, in my review of that fragrance. I never said that the words stood for “in my honest opinion” or that you were boasting. However, I do think it would disingenuous to pretend that such a name does not have a direct and beneficial effect in a variety of different ways. It may have originally been a passing joke by a journalist, but actively choosing to use it has its marketing advantages, and you’re savvy enough to know that. With the deliberate choice and the benefits also come disadvantages as well. Disadvantages such as people’s opinions about the name.
As for the particular notes in The Sexiest Scent, I stated my opinion and my belief, and pointed to the Fragrantica votes which indicate that others share the same opinion about the musk. No blogger is going to write to each and every perfumer to ask for the particular, unlisted elements in a fragrance prior to writing a review, or to get confirmation on what’s in there. It’s not practical, realistic, or likely. They give their opinion based on what something smells like to them.
There may not be actual musk in The Sexiest Scent, but your comments here would indicate that you’ve sought to replicate the aroma, simply through other means. “The musk note comes from something else.” As you’ve also stated, no-one but you and your team can know the actual notes. But bloggers describe what things smell LIKE to them, in their opinion and based on what appears on their skin. You sought to recreate something that smells like musk without using it, so can you be surprised that people end up detecting something which smells like musk to them? “The musk note comes from something else,” but still smells like musk in terms of its final effect. Which was my opinion of it based on what appeared on my skin as well.
In both cases, and in both reviews, I presented the other side of the picture with the positive statements about your scents from people who love them. My negative opinions vs. other people’s positive opinions, with a Fragrantica link for people to read everything there in full to make up their own minds.
That is very fair. So was my review for The Sexiest Scent where I not only defended you on your choice of brand name and made some positive comments on your scent, despite my well-established loathing for ISO E Super, but where I again provided comparative positive reviews for the fragrance.
I am happy to amend this review for The Dark Heart with an included statement that says you’ve responded in the comments, that you did not delete the Meteorites post, and with a synopsis of your explanation for the “recreation” issue. But I stand by my feelings regarding The Dark Heart of Havana. The world would be a very dull place if we all shared the same opinions — about fragrances or anything else. You’ve made a lot of people happy with your Sexiest Scent fragrance, along with several others, and I wish you continued success in the future. I mean that sincerely. I hope you and your brand flourish.
Hello again. and thanks for writing.
If I’d sold as many bottles as I’ve had reviews I could retire. The funny thing is that I’ve sent perhaps 100 bottles of The Dark Heart of Old Havana and 150 of the Sexiest Scent on the Planet. Ever. (IMHO) to the US and we’ve probably made 250 in total. On the grand scale of things it’s so totally insignificant. If I knew the trouble they would have caused me…
Oh the internet! Wish we could have a chat.
I know you didn’t say that IMHO stands for in my honest opinion, but that’s been written by a blogger who drew the conclusion that it was really boastful of me. I piggy backed to write about all the misunderstandings in one hit.
And yet,,, I’ve caused another one. Musk. I don’t think TSSotP smells of musk, and I didn’t try to make it smell of musk. But as you know, the “notes” in perfume don’t come from what you put into them but what he brain makes of them. There are no natural fig materials yet, nor mango – although weve seen come exciting new CO2 extracts from Evonik and we might finally get them – but perfume companies often state that their scents smell of mango or fig.
So if people think it smells of musk, then I guess it goes to them. So I thought it was more polite to say that the musk note come from something else than to state “no, you’re all wrong, wrong I tell you!” If people smell musk, then it smells of musk – but I didn’t intend it to, and myself, I still don’t get it.
White musk is interesting. In big boys perfumery you can’t buy a raw material called white musk. You can get many different synthetic musks, and white musk is a blend. I like to usse the older musks as I enjoy giving a kind of late 40s to 80s feel to my scents. The sales guys are always stunned then they bring me the brand new fashionable molecules and I don’t want them. There’s one called Maritima – boy does that one stink. I’ve put it into a room spray for a poetry event called The Shipwracked House, and the poet Claire Trevient said it was really popular with her cats… but I’m off again.
I do have a masters in marketing and corporate strategy, and it would be disingenuous of me to say that calling something The Sexiest etc… wouldn’t be provokactive. It’s been an interesting experiment. And yes, we sat down, had a giggle about it and said, hey let’s try it. But I didn’t intend to release it as a scent until the very young journalist said that about it, so the name and the scent just happened at once, It wasn’t a masterplan in manipulation. That was before we had a perfumery, before we had any sales in the US. I was a bit taken aback when people thought I meant it, but now it’s out there. We say, “evaaaaah” over here, to make sure people know we’re being silly, not serious. But you can’t hear that, so how would you guess?
Yes, Facebook is weird. I’ve gone back in and searched for that post. It couldn’t have been in Instagram could it? I cannot find it, even though I’m off the phone and back on my PC because I thoguht it would help. That really was a misunderstanding.
I don’t expect everyone to ask what’s in my perfumes, but I’m here if people are interested. And although I’m not that keen to list my whole formulae by percentage I’m happy to explain things. Thing is, that because we do make up our own – although these days I don’t usually do the bottling, my friend Agnieszka does it – we do know what’s in there. Most perfume houses don’t know, because they buy their perfumes complete, made by a bigger house. When people say to me “it smells of …” I say “of course it does” but that doens’t mean it’s in there. In that context didn’t state Iso E Super as a note, because to some people it smells of nothing, and 99% of perfume buyers don’t know it exists anyway. I use it to enhance other materials. Some people wear TSSotP on top of other fragrances. I’m happy with that.
Here’s what it’s got in it:
Iso E Super
Cedramber – methy cedryl ether.
That’s it. I’ve love to smell other people’s versions.
I started making my own because I really thought that was the way everyone did it (like Lusk) with their own labs and workshops, and also because I really enjoy it. These are my babies you’re describing. Yup, if I want to sell off my babies I need to be open to criticism. I am. But if the scents I sell smell like other people’s, that’s either coincidence, or I say it out loud – like with Says Alice, where I was aiming for the kind of 90s floral that no longer exists.
Sometimes I do aim to recreate a long lost fragrance for someone, but if they ask me to copy an existing one, I always say no. I respect other people’s creativity, as well as their IP rights.
As for Les Meteorites What happens in the lab stays in the lab – and I’ll be making my own violet for me and no one else. That’s an exercise in nose training. Darn Facebook and it’s interfening, trouble making.
This feels rather like a chat over tea, and is nice. I almost feel as though I should pass you some scones. 🙂
With regard to the name, I think something like “The Sexiest Scent” (sorry, it’s simply too long to write out in full, and I hate acronyms), I think a name like that is simply going to be trouble on the internet, as well as a huge bonus and attention-getter at the same time. Positives and negatives. It’s like Etat Libre’s names, and the controversy they always cause. Some love them and think them whimsical; but some dislike them and their intentionally provocative nature. (Far, far, far more provocative than anything you have, if I may add.) In fairness, names like “The Sexiest Scent” are rather fair game for commentary. That said, re. the “IMHO” acronym, it’s surprising that any-one in this internet day and age who works on the internet and/or blogs can be ignorant of its true meaning. I’m sorry you went through that. I didn’t think the perfume’s name was intended as a boast.
By the same token, I’ve always thought it rather unfair that you’ve been criticized for your company’s name. It’s such a positive message, and such a wonderful philosophy for life in general. Each and every time I’ve read your brand’s name, I immediately think of the philosophy and feel I should practice it, that I should hold onto that Tuesday more tightly, try harder to make the other days special too, given that there are only so many left. I applaud you for both the message and the impact, but it is merely my subjective opinion, and others seem to feel differently. (Though, thankfully, not a lot of people seem to have issues with “4160 Tuesdays” as a name.) I can only say that I think you will be explaining both the company and the perfume name for many more years to come. I suspect you’ll be heartily fed of explaining “The Sexiest Scent” business in a few years time. lol
As for the actual sales of “The Sexiest Scent,” I suspect you’re going to do quite well as time progresses. You are very new to America and Canada, people are just exploring your fragrances, word of mouth will spread, and the raves for “The Sexiest Scent” will continue. Vanilla is a massive seller here, perhaps even more than in the UK if I correctly recall one of my posts on the UK sales market and the biggest sellers or types of fragrances that are most popular. I think Americans love gourmand fragrances as a general genre even than other nationalities.
In addition, most people are either anosmic to ISO E Super, or don’t even know that’s what they’re smelling. And all my readers know my feelings on the subject well enough that they put it into context. Only that small percentage who have issues as I do pay true heed and stay away when I talk about ISO E Super. Actually, I think the fact that I found parts of your fragrance to be pleasant DESPITE my known loathing for such fragrances is something people will notice. I almost never find any fragrance with such a massive amount of the note to be pleasant in any way WHATSOEVER, so — relatively speaking, and by my standards — it was quite a positive review in some ways. I know it won’t seem like that, but it was.
With regard to “White Musk,” I’m afraid I’m not keen on almost any synthetic musks, if I’m to be honest. (I like the musk from ambrette seeds, and one or two other more vegetal sorts.) Unfortunately, the vast portion of what is sold in light, fresh or clean scents either smells either painfully sharp on my skin, or are like hairspray, shampoo, fabric softener sheets, room freshners, or worse. It is my second most loathed note in perfumery. Yet, I tried to make it clear that the aroma in “The Sexiest Scent” didn’t smell like any of those things on my skin. It wasn’t abrasive at all, and far from unpleasant. So, whatever the ingredient actually is, I didn’t find it to be like what the chap on Basenotes described, but it’s obviously a matter of skin chemistry and subjective interpretation. (And, yes, how the mind interprets them. As a perfumer once told me so eloquently, “we smell with our minds.” I’ve always loved that, and thought it was brilliant, as well as very true.)
With regard to The Dark Heart of Old Havana, the FB post on the Meteorites did cause problems between us. Up to then, I had thought it was a wholly inadvertent similarity that was manifesting itself on my skin, but after seeing you write about how you could now copy or recreate the Guerlain scent, I could only wonder. A few days later on, while writing my review, I went back to check that post to see if I had perhaps misremembered your comments, thinking that I must have been mistaken in the implications. But it was gone completely.
I’m sorry to say that I drew an inference from that, *in light of all the other factors.* That was my mistake but, I have to emphasize, it was one made under all the circumstances put together. There are a lot of perfumers who draw inspiration from past scents. Every time I review Roja Dove, for example, that issue comes up. These things happen. There are only so many notes that one can put together at certain levels, especially with the bloody EU/IFRA rules. However, it was that post (which I remembered partially as “Now I can copy the scent”) and, more importantly, the fact that it suddenly disappeared which seemed to make *this* a different case. Again, I apologise for the conclusions that I drew, though I will point to Facebook, too. Frankly, I wish the company would stop tinkering with the damn system. It causes nothing but headaches, and for more reasons than just this instance.
Anyway, if you’re going to make the Meteorites for your own personal pleasure and private use, all the more power to you. 🙂 If I could do that for vintage Opium, I would. In fact, I know that we would ALL want to do that for our individual lost treasures, so I rather envy you in that regard.
Have a lovely weekend, Ms. McCartney.
(P.S. — I like that photo of you in the other review, and think you look very pretty there but professional at the same time. I wouldn’t have chosen it if I’d thought it was a bad picture. All the best, K-)
I accept your scones and offer you raspberry jam.
I couldn’t call the company Sarah McCartney because if you search for McCartney and perfume you get Stella. You’re right, I’ll probably regret it.
As for Urara’s Tokyo Café… that already causes chaos. No one remebers its name, except my Japanese friends. I know by now that I shouldn’t stick my neck out, but I almost dare to hope you might like that one. It smells of raspberry jam and violets among other things.
There’s been a bit of a fuss about Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers too. It’s set on the Champs Elysees and I think it upset people who were expecting it to smell like the Guerlain. At Nose in Paris last month, Mark Buxton put it on and went crazy over it (yup, now I’m showing off a bit) and said “Oh my God. Loads of naturals.” Modern perfumers usually don’t bother with naturals as they’re too inconsistent for big quantities. That’s a whole other olfactory minefield.
The photograph. I usually smile and the sun was in my eyes. I’ll get over it, but of all the pictures on the web, I just thought “Oh no, not that one.” I look so grumpy in it.
There is of a lot of copying in the world of perfume. I know exactly what you mean. Me, I’m overwhelmed by the number of fragrances in the world and don’t even try to keep up. I have enough difficulty keeping up with all the different accords I make myself.
It’s part of the world of fashion and people do try to ride a wave. I’m outside most of that. In general I love Guerlain, Heeley, Andy Tauer, L’Artisan Parfumeur, Penhaligon’s, Serge Lutens, Floris… Almost forgot Frédéric Malle. Lipstick Rose, Dans tes Bras, mmmmmmmmmm violets.
I think it’s a bit like writing books. Some people try to emulate a successful style. There’s one big vampire novel, and then there’s going to be a bunch of publishers yelling “Bring me vampires!”
I get my ideas mostly from places and people. For me, there’s no fun in copying apart to hone a skill. Creating a scent that doesn’t exist anywhere else in perfume form – absolutely. People who have trained in the big perfumeries have to do it all the time, with very small budgets. I’m very lucky that I get to create what I want, and as I insist on pushing them into unusual areas I know they won’t be for everyone.
The Meteorites scent is surprisingly simple – basically ionones, the smell of violets – and that post (wherever it’s got to) was written mostly for my perfumer friends who would know that and smile knowingly. I understand now how it would come over differently.
I love labdanum for real muskiness. I’ve sniffed genuine musk at the Osmothèque in Versailles and it smells like donkeys. But labdanum is restricted. Shame. I sometimes put a little in to smooth out some pointy edges, usually Fixolide, sometimes Galaxolide, to which many people are anosmic, but which is a bit like putting cream in your coffee.
I’m enjoying our chat now. If you’re in the area let me know and I’ll put the kettle on.
I don’t think your Urura Tokyo one would be for me, as I’m not really into fragrances with a jammy note but I was tempted to try your fragrance with the marmalade accord. I can’t remember the name right now, I’m afraid, but I have a love of marmalade going back to my Paddington reading days as a child. The thing is, however, that I don’t particularly enjoy sweet fragrances and, more to the point, my skin can amplify sweet scents quite a bit. So, while I like the idea of a marmalade element in perfume, I don’t think it would really work out for me.
My tastes — and, indeed, a large focus of the blog — is on heavy orientals and powerhouses. I like the opulent intensity of Middle Eastern orientals in specific, as opposed to the namby-pamby style put out by … well, I’ll be charitable and not mention names. Brands like Penhaligon’s, L’Artisan, Chanel, Heely, Floris, Kilian, and most definitely, Malle, do not put out the sort of fragrances that I gravitate to. (I’m sorry to say that Lipstick Rose was a complete scrubber on me, and I couldn’t even stand it on my skin. Ralf Schweiger uses a lot of synthetics in general, but that one…. was traumatic.) Modern Guerlain I have absolute contempt for. Mark Buxton uses far, far, FAR too many synthetics for my taste. Andy Tauer’s creations can depend, due to his love of ISO E Super (which we’ve talked about quite a bit privately and it has actually become a bit of a joke between us at this point). So, you see, we differ quite dramatically in the sorts of things that we’re drawn to. But that makes the world more interesting, perhaps. 🙂
To give you a bit of an idea of my tastes, I like Profumum Roma when they’re not gourmands and I love Amouage, but when they go too soft, discreet, and French, I’m turned off. Roja Dove can be too tame and restrained, though the heavy richness of his scents are what I think ALL fragrances should be like these days. That alone should tell you something about my perfume preferences.
Labdanum is one of my favorite notes. If you get the chance to drop by Harrods, give the SHL 777 (Stephane Humbert Lucas 777) line in the Black room a sniff, but his O Hira in particular. I loved that one passionately, and it’s all about the labdanum. As a whole, SHL 777 is one of my favorite new lines. His Black Gemstone was released in 2013, but I’m tempted to choose it as the best fragrance of the year (since, theoretically, it came out in wide release in 2014). God, I love Black Gemstone. I know most women recoil at it, though, especially at the beginning.
If you love violets and the sort of soft florals you have described, have you tried Puredistance’s exquisite Opardu? Or Neela Vermeire’s Mohur (especially in Extrait form)? I think you’d probably love both of them. The Extrait is exclusive to her right now, but you can try Mohur regular EDP at Roullier-White, while Puredistance is at Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie on the 5th floor of Harrods. Try Opardu, I think your head will spin with joy. 🙂
The one with the marmalade on toast accord is Time to Draw the Raffle Numbers. I don’t think you’ll like that either. Maybe Who Knew? But I’m really not holding out much hope. We evidently have totally opposing tastes, except perhaps in labdanum, which is severely restricted by the EU.
I’ve never been to the Harrod’s perfumery. If I’m a lot more interested in raw materials and what I can do with them than most finished fragrances. I like Roullier White though, and Les Senteurs, but I don’t have any inclination to smell all those shelves of other people’s stuff.
That reminds me, you’re still libelling me in your opening paragraphs. I’m pretty sure I have smelled the Lutens but I couldn’t describe it now. The other one, Dulcis in Fundo, nope never heard of it.
The odd thing is that synthetics are much less likely to give you a reaction than naturals. Lots of naturals are way cheaper than synthetics too. There is a lot of misinformation given out by marketing teams.
I’m not libeling you. I’m stating that the perfume’s aroma opens on my skin just like that of the Profumum and then turns into the Serge Lutens. It is what the perfume smells like on my skin. Notes that are the same bouquet as those in Dulcis in Fundo, then Un Bois Vanille. That is my opinion of what is appearing on my skin.
BTW, since you insist on this purported claim of libel, you may want to brush up on the law: http://www.traverselegal.com/internet-defamation/proving-defamation-of-character/defamation-slander-libel-elements/
1. A false statement of fact about a person or company.
2. Publication of the false statement. Internet defamation typically occurs with a blog post, comment, review or video / audio statement.
3. That the false statement was at least negligently made without reason to believe the statement was factually correct. In certain matters of public concern, actual malice must be proven in addition to falsity. Actual malice can be shown if the person knowingly publishes false statement of fact or at least recklessly does so.
4. Either mental anguish or damages (depending on state law) causally related to the defamation. The false statement must harm the reputation of the person defamed. In certain states, defamation per se allows a person to plead a case without proving specific damages.
Opinion as a defense: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2013/26/section/3/enacted
My honest opinion, not made negligently and no false statement of actual fact.
You cannot prove that my opinion is false based upon the circumstances of how the fragrance smells like on my skin to me. Furthermore, truth is an absolute defense:
(1) It is a defence to an action for defamation for the defendant to show that the imputation conveyed by the statement complained of is substantially true.
(2)Subsection (3) applies in an action for defamation if the statement complained of conveys two or more distinct imputations.
(3)If one or more of the imputations is not shown to be substantially true, the defence under this section does not fail if, having regard to the imputations which are shown to be substantially true, the imputations which are not shown to be substantially true do not seriously harm the claimant’s reputation.
Can you prove actual harm, or my supposed malice aforethought that would negate proof of such harm? No. I presented counterarguments to my opinion through positive quotes, and I issued a correction on the one point where I made a factual mistake, namely your Guerlain Meteorites post, though I know I am NOT alone in my original interpretation of that post.
Would you like to bring an action against me in either a UK or US court, and to endure the publicity that that would entail? A UK brand going after a blogger to sue for libel based on the first negative review that you have received?
If so, go ahead. We will see what the court of public opinion will make of that, as I will be sure to defend my side of the story with all my resources and with my legal contacts as a lawyer in America, including an old mentor of mine who is one of the preeminent First Amendment scholars in this country.
But, even apart from any lawsuit that you want to threaten, the huge cost to you to bring such a claim with international jurisdiction, and the likelihood that I could easily countersue you, we will see how the court of public opinion will deal with your claims, just at the time that you are bringing your brand to these shores. I have tried to be conciliatory, accommodating, friendly and civil in our recent interactions, but if you want things to be different, then I will respond in kind. I am happy to make a completely separate post highlighting this situation and bringing people’s attention to every part of this, if you would like to continue on this path.
And it would be very easy for me to take down my review entirely, thereby ending your case, while simultaneously making it abundantly clear in subsequent posts to every perfumista around that my reasons for doing so were that a perfume house threatened an American-based blogger over their honest opinion and the very first negative review to occur once the brand’s perfumes hit these shores.
Again, I have been more than fair; I have expressed my subjective, personal thoughts about how your perfumes appear to me, all done without malice, false statements of fact, and with an ACTUAL counterargument in the form of reviews that praise your perfume. If you wish to allege libel, then you will do what you must, but so will I.
Sarah McCartney, you make a product for public consumption. Some people will love it, while others will not. I’m disturbed by your continuing to accuse Kafkaesque of libel and being libellious, when she’s simply stating her opinion. I’m an author, and as much as some people loved my book, others disliked it and said so in their reviews. It’s what you agree to when you place your art in the public eye. If I dare say so, your haranguing of poor Kafka is not doing your brand any favors.
Yup. Smells like a copy – viewpoint. Is a copy – not true.
Whatever. I give up. You win. Bye!
Sorry about the typos. I rushed.
Your review was right on Kafkaesque, except maybe you were too nice. I love tobacco scents generally and here is what I think of “Old Havana.” Initially I was excited to try this new fragrance since the notes sounded very inviting. The topnotes were good, sugary softness and then some sweet fragrant tobacco. Then it all went pear-shaped. Some serious funk entered into the equation. I got this weird rotten fruit, trash bin that needs to be emptied smell with a coffee overlay. I waited for it to get better and it never did.
(And now we see that the perfumer intended this- really??)
The Dark Heart of old Havana ended up smelling like a dirty ashtray, the bottom of a glass of rum that was drunk last night, trash bin stink and bad coffee wafting through the air. It was like a movie where the main character wakes up after a hard night of drinking and finds himself sleeping next to a dumpster with stale cold coffee being poured on him by a shopowner who orders him to get lost or he will call the cops. I love most tobacco fragrances but this definitely did not work on my skin. After 6 hours the trash smell was gone, but there was nothing good left.
Nice to see you again, Rickyrebarco (or Ricky, if I may call you that?). 🙂 I saw your Fragrantica description for The Dark Heart, and felt for you. It really didn’t NOT work well on your skin, did it? I think you and I have an overlap in our tastes, and, possibly, in terms of our skin chemistry as well. Like you, I love tobacco scents and had high expectations for this one. It seems that your experience exceeded mine in number of ways, but you also got more layers and nuances than what appeared on me. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad one in this instance…. :\
You know what I’d be fascinated to see if you liked, given our slightly similar tastes? Amouage’s new Journey Man. There is a lot of pepper in that one, but not ISO E Super pepper. Sichuan chili peppers in the opening, in a boozy amber that has a fruited, orange nuance and then followed with tobacco, incense smoke, and other notes. I hope you give it a try if you have a chance. Oh, and I really hope you try Téo Cabanel’s Alahine, one of my all-time favorite fragrances, though it requires a little bit of a Stockholm Syndrome at first for some people. LOL. But look up my reviews for both and see if either one tempts you enough for a sample. 🙂
Yup, I read this and really liked it. That’s pretty much what it smelled like when I was there.
I personally love this brand, I haven’t found one perfume that I can’t bear (strange for me as I’m a fussy mare) and I’ve tried almost all of them, several of them are serious “likes”. The personal service and accessibility of Sarah add a special touch. My favourite is Ururas Tokyo Cafe, it’s bright and sunshiny and lasts forever. I also really enjoy The Dark Heart, it is deep, dark, sweet and sexy to me. Of course it’s all personal taste but when you can order 3 x generous size samples for £10 and you don’t need to remortgage for a full bottle it makes sense to give it a try. The vintage city range is also seriously awesome and well worth testing.
I’m glad you’ve found a perfume house that works so well for you across the line and without exception. That doesn’t happen often, so it’s great. 🙂 And I agree that it is wonderful that so many sampling or size options are offered as well. I wish more houses would do that.
Wish I could do that worldwide not just the UK. But I’m working on it. When you use masses of naturals, perfumes are very different on individuals’ skin and as my scents do divide opinion (as above) I’d always recommend you try them on your own body first.
Hmm, at least the price is right? Sounds like squandered potential for a great perfume.
Interested hear more, Kevin.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned since I set up 4160Tuesdays it’s that the cost of the liquid bears very little relation to the price tag. I can’t sell through a distributor at my current prices as there isn’t enough margin. Tricky.
This happens to quite a few indie perfumers. As soon as they get picked up by big retailers and international distributors the price goes up 50 – 100%. You’ll probably have noticed. I aim to keep mine affordable, but it’s an issue.
Would you normally assume that higher prices mean better quality or fancier packaging? 🙂
I have tried quite a few from this line and they weren’t for me. I thought they were very cack-handed and amateur in their execution. I must say, I have never, ever, ever, EVER seen a situation on a perfume blog, where the actual perfumer themselves, is jumping all over peoples comments. How utterly graceless and undignified.
Ok, I’ll start by saying I like a few of 4160 Tuesdays scents quite a lot. I’m not sure I love them enough to buy a full bottle, but this is just to illustrate that I don’t have a particularly strong loyalty to the brand. I do however, love reading your blog and appreciate the honest negative reviews as much as the positive ones. I feel they are generally conducted with fairness and integrity. On this occasion though, there ARE parts that come across to me (just your average perfume loving blog reader) as verging on a personal attack.
What I do know about 4160 Tuesdays, being a member of Fragrantica and several Facebook groups, is that the perfumer has quite a strong online presence and often comments to set the record straight, if she feels her work is misunderstood. I’m not sure that’s entirely wise, but understandable nonetheless.
Maybe I’m overly cynical, but perhaps (or so it appears to me, I’m sure others would disagree) you may have exploited this knowledge to write a deliberately provocative review, in the hopes that you could goad her into commenting and stir up a bit of controversy, thus directing more web traffic your way. I would love to be proved wrong, but feel really let down by what I thought was a blog with more integrity than that. I’ll be steering clear in future.
You should absolutely do what you feel is right, including no longer reading my blog if that is what you wish.
I did not seek to write a deliberately provocative review, and I certainly did not seek to goad anyone to do anything, let alone for traffic. If I had wanted to be purely inciteful, I could have done it in the review of “The Sexiest Scent” which has an abundance of the ingredient which everyone knows I loathe with a passion. Instead, I wrote that it wasn’t bad, had pleasant bits, that it surprised me in a good way, said several positives about its sunny opening, and I even defended her choice of names for her brand as something with a really positive message and an excellent philosophy for life.
If you feel my post here verged on a personal attack, that is your right. IMO, however, the totality of the circumstances would indicate otherwise. Wouldn’t “The Sexiest Scent” with its attention-getting title have been the perfect choice for me to “stir up a bit of controversy” and get traffic, if that had been my goal? How many people are really aware of The Dark Heart of Old Havana in comparison to the fragrance that most people talk about, and a review of which they would be more likely to find? In fact, wouldn’t the Sexiest Scent review be the PERFECT piece in which to launch a personal attack, especially as I could ostensibly hide my allegedly heinous ulterior motives under the cloak of my oft-stated loathing for ISO E Super and musks? Wouldn’t that have been a lot cleverer of me if all of this was merely some attention-seeking exercise borne out of some personal dislike or a desire to launch a personal attack?
Perhaps the actual answer is that I did not seek to exploit anything, and only wrote my honest opinion of a scent that I found to be unpleasant. There are certainly far worse comments about it on Fragrantica.
And speaking of Fragrantica, I don’t read it unless I’m about to cover a scent. I’m not a member of multiple Facebook groups, and I haven’t tracked Ms. McCartney in any way except for one post in one group, a post that caught several people’s startled attention and to which I’ve referred here. If she has a strong presence online, I wasn’t aware of it, and I certainly didn’t try to “antagonize” her intentionally for any reason. Blog hits included.
If you wish to steer clear of the blog in the future, let me just thank you for having read thus far and for the civility of your comment today. All the best to you.