In July and August, I did a series on Instagram where I did mini, daily reviews of all the perfumes I had left after a huge weed of my perfume collection. (And a couple of scents that I got during that time as well.) And then, because while I have dialled my perfume purchasing way way wayyyyy back, there were some excellent late summer/early fall collections from Solstice Scents and Arcana, and I grabbed them: Cliffside Bonfire (which I tried in an eau de parfum sample and then got a rollerball of) and a sample of Sea of Gray from Solstice Scents; an eau de parfum sample of Solstice Scents Sacred Vow with an order from Pretty Indulgent; a bottle of Sea Witch from Arcana, and I nabbed a split of Arcana Advice from a Caterpillar from a friend.
I didn't need to get any of these, especially since I still had enough perfume to wear a different one every day for a month (and did). I've been doing a fairly decent job of avoiding perfume release news, and honestly? I've tried hundreds of perfumes at this point. Something needs to be pretty damn unique or well-crafted for me to care, especially when I have limited time to wear perfume - weekends and evenings, due to a scent-free workplace. I am happy to say that all of these are unique to my collection as it stands and they were carefully chosen, with the exception of Sacred Vow, because you know, free sample.
Solstice Scents Cliffside Bonfire is the perfume I was most excited about this summer. Mostly because it's pure summer in a bottle to me: described as "Conifers, dry woods, rain, saltwater, seaweed, ambergris (vegan), charred wood, smoke." This is...well, a cliffside bonfire. Solstice Scents has been killing it with the atmospheric blends for years now, but they just keep getting better.
I've talked a decent bit here on the blog about my childhood summers spent in Cape Breton and how those memories are deeply cherished. And Clifside Bonfire is essentially those evenings in a bottle: wind in the woods, woodsmoke, and the scent of the ocean. It's like I'm sitting around the fire with my (incredibly large) extended family. This scent makes me so happy from just a whiff that it's possible that I wouldn't care if the sillage and the lasting power sucked, but it doesn't. It's got moderate sillage (my partner asked me why I smelled like Cape Breton when it had been weeks since I'd been) and the lasting power is decent, getting to eight hours on my skin. All of the components blend well together and fade evenly. It's a beautiful scent, but this is probably a big YMMV kind of scent. It's a true atmospheric, so if you don't want to literally smell like a bonfire next to the ocean, you should pass.
Sea of Grey was from the same late summer release as Cliffside Bonfire. I was much less sure about this one, so I picked it as my free sample with my order. This is described as "Vanilla rain, saltwater, seaweed, ambergris (vegan), white amber, roasted seashells, white sandalwood, frangipani."
Sea of Grey reminds me a lot of Arcana The Kraken. They're not the same scent, but in the same wheelhouse: both a vanilla aquatics. But while The Kraken is a smoked vanilla aquatic, Sea of Grey is more like vanilla ice cream and the ocean. The vanilla is delicate and sweet, while the ocean notes are smoothed out by white florals. Sea of Grey hugs much closer to the skin than Cliffside Bonfire, but has the same lasting power as Cliffside Bonfire. The sweet vanilla disspates more quickly than I expected, and it becomes more about smooth cool ocean and a whisp of vanilla. I like Sea of Grey, and it probably has broader appeal than Cliffside Bonfire, but I'm satisfied with just a sample. It's lovely, but not me.
The third Solstice Scents pick is the free one I got with my order from Pretty Indulgent to get Arcana Sea Witch and the rollerball of Cliffside Bonfire, Sacred Vow. Sacred Vow was created, along with White Feather, a scent I have yet to try, by the owners of Solstice Scents for their wedding, which I think is really lovely. It's described as "Vanilla, amber, bay rum, sandalwood, oak, patchouli, vetiver, saffron, lime and more."
(I don't know what "more" means. That doesn't seem much like a note. I digress.)
Sacred Vow is more unisex than I go for - it's either straight-up fruity candy scents or strict atmospheric scents over here, and the spicy, resinous tone of Sacred Vow isn't much like me. I'll probably pass this onto my partner in a valiant attempt to get him into indie scents. It's a very warm, cozy, spicy scent. I get a lot of bay rum and sandalwood on me, which is not surprising. Both notes amp a ton on me. The sillage is relatively low, hugging very intimately, but the staying power is crazy. All of the times I've tried it have left it lasting at least 12 hours, sometimes longer. I've gone to sleep with it on and had to scrub it off to go to work in the morning.
My two Arcanas are also a little outside what I might normally get. I was sold on Advice from a Caterpillar when my friend described it as lime Pepsi, which is one the best pops that of which I still mourn the loss. It doesn't totally smell like lime Pepsi, maybe a spicier, more sophisticated version, but I do get a bit of lime Pepsi when I first put it on. It's described as "Disappear into Wonderland with this mind-altering blend of tart lime peel, sugared coconut, ripe berries, clove bud, allspice, yellow peach, and a faint wisp of Indonesian patchouli."
It's such an interesting blend. It starts off with lots of lime, coconut and allspice, but mellows as it sinks into my skin, becoming spicier and richer as the lime dissipates. The coconut helps smooth the spice, and general fruitiness really rounds it out. It gets peachier as it wears as well, but the allspice remains the centre of the show during the duration of wear. It's delicious. It's got low moderate sillage, and lasts about six hours on my skin.
Finally, I got Sea Witch from the recent Witches release. Sea Witch is a fruity aquatic, and it's...interesting. I've been testing it pretty extensively and I'm still not sure if I like it. It starts off really shampoo-like on me. It smooths out some, but I don't know. It's described as "Delicate aquamarine scales and fins mingle with ribbons of seaweed, blueberries, brine, fresh rain, and gently sweet amber resin."
I think the problem is the blueberries, which is a great note in theory, but one that often reads like soap to my nose. After a few minutes of letting it sink into my skin, it's less soap and more like blueberries, amber, and slightly salty water, with a quickly disappearing fishy note. Probably the seaweed note, since that has gone fishy on me before. It's a very fresh water scent, much less salty than the other aquatics than I've reviewed in this post. The sillage on this one is lower than the others, requiring me to be fairly close to smell it (frankly the best way to wear perfume, in my humble opinion), and it lasts about five hours on my skin.
I've yet to see any fall releases jump out at me, but I think I'll continue this sort of perfume reviewing: rounding up my purchases for a season, since there won't be that many, and then I can compare them (especially if I'm buying on a theme, like this time around). What do you think?