Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review - "Anton", "Elliott" & "Peter" by Sweet Anthem

I stumbled upon Sweet Anthem handmade perfumes a few months back, and was very impressed with Meredith's online presentation, the design of her retail space, and the way a whole community has grown around Sweet Anthem. I ordered samples of her 3 masculine scents online, and they arrived earlier this week.

Of the 3, 2 of them are presented in an oil format and the 3rd in a solid soy wax and shea butter format. I began my fragrance wearing ways in the early 80s, and grew up with the take-no-prisoners blockbusters of the 80's, fragrances that the term sillage ('wake') barely seems adequate for. Non-solvent based fragrances are often quieter, more like intimate skin scents, than something that announces your presence. Despite this the longevity of all 3 was pretty good, with Elliott the least long wearing.

I've worn one a day to work, but sat down tonight to properly test all 3 and give my thoughts.

Horseradish vodka, baked apples, cigar smoke, and the salty pops of red caviar. Orchids from the palace apothecary dress the table. Nothing beats a fancy party to bring a little drama into your life.
Notes: Apple, Black Pepper, Horseradish, Opium, Orchid, Saffron, Teak
Type: Musk Fragrances

Our favorite parts of summer here in Seattle. Strolling down by the waterfront, hikes through the Puget Sound rain forests, and days down on the beach — and just a hint of Seattle grunge.
Notes: Labdanum, Oakmoss, Pine, Rain
Type: Woods Fragrances

A black currant-champagne cocktail for the Emperor after a long day out on the hunt, sipped as he daydreams about a certain wooden tallship.
Notes: Black Currant, Champagne, Leather, Lemon, Matcha Tea, Patchouli
Type: Woods Fragrances

[Above notes and descriptions by Meredith of Sweet Anthem]

5 Minutes
Anton (oil format): My first impression is a big slug of sweet apple liqueur. I can't tell you what Calvados actually smells like, but this starts as my idea of Calvados. Highly perfumed Calvados and the spicy warmth of baked apples. Shortly after the first blast of sweet apple it settles down a little as the bulk of the apple starts to depart and the saffron, pepper, teak and opium(?) start to counteract the sweetness. On first impressions it was way too sweet for my taste, but within 10 minutes it's much more enjoyable.
Elliott (oil format): This guy has me confused. I was expecting something woody and green, like a rain washed forest, however, the first 5 minutes of this on me were curiously quite sweet, despite there being nothing in the notes that reads as 'sweet'. I get a sugary berry note which actually made me wonder if I hadn't mixed up Elliott and the blackcurrant Peter, or somehow tainted the skin patch during application. Not dominant, but noticeable.
Peter (solid perfume): When I was a child I was much beloved of a particular English boiled lolly my grandparents always seemed to have in good supply. Each came wrapped in a white paper wrapper with a full colour picture to denote the contents, sometimes a lemon, or a blackcurrant, or a pineapple etc. 5 minutes in and Peter is a hand full of these, with a higher percentage of the blackcurrant ones, and a couple of lemons for good measure. I don't mean that to sound harsh because it is not at all unpleasant, but very, very sweet. No noticeable signs of the leather or matcha tea yet.

30 Minutes
Anton: Anton has lost its apple and settled into a sweet, perfumed, slightly oriental muskiness. Enjoyable, with a small nod towards the kind of Indian or Middle Eastern confection that consists of a spice grain coated in sugar. My favourite so far.
Elliott: Still stumped. This has a sort of affable sweetness but I can barely detect the pine or any woodiness. Labdanum is complex and is known to have honey, flowery, mintlike and sometimes hints of plum at times, so perhaps this is what I'm noticing. However there is a definite sugary quality. Elliott is starting to make me doubt myself!
Peter: Nice, and a bit less syrupy now that the the other notes are coming through, but still too much like candy for my personal taste.

2 Hours
Anton: 2 hours in and Anton has a very pleasant transparent, dry spicy quality with a light overlay of musk lolly.
Elliott: A barely there sweetness with balsamic undertones. The rain and pine notes seem to have completely passed me by.
Peter: This is less blackcurrant lolly as time has gone on, and more like a light cordial. Very pleasant but still way too sweet for me.

In summary, these are very nice fragrances, well designed and crafted, although Elliott did not seem to conform to expectations on me, and faded reasonably quickly. If anything both Elliott and Peter might benefit from some amping up of the basenotes.

Fragrance is very subjective however, and when it comes down to style and preference all 3 of these fragrances are too sweet for my taste. I do quite like the basenotes of Anton however, once the bulk of the sweetness has departed. Given my love of aromatic fougeres, incense notes, woods, leathers, citrus accords and even the odd ozonic floral, it really should come as no surprise that sweet fruit and berry notes are a challenge.

I'm still not convinced that I didn't somehow taint my testing of Elliott, as my experience was so different from what I expected. So once I've washed this all off and slept on it, I might came back and test Elliott all on his own. If my experience is different I'll amend this entry with a footnote.

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