Wrist vs. Wrist: Jour Ensoleillé & Afghanistan Orange Blossom

I sampled Sonoma Scent Studio’s entire line within the first few months of falling down the rabbit hole, and quickly discovered that Laurie Erickson’s woody/labdanum/incense fragrances did very nicely on my skin while the lighter violet and rose ones did not. But there was one perfume in her line that didn’t belong in either category, and I didn’t quite know what to make of it.  Jour Ensoleillé was my very first introduction to the BWF category and I found it both off-putting and compelling at the same time.

The best way to describe it was intriguing, and it seemed to resist a rating in my spreadsheet1. It didn’t belong with the 3’s,  which are basically nice but don’t move me, or the 4’s, which clamor for a decant, but it wasn’t quite a 2 either, which is stuff that’s just not my style. I put it on the backburner, occasionally trying it and hoping to figure it out.

Meanwhile, last February I read a post over at the Posse that caught my attention. Nava was writing about a new Canadian line of perfumes that she’d just discovered and liked. I’m used to feeling a bit out of the loop up here in my part of the Great White North, with many fragrances not carried here and a customs agency that makes it expensive and a pain to ship things across the border. These new perfumes meant that my location was actually an advantage.

As a nice bonus, the 7 Virtues line had an altruistic side as well. Barb Stegemann, the entrepreneur that started the company, sourced essential oils from Afghanistan and Haiti, giving fair market value to farmers trying to rebuild their countries, and her presentation on the reality show Dragon’s Den was inspiring. I made a mental note to try these fragrances the next time I went into the city.

When I did finally try them the Afghanistan Orange Blossom is what caught my attention2. There was a jolt of recognition: this stuff was similar to Jour Ensoleillé. It was interesting but not me, or so I said to myself. Except I kept pressing that wrist up to my nose and sniffing. And then I went back the next time I was in the city for another hit. And back again. Eventually, I knew I wanted something like this in my collection.

So then there was a new dilemma. Should I purchase Afghanistan Orange Blossom, or Jour Ensoleillé? How do you choose between your favorite indie perfumer and a great cause? Christmas came, and with it a generous gift card from my parents to The Bay3. After picking up some great nude heels – I’d been scouring the thrift stores in vain for a pair – there was enough left over for perfume. Would it be Bottega Veneta or Afghanistan Orange Blossom? Plus there was another new reason to consider AOB: I’d made the leap to become a bigger part of the online perfumista community and had started receiving little perfumed packages. I wanted to send off some goodies of my own, but without a large collection, what could I send that people hadn’t already smelled themselves? You see where I’m going with this. Time to do a JE/AOB wrist vs. wrist.

Initial impression: This post almost didn’t get written because of the first 20 minutes. I’d thought for so long that Jour Ensoleillé and Afghanistan Orange Blossom were similar it was a shock to smell the beginning. Why did I think these were similar? I’ve spent all this time wondering which to pick, and they’re not even close. This is really embarrassing. Jour Ensoleillé starts out with a big ol’ blast of tuberose at the beginning, or at least what I think is tuberose, as I’m not very conversant with the note yet. If tuberose is what gives something an almost “meaty” quality, than that’s what it is. There’s some flesh on this baby. In contrast, Afghanistan Orange Blossom has a much clearer feel, there’s a pureness about it.

20 minutes in: Oh, OK, now I see why I thought they were similar. Phew! I was really wondering about my nose there for a while. The tuberose backs off quite a bit in Jour Ensoleillé, and the jasmine and orange blossom move to center stage. Basically, JE lost some weight and went from a D cup to a C. Meanwhile, AOB hit puberty and gained some curves courtesy of jasmine. It’s in the heart where these are quite similar.

Drydown: this is where Jour Ensoleillé really starts to move ahead in terms of complexity. Tuberose joins the conversation again, and the oakmoss adds some very interesting mossy/slightly bitter facets. And then it just keeps on going and going.  In contrast, a light musk shows up in Afghanistan Orange Blossom and it gets a bit sweeter before trailing off. It’s not completely fair to compare the longevity though, since Jour Ensoleillé is parfum extrait compared to the 7 Virtues EdP.

So what was my verdict? Well, I want both. They’re different enough that both deserve a place on my shelf, because they’re asking me to wear them in different seasons4. Afghanistan Orange Blossom is a spring fragrance, a young singer with a clear, unfettered voice. Jour Ensolleilé is her in the fall, and her voice has added timbre and maturity. Because of AOB I learned to appreciate JE more, and I suspect JE is the gateway to even badder BWFs.

Fracas, here I come.

1Right now the perfume sitting in that intriguing category is Opus IV. I don’t quite know what to make of it.

2It didn’t occur to me until I was typing this out that 7 Virtues other floral, Noble Rose of Afghanistan, is a spicy rose and something that Anne-Marie should try. I wonder if they’d let me make up a sample for her.

3 The Bay in this context is not a nickname for a certain online auction house, it’s the shortened name of The Hudson’s Bay Company, which initially helped develop our country and then morphed into a department store.

4Your perfumes talk to you too, right?

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23 thoughts on “Wrist vs. Wrist: Jour Ensoleillé & Afghanistan Orange Blossom

  1. Never tried AOB, but will have to. I liked 7V’s Noble Roses very much.
    JE, on the other hand, was instant love and easily my favorite among all of Laurie’s fragrances. Thanks for the great writeup on both!

    1. Thanks, OperaFan! I appreciated Noble Rose, but it wasn’t FBW for me. I like my roses really dirty, like Vintage Rose and Parfum Sacré. Have you tried 7V’s Haitian Vetiver? Well worth seeking out if you’re a vetiver fan.

      1. The rose is the only one I’ve tried from the line, but now you’ve gotten me curious so I’ll have to investigate more. Yes, I do like vetiver – the green variety especially.

        1. If you like Sycomore, I think you’ll like Haitian Vetiver. I’ve only sniffed it once, but my initial impression was a straightforward, citrusy vetiver, very refreshing, although not as complex and long-lived as Sycomore.

  2. I wore JE today in honor of this post!

    It actually wasn’t something that I liked right away, and took me a long time to come back to; at first I was so overwhelmed by the tuberose that I couldn’t even smell any other facets, but now? Now it’s a rich, honeyed, sunny day kind of scent, and neither the tuberose or the jasmine irk me at all. I’m ready for a bottle of it!

    When I first began seeing mention of the 7 Virtues line, it piqued my interest, but I have yet to indulge… it might just be time 🙂

    1. I think Jour Ensoleillé is a great name for it, isn’t it? There’s something very warm and radiant about the perfume. One thing I forgot to mention in my review is that for a perfume that I initally dismissed as “not me,” it was surprising to discover that I’d almost drained that sample – there was only enough left for this wrist to wrist. Considering that Laurie’s work only needs a small dab, that’s saying something.

      Hold off on trying AOB, Dee, because some will be coming your way as soon as I acquire atomizers. (Which I kind of hinted about above.) I’m going to put in an order to BestBottles this week.

  3. I must try JE again tonight when I get home. It was my first SSS and I still, after about two years, don’t know what to make of it. It comes off as very sharp and pine-y, and bitter. Not a great deal of warmth and sunniness at all. For the umpteenth time I am wondering if I’m getting a contrary reaction to a SSS perfume. My scent-brain sends me different messages from the ones that other people get!

    7 Virtues sounds really great. Thanks for the review.

    1. You’re welcome, Anne-Marie.

      Interesting that you have such a different reaction to JE. Sometimes when I don’t think something smells good on me, I wonder if it’s because of my skin chemistry, how my nose perceives it or if it’s just personal taste. Too bad we can’t send our wrists through the internet so we can let each other smell how a perfume works (or not) on us.

  4. I love a good wrist-to-wrist! There’s always something in the comparison that highlights the differences, and lets me see things I hadn’t before.

    I am not much of an orange blossom fan (was sooo surprised when I fell for Sweet Redemption!) so I doubt I’ll get my mitts on Afghan OB – but interesting that you smell a lot of tuberose in JE, because I don’t. I have long held the theory that tuberose seems to just “sink in and get cuddly” on my skin, and although Helg at Perfume Shrine says I’m nuts, I still think that it does.

    That is, I can smell just a hint of tuberose, but for me, JE is mostly about the jasmine and beeswax, with a buncha overripe-warm-sweaty something that I can’t identify but like anyway. People always say horse, but I don’t have much familiarity with the smell of horse. Maybe that’s it.

    1. Thanks, Mals. I find a wrist-to-wrist is probably the best way I can think of to develop my nose. (I’ve been meaning to ask you, you mentioned once that getting the chance to smell perfume materials helped a lot too. Where did you get them from?)

      I remember that you weren’t an OB fan because they go soapy on you, and I admit that came to mind when I sniffed AOB. I can confirm that for me there’s no soap at all.

      It’s possible that what I consider tuberose is your over-ripe sweaty thing, I need to do a Fracas vs. JE to determine if it’s tuberose that I’m smelling. Like I said to Anne-Marie, too bad we can’t put our wrists through our computer screens and smell each other. It’d be interesting to sniff a cuddly tuberose. 😉

      1. Nope. Tuberose is not the overripe sweaty thing, I think that’s that’s the jasmine being all, um, YOU know, indolic and Ho Panties, or the combination of beeswax/jasmine. It gets pretty hot-in-here when I wear JE, I admit. In fact, JE reminds me in some ways of the lush overripeness of Bal a Versailles… and there is so much darn STUFF in BaV that I can never be sure of what, exactly, is the component that smells like stable/seraglio.

        Although you get “meat,” right? THAT might be the tuberose. I sometimes get meat out of tuberose, which sort of ruins things for me (go read my Manoumalia review if you are skeptical. Or Tubereuse Criminelle).

        I’m not saying there isn’t any tuberose in there, just that I don’t get a lot. It is possible that I have a high tuberose threshold… gosh, yes, do a Fracas vs JE wrist-to-wrist! Wait, I’m gonna go do that now. Will report back.

        1. Okay, reporting: there is some similarity between the two. I always forget, between times of wearing my small bit of Fracas, how orange-blossomy it is. In fact, it’s almost soapy, or more like cold cream (now there’s a blast from the past, cold cream). Fracas is big and sort of narcotic, a whole slew of white florals in there but mostly tubey and OB. Actually, I really suggest your trying something more tuberose-focused than Fracas against JE: L’Artisan Tubereuse, DSH Tubereuse, PG Tubereuse Couture, BK Beyond Love, something like that.

          JE has got a honkin’ TON of labdanum in there, and I think that’s part of the sweetness I’m getting, as well as the honey/beeswax. I’d forgotten how sexxaaay it is, all warm skin under the flowers.

          OH! I didn’t address the issue of getting hold of raw materials. Sorry. I’ve been lucky in some ways, in that I won a drawing of various materials on Perfume Shrine a couple of years ago: some florals, some balsamic notes, some lab-created stuff. And then Laurie at SSS has sent me a few samples of things while we were discussing either a new creation or the custom tweak of Tabac Aurea she did for me. Those were things like the peachy undecalactone in Mitsouko (gosh, it smells almost exactly like melted peach ice cream, the homemade kind made with real cream and fresh peaches) or heart-note patchouli, or vetiver acetate. And also I have gotten samples from essential oil companies – usually floral things, but also opoponax and a sweet-orange EO. I can’t remember the companies I bought from, but they’re all over ebay, and if you google for essential oils, you’ll get several hits.

        2. I can’t do a JE/Fracas comparison just yet, as it turns out I’ve completely drained my JE sample – there’s more coming with my Fig Tree purse spray. Unfortunately, the only other tuberose sample I’ve got right now is ELPC Tuberose Gardenia, but when I finally get around to sampling the tubeys (mimosa/heliotrope is this spring, fig is in the summer, incense this fall…. it may be a while) I’ll keep that list in mind.

          I wouldn’t say so much that I get meat out of the tuberose as much as a “meaty” feel; I have no better word to describe it than that.

          And may I say, you are impressively speedy on the throwdown, I’m impressed! Thanks for getting back to me on the perfume note question – I hadn’t thought of EO’s as a possibilty.

  5. I’m a big fan of a coomparison testing. I have a sample of JE and 1) I liked it when I tried it; 2) I didn’t notice tuberose (which is strange since I usually do not like tuberose) and 3) I wrote down to try it side-by-side with Sweet Redemption and Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom.

    1. I’d love to hear the results of your comparisons, especially if a bit of tuberose shows up when JE is compared to other orange blossom scents. I’ve heard great things about Sweet Redemption from Mals, how is Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom?

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