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?