Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Aerin Fragrances: A Quick Review

Aerin Lauder's luxurious fragrance line is now available in Singapore at Marina Bay Sands. There are 9 eau de parfums currently available as 8ml rollerballs ($45), 50ml sprays ($182), 100ml sprays ($260), as well as matching body creams ($91).

The first time I sniffed a few Aerin fragrances in their minimalist resin-capped bottles, I immediately thought of a more grown-up and elegant Jo Malone. They share a rather similar aesthetic, from the thematic focus around key scent ingredients (e.g. Rose, Gardenia, or Amber), to the effortless luxury of the heavy squared glass bottles, and the cologne-like airiness and sense of "translucency" for most of the scents.

Each box is patterned after a specific fabric or print with personal meaning to Aerin herself, making them collectible as well. All the scents are impeccably-tasteful, lady-like, and never too loud. Perfect for the majority of East Asian consumers, pretty much.

Out of the nine, I have four key faves (the first four reviewed below) but I would say try them all out for yourself since scent is so personal to each person. And definitely wear your top picks on your skin before making a final decision, because like picking a partner, the things that impress us on first sniff don't always turn out to be the best for us.

I'll list all the notes and my personal experience with each below.

Evening Rose
Blackberry, Cognac, Bulgarian Rose, Rosa Centifolia, Incense
This was the scent I was matched to by an Aerin scent consultant and while it wasn't what I'd have initially guessed would be a favorite, it made me go "oooh" on first sniff and I haven't gotten tired of it after almost two months of repeat wearing.
To me, Evening Rose is the most "complete" of the nine, because it is multi-faceted with bright, sweet, floral, and resiny tones, making it more complex and interesting. It's not as heavy as other incense-roses tend to be, but it's also not syrupy sweet or too generic smelling. It also lasts for hours, going from lush and perfumey to sexy and skin-like as it fades during the day.
A more elegant and less raunchy sister to Jo Malone's darker, more daring Velvet Rose and Oud.

Lilac Path *only avail in 50ml
Galbanum, Lilac, creamy Jasmine lactones, Angelica Seed oil, Orange Flower
Lilac Path is very interesting because it is a bouquet structured to smell like a single flower. The Jasmine lactones are added to emphasize the sweet smoothness of lilac while galbanum adds a fresh green-ness evoking leaves. Everything adds up to create a larger-than-life Spring lilac.
And you end up with a scent that gives an impression of being delicate, but is also very strong and lasting.

Gardenia Rattan
Marine accord, Gardenia, Tuberose, Tahitian Tiare, Amber
This is fresh and light in a tropical way. You don't have to worry about it smelling "salty" or tangy like sea water despite the "marine" notes. It's more like coconut water infused with tropical blooms.
Some Gardenia notes have this way of smelling like coconut. (Think Versace Crystal Noir.) I'd call this scent a balance of green-ness with creaminess.
Despite the many notes listed, this is a very Summery, likeable scent that's perfect for lazy moods in hot weather.

Amber Musk
Ambrox, Coconut Water, Rosa Centifolia, Benzoin, Musk
Amber Musk is much lighter than its name suggests. Amber and Musk are typical base notes in scents, but this is closer to Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez than Serge Lutens Musc Kublai Khan, if you know what I mean.
It is cozy, subtly-sweet and warm. Like hugging a freshly-bathed and dried pet or sinking your face into warm, clean towel and smelling the sweetness lingering there.
This is a comfort scent to me.

Mediterranean Honeysuckle
Bergamot, Mandarin oil, Honeysuckle, Lily of the Valley, Gardenia, Jasmine Sambac
I consider this the crowd-pleaser of the line because it's almost impossible to dislike. If you like bright floral fruity scents along the veins of Tom Ford Neroli Portofino, Marc Jacobs Honey or the ever-present Versace Bright Crystal, you'll know that type of breezy, clean, fruity floral.
Sadly, like those others, Mediterranean Honeysuckle has a short lifespan and will likely need reapplying through the day.
Cheerful and irrepressibly-happy smelling, but not my top pick simply because it does smell somewhat generic/common and lacks longevity for the price.

Ikat Jasmine
Egyptian Jasmine, Jasmine Sambac, Honeysuckle, Tuberose infusion, Sandalwood
Ikat Jasmine is a step up from Mediterranean Honeysuckle and has a bit more body because the honeysuckle has been toned down and the jasmine dialed up. In fact, they put two different jasmine accords in here. However, I cannot say if they used real jasmine absolute because it's a very clean, sanitized, "neutered" jasmine that smells very crisp and light and won't go overboard.
No claws, no vava-voom.
Which can be good or bad depending on your preference.
I like this because it's so wearable that even people who dislike jasmine might like it. But I also think it lacks a little personality because of that.

Waterlily Sun
Bergamot, green notes, Waterlily, Jasmine, Musk
This is where I start to find a bit too many overlaps in the clean floral territory within the Aerin line. Waterlily Sun is a fresh, clean floral that has some resemblance to Mediterranean Honeysuckle and Ikat Jasmine, just with that watery-crisp waterlily accord.
They have the same clean, bright feel that is at once immediately likable yet also common in a way.
I daresay if you like one, you would like the other two as well.

Tangier Vanille
Vanilla, Bergamot, Rose, Amber, Sandalwood, Musk
Warm, creamy, sensuous. Tangier Vanille is the warmest and sweetest of the general line, and is inspired by Morocco, but ironically has none of the exotic spices and heady resins associated with the place.
There is a tiny bit of spicy effect that keeps it away from pure vanilla extract territory but is mostly that generic "amber" smell that you find in the base of good oriental perfumes after they dry down. If you are interested in warm oriental smells but are still slightly afraid of them being too sweet, musky or heavy, this is a nice entry option.
Lasts FOREVER on the skin, and also makes a nice layering base for other fragrances.

Iris Meadow
Green notes, Blackcurrant, Iris, Jasmine, Cedar, Musk
Possibly the most unique of the fresh florals in the line, Iris Meadow is also the longest-lasting fresh scent I've ever worn.
This is fresh to the point of smelling like a men's cologne because of the cedar, something I quite like because it's a bit of a dandy; sexy like an androgynous girl in an immaculate trouser suit.
I actually wonder if they used some real Iris absolute in this scent because orris butter has a powdery woody green scent that is quite dry and fresh and non-floral. It has a tendency to amplify and "fix" other notes in perfumery, making them last longer.
Either way, this fresh, green scent doesn't smell specifically of iris itself, but I like it anyway.

Like Jo Malones, Aerins are "layer-able", and if you go for a scent consultation at the boutique, you can find out what "your scent" is and which companion scents go with it, should you choose to layer. However I find the slightly deeper scents in this range (Evening Rose, Tangier Vanille, Amber Musk) have enough complexity on their own and are better as stand-alones that don't require layering.

Even some of the slightly softer, "simpler" ones like Gardenia Rattan and Mediterranean Honeysuckle have a bright clarity that I don't necessarily want to muddy up through layering.

Overall, I think it's a line that is worth checking out if you've explored most of the Jo Malones and find yourself wanting a bit more. Even though they operate within Aerin's prescribed "effortless, luxurious, elegant" constraints and you aren't likely to find anything terribly exciting or different, these have a certain quiet, genteel romance to them, and are evocative of memories, visuals, and places. I daresay most people will find one scent here that speaks to them.

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