Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"It Smells Like A Candy Store In Here"

That was what my colleague said when she walked into my office while I was testing a big, juicy envelope full of decants from the Violette Market State Fair collection, my first time checking out this annual release from an indie perfume oil maker I've come to like a lot. Seems like every perfume oil company has a blend called "Midway" that tries to capture the smell of an old-school fair, with the funnel cakes and the dirt and the grass and the melting cherry ice pops and the candy apples. Lori from Violette Market goes the whole hog and puts out a full line of over 60 scents, covering everything from the Cold Confections Cart to Sugared Incense Cotton Candy (one of 8 cotton candy scents), multiple flavors of Taffy Pull, Penny Candy scents, local honey scents, even an Old Wooden Coaster and Fun House. As if that weren't enough, she has two categories of custom scent options -- Cold Confections Cart Scoops and Sundaes or Tiki Hut Mixed Drinks and Tropical Delights. It's enough to make your head spin.

I couldn't try them all, more's the pity, so I picked my top 16 and got some decants from a very giving Livejournal member who cheerfully puts large decant circles together. Naturally, when the package arrived I had a massive headcold and couldn't smell a thing. So it's taking me a while to work through the bundle, but I've gotten to the bulk of them now. Sadly, it hasn't worked out all that well for me.

After Dark (A sinister yet playful combination of pink spun sugar, bubble gum melted into gritty asphalt, sweet fruity musk, smokey vanilla, and a lingering menace of dark resins.) This was the one I wanted to try most of all. I think the fabulous Hottie McNaughty nailed this one when she said (of the 2010 version) "Say you have a very proper pink and girly perfume; well After Dark is like her hot, slutty older sister."

In vial--Smells like a sweet, fruity, slightly smoky light musk. There is a slight burnt sugar tinge, which I guess in the spun sugar.

Wet--Blast of fruity, juicy bubble gum and cotton candy. The bubble gum smells like a real true wad of it.

Drydown--Getting the asphalt now, which is a smell I love. It's sharpish, but still familiar. I can really grasp that image of the wad of bubble gum melting into the asphalt.

Dry--Definitely a naughty girl kind of scent. The dark resins and asphalt blend with the pink sugar and bubble gum to give a darkly shaded but still sweet, very sexy smell. Definitely NSFW. Sadly, it stays sharp on me, to a point it is too cologney for my taste.

Coconut Rum Cotton Candy (Clouds of ivory cotton candy infused with dark rum, sugared coconut, black musk, warm spices, and coconut cream.) I'm on a big coconut kick lately, so I definitely wanted to try this one.

In vial--Coconut candy.

Wet--Strong blast of coconut cream and that slightly caramelized sugar of cotton candy.

Dry--This stays all about the coconut and the cotton candy. I don't pick up much in the way of rum, black musk, or spices. It's a pity, because I think it could use a little more of that depth to keep it from smelling more like a coconut-scented air freshener from the car wash. That makes it sound like I hate it -- I don't -- but it's not the deep, spiced coconut I was looking for.

Taffy Pull (An array of colorful taffy swirling through the taffy pull in the sweet flavors of: Bourbon vanilla, vanilla cream, pink sugar cane, lemon blossom, orange cream, raspberry truffle, blueberry, and caramel.) I wasn't craving to try this one, but it's such a perennial favorite and constitutes the base for six other taffy scents that I wanted to try it just to get a sense of it.

In vial--Sweet and slightly sour, kind of like old-fashioned library paste.

Wet--Still getting that library paste smell, it's not as sugary sweet as I expected.

Dry--Smells uncannily like vanilla taffy, with a slightly plastic or gluey edge. I don't pick up any specific fruity notes, just the overall sense of vanilla taffy. Not for me.

Pineapple Taffy Pull (An array of colorful taffy swirling through the taffy pull in the sweet flavor of: sugared pineapple with hints of Bourbon vanilla, vanilla cream, pink sugar cane, lemon blossom, orange cream, raspberry truffle, blueberry, and caramel.)

In vial--Pineapple candy.

Wet--Sugared dried pineapple (oh I love that stuff!) layered over vanilla taffy.

Dry--The pineapple all but disappears, leaving me with the same vanilla taffy scent from regular Taffy Pull, with the same plastic or paste note. Pass.

Sugared Incense Cotton Candy (Clouds of pale blue cotton candy infused with incense smoke, white sugar cane, floral musk, and vanilla cream.) This is one I really wanted to try, because I'm liking incense scents more and more, especially since I took a chance on two bottles of the BPAL special event Great Vampire Bat, which is "incense-touched orchid." This oil is a very pretty pale pink, which is unusual in my experience with perfume oils, which tend to range from clear to dark amber, with a lot of yellows in between.

In vial--Sweet, headshoppy incense.

Wet--Something very fruity, maybe strawberry, with the incense. Smells sort of like certain cabs in New York City where the driver uses incense.

Dry--Ugh, do not like. Smells like cheap, sweet incense, like stuff that was constantly burning in college dorm rooms and summer stock. I like incense, but the expensive kind.

Midway (A sweet, nostalgia-inducing array of sugared elephant ears, funnel cake, pink cotton candy, candied apples, black cherry tartlets, the heat of August, and laughter carried into the night sky.) This is the first of the many Midway scents out there I've sampled. I didn't have very high hopes, but wanted to try it because it's such a centerpiece of the whole concept.

In vial--Cherry medicine.

Wet--Strong cherry medicinal scent, like Robitussen, with a cakey scent coming up shortly afterwards.

Dry--I get a mixture of artificial cherry and a lot of doughy cake scent with a hint of plastic. There isn't anything very specific about it, and I don't pick up any apple. Not for me.

A few hours later--This has morphed and now I'm picking up a little more candy apple with dough in the background. It's better, but still not something I want to wear.

Clementine Petit Cakes (Sweet and nostalgic confections of clementine frosting covering petit vanilla cakes sprinkled with a delicate dusting of citrus powdered sugar.) I've been wanting a very orangy scent lately, and nothing I have is really cutting it, so thought this might be nice.

In vial--Cakey, citrusy.

Wet--I can almost taste this, I really do smell clementine-flavored frosting over a vanilla cake.

Dry--This is probably the most realistic frosted cake scent I've ever tried. It's delicious, and is making me hungry for orange-vanilla cupcakes (not good, as I've been low-carbing it). Not sure how much I'd wear something like this, but I'm impressed.

Sugared Lavender & Black Amber. (Sweet and nostalgic confections of black amber and lavender covered in a delicate dusting of powdered sugar.) I am a fiend for a good lavender, and have been using BPAL's TKO to help me sleep, which is a lavender-vanilla with, I think, a good bit of sweet dragon's blood resin. It's expensive, and at the rate I go through it, I keep thinking it would be nice to find an alternative.

In vial--Nice herby lavender.

Wet--Heavy on the lavender, with sweetness.

Dry--This morphs in a direction I don't care for. I don't make out the amber, per se, but it does something to the lavender that makes it too sweet and it loses the herbal freshness. Not what I was looking for.

Caramel Sugar Kettle Corn. (Sweet popped corn covered in a thick layer of dark caramel with subtle hints of vanilla, pecan clusters, white sugar cane, and machinery smoke.) I was attracted to the idea of sweet and smoky.

Wet--Salty sweet caramel corn, with a heavy dose of smoke. Actually, it smells like I rubbed my arm with a slice of bacon. Believe it or not, this isn't appealing to me.

Dry--It's a close approximation of kettle corn, buttery, slightly salty, and caramelized, with a touch of smoke, not that heavy initial smoke scent, but it's not a good one for me. I really have trouble with any dairy notes.

Milk Maid. (Creamy milk, pale strawberry musk, gardenia cream, light amber specks, home-grown yellow roses, sweet grass, and golden farm hay.) Went back and forth on this one. I love grass, hay, and natural roses, have more trouble with milk, cream, and strawberry. The concept sounds very appealing, though.

Wet--The initial blast contains a note that smells very off to me, probably the strawberry musk, which has the potential to be both sharp and plastic/artificial on me.

Dry--This morphs nicely. Lots of strawberry musk and roses, plus the gardenia. I don't really pick up the grass and hay, other than to detect a sort of natural outdoorsy sweetness. Too bad the creamy note makes it a bit too rich for me. It's a nice strawberry-rose, very summery and candy-like.

Fried Funnel Cakes. (Vanilla funnel cakes fried until golden brown, covered in coconut powdered sugar and light amber glaze.)

Wet--This does smell like sweet fried dough.

Dry--I can make out the coconut powdered sugar, and the overall impression is in the ballpark of the inspiration, but it hits my nose primarily as an artificially flavored caramel.

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