While many of you in the northern hemisphere may already be experiencing the deep chill of winter, down here in sub-tropical Florida this week it is as if we have at last been visited by the nascent exuberance of an early October afternoon. A crisp breeze is lightly clickety-clacking our wooden wind chimes and the pine needles high in the tree just outside my office window are a brilliant green against the backdrop of the clear, cloudless turquoise sky. Temperatures have probably only just dipped into the mid-60’s, but folks are energized, enthusiastic, and, as only people in the southern U.S. can be when it’s still fairly temperate outside– cold. There is a nearby neighbor building a fire in their hearth and I just saw the lady across the street retrieve her mail in a wooly plaid scarf and knee-high boots. It’s December– the humidity is down, our swampy air has dissipated, and I can heave a deep sigh of relief and and stretch my limbs in profound satisfaction. Autumn is officially here! In the south, anyway. Sorry for your blizzards, friends in the frozen elsewhere.
Now that I can truly begin feeling all autumnal and what-not, I thought it would be the perfect occasion to review a handful of the seasonal olfactive offerings from Solstice Scents Fall 2018 collection. Furthermore, I am thrilled to share that, in collaboration with the generous folks at Solstice Scents, we are doing a giveaway for a full bottle of one of the scents reviewed below! Read on for both my impressions on this current collection, and to find the details for the giveaway.
Wilcox’s (Dry Woods, Fresh Herbs, Dried Herbs, Warm Woody Spices, Sweet Annie, Sage, Rosewood) The first time I wore Wilcox’s I was surprised; it smelled, initially, of the cool gloom of a crypt–that damp, earthen, mineral smell that conjures quiet meditations on mortality in the solitude of cold, stone chambers. I don’t know that it ever warms up on my skin, but it evolves into a wonderfully soft, compassionate scent: gentle chamomile and sweet, woody nutmeg, the sort of aromas that may waft from an uncorked phial, tipped gently past your lips while a leathery, bright-eyed acorn of a woodwitch murmurs, “just a drop, dearie!”
Gunnerson’s Pumpkin Patch (Leaves, Vines, Autumn Air, Pumpkin Flesh, Lavender, Moss, Balsam, Tonka, Hay, Caramel, Dirt, Patchouli, Mushroom) I’m not sure how to talk about this scent without sounding incredibly morbid, so I have to preface what I am going to say here by telling you that I mean it in the best possible way: Gunnerson’s Pumpkin Patch smells like digging up the corpse of your grandmother in late autumn, and sharing a slice of warm pumpkin pie with her. Okay. Well. Maybe not digging up her corpse, that’s a bit extreme. Perhaps picnicking at your granny’s grave? That sounds a little nicer, right? So for starters…although I don’t recall in my lifetime that my grandma often wore Estee Lauder’s Youth Dew– that iconic vintage elixir and rich, balsamic, aldehylic, powerhouse of a perfume– I do have memories of all her jewelry carrying the phantom of its bouquet, and that’s what I smell first in Gunnerson’s Pumpkin Patch: the gauzy, gossamer ghost of its resinous amber/patchouli grandeur. Next, in anticipation of my visit, I have made a pie with the requisite can of Libby’s orange puree, sweetened it with swirls of caramel, and bedecked its glossy surface with fiery-bright maple leaves; I have carried it, still cooling in its aluminum pie pan, through the rusted cemetery gates, late autumn vegetation at my feet, the sun deeply hidden in a sky heavy with clouds. I meet no one along the path to her gravestone, and as the bittersweet spectre of her signature scent mingles with the chilled afternoon air and the buttery steam rising from the crimped pie crust, I kneel, and with quiet reverence, carefully carve two slices.
Midnight Marquee (Black Musk, Gasoline, Supple Leather, Earth, Tobacco, Moss, Leaves, Foxcroft Air, Vanilla Musk) Midnight Marquee makes me think of a noir-esque episode of your favorite contemporary television series (remember when they did that with Pretty Little Liars? P.S. are you a PLL fan? Let’s chat!) It’s as if a black and white filter has been draped over what might otherwise be a creamy, sarsaparilla-y vanilla musk, lending it an air of melodrama and intrigue. The gasoline and leather ride in, circling, bold, intimidating, at first, but then settle down and combine with the sweet, earthy tobacco and moss to create a gorgeously atmospheric, full-bodied femme fatale of a scent.
Loggia (A Blend of Mahogany, Amber, Musk, Vanilla Bean, Allspice, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Cognac & Sandalwood) Imagine the poshest, most polished home you’ve ever been invited to, recall the awe you felt traversing its passageways and the illicit delight you felt at peeking in every doorway and chest of drawers, and that may give you a minute inkling of Loggia’s appeal. Conjure the memory of those opulent wooden doors with their exacting filigree details; creamy white European linen draped on tables whose construction may be older than the country in which you’re currently living; an enormous, roaring fireplace where exotic woods crackle and blaze merrily; a silvery, bright kitchen from which the most ambrosial aromas drift, sparking visions of delicacies and confections the likes of which you, you poor sod, have never before experienced. An elegant glass snifter with a generous pour of deep amber liquid shimmers in the firelight. (You’re too young to drink that, but you’re quite certain it tastes of clover honey and sweet tea and vanilla wafers, and it will make you feel giddy and giggly and important and maybe a little sad.) Have you ever been to such a place? Have I? Or have I only read of it in books, or dreamed it?
Master Bedroom (Soft Musk, Sandalwood EO, Amber, Clove EO, Somalian Myrrh EO, Vanilla, Aged Patchouli EO and Champaca Absolute) Delicate musks and airy vanilla, powders and lotions; this is, at first, the scent of warmed skin after a perfumed bath. The dampness from the tub, toweled tenderly, then softly massaged with fragrant oils, and finally wrapped in a silken robe redolent of the resins and incenses that had been stored nearby. A soft, spicy clove component, along with a strangely unidentifiable grassy/woody dried floral note, round out this cozy scent that is the very definition of an evening of self-care.
Corvin’s Smoked Apple (Applewood Smoke, Apple, Caramel, Benzoin, Guaiacwood) Holy smoke(d apple)! I am not a huge fan of apple scents, I guess I’m afraid they’re going to smell like those horrible green apple martinis, which in turn smell like those super gross Jolly Ranchers. And don’t get me wrong–I actually love apples, that is to say, the real thing. I don’t much care for the eating of fruit overall (don’t fear for my health–I love vegetables!) but I have been known to say that the apple is the only fruit worth a damn. So it’s not that I don’t like them! I generally just don’t like apple scented things; they’re typically a neon, cartoon parody of their true selves. So, knowing this about myself, the sampling, then, of Corvin’s Smoked Apple is such a marvelously wonderful surprise; this is the most sweetly nuanced smoke-scent I have ever encountered: woodsmoke; smoldering apple bits, if you, say, roasted a honeycrisp over a campfire; the burnt caramelized edges of a brown-sugar-y baked thing, and a touch of earth and detritus from the forest floor that has crept into the flames. Unexpected and utterly delicious.
Gibbon’s Mischief Night (Sugar Cookies, Vanilla Frosting, White Chocolate Popcorn, Toasted Marshmallow, Graham Crackers, Gibbon’s Boarding School, Cream Soda, Bourbon, Pear Brandy) Having just spent the last 48 hours baking holiday cookies, I can assure you that I know a thing or two about invoking the temptations of a sugary-sweet atmosphere, a beacon to thieving, sweet-toothed bandits everywhere, and their corresponding rotten, sneaky fingers. And also, yes, I know, I began this piece talking about fall feelings and autumnal observations and all that, but, whatever it is that the weather is doing, I cannot overlook that it is, in fact, already the second week of December and these seasonal treats aren’t going to bake themselves! At any rate, the masterminds at Solstice Scents far exceed my admittedly scant expertise when it comes to alerting the tummies to rumble and calling forth the midnight cookie sneaker. The scent’s backstory: “The austere and formidable Gibbon’s Boarding School will be opening its doors for the annual Mischief Night: a night of Halloween costumes, live music, apple bobbing and games of hide-and-seek within its extensive rooms and gardens.” Now, I (sadly) don’t live in Solstice Scents’ fictional town of Foxcraft, nor have I attended anyone’s Mischief Night celebratory revels, but just as with anything else in life–if there’s an abundance of free food, I will accept your invitation. I envision a refreshments table staggering under the weight of a multitude of mouth-watering promises: sugar cookies iced with orange-colored vanilla frosting, popcorn smothered in creamy white chocolate, charming little toasted marshmallow pillows studded with graham cracker crumbles, and vanilla cream soda punch spiked with golden, oaky bourbon and a nip of pear brandy. This enchanting combination of confiture, though it needs no embellishment, is subtly enhanced by the hallowed halls and history of the sprawling brick school, itself. Dry, cracked leather, dusty woodwork, and autumn air round out this complex, gourmand fantasy.
Have you tried any of the Solstice Scents Fall 2018 collection? What did you think? The Solstice Scents Winter Collection, with recurring winter favorites such as Snowshoe Pass, Snowmint Mallow, and Monarch (a personal favorite!) as well as, the debut of four new winter scents, will be released soon!
Enter to win a FULL-SIZED bottle of one of the scents reviewed above by following Solstice Scents and Haute Macabre on Instagram, and leaving a comment here on the blog! One winner will be chosen from the comments here on December 17, 2018!