Monday, September 9, 2019

7 Little and Grim reviews: Dirt Nap + Bonaventure + Mount Auburn + Ludlow's Hearse + Poor Farm + The Sad Hour + Black North

Today we're getting into Little & Grim's Hereafter collection. Since this is listed at the bottom of their permanent collection I'm going to assume this is probably their oldest collection. I mention this because I believe (if I'm interpreting product descriptions on the store correctly) L&G were originally a soap store that added perfume as a product at a later date.
I want to note here up front: All of these scents smell like they're designed primarily for soaps - and pretty much all of them smell like they'd be cool and pleasurable soaps to use. Not all of them are scents I'd personally pick up as a soap (limited budgets etc etc) but if it were a soap I was using at a friend's house I'd be like 'Cool soap scent'.
However, since I got these products as perfumes I'm reviewing them as perfumes. I wanted to note up here that they'd pretty much all make at the very least 'good' soaps and some of them I think would make 'great' soaps. I don't think any of them would be bad as a soap bar - the only one I'm unsure of is Dirt Nap which morphed hard on me so I'm uncertain of how it would smell as a bar.
I'm including this bit in the intro because otherwise it would get repetitive down in the verdict sections. This collection tends towards 'clean' scents that tend to blend the notes very heavily and aside from Dirt Nap they were all pretty stable - mostly they just blended more as I wore them. This gave the scents a very unified character - like you'd expect from a nifty soap bar like L&G sells.
(Having reviewed all of L&G's current catalog at this point I can say that their later collections seem to be made with the scents designed to work well as both perfumes and soaps. But I can definitely see the value of the Hereafter collection as a kind of 'soap scent bedrock'. That way, even if the newer scents don't translate as well to bar soap smells due to being optimized for perfumes you still have a collection designed to really shine as soaps.)
The perfumes covered in today's review are:
  • Dirt Nap
  • Bonaventure
  • Mount Auburn
  • Ludlow's Hearse
  • Poor Farm
  • The Sad Hour
  • Black North
L&G doesn't do individual perfume listings so [ here ] is a link to their scent list and [ here ] is a link to their store front.

All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for several days ( a few weeks for these scents) after arrival. The perfumes were kept in the dark in a plastic box if small enough. If too large for a box they generally sit on top of a bookcase or bedside table, or inside of a drawer. I did crack them open to sniff them directly after arrival, and with a couple to do an initial test. The reviews are not based off of these initial impressions - though if a rest did change the smell I’ll note that.
I’m doing a half-hour skin test with each perfume. They are always applied to skin that has either been washed or hasn’t had perfume on it that day. Sometimes I will run one scent on one wrist/hand/arm and the other on the other wrist/hand/arm. When I wash my hands for review purposes I wash with Dove sensitive skin, or almond Doc Bronner’s.
Before doing test periods I often wear or play with other scents in my collection (that I wash off). I also am often wearing scented lotion on my feet and ankles (that I do not wash off). Sometimes I wear scented hair products simultaneously. Theoretically there could be cross-contamination.
For oils: Each sample was gently swirled before application. Then applied directly to skin - typically the top of my arm or the back of my hand.
Each review is written without looking at the notes in that moment. Frequently I will glance at a perfume’s notes beforehand. At the end of the review I will list what the official notes are and comment on how I think they interacted.
Bottle Review
See my prior review of L&G's 1mls [ here ].
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
Dirt Nap
In the bottle: Rich, damp soil verging on potting soil is the first thing that hits me out of the bottle - not surprising given the same. That is immediately followed by a wave of SWEET. The sweet is kinda nutty, kinda bitter. It reminds me both of coffee and of chocolate - but moreso of chocolate. I feel like there might be a red fruit in here - like a sticky-sweet cherry. There’s definitely something resinous as well - and something very smooth smelling.
Wet on my skin: Chocolate covered cherries laying on a bed of dirt over a resinous base. There is the ‘smooth’ smell as well as a kind of herbal smell in there too - near the middle of the scent. Veering away from ‘potting soil’ to ‘slightly damp outdoor earth’. I prefer my dirt this way and right now this scent is hitting ‘ideal dirt balance’ to my nose. Very quickly that herbal scent is coming forward - it reminds me of a eucalyptus or a menthol. In the throw I’m mostly getting chocolate cherries and eucalyptus-herbal.
Drydown: The eucalyptus/menthol briefly dominated the scent but in the drydown has died back to a herbal-sharp edge. The smell of this right now reminds me a lot of Sucreabeille’s Varys - but less boozy.
To explain, what I’m getting is topnotes of something thick and creamy. Possibly a cream note, a tonka note, or both. Beneath that is dirt - followed by a bit of the chocolate covered cherries. There’s an edge of that eucalyptus/menthol scent. Below is all is some very mild, smooth smelling resin.
After 45 mins: Wearing less strongly overall. At the forefront is the creamy scent, followed by dirt and very faint chocolate covered cherries. Tiny bit of eucalyptus/menthol. The scent continues to have a resinous core.
Official Notes: A warm blanket of soft earth, and a sweet cup of chocolate to toast the departed. Notes of dirt, sugar, and chocolate. Gender neutral, just like death.
So, I get the dirt, sugar, and chocolate - for sure. But I figure there must be some unlisted notes in there because 1) I absolutely get something herbal/sharp in there - it could be part of the dirt accord I suppose but it’s very much in the cool-herbal school, 2) I feel like I’m getting something red-fruity in here - not a ton, but enough to comment on and 3) the chocolate is more of a hot-chocolate accord because there is absolutely something creamier than just chocolate in here.
Verdict: Where I like this smell the best is in the bottle and when it very first goes on wet. I’m not a fan of that eucalyptus or whatever it is in the balance, and I wish it were a listed note (whatever it is). I kinda wish there were a sweeter peppermint in here instead.
Like a lot of chocolate scents my skin eats the chocolate portion on this - part of what I think leaves the ‘milky creamy’ note standing strongly behind is I think in milk chocolate accords my skin eats the chocolate but leaves the milk.
I don’t know if I’d get this in soap form just because I’d be suspicious about that eucalyptus/menthol note in there. Since this scent morphs all over the place and there’s one particular stage of the morph I don’t care for I’d want to know which stage the soap smells like.
This is a pass from me: however, I do like the dirt balance in the scent though, and for fans of dirt + gourmand + medicinal-sharp-herbal I think this might be worth sniffing just because it’s really unique - especially if chocolate amps on you or stays strongly on you. I will caution folks to be aware that there might be a particularly medicinal smelling unlisted note in there - which, of course, is great if that’s something you want but unexpectedly it can take you a bit by surprise.
I recall this one having a magnolia note… so I’m super excited to try it. I love white florals, and especially realistic magnolias.
In the bottle: Magnolias (sweet, rich, silky white florals that are very slightly lemony), layered over something dark green (my best guess is oakmoss - though that could be way off). Bit of a puff of musk that could, to be honest, just be coming from the florals. The base of the perfume reminds me of the smell of old wood.
Overall - lovely magnolias, a slightly cloying green, and a dusty-dry resin.
Wet on my skin: Gosh those magnolias are nice - topnotes smell like magnolias and white musk. Rich, soft, silky and southern with just an edge of piquancy. The topnotes are the star of the show when the scent goes on wet - though I’m getting a little bit of that dark green and the dry, old wood.
Drydown: Magnolias, warm muskiness, a bit of something somewhere between an aquatic floral and a water note, dark greenery and old wood. The longer I wear this the more it develops as a scent and the more I like it
After 30 mins: Pleasantly musky/almost nutty in the topnotes. The way the musk-like smell has moved forward has given the scent ‘your skin but better’ vibe. It smells like skin musk with magnolias, a dark green undercurrent (oakmoss?), and old wood.
Initially I was all ready to write this one off as too similar to Nui Cobalt’s Feu Follet to justify a purchase, but the way it’s worn on my skin has changed my mind. This is a more subtle magnolia-featuring scent. It’s silky, smooth, and kinda sultry.
Official Notes: The heady scent of magnolia blossoms before a spring rain, and a long, tall glass of spiked lemonade. Notes of magnolia, rose, jasmine, strawberry, granny smith apple, mulberry, black currant, and rain.
Ahhh, so there is a water note in there. All right, let’s break this down.
The magnolia is the magnolia. Sniffing this in the deep drydown I can smell the jasmine - but only because the magnolia has moved to the edges and there’s still some white floral at the core the scent. The jasmine and magnolia blend heavily though in the early stages of the scent. The rose I think is what’s smelling so much like skin musk to me. It’s a very musky, rounded, soft rose. At the very, very edges I can get the tiniest hint of Granny Smith apple - but that also blends with and enhances the magnolia.
The ‘dark green’ smell must be the blackcurrant (which can wear earthy) blending with the strawberry and maybe the mulberry. Keep in mind, this is dark, green, and slightly cloying. The rain is the wet note. I have no clue what in here was reminding me of the smell of old wood - maybe the black currant? Or even some of the jasmine? I am not sure!
Verdict: Upsize! Not sure if I’ll be grabbing this as a soap or a perfume. It’s a really, really unique white floral scent - like on the package it looks like it’ll be a fruity-floral with some atmospheric nuances. I’d say this is a sweet atmospheric white floral with some tiny fruity nuances in there. Well worth checking out for white floral fans, or people who liked Nui Cobalt’s Feu Follet.
Mount Auburn
So, my name is ‘Aubin’, which is a family name (and, curiously enough, a French boy’s name?). Since it’s an unusual name in the states I’ve spent all 31 years of my life having to: explain to pronounce it (like-Robin-without-an-R), explain how spell it, and most of all debating internally whether to correct people when they call me ‘Auburn’ or ‘Aubrey’.
All of this is to say I feel a kind of weird kinship with this scent just from the name.
In the bottle: Dark fruit - either apples of plums, cedar, spices - something smooth and soft like tonka. Maybe an edges of caramel and fallen leaves. Very ‘fall’ smelling - like mulled, spiced fruit in a cedarwood bowl eaten outdoors on an overcast autumn day.
Wet on my skin: Kind of boozy. Topnotes of mulled plum wine, apples, caramel and spices. In the middle of the scent you get that rich, smooth smell that reminds me of tonka and some atmospheric notes (crunchy leaves, wind… something that reminds me of an overcast day I can’t put my finger on). Below that you have the piquant resin - smells like a cedar to me but to be honest I could see it being a pine. Autumn gourmand with atmospheric nuances.
Drydown: Very, very similar to how it was wet. Still an autumnal gourmand with atmospheric nuances. It reminds me a lot of Little and Grim’s own Cartomancy (I think it’s the sweet-atmospheric contrast, but, TBH something in here does smell kind of like old books) but also BPAL’s Kitsune Tsuki. Like… imagine if Cartomancy and Kitsune Tsuki had a baby on an overcast autumn day and you’d get Mount Auburn.
After 45 mins: Man, I wish I had more to say about this but it’s stable to how it was wet. Perhaps the ‘old book’ smell is strong enough to be called its own note now?
Official Notes: Fragrant, fruity blossoms and towering trees shading gentle, winding paths. Notes of raspberry, melon, honeysuckle, lilac, wisteria, and spruce.
So I can see the melon plus the lilac smelling like plum with raspberry giving it that edge of booziness. I am betting that caramel-like note is the honeysuckle - I could see it being an ultra sweet, ultra potent honeysuckle note. The spruce is that ‘tree’ note I was getting.
I don’t know where I’m getting spices from, but I’m definitely getting them. It honestly smells like mulling spices to nose. I suppose it could be part of the spruce? Especially if the spruce is an accord?
I have to assume the wisteria was giving me that ‘dried leaves on a cloudy day’ or ‘old book smell’ vibe. It’s kind of soft and papery-sweet.
Verdict: Not my thing for a personal scent - but I’d dig this as a candle, I think. I’m going to chalk this one up as another win for the Old Book Sniffers club however. If you’re looking for a fruity-floral kind of soft-fall smelling old book feeling scent then I think this one will hit the mark for you. For me it’s a pass.
Ludlow’s Hearse
So when looking up the notes for the other scents I saw this one had a bergamot note. Whoops! Figured I’d mention it since it means my sniff is a little less blind.
In the bottle: The first note out of the bottle is leather. Dark, dark leather - slightly acrid. Under that is some sweetness with just a twist of bergamot to it (slightly citrus, but, not piquant - more bitter). There’s a traditionally masculine note in here - like a floral or something - but I couldn’t tell you what it is. I think there’s a woodsy base going on.
Wet on my skin: Smells like a really refined dude. Like a dude who’s a cousin to The Velveteen Stranger from Stereoplasm. So at the top I get the leather - which now smells like soft leather instead of acrid. Under that I get a hint of smoke - like a faint cigar. Beyond that is a warm, slightly sweet, slightly musky smell. I get the bergamot in it at the edges. It’s really mellow and kind of golden. Hard for me to put my finger on it beyond it being atmospheric but like… almost verging on gourmand (sort of bread smelling). Below that is a really mellow smooth wood smell.
Drydown: Very similar to how it is wet - leather, a bit of smoke, a traditional masculine note (that one I can’t place) that smell that’s between bread, skin, and a cigar - sweet, savory, kind of golden. Under that is smooth, dark wood.
After 30 mins: Very stable scent with minimal morphing. The leather and smoke have continued to mellow and blend, but are still present. That’s about the only change - still leather/smoke forward, followed by masculine sharpness, followed by that golden-brown scent that verges on gourmand and finishing up with ultra mellow smooth wood.
Official Notes: Sleek leather seats, dark wood polished to a high shine, and the cologne of a somber driver. Notes of leather, bergamot, patchouli, tonka, musk, white peach, cashmere, ylang ylang, sandalwood.
I get the leather - I wonder if the patchouli is what smells like smoke here. No clue what is adding that bit of sharp ‘cologne’ smell (maybe that is actually the bergamot? Maybe the light citrus smell I am getting is the ylang?) .But, the central almost-gourmand note is absolutely mostly the cashmere mixed with sweetness from the ylang-ylang, roundness from the musk and tonka, and fruitiness from the peach. The ultra smooth wood is the sandalwood.
Verdict: Okay, so, like most scents in the ‘Velveteen Stranger’ family as I think of it (dark traditional masculine scents with a twist) I find this scent pretty beguiling. However I’m very torn about those midnotes. When my brain reads them like the midnotes like smooth, warm skin or soft tobacco I go ga-ga for this scent. However when my brain reads the notes as ‘slightly sweet bread’ I’m way less into it. It waffles back and forth between sniffs.
As such this will probably be a pass from me - but if you like that kind of nutty golden smell you get from sweet bread or smooth beers and want to wear it, and adore masculine scents in that kind of Velveteen Stranger family, give this a shot.
Poor Farm
In the bottle: Getting topnote of lemon and grass (maybe… lemongrass?), musky-dusty midnotes (like, dirt-dust) and stone or wet asphalt at the base. This smells like a greenish atmospheric with sweet-clean topnotes.
Wet on my skin: Very green in the ‘fresh cut grass’ way. Smells like a fresh cut lawn wreathed in ‘clean’ smelling flowers - musky-dusty undertones along with an atmospheric. Very much a kind of ‘wide open plains’ mixed with ‘clean’ smell. The clean smell verges on soapy. It doesn’t go fully there, but, if someone wants to smell like you just got out of a bath and into fresh clothes and then rolled down a hill covered in grass clippings - this scent is for you.
Drydown/After 30 mins: Combining these two sections because I lost track of time - and because the smell has remained pretty stable through the whole test period. The green has mellowed some and I’m getting some muskiness in there (kinda reminds me of Tonka) but otherwise… still big open grassy fields, a little dust, and ‘clean’ florals. Soft, yellow-golden/white in color, and kind of wistful.
Official Notes: Overgrown grass, tangled undergrowth, wildflowers, the memory of fresh linens, and distant, greener pastures. Notes of sage, moss, fern, sweet grasses, green wood, and chamomile.
Yep. Dead on. The sage, moss, and fern are the greens. The sweet grasses are probably where some of that ‘clean’-verging-on-soapy is coming from (along with the fresh linens). At the base it’s the green wood that’s giving kind of an atmospheric vibe. The chamomile is probably adding some of that atmospheric, and some of the soft muskiness.
Verdict: I’m not a huge fan of ‘clean’ scents in general, or of bright green scents. I can say this does smell a lot like the dilapidated, overgrown houses I’ve been to. I can practically feel the sharp grass edges cutting my unfortunately bare legs. Check it out if you’re into clean scents and green scents.
The Sad Hour
In the bottle: Cool, wet, violets and something sweet-smoky-woody. The violets took a second to identify - on the violet spectrum (which ranges from ‘purple Dr. Pepper’ to ‘almost like chocolate’) these are on the purple Dr. Pepper side.
A little something harsh right behind the violets - smoke I think. Reminds me of woodsmoke notes I’ve encountered. Behind that it smells a little like ozone and a resin.
Wet on my skin: Gentle violets over a scent like skin musk. Perhaps a really creamy white musk? Maybe some heliotrope? It reminds me a tiny bit of the smell of lipstick. Edges of ozone and smoke. Base of resin.
Drydown: Very strongly violet + musk. There’s other notes here but the violet and musk dominate - it kind of smells like violet lipstick. Little bit of an ozonic edge and I’m pretty sure I’m getting a resin.
As a note the throw on this is considerable. It’s been violet town while this has been drying down.
After 30 mins: Wearing somewhat fainter but otherwise about the same. I might be detecting another floral in here besides violet - but it’s hard to tell what. Maybe their ylang ylang? It’s kinda sweet like ylang ylang. Otherwise see the notes on the drydown.
Official Notes: A covered mirror, a stopped clock, and a black sash upon the door. Fragrant mourning bouquets, gentle women's finishing powder, and the sweetness of a final kiss. Notes of lilac, amber, and vanilla.
Okay, I can’t tell if the bouquets and the lilac are separate notes or not. If they are, the bouquets are where the violets are coming from and the lilac is the other floral. The finishing powder is what’s making this smell like lipstick (and also, possibly, the ‘final kiss’ note). The vanilla is adding sweetness and blending heavily with the florals. The amber is the resin at the bottom.
Verdict: Not my thing. It’s overwhelmingly Purple Flowers On Parade (Co-staring musky lipstick). If you’re into purple flowers and femme things this might be up your alley, but for me it’s a pass.
Black North
In the bottle: Green leaves over pine, something kind of minty, fruit, and soft patchouli. I think the fruit might be apples? To imagine this, imagine cold, green apples beneath a pine tree laying in a tangle of pine needles while someone waves some sprigs of mint and crushed leaves around.
Wet on my skin: Green leaves in the forefront followed by apple and mint. Behind that is pine and patchouli. There might be a little something herbal-floral in there but I really can’t tell. It’s an odd contrast between the foresty part of the scent and the fruity part. I’m not quite sure what to make of it.
Drydown: The scent is blending more, but for a perfume it’s still an odd contrast. The minty-pine-apple combo is what instantly hits your nose. As I mentioned at the very start most of these smells seem to make ‘sense’ for soaps - but this one especially. Soaps tend towards ‘clean’ smells (because human brains are human brains). So, it makes sense to have an apple soap have elements added to it (mint, pine) that we associate with being clean.
Er, anyway - topnotes of apple with an edge of mint. Below that is pine, a bit of greenery, and at the very base some earthy resin that could be patchouli.
After 30 mins: Wearing much more softly and more blended now. There’s still topnotes of apple and mint - but it’s blending with the pine and the greenery. A faint base of patchouli (or another earthy resin) rounds it out.
Official Notes: Untended headstones at the edge of a shadowy forest. Lichen, brambles, despair, and longing. Notes of vetiver, cedar, bergamot, lavender, coriander, musk, sandalwood, frankincense, amber, and greenery.
Okay, wow, hm. So the vetiver - that’s probably part of the ‘earthy resin’ I’m getting at the base of the scent - I can see there being some adding some resinous character when combined with the sandalwood, and frankincense. Together they kind of mellow into ‘earthy golden brown resin’.
The cedar must be what I’m reading as pine - I tend to do that, get cedar and fir smells confused. It’s a tree, it’s piquant, must be pine is what I seem to figure.
I think the lavender must be what’s pinging me as minty - it’s a very cold lavender.
I think the bergamot combined with the amber - and perhaps the coriander - is what smells like green apple peels to me. It isn’t a strongly ‘citrus’ or ‘sour’ bergamot - more kind of bitter, green, and fruity in the way a green apple peel is.
The greenery is the green leaves smell. I will note that it isn’t a ‘bright’ green and lacks whatever aromachemical in bright greens that hurts for me to smell.
Verdict: I think this one would work well as a soap, but as a personal scent I’m not really feeling it. Good for scrubbing down in the tub on a hot day - but the focus on a kind of ‘clean-cold’ kind of smell, and the way the various notes group and blend, doesn’t feel like the kind of scent you wear as a perfume. Going to pass on my perfume sample - waffling on if I’d want to upgrade it as a soap or not - maybe next summer since this one is wrapping up?

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