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sexta-feira, 11 de março de 2016

Stella & Dustin: Affordable Scents Made in the USA and Much More

by: Elena Vosnaki

I knew perfumer Hugh Spencer from his work with Jeffrey Dame of Dame Perfumery Scottsdale, based in Arizona, USA. His Grand Cuir (for the Parfums Retro line) is a fine thing indeed, a leather scent that oscillates between a fougere lavender and a luxurious yet still butch leather note. His contribution to the industry, though unsung, is longer than generally given credit for. The compositions for Stella & Dustin therefore exhibit the elements of technical skill and composing excellence that one would expect from an experienced perfumer who knows exactly what he's doing. Obviously I have only tested two of them, both launched in 2015, but one can get a feel for the line which is under new management and redevelopment.
Perhaps the dissent, if there is one, comes down to the brief given, which doesn't deviate far from mainstream concepts we have tried already. I suppose a relatively new company needs to assert themselves in order to gain fans that would give it the proper solidarity in order to survive in this very competitive market. Then again, I might offer the view that this is usually better achieved by the introduction of something totally novel, but novelty comes with its own can of worms, so who am I to pass judgment on that? I leave it to the trained marketeers. 
So let's revert to the fragrances at hand, literally. 
The two bottles of Carrousel de Fee and Diosa del Agua, both developed for the Taiwanese and broader Asian market, bear an uncanny resemblance to the design of the Elie Saab Le Parfum line of fragrances, but that's where the similarity ends. The company is owned by the Worldgate Group and this is printed on the carton boxes (pretty nice looking) and markedly mentioned as made in the USA. Fine, this is a plus in my book. Haven't you all been bored with having to have something bottled in France to gain "acceptance" in the prestige game?
One interesting factoid about the lack of allergens on the cardboard printed list of ingredients in the initial boxes for the Asian and American markets is that the law did not require them to be printed, however the expansion into European soil would mean that they'd have to in the near future.  The company assures us that every one of their products already conforms to the latest IFRA safety guidelines regarding allergens, so consumers should be proceeding as with any perfume. 
The two scents themselves present their own unique characteristics, so let me elaborate a bit. 
Cherry Blossom (via hdwallphotos.com)
Carrousel de Fee is a pink juice for women that replicates that fantasy note perfume lovers have learned through conditioning to imagine as "cherry blossom". Very season-appropriate, the marvel of the sakura, the emphemeron of the blossoming of the cherry trees in Japan and the rejoice and sweet melancholy in their passing, has inspired many a company in their quest for a fragrance evoking that tender beauty. Cherry blossoms don't really have the distinct fruity-floral scent we have come to associate with the eponymous named fragrances, be it Guerlain or L'Occitane. The blossoms don't smell much really and certainly not of the cherries to come. Carrousel de Fee (Fairy Carousel, why not go with the English?) is a competent, if unexciting pink cherry blossom fantasy, rich in velvety lactonic and fructone components that smell of fruit and caress the senses, but the neat trick is that it's not cavity-inducing like so many fruity florals on the market. In fact, the combination of airy, aqueous notes and musks in the base give it a clarity that makes it palatable. It's good for someone entering the world of perfume, needing something light and joyous and with the right touch of pink-factor. It wouldn't be my personal choice, but I can see how someone would wear it effortlessly. 
Diosa del Agua on the other hand is easily the more interesting of the duo and something I could wear myself easily; a narcotic floral diluted in -of all things- aqueous notes, creating the serenity of a Far East retreat where Marguerite Duras' L'Amant(The Lover) might take place. In fact it reminds me a lot of the better elements of Do Son. Diosa del Agua is a tuberose-centric floral, where the characteristic scent that oscillates between camphor and bubblegum is perceptible, yet not potent. Tuberose fragrances have something of that va-va-voom effect about them, bursting out of their decolletage, somewhat trashy and not well mannered in the least, taking up the room and demanding that all eyes are on them. Thankfully, for those more timid among white floral lovers, there are a few that manage to behave without totally betraying their voluptuous nature. Weaving an aqueous note into the mix of white florals isn't incongruent; orange blossom and jasmine smell keenest when dewy, while gardenia and tuberose naturally possess a starkly green "budding" note that is simpatico to the moist notes; it gives a feel of ever budding blossoms, unfurling waxy petals endlessly. 
On top of that, as Sonia Kashuk's bargain fragrance Gardenia has shown before, it's possible to make a decent gardenia-tuberose even on a limited budget. So you should not judge by the budget-friendly price asked by Stella & Dustin, because Diosa del Agua smells more upscale than priced, and it actually lasts quite long, too (no doubt thanks to the base composed of musks and cedar)! A couple of spritzes on my wrists in the afternoon still retained a subtle scent the next morning, sustaining a shower and a couple of hand washings. Not bad! Not bad at all. 
Even more interesting, the line is accompanied by skincare and bath products which complete the experience. 
There is a shower gel and body lotion for both of the respective fragrances, in fact this is a recent (2015) introduction, as there are no accompanying body products for the other Stella & Dustin fragrances. They're both packaged in romantic flower-embellished boxes and they come with a dispenser for ease of use. 
The hand cream (available in the two scents) is probably the most handy -please forgive the pun- product, as it comes in a tube to toss in one's handbag to use on the go, and performs very well indeed. It is moist without being runny, and creamy without feeling greasy; nothing worse than having clammy hands causing objects to slip through your fingers. The scent is quite light, it shouldn't intervene with your perfume, should that be something different, if you choose to opt for it. 
Additionally, Stella & Dustin make a 100% organic African shea butter solid put in a traditional tin. It comes in two sizes, one for the bathroom, one for the purse, and is as good as those products usually get; solid, melts under the fingers, serves a multitude of small everyday ailments, from chapped lips to irritated skin to the errant hangnail that hurts...
All in all, the products by Stella & Dustin are something to keep in mind for small gifts to friends and family, for everyday indulgences you don't need to economize on, and the upcoming stocking-fillers for the holiday season. 

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