Sixteen92‘s 2015 Spring Collection ran the gamut from, “I want to live in this smell for at least several months pleaseandthankyou” to “ugh…. getoutofthewayimgonnabesick.” Reviewing this collection was a true adventure, and a hell of a learning experience.
The Sound and the Fury southern sweet tea, Carolina jessamine, balsam, fern, warm skin musk, loam
Before reading the description: I get evergreen trees right away, and dirt, and something sweet but not floral. Sweet in the way that grass would smell sweet, or maybe the teeniest tiniest bit of candy. The dirt is not as strong as Haus of Gloi’s Ploughman. It smells like when you stand at the base of a large evergreen in the space underneath the branches, where there’s not enough light for anything to grow. It’s just dirt. Not rich tilled dirt. Dirt that’s been packed down by feet and held down by tree roots. Maybe a little muddy.
After reading the description: I can usually identify balsam fir scents easily, because it screams Christmas to me. This does not. Sweet tea! Of course! When I was first introduced to southern sweet tea (as an adult), I described it as sugared dirt. I love black tea, and I love sugar, but sweet tea is, well, it’s disgusting as a beverage. Fortunately, it makes a perfectly charming fragrance!
This lasted for maybe 20 minuted on me. I reapplied, and it faded quickly again. If I smash my wrist against my nose, I can smell the lingering sweetness with hints of loam, but the siliage is unfortunately non-existant.
The Grass Harp orange blossom, clover, hyacinth, ruby red grapefruit, sweet basil
Clover and basil, mostly. Fresh and springy without being dirt-y, and ever-so-slightly flowery. As it dries, it becomes earthier. It’s soooo fresh! and clean and green, not in the way that those words are usually used to describe perfumes, but in the regular way. It smells like it’s spring, and everything is growing and green! As it fades, a powderiness appears… OH WHAT TH- it’s all baby powder, baby powder forever and nothing else!! If spring collections have taught me anything, it’s that orange blossom is actually baby powder, and I Do Not Like It. Such a roller coaster of emotions bottled in The Grass Harp.
The Grass Harp has been promoted to a General Catalogue scent, due to popular demand, which is pretty exciting for anyone who is into orange blossom scents.
The Orchard Keeper night blooming Jasmine, peach, apricot, pink pepper, sandalwood
“Oof, gross.” Not sure what the first whiff is, but the second and third are peach and sandalwood. I’m not sure what it is about this perfume that is 100% not my bag. I think I’ve disliked every scent with pepper that I’ve smelled so far. Sandalwood generally is not something I like, but this isn’t, “ugh, sandalwood.” This is, “ugh, something I dislike, plus sandalwood which obviously isn’t going to help matters.” I read someone describe jasmine as “cat urine”, and I suppoooooose I get a whiff of what could be specifically cat and not human urine, but man I really just don’t know how to describe what’s going on here. I can tell there’s something pleasant in here somewhere, but there’s all these horrible things surrounding it and honestly this scent is kind of making me sick to my stomach. If jasmine, pepper, and sandalwood sounds like heaven to you, maybe this would work for you. I’m in favor of peach and apricot notes, and suspicious of the other notes in The Orchard Keeper. Turns out those notes are not compatible with my skin or my nose. After it dried down, it smelled like walking through the perfume section of a department store – an improvement, albeit slight.
Wise Blood (premium) champaca absolute, tuberose, white pepper, orris root, guaiacwood, cardamom
Kind of springy and earthy like others in this collections, but mainly it smells to me like urinals. Or port-a-potties, technically, if we’re factoring in the earthy outdoorsy notes. It’s not urine, it’s the weird awful scent those areas are doused with so that it smells like a ton of urine has just been cleaned up, instead of merely smelling like a ton of urine. Eventually I went back to look at the actual notes and find out what the heck this is. Turns out, I don’t really know what any of these notes smell like. The closest thing I can think of is this: Starbucks used to have a late winter seasonal drink called the Vanilla Spice Latte. The syrup was great but it also had a sugary-peppery-cardamom topping… let me put it this way – The VSL is the only thing I’ve ever tried in all my years of trying Starbucks official and random customized drinks that I instinctively spat out on the ground. Again, the syrup is a favorite of mine; my negative reaction was to the sugar-pepper-cardamom topping. After thinking about it for a moment, I can pick those notes out of Wise Blood. Champaca is an evergreen tree, so that’s the outdoorsy-ness. Tuberose must be more artificially floral smelling than I prefer. The tuberose combined with what I consider horrible scents must end up being the urine/”freshener” scent.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (premium) tuberose absolute, soft skin musk, oakmoss, fresh earth, vanilla, iris
Ooh, this is neat. I think I’m finally figuring out the difference between mossy and earthy. I mean, this has both, and they’re both there, but they’re clearly different identifiable scents. This is earthy, in a romantic way. It has hints of sweetness, vanilla, and flowers, but they’re not really there. Ghosts of those scents are lingering in the dusk. This smells dark. Not ominous, but chilly and slightly final, like an early summer evening just after that last bit of sunlight is gone and you can’t even pretend that there’s any daylight left. My partner says it smells like lawn. Fair enough. It’s a lovely lawn.
I don’t intend for my negative responses to be seen as a negative opinion of the brand – I’m honestly reporting how my skin and nose respond to these scents. I’ve learned that I should absolutely avoid pepper and cardamom scents, and I should probably be cautious with Sixteen92’s orange blossom and jasmine notes. On the other hand, earthy, mossy, ferny, or tea-based scents are something I will almost certainly adore. This collection makes an excellent case for buying sample sizes first. I purchased a sample set of Spring Collection, which was $18 for five 2mL vials. Sample vials of premium scents were approximately 2/3 full. Since I took my sweet time reviewing, the only scent that is still available to purchase is The Grass Harp (2mL for $4.50, 5.5mL for $13, or 10mL for $20).