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Samples. Italy’s doing it right, akshully.

Adorable wee sample bottles.

Adorable wee sample bottles.

I’ve been so digging my perfume sample box from Profumo.it, I had to squee about it with you all. What what brand, I hear you say? Well, exactly.

One of the reasons we don’t talk more about Profumo perfumes is that it’s not particularly well branded. The company actually appears to be called La Via del Profumo (The Way of Perfume), but that’s hardly memorable or catchy. Most people just refer to it as if the website were the source: profumo.it. But that’s hard for Americans who forget there’s a rest of the world that doesn’t always end every single web site with .com, and it’s not particularly catchy or memorable either. The full name in Italian appears on every bottle’s label, along with profumo.it.

I’m not aware of any American distributors for their juice; it may be that they have no other distributors at all. The website is confusing, even in the thoughtfully-provided English version; I feel it actually makes more sense, somehow, in Italian. But here’s a hint: you want Natural Perfumery, the first link on the left in either English or Italian, which becomes a page called The Scents of the Soul, but don’t be confused, you hit the right link. There are “private reserve” scents, home scents, an “Arabian collection” page, and an even more confusing All Products, and a selection of natural extracts that you could wear on your own or use for perfume concoction. Need it simplified? Just look at the Scents of the Soul page. This is really their perfume line. (Then when you’re done browsing through the scents, click the next link down, Sampling, to order the 5.5 ml mignon samples.)

My interest in this line began with the acquisition of a sample of their Amber Chocolate. C’mon, you all know I like gourmands, and that sounded like something I just wanted to swim in. The gourmands from this line are very satisfying; they’re not secretly complex arty perfumes, but they are very well done, and smell so nummy. I had also tried their Mecca Balsam, which caused quite a stir among old-school perfumistas on the web a few years back: a great scent for lovers of classic scent, rich, evocative, old-school, elegant, and a bargain.

But I heard somewhere that their new Milano Caffé was particularly delightful, and I’ve been waiting for months to get my hands on some. Because of The Scents of Self’s passion for coffee scents, I’ve tended to seek them out this year. (I also really do like the scent of coffee. Did you see the discussion of coffee and tea perfumes over at Olfactoria’s Travels? I was surprised to see such consistantly negative opinions about coffee. Perfumistas seem to be much more unified in their position on tea.)

As often happens with me, I have something open in a window on my computer for months, and then suddenly a switch goes off in my brain and That’s The Thing I’m Buying Next. I decided to get some samples of Profumo’s Scents of the Soul, including the lauded Milano Caffé.

Outside of the adorable wooden box my six sample bottles came packed in from Profumo.it.

Outside of the adorable wooden box my six sample bottles came packed in from Profumo.it.

Inside! Gorgeous and safe, and ooo, one of those little nuggets of bubble wrap holds another wee sample!

Inside! Gorgeous and safe, and ooo, one of those little nuggets of bubble wrap holds another wee sample!

And if you can figure out the website, you will be well rewarded to buy some samples. Because this gorgeous box is what they pack six delightful tiny bottles in, and send them to you. Do not be fooled by the Unseen Censer’s crappy photos. I am a bad photographer, and also I am lazy. Look at that spiffy wooden box! Look at those well-packed leetle bottles that wended their way all the way to me from Italy in a couple of days! Heck, I spent more time trying to get them out of the clutches of UPS than they spent traveling to my township. And there is no reason to worry about how well they’ll make the trip. Just look at all that bubble wrap!

The per-ml price is not ideal compared to what the bigger bottles cost (tending to be in the approximately 15 ml, 30 ml, and 50 ml sizes). Their prices are very reasonable, but significantly more per ml in the 5.5 ml “mignon” bottles in which samples come. But, they’re adorable, and since I wanted small amounts of six perfumes and not a bigger amount of one, that was the right way to go for me.

The Milano Caffé is indeed beautiful, if you were wondering. It’s got an odd green patchouli underlying note beneath the scent of coffee beans and perhaps flour (not sugar, not cream, but definitely luxurious and comestible), that really makes it a perfume, and an experience. If you are wearing this in the daytime, you have a good life.

I also got some of the yummy Amber Chocolate, because HELLO. So what else did I fill my boxlet with? (With six you get boxlet.)

I neeeeeed to de-stress, so I got African Night (Notte Africana), which is a floral mixture promising to relax me. I don’t have good descriptions for the richness of these perfumes. They come on strong; these are not shy scents. Because of the high percentage of natural ingredients, though, they fade relatively quickly – great when you want a serious perfume experience without commitment to wearing this stuff all day and into the night.

You will also pretty quickly smell the difference between this and a perfume with synthetics. The clean pure long-lasting base of pretty much any perfume you can name is not here. But these ingredients aren’t murky either. They are strong but not sharp, direct but not harsh. The blends are absolutely perfect, as though paint were being arranged on a canvas to make something that is simultaneously evocative of an old master and yet as fresh as the bottle you just uncorked and dabbed on your skin today. This is my natural perfumer of choice.

So with that in mind, African Night is a delightfully unshy floral mixture that does have a sunny lightness to it, exactly what I wanted in that category. De-stress? I dunno. But I did feel damn pretty.

Yet I was surprised when I put on Oasis, which for some reason I had recalled might be a marine scent. No. This is a lush tropical white bouquet (worthy of Mals from The Muse In Wooden Shoes!) so much more floral and so much more like a desert island breeze than I was expecting! As we’ve discussed before, I have a weakness for scents that remind me of the actual Hawaiian air; this one is a lovely reminder, though not a dead ringer. I want to go to this island. A lot.

The marine scent I was recalling that I’d bought was Sea Wood (Legno di Nave, “the scent of freedom”). This turned out to be an even more literal depiction of sea spray, wood, and the air of the ocean than Frapin’s Caravelle d’Epices. If you want to smell pirates yo-ho-hoing across the Spanish main and scrubbing the mizzenmast, try this one. I love it. Not the least iota of calone in it, it is the ocean perfume I wanted.

I filled out my box with Tabac, which to my nose is the toughest of my little set to wear. Yep, that’s tobacco all right. For those of us who love the synthetic fruity tobacco of something like Back to Black, this scent makes us work a little harder. If you love the old school scent of actual tobacco, in something like Tabac Blond, this one will be much more familiar to you. In fact you probably want some right now. This stuff, which has again an underlying dark green layer that reminds me of oakmoss, smells as actually gothic as it gets – far more dark and dangerous than fake crypts or sparkly (or non-sparkly) vampires. Tabac smells dangerous and real, and as I’m sure many of you know, that’s a base-of-the-belly thrilling combination.

All this is just to say: there is no perfume company I know of that offers more charming sample sets of more gorgeous perfumes, and you would do well to get a set of six of these little beauties. The 5.5 ml Mignon sample bottles (pictured above) range from 12 to 16 euros, on average, each. Like I said, the per ml cost isn’t the greatest, but the value of the experience is delightful. There are a few more expensive ones as well (I will eventually undoubtedly break down and buy some of those ouds). Shipping was super-quick and as discussed, very secure and informative. I knew where my package was at all times while waiting for it to get into my grabby hands! These are perfumes for people who love perfumes. If at some point you want a full large bottle of any of these beauties, they are reasonably priced too – much more reasonably priced than many a brand.

It’s for sure a splurge, especially for those of us who tend to get our samples in those little 1 ml vials for four dollars apiece or so. But you won’t regret having 5 mls of this glorious juice, and the sturdy little mignon bottles might well last a long time, even refilled and tossed in a purse. Their lids are push-stopper lids, not screwtops, but they fit tight to their dabber tops. Good workmanship.

Wonderful perfume.


Images by me, published under Creative Commons license, use with attribution, some rights reserved; except the promotional images from profumo.it, so labelled.

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4 comments to Samples. Italy’s doing it right, akshully.

  • You sound very enthusiastic about this line but every time I visit their site I see that their “samples” are too big and expensive to “test”. It’s a good size for a spontanious purchase at a store – too bad they don’t have stores here.
    But I’m glad you enjoy your set.

    • Judith

      See, I like the samples (mignons) because they are a decent amount of the perfume. I don’t like paying 4 and 5 dollars for one milliliter. It gives me a sense of the perfume, but you can in no way really “wear” that amount of perfume. But then I’m always willing to spend more money than you!

  • I like this brand, but agree with Undina that I wish their samples were a little more accessible for testing.

    • Judith

      I wish they had a US distributor – in this international day and age, isn’t it funny how many brands we know about that actually aren’t sold in the country where we live? Bits and bytes travel so freely – atoms, not so much!

What do you think?