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A touch in winter

Loree Rodkin Gothic rings

Loree Rodkin Gothic rings

Loree Rodkin was one of the scent lines I discovered at the Scent Bar in Los Angeles, a line from which the delightful Steve gave me samples of both Gothic I and Gothic II to consider further.

As You Know, I have been on a huge amber kick all year; there has been parallel growth in the consumption of patchouli. Sweet ambery patchoulis kind of make me moan with a happy noise these days. Gothic I is a patchouli-ish amber; Gothic II is more of a slightly ambered-up patchouli.

Patchouli is the head-shop ingredient that makes things smell like hippie. It’s also the chewy woody heart of perfumes like Angel. Totally scrubbed up and washed-out, it can also be in the base of perfumes as clean and innocuous as Be Delicious Red. There are a lot of patchoulis out there, is what I’m saying.

I tend toward the luscious gourmand type of patchouli; I do love Angel, I don’t care who knows it; and in Gothic I (and II) we have some of my favorite type of cuddly mouth-watering patchouli, reminscent of my beloved, adored Jovoy Psychédélique.

The thing is, when I put Gothic I on back in winter-temp Long Island, I was not loving it as I made my way to the office. It just barely stuck with me, and mostly what I was thinking as I drove was “This is too much tonka for me” and “I wish I’d put on something else.” Tonka reads to me like an echo-y, brain-poking sort of not-vanilla that usually just bugs me rather than makes me happy. There are tonka applications I dig – there’s certainly tonka in my Most Favorite Of All, I’m So Glad It’s Back Indult Tihota – but in a lot of applications it seems to me to be there to give a milky gourmand feeling to something that shouldn’t have been gourmand in the first place and I don’t love it.

After a couple of hours in my office, I really warmed up – literally – to Gothic I.

I kept thinking, “Wow, I smell good!” But wait, this was after I’d crossed Gothic I off my to-buy list, deciding it was a California-induced hallucination. Because I’d loved it in California. But I hadn’t loved it that morning.

Well, California is a lot warmer than 37-degree morning Long Island, and so is my office. In the cold weather, all the patchouli, all the amber was gone. All that was left was that brain-pokey tonka shell.

But in the warmth, it bloomed into a wood bouquet with flowers of vanilla and tonka – the damn thing was gorgeous. Not actually too sweet, but rich and luxe and glowy like a cabochon gem. Just so damn gorgeous.

Nine hours later, I could still smell a smidge of Gothic I – and I was still digging it.

Loree Rodkin seems to be one of those polarizing companies – it’s very expensive for the amounts you get, and not everyone is convinced that just quality in ingredients can cause that kind of price. Myself, I believe price should be pegged to outcome, and I’m willing to pay more for a perfume that smells like it’s built on good-quality (and probably rare) ingredients, as well as for the company or designer that has gone out on a limb to build and bring me something that doesn’t smell like everything else.

I imagine a lot of us in the perfumista arena are like this, given that we detect very small differences in perfumes as well as large ones, and NO Jovoy Psychédélique is NOT exactly like Angel, and yes, we would like a fantastic as well as possibly unique experience for our money.

So I’m not against Ms. Rodkin charging what she can charge for her scents. They’re good quality. And I agree with this post about the value of the artist.

I will say this, because not everyone has the cash to indulge their perfume habit exactly the way they’d like:

Bottles of Rodkin scents appear to be coming up with some regularity on eBay, at good prices. I have obtained some of these and I’m very happy with them. All standard caveats about buying off eBay, of course, apply.

In addition, I’ve seen posted elsewhere that Jalaine Patchouli (which I also love) is a fair copy of Gothic II, if you’re interested in fumes in this category. I have some Jalaine Patchouli and I think this is a fair comparison. I don’t find them to be exact copies, but sisters, perhaps. I could extend the point and say Jalaine Amber has some similarities to Gothic I. But I don’t know how far you could push that and say it was true. I find Gothic I to have more vanilla and musk in it, and a lot more richness without being at all a spiky set of notes. It’s very well blended.

Speaking of Gothic II — it’s the only patchouli I’ve worn repeatedly that really does make my beloved point out that I do smell like a head shop (especially when worn in the car). It’s a very expensive headshop. But it’s headshoppy. Gothic II has far more patchouli, to my nose, and it’s not a cleaned-up watered-down patchouli either. Whew. Jalaine’s Patchouli somehow flies a little more under the radar. I don’t think you could get away with ever calling Gothic II “background”.

But Gothic I is probably more wearable to the average person. It has more of the other woods and gourmand notes (though I don’t really think of it as a gourmand – again, it’s not that sweet. I suspect the higher quality ingredients are derived from actual wood or plant extracts, or are high quality aromachemicals, rather than being the types of molecules one finds in the average gourmand teen perfume, which I secretly believe come from the same factory where they make the molecules they used to use to scent and “flavor” Twinkies.)

Gothic III, if you’re interested, is a gorgeous bombastic floral and would undoubtedly be a good value for someone who 1) wants a step up from Poison or 2) can’t afford an Amouage – or who just wants something a little more wearable for daytime! I haven’t tried IV or VI; V is a fantastic Hinoki Japanese incense type of perfume, and I love it for after the gym when I’m warm and relaxed.

I’m not a Goth girl in the least, and have no interest in the jewelry lines except as a curiosity of fashion. But I recommend getting some samples from Luckyscent if anything sounds appealing to you in this line, especially if you love Jalaine. I don’t know of anything else out there quite like this.

Loree Rodkin has said herself that Gothic I is her signature scent and she wears it all the time. It’s undoubtedly the most unique, distinctive, and yet everyday wearable of the line. It’s like the love child of Indult Tihota and Psychédélique. And if you’re in Scent Bar, it’s worth a sniff.

But not on a very cold day. This baby needs skin.

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4 comments to A touch in winter

  • I liked the story to which you linked (even though as with most movies and series I could see where it was going half into the story).

    I’ve never heard before that name but her EdPs do not seem extra expensive (and since Idonotcare for oils, the price for those doesn’t bother me). As a parfumista I dream about finding a perfume the price of which won’t matter for me – so beautiful that perfume will be for me.

    • Judith

      That’s a wonderful criterion on which to search! I’ll have to remember that one. Though I think I’ve found way too many perfumes the price of which didn’t matter to me, so beautiful was it to me. 🙂

  • I haven’t tried this line. Thinking about it in context of your earlier post about perfume houses, it is hard for me to imagine getting into a line that seems to emphasize amber and patchoulli so much. And part of me thinks a truly goth perfume line would have a lot of violet and immortelle. 🙂

    • Judith

      Ah, good point! I hadn’t thought of it that way. Patchouli smells earthlike to me – I’m happy to associate it with graves à la Goth. 🙂

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