The SA List: Spring 2014

Have you ever felt like there wasn't enough time to really enjoy a perfume company's seasonal releases before it was time to move on to the next one? That by the time you decide you truly love a scent and want it in a full size, the weather is already changing and making wearing it feel a little obsolete? I know I have. Sometimes I just can't justify buying a full size of something I love, knowing that in a few short weeks I probably won't want to wear it as much. So sometimes I'll just push it back and say "oh well, maybe next year." Which is a bummer, because with indie, you never know for certain that it will be back next year.

Sweet Anthem has taken that frustrating experience and provided a solution: a perfume sample subscription service, the SA List. Depending on when you subscribe, you can have up to a month prior to the official seasonal release date to test the new fragrances and decide what works, what doesn't, and what you want more of. Less pressure, and plenty of time to feel like you've gotten your money's worth. And, speaking of money, you get a $10.00 voucher to spend on anything you want when the season debuts. You can put it towards a full size, or try more samples. As I understand it, anything goes. 

So, how does it work? Well, you can sign up for one or more seasons, and the price goes down per season the more you buy. I decided to be conservative and bought 2, this spring and summer, and paid $14.00 total, with free shipping. Keep in mind that you get a $10.00 voucher per season, so the price of the subscription more than pays for itself. I like the idea of paying for something like this ahead of time, so even if money gets really tight, I know I've got something pretty and fun to look forward to. The package you receive contains two 2 ml sample vials of the season's new scents in eau de parfum format. You also receive an additional sample from a previous release. I also received a bonus 5 ml solid scent, which was a very welcome surprise. I'm not sure if that kind of extra will be standard or was just a freebie to coincide with the SA List's first season. I was really impressed with the packaging and presentation.

 Everything was packaged neatly and securely in a sturdy silver bubble mailer, and included cards describing the spring theme and the notes of the two new scents, Poppy and Lolita. I also received a sample of Anastasia and a solid of Red Queen.

Shall we discuss the scents now? 

A bouquet from her beloved and only friend, hung to dry during winter; the gunsmoke of an approaching revolution, the remnants from the last afternoon tea, still left steeping, and an ethereal musk, white as snow, hanging on until the thaw. Champaca absolute, civet, dogwood, fresh snow, green tea, honeysuckle, white patchouli.  

Let's get this one out of the way first, since I've been dreading it. Better to rip the bandaid off quickly. Objectively speaking, I loathe this scent with the fire of a thousand suns. There. I said it. A quick Google search reveals that plenty of bloggers actually love this scent, so please take that under advisement. I could smell this before I even opened the well-sealed box, and immediately my heart sank because I was worried either something had leaked or the whole thing was going to be a massive fail and nothing would work for me at all. Nothing was leaking, but this scent of course has the most massive sillage of them all, enough that just opening the vial makes me feel like I've been doused in it and will never be clean again. This scent makes me want to curl into a ball in a corner and weep. It must be the honeysuckle, or perhaps the civet, which I must not have much experience with, because there aren't many scents I've had taken such an immediate and sustained strong dislike to. 

It smells like one of my first scent memories, of a great-aunt and uncle's house (who both died when I was so young that the memory of being there is literally of me feeling very, very close to the ground, and seeing adults mostly at knee level.) Anyway, I remember they had candy dishes set out with those little foil wrapped, liquid filled strawberry hard candies, so I liked going there, but their house smelled strange, like musty, stale mothballs, smoke, and old people (not the stereotypical "old lady perfume", but actually old people, to clarify). Unfortunately, this is exactly what Anastasia smells like to me. I gave it a fair shake, I kept it on for several hours and tried it a few times, and my feelings haven't changed. G smelled it and demanded I throw it away, and let's say his analysis was even less objective than mine. Please check out Su and Dee's reviews to get some different perspectives though. I don't think I've ever had such a polar opposite experience before, it's quite fascinating!

Honey-limbed, sparkling river nymph. Resinous tonka bean, sweet cherry blossom, a bushel of aldehydes, musky sea spray. Sea Salt, Black Currant, Cherry Blossom, Tonka Bean, Rosewood 

I can't even tell you how relieved I was to smell this scent, it's beautiful and I love it! I was nervous because of the black currant note, which smells disturbingly like cat pee to me. But there is no hint of that here. This is refreshing, floral with a tinge of the tangy aquatic, sophisticated and coquettish all at once. It smells modern and classy, and a touch playful. It's the most reminiscent of spring to me. I adore the dry down, which is just a little deeper and woodsier, but still sweet. I will spend more time with this and see if I will get a full size. I love having so much time to decide, I feel like I can make more informed decisions this way rather than reflexive impulse buys.

Per fumum. The caliginous, circuitous haze of resurrection. Opium, Turkish musk, red flowers, cocoa, clove bud.

This one is really unusual! Cold sniff is unexpectedly foodie, the rich cocoa and clove give me this strange hypnotic urge to drink it, though I know it would probably be a bad idea. Those top notes flutter away fairly quickly and it becomes this sexier, incense-y, musky scent. It's not terribly dark, but if Lolita is frolicking in meadows and splashing in waves, then Poppy is hanging out in mysterious bars full of shadows and deep, moody people, contemplating life. Damn, I really like this one too. 

Red Queen
A drunken rose, positively dripping with honeyed ale and swimming in bourbon. On a backdrop of leather, cardamom, and white pepper.

This was from an older release, so I had to look this one up in Sweet Anthem's fragrance archive. It's nice, has a sort of boozy tea note at first. Despite the name, not overwhelmingly feminine, definitely not demure. It has sass and bite. Everything is really well blended here so it's hard for me to discern individual notes, but that is sort of standard for me and Sweet Anthem scents. It was a pleasure to get to try it.

In conclusion, the SA list was an absolute steal and I will probably extend my subscription beyond the summer season. You may get some scents you don't like, but you will also be exposed to new ones that you may love. It's such an exciting idea!

Have you signed up for the SA List? Do you know any other perfume brands that do a sample subscription service? 

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  1. Oh, I'm super excited now! I signed up later so I think I'm in a later group, but I'm so excited!

    1. It is such a great deal, I'm really glad I signed up!

  2. Well, of course the first thing I did was look to see if they ship this internationally and they do! I am so in - what an amazing idea! I agree about not getting time to decide what you like, and it's so much harder here because by the time I get it shipped, get around to testing it out long enough to decide if I want a full size and whatever, I risk it being gone. I have Solstice Scents Foxcroft ones from Autumn that I haven't even gotten around to yet, let alone their Night series and their Winter ones!

    Anastasia is the only one I've ever tried from Sweet Anthem, I think, and I LOVED IT. I'd have bought a full size while signing up for the SA List but they're sold out. :-(

    1. Oh yes, I can imagine how frustrating it is since you usually have to wait a lot longer to get your orders. There is a chart on SA's website explaining when your samples will ship based on when you sign up. I think it was more popular than Meredith expected so she's doing the shipments in waves. I signed up right when I found out about it so I was part of the "A group" and get a solid month before the season officially starts.

      Yeah, pretty much everything seasonal is OOS now, but spring release is Feb. 13, so I'm guessing you could order Anastasia then. (I wish I was able to like it like everyone else seems to, so weird!) Sweet Anthem is a little more hit-or-miss for me, but the ones I love, I reallllly love, and that's fine with me, because I really don't need another company that I must buy ALL THE THINGS from. Not sure yet what I'll use my voucher on, but 'm really enjoying Poppy and Lolita, and I'm curious about Alice and Joan.

    2. Haha, yes sometimes hit or miss is better because then at least I don't want one of everything. I have gotten into a bad habit of just picking up a whole collection of samples lately, even though I could probably know by the notes what I will probably like or not. I am going to stop doing that this year and be more discerning.

  3. What a great idea! Actually, I feel like there isn't enough time to enjoy seasonal releases all the time. Sometimes I keep a perfume just for a Holiday or a special event and then I totally forget about it...
    From Sweer Anthem I have only tried Colin and I really love it but it was a limited edition and I haven't managed to fing a full bottle.


Please leave me comments if anything strikes your fancy or if you have any helpful suggestions. Remember, I'm no expert and am just sharing my truth. Hopefully you will find something useful to take with you!

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