Tag Archives: Ruth Mastenbroek Amorosa

Ruth Mastenbroek Oxford: Students, Spires and Smoke

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An explosion of fresh, green, basil and peppery notes bursts from a herbal heart of clary sage with sensuous jasmine; vanilla, amberwood, and oudh bring a cashmere texture to the base.

Oxford (the fragrance) was inspired by those heady student days when you leave home for the first time and everything feels edgy, daring and slightly scary.   Its creator, Ruth Mastenbroek, read Chemistry at Oxford in 1970., hence the name.    I went to Exeter University, not Oxford ( couldn’t get in!) , but I can recall that butterflies-in-the-tummy excitement in the blink of an eye, and this fragrance  encapsulates those halcyon student days.

photo of naked man on the banks of the River Thames, Oxford by Paddy Summerfield
photo of naked man on the banks of the River Thames, Oxford by Paddy Summerfield

Oxford opens with Clary Sage, which I often mistake for lavender.  Clary Sage is no weakling: it is robust and muscly and borders on the smell of weed or filter-less cigarettes.   Cigarette smoke played a huge part in my student memories, and from this scent, I’m guessing it did for Ruth too.   That’s not to say this smells unpleasant: far from it- but there’s a brash masculine, herbal feel to it that reminded me of bristly chins and smoky  late night adventures.

The clary sage mixes with woods and oudh and to my nose, this has a sort of unfinished roughness, again- no bad thing.  It’s that unfinished shape that your student years  form you into.  You think you’re fully formed but you’re nothing like the finished product that you need to be.  Not yet.

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Ruth Mastenbroek

When the herbs and woods have settled down, this leaves a beautiful and very long-lasting impression in its wake.   The clary sage smells more like lavender now, and there’s a heady herbal thing going on (man).  Patchouli stays put like a slightly unwashed squatter.  If you want squeaky clean and generic, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Oxford goes from rough and dirty, to clean and earthy, like the morning after, as you walk home to birdsong after a long dark night of excess.  It grew and grew on me like a persistent suitor, and  has now become my favourite scent from Ruth’s collection.   Oxford has changing facets, like a kaledoscope, and that’s just one of the many things I love about it.

About Ruth

Ruth and her new friend Sam.
Ruth and her new friend Sam.

Ruth Mastenbroek has been making fragrance and fragrant products for far longer than you may realise. Her signature range only has three fragrances, yet Ruth was the brains behind many of the Bath House products and has worked on scented candles for Jo Malone, as well as being a former President of the British Society of Perfumers.

Complete the trilogy

I have previously reviewed Ruth’s RM Signature fragrance, and the wonderful Amorosa. Today I am competing my trilogy.

From the Times Educational Supplement
From the Times Educational Supplement

Stockists

RM Oxford is available from the Ruth Mastenbroek website and from Fenwick and Rouiller White.

Disclaimer

My sample was kindly provided by Ruth, for which, many thanks. Opinions are my own and this is not a sponsored post. In fact, I’ve never written a sponsored post!

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RM Eau de Parfum by Ruth Mastenbroek

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RM by Ruth Mastenbroek is the first scent by  perfumer Ruth Mastenbroek. Ruth has been in the perfume industry for several decades.  A previous President of the British Society of Perfumers, Ruth is the nose behind many well known scents you may not realise that she was responsible for: she has worked for Kenneth Turner, the House of Bath, Jigsaw and Jo Malone to name a few.

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RM  is a delightful floral chypre, that uses many fruits so skilfully that it showcases the natural characteristics of the fruit with none of the sugariness that has been all too pervasive in recent years ( aren’t you just so OVAH sickly fruity florals?) .

On first spray of RM my nose is greeted with a blast of zingy citrus notes: notably bergamot and surprisingly- pineapple. I say surprisingly because I have had disastrous experiences with pineapple notes in scent before now, but here it is rather beautiful with an understated summery feel. The patchouli and sandalwood start peeking through early around now-ish, just as the florals come out and blossom shamelessly all over the place. Here you will find rich roses and heady jasmine. There is also a hint of lily, but my nose was getting distracted by now because my old chum oak moss was making its presence felt.  Now we’re really talking chypres.

The basenotes of RM manage to blend together into one stunning multi layered accord. There’s the lightness of citrus, the feminine florals, and the prickly, mossy base- all in total harmony. It’s a peachy patchouli with a hint of blackcurrant, yet the fruit (despite being half a grocer’s worth) is never overbearing.  RM is a class act that conjures an English Country Garden and impossibly feminine tea dresses, yet the prickly chypre finish gives it a daring edge that was enormously appealing to me,  a die-hard chypre fan. This can be worn all year round.

This is a superb début that heralds the opening act of a high quality and innovative capsule collection. I recently reviewed Amorosa and will shortly be reviewing Oxford to complete my trilogy of Mastenbroek reviews. I was lucky enough to meet Ruth earlier this month ( see my previous post) and she told me that a fourth scent will shortly be joining the ranks. I for one will be first in line to try it. Gangway!

Stockists

You can buy Ruth Mastenbroek fragrances from  the Ruth Mastenbroek website or from Fenwicks or Rouiller White. My sample was from Ruth herself, for which, warmest thanks. Opinions are my own.

Ruth Mastenbroek Amorosa: Verdict- Impressed

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I was recently sent a sample of Amorosa by Ruth Mastenbroek by the lovely Nick Gilbert.  (Check out his blog). What he doesn’t know about scent ain’t worth knowing. He thought I might find Amorosa interesting and he was right.

amorosa bottleRuth Mastenbroek is a niche perfumer, with over twenty five years’ experience in perfume. She has a small but beautifully formed collection of scent that you can find out more about here on her website. Ruth has a degree in chemistry and has worked for Jo Malone, Kenneth Turner and Jigsaw over her lengthy career. She has also been President of The British Society of Perfumers. I think we can say that Ruth is unequivocally a safe pair of hands when it comes to perfume.

I will start by saying that I like Amorosa very much, but I will also say that I didn’t take to it at first. I was wearing airy hesperides the day I got this in the post, which may have been a contrast too far.

This floral bucks the trend by being rich and woody straight away. It opens with a light flourish, but the rich amber, vetiver and patchouli can’t wait their turn. I therefore get an interesting juxtaposition of feminine white flowers,( namely: tuberose, tiare and jasmine) with prickly, dark edges. The galbanum provides a cologne like touch of leafy greenery. I thought I could smell lavender in this, and it does indeed have something of the fougere in there, but it may be the violet leaf. The watermelon is another interesting find in so far as you wouldn’t normally discover it in such a rich fragrance alongside patchouli and creamy tuberose, but it really works.

Amorosa is like nothing else I have ever smelled, and that’s not damning with faint praise, it’s more a round of applause for Mastenbroek’s audacity. This is a scent that kept me guessing. When all’s done though, and the basenotes are there (for a long time incidentally), I am left with a fabulous rich white floral, lightened by watermelon that doesn’t smell watery or cucumbery as it so often can. The base is heavy, but balanced, and those heady white petals never take their leave.

The more I wear this, the more I like it, and I am jolly grateful to Nick for thinking of me. It wasn’t on my radar, but I’m so glad he tapped me on the shoulder and turned my head in the direction of beautiful, complex Amorosa. I look forward to getting to know Ruth Mastenbroek’s work more closely after this impressive first encounter.

Stockists

Ruth has an immediate fan in me by providing a user friendly sample service. At just £3 per vial, postage is free. I like this. Full bottles are available from the website and you can also buy Ruth’s fragrances from these stockists.

Photos: Photo of Ruth Mastenbroek from www.ruthmastenbroek.com. Photo of Amorosa from Fragrantica.