A Lab On Fire Sweet Dreams 2003 : Perfume Review

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There are days that feel so perfect that I wish I could capture them somehow—in a sentence, in a drawing or in a drop of perfume.  It may just be a mild spring morning when I wake up by myself before the alarm clock and find that my husband has already made some tea for me and the whole room smells of jasmine petals and wet leaves. Or perhaps, I’m enjoying a cup of coffee at a sidewalk café, soaking in the sunshine and the perfume of dusty geraniums. None of these moments are great epiphanies, but they comprise the small pleasures that color my days the most.  When I read that a niche house A Lab on Fire launched a fragrance called Sweet Dreams 2003, I became tempted as much by its story as by the scent itself.

According to A Lab On Fire’s press release, Sweet Dreams 2003 is meant as a glimpse into the past, an “ode to a better life captured in the essence of stolen moments on a perfect beach, basking in the sunlight, listening to the Mediterranean lull.”  It was created by Thierry Wasser years before he became the in-house perfumer at Guerlain. The perfume formula was jotted down in 2003 to capture the perfect summer day and left behind with the perfumer’s friend (the founder of A Lab on Fire, I presume) as Wasser pursued his other adventures.

Whatever the origin of Sweet Dreams 2003, I’m happy to say that I like the fragrance. It’s easy to be taken in by its warm, voluptuous character. The perfume has a fizzy top accord that weaves the peppery citrus notes with the green sweetness of orange blossom, and the intro to Sweet Dreams is so effervescent and bright that it sets a lighthearted mood from the first inhale.

As the fragrance settles on skin, it becomes sweeter, with the orange blossom warming up and revealing its opulent side. The green, fruity notes give way to the creamy, powdery layers, and this part is what appeals to me the most. Sweet Dreams smells like powdered skin and sugar dusted fougasse, a Provençal pastry flavored with orange blossom water. It has a bit of boudoir and a bit of pastry shop, both equally tempting. Despite the name, however, the sweetness is tempered by the green notes, which makes for an interesting contrast.

The closest fragrance in spirit to Sweet Dreams is L’Artisan Traversée du Bosphore, one of my “summer fantasy” favorites. They both convey a warm and cozy feeling, and a similar interplay between creamy and powdery notes in the drydown. Sweet Dreams is more of an orange blossom story, whereas Traversée du Bosphore is about the rose and violet.  But both perfumes have a languid, lighthearted character that makes them instantly appealing to me. Sweet Dreams isn’t a terribly complicated perfume, but there are days when simple pleasures suit the mood best.

A Lab On Fire Sweet Dreams 2003 includes notes of bergamot, neroli, petitgrain, orange flower, jasmine, musk, amber and castoreum. A Lab on Fire fragrances are available online at Min New York, Luckyscent, Colette in Paris and directly from A Lab On Fire. 60 ml Eau de Parfum/$110.

Image: Pink and Gold with a Touch of Green by Steve-h via flickr.com, some rights reserved.

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18 Comments

  • Suzanna: Sounds tempting! For a moment there I thought you might write that it had a “dusty geranium” note–seriously, something I would seek out!

    Nice to see this line reviewed, V. May 16, 2012 at 8:33am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a nice line overall, and Sweet Dreams is my favorite so far. The only thing I don’t care about is the packaging. I’m not a fan of overly utilitarian looking bottles. But maybe I’m totally wrong, I haven’t seen the actual bottle in person, only in photos online. May 16, 2012 at 8:59am Reply

  • Elizabeth: Does the sugar come through strongly, or is it tempered enough by the green notes? I have a low tolerance for sweet notes, unless they are very well-balanced.

    On another note, my graduation ceremony is tomorrow and I will definitely pick either Le Temps d’une Fete, Heure Exquise, or Odalisque. But which? I am leaning towards Le Temps based on the name alone. 🙂 May 16, 2012 at 9:52am Reply

    • Victoria: My vote goes for Le Temps d’une Fete, because 1) the name is just perfect, 2) its fragrance blooms so nicely in our humid East Coast air and the green notes are refreshing, and 3) you seem to love it. So, here’s my highly subjective opinion. 🙂

      Sweet Dreams isn’t sugary sweet. If you know Lipstick Rose and Traversee du Bosphore (and Drole de Rose), you will find that it has the same type of sweet floral note. I’m sensitive to sweetness, but in Sweet Dreams it doesn’t bother me. May 16, 2012 at 12:48pm Reply

      • Elizabeth: Le Temps d’une Fete it is! A glass of green floral champagne: Perfection! May 16, 2012 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Andrea: Congrats on your graduation! May 16, 2012 at 4:03pm Reply

    • marsi: Hurray! Congratulations, Elizabeth! My cousin is graduating tomorrow from college. I’m going to wear Hermessence Rose Ikebana. 🙂 May 16, 2012 at 7:28pm Reply

  • Stacey: Thanks for another beautiful piece of writing! You had me in the first paragraph because I tend to find peace and happiness the most in small, perfect moments rather than large milestones. And who doesn’t want the perfect perfume to go along with them?

    I will definitely seek a sample of this as an orange blossom lover and just a general curiosity about the line. I’ve got a swap in works for a decant of What We Do in Paris is Secret, but Sweet Dreams will be next to try! May 16, 2012 at 2:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you’ve enjoyed it, Stacey! I started to appreciate the value of slowing down and taking time enjoying simple things, instead of waiting for some “special” time in the future.

      I find orange blossom addictive, especially the sweet one, dusted with vanilla powder, the way it’s done in Sweet Dreams. May 16, 2012 at 6:37pm Reply

      • marsi: Yum! Count me in as another orange blossom lover! I’m wearing my sweet orange blossom favorite today Armani Code for Women. May 16, 2012 at 7:36pm Reply

        • Victoria: There are lots of us, orange blossom lovers, here! I like Armani Code too, a warm orange blossom with a gourmand twist. May 16, 2012 at 10:16pm Reply

  • Andrea: That sounds wonderful! I must break my self-imposed ban and get a sample. I think I lasted 10 days… My son loves orange blossom, and the only way I can get him to wash his hair (he is 9) is to buy Burt’s Bee’s Gud orange shampoo! On a side note, I HAD to share a poem he wrote for Mom’s Day. It was a “shape” poem, in the shape of a bottle. “Perfume is very yummy, sometimes makes me shout with glee. You like the floral, I like the fruity, It’s Perfume!”. We laughed that my rough and tumble boy wrote this!:-) May 16, 2012 at 4:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: Bravo! A standing ovation for your boy writing such a sweet poem for you. You’re definitely setting a great example for him.

      I don’t know if your son likes taking a bath, but you can always add 1/4 cup of orange blossom water to his bath. The perfume rises up beautifully in the humid air, and I’m sure that he will enjoy it. Plus, orange blossom water is good for the skin. May 16, 2012 at 6:46pm Reply

      • Andrea: What a treat! My “West Texas” husband will no doubt want him to go out on a boy’s weekend after Mom’s pampering bath!;-). I will try it, purchasing it along with the Heritage rosewater. May 16, 2012 at 9:50pm Reply

        • Victoria: I read your son’s poem out loud to my husband, and he said, “well, that’s a future perfume critic for you!” You sure are passing your love of perfume onto your son. 🙂

          Orange blossom bath is wonderful! May 16, 2012 at 10:19pm Reply

    • marsi: Awww, that’s so sweet! What a cute, adorable poem. May 16, 2012 at 7:30pm Reply

      • Andrea: Thank you, Marni! His compilation of poems was so sweet. These are the things we moms cherish always… We read the Fragrance one with gusto that makes the whole family laugh! May 16, 2012 at 10:01pm Reply

  • Judith: Andrea, what a sensitive, sweet child you are rearing – obviously you are doing a great job! Be sure to save all of his work…..time goes by so quickly, it may be easily forgotten. My daughter cherishes the things I saved for her from her childhood. May 18, 2012 at 6:28pm Reply

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