How To Dream – Review: Sonoma Scent Studio To Dream

To Dream is the first Sonoma Scent Studio perfume I am reviewing. I tried a few, but always got distracted, something else came up, it was just not the right timing for me and SSS.

But then To Dream arrived (courtesy of the lovely Undina), and this little gem refused to be deferred, to get in line, to wait patiently in the “to be reviewed eventually” queue. No, To Dream came, saw and won me over.

To Dream was created in 2011 by Laurie Erickson and includes notes of violet, rose, heliotrope, cedar, amber, frankincense, oakwood absolute, vetiver,tonka, orris, vanilla, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss absolute, subtle suede, cocoa and aldehydes.

To Dream opens slightly sharpish, but in a few seconds the soft, cosmetic-powdery familiar accord of rose and violet takes over, sweetened by heliotrope, it is a classic take on a familiar theme. But then the dramatic and unusal base begins to peak through. A woody, incensey darkness, dominated by the unusual oak wood note, cast the seemingly sweet floral perfume in shadow and takes it into the depths of the forest. Aldehydes crackle over the whole scene, illuminating it at times, like lighting.

Despite all that dramatic sounding imagery, To Dream is a warm and soft perfume, dreamy and feminine, its being anchored to the ground so heavily, seems contradictory, but it works perfectly.

To Dream has lower than average sillage and stays for about four hours on me. I wish I could spray it though, I think the sillage would be significantly improved.

To Dream makes me feel very grown up, it is not a girl’s perfume, like many such rose-violet scents can feel like. The dark and mysterious base (I smell oakmoss and it makes me truly happy!) makes sure, the powdery heart doesn’t take off in flights of fancy.

This is a perfume of a woman who has seen it all, she knows that life is more than roses and violets, but she still sees and appreciates their beauty, and is able to let them stand pretty, alongside the inevitable darkness.

Despite throwbacks and failures, she still knows how to dream.

Image source:,

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This entry was posted in Chypre, Floral, Fragrance Reviews, Rose, Sonoma Scent Studio, Violet, Woods and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to How To Dream – Review: Sonoma Scent Studio To Dream

  1. Pingback: Review of To Dream, and Update « Perfume in Progress

  2. lady jane grey says:

    Somehow, it’s pretty – the dandelion-yellow juice in the simple bottle.

  3. Ines says:

    Love the review. 🙂 I haven’t yet had the chance to try it but I’m a huge fan of Laurie’s work so I’m pretty sure this will be easy love. 🙂

  4. andrea says:

    Sounds like a winner to me (I am a sucker for violets) Now I have another perfume I am going to try and find samples of.
    Have you got the new Tom Ford range of samples to try yet? I wanted to love the violet blonde being as I love violet and am blonde, sadly disappointed, where is the violet???? 🙂

    • Olfactoria says:

      Funny, I got lots of violet out of the TF. My review will be up next week, along with the two other new Fords.

      But about To Dream – it is lovely and dreamy. My sample is empty and I have been craving it ever since. A winner for sure.

      • andrea says:

        Is it anything along the lines of Aftelier perfumes? I tried but did not get on with the samples I ordered (Sorry Mandy Aftel, I know many love your work) I was going to order a couple of samples, are there any others that you can recommend from this range?

        TF – I think a skin sample is needed, I only tried a tissue spray as my arms were already covered in other testers. I don’t think I will ever beat the violet in Opus III. Look forward to your reviews on the rest of the new range.

        • Olfactoria says:

          No, SSS is not an all-natural line, they are not similar to Afteliers, more comparable to DSH’s work. Laurie Erickson uses mixed media (natural and synthetic). I like Champagne de Bois, Sienna Musc, Incense Pure and Jour Ensoleillé, but I don’t know the entire line (yet).

          • andrea says:

            Thanks for that, I think I will try the bois de champagne as well as the two violets (suprisingly) It would be rude not to order 4 samples to get one free. 🙂

  5. lady jane grey says:

    I also got blast of Violet out of it – Andrea, keep on trying.

  6. masha7 says:

    I enjoyed this one very much as well, though Incense Pure remains my favorite SSS. Laurie is really a master! I also like her Champagne de Bois very much, which surprises me, because I don’t generally care for aldehydes.

  7. vanessa says:

    I am a big fan of SSS, and Opal is a go-to staple of my scent wardrobe. I hadn’t come across this one, but in fairness haven’t checked the website lately, and love the ethos of the perfume you evoke and its “seen it all” wearer! : – ) “Lovely and dreamy” appeals to me a lot, and I like rose and violet scents as a rule. Hoping it wouldn’t be too dark in the base, though the crackling aldehydes might sort that out. “Crackle” is such a good word for them! So I would try this for sure, and thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    • Olfactoria says:

      You are very welcome!
      I will have to take a look at Opal, although I belive it might be discontinued…

      • OperaFan says:

        Hello Birgit – Really enjoy your writing, and To Dream is a lovely “worldly sister” to its more youthful sibling, Lieu de Reve. You and I share several favorites among the SSS line.
        FYI – Laurie’s working on reformulating Opal due to inability to source one of the key ingredients.

        • Olfactoria says:

          Hi OperaFan, thank you for commenting and for your insights about SSS.
          I hope to try Lieu de Reves soon as well, it sounds enticing.
          Opal will hopefully come back sooner rather than later.

  8. Tara says:

    I am also a beneficiary of Undina’s generosity. She kindly sent me some samples because I suspected I might have a problem with the SSS signature accord. I liked Champagne de Bois, Tabac Aurea & Winter Woods at first but then something came through I couldn’t cope with and for the life of me I can’t work out what it is. It’s still there in To Dream but less so. Despite my issues, it has a very comforting feel and not too cosmetic for my tastes, with a nice mossiness. SSS scents seem perfect for Autumn and this is no exception. Too bad for me something is preventing me from really enjoying it.

    • masha7 says:

      This happens to me with several lines, Tara. Generally, it’s because a perfumer uses certain aromachemicals in most of their bases. And not everyone smells those aromachemicals in the same way. For example, Safraleine smells warm and cozy to most people, but to me, it’s pure diesel fuel, a real deal-breaker! Some people have a bad reaction to Okoumal, which Andy Tauer uses quite a lot. And so on.

      • Tara says:

        That makes me feel better Masha, thanks. I will stop wondering what it is then, as no doubt it is some aromachemical that I don’t know anyway. I appreciate your advice!

    • Olfactoria says:

      That is indeed unfortunate. 😦 You are right of course, perfect fall scents! I brought my samples to the cottage and look forward to wearing them the entire weekend.

  9. Undina says:

    B., I’m so glad you liked it! Love your review (and, to tell you the truth, I like the picture you’ve chosen much better than the one on the site – it was the only thing I didn’t like about this perfume from the very beginning 😉 ).

    I like many Laurie’s perfumes and was waiting for the cooler weather to attempt one of my weeklong test drives with this line (though Wood Violet, on the contrary, worked for me in spring and wasn’t that great on my skin in winter time).

    I promise that the bigger (spray) sample of To Dream will find its way to you soon.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I’m glad you like my review, it is really a lovely perfume and I’m happy you sent it! 🙂 Incense Pure is also fantastic! As for the spray sample – you are too kind! Thank you very much.

  10. Marie says:

    I was hoping you would review one of the SSS perfumes anytime soon. 🙂 There were so many good and praising reviews about the SSS line that I ordered five or six samples a couple of months ago. I definitely expected masterpieces and was somewhat perplexed when they left me cold. Maybe it’s the same as with Tara and there is a certain aromachemical that doesn’t work for me. I can see that they are all well done and they are pretty, no question about that. But I don’t see me wearing them, it is as if they were not made for me. Something bothers me but I can’t explain what it is and I have stopped trying to find out.
    Ignoring this something, I think I liked Incense Pure best. It was the most unique from my samples and I would love to read your review about it as well. The SSS line may not be my cup of tea but I am glad to see that there are more and more lovers of Laurie’s perfumes (she has an excellent customer service by the way!).

  11. deeHowe says:

    Fan-girl chiming in here!

    I LOVE SSS: whatever the musk is that she uses in her bases seems to be the only musk I truly love— generally any musk is really tough for me, and “tolerance” is usually the most I can hope for with any fragrance containing much of it. Not so with Laurie’s stuff. LOVE (did I say that yet?).

    Champagne de Bois is one of my all-time favorite fragrances (cool weather is best for me), followed by Tabac Aurea, Rose Musc, Incense Pure, and Winter Woods.

    I haven not yet tried To Dream, but I hope to place a sample order to finish up the remaining unsniffed scents from the line (specifically, a few musks!).

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