Saturday, May 1, 2010

my scents

I was going to post this over at Elisa's blog, but it's too long. Elisa is writing a perfume column at Open Letters Monthly.

I currently own 9 perfumes. I wish they came is smaller bottles because I like to buy different kinds. I end up throwing away old (half-full) bottles because they chemically breakdown. I had to throw away 3 bottles a few months ago, granted, they were each over 10 years old.

I generally stick to one scent for a while and move on to another, occasionally going back to the ones I really like.

From newest to oldest:

Lola (Marc Jacobs) - I bought this at the end of December 2009 with a Sephora gift card. It's what I usually wear now. I love the way this smells, but the scent fades quickly (despite the description claiming it's long-lasting). I'm annoyed by the over-the-top flower cap, which makes it difficult to pack on trips.
The description: The long-lasting, day-and-night scent opens with pink peppercorn, pear, and ruby red grapefruit. Blooming midnotes of rose, fuschia peony, and geranium make a feminine statement. Layers of vanilla, warm tonka bean, and creamy musk create a sensous drydown.

Idole d'Armani - I don't care for this. I'm not sure why I bought it (mid 2009). The salesman talked me into it because I said I liked jasmine. I should have returned it. I didn't. Does anyone want it? I only used it twice. If not, I will donate it the next time Purple Heart comes by.
The description: Idole d’Armani is a spicy floral developed by perfumer Bruno Jovanovic, and features notes of clementine, pear, ginger, davana, saffron, jasmine, loukoum rose, patchouli and vetiver.

Fresh Cannibis Rose - I did return this. I returned it the same day I received it in 2009. I couldn't find a sample anywhere, so I ordered it based on a very enthusiastic recommendation by someone I respected. It smells like a cigar's ass. A lactose-intolerant cigar who just ate a crate of ice cream and pizza. I'd rather sit next to someone who was wearing cat pee.
The description: An ultra-sensual and completely intoxicating floral counterpart to the highly popular Cannabis Santal Collection. Top notes burst with the captivating aroma of Bulgarian roses infused with pomegranate flower and Italian bergamot. An alluring blend of cannabis accord, sheer jasmine, and rich dark chocolate make the heart of this sultry scent truly intoxicating while base notes of white musk, patchouli, and oolong tea leave a lasting sensual finish.

Lavanila Vanilla Blossom - I traded in the above for this. This is OK. I wear it on days when I want something light. Also, it's one of of those natural perfumes, so supposedly I'm not poisoning myself when I put it on.
The description: An exotic blend of crushed orange blossom, rose, jasmine, and karo karounde petals warmed with the richness of nutmeg and Madagascar vanilla. Dangerously seductive, this flirtatious floral is unexpectedly clean and undoubtedly sophisticated.

White Musk (Body Shop) - I bought this on the same day as the above. Not sure why. I think it reminded me of high school so I must have been having a moment. It's not bad for a musk, but I don't really wear musk. I just squirted it on myself now and am thinking perhaps I'll wear it this summer at the beach.
The description: A comfortable and velvety female fragrance, dedicated to every woman and perfect for every moment and occasion. It opens with notes of ylang-ylang, galbanum and basil, followed by the heart of jasmine, rose, musk and lily,and settling at the base dominated by musk along with jasmine, rose, iris, amber, patchouli, vetiver, peach, oakmoss and vanilla.

Bvlgari Viole de Jasmin - This is one of two scents I wore almost exclusively in 2008 and 2009. It's beautiful.
The description: Innocent and feminine, with a delicate grace and sensibility, Voile de Jasmin is a new light and fresh scent to complement the white floral side of the Pour Femme fragrance. Living Jasminum Sambac, Italian Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Rosewood, Ylang-Ylang, Living Mimosa, Living Rose.

Bvlgari Rose Essential - This is the other scent I wore in 2008 and 2009 (and for part of 2007). It's probably my favorite. When I wear it men frequently tell me how good I smell.
The description: The ultimate in pure luxury, Rose Essentielle is a tribute to the world's most prestigious flower - the rose. The ultimate floral expression of luxury and absolute femininity, it is a rose-floral interpretation of the Pour Femme fragrance. Rose Prelude, Blackberry, Feuille de Violette, Living Mimosa, Jasminum Sambac, Patchouli, Bois de Gaiac.

Lolita Lempicka - This was my scent in 2005 and 2006. It's nice. This is my 2nd bottle (one of the few I actually finished). Unlike the rest, It's not categorized as FLORAL, it's WOODY. The only other time I purchased a 2nd bottle was in the late 90's with Bvlgari's Green tea (a CITRIS).
The description: An enchanting and alluring fragrance that gently balances the sweetness of ivy leaves and aniseed with delicate violet and iris root, and finishes with a smooth hint of vanilla and musk. This sensual fragrance is pure, light, and endearing. Ivy Leaves, Aniseed, Amarena Heart, Violets, Iris Roots, Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Musk.

Carolina (Carolina Herrera) - I bought this in 2004 after smelling an insert in a magazine. I wore it a bit in 2004, but seemed to have lost interest. I'm not sure if they still sell it. There's a newer one (I think) called Carolina Herrera. I find similar brand names like that to be confusing.
The description: A transparent effervescence of bitter orange, wild strawberry leaf, and cardamom in the top notes. The middle note is floral and sweet, with rose petals, pepper and berries and the base note is attractive and sensual with wood, natural vanilla, amber and transparent musk.

Organza (Givenchy) - I can't remember when I bought this, but I believe it was when I still worked for AOL (1994-1997) or shortly thereafter. It's never been culled because it still smells the way it's supposed to. Oh wait, I just squirted it on my arm and it smells funky. When I'm done typing this, it's going in the trash. If I remember correctly, this was my "evening" perfume. So it must have been strong. Ok, Google tells me this launched in 1996, so I probably bought it then or 1997. Hey, this means I have room for a new bottle!
The description: A crisp white floral fragrance with mossy woods undertones that give it an air of sharp sensuality. A heart of gardenia and jasmine is complemented by fresh green sap and a nutmeg, cedarwood and vanilla base. A spicy and fresh floral fragrance for her.

What does this say about me? Clearly I have a strong preference for FLORAL scents. I like rose, jasmine and vanilla. I'd like to diversify my perfumes, any suggestions?

Now I currently own 7 bottles of perfume, I just threw one away and am giving away another.


  1. Perfumes last longer if protected from light and heat, so if you're worried, it's best to store your perfumes in the box/in a drawer. Mine are all sitting out on a dresser, but they don't get much direct light, so hopefully they don't all expire at once.

    It seems like everything claims to be long-lasting and almost nothing is. You can get a longer wear out of most scents by really soaking yourself in the morning. Surprisingly, with most perfumes these days it's pretty hard to overdo it. There are exceptions of course. The first wear generally tells me if a perfume is a soaker or not.

    I'll take the Idole. Maybe I could review it if nothing else.

    I think Carolina Herrera is actually the older scent, from the '80s. It's one I own and wear on occassion. I'd wear it more often but it's almost suffocatingly strong. Really best reserved for outdoor parties.

    Organza (and its spicier flanker Organza Indecence) is a popular comfort scent among perfume snobs.

    My quick read is that you like overtly feminine scents. Not sure what that means -- I like pretty feminine scents too and I don't think of myself as especially girly (I don't get manis and pedis and shit), so maybe the appeal is the contrast. Because you don't like Cannabis Rose or Idole, I'm thinking maybe you don't like patchouli, which a) can read as masculine and b) a lot of people associate with stoner hippies. I don't have the latter association because I didn't hang out with potheads in high school, so I like it. But a lot of fairly popular scents from the past decade or so feature patchouli (Angel, Coco Mademoiselle, and to a lesser extent Narciso Rodriguez for Her), and those probably aren't your thing.

    Tocade is a rose & vanilla scent that, again, is pretty popular with perfume freaks. It's *very* bright and sweet so more of a party scent than a day-to-day thing but you can usually find it for pretty cheap. You might also like J'Adore, a subtle, crisp floral with rose. Stella is a rosy musk. Kenzo Amour is a vanilla oriental. (I'm focusing on relatively affordable stuff you can find at Sephora.) Insolence, maybe? You have to like violets though. SJP Lovely is a another musky floral.

    I could keep going, if I knew your budget and how willing you are to leave the floral-vanilla zone.

  2. Elisa took me shopping for perfume in February, and before we went I told her I liked jasmine-based scents. On our expedition I discovered that , in reality, I HATE jasmine in perfume. I felt so confused.

    But I also felt liberated.

    After THREE HOURS of careful consideration I bought this super expensive lavender based scent by Serge Lutens called Clair Gris. I loved it, but I almost didn't buy it, because earlier in the expedition I had tried on Lolita Lempicka, and I loved it as well.

    Eventually, I decided to splurge on the more expensive, more ambiguous scent, because Elisa assured me I could find LL anywhere, at a very affordable price.

    (She was right. I bought some on sale at Filene's a few weeks ago.)

    This is literally the first time in my entire life that I have 1) owned more than one full-sized bottle of perfume or 2) worn more than one type of perfume in the same year.

    The times, they are a-changing.

  3. Elisa, I think you got me pegged. I absolutely HATE Patchouli--reminds me of my mother and her hellish visits to my home when she brought her own patchouli incense. What a god awful smell.

    I had a sample of Narciso Rodriguez which I disliked.

    I think I do like the more feminine scents. I've had one of the Kenzo scents (maybe a flower one) as a sample and remember liking that.

    I feel like my next purchase should be out of the vanilla-floral zone, considering what I already own. Also, I'd be willing to spend more than a Sephora price, if it was a special scent that I absolutely loved.

  4. Gillian, I wish Elisa lived closer to me!

  5. Reb, wish I could take you on an expedition. I kind of want to be a perfume consultant. The Serge Lutens line that Gillian mentioned has a lot of nice scents. They're generally $120-150 for a 1.7 oz bottle which isn't too extreme. A lot of them are on the woody/heavy/spicy end, which would diversify your collection, but it's hard to say if you'd like them at first sniff. They can veer masculine. I think the Frederic Malle line has some really drop-dead gorgeous florals but they are more expensive, like 150 and up. Both lines are available at Barney's. If there's a Sak's in your area, they tend to have a pretty good selection of some stuff that isn't carried at Sephora. If you can brace yourself against pushy sales women, you could smell a lot of stuff and see what strikes you.

    I like several Kenzo scents, especially Flower (which may be what you smelled) and Parfum d'Ete which is a green floral, very spring-like.

    It's hard to say what would diversify your collection without veering into masculine territory. I think a woody floral might be the ticket.

  6. There's a Saks and a Neiman Marcus close by -- I'll check out your recommendations. Thanks.

  7. Jo Malone might be a nice change for you too. You should do a little smelling around that counter at Neiman's. Not so much in the vanilla department (which I notice is a theme in your collection) but her fragrances always smell so clean. Of course, avoid the ones with patchouli. I can't stand it either. Must be genes, because I know some girls love that stuff.
    FOr a very vanilla-y complex Oriental, you might try Thierry Mugler's Alien. Maybe Calvin Klein's Truth - if you can find it, it's been discontinued and Donna Karan's Cashmere Mist (although it has a lovely vanilla feeling at first, I think it's a little chemical-y at the end for some reason.)

  8. I love even just walking into a Carolina Herrera store--they smell amazing.

    I wore two Bvlgari scents for 2008/2009 too--Soir and Extreme. I just switched to Tom Ford's Gray Vetiver because I wanted something lighter for at the office, and I love love love it.

  9. It occurred to me you're lacking a citrus-y green floral like Cristalle or the newer Cristalle Eau Fraiche (Chanel) -- the effect is very different from sweeter florals based on rose. They can sort of make you feel like an "I'm in charge here" badass. Gucci Envy is pretty good for this too.

  10. But I always equated floral with taking charge. :)

    I'm looking forward to investigating these new scents. Thanks everyone.

    Charlie, Chris' two newest scents are Givenchy's Pi (Mandarin, Pine Needles, Rosemary, Guaiac Wood, Benzoin) and John Varvatos Artisan (Sicilian Clementine, Tangelo, Mandarin, Thyme, Marjoram, Lavadin, North African Orange Tree Blossom, Indian Murraya, Orange Jasmine Tree, Ginger extracts, Kephalis, Georgywood, Belambre, Serenolide.)

    Both selected by me, but he's kind of a fragrance horse.

  11. My favorite scent that John wears is Caron Third Man (Le Troisiemme Homme). I want to get him the Tabac Aurea I reviewed in the column, but he's mildly worried that smelling like tobacco will make him want to smoke...

  12. Reb,
    I only wear perfumes by Creed, which is one of the oldest perfume "dynasties" in the world. They're all made with purely natural ingredients (no artificial, manmade ones). I wear Spring Flower or Virgin Island Waters, but those probably wouldn't be floral enough for you. Unfortunately, the only place to buy Creed in the DC area is Nieman Marcus (aka Needless Mark-up), where they do have a huge selection and you could find plenty of florals.

  13. Interesting, I'll have to check out the hubbub on those scents too.

    I haven't gone scent shopping yet -- I wanted to last weekend, but Gideon got sick and stayed sick for most of the week and this weekend family was in town. Soon.

  14. I just only own 3 perfumes and the third one is this human pheromones. :)