If you like consistency and predictability, this is the perfume for you. From initial application to the last traces of drydown, the scent remains the same -- and I say this in the most reassuring sense, since EG is absolutely lovely. Easygoing and versatile, ancient yet civilized, the ideal musk for the modern nomad seeking a touchstone in a chaotic world. It lends the wearer an aura of friendly tranquility that translates well to any situation or locale. Ten million hippie mamas can't be wrong!
I own the solid perfume, which comes in a tiny, round metal tin that has a genius for getting lost in my purse. When first applied to the skin, this super-concentrated honey accord is powerful enough to make you queasy. But give it time to melt and mellow, and it begins to show its kind side. Delightfully sweet, so long as you don't overdo it.
A girlfriend of mine uses this product. She recently caught me in the act of rapturously sniffing the air as she walked past, and offered me a sample. Sad to say, what translates as creamy, sweet, and simply divine on her instead came across as cloying on me. I admit disappointment, but not defeat-- so long as my friend's supply holds out, I'm content to enjoy this scent vicariously.
I bought a bottle of this twenty-odd years ago and eked it out to the last drop. I have no idea if it was authentic -- many perfumers now use synthetics owing to the decimation of Indian sandalwood through overharvesting -- but whether nature or man made it, I remember it as very, very good. When I last visited a Body Shop location, I gave their tester a try for old times' sake. The new Woody Sandalwood now lacks all of the dusky mystery of its predecessor. In fact, it smells like flat, warm root beer in a can-- and I'm bitterly disappointed.
This was my mother's everyday scent for years and years. I loved it on her-- fresh, breezy, citrusy, as decidedly pastel as Easter morning. I associate it so strongly with her that I wouldn't dream of wearing it myself. But I fear that in changing hands from Charles of the Ritz to Revlon, it's also changed formulas. How do I know? Even Mom has abandoned it-- and she's not the kind of lady who gives up on old friends
Incense as a perfume concept is an odd one: what smells magical rising into the air in a ribbon of smoke often translates as heavy and cloying on one's skin. Not this: it rises, and you rise with it. I am reminded of the way woodsmoke hangs in the air on a still, clear, winter night. Somewhere in the darkness there is unseen shelter-- this fragrance suggests all of its heat, light, comfort, and welcome.
A good friend of mine who knows I love perfume gave me a handful of samples she's collected over the years. Delices de Cartier was one of them; this was another. At this point, I conclude that my friend and I must agree to disagree about what constitutes a good scent. She seems to go for the hyperglycemic fruity-floral sweets, whiile I generally gravitate toward spicy ambers, floral orientals, smoky incenses and niche oddities. And while we are certainly both entitled to our opinions, one sniff of this syrupy dreck gave me a raging headache for the rest of the evening. (Sorry, girlfriend!)
The tiniest spray of this on a blotter made my husband yelp in pain from clear across the room. Up close it was even worse. It reminded me of nothing other than that vile glucose solution they make you drink when you're having your blood sugar tested, with a nauseating artificial cherry-berry flavoring added just so you can manage to choke it down. (And to think they felt compelled to make an "Eau Fruitee" version of this-- as if this wasn't enough!) Oh, so awful.
In my twenties -- nauseated by the talcum-floral cloud hanging over the ladies' deodorant section -- I defected to the gentlemen's side of the aisle. For years, I swore by "Ocean Surf" Mennen Speed Stick. Sure, it smells like Dad's aftershave, but what's not to like? Clean, crisp, bracing...in a word, mature. That's how I feel about Timbuktu. This scent is for serious straight-shooters-- optimistic, ready for action, full of get-up-and-go, regardless of gender. Baby powder's great...if you want to smell like a baby. As a grown woman, I'm not afraid to admit I feel more comfortable smelling like a grown man.
A good solid cologne, with bright orange top notes riding a rather outdoorsy wood-and-herb heart. Sadly, I have to wonder where all the "concentrée" is. On my skin, this absolutely lacked any kind of staying power; in about five minutes it had disappeared completely. However, I enjoyed those five minutes immensely and wish I could have drawn them out a little longer. (Next time I'll use a trick that my sister uses when she desires a boost in scent longevity-- she applies it to her fingertips, then combs her hands through her hair from root to tip.)
Gourmand fragrances are a genius idea: beauty for foodies! When a perfume's brief reads like a Ruth Reichl essay, it's certain that some corporate entity has fully calculated the profit in pushing consumers' hunger buttons. Most gourmand products do so cynically, offering you a feast of edible-sounding ingredients but ultimately leaving you empty and unsated. Not so Safran Troublant. This olfactory riff on Persian choleh zard (saffron rice pudding) delivers all the delicacies -- saffron, honey, rosewater, cardamom, nutmeg, cream -- but manages to do what few others can: feed the soul. Delicious AND nutritious!
A good rose is hard to find. Until the drydown hits, you can't predict whether you'll be soaring through a sweet pink paradise or swimming in a vat of old-lady vinegar. Having been burned before, I approached Balkis with caution. The first note surprised me-- rosemary terpene served up as a brief, astringent palate cleanser, clearing aside all fears. Next came the dessert tray-- honey, raspberries, rosepetal jam, cinnamon. Once all that fades, you're left with a straight-up oriental rose-- friendly, uncomplicated, powdery and soft. Almost zero sillage -- unusual for a rose -- but having this scent stick close by your side is hardly a drawback. Above all, there's not a single trace of nasty guest-bathroom soap smell. Finally, a rose without thorns!
The best way to describe this unisex fragrance is "L’Heure Bleue Pour Homme”. It encompasses many of the same notes (citrus, carnation, vanilla) and special effects (that ineffably soft focus! those melancholy shadows!). But just as Guerlain arrived at Mitsouko by marrying a fresh peach accord to an age-old chypre, New York is L’Heure Bleue with a dash of sagebrush and testosterone.
Speaking of sagebrush, I initially questioned the suitability of this perfume’s name. What does this painted-desert fantasy have anything to do with the city? Then I remembered that when I lived in Manhattan, hemmed in on all sides by claustrophobic concrete and stone, I longed to be airlifted to some wide-open space in the great American Southwest. Perhaps that is what this fragrance is meant to provide—not a portrait of the city itself, but a way for city-dwellers to escape their urban surroundings by means of an olfactory pipe dream.
I once bought a 4711 gift set for my elderly aunt, a sour old biddy with never a good word to say. As she tore off the wrapping paper, I expected her usual squint-and-sneer. But her eyes lit up, and for a moment she resembled a little kid on Christmas morning. "OH!" she exclaimed. "This is GOOD!"
Coming from the woman who had everything (including a dressing table full of costly Shalimar, Arpege, and Chanel No. 19) these words meant something. Somehow -- by spending a few dollars from my weekly allowance at the local five-and-dime store -- I'd managed to give her something she didn't have. Happiness.
4711 is the original cologne, a fine citrus-and-herb formula unchanged over the centuries. It comes in prodigious quantities in a beautiful bottle, and it's dirt cheap. To me (as to my aunt), it's truly the scent of joy itself-- pure, simple, surprising, like sunlight on a day when nothing but rain was expected.
Up top there's a nice, slightly astringent herbal note, quickly supplanted by a piercing floral that never seems to dissolve or diminish. It reminded me of a cup of tea with fourteen spoonsful of sugar in it: no matter how good a brand of tea you use, the grainy sweet sludge at the bottom of the cup is what it all comes down to. One of the few perfumes for which I've ever wished I could hit the pause button during the first minute, and hold it there forever.
First came a mighty, in-your-face note of anise-- then nothing. SacreBleu had simply disappeared. Failing to notice the "back in five" sign (written in the tiniest handwriting imaginable, and in invisible ink), I liberally reapplied. Then anise returned-- with reinforcements. Sandalwood, vanilla, licorice, and a delicious, chalky violet like crushed Choward's mints. Soon they had me surrounded-- a pack of manic scent fairies spiraling around me in a helix of sparkling aromas. I surrendered. I think they made off with my wallet. They're welcome to it
In this bottle, we're meant to find an entire fig tree-- leaves, fruit, bark, sap. Instead, I find something much more suburban-- the scent of privet hedges in summer. Glossy dark leaves, white blossoms humming with bees, a sickly, sap-green fragrance that only sweetens after several bitter minutes. Rather than be disappointed at the absence of promised exoticism, I am charmed at discovering a cherished smell from childhood. Does it translate well on skin? Absolutely. This perfume allows the wearer to carry summer with them everywhere, at all times of the year.
I'm looking for L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain, I told the perfume counter employee.
She set down the BabyPhat gift pack she was about to place on top of the display pyramid and squinted at me. "Girr-what?"
"Guerlain," I repeated. "One of the world's oldest and most respected perfume houses."
"Well, I'VE never heard of it," she said, waving me over to one of her colleagues, who told me they didn't carry Leer Bloo by Gwer-layne, but that Joocy Coo-toor was kind of French, and therefore just as fancy.
I'm not kidding.
I believe that every perfume counter -- regardless of whether or not they regularly stock Guerlain -- ought to invest in a single bottle of L'Heure Bleue as an educational tool. Let corporate write it off as an employee training expense: that little bottle of neroli-and-carnation-scented heaven will provide a reference baseline against which all other fragrances in the world may be compared. No matter which side of the counter you stand on, once you have tried L'Heure Bleue, "good" will become a fixed definition in your mind.
And believe me, Joocy Coo-toor ain't it.
The original GRASS began with an intense top note of fresh green clover which eventually dried down to a muted, shimmery, smoky ghost of itself. Whether or not you will like the new reissue depends on which of those stages you liked best. If it was the top note, you're in luck-- the new GRASS is nothing but. It stretches that sunny green prelude into eternity, like the perfect endless summer. As for me, the incense-like, autumnal drydown was what I adored, and that's gone.... as is the last of the sprayers I snapped up when the original was being discontinued. I would have given the original GRASS five stars. Sadly, this dieted-down version only gets three from me-- c'est la vie.
As a teenager, my younger sister pledged herself to this perfume so thoroughly that even her bedroom color scheme -- apricot, sage, and forest green -- mirrored the Anais Anais package design. This might have smacked of safe conformity during the 1970's, but for a high-school girl in 1988 it amounted to a revolutionary manifesto. While all her friends subscribed to the horrid, clean-cut, sporty stylings of Colors of Bennetton, she shimmered in a cloud of archaic sandalwood and powdery rose. Wearing this scent, she could stand apart from the crowd while still managing to stay safely conventional. An interesting form of camouflage, hiding a slightly subversive heart
Most perfumes start off juicy and end dry. Having heard about Jaipur's famous apricot-and-plum theme, I expected a healthy serving of succulent fruit accords right up front. Instead, the first stage was one of dried rose petals and acacia wood, arid and hazy. (Quick cut to Liz Lemon at a fancy dinner: " Is this potpourri or chips? Because I’m going to try and eat it."
After about ten minutes, the pie was finally out of the oven-- a buttery, high-calorie confection containing all the delicious fruit and syrup I'd been promised. I should have known. It would be an odd sort of banquet that served the sweet before the savory. And as with any dessert, it should be savored in small amounts-- too much of this good thing can prove overpowering.
I applied it in the store while wearing a favorite sweater, and it steadfastly refused to wash out... for years. Harsh and headache-inducing.