Perfume Reviews

Reviews by babsbendix

Total Reviews: 87

Nuit Etoilée by Annick Goutal

I bought the EDP blind when I found a ridiculous online deal, and the first few times I wore it I was underwhelmed. I liked it, though I also felt as if I'd just gotten another bottle of Sables! For the extraordinary opening lasts but a few minutes on me, and I'm left with nothing but the immortelle drydown of Sables. The longevity of that immortelle accord is good, at least four hours.

Now that I've had more time with it, Nuit Etoilee has really grown on me, because its wild and non-perfumey nature fits feeding cats and working in the yard and cooking with aromatic herbs, much of the ACTUAL life I lead. And I recognize a lot of the other notes, even though they're fleeting, from my long history with other Goutals besides Sables - some citrus in common with Hadrien and Eau du Sud, some of the greenery from Ninfeo Mio. In effect, it's a scent that speaks right to me like a friend, even if thousands of other people also wear it.

Have to emphasize the mint, though! It has a cooling effect on my sinuses, and in combination with the other natural essences, has a noticeable physiological effect, uplifting and clearing and calming at once. NE is presented as an elegant fragrance, though it feels like a positive aromatherapy experience, not like something from a department store you wear to impress.
25th April, 2016

The One by Dolce & Gabbana

One sweet, unctuous, musky BOMB! On me, anyway.

I do see why it's been a hit, because when it works with your chemistry, it smells like fuzzy peach + a woman's warm skin covered with a lot of sweet oil, maybe Huile Prodigieux by Nuxe. Somehow it smells primarily fatty and rich, almost disgusting it's so rich, and whatever the listed notes, I experience it as an oozing, molten blob of a scent, unbelievably tenacious but definitely intimate in scale.

It's got an indistinct, amorphous, linear quality, and it's easy to write off when you just smell it from the bottle. But The One is completely about what it can do on skin.

18th March, 2016

Replica Lipstick On by Martin Margiela

I love the replica idea of the Margiela line, and its presentation, but until now, I hadn't liked any of the actual fragrances. Lipstick On grabbed my attention because I love powdery orris vintage-smelling scents.

It has more vanillic sweetness and less pear/plum than HdP 1889 Moulin Rouge, though unless the powdery iris vintage makeup genre is your thing, they're similar enough that you may not need to own both. Or either! I love Moulin Rouge as a smell, but I find that I don't wear it often, because it's so dry and peculiar that I have to be in a particular mood to be around it all day - best lasting power of anything I own.

It's not mentioned, but I pick up on a bit of spicy carnation (eugenols) in Lipstick On. Or maybe my mind is making some kind of association with old Carons when I smell the vintage-y dusty vanilla, because I went off thinking of Bellodgia just now.

It's a weird one, and really about the only feminine I found in Sephora right now that isn't just so predictable, the usual Dolce/Gucci/Tocca clean tuberose and bergamot and vanilla blah. Gosh that isn't a very high bar, is it? But I do like to give credit for bucking the trends in an interesting way, and if this one had remained as quirky and distinct as its opening instead of just going Play Doh vanilla in the end, it would have captured the sort of mystery I've wanted the Margielas to have.
15th March, 2016 (last edited: 18th March, 2016)
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Jasmin by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

Mandy Aftel's jasmine solid perfume contains a really high quality natural grandiflorum jasmine absolute with a little pink grapefruit and blood orange in a raw beeswax base. Its beauty is extreme, and I paid money for it that I didn't really have just to have its euphoria-inducing smell accessible to me whenever I wanted it. So when I had some luggage stolen a few years ago, the only thing I was really upset about was the fact that my little sterling compact of this dear perfume was in it.

I open with a mention of the Aftel Jasmine, because having found it so deeply compelling, I recognize in Maitre's Jasmin a lot of the real grandiflorum jasmine absolute, as well, which WOULD account for its relatively poor longevity. For it isn't weak when you apply it, it just doesn't stick around for long, which is how the naturals tend to perform. That said, Maitre's EDP is a lot less expensive than wearing jasmine absolute (or the Aftel!) so I find it to be a decent solution for straight-ahead jasmine.

I do get a bit of rose in the very, very opening, which provides a Joy-like moment minus Joy's skank. This is not to say that it's without its own kind of skank, though - when worn in warm weather, I noticed a barber shop-like musk in the drydown that I really do not like. Afraid of repeating that musk experience, which could put me off of it for good, I now wear it layered with a favorite 80s green chypre, Molyneux Quartz, the sum of their parts creating an approximation of vintage Cristalle, a happy thing indeed!
11th March, 2016 (last edited: 17th April, 2016)

Something Blue by Oscar de la Renta

I became interested in this one because I love stephanotis in nature, and it's not that common to find a stephanotis accord in fragrance.

The very first few seconds out of the bottle were a gorgeous green blast, and I thought I might really love this, but then the florals emerged, and it went horribly wrong on my skin.

My chemistry can really amp certain things - aquatics, ozone-y scents, certain musks, and melon notes. Apparently this particular combination of linden and LOTV accords is not good on me either - it goes shrill and metallic and is unbelievably potent, like an industrial cleaning product. Did not completely wash off with soap and water, either.

Yet despite my own very negative experience, I'm giving Something Blue a neutral, because my fragrance-opposite mom does beautifully with it - smells fresh-airy and feminine and lovely on her.
29th February, 2016

Bonbon by Viktor & Rolf

I used to work for a very snobby fashion company. My co-worker Lex (picture Amy Schumer) and I had days when the pressure and self-important humorlessness of the designer would really get to us, and our little subversive pleasure was the bottle of Jessica Simpson's Fancy that I had hidden in my desk drawer.
It would have been such an outre thing to our boss - to enjoy a sticky sweet Jessica Simpson fragrance! - but being high/low culture girls, we actually liked it, we weren't simply being rebellious 40-year-old teenagers.

So when I found a 3 oz. dented-but-sealed box of BonBon at a ridiculously discounted price under the broken eyeshadows and bottles of White Diamonds in Marshall's clearance, I knew it was there for me. Or Lex. See, BonBon is both high and low at the same time, a calibrated, well-executed, high-quality version of a celebutante scent, which is such a funny thing to be. It's seriously potent, but use it with restraint and you'll radiate a warm, sweet and woodsy sillage all day and have people buried in your neck. If it smells cheap to others when I wear it, apparently it's a good kind of cheap, for it gets them buzzing like bees!

It's a very different frag from Dior Addict - not floral/green caramel but peachy caramel - yet I associate the two, for the thick and enduring character of BonBon's sweet caramel drydown is comparable to that of the original (pre-reformulation) Addict.

18th February, 2016

Jolie Fleur Rose by Tory Burch

Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose was ever-present when I was young, and to this day, the scent of tea roses gives me the tingly feelings of being a teenage girl. That said, the last time I bought a bottle of Tea Rose and tried wearing it again, I really enjoyed it, but DID draw attention to myself because it is SO strong. I was actually responsible for sending a few thrilled Russian and Persian women to the drugstore to buy it - not having grown up in the U.S., they smelled me coming and assumed I was wearing a Montale or something! My way of passing through the world is a little more stealth than Tea Rose allows, so a straight-ahead tea rose scent that's more modulated is something that's been on my wishlist for a while.

Jolie Fleur Rose may be it.

Its rose/tea rose accord is gorgeous - the green sap is there, and it's not sweet, but neither is it shrill (Chloe!) either. So I had a really hard time not just running back to Sephora to buy a big bottle five minutes after spraying it on my arm. But I really do know better when musk and Cashmeran are involved - can be love or hate for me - and I'm not sure yet what's going on with the longevity. I wasn't giving it my full focus as it developed, but either it wore like an EDT on me, or I'm a little anosmic to the drydown, because after a couple of hours, all I could detect was a faint old-fashioned soap smell. I love old-fashioned soap smells, but I don't have to spend $90 to get there, you know?

Whether or not I end up deciding it's undying love for me as a composition, it did provide more confirmation that I really like the roses Lauder uses. I already knew that I'm mad for the (very different) Evening Rose from the Aerin line, and Tom Ford's Noir de Noir.
05th February, 2016

Rosewood by Banana Republic

Now HERE'S a Euphoria flanker I can get behind! I'd call it Baby Euphoria, or Euphoria, Baby! for its gentle, powdery finish.

I joke about the Euphoria association because the opening combines tart+sweet+loads of clean musk in a way that says Calvin Klein or at least "Macy's" to me - it's straight and normal and American. But from there, it goes off in a surprisingly restrained direction to last for hours and hours as a gently sweet, slightly wood-smoky, very powdery musk - not "mall", unless maybe we're talking 1970s mall and there's a lot of Je Reviens, Heaven Sent, Jovan Musk, and Love's Baby Soft in the air. (If you want to reach me at a subliminal inner-teen level and make me love a fragrance, those are the place to start).

I understand that the sweetness is supposed to be coming from amber, though if that's the case, this is a feather-weight amber, not a deep, resinous one. It doesn't have the presence or complexity of my beloved L'Instant, though it's on the same fluffy end of the amber scale, and a great cheap and cheerful find if that's your kind of thing.
15th January, 2016

Hollywood Royal by Juicy Couture

I enjoy this one in the way I enjoy hearing vintage Go-Gos songs when I'm stuck in LA traffic and life is losing its magic - it represents the hopeful energy of this place, which I sometimes take for granted until I leave its bubble.

I can agree that the Jolly Rancher-like fruity notes at the top are pear and apple only by process of elimination - they're not berry, peach, watermelon, pineapple...They fade into a softer, milder version of the salty white floral from the original Juicy Couture, which is joined by what seems to be rather a lot of Cashmeran, and part of the composition of Couture La La while they're at it. Around that time I'm starting to hate it and to wonder if I need to scrub it off, though before I can get to the sink I'm won over by billowing puffy clouds of a marshmallow-y, clean musk. This base is a really fab skin scent if it agrees with your chemistry, and it quietly lasts for hours. That said, skin scents are already a big focus in my wardrobe, so I sent my bottle to a very girly friend who I knew would just squee at how it looks on her vanity!

05th January, 2016 (last edited: 15th January, 2016)

Evening Rose by Aerin

Evening Rose solved my Tom Ford problem.

For a couple of years I've been trying Noir de Noir, because I adore its rose note on paper. But as a composition, it ends up smelling like an aged soft cheese on my skin.

So I'd begun to wonder if anything in the Lauder family used that same sweet, mellow, dried-ish rose that's in Noir de Noir, and Lo! Evening Rose is pretty much just that. The blackberry gives it some jamminess, and the cognac gives it a little bit of a modern feel, but really, it's lots and lots of a very particular rose, so you'd better like it or you'll maybe hate it!

Yes, it's a dried and maybe candied rose like in a loukhoum scent, the rose I imagine I glimpse in Montale's Sweet Oriental Dream before it gets taken over by the other notes. I suspect Evening Rose will have amazing layering potential with the orientals and powder bombs in my collection.

14th November, 2015

Sweet Oriental Dream by Montale

When I was an angsty teenager, my greatest pleasure was to retreat to my room, turn on my pink Lava Lite, listen to the Talking Heads, and burn my "chocolate cake" incense. I loved that incense. It smelled little like chocolate cake, but DID smell like some sort of sweet almond dessert being toasted over sandalwood. I couldn't find a perfume that smelled like it, so I'd burn it in my closet and shut the door to get the smell on my clothing.

So when I first tried Sweet Oriental Dream this many years later, it brought tears to my eyes, because it was that smell from my teenage bedroom. Objectively, it's super strong and a lot of the same great accord, all almond-y and incense-y, if obviously synthetic. It's certainly one that's going to be lethal with over-application, so I'm using samples I can dab until the day when I finally buy a full bottle and brave spraying it. And I will buy a bottle, for although SOD smells just like it could be a BPAL scent - and I had my hopes for a substitution - I've now tried hundreds of BPALs, and can confidently say that there isn't one in the catalog quite like it.

The last time I went to visit my mom, who lives in same house, I bought a new pink party light and lay there in my old bedroom wearing this perfume since that old chocolate cake incense is long gone.

28th October, 2015

Anaïs Anaïs by Cacharel

The L'Original EDT available today is a favorite. It has great lasting power on me, and I haven't tried the EDP as I like what I have.

I'm sure I was around girls who wore it when I was young, though my nostalgic connection to it is through the hyacinth note, which emerges as the strongest accord when I wear it. See, as a pre-teen, one of my favorite possessions was a Coty Sweet Earth solid perfume compact that held three floral scents: honeysuckle, ylang ylang, and hyacinth. The other two florals I've smelled often in my perfume life, but hyacinth doesn't turn up that much.

I don't find Anais Anais to be sweet at all, but a gentle green floral chypre. I had an accident with it today that turned out fab. I forgot I'd applied some Goutal Gardenia Passion EDT a couple of hours before (love it, but yes, it's fleeting) and I put on some Anais Anais. The application revived the Goutal, and with its green vegetal quality, it was really simpatico layered with the Cacharel.
21st October, 2015

Elie Saab Le Parfum by Elie Saab

When I first smelled Le Parfum, I said to myself, "Oh! It's the 21st Century Bijan!" And it kind of is! Better quality and much more polished, but you have your orange blossom and honey, and some added raspy texture - patch in this case, and cumin in the Bijan. Lately I'm enjoying how Le Parfum explodes in warm weather, and I wouldn't be surprised if at some point I end up totally hating it.

I just read some of Turin's comments about it, and he used the word "dowdy". If I hadn't known what I was smelling, I'd have guessed it was another Lauder Modern Muse flanker, which to me equates somewhat to "dowdy". I appreciate the quality of Lauder frags, and I even wore Modern Muse Chic for a little while (which smells like a more complicated version of Elie Saab Le Parfum, actually.) Yet the Lauder WASPiness somehow gets into the fragrances - I'm not responding to their marketing - and I find them as friendly and welcoming as sitting through a Daughters of the American Revolution luncheon with my black clothing and nose ring.

What IS that? Musty, weird Vol de Nuit SHOULD smell the definition of dowdy, yet I think of her as an enigmatic and magical woman, who just happens to be old now. I must agree with ClaireV's Poe quote, then - strangeness in the proportion is required for exquisite beauty. Le Parfum is good, and it's pretty, and we're friends, but I can only share so much with her, because she'd find me terribly inappropriate.
18th October, 2015
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Bastet by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

I feel a little strange reviewing BPAL scents in the same context as commercial frags, because often they're a lot of fun and very evocative as smells, but not necessarily something I'd want to wear on my person. And they're specifically for an audience that often couldn't give a fig about commercial frags, so it feels a little unfair to judge them on the same criteria. All that said, there are a few of them that I love and wear often as skin scents and as bases/fixatives for lighter frags, and Bastet is one.

Sniffed in the bottle, it's a lot of synthetic almond, so for years I'd overlooked it. But I'm able to go to a local BPAL event every full moon, so knowing I liked the other components, I tried it again on my skin, and am so happy I did, because the almond burns off quickly. I'm left with a gorgeous warm ambery/musky skin scent. It's simple, but when it works with your chemistry, very sensual indeed.

BPAL is a line where if you fall in love with one of them, nothing else really does smell quite like it.
28th September, 2015

Nanette by Nanette Lepore

Instant love for this one.

Sometimes I'll read a review and something gets called a "warm, spicy Oriental", and I smell it and crack up at how our descriptions are all relative to our references. For me, a warm, spicy Oriental would be Youth Dew or Opium, not Poppy Wildflower by Coach.

But you know? Nanette really does go in a spicy Oriental direction, and it's well done! I say "direction", because it feels to me like it's spicier than most, yet still working with the Euphoria model (which I know is working with the underlying butch/femme Angel structure.) So there's the trendy pink pepper, perhaps a bit of Euphoria-like pomegranate syrup (not listed) and a certain sweet tobacco-ishness in the base that I also notice in J.Crew + Arquiste No. 57.

What makes it more than another uninspired dupe, though, is the counterpoint of sweet, powdery, retro rose/violet/LOTV heart with the warm, incense-y, more gender-neutral base. I mean, these florals were right at home in 1915, and they make the whole thing come off as softer and friendlier than it otherwise would be with all of the wood and pepper and incense.

I know it's sacrilege to mention Caron in the same breath as an EA-produced frag, but...Parfum Sacre. Not saying Nanette is comparable in a literal sense - its edges are rougher and it doesn't have the velvety floral depths of vintage Sacre - and yet they're both balsamic, peppery, powdery rose fragrances, and for those of us who adore that theme, it's enough to make us love both of these variations on it!
26th September, 2015

Delicious Cotton Candy by Gale Hayman

Don't even bother trying this if you categorically hate sugary gourmands, because this really isn't going to pass for anything else.

I have a soft spot for retro Beverly Hills kitsch (and I think I'm not alone based on the success of Juicy Couture!) Something about a shiny-foiled pink box that contains a bottle topped with a plastic, what is it, cougar?!! When I can get all that for $12.99, PLUS there's a vulgar fragrance included, you know I'm in.

But it turns out the joke's on me, because I actually LIKE the vulgar fragrance! It reminds me of the old formulation of CSP Vanille with its candied vanilla and lily of the valley combo. There's some strawberry in the background for a while, too, but it's like strawberry ice cream, more creamy and sweet in the mix than the tart berries in something like Hanae Mori Butterfly.

Lasting power and sillage are impressive for something that calls itself an EDT, but it's simpler and gentler in tone than Pink Sugar and others I've smelled. Worth trying if you flirt with frivolous, inexpensive gourmands.
23rd September, 2015

Bulgari pour Femme by Bulgari

Flirting with both J'Adore Voile de Parfum and No. 5 Eau Premiere recently, I thought to myself, "I wish one of these wore as well on me as Bulgari used to, as it was always so versatile and pretty in the same kind of well-bred way these are."

So I just sought out a replenishment bottle of Bulgari instead. Not having smelled it in a very long time, I was floored at how much raspberry is in the opening! And also by how much the opening gave me a little snapshot of pre-reformulation YSL Paris, also by Grojsman. Paris was a favorite of mine when it launched; I hadn't realized that on some level I was pre-disposed to like Bulgari the first time around because I had only pleasing associations with Paris.

Bulgari really is an interesting one. It's a tasteful feminine with conventional, demure floral notes, yet the musk...on skin, it gives the fragrance so much radiant warmth. While I'd never call it rude, if this musk likes you, it interacts with your chemistry in such a way that it goes really intimate. You can wear Bulgari in a polite setting and no one will accuse you of impropriety, yet the effect CAN be alluring, because the musk creates the sense that you're smelling the skin of the woman who's wearing the perfume, not simply smelling the perfume.

Overspray and it won't be good! It's sweet and has the potential to go cloying. While I've read reviews that say it has no lasting power, I find it to be very tenacious, just one modest spray and it's quietly there 10 hours later. In that way it really does seem powerful like a Grojsman! For reasons similar to what Way Off Scenter has said, I find that most of her work isn't my thing, though Bulgari really is. Again.
04th September, 2015

Nahéma by Guerlain

I first made a point of searching out Nahema in the early 90s, after reading an interview of Shirley Manson (from the band Garbage) in which she said Nahema was the ONLY perfume as far as she was concerned.

At the time I remember thinking that it was too loud and too full of aldehydes for me personally. And searching for a rose I can wear well - that doesn't go too shrill - I wanted to see what I thought of it all these years later.

It's definitely in the Chamade camp, more green and vegetal and hyacinth and juicy and tart than the musty/mossy vanilla powder of the earlier Guerlains. This time I had been assuming "bombshell", so I've been impressed by its tenderness and innocence, though when you first spray it, it's got such presence that it sure can make you feel a bit high!

Certainly Nahema is beautifully done and even transcendent, though I find that I only enjoy wearing it in very cold weather. When it's warm out, even a tiny spray feels too high pitched and overwhelming and makes me a little ill. In cold weather it unfolds more slowly and I can enjoy its evolution and not be as bludgeoned by the awe-inspiring power of the peachy-rose accord. Because I always do feel a bit bludgeoned when I wear Nahema, and am still getting comfortable with her.

02nd September, 2015 (last edited: 15th December, 2015)

Shalimar by Guerlain

My family is mostly show people and jazz musicians, and when I was little there were often colorful characters hanging around, HOW colorful I didn't find out until later.

One of them was an older English lady named Mae, who had a white poodle. Apparently she was the madam in a high-end brothel. Sometimes we'd go to Mae's apartment, which had the most extraordinary smell of years and years of Shalimar permeating every surface + unwashed dog. That was my first Guerlain experience. (The second was a Pekingese that smelled of Mitsouko. True - not trying to be funny.)

So it took a very long time before I could really consider Shalimar on its own merits, and even then, its skanky facet was off-putting to me, because I kept smelling unwashed dog! In retrospect, Mae's poodle may not have been that dirty, and it might have just been her vintage Shalimar. I really never thought I'd become a Shalimar person, even though I have lots of history with the other vintage Guerlain greats.

The Ode a la Vanille (Mexique) ended up being my gateway drug, because the vanilla in that version is so smoky and dense and wonderful that I could stick with it, and now I've learned to love even the skank of Shalimar proper.

I do continue to prefer that limited edition, yet I've come to own and love the EDC, as well, because that version also features a very smoky vanilla, and ends up wearing as mostly that. Plus it's often available inexpensively in the drugstore! Coming around to Shalimar has actually had a fantastic effect on my perfume spending habits, for while I still find new things that I like, when I ask myself, "but would you be likely to NOT wear Shalimar to wear this instead?" it's just a no.

27th August, 2015

La Nuit De Bohème by Anna Sui

I'm no longer a girl, but I share Anna Sui's dark/sweet 70s boho aesthetic, so when I saw the EDP in the black bottle for $12.99, you know I grabbed it. And it's pretty good!

The two scents it brings to mind for me are Roberto Cavalli's Nero Assoluto, and Estee Lauder's Modern Muse Chic. Both of those are very strong; while the Sui fragrance I have is the EDP, on me it's a relatively quiet and gentle scent that wears like an EDT. But the opening does share a rush of a very sweet plummy/berry/creamy/wood opening with the Cavalli, and a drier plum/oud drydown with the Lauder. In this warm weather, I don't get any middle, really, just opening, and the drydown arrives literally a couple of minutes later.

Sure, it doesn't wear like a Lauder, but this is a way more sincere and sophisticated effort than I expected from this house.

20th August, 2015

Reveal by Calvin Klein

I have a unique relationship with this house, because the marine and musk components they repeatedly use to telegraph that it's Calvin Klein go nuclear with my chemistry. So I always get quite a result with a Calvin Klein frag, but this can be a good or a bad thing! I've read reviews of Reveal where people get no sillage or longevity and can barely smell it, though I have the opposite - the salt (marine) note blooms on my skin to the point where I can't escape it and it smells like the bilge on a sailboat and makes me feel sick. Not only that, but a little of the spray got on a shirt sleeve I'd been wearing, and the scent lasted through the wash. Twice. This can't be good for a person.

So I gave it a neutral as I think it could have a certain sophisticated, minimalist subtlety IF you don't have a problem with the CK marine note. Just please don't wear it around me!

05th August, 2015 (last edited: 08th August, 2015)

Sikkim Girls by Gorilla Perfume

Lush perfume sprays are no longer available where I live, just the solid perfumes, so my experience with Sikkim Girls is only with the solid, which I'm guessing is a bit quieter than the spray as an experience.

As a longtime Lushie, it smells very identifiably Lush to me. I haven't seen patch listed as a note, but I can smell the familiar rootbeer-y patch from Karma as well as the super indolic jasmine from Flying Fox/Lust. Initially it's white floral-sweet and soapy on my skin, but about an hour in it's less soap and more dusty floral headshop incense, which I say as a compliment.

Today I had success layering a little of the Sikkim Girls solid with Goutal's Gardenia Passion EDT, for the tuberose notes in both share an earthy, bittersweet quality.
23rd July, 2015

Gardénia Passion by Annick Goutal

For a time I trained in natural perfumery. I was drawn to the magic of the materials, but grew a little frustrated with the limitations of what I could do to bring dimension to compositions. Some of this is the limitations of my own talent/patience/experience, yet if you've smelled what's possible with a well-chosen mix of natural and synthetic materials, exclusively natural creations can smell a bit wan and flat by comparison. Not only that, but flower absolutes don't necessarily smell like living flowers, but, instead, like concentrated and dessicated versions of them with all of their bizarre nuances more readily apparent. As a result, compounded or headspace floral notes can give an impression that's more like living flowers than the essence of the actual flower sometimes.

Which brings me to Gardenia Passion. Having worked with natural tuberose absolute, I smell a lot of it in this fragrance, and that's where part of the vegetal (celery) character is coming from. I find tuberose absolute to be very beautiful, though it's far from the synthetic, clear tuberose note we're used to in perfumes, and has earthy/mildewy/bitter celery facets as well as a deep sweetness. I think Goutal has paired the tuberose absolute with vetiver, which creates a resonance with the bitterness in the natural tuberose, and takes it in an unexpected direction.

I often wear the EDT of Gardenia Passion, and I enjoy it as if it were a natural fragrance, and don't look to it for longevity, over-the-top headiness, or a lot of "lift", but, ironically since it's a white floral, as a kind of palate cleansing and grounding scent! Yesterday I smelled a few Montales and an Amouage from cards, which left me with hiccups and a scarily constricting throat. Returning to this familiar and gentle scent later in the day was such a relief! That said, I appreciate that we're all wired differently, and for those who like and can handle a lot more olfactory stimulation, this fragrance may be a letdown and make no sense whatsoever.

21st July, 2015

Calvin Klein Beauty by Calvin Klein

I agree with others that this has a very clear and straightforward jasmine heart, yet it's jasmine without much sweetness. For that very reason it went a little sharp and shrill on me, yet I've witnessed it at its best on others, and its best is quite good. Elegant but not the least dowdy.
12th July, 2015

Euphoria Gold by Calvin Klein

The citrus and honey combo in the top remind me of a discontinued L'Occitane honey EDT, though that one was really just those two notes throughout, and they're only the beginning here - Euphoria Gold really blooms on skin.

Honey is up there with vanilla as something people like, so apart from the comments I've seen that it can go cat pee on some, I don't understand why the honey note hasn't been featured all that much in recent years. For Lord knows there have been enough sweet and gourmand fragrances released that MIGHT have featured it!

There are florals here, but I get them sort of subconsciously. On me, Euphoria Gold is primarily apricot, honey, patchouli, and musk for the long haul. Sweet, but with the Calvin Klein urban polish, which keeps it from veering completely into the super heavy hippie incense kind of scent that it could have been with its combination of notes. I think I'd like a heavier version, actually. While I adore Euphoria Gold and don't have anything bad to say about it, I will admit that I harbor a desire for a Tom Ford execution of the same pyramid. I think it would be a better Velvet Orchid-like thing!

30th June, 2015

Io by La Perla

The list of notes for this scent make it sound complex - which it may well be - though apart from the sharp, perfume-y (aldehydic?) opening, I always experienced Io as being a very classical composition closely focused around citrus, sandalwood, and a dry, non-sweet vanilla. It has the sort of persistently warm and quiet sillage that I love in a fragrance, and elegantly navigates the work/sexytime chasm with the best of them. It really is perfect that it's a La Perla scent, for it's the sort of thing that lingers and smells fabulous on an item of clothing you've worn close to your body.

My experience with Italian frags is admittedly not vast (the Fendis, Gianfranco Ferres, Ferragamos, Bottega Venetas...) though it seems that in their women's offerings, spices and woods can receive relatively more emphasis before they get deemed "too masculine". Io would probably would have ended up sweeter, more floral, more tarted-up, in the hands of a French or American house. Sometimes I go for "more", too, though I appreciate the restraint in this case.
15th June, 2015

Euphoria by Calvin Klein

I wouldn't have ever given Euphoria a thought had it not been for a scent strip in a magazine. Taking off the plastic wrapper, I got a whiff of something that struck me as an intriguing balance of warm and sweet with polished and unisex-ish, the best of what I could hope for in a department store scent.

I thumbed through the pages until I located it, and I'm glad I did, as for a time, Euphoria filled a gap in my scent wardrobe. My subconscious actually associated it with Joop Femme, which I haven't smelled in probably 20 years, but which I wore a lot of when it came out. It's not that they're "the same", but I've been drawn to them for the same reason - a persistent sweet/musky/woody/warm drydown that's modern/overtly synthetic, yet inside of my oriental comfort zone. My longtime fragrance loves have mostly been classic orientals, and florientals, and some days I just don't want to carry all of that history with me.

Ultimately, the combination of pomegranate syrup and musk in the EDP struck me as sickening a fair amount of the time, though, and I decided I preferred the airier take of the EDT. And then I found Rosewood by Banana Republic and stopped wearing Euphoria altogether! Rosewood is a simpler, softer, gentler musky thing with a great amorphous/indistinct quality about it. Maybe since it doesn't have such a distinct point of view it can feel like my own.

27th April, 2015 (last edited: 04th March, 2016)

Mon Parfum Cheri, par Camille by Annick Goutal

Maybe I've simply missed it, though I haven't seen mentioned the connection between this fragrance and a long discontinued Goutal from the 1980s, Parfum de Femme.

To my young nose, Parfum de Femme was a strange scent like nothing I'd previously experienced - on the one hand, there was the delicate, dewy, naturalistic character I'd know as a Goutal, and on the other, an earthy dried fruit smell that even leaned a little bit...Band-Aid. The I. Magnin SA took an interest in me when I bought a bottle, because apparently hardly anyone did. I remember her telling me that its main accord - osmanthus - can smell like apricots.

About 20 years later I came into a bottle of Rochas Femme parfum from the middle of the last century. Its strange dusty fruity accord was very, very much like the old Goutal! And now I know that it was actually the Goutal that smelled like the old Rochas.

Mon Parfum Cheri, par Camille is perhaps even more like the vintage Rochas in its dusty, dusky, mellowness - it's a good way towards 180 degrees from being a perky garden-fresh scent. The Rochas bottle I used to have was so old that whatever top notes the juice had once had were long gone, and it was a little flat; Mon Parfum Cheri is what I'd imagined vintage Femme would smell like if it were fresh, and it is simply divine! I actually wear it for daytime and don't find it too strong or too formal or too any of the things I've heard said about it by people who respected it, but maybe didn't "feel" it. I think one's history and context especially matter with a distinctive fragrance like this one, because it IS sort of odd. I've now had decades to get used to what I believe must be the chemical known as Prunol, so it smells pleasant and familiar to me now.

I have the EDT, and have yet to smell the EDP.
08th April, 2015

J by Jennifer Aniston by Jennifer Aniston

As a fan of quiet, beach-y scents, I wanted to like Aniston's first fragrance, but felt suffocated by the particular musk they used.

J I like a lot better. While its quality and depth are nowhere near my beloved L'Instant, I enjoy the combination of magnolia, sandalwood, and vanilla present in J, too. It's not overly sweet, and it's very well-done for an inexpensive scent.

I don't buy fragrances for their packaging or bottles, though I did notice that the bottle looks and feels elegant for the pricepoint, too - I like its heft and simplicity, and the alluring shade of blue.

For now, I look forward to the day that J shows up on the shelf at T.J. Maxx - I'll happily pop it into my cart and enjoy it.
07th March, 2015

Nero Assoluto by Roberto Cavalli

I'm really mad for this one. If I'd guessed, I'd have pegged it as something that came out between 2005 and 2007. That was the time of Black XS and Black Orchid and Euphoria, and this feels like Cavalli's version of the dark fruity stickiness.

I've read reviews where Nero Assoluto is said to be similar to Madonna's Truth or Dare, and they're certainly in the same heady white floral Coty Prestige ballpark. It actually smells to me like a fragrance resulting from the same brief as Euphoria, but executed for the Cavalli brand instead of Calvin Klein. I love them both; side-by-side, Euphoria starts to seem positively steely, gender-neutral, and safe for work, and Nero Assoluto is warm and very femme on the spectrum.

I'd be interested in the full breakdown of notes; it's heady with white florals, and while I can't pick out a specific fruity note, it feels jammy and spicy to me as well as laden with vanilla and wood. Sometimes I think I'm picking up strong black coffee.

Speaking of black coffee, I haven't smelled By Dolce Gabbana in ages, though Nero Assoluto has the kind of big, warm, womanly Italian personality I always associated with that beloved discontinued fragrance. I don't mean to suggest it as a substitute - it's not - yet it's similarly provocative and unapologetic in an 80s kind of way.
21st February, 2015 (last edited: 12th May, 2015)