After a hugely disappointing encounter with a scented magazine strip, I was almost certain that I wouldn't enjoy a real spritz of Calvin Klein Beauty. But yesterday, when I tried some on at Ulta, I was stunned by how much I liked it. Beauty is a super-clean, elegant white lily scent that has no indoles to ruin it. The sillage is moderate, and the drydown does not have that powerful skank that seems to be the signature element of every Calvin Klein scent that I've ever worn in the 1980s and 1990s. Compared to Obsession, Escape, Eternity, CK One, and other fragrances in the Calvin Klein product line, Beauty comes across as an adopted child or a changeling. She is just too delicate, too feminine, and too clean to feel like she has Calvin Klein's blood running through her veins. Those of you who have a taste for more-complex white florals or indolic, animalic scents might find Beauty a little too simplistic to be your cup of tea. But for those who crave a clean, pure scent, this could become a real favorite. I liked Beauty so much that I returned to Ulta an hour later to put on another spritz, and by the time I got home, I resolved to get my hands on a decant, if not a full bottle.
If Shalimar were a woman who had a long-lost brother or tomboyish sister, it would be Visa. The family resemblance is definitely there, and while I realize these scents aren't from the same house, they very well could be. Visa is moderately vanillic on my skin, but it is more incense and leather than anything else. At times, I catch a hint of powder too, but it's so restrained that it could never overwhelm the other components of the scent. I fell in love with Visa the moment I spritzed it on, and as it wore throughout the day I was pleased by how well it captured my favorite aspects of Shalimar without ever becoming too sweet or powdery (which I admit can be a problem with Shalimar if applied too liberally in warm weather). Visa's leathery incense *could* make it suitable for a man, and yet it's not so masculine that I would hesitate to wear it. It's perfect for all the times when I might want to feel like Jo March from "Little Women," while Shalimar makes me feel like her uber-femme sister Meg.
I sniffed this at the mall today, and I was stunned to find that it is almost identical to Cinema by Yves Saint Laurent. Perhaps the most notable difference is the strength of the sillage and the time it takes to dry down. Cinema is a bit more tenacious and stays truer over time, whereas Pure seems deliberately designed to fade out in a watery sort of way. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, though. Don't most of us want a perfume with staying power? It's a shame that Pure is widely available in department stores, while Cinema is so hard to find that most of us have to buy it off the Internet. These two scents are similar enough that customers should really have the experience of sampling them side by side so they can choose the one they like better. As for the packaging, Pure is a clear perfume in a clear bottle. It is not the most glamorous or iconic-looking presentation, but it seems appropriate because they are marketing this as a clean, non-perfumey fragrance that is politically and environmentally correct. However, I must admit I vastly prefer Cinema's glamorous golden packaging because my personal bias is toward perfumes that look like luxurious, feminine art objects. If I'd never known Cinema, I would have loved Pure and never known what I was missing.
So far, this is my favorite perfume by Les Parfums de Rosine. It's fresh and optimistic and sunny, and true to its scent description, it actually smells "yellow" like the yellow roses that inspired it. When wet, there's a fleeting scent of ripe apples combined with a cool, earthy top note that reminds me of a freshly cut hyacinth bouquet. As soon as that evaporates, it becomes a pleasant mixed floral with flashes of that lovely yellow synesthesia phenomenon I mentioned. I swear, when I sniff my arm, I can actually see a field of yellow roses bathed in golden sunlight. This would be a lovely antidote to winter doldrums but also a nice way to celebrate the coming of spring, the long days of summer, and the bounty of a fall apple harvest. In other words, a scent to appreciate throughout the year.
Everything I've tried by Parfums de Rosine has turned out to be a winner, and this is no exception. Rose Praline is very similar to Brulure de Rose by Parfumerie Generale, but with far greater restraint when it comes to the chocolate note. Whereas Rose Brulure smelled like hot, molten chocolate and raspberry, Rose Praline is like the same confection at room temperature because the chocolate note isn't quite so urgent and in-your-face. What I get is more of a nutty smell than a chocolate smell. All in all, there's a lovely interplay between the chocolate, nut, rose, and berry notes, with no single note dominating the others. But what I love most about it is the universality of the whole. Sure, it's a gourmand, but not the kind that's so sweet that some people won't wear it for fear of smelling like a teenager. And yes, it's a floral, but not the stuffy kind of floral that other people won't wear for fear of smelling too old-fashioned. It seems to strike a happy medium that would please almost anyone. I've gotten compliments on this while wearing it at the supermarket, and my husband likes it too.
Vanilla Exstasy has a pulsing warmth and sweetness that works well with my chemistry. It is highly reminiscent of Flowerbomb, but even better, in my opinion, because it's not as thick. Flowerbomb could've been my Holy Grail, but it always had a waxy, heavy undercurrent that made the air around me feel too dense to breathe. Vanilla Exstasy stops just short of that. If you don't like super-sweet gourmands, then neither of these fragrances are for you. But if you're a gourmand lover like me and you found Flowerbomb to be just a little over-the-top for your taste, Vanilla Exstasy could be just the thing for you. It dials down the intensity by about 10 percent.
I'm puzzled by the poor reviews for this fragrance. It's a lovely cocoa scent rounded off with a buttery, egg-like note that is reminiscent of chocolate custard. Perhaps it's the egg custard vibe that throws people for a loop. As far as chocolate scents go, I prefer Guerlain Gourmand Coquin over this one, but this is a close second for deliciousness.
I sprayed Sensuous Escape Deep-Nourishing Body Mist on my wrist the other day, and I was surprised to find that it is a remarkably close dupe of Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. The sillage is much stronger, though, so it's actually an improvement on the original. Not to mention more affordable, too. If you don't like Bronze Goddess, there are two other fragrances in the product line, which consists of the body mist, shower cream, and lotion. All are packaged in brown bottles or tubes with a tropical motif. My favorite of the three is actually the one called Sweet Surrender. It smells incredible. Because of the tropical feel of the packaging and the fact that the entire product line turned up out of the blue this spring, I suspect this might be a limited-edition thing for the warm-weather months. Get it while you can, just in case they discontinue it.
Fragrances -Victoria's Secret - Coconut Passion EDT
prettykitty1 5/10/2010 6:19:00 PM
This is my Holy Grail of coconut fragrances. It's light, airy, sweet, and creamy, and it is free of patchouli and musk, my all-time least favorite ingredients. As with any coconut, heliotrope, or vanilla fragrance, there's a risk of getting the dreaded Pla-Doh note. That happened to me with several coconut perfumes, including Lavanila Vanilla Coconut. But I am overjoyed to say that this is not with the case with Coconut Passion, at least for my body chemistry. This smells purely edible on my skin, so much so that it cuts down on my usual cravings for sweets in the middle of the afternoon.
For someone who doesn't normally enjoy perfumes that are designed not to smell like perfume (a pointless endeavor, in my opinion), I'm surprised by how much I like CLEAN Fresh Laundry. It's so much more wearable than Prada Infusion d'Iris, which until now has been my only other experience of a fragrance that smells less like perfume and more like a freshly showered human or a freshly laundered piece of clothing. I think the difference is that Infusion d'Iris has no gourmand notes in it, whereas Fresh Laundry has a slightly fruity, aqueous quality to it that makes it just a touch more like conventional perfume for the body. I still like Infusion d'Iris very much, it's just that lately there have been times when it seems so much like a cleaning product or an air freshener that it feels downright wrong to spray it on my skin. Fresh Laundry has the same super-clean vibe, but with edible top notes that make it seem more like the kind of fragrance I would wear on my person.
I wore Volupte in parfum form in the early 1990s, and when I ran out, I tossed out the empty bottle, never realizing how hard to find this fragrance would become. Flash forward to March 2010, and I have just scored a parfum mini like the one I used to have. And let me tell you, this is utterly divine. Volupte is a fruity floral with mouthwatering melon and aqueous overtones, but it is much smoother and more sophisticated than the ones being marketed today. You could never mistake it for Juicy Couture or Flora or Daisy. It's ten times better, in my opinion, and I don't think it's just my nostalgia. I have never tried Volupte in EDT form, but I wouldn't doubt that it smells sharper, as most fragrances are radically different between EDT and parfum concentration. One of these days, I may buy some EDT off eBay, but for now, I'm content to enjoy my parfum. It's the smoothest thing on earth: not too sweet and not too tart.
I was drawn to this product for three reasons: 1. The invigorating citrus scent 2. The thick coating of finely milled gold glitter. 3. The name. It seemed like a nice meditation on optimism. Once I put it in the tub, it wasn't quite as fragrant or skin-softening as I had hoped. Nonetheless, the sight of all that glitter sparkling in the water indeed lifted my spirits and made me feel more optimistic than when I started my day. Given the price, I don't think I would purchase this again, but I did enjoy the glamor of the sparkly suds. I also enjoyed rinsing out the tub afterward because the suds would twinkle like mad from all the glitter inside. It was like the entire floor of my tub was paved in diamonds. I saved half the bubble bar for a second bath, and when I use it, I will add a few drops of essential oil or perfume oil to amp up the weak fragrance and make this bath experience even more of a sensory treat. The next time I buy a LUSH product, I'll probably go for The Comforter, which smells wonderful. It doesn't have glitter, but I'm willing to give up the glitter in exchange for a different olfactory experience.
Fragrances -Unlisted Brand - Laurence Dumont - Tendre Madeleine
prettykitty1 4/5/2010 8:38:00 PM
If you like L by Lolita Lempicka, you'll love Tendre Madeleine by Laurence Dumont. They are about 95% identical to my nose. Given a choice, though, I greatly prefer Tendre Madeleine. I'm actually not a fan of L because the salty, tangy note has been known to make my nostrils flare and mouth water in an unpleasant way, as if I've sucked on a lemon. This is not happening with Tendre Madeleine at all, thank goodness. To put it another way, imagine you've baked a batch of cookies that came out a little too sour or salty for your taste. Now imagine making the recipe again, this time with more butter or margarine to take the edge off and stop your mouth from puckering with every bite. I can't comment on the price or packaging quality, as I am currently enjoying a small decant.
I pretty much second everything that SensualSusanna said below. This my holy grail of lightweight, fun, inexpensive fragrances. Five lippies! Update March 4, 2012: Now that I've tried Eau de Reglisse by Caron, I realize these two are very similar scents. I prefer Eau de Reglisse ever so slightly.
I love this sweet vanilla from Fragonard. It is reminiscent of Shalimar and Emeraude, as it starts out incense-y and smoky and then dries down to a smooth, creamy, nutty scent that's perfect for relaxing. Fragrance notes from the website: Sensuous vanilla flowered with Ylang, heliotrope and rose on a sweet harmony of chocolate, cocoa and musk