This one has grown on me slowly. It's one of only two of the many down-market Claiborne formulations that I like (the other is Realities Sweet Desire). I am generally more of a fragrance snob, to the point of seeking out vintage versions and decants. I generally loathe the glutted, cheapened, chemicalized modern fragrance market. But Curve Crush feels very warm and cozy to me, and very reminiscent of some of my favorite florientals from the '80s-- notably Lou Lou, Obsession, and Ombre Rose. It has Lou Lou's depth, Obsession's cinnamon and tonka, and Ombre's honeyed baby powder. I've been wearing it a lot in the colder weather and gotten lots of compliments. I think what I like about it is the juxtaposition of the deep orchid midnote with the "frothy chai latte" topnote, creating a feel of both spicy warmth and wistful purple flowers. It's just pretty. Maybe not especially unique, but it's well-done and smells great on me.
This one gets a 3-lippie rating from me, not because it's mediocre, but because it is a marvelous classic (5 lippies for craftsmanship) yet I cannot wear it (0 lippies for wearability). On the right body chemistry, Youth-Dew is a drop-dead sexy Oriental with a lovely juxtaposition of warm, unctuous spices and a cool, loamy patchouli/powder finish. (The bath oil version is the way to go; the spray is just too much screeching aldehyde.) My grandmother--who could rock leather pants and angora sweaters in her 60s--wore the YD oil and it was a glorious experience to smell it on her. However, the jasmine is what ruins this composition on my skin. Jasmine always goes fecal on me. It's why I can't wear Opium, either. When I apply Youth-Dew, I feel like I am wading toward its potential glory through a river of... well, you know. And I never get there, I just keep wading through the... yeah. I will say that trying to make YD work on me is what inspired me to start wearing patchouli again, because that's the closest approximation of what I love about YD minus the jasmine. If you've been put off by "granny" associations, do give this classic a try with an open mind. If it works for you, it will unlock your sexuality like no one's business. Rowr!
For around $3, this is a wonderful and unusual blush shade, a warm deep rose-brown with faint gold shimmer. "Golden Pink" is a huge misnomer; this should be called "Russet Flush" or "Sepia Shimmer." I am a PPP with red hair, and I do need to be sparing in my application of this shade (it's very pigmented). I tap a large fluffy brush on the pan, blow off the excess, and buff in lightly. Very complementary to my skintone and hair. I have a Bobbi Brown Nectar Shimmerbrick that is just a tad too light to use as blush; I often use a light layer of Golden Pink under the shimmer and voila! Perfect blush + shimmer combo. This shade is deep enough that it can even be used with clear lipgloss to create reddish-orange matching lips!
I agree with the reviewer below: the range of shades for Colorburst is somewhat limited, but there are some fun brights (Coral, Fuchsia) and some sophisticated neutrals (Soft Rose, Hazelnut). The packaging is really cute, with its quilted effect, and the formulation is spectacularly light, smooth, and nicely pigmented. Hazelnut is my favorite shade by far. I'm a PPP with red hair, and on me, this is a neutral medium brown with beige-y shimmer that just plain looks polished and pulled-together. Not ashy brown, not orangy brown, not gothically dark, not greige-- just a classy medium brown that would work on almost everyone (who likes brown lipstick, that is). This one does look rather dark and grayish in the tube, but I assure you it doesn't go on that way.
Fragrances -Unlisted Brand - Auric Blends Egyptian Goddess
youdroppedabalmonme2 10/28/2010 6:29:00 AM
I have a rollerball of this in my purse at all times, for the days I don't feel like wearing "serious perfume." The thick, viscous oil does stain-- I apply a lot of it because this scent is hard to overdo bur can be impossible to detect unless you put a nice even layer of it all over the neck and decolletage and then rub it in. I only gave this a three because it tends to take on a smoky, campfire-y scent on me that overpowers the lovely soft musk. My husband once told me I smelled like bacon! I happen to love the scent of campfires and new wood, but I am a little disappointed that the very pretty floral notes in EG disappear so quickly.
I usually have respect for fragrances that trigger strong positive or negative reactions-- and often the respect blossoms into love-- but not this time. In the bottle, Red Door reminds me of rotting narcissus bulbs mixed with licorice and industrial solvent, but some things do smell better once applied, so could this be one? Nope. On my skin, it is cacophonous, loud, and synthetic-smelling, with a depressingly heavy-handed application of deep florals that is funereal rather than seductive. Just a.w.f.u.l. I think I might even choose a sharp stick in the eye over having to wear this stuff all day. However, I am willing to allow that this is magic on the right chemistry. I once hugged an elegant woman in church, and she rocked Red Door like no one's business. It somehow matched her rhinestone-buttoned suit and befeathered hat. But this is a Verrrrry Strong Fragrance so try before you buy.
By far my favorite of any musk scent I've ever tried. This is the epitome of skin scent: clean, subtle, baby-soft. So many musks are too sweet (Wild Musk, Skin Musk) or too sharp and synthetic (Jovan & Body Shop's white musks) or else just turn weird on me (Egyptian Goddess smells like smoked bologna!). Jovan Musk was an instant classic in 1973 and it has survived very well since then. I love that it's still sold in oil form! I am rather embarrassed by how many of my higher-end fragrances sit in the basement, unused, while my Jovan Musk gets frequent play. The fact is that this scent is easy to wear and easy to love, and is not out of place with any outfit or occasion-- unlike a lot of my stronger chypres and orientals. It just feels "good" and "like home." I smell it on my infant son's head after snuggling him, and it's not unlike his freshly shampooed baby-head scent. I know this sounds weird, but there is something about Jovan Musk that reminds me of Chanel No 5, minus (of course) the jasmine and ylang-ylang that give Chanel much more gravity and elegance. I think it's that abstract "clean" effect, where you're almost not sure what you're smelling. Is it clean skin or something added to clean skin? Doesn't matter. You just know that you like it! I encourage everyone to try this scent at least once. It's deserving of its status, despite the fugly drugstore packaging and low price. My suggestion is to layer the oil with the cologne concentrate (not the straight cologne, it's too alcohol-y and dilute). Ahhhhh. Simple pleasures.
Fragrances -Unlisted Brand - Fragrance Reformulations (General)
youdroppedabalmonme2 10/22/2010 6:53:00 PM
At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly and nostalgic (I swear, I'm only in my 30s!), I just have to write a rant about The State of Fragrances Today. In particular, the state of classic fragrances, reformulated, repackaged, and sold in discount stores and online. I've been burned-- no, scorched-- too many times by a seemingly incredible bargain on a once-loved scent. Three ounces of eau de parfum for $9.99? Seems like a steal, until you realize that what's stolen is the very soul of the fragrance in question. Yes, I'm talking to you, Monopolistic Cosmetic Conglomerates. EA Fragrances has turned White Shoulders into disinfectant, Giorgio into candied deodorant, Sebastian Design into diluted hairspray. Five Star Fragrances has made a travesty of Royal Secret and Pavlova. Coty Prestige has destroyed the integrity of Calvin Klein classics like Obsession and Eternity. Something not-quite-right happened to Shalimar when Guerlain sold it off but kept its name on the package. Same with Procter & Gamble's version of Joy, which is still putatively by Jean Patou. The real blow is that these reformulations are sold not only at discount, but also at full price in department stores. Part of the problem lies in the fact that since 1992, certain ingredients have been verboten for ecological reasons-- oakmoss and civet come to mind. However, I think the larger issue is simply the glutted fragrance market. Each year manufacturers launch hundreds of fragrances that all begin to smell like each other. And with organically derived ingredients like rose attar, sandalwood, and benzoin being replaced by "accords" like "mango musk" and "apple martini," it's no wonder they all have the same clumsy, synthetic character, like high-rent bathroom freshener. The line between Bath and Body Works' inhalable candy and real fragrance is increasingly blurry. I find myself spraying more and more of the scents I used to love, hoping that the faint hint of the scent's potential grandeur develops into actual grandeur, but nope. They may smell "good," but they're not art. Not anymore. So, those of us who miss the complexity and pleasure of vintage fragrances resort to trolling eBay for our fix, and hoping the fragrances we love have survived OK living in someone's basement for 30 years. I know there is no fighting the corporate behemoths that be. But I won't swallow my fate without speaking my piece first. So there it is.
**please note: the current version by EA Fragrances, being sold at discount outlets and online, is a dreadfully watered-down and generic-smelling travesty. To really appreciate Design, order the pure perfume in splash-on bottle or an older spray bottle made by French Fragrances, not EA.** I am not a big fan of gardenia, but I make a huge exception for Design, because it's just plain fabulous. An underappreciated drugstore gem from 1985 that followed Giorgio Beverly Hills by just a few years, and could be considered its tasteful and discreet sister. Design is just pure fresh flowers, but not in the modern sense of air-freshener synthetics. It really does smell like a bouquet of dewy honeysuckle, gardenia, and tuberose. The overall effect is fresh and soothing, but with real presence. Design is never cloying or overly sweet (something Giorgio and Fracas can't claim). It kind of reminds me of the smell of Aussie Sprunch Spray, another '80s memory... only better and more classy. Design is fresh, feminine, extremely well-made, and strikes a perfect balance between discretion and style. It has gorgeous sillage. But please try it in vintage version, there is no substitute! I keep mine in the fridge.
When Pleasures first came on the scene, it was the first-ever fragrance to be described as "sheer" and containing "living flower," meaning a shower-fresh accord that captures the dewy greenness of garden flowers in the rain as opposed to oils extracted from picked flowers. I went through a couple bottles of Pleasures at the time, as it was novel to smell so very clean and fresh and everyone was so excited by this particular Lauder launch. I've tried to recapture that excitement, but the truth is that Pleasures launched so many flankers and copycats, and ushered in such a boring and benign category of "sheer florals," that I can't get far enough away from Pleasures now. It smells no different than so very many Bath & Body Works sprays and B-list designer fragrances that have followed in its wake, reducing fragrance to the role of soap substitute rather than anything mysterious or seductive. Granted, Pleasures is a well-crafted and quality scent, and it certainly doesn't smell bad or offend in any way. It's perhaps the best of the sheer-florals bunch. But I will take my haunting chypres and sexy orientals over this vaguely synthetic bouquet of air freshener any day of the week.
Love the bottle and packaging-- very iconic. My grandmother proudly displayed her Fracas on her dresser, next to the Jungle Gardenia by Tuvache (another heavy-hitter floral). As a child, I remember sniffing the Fracas and thinking it was the most godawful sickening fetid thing I'd ever encountered, but I did allow that maybe it belonged to the realm of "stuff only adults like," along with whiskey sours and pickled herring and canasta. Now, at age 39, I still have the same visceral "yuck" reaction when I smell Fracas. Tuberose just ain't me. Jasmine ain't far behind. However, I am giving this three lippies because it is obviously a well-composed and costly fragrance that may work wonders on some people's chemistry. I have a healthy respect for distinctive, classic fragrances that take risks. Just don't take the risk of buying this one unsniffed.
This review is for Halston **before** it was acquired (and reformulated, and cheapened) by EA Fragrances. I tried some of the Halston now being sold in drugstores and discount stores, and while it retains some of its original character, it falls absolutely flat in comparison to the original. My advice is to get this on eBay-- someone is always selling vintage stock. SO, to return to my point: Original 1975 formulation of Halston is a magical chypre on my skin. Warm, woodsy, and clean, it has some of the best sillage I've ever experienced in a fragrance. Elegant, yet subtly sexy... it reminds me in the drydown of more assertive chypres like Aromatics Elixir and Paloma Picasso, but where those scents can be aggressive and difficult, Halston is just plain lovely. At first spray, it does smell a bit "dated," if only because it employs real oakmoss and is not the faintest bit sweet. But give it 10 minutes, and it will steal your heart with its gorgeous unfolding. I can see why previous reviewers have equated Halston with the glamour and excitement of the disco era. Still, it is timeless.
Highlighters -Bobbi Brown - Shimmer Brick - Nectar
youdroppedabalmonme2 10/13/2010 3:17:00 PM
Got this as a gift from my mom-in-law, who works at Barneys. Needless to say it was my first Shimmerbrick. I am a fair, yellow-toned redhead and these shades work beautifully for me. I wear them all combined as a subtle blush or as shimmer on top of a deeper blush, and I use the two palest shades as an eyelid color wash. I am really impressed with the pigmentation and lasting power of this product, and you get a lot of product in the package-- the equivalent of 2 standard blushes or 4 standard eyeshadows. I can't see these shades working on someone with a cool-toned complexion, but for me they give a lovely, subtle, warm, sunset-y coral glow.
Maybe this was better "back in the day," as so many classic fragrances have had to be reformulated-- but I can't find a single thing to like about Cinnabar. And that's coming from a lover of strong, retro, nonconformist fragrances. From the name and the Asian-themed packaging, I expected something cinnamon-y, maybe a little ambery and vanillic too-- along the lines of Opium. To my nose, Cinnabar has all the worst aspects of Opium with little of the cozy spices that make Opium so delicious on some women. It's got tons of indolic jasmine and strong cloves and on me it smells like dog poop mixed with toothache medicine. Just funky, fetid, dated, and wrong. I won't deny that some folks can carry this off, but it just dies a thousand deaths on my skin and is absolutely sickening. I usually do Orientals well, too.
At 85, Shalimar is one of those rare classics that possess both the baroque elegance and gravitas of the era in which they were created, and a timeless, eternally fresh sex appeal. It was the first vanillic oriental, and to my mind still the best--it inspired a lot of modern flankers like Obsession, Angel, and Princess, but has more "soul" somehow. I just love the juxtaposition of the refreshing lemon-bergamot opening with the smoky, boozy opoponax and vanilla, and then the delicate and unexpected iris that tempers the sweetness with a breath of fresh blue blossoms. I find Shalimar to be viscerally appealing and easy to wear from beginning to end. There are other classics I like but find harder to wear, especially scents with strong aldehyde (No. 5 EDT) or indolic (Joy, Youth Dew) notes. Shalimar is just pure, sweet, rich pleasure for me. As with any heavy-hitting classic, Shalimar can be a disaster on the wrong person (many women's skins pull an unpleasant "gasoline" or "rubber" note). It can also be hauntingly delicious on the right person-- I am one of the lucky ones! Some perfumistas bemoan the reformulation of Shalimar in the '90s, and insist that the fragrance can only be experienced in vintage form, preferably parfum (which is obscenely expensive). I have some vintage parfum and the newer EDP, and if blindfolded I couldn't tell you which was which. I did prefer the older, ornately ridged bottles to the smooth newer ones, which are shaped oddly like the outline of a bra, but it's the juice that counts. And I LOVE, love, love, this fragrance. It's just perfect!