Vertigo! Ralph’s Delicious in Code! Curious?

red apple.jpgMy #1 daughter was yearning for her first bottle of perfume, one she’d choose, not one of the gazillions of samples, decants and bottles I’ve provided for her gratis. (She mostly wears the Clean line, graciously provided by Patty). I told her I’d entertain the idea but was making no promises, and off we headed to the department store and Sephora. She wanted to smell DKNY Be Delicious, because her grrrl hero Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) wears it, but she wanted to try things on before making her decision. She joins me on my perfume forays because I love the way things smell on her; her skin is slightly oily and she almost always brings out the best a fragrance has to offer. One unexpected but fun result of all this is that she’s developed a spot-on nose, and frequently points out some element I might have missed.

In Sephora we found a patient, young SA who understood the assignment and we got busy. We tried on DKNY Be Delicious and Red Delicious, but both were really too old for her, a realization which caused me to reassess them in terms of their deceptive simplicity. Be has the refreshing bitterness of a tart green apple without (and this is the interesting part) actually smelling like a green apple, and the Red is both less sweet and more juicy/spicy than I first realized. We tried on the new Lacoste Touch of Pink, which smelled nice but way too musky on my young teenager. We’d already dismissed the Escada summer scents (are there really four of them now? Ibiza something, Island mmmph, Rockin’ Rio, and, uh, the new one, Grumpy? Doc?) because she finds them too sweet (!) and on her they are peculiarly short-lived for something so aggressive out of the bottle.

The Stilas were all wrong for her, although I love their makeup. She tried on something else (she couldn’t remember what), sniffed, and said ‘it smells like Play-Doh.’ I sniffed it skeptically and, yup, precisely. I was forced to revisit Britney Spears Curious and Fantasy (she loved that bottle!) and, again, to concede that, while I am at least 20 years older than their target audience, those are both legitimate, thought-out fragrances, as opposed to, say, Jessica Simpsons Dessert line, which is such crap it should be illegal. (There. I’ve said it. That stuff is so nasty my 8-year-old won’t touch it.) I admit I was quietly relieved that she failed to fall in love with any of the J. Lo fragrances, even though (God, shoot me now) two of them, Live and Love at First Glow (ack!) were reasonable contenders.


She wound up with a bottle of Ralph: ‘sparkling green apple leaves, zesty orange mandarin, charismatic pink magnolia, seductive purple freesia, and soft blue musk that explodes into a colorful floral fragrance.’  Sephora. With its chunky bottle, bright color and clean, bold graphics, Ralph (along with Ralph Hot and Ralph Cool) appear to be aimed at a younger demographic. Ralph is the apple-green scent she clearly liked in Be Delicious, rendered in a softer, less sophisticated, more floral way. I can’t imagine anyone much past high school wanting it, but it’s perfect for her right now.

Finally, at Sephora I sampled yet another new, dull spring Guerlain  I can’t even find it online. They must have a giant vat of unmemorable, fruity-floral juice they just keep decanting into an endless stream of bottles with girly pink logos and equally insipid names based around the words ‘precious,’ ‘heart,’ and ‘love.’

armani code for women.jpgAt Nordstrom I was thrilled to discover some new spring scents that are departures from the endless parade of summer-type simple florals. Armani Code for Women EDP (orange flower, fresh ginger, honey, sandalwood), has a gorgeous slender blue bottle with a black lace pattern embossed on it. The juice itself is curiously spring-fallish; the SA described it as more ‘sensual’ but I’m not sure I’m going there. What it has is the bright weightlessness of a summer fragrance but the dark seriousness of a fall fragrance, and it’s quite a winning effect. I get very little orange on me, it’s spicy ginger, sweet honey and dry sandalwood. It has decent lasting power.

Vertigo by Vertigo (Californian lemon, Brazilian orange, spices, roses, jasmine absolute, tuberose, ylang ylang, sandalwood and white cedar) is a fresh, light summery fragrance that is primarily citrus and cedar on me, although the jasmine and tuberose assert themselves a bit more in the drydown. It manages to be feminine without being insipid. My only quibble is the name, which makes me think of Gucci Rush and would be appropriate for something racier. This girly little number should be called something like: Tulle. Taffeta?

While I won’t go so far as to say that I think Code for Women and Vertigo are brilliant, they differentiate themselves from most of the mid-range department store fragrances in that I’d actually wear either one of them cheerfully if someone gave me a bottle. Would I buy one for myself? Hmmmmm, the Vertigo, no, but the Code is a definite possibility. Both are available at and probably plenty of other places.

  • Victoria O says:

    I love Ralph! And I can’t wait to try Code, gee I wish I could have been there with you.

  • Katie says:

    Hey March, before I forget, whenever I end up sending an envelope out to you, I will put a sample of Cumming in there, so PLEASE do not buy one or anything. I know, I am so slow, made worse by the craziness and busy-ness of my life the past couple of weeks. I have too many pots on too few burners lately! Gah! Anyhow, I saw you mentioned just buying it on Marina’s blog, and that is just silly since I can make one up for you. Plus, the free sample that others have been receiving I guess are just those foil samples, and… that is not the best introduction to the scent at all. It’s a spritz well sort of scent I think.

  • March says:

    Patty — yeah, definitely more “year-round.” Geez, what haven’t you tried? PS This time I think it really smells more like cherry.

  • March says:

    Katie — wow! F-bomb Extreme!:o

    That would be a hard one to take on a regular basis. I’d end up “losing” it like DVDs I hate… I’d rather smell Pluto! I do think their noses are waaaay more sensitive. The girls notice little hints of things on my clothing (scarves, lapels) I can barely smell.

    PS I’ll send you a sample of Code too! I’ll look to see, can’t remember if I have your address…

  • March says:

    Marina — it is sooooo much fun sampling scents with them! The 8yo isn’t terribly interested yet, but given how into her (weirdly bohemian) look she is, it won’t surprise me.

    I got a Code sample at Nordie. I’ll send you some.

  • Patty says:

    The Armani Code isn’t bad at all, and I wasn’t expecting much. It’s just not a normal “summer” introduction. It feels pretty year-round.

  • Katie says:

    Oh great. Back goes Code onto the “must try” list. I was hoping I’d forget, and now you make it sound irresistable. It’s flacon is simply divine, but how you managed to make the juice sound even better is killing me.

    My boys only just turned seven, and thus far the only scent they have picked out for themselvs is Pluto. As in, the cartoon dog. It smells mostly like a cheap knock-off of CKOne, so they don’t actually wear it all that often. It makes the rounds though. The bottle is awfully fun, and even I can see why they picked it for that reason. But their noses thankfully seem to lead them to more interesting scents from mom’s collection instead most of the time. One of the boys just fell head over heels with Flowerbomb Extreme unfortunately, so I am hoping he forgets about it soon. He claims it smells like chocolate cake with “jam frosting.” Which, yeah, that’s about how it smells on his youthful skin to tell you the truth! I think sometimes that kids’ noses are way more astute than ours, but they just lack the language to express themselves more fully to us grown ups.

  • Marina says:

    I can’t wait till my little one is old enough to be my “partner in crime” perfume-wise. 🙂

    The more I read about the new Armani, the more I want to smell it. Ginger, honey, sandalwood? Yes, pelase!