Congratulations to the winners of last week’s Demeter giveway: Baby Powder – Cara; Clean Windows – Dinazad; Lavender Martini – Maria B; Lychee – Steve. Please Contact Us with your mailing addresses. And I guess nobody wanted the Vanilla Ice Cream. No takers? Anyone? Helloooo?
March came in like a lion this year, didn´t it? Gritting my teeth. You know what? I´m going to take the high road. I´m not going to add to the negativity of the world around me. I am going to get in touch with my kinder, gentler self (she´s in there, really! Hugs!) and not do a review of the four fragrances sitting on the premium, most desirable display space when I staggered into Nordstrom on a recent snowy night, looking for love:
Michael Kors Hawaii
Valentino Rock n´ Rose
Ferragamo Incanto Shine (yes, there´s a new one)
Asprey Purple Water
I could say something mean about all of these – or something kind – but I won´t. Instead I´ll say that they are all, on some level, interchangeable. Yes, they trend in different directions if you sniff hard (rose vs. pineapple, for instance). If I had room in my fragrance wardrobe for a new, inoffensive spring scent, any of those would do nicely. I wouldn´t need all of them, so I´d probably choose based on appearance. I find Hawaii’s bright orange color disturbing. I´d probably go for the Incanto Shine. If you look at that bottle in isolation, and not as part of a flanker trend that drives perfume hags who need to get a life right up the wall, it´s quite pretty, and Diva would borrow it cheerfully.
Next up at Nordstrom, sharing the premium fragrance area, was: Marc Jacobs splash bottles, the two new ones (Orange and Cucumber) and they´ve reissued Rain to join them. The Orange smells mostly like orange (bergamot, mandarin, neroli and tamarind; water mint, freesia and white rose; moss, tonka bean amber, musk and blonde woods), and the Cucumber (wait for it!) smells like cucumber, although with this one you can discern something more complex in there if you concentrate (watery cucumber accord, lotus leaf and cactus flower; linden blossom, blue tiger lilies and Dutch freesia; frosted musk and blonde woods). Rain and Cucumber together smell pretty nice. Sticking to the high road … uh … they are a huge 10 oz. for $65 and would look appealing on your dresser if you bought all three. Cucumber is the most interesting. If I didn´t buy uncomplicated fragrances like cucumber at Caswell & Massey for one-fourth the price, I´d be interested.
On to the new Coach fragrance, which I think is just called Coach. I went into the boutique to smell this; you won’t have to, because very soon every female around you in the mall will be wearing it. The SAs in there have received their training and were working hard to sell it. The bottle´s very pretty and monogrammed and fits in nicely with their bags. There´s also a purse spray and a cute solid-perfume keychain that you can hook on your purse. I asked the notes (from Coach.com: mandarin, guava, lily, violet leaves, Genet flower, jasmine, mimosa, honey, amber, sandalwood, vanilla and “a very precious wood called iris.”) They were stressing the Genet Flower. Really working the Genet Flower. I said to the SA, in a friendly manner, that I was smelling something a little green, like lily of the valley, and she informed me loudly that it was THE GENET FLOWER. Huh, I said, baffled. I´ve never even heard of that – like Jean Genet? What does it smell like? But she had, sensibly, skittered sideways and gracefully out of range to assist someone else, so I had to do a fairly extensive amount of online research to get someone´s educated guess: “In Geoffrey Hartman’s essay ‘Homage to Glas’ (Critical Inquiry, volume 33 (2007), pages 344-361) he mentions “Genet´s flower name (ginestra, the broom flower)” in reference to the written content of Jean Genet.” I still can´t find anything mentioning what broom smells like, but since it´s a noxious invasive on both coasts of the U.S., maybe you can tell me.
Then I toddled over to Sephora, where I smelled Aquolina Blue Sugar. Wow. Wow! I have smelled a lot of things, but this! Well, the bottle´s kind of pretty! I mean, it´s really blue! And I have … I… this …eaaahrrrrhrggghhhhh. %&#%)%%*$#
okay, that´s it. That. Is. IT. They are looking for a fight with this one.
A sentence popped into my head that sounds very Now Smell This (who, by the way, is quoted in the current issue of Glamour, how awesome is that?) – maybe she´ll come over and grade me? Here it is: “If you were trying to select a fragrance least likely to appeal to me, you would be hard-pressed to come up with a better choice than Aquolina Blue Sugar.” Notes are: Bergamot, Tangerine Leaves, Star Anise, Ginger, Licorice, Patchouli Leaves, Lavender, Heliotrope, Coriander, Caramel, Vanilla, Cedarwood, Tonka Bean. Blue Sugar is the men´s companion scent to Pink Sugar, a fragrance of almost thermonuclear sweetness and a scorched-sugar undertone, like a pot of toffee left far too long on the surface of the sun. Blue Sugar is less sweet than Pink Sugar, sure. The addition of anise and licorice make it more candy-like and further lessen its appeal, if such a thing is possible; the heliotrope, caramel and vanilla replace whatever sugar was removed with a vaguely foody, powdery sweetness, and I can´t really smell the patch in all that hot mess. Blue Sugar begs the question: who would buy this? (According to a brief chat with the SA at Sephora: nobody.)
The most interesting thing about Blue Sugar is: it´s not a practical joke. It´s not the product of some group of jaded French perfumers sitting around creating Secretions and/or Human Existence in between sips of Bordeaux and drags on their Gauloises. I weep for the people who had to smell it 300 times during its construction. I only had to smell it once, and as I walked through the mall back toward the exit, I meditated on the amount of money I would have to be paid to wear this. The soft number I came up with was $1000, but that may be low. It is the nastiest thing I have smelled in recent memory, and that would include Angel and Secretions (although, on second thought, it might not include Encens et Bubblegum).
I swear, I am not a price-point snob about fragrance. I spent the better part of last week wearing Hilary Duff Love Ya, which is hardly grand perfume art. I am not claiming the fragrance high ground; I just want something that smells good, and there´s nothing wrong with a cheap, cheerful comfort scent that makes you happy. But there are limits to human decency. Okay. Off to sniff my $16 Crazylibellule & The Poppies Shanghaijava Collection perfume stick solids. Thus far the Encens Mystic and the Musc and Patchouli are working for me, thank you very much.