Pia sent me a bottle of fragrance with a full disclosure at her local Post Office (they know she´s swapping perfume), resulting in a “ground only transportation” label or some such, which to be honest I didn´t even know existed. I just knew I wasn´t supposed to be shipping perfume, so I wrap everything tight, keep my mouth shut and hope for the best. I wanted you all to know about this option (which obviously won´t work if you´re shipping outside the Continental U.S., although maybe to Canada?) and that her bottle got here in decent time. I´m going to check this out the next time I mail something. Have any of you done this? My frustration is lack of consistency by the USPS – I got into, uh, nondisclosure because one PO employee told me I couldn´t ship perfume, period. Which obviously is not true, is it? And then they wonder why we´re sneaky. Because, you know, you are always reading in the news about bottles of perfume spontaneously blowing up and taking out whole city blocks…
We´re all saving our money up for the Scentsation, right? Also, sometimes I feel an irresistible urge to blog about stuff that doesn´t cost an arm and a leg. Today’s a shout-out to Fragrances that give you the Big Bang for the Buck. Louise and I were discussing this recently. Cribbing from her emails:
“In the cheap wonders category… L’Aromarine has essential oils for $7, and Mousse de Chene (the only one I have tried so far) is great-a slightly sweet, longlasting moss, with a touch of brightness…they’re at Beautyhabit now with that seductive 25% off.” I tried this the other day and it is dee-lightful. Just a rich, mossy smell. Can´t beat the price. Anyone tried any of the others? Some of them sound great.
Louise adds: “Cabaret by Gres is another one-just got a tester – a nice woody rose-like a very light Montale.” She also gave me a sample of Zum Mist Frankincense and Myrhh, which I guess gets blogged about on MUA? I’d not heard of it. That stuff rocks. Are you ready? On drugstore.com for TEN BUCKS in a metal bottle. Lasted hours on me. A clean, kinda summery incense.
The big winner was Anarchy, Irma Shorell´s dupe of Donna Karan’s d/c’d masterpiece, Chaos. Twenty bucks a bottle for Anarchy and I´ve never tried it. I scored a bottle of Chaos on fleaBay awhile back. I was on there recently and the bottle prices are even more ridiculous. I was reluctant to try Anarchy, because seriously, how close could they get?
Was it a perfect dupe? No, but I need to qualify that answer and explain why I´m okay with that. First of all, I never smelled Chaos when it was having its (brief) life on the shelves. The extant bottles are aging at this point, and like all discontinued fragrances, some of them are aging more gracefully than others. I will hazard a guess that Chaos´ striking bottle meant more were left out unboxed on vanities, etc., so people could look at them, leading to degradation of the juice. Second, I´ll make a general observation that I think given any fragrance´s ingredients, some scents may be more likely to turn than others. All I have to judge by, in the end, is my several samples from various sources (decants, sent by friends, etc.)
Chaos is one of my favorite winter perfumes, as regular readers know. However, like Mitsouko, applying it is not a decision I make lightly. It lasts forever on me, it haunts my clothes (albeit in a wonderful way), and it is not something I want to wear to the gym or anywhere else people aren´t interested in a heavy scent. Also, most of my samples have developed a slight varnish-like smell in the top notes that I have learned to ignore, knowing that the payoff is worth it. I assume this is the result of some particular aromachemical slowly going kaput over time.
Anarchy manages to capture the joy of Chaos without feeling so sonorous, no disrespect intended to the Queen. It is slightly sweeter, spicier, slightly less woody. If I smelled it in a sample vial along with the rest of my stash, I might plausibly assume it´s just another variation on the theme, as all my samples smell somewhat different at this point. Louise is quite pleased and says it lasts a long time on her, so that test is passed. I have reapplied my sample several times, pondering and comparing it to the original (or, the original as I know it). I am now going to commit Fragrance Heresy by pronouncing it a reasonable substitute for Chaos, and not only that, preferable if you are more into the warm spicy bits. There is something less … difficult about it; it is missing the waxy harshness that Chaos shares with Black Cashmere and which is great 95 times out of 100, but which on the other five occasions has me wishing I´d selected something else, frankly.
I´ve not tried any of their other dupes of classics, like Venezia, My Sin, Replique, etc.? Any reports from the field? Hey, how are y´all feeling about those cheap bottles of Tocade you bought?
Other recommended cheapie brands: Yves Rocher (which are your favorites?), the CrazyPoppies solid perfume thingies, Roger & Gallet (although their lasting power isn´t great, the ginger is gorgeous); Speziali Fiorentini (Te Nero/Black Tea is a wonderful honeyed tea); and Pacifica (Mediterranean Fig is my favorite, with its sandalwood base). For drugstore frags, I keep meaning to try Coty Vanilla Musk, which I know some people really like. I can personally vouch for Coty Wild Woods, found online for a song. Just call it “Bois Sauvage” if you’re embarrassed. Who knew $11.99 could smell so good? Buy a pretty atomizer to decant it into. (btw it’s a “men’s” scent).
Any favorites I’ve overlooked?
Today’s Big Bang giveaway, donated by Louise: a tester bottle of Cabaret by Gres (sadly, it doesn’t last on her, and I don’t like rose, although it’s a nice woody one; lots of positive reviews on MUA). Say you want it in the comments and I’ll put you in the draw.
PS Not sure if Patty’s doing a post for tomorrow — I have one I’ll put up in the morning if hers hasn’t magically appeared by then, so stay tuned!