Violetnoir emailed me to meet up this weekend (for the first time! yay!) when she was in town, so she, Louise and I started off with a leisurely lunch at the M Café in the Chevy Chase Wall o´ Bling.
Lunch could not have been more fun, with that instant chatty bonding you get in perfume land – like getting together with some old friends from college. We were chatting away about families, clothes (ask Vi about her shoe addiction!) etc. having a grand old time.
Through the extensive sniffage afterwards, we found a couple interesting things, but more often than not, our comments ran along the line of, “Well, huh, that´s sort of … you know … it´s kind of like … hmmmmm.”
I saved a ton of cards to remind me what I sniffed, and here it is:
Van Cleef & Arpels Feerie – okay, the bottle´s adorable (they pointed out you can use it as a ring holder) and it´s apparently selling like hotcakes to men looking for presents for the ladies. It´s an inoffensive, pretty, musky-green violet that works nicely in the summer heat and isn’t overly sweet. I feel obligated to point out that while it is waaay cute I wouldn’t call it classy-looking — at $150 it’s visually step up from those kitchy Avon bottles (which btw I love) but not a giant step.
David Yurman – the NM website says woods, patchouli, rose, waterlily. Bored the crap out of me, but actually I think it´s perfect for the line – it smells exactly like the jewelry looks, which is expensive and a little blingy without an iota of unwelcome sensuality. The bottle is absolutely gorgeous, one of the best I´ve seen this year.
Alien Eau Luminescente – fresh neroli? White musk? Clean amber? Dominique Ropion couldn’t come up with something more compelling than this?
Lancome Magnifique – smells vaguely like Sensuous (did they crib each other´s notes?) but with some rose in it, and vaguely like, I don´t know, a bunch of other stuff. But it didn´t make me dry-heave, itself an achievement for a Lancome fragrance.
Ungaro – the new one, it smells like a high-concept 1987 ad for Frederick´s of Hollywood – according the the SA, blackberry, jasmine, patchouli, and a really trashy amber-musk base hiding something not quite nice, like a bathroom air freshener. (Okay, she didn´t say that last part, and I´m guessing it´s the jasmine rearing its skanky head). It´s a fragrance with the basic, neon-lit message of slut however you say that in Italian. I would have loved to see the brief for this — I imagine something along the lines of, I want it to smell like a cracked-out porn star on a bed of candied caramel, although it probably just said something like appeal to women 14-80 and sell like crazy. Can I tell you how happy this made me, in a sea of timid scents? Way to go with your 80s freak flag, Francis Kurkdjian! I am not sure I´d wear it on a bet, but I´m thinking the gourmand base might make it a big hit in cooler weather (and I cannot believe they are trying to sell this in August in this area.)
YSL L´Homme in the special Jean Nouvel-designed container. Okay, this at least was good for giggles. A base like a bolt, and an inverted bottle like a … I hope I can find a photo online, it´s like a cross between one of those water-filled gimmicky thermometers and a sex toy. It´s got a teeny green YSL logo bobbing around in it like a fishing lure. No, I am not making this up. Fragrance for the man who is compensating for something, or (possibly) just a big fan of Nouvel.
Fascinating by Ferragamo – which I assume given its bottle is a flanker for the original F? If it’s not in fact a reworked F (since I don´t see the original anywhere, and had an interesting discussion with the SA who claimed no memory of any previous fragrance in that rather distinctive bottle.) I can´t think of a fragrance with less of a truth connection between the juice and the name. Oh, wait, unless it´s Notorious. THE PLOT THICKENS: I was just on the Sephora website, and the original F Ferragamo has disappeared – there´s the original photo, but the listed fragrance is now “Fascinating.” Have I lost my mind? There was another fragrance in the dimwit shoe bottle, right? Is this the same juice? It seems a bit more insipid than F, and they were calling it “new,” here´s the blurb: Mandarin Sorbet, Sambac Jasmine, Patchouli. “Style: Chic. Fresh. Young.”
Mark Jacobs Pear splash bottle – none of the three of us could smell it.
Mark Jacobs Daisy EDP – smells pretty much like the EDT. The bottle’s darling – like the Daisy EDT, only this one has an opaque black bottle with gold flowers. For those of you who couldn´t get enough of the EDT.
Tom Ford White Patchouli – fine, I wanted interesting, and this is interesting. It´s got a strong, medicinal note like oud, and it goes through a great peppery stage early on before it turns into something thin and bitter and unpleasant (on Louise´s skin and my card.) YMMV. I can´t decide whether there´s oud mating with patch to give that bitter, apothecary note, but it ain´t pretty.
Angel Men Pure Coffee – this was scrumptious, if not weather-appropriate. The bottle says (if I am deciphering my hideous handwriting correctly) “woody coffee, oriental, musk.” Funny brown rubber bottle with the basic Angel men design. Wear this and find random strangers burying their noses in your neck, moaning with pleasure. You were warned. I certainly hope to be wearing this again in the fall to see if my ardor holds up.
Are you getting irritated with me and my whining, just reading this? I´m irritated at my whining. Sometimes, your fondest wishes have the funniest way of turning around and biting you on the butt. On this blog I´ve mocked various nasty/oddball fragrances, when I wasn´t lamenting the lychee, sneezing at the pink pepper, struggling to find new and different ways to insult subway-killers like Angel. And then you know what happened? I found myself wandering through a bunch of perfumes with two dear friends, with the dawning realization: I am bored to tears by most of these new releases.
I think you could line up much of what is here – from the orange Alien to Feerie to Magnifique to Lismore – and your take-home thought upon smelling them would be: innocuous. I kept pondering: is this a sign of the times? Are we in a mini-era of Safe Perfumes, born to help us out in a scary, Anthraxed, mortgage-defaulting, bank-imploding world? If the most exciting thing about Notorious is the name, what does this tell us?
David Yurman, fragrantica.com; Cicciolina and friend, images.wikio.com; YSL L´Homme image, yslbeautyus.com; ; MJ Daisy, neimanmarcus.com