Springtime in Fragrancetown


Over the past six months or so, I´ve been completely enthralled with watching cooking shows, particularly those on the Food Network. Some of my favorites include those starring Giada DeLaurentiis, Paula Deen and the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. I particularly enjoy watching Ina because she seems to always be cooking for every hot gay man in East Hampton. As she is known to say, “How bad could that be?”

bio-guy-fieri_alThere is a special place in my heart for Guy Fieri. For some reason, I find him irresistibly offbeat and charming. To me, he´s a combination of Susan Powter, the early 90s “Stop the Insanity!” infomercial queen (it´s that spiky bleached hair of his), and Chef Emeril Lagasse. His bombastic personality is hugely entertaining on his “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” show, where he cruises America in a 1967 Chevy Camaro in search of off-the-beaten-path eateries. Usually, these places aren´t especially dive-y, but they are far from being white-tablecloth, fine dining establishments. If you´re in the market for a sloppy hamburger you have to eat with three hands, down home barbecue, all-day breakfast that will leave you stuffed for closer to a week, or authentic ethnic fare in places you would least expect to find it, Guy is your guy. He´s on a perpetual journey in search of “Flavortown”, and I´m always happy to go along for the ride. His travels have inspired me to look for new springtime scents that aren´t necessarily hoi-polloi or hard to find. While I´m always up for an adventure, be it the search for the ultimate burger, the most amazing barbecue, or a ridiculously hard-to-get vial of fragrance, sometimes, what happens to literally be right under my nose, is just what the doctor ordered. Hop in and enjoy the ride…

True Religion Eau de Parfum: Bergamot, Mandarin, Violet Leaves, Granny Smith Apple, Red Currant, Freesia, Pear Tree Blossom, Amaryllis, Purple Plum, Hinoki Wood, Ambrette Musk and Blond Cedar Wood. Smells like at least a dozen other existing scents; Bond No.9 Scent of Peace being one of them. It seems like the newest idea in Fruity-Floral Land is to add woods in the drydown instead of, or in addition to, musk. This one happens to have both. It is pleasant enough, and if you happen to be drawn to scents with juicy berry/citrus openings, this is a good choice. The cedar wood is the most predominant in the drydown, probably because it is a clean-smelling wood, and therefore safe to ply the masses with. Hinoki is richer and very distinct to my nose, and I don´t pick up any; whatever the heck “Ambrette” musk is supposed to be, I have no clue.100 ml goes for $79.00, so in fragrance terms, it´s quite a bargain. The bottle is kind of charming and hippie-ish (the large center crystal reminds me of the big jewels belly dancers paste to their navels), but don´t scramble for it if the juice doesn´t tickle your fancy.

DKNY Be Delicious Fresh Blossom: Grapefruit, Cassis, Apricot, Muguet, Rose, Jasmine, Apple, Blond Woods, Smooth Skin Accord. Here again we have fruit, woods and musk. Why the euphemism “Smooth Skin Accord” needs to exist is beyond me. Why can´t we just call it what it is? Musk! I guess I´d get thrown out of a marketing brainstorming session if I dared suggest something like, “dirty”, “skanky” or “strongly redolent of roadkill”. I am about 10 or so years past the targeted demographic for this scent, so maybe I should just stick to my Donna Karan favorites: Chaos, Cashmere Mist and Black Cashmere. But wait a minute – if the designer herself can flout her youthful transformation (check out this month´s issue of Allure) courtesy of a raw food diet, aromatherapy, intuitive healing, Reiki and yoga, why is there a need for demographics for her fragrances? She looks damn good for 60, and I can honestly say, approaching 42 has me feeling a bit hangdog right now. I probably just need to have my chakras adjusted. As for Fresh Blossom, it has the tart green apple heart of the original Be Delicious fragrance, and the apricot shines through nicely, along with the jasmine and a slight bit of the grapefruit and rose. I like it; demographic be damned. You can procure 30 ml for $40.00, so you don´t have to choose between a new fragrance, and a sack of groceries.

Flora by Gucci Eau de Toilette: Citrus Accords, Peony, Rose, Osmanthus Flower, Pink Pepper, Sandalwood. I love the smell of osmanthus flowers in fragrances. One of my favorites is Parfum d´Empire´s Osmanthus Interdite. It has an intense, fruity green tea vibe that I adore. It´s springy, and sparkly and I love it because it does not mimic the legions of other fruity florals out there. Unfortunately, I barked up the wrong tree with Flora because the osmanthus note seems to be lost in a hail of peony, pepper and sandalwood. Don´t get me wrong; this is a perfectly pleasant scent that is in keeping with the latest trend of fruits/flowers/woods. Since it is an Eau de Toilette, $65.00 gets you 50 ml.

Prada Infusion de Fleur d´Oranger Eau de Parfum: Oranger Fleurs Absolute, Tubereuse Absolute, Jasmine, Neroli and Serendoline. OK, the $64,000.00 question is: what is Serendoline? Is it the French translation of, “Serenity Now!”? Honorable mention will go to whoever can provide an accurate answer. In the meantime, how is Prada capable of getting away with continuing to sell scents that up and disappear within 10 minutes of application? I really like this one, but just like Infusion d´Iris, it´s gone before you get a chance to put the cap back on the bottle. Maybe that´s how they justify selling 200 ml bottles; if you don´t constantly reapply, than why bother? Calling it an Eau de Parfum is an even bigger misrepresentation. 50 ml is $74.00. Here’s an update: Since the two Infusion scents share some of the same notes, I layered them, and the result is surprisingly good. The combination of the two increases the lasting power a bit, but unfortunately, not that much.

And, now for the Lightning Round:

Philosophy Unconditional Love Eau de Toilette: As usual, the notes are nowhere to be found. But, as a fan of Philosophy fragrances, I can tell you that Unconditional Love is nothing more than an amped up version of Falling in Love, with the addition of a burnt caramel note. If you already have some Falling in Love, or Trish McEvoy #9 (Blackberry, Vanilla & Musk) for that matter, don´t rush out for this one; although, at $40.00 for 50 ml, it is a bargain.

Dior Escale à  Portofino Eau de Toilette: Bergamot, Citron, Almond, Orange Blossom, Cypress. This is a perfect eau frà¢iche scent for really hot, sticky weather. The fresh, green citrus is perfectly complimented by the almond note. I think I need a bottle or two to get me through the summer. $65.00 for 75 ml, or $85.00 for 125 ml. My upcoming birthday is May 5, for your gift buying convenience. It is sold exclusively at Nordstrom. To quote Guy Fieri, “It´s crazy good!”

Image of Guy Fieri: foodnetwork.com.

****Honorable mention goes to Zagara who answered the $64,000.00 question in the comments section about the “Serendoline” note in Prada Infusion de Fleur d’Oranger. Thank you!****

  • I absolutely loved this post. I am a fan of the Food Network as well. My Saturday mornings, and early afternoon, is all about the Food Net. On a related note, I told someone that I’d wear the brand Clean (Shower Fresh) to a brunch with Ina Garten 🙂

  • sylvia says:

    i didn’t get a chance to smell the new prada as is wasnt at nordie’s yet when i went. but iris lasts all day on me. so does escale. maybe my skin has good lasting power. who knows.

    ive learned everything i know about cooking from the food network. faves include alton brown, ina garten, and michael chiarello. giada’s good too, but she’s almost too calm. like the way she cuts stuff perfectly and neatly everytime. and her perfectly manicured nails. that would never happen! if i don’t slice off my nail polish into the pile of parmesan i am haphazardly grating, then it chips off when im washing dishes.

  • mi-cuit says:

    How are you guys taking the news about the EU restrictions on all those molecules? Think the damage can be averted somehow?

  • Tara says:

    I really liked Escale a Portofino when I smelled it, but I already have so many summer scents I resisted buying. Didn’t care for the Unconditional Love – funky chemical sweetness layered over Falling in Love base. I’ll stick with the original…

    • Nava says:

      I think Unconditional Love has that same funky plasticky note that a lot of people smell in the La Vanilla scents and other fruity vanilla based fragrances. It’s pretty awful. 🙁

  • zagara says:

    Serenolide is a newish (2005) Givaudan proprietary molecule. It’s also in John Vartavos Artisan, another orange blossom. It must compliment that note particularly well.

    From the Givaudan website: “Serenolide is an elegant white musk with sweet fruity connotations providing warm and soft velvety notes that blend well with all kinds of trendy fruity accords.”

    I loved Escale a Portofino and I’m so glad it’s finally distributed in the US.

    • Nava says:

      Thank you!! I was searching for “Serendoline” because that’s what’s listed on Neiman Marcus’s website.

      I’d better get myself some Escale PDQ. 🙂

  • Elle says:

    I am deeply in crush w/ T.R. on Ina’s show. 🙂 I really enjoyed Alex Guarnaschelli’s Cooking Loft and am hoping it’s not been canceled. She reminded me of what I imagine a chef would be at Hogwarts.
    I love Prada’s FdO parfum and am going to have to try the Infusion to see if it shares the same notes. Am looking forward to trying the Escale a Portofino. Sounds wonderful.

  • mals86 says:

    My sister swears by Ina’s recipes too. My children have become Food Network junkies (as well as Discovery and History Channel junkies, too — and no, I didn’t suggest that!). Every evening they’ll say to each other, “Hey, get your pajamas on! Alton’s on at eight!”

    My mom is a No. 5 girl and it smells great on her. I’d gotten her a mini of the EP for her birthday, but there was a grandmother emergency and we didn’t have time for leisurely sniffage. But I’m excited: we can share this Chanel!

    That Escale de Portofino sounds bee-yoo-tiful too; I’ll have to order a sample… oh no, more $$$$.

  • mals86 says:

    And I forgot to say: that osmanthus pic is lovely.

    • Nava says:

      You’re welcome.

      I agree about Magnifique; way too over-the-top for me. Eau Premiere had a nice citrusy note to it the last time I smelled it, but any version of No.5 is just so wrong on me.

      I can overlook Ina’s East Hampton fabulosity in favor of her cooking. I’ve made quite a few of her recipes and they always turn out well. It does sometimes get under my skin because I was in her Barefoot Contessa shop in East Hampton a few times and witnessed the clamour for her $40 a pound lobster salad. The Hamptons region is a place unlike any other, and definitely not as bucolic as she sometimes portrays it.

      Alton Brown is really amusing, too. I never manage to catch many of his shows, though.

  • mals86 says:

    Thanks for the reviews, Nava!

    I went a-sniffing in my local Belk’s just yesterday; most of these are not available there. (In fact, most of everything good isn’t available for sniffage locally. Small-town life.) I did test the Fresh Blossom on a card and found it very pleasant but totally forgettable. I haven’t liked any of the Delicious scents, though.

    At a friend’s request, I tested Lancome’s Magnifique EDT on one arm, and would have wound up screaming, “The horror! The synthetic horror! Kill me now!” except that I had also finally gotten around to testing No. 5 Eau Premiere on my other arm and was completely charmed. I don’t wear No. 5 well – too powdery – but EP is beautimous.

    I’m not an Ina fan… I always feel that her attitude is something like, “Look at my FAAAA-bulous life! Don’t you wish you were me?” which may be untrue, but she just irritates the pants off me. (I love Alton Brown, though. Thank the Lord for the Food Network.)

  • Vasily says:

    FYI … Ambrette musk is a plant-derived musk from the abelmoschus moschatus (musk mallow plant).

    • Nava says:

      Wow, thanks Vasily. 🙂 I’m so used to those “jargonated” note descriptions that I just ass-u-me-d! That and I have absolutely no knowledge of plants, other than how to kill them in record time. 😀

      • bella says:

        I have smelled all of these except the DKNY and the Prada one. I was at my local Nordstrom’s for about two hours driving the SA crazy. I must of put twelve different scents on up and down my arms. Anyway, the Escale a Portofino is like Southern Italy in a bottle! I absolutely love this one!!! I need to back and buy it now!

  • Margot says:

    Thanks, Nava. It is a treat to read your reviews. I am heading over to Nordies this weekend to sniff Escale à Portofino – it sounds wonderful. In North Carolina, we need our refreshing summer scents. Right now, we are having a tender, moist spring, and I’m spending my days in a perfect cloud of SL Bois de Violette. Heaven.

  • KellyV says:

    This is my EASY fix for the Wal Mart ad. Just refresh the site. It seems to work and keep away the ad. I wrote to Wal Mart but got no reply which doesn’t surprise me. It is not just your site and not just Wal Mart I am afraid. On the Yahoo home page I got drifting leaves that scattered over to a “video ad.” I don’t understand how the marketeers think we, the customer, will love these types of ads. BUT – I love your site and it is worth every refresh.

  • GalileosDaughter says:

    Thanks for the report Nava! I love it when you all sniff so we don’t have to (thanks on the Flora and the TR). 🙂

    I love the Prada IdFdO, like the Fresh Blossom well enough (but cute bottle!), and am now curious about the Unconditional Love and the Escale a Portofino.

    Next time you’re in the department store, you might want to sniff the new Pleasures splashes and the Sunkissed Glow. I was pleasantly surprised, but YMMV.

    • Nava says:

      We’re like the Merry Maids of fragrance! 🙂

      I’ve always liked the Be Delicious bottles, and I think Fresh Blossom is the best of all the flankers. Escale is the one that really stole my heart.

      I read about the new Pleasures splashes. I’ll have to check them out.

  • March says:

    I totally forgot about the Prada, I will have to try it.

    Thing is, I found Prada Iris to be a big yawn when it came out. Then I realized that I could smell it often on people (men and women) moving around me during the course of the day. I decided last summer that there are far, far worse things that my fellow sweaty DC citizens could have embraced as their office fragrance. 🙂

    • Nava says:

      The layering of the two works really well. The result yields a stronger incense note and not so much iris. But, that’s on my skin.

      The worst is sweaty suburban New Yorkers bathed in Angel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked the Jones Beach boardwalk during high summer and smelling it. Yowza!

  • Tarleisio says:

    When it comes to spring/summer scents, my Green Fiend comes into its own. Having said that, one of last year’s biggest olfactory moments was when I came across Dior’s Escale a Portofino. I think my head exploded. It was – perfect. It was heavenly. It was light, and not, summery, citrus-y and everything I possibly could have asked for in a warm weather scent. I went through one 150 ml bottle last summer and another one is on my wish list. When the weather starts blooming, this is what happiness smells like.

    I love iris, so when Infusion d’Iris came out I was wildly excited. Alas, on me it was – all cheap hairspray, ALL the time. I couldn’t wait to get it off.

    My sister, she of the frequent flier miles, just returned from London with an upcoming birthday present. Like you, I’m a Taurus! 😉 I sent her off to London with a list, and apparently, the Ormonde Jayne boutique was a smash success. She was so grateful, she bought me a bottle of Frangipani. I can’t wait to try it!

    • Nava says:

      I definitely need a bottle of Escale. I was going to splurge on a bottle of Bond No. 9 Brooklyn, but Escale really bowled me over. Still, I have a month to decide… 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    I haven’t sniffed any of these with the exception of Infusion de Fleur d’Oranger. But, I admit to not giving it a fair chance. Probably because I was covered from wrist to elbow in other scents, any of which would have immediately devoured the delicate Infusion. So I sniffed it on a card and I could barely detect it. Can’t remember if I sniffed it on my partner in spritzing crime’s arm. If I did, I still wasn’t impressed. But I will re-try with bare arms!

    Of the others, I am tempted by the Flora by Gucci, but it does sound discouraging. Osmanthus murdered by peony and pepper? Merely pleasant? Sigh….

  • Marina says:

    Nava, I have a weakness for Guy Fieri too 🙂 I actually DVR Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives 🙂

  • Louise says:

    Thanks, Nava, for a nice report of scents I might otherwise have ignored in a run-through of my department store.

    I did have a quick sniff of Flora, but it was a migrane day, and it really smacked me up side of the head. The Orange Infusion was OK, but I like the original much more. As for lasting power, I bought the men’s version,and it’s heavier on the basenotes-and lasts in a quiet way for hours.

    I’m a fan of Guy, too-love the show 🙂

    Off to Sniffa now!

  • i love both the infusion d’iris and the new infusion de fleur d’oranger, but as you said, the lasting power is not really satisfying. however, it works for me if i put a little on my clothing and on my scarf, in case i wear one, as it stays much better on fabric than on skin.

    as for osmanthus, my favourite is still the hermessence osmanthe yunnan, but thanks for recommending osmanthus interdite. i’ll have to try it!!

  • tmp00 says:

    Well, I’d like to comment, but that damned Wal*Mart ad is there even when I go to the comments portion now. Grrrrr. Another reason that Wal*Mart MUST DIE!!!!!

    • March says:

      Tom, we are trying to resolve that issue. I’m really sorry; I promise WalMart isn’t paying us for it (unfortunately) but it seems to be imbedded in something else and we haven’t figured out how to get rid of it.