A little summer bummer (by Ann)

Have you ever been so looking forward to something that you can hardly stand the wait? And
then when it arrives, it’s not what you thought it would be. Perhaps it even turns out to be a huge
disappointment.
The same thing can happen with fragrance. We hear that something will be released in a few months,
we read the press release with all its hype, we read the list of notes, and we begin to salivate. Then
when we actually do get to smell it – big thud.
This happened to me recently with By Kilian’s (a favorite line for me) newest, Sweet Redemption. It was
billed as the last of the L’Oeuvre Noire series and sounded like a gloriously fitting finale. Why, with that
list of notes, how could it not? Orange blossom, vanilla, myrrh, opopanax, benzoin, incense.
With so many of my favorites all in one bottle, it smacked of Holy Grail material to me.
After I ordered a sample, I was at the mailbox every day like an excited child awaiting a birthday gift.
Where is it? Surely it should be here by now. It’s got to come tomorrow. Please don’t let this be the
package the post office loses.
When it finally did arrive, I excitedly tore open the envelope and spritzed.
I got a soft, powdery orange blossom mixed with vanillic sweetness, almost in baby-aspirin territory,
but not much else. OK, but there’s got to be more, I thought. So I waited. And waited. And waited. I re-
sniffed frequently, hoping for some fireworks or at least some kind of development, but it was not to be.
I’ve read that some people got something akin to mothballs midway through this, but on my skin it was
almost completely linear. Sigh.
As we all know, chemistry is everything.
I know for some of you this was love at first sniff. So if you’re one of those lucky ones, I’m green with
envy.
Please share if you’ve had a similar disappointment. Or, on the flip side, what have you sampled
nonchalantly, with no expectations, that blew you away?

60 Comments

  1. Oh, Ann, I’m so sorry. It’s happened to me, so often, that something described as being wonderful, raved over, something that gets top listing on MUA, arrives in the mail and smells like old flower water or bad doggy on me. I now know that much of which smells heavenly on others will not work on me. My big surprise recently has been Xerjoff 1861. I thought it would be “nice,” but it is blow-away heaven. It’s HG for me. And well, of course, I can’t afford it. But it still gave me a big smile.

    • Quinncreative, I love your “bad doggy.” Haven’t had one of those yet but I have had a couple that smelled like doggy shampoo. Glad the Xerjoff was a happy surprise for you (maybe I should send you my sample).

      • What??!! You have an unused sample? [Ears perk up and tail wags.] I’ll pay the postage. Anything for a sample. yesyesyes.

  2. The last time this happened to me was with L’aP Havana Vanille. Boozy tabacco and rum and vanilla sounds amaaazzzing but I got a horrible instant headache inducing burning plastic. I keep trying again but it is always the same result and the only fragrance I have ever sniffed to give me a headache. I read all the raves and wonder what I did to deserve my burning plastic hell.

      • ahhh now I wonder what I did to deserve exlusion from emoticon heaven! Why oh why? the horror doesn’t end!

    • I was OK with that one, Meg, but I know it wasn’t great on a lot of people. Stay far, far away from it — nothing is worth a headache, in my book. And as for that photo, credit goes to Musette — she sure can pick them, can’t she?

  3. Nearly all of the things you point out happens to be

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  4. Thanks for a great article, Ann! My latest big miss also was Sweet Redemption (thank goodness I didn’t order a full bottle unsniffed as I was tempted to do!). Those notes, the rave reviews, but alas…I got the mothball notes and also a generally heavy and oppressive feel from SR. I also couldn’t wait to try the Vero Kern line, and it was a huge disappointment. I mean BIG miss, full blown scrubbers there.

    Hmm now…one I loved unexpectantly….Guerlain L’Instant is never popular on the perfume boards, but I was surprised how pretty it really is. DH loves, always gets compliments, I’ve never gotten any “plastic-y vanilla”…so go figure. Maybe I can’t smell right…:-) but since everyone else seems to like it I’ll enjoy the blissful ignorance.

    • So sorry, Sherri. It’s a shame, isn’t it? And I haven’t had much luck with the Vero Kerns either (the lavender one was fine, but the other two — whoa no!). The L’Instant is just beautiful on the right person, so I’m glad you’re one of them.

  5. Well, I have to say I loved it. I didn’t get weirdness or menthol. I emptied the whole sample vial (by mistake) into my hand and applied it in usual places and twelve hours laterI could still smell it, a beautiful orange blossom and whatever else is in there (great job of deconstruction, huh?) It’s a fact that I have strange skin and I actually do like a little pang in scents. God knows I’ve been disappointed before. Unfortunately, there are no full bottles of anything in my immediate future.

    • Hi lady, so happy that it worked for you, you lucky girl! I almost would have loved some menthol, some tang, anything to break up the sameness of it. You’re welcome to my sample, dear.

  6. I tried this just once, and it evoked a big “Meh”. Didn’t feel the need to try it again. I got exactly what you did from it. But then again, my fun discovery of the summer was another orange blossom, Fleur du Male, which smells wonderful on me, and is soooo much cheaper!

    • Oooh, Masha, good for you! I’ve been wanting to try that one so guess I better get hopping. And so nice that it’s less expensive, too.

  7. This was my last big miss, too! I hardly ever have scrubbers, but this one just didn’t work. At all. I didn’t get any orange blossom– just something like moth balls and menthol.

    • Sorry to hear that. But hopefully you’ll find somethng you adore around the next corner. I know I did — the very next thing I sampled was MDCI’s La Belle Helene, which brought a huge smile. So you never know …

  8. Well I was all stoked about that bottle of Rich Hippie’s Rockstar I got on Ebay and then sadly it smelled like hippie pee. :( I was crushed I tell you. Thank you Lisa for restoring my enthusiasm for the Rich Hippie line by sending me other samples though.

    I am easily duped by those amazing descriptions Lucky Scent writes up for their items. And yes, by now I should be smarter than to fall for slick words…but I’m not. Sometimes I take it personally when the scent doesn’t live up to what Lucky Scent,(Or probably more precisely the perfume’s manufacturing company) described and I hold it against them for a while. I’m really never going to forgive them for tricking me into buying that Divin’Enfant sample. For some reason I’m still tempted to try Etat Libre d’Orange Fat Electrician but I feel like if I do someone at Lucky Scent is going to laugh and say, “SUCKA!” when they fill my order.

    Some of my favorite happy accidents have been when ordering samples from lines because another scent of their’s is getting a lot of hype. Like Kilian. I ordered a bunch of their samples because Back To Black got a lot of press. I like Back To Black okay but I LOVE Cruel Intentions. Same thing happened when I ordered a decant of DK’s Wenge because I liked Chaos so much. Don’t get me wrong, Chaos is amazing and I have to have a bottle of it too…but if I had to choose I’d pick Wenge.

    • ELd’O Fat Electrician is really nice. Honest! I got some as a sample-with-purchase from Luckyscent and was reluctant to even try it. How awful it would be if I actually liked a scent with a goofy name like that, then bought it, then had to ‘splain myself when I told people what I was wearing. Well of course I tried-liked-bought-wear-and have to ‘splain myself regularly. lol I consider it my perfumista cross to bear and offer it up. And I have to admit it is entertaining to see the looks on people’s faces when I tell them what I’m wearing. :d

      At least get yourself a sample and try it.

      • Teri, you have pushed me over the precipice and I shall finally order that Fat Electrician sample. How horribly entertaining it is to have the Fat Electrician smell nice but the Divin’Enfant, (Little Child Devine) smells like the 7th circle of Hell.

    • Joanna, I hear you on the lovely, enticing LS prose. They probably think “Sucka” every time an order comes in with my name on it. Happy you’re loving the Wenge and Chaos (we’ve talked before, I think, about how great they are, especially come fall). So you had some fun ‘splainin’ to do, eh, Teri? Now you guys are tempting me with the Fat Electrician.

  9. I did not expect to like Sweet Redemption – orange blossom and vanilla are note my very favorite notes. However I ordered a sample out of curiosity thanks to the good reviews/comments I read here. The next day after I tried it, I ordered a 50 ml refill bottle. On my skin, I can smell the incense, and the vanilla is not sweet, or strong.

    I enjoy your articles a lot!

    • Thanks, Milena. So happy for you, though, that the SR was FB-worthy for you — I’m more than a little envious! :)

  10. Reaction to scent is so state dependent. . .and also state changing. That is, if I’m in an exploring, interested state of mind, *everything* can smell good/interesting to me, and the problem is finding ones that can hold my interest, long term.

    An example: I was lucky to visit an Hermes boutique. Smelled Jardin sur le Toit, thinking I’d hate it for its pear and apple notes, but nope, it was charming. So was Iris Ukiyoe for those 30 minutes in store. . .but hours later there was some melon aquatic thing that was bleeech. I loved *everything* I tried that day. Pamplemousse rose, Eau d’orange verte and OV concentre, Caleche delicate. Honestly, I don’t need any more FBs. But I’m really tempted by Eau d’Orange Verte (and Concentre), and the Delicate.

    Conversely, I ran by the mall this weekend, on a big sale weekend, and wanted to try Bond’s Chinatown and BK’s Sweet Redemption. State: frustrated with parking and crazy people at the mall. Reaction: Chinatown was bugspray on me (even though it is lovely on others), and the Sweet Redemption was. . .interesting, odd, not what I expected. I’d be willing to try it again, but the SA was not willing to part with a sample. If I purchase, it will not be locally!

    There is a weird note in the Sweet Redemption, about 20-30min into the scent. Chemical, a bit bitter. It fit my mood that day, but I probably should spend more quality time with the scent than a one arm spritz before plunking down $135-225 on something so much sweeter than I generally enjoy.

    Last thought in my novella: SOTD Hermes Caleche Delicate–lovely cedarwood, rose and jasmine, and <> I feel pretty! Be well.

    • That is so true, isn’t it? Sounds like you hit the jackpot at the Hermes boutique. Must try the Delicate now …

  11. I love the Hermes Caleche Eau Delicate as well, and I’m now motivated to go find my decant! It’s a great summer scent, just lovely.

    My big disappointment was Puredistance My Antonia, which I received a free sample of in order to particpate in a contest to write a review of it for Luckyscent. I was so excited by the description – everything in it I love. On me – plastic bug spray. And I kept trying, thinking it might be that mood thing, but no, plastic bug spray it was. Hence, I did not end up submitting a review. I did read the winning one, and I could only wish it smelled like that on me!

    • How does Caleche Eau Delicate stack up against Kelly Caleche? Kelly is one of my go to scents, so this makes me curious. I am glad to know I am not the only one that got bugspray out of Puredistance Antonia. I was excited to write a review too, but my skin hated it so badly, alas. :(

    • I had that same reaction/response to Puredistance Antonia. I felt really badly that I could not review it. Instead, I scrubbed it!

      That said, state of mind, or perhaps daily variations in chemistry, or both can make a difference for me. I have some scents that I can tell from the minute I wake up will be awful on me that day (and I have learned to avoid them on those days), whereas on other days I can tell almost immediately that those same scents would be wonderful.

      • I did not like Puredistance Antonia either. I won a sample a while ago on Bois de Jasmin. It didn’t help that the packaging is so pretentious. I didn’t absolutely dislike it but I found it rather bland and boring. I liked M though. Not enough to want a bottle, but I will finish that sample at least.

    • Yay, Maggiecat! Someone else who liked Delicate! It does not get much love in the blogosphere. For me, it says clean, ladylike, expensive/luxurious and subtle all at the same time. So of course, I paired it with brown running errands clothes and a messy pony tail. I *will* get around to wearing it with a suit, soonest. It’s my weird contrast ‘fume pairing :D Hey, it *is* great in the heat–over 100F today, and it was not overbearing. That is amazing.

      As for Puredistance Antonia, I agree, not inspiring. Not terrible, just not amazing. As for comparing the Delicate and Kelly Caleche, I can’t give a real review. I liked the Delicate better on paper, and was willing to give it skin space. The Kelly Caleche was more synthetic? biting? I wasn’t willing to put it on that day. SAs start looking at me oddly when I use wrists, arms, then ankles. After that I have to stop. I know Robin at NST reviewed it when it was released. Cheers; stay cool and fabulously fragrant.

    • Wow — the Puredistance Antonia didn’t sit well with a lot of you guys. A kind friend sent me a sample and when I put it on, the first thing it reminded me of, oddly enough, was Ralph Lauren’s Safari, which I love. Of course, it changed a bit later and became its own animal. I liked it pretty well but not enough to splurge on a FB.

      • Antonia does smell like Safari. It’s all the galbanum. It wasn’t billed as such but it as a chypre-ish structure.

    • I am usually a huuuuuuge greenie fan, so I was looking forward to Antonia. Alas, “bug spray” was probably a kind description of what it was like on me.

      Srsly, my children – who are used to Mom smelling weird – went out of their way to avoid me while I was wearing it. Ugh.

      • Oh, no, Mals! But, hey, if they’re really getting on your nerves one day and you need a litte peace and quiet, you know what to do …

  12. Joanna, I swear I actually heard stifled giggles when I sniffed my sample of Fat Electrician (Sorry, Teri)! I actually tossed it! Serves me right for dropping 4 bucks on a clever name!

    As for Chinatown, based on Luca T’s rave in the Perfume Guide, I walked over to Sak’s and got a sample from an irritated SA trying to sell a Bond to a gentleman clearly in over his head. Even if I had liked it instead of loathed it (never met a Bond I thought worthy of the price), I wouldn’t have bought it from her.[-([-(

    By the way, Hi Anita! This is my very first actual post after lurking for years! Sorry to come off sounding grumpy, but it is Monday after all!

    • OMG I put it on my Lucky Scent order 20 mintues ago! It will be fun either way to see how it works out on my skin. And either way I’ll add it to my collection of perfumes with clever names…right along side Stormtrooper from Carnival Wax, (Which I like actually.)

      • You may *love* Fat Electrician; I did. Haven’t bought a FB, but I love the vetiver/incense vibe, and have never understood the title. My father’s an electrician :d Harumph! I’m just being silly about the title, but truly like the scent. If I were not the queen of incense FBs already, I’d have likely bought that one.

        Chinatown smelled fantastic on a woman who went through my office, so I thought I’d try it even if all Bond 9’s had failed before. Honestly, I think I’d tried Chinatown, too, but between Le Guide and the lady I admired, I was inspired to retest. Fake peach/prune and bugspray on me, but certainly heavenly on others. I think Bond No. 9 may have something in their base that goes awry on me, the way Burberry’s does. Wish I knew more about perfume, to understand why. Ah well, there are nearly as many tiny fragrance vials out there as fish in the sea, right? Happy hunting!

    • Ladies, it’s a darn good thing we don’t all find the same ‘man’ attractive, right? lol

      What a shame ‘he’ didn’t appeal to you, Mother C. There is something just so whimsical about walking down the pavement wafting a fat electrician. Seems so Lewis Carroll.

      Joanna, if you don’t like ‘him’, you can always keep your sample to threaten the family with “if you children don’t behave, I’ll get out the fat electrician!”

      • LOL Usually I threaten to sell them to the gypsies. I will have to threaten them with the fat electrician just to change things up.

    • Hi, babydoll! I’m so glad you stopped by! I just got on here. It’s been a wacky day. Long, LONG slog of work….then El O and I went and harvested peaches for an elderly neighbor.

      I should be happy…..and I will be…but right now I’m looking at a bushel of peaches in the kitchen….8-|

      xoxoxo>-)

  13. I have a laundry list of disappointments, but every so often one really irks me. I bought Costume National’s 21 (unsniffed, my stupid) on the strength of many favorable reviews and comparisons to stuff I loved. Hey, they made Scent Intense, which I unfailingly get compliments on! But nooooo. It was very, very unpleasant on me, from jump and it didn’t improve.

    I haven’t tried the Killian’s yet. I am trying to avoid anymore purchases this quarter, or next. Way too much fun in the spring.

    The flip side was Encre Noire, which I expected to think was OK, but had huge love for.

    • Hi, Sybil. Glad you hit it off with Encre Noire; it’s nice to be unexpectedly wowed sometimes. And I hear you about putting the brakes on purchases; I’m having to back way, way off on my sampling.

  14. Is it possible to format the posts from this author before putting them up? I like the posts but I find them really hard to read.

    • Hi, Krizani. Sorry about that; we’re working on it and doing our best.

  15. I have a long list of disappointments, but the most baffling to me was Spiritueuse Double Vanille. I was truly amazed when it did nothing for me after lemming it because it sounded perfect to me!!
    On the cheap side, I was looking forward to Sensuous Nude because I like the other two, but me no likey!!

    • Don’t feel bad, Barbara, I think SDV was like that for some people. I crave it maybe once or twice a winter, but that’s it. Sorry you didn’t like the Sensuous Nude. I have a sample of it that I’ve yet to try, but I’m thinking it may fall into the so-so category for me. Now that I’ve said that, just watch — it’ll be a FB-worthy home run! Ha!

  16. Like This. I was going to love it. Was sure that I did love it, then tried to make myself love it. I still try a bit now and then, just in case I’ll love it. I don’t love it.

    • Hi, Dissed. I know what you mean; you keep trying in the hope one day that it will “click.”

  17. I thought I would LOVE Havana Vanille. The beautiful Lydia looked at me SO strangely when I said I couldn’t wait to try it. “are you suuuuure?” said she…:-? /:) “yes! Yes!” said I.

    “okaaaaay”…

    “yikes!”

    8-| (that’s Lydia, patiently waiting for me to stop hopping around so she can hand me a wipe)

    [-( (that’s Lydia, too…and can you blame her?

    ;))

    xoxoxo >-)

    • Too funny, Miss M! I now have the funniest mental picture of you hopping from one foot to the other, antsy to get it that scent off you. :)

  18. I had been waiting for Sensuous Nude to come out, thinking it would be a great scent to bring to the shore…I liked it but didn’t love it and it dissappeared quick. Another fragrance I thought I would really like was Miss Dior Cherie…I ordered a sample of it and also a sample of Miss Dior. I really disliked the Cherie, but LOVED the Miss Dior…so much I kept sniffing my wrist like a crazy person…I was at work so I had to sniff on the sly, furtively wafting my wrist in front of me every few minutes….man, I would get nothing done if I had that on everyday.

    • Oh, no, Maureen, a vanishing act from EL? Well, at least you found love with the Miss Dior. Are they strict about perfume-wearing at your office?

  19. I was very excited about this one too…and uck! baby aspirin.

    • Yep, a disappointment for sure. But with all the new releases coming out, we’re very likely to find something else to love.

  20. I was so positive that I would like Collection Extraordinaire Muguet Blanc by Van Cleef & Arpels I just spritzed it on myself and then spent the afternoon holding my arm away from my body. I was much more cautious about the Andy Tauer muguet but that was a no-go too. Wah, what can a former Dioressimo lover do?

  21. Hi, AnnieA. What was it about the VCA that you hated? I don’t mind that one so much, but the Tauer Carillon was a bit screechy on me, so had to pass on it also.

  22. I knew there was something about this fragrance that was bothering me- I think it must be the vanilla!! First I thought it may have been the honeyed orange blossom and I was surprised because I thought I loved orange blossom. But Vanilla and Orange sometimes don’t work for me in perfume..:( It does smell lovely on my skin and I can’t help huffing my wrist. but still there is *something*.

    • Lavanya, you might be right — sometimes that combination can be a little “off” or something on some people’s skins.
      It is pleasant, just guess we expected a little bit more.

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