March Picks Up a Loser at the Drugstore

On our previous post, Drugstore Cowgirls, Patty and I took the drugstore challenge – sample drugstore scents and pick three: one for ourselves; one to exchange as a gift; and the biggest loser. Patty’s already posted her loser.

This post is about my big loser – but really, it´s about more than that. Because, honestly, I was hoping to find some decent drugstore scents. And I emerged from the CVS pretty battered.

First off, what is the deal with Coty? Think about it and weep. This is a perfume house with an amazing history, the house that gave us one of the greatest perfume gifts of all time – Coty Chypre – a fragrance your average frag buff would give his/her right arm for. Seriously, follow this link to for a fascinating, brief look at the house of Coty.

And now look what the world has come to. Based on my visit, Coty has cornered the market on crappy perfume. And some of the scents used to be wonderful – help me out here, Victoria? Robin? – I mean, maybe my memory´s bad, but Back in the Day, Emeraude was a gorgeous, shimmery, seductive thing. I´m a huge fan of vintage L´Origan, too. The current incarnation of Emeraude I sampled this week isn´t just a ghost of its former self, it´s a force of evil – as if Coty decided to take the original scent, delete the beauty, and overemphasize the darker, bitter elements, making the current version smell both incredibly dated and nastily synthetic. Is this where Guerlain is headed with its non-oakmoss reformulations? In 20 years, will I be buying Jicky at CVS for $3.99 in a plastic bottle shaped like a teddy bear? It´s keeping me up at night.

And why all the musk? White Musk, Pink Musk, Wild Musk, (just) Musk, Vanilla Musk, ad nauseum, until I got tired of writing the names down. They aren´t good musks (okay, what did I expect?), nice sexy skin scents. They´re mostly too sweet (are horny teenage girls the demographic?) and too synthetic-smelling, frequently with some dreaded marine note at the top.

My other big issue was the staying power. Given the way some of them smelled, maybe zero lasting power is a blessing. And I understand at this price point (under $10) most of them are basically colognes, there´s not going to be amazing sillage. But, man, these scents weren´t just fleeting, they were evanescent to the point of non-existence, like spraying on Canned Air. Like the Emperor´s New Clothes. (How´s that for a scent name? Jovan marketing team, are you reading this?) You´d have to empty half a bottle onto your arm to be able to smell it long enough for the ride home.

I was FRUSTRATED. Because I wanted it to work, because I love perfumes, because I´m anti-snob, because this is a free-market economy and so there must be some reason people are buying these things, because otherwise nobody´d make them. But who? And why?

I guess at the end of it I felt like – wait for it – a confirmed Perfume Snob. I sent Patty the one I actually liked, for reasons I´ll explain in the Winner´s Post. But it´s heartbreaking and wrong to be faced with so many losers, to have my high (okay, modest) hopes dashed.


So, without further ado, my Biggest Loser: Coty Ici. Not sure if you pronounce that “Itchy” or “Icky,” but either one´ll do. A cologne of such throat-closing, mortifying, plastic sweetness it makes White Shoulders look butch. Here´s the description:

“Launched by the design house of Coty in 1995, ICI by Coty is classified as a flowery fragrance. This feminine scent posesses a blend of: crisp and citrusy, with exotic florals. It is recommended for casual wear.”

Sure, if you´re completely smell-deaf and you hate every living thing around you, go for it. Put the whole damn bottle on. It´s so cheap you can buy three of them for $10, so why not? Just stay the hell away from me. I´m going home to have a good cry in the shower.

  • marchlion says:

    R, you haven’t tried many of the current offerings? Okay, I won’t hold it against you.:smile:
    You’re right about Coty Muguet, however I steered clear because for whatever reason, lily of the valley is just not my thing. I find it kind of gloomy, which I admit is a weird feeling to have about such a cute, defenseless little white flower!

  • Robin says:

    Late reply, but huge LOL at “In 20 years, will I be buying Jicky at CVS for $3.99 in a plastic bottle shaped like a teddy bear? “…and boy, is that Ici bottle hideous! I rather like Coty Muguet des Bois, which I think is a great fragrance for the price. Otherwise, have to admit that I have not even tried many of the current offerings.

  • marchlion says:

    I own four different iterations of l’Origan, and yes, the new one is just a pale reflection of the original, which is knock-down gorgeous — although as with all the vintages I get, I always wonder what it would have smelled like brand new. I keep trying (and failing) to get my hands on the Chypre… one of these days. Glad to hear Dana will be treated better. Coty deserves the same.

  • Victoria says:

    Coty fragrances used to be stunning–Emeraude, L’Origan, Chypre, Ambre Antique, to name a few. Nowadays, most of the ones you can find are completely dull. Some people report L’Origan to be decent, but after wearing the original version, I am not so impressed with the new one.

    But here is a bit of good news–I just learned that Dana was purchased by someone who will give it a makeover it deserves, much like Lubin has received recently. I am very excited.

  • marchlion says:

    Katie — okay, ladies, I guess I’ll have to get myself a bottle of Wild Woods. I’ll put it on my list, right after a bottle of Idole and the new LT Eleanora Duse…

  • marchlion says:

    P, no, Tabu is for meetings you don’t want to be at. Ici is for disabling potential rapists in dark parking lots.

  • marchlion says:

    Marina, no Coty Wild Woods — they didn’t have any, I swear. Better get busy and write my winner post — P needs to collect some feedback on hers — the suspense is killing me!:bouncy:

  • Katie says:

    Oh I too was going to mention Wild Woods, but I see Marina has already covered that. I just wish Dana and Coty would stop ruining perfectly good frags though. I get the need to keep costs down from a business point of view, but I don’t get how they can keep business running with the swill versions of stuff they’re selling.

  • Patty says:

    So the Ici for meetings that I don’t want to be at?

  • marina says:

    Awww…Jicky in a plastic bottle shaped like a teddy bear…awww…

    Seriously though, I am sorry you had this truly painful experience. I can’t wait to hear who is the winner! Coty Wild Woods? Or haven’t you tried that one? Because if you had it would have been a winner.