Candy, Good and Evil

Well, I did my bit for All Mankind recently. I was standing in Sephora perusing the men´s section, next to a nice-looking 30-something guy wearing a suit and a baffled expression. He was clutching what was probably his umpteenth bottle of Davidoff Cool Water (inoffensive, considering the alternatives) and muttering to himself as he looked at the other options. He finally said, à¢â‚¬Å“I have no idea.à¢â‚¬? Well, I had some ideas. So I strapped on my sidearms, put on my Perfume Posse badge and my cutest cowgirl hat, and went to work on him. He left 20 minutes later with a big smile on his face and two new bottles: Guerlain L´Instant Pour Homme and Terre d´Hermes. Sephora should start paying me a commission.

My job done, I smelled: Clean Men. We have the complete girly Clean line courtesy of Patty, which my tween girls just lurve. I smelled this out of curiosity à¢â‚¬” what would the guy version be like? Well, it´s just like the original Clean (which smells like laundry detergent to me) with a very pleasant overlay of citrus, which, sadly, melts away after the first 30 minutes, leaving you smelling like the original, which is one hundred times better than…

Hummer. The red one and the yellow one. No, I am not going to look up the notes. They were both nasty and tasteless, and March the Maleficent decrees to any man reading this: if you show up at your date´s door wearing this dreck, she (or he) will shut that door right in your face. You Were Warned.

Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison à¢â‚¬” Robin at Now Smell This reviewed the entire Poison oeuvre recently, prompting me to try Hypnotic, which I´d skipped (by the way, her comments section on Pure Poison contains some funny responses to her solicitations for suggestions for their next set of Poisons.) I was wowed by the original and worked through a bottle Back in the Day, but it´s just too much for me now, although I still appreciate how ground-breaking it was. Hypnotic smells not particularly Poison-ous, and I´m reviewing it here precisely because I was sure I´d hate it à¢â‚¬” it´s a gourmand fragrance à¢â‚¬” and I was soooo wrong. It´s lovely and eminently wearable, in my opinion the most wearable of them all. It has an almond-nutty-caraway edible richness without overt sweetness that is oddly addicting. Someone commented that it´s a man-magnet, and I can sure see why.

Hermes 24, Faubourg Eau Delicate à¢â‚¬” I have grown to appreciate the beauty of the original 24, Faubourg, but somehow I never seem quite up to its haughty splendor, which to me smells like Evening-wear Perfume in the most ornamental sense (orange blossom, ylang-ylang, jasmine, vanilla, musk, oakmoss, amber, and patchouli). Eau Delicate is clearly a cousin of the original, but the heady amber perfume is replaced by a light citrus woodiness that is stunning and closer to the skin. This would smell wonderful on a woman or a man.

I am far behind in my Candy Box sampling, due to recent events (I have some vintage Guerlains that are crying for attention), but I dug around and came up with:

L´Artisan Tilleuls au Vent which is so lovely it made me tear up a little. My new favorite linden, I like it even more than the Pre de Provence (which I like a lot) à¢â‚¬” less focused on the flower (which many would argue is a good thing, even I admit linden is a little funky). To me it smells like linden, tea, and honey in the sun, and does that not sound like perfume heaven? It is. FYI this is a room spray. Go ahead. Put it on, your arm won´t fall off. You´ll smile all day.

Serpentine EDP by Roberto Cavalli à¢â‚¬” à¢â‚¬Å“Gives you a lush feel of freshness & comfort à¢â‚¬¦ notes of mango flower combined with mandarin, tiare flower & amberà¢â‚¬? à¢â‚¬” You — the Cavalli! You of the astonishingly sexy clothing — you design the super-sexy bottle and fill it with fragrance that would be perfect for the Maxi-Pad scent strip! Feh! Note to all you clothing designers: release one more insipid feminine-hygiene-fresh fragrance and, in the words of Colombina the Terrible, heads will fly!

Marina keeps patiently sending me the finest vetiver scents, thinking that with enough exposure I´ll finally see the light. I am sorry to report that I am still unable to appreciate the glories of Sel de Vetiver, which has garnered many positive reviews but to me smells à¢â‚¬¦ uh, like salt and vetiver, which is different than the Guerlain Vetiver, Vetiver Pour Elle, or Vetiver Frozen, all of which smells like varying degrees of living green hell on me, and thank you so much for your generosity and patience. The Miller Harris Vetiver Bourbon goes wrong in a completely different direction à¢â‚¬” on me it becomes your basic head-shop patchouli-smell that makes me think of hamster cages. One of my life´s sorrows is how bad such a ubiquitous note as vetiver is on me à¢â‚¬” Wickle Chestnut & Vetiver´s nutty glory seems to be a rare exception. I promise I will keep trotting them out to see if my feelings change. Oh, speaking of which, it must be time for my semi-monthly re-test to see if I´m able to finally appreciate the glory that isà¢â‚¬¦

Bandit by Robert Piguet. To me this one is like a backbend in yoga à¢â‚¬” I don´t think I´ll ever get there, but that doesn´t stop me from trying. Hah, two months of smelling my skank-nasty-love Le Labo Vetiver has opened my mind a bit more to this one. A supremely butch leather with a hint of green. However, I still can´t quite imagine the circumstances that would lead to me reaching for this one. There is nothing that whispers à¢â‚¬Å“wear meà¢â‚¬? in here.

Donna Karan Labdanum à¢â‚¬” I think the blogger consensus was that these were fine, but probably not worth the money, especially since you´re supposed to buy all four (wenge, lavender, jasmine and labdanum) for $165 a pop and layer them. I can easily live without the lavender and the jasmine, but the sweet-smoky woody wenge was a no-brainer for an incense-lover like yours truly (okay, I bought a large decant). Colombina the Terrible is now reminding me how much I really need a larger decant of the labdanum, a resin-y smell that makes a perfect partner with the wenge and is a wonderful smell on its own when I´m looking for something straightforward and beautiful and meditative.

Guerlain Derby à¢â‚¬” Oh à¢â‚¬¦ my à¢â‚¬¦ God. I believe this is marketed (or, sadly, as is the case with so many great Guerlains, not really marketed) as a men´s fragrance and is only available at Guerlain´s flagship store in Paris, which is a crying shame. (Bergamot, Lemon, Artemisia, Peppermint, Pimento, Rose, Pepper, Mace, Jasmine,Leather, Vetiver, Sandal, Patchouli, Moss à¢â‚¬” A weepingly gorgeous unisex scent with a strong green-floral opening and a peppery, leather-Guerlinade drydown. I think any reasonable person who likes the Guerlain base and/or leather (which is just killer in this one) would love it. It manages the rare feat of being extremely refined and, simultaneously, wildly sexy. Guys à¢â‚¬” total chick-magnet territory. Ladies — if you´re not afraid of leather and a little skank, it´s a stunner.

Well, it´s time for this week´s free sample giveaway à¢â‚¬” Festival of Weirdness! Yep, these are things I´ve collected because they´re a little unusual. Etro Messe de Minuit à¢â‚¬” be the first one on your block to smell like Midnight Mass (or possibly moldy books!!) POTL Luctor et Emergo à¢â‚¬” will it be floral incense, or Play-Doh, on your skin? Waft some Iso E-Super compliments of Molecule! My beloved Versace Dreamer à¢â‚¬” caramel-leather heaven or auto-parts-Tootsie-roll hell?! And several others that will be surprises. Note: just cuz I think they´re weird doesn´t mean they´ll be weird to/on you. But they won´t smell like an Escada LE, either. And that´s a good thing. If you want to be entered in the drawing, use the word à¢â‚¬Å“weirdà¢â‚¬? in your comment below à¢â‚¬” as in, à¢â‚¬Å“I think linden smells weird,à¢â‚¬? or à¢â‚¬Å“you must be weird for spending that kind of dough on such nonessential fripperies as these,à¢â‚¬? or à¢â‚¬Å“Bandit should be sprayed as punishment on weird, manipulative people like Tom Cruise.à¢â‚¬? You get the idea. I´ll have First or Second Daughter do the drawing and announce à¢â‚¬” soon.

  • Dusan says:

    Glad you like Arpege :-). Definitely look into the Kenzo, a lovely and long-lasting scent.
    No objections whatsoever to either Allure or D&G. I have and love both, but prefer Allure, which will always be in my top 5. D&G has a tobacco note which may be disagreeable to some (dunno if hubby smokes), but stays fresh throughout and is très sexy. Another gorgeous, rich oriental I adore is Emporio Armani Night: pepper, citrus, violet leaves absolute, sage, amber, patch, benzoin, incense. Last, but not least, the megabeautiful Dior Homme: iris, cocoa, lavender, sage, amber, patch; however intimidating amber, cocoa and patch may seem, DH is a skin scent, at least on me it is.

  • March says:

    Dusan — thanks for the recommendations. I still think citrus is an option. I think the new Arpege PH is lovely. I worked on a guy for awhile at Nordstrom to buy it, but he thought it was too weird! I think it’s the nutmeg — that spice note.

    The Clinique Happy is a definite possibility. The Kenzo I’ll have to try b/c I like the Carthusia a lot, but it wasn’t quite right.

    Okay, so honestly: do you object to my possible selections of Allure or D&G? What I liked about them is they were 1) not challenging 2) skin scents that 3) weren’t sweet or insipid — what I want to smell on him when I cuddle!

  • Dusan says:

    March, I had to butt in with some citrus recs for the Big Cheese. Get him to try Clinique Happy for men, a nice green, woody citrus or, on the same note, L’Eau par Kenzo (yuzu, lotus leaf&sandalwood, a dead ringer for Carthusia Mediterraneo, only better) or Trussardi’s Python, a woodsier variation on the theme.
    Has he tried Emporio Armani White, it’s a beautiful musky aromatic citrus or Bulgari Pour Homme, a light musky tea-citrus that is subtle and sophisticated.
    Outside of the realm of citruses, you MUST sniff the new Arpege pour homme, it’s a beautiful oriental along the lines of Egoiste and L’Instant (berg, mandarin, nutmeg, jasmine, mate, iris, sandal, patch, vanilla, tonka). Orgasmic!
    Hope these unsolicited suggestions will help 😉

  • March says:

    Katie — I forgot — another Dreamer Devotee! It’s one of those things I smelled expecting it to be awful in an interesting way, and I fell head over heels in love. One of my rare full bottle purchases. I think your candy shop in Mt. Hood National Forest is a perfect description.

  • Katie says:

    I too found I liked Clean Men – the others seemed forgettable, but that nice touch of grapefruit on the top is nice, if fleeting. I bet the tween girls love it – not too strong, but not too boring either.

    You hush up about The Dreamer, heh! On me it’s neither “caramel-leather heaven” nor “auto-parts-Tootsie-roll hell.” It’s weirder and better. I’d say it’s made of Wrigley’s gum, Good n’ Plenty candies, and big old pine trees, and … gah, I dunno, I guess for me, it’s a candy shop that’s been improbably located in the middle of Mt. Hood National Forest.

  • March says:

    Amy — yep, that’s the note! Hail, fellow linden-lover! I think some people dislike the vegetal muskiness at its base — like the way some people hate the smell of paperwhite narcissus (which I love). The D’Orsay Tilleul is also one you might want to try. Also scroll up to my response to Monica (if you didn’t earlier) there’s a link to a series of great posts on linden frags that Robin (fellow linden lover)did.

  • March says:

    Chloe — he couldn’t have done a better job if Maxi-Pad had hired him. Harrumph.

  • March says:

    P — did some Sephora sniffage today, maybe I’ll turn it into a post — looking for something for my 17YO graduating nephew with plenty of help from the enthusiastic young staff. Also sniffed out some options for Big Cheese — narrowed down right now (assuming he likes ANY of them)to: Chanel Allure Pour Homme; Dolce & Gabbana for men; Armani Code (no, seriously — hadn’t smelled it, it’s nice!); Guerlain L’Instant PH. He hated Terre d’Hermes and isn’t up for anything peculiar, I think he’s more a skin-scent dude. I don’t play that much in the men’s stuff (too much vetiver) but was lucky to find a SA who picked things I liked. My money’s on the Chanel or the D&G.

    He DID like the Derby. He didn’t like the OJ base in the women, so not sure about that one.

    But why NOT citrusy? I mean, what’s unmasculine about a nice citrus scent? I kept asking and he just kept laughing.:-j

  • Amy K. says:

    Gosh, is linden weird? I got a bottle of Pre de Provence Linden Flower in an MUA swap last week, took one sniff and fell head-over-heels in love. So THAT’S the note I enjoy so much in La Chasse aux Papillons! I never knew. Now I’m on a linden kick. Good thing my birthday’s coming up in July – Tilleuls au Vent is sounding mighty fine (of course, a $70 room spray had better sound freaking amazing…).

  • chloe.f.puff says:

    It’s so WEIRD that Cavalli would market a maxipad scent.

  • Patty says:

    did he like the Derby? If he does, I’ll send you the big sample I have. I need to get ahold of that L’Instant Pour Homme.

    Have you tried the OJ Isfarkand or Hermes Bel Ami? If he likes woodsy stuff (what guy doesn’t?), those may be more to his liking.

    I get the same look when I try and throw anything citrusy on mine. As soon as he sees a vial or spritzer in my hand when I walk out of my office, he makes the sign of the cross and hides.

  • March says:

    P — I dumped some on the Big Cheese this morning. Ooooooohhhh, it smelled YUMMY. I still have to try L’Instant Pour Homme on him, though. That’s a lot easier to get ahold of! FYI he ASKED for some stuff to try, he’s interested. I tried to get him to use some of the citrus stuff, like my Weil or the Guerlain Cedrat, but he just laughed when he smelled them. Like I’d suggested eyeliner or something.

  • Patty says:

    Phhhhttt! I dumped it on him, and it smells completely different on him than on me. ON me, it’s wonderful. On him, it turns to poofy powder. He no like.

  • March says:

    Lisa — glad I could brighten your WEIRD day. Thanks for stopping by!:d

  • March says:

    Victoria — I was surprised how much I liked Derby. It doesn’t really seem like My Thing on paper; it sounds too masculine. But its elegance is supreme, too special to save just for the guys.

  • March says:

    Patty — you slay me. Yup. You just had an old mondo decant of Derby laying around, growing a beard… dribble some on your man and let me know what he thinks.

  • March says:

    Robin — well, I don’t have the same hatred for Cool Water that Marina does (Evil Genius, she says!) but Lord knows there’s no shortage of it out in public.

  • March says:

    Keeg — well, these are some samples that will definitely un-straighten you out…:)>-

  • March says:

    Carmen — I am getting a larger decant of Derby to test-drive on the Big Cheese, who has shocked me by becoming interested enough in my addiction to express a desire in having his own fragrance. I am going to try L’Instant Pour Homme on him too.

  • Lisa S says:

    After a weird working is always a delight to read your blog.

  • Victoria says:

    Great post! Loved reading this. 🙂 I keep thinking that Derby is a must for me. I love it so.

  • Patty says:

    I had this big old honkin sample of Derby sitting in my drawer that I had never sniffed, but ohmy!! Carmencanada and March, you are so right. I need to get the hubby to put this on, but I really love this for ME!

  • Robin says:

    Excellent work in Sephora, M!! Glad to see another bottle of Terre d’Hermes go out into the world instead of Cool Water!

  • Keeg says:

    I am too straight-forward…Therefore, I need wierd scents;)

  • carmencanada says:

    I agree about Derby. It’s the only Jean-Paul Guerlain that rocks my world, and much as I would love to smell it on my lovely BF, I come close to growling when he approaches my decant — even though he got me the full flacon for my birthday! (I didn’t give him any choice).

  • March says:

    Sariah — wow, you ARE all about weird! MKK, TC, Borneo all in one go!?!?


    You’re a natural. It’s a gift, don’t waste it smelling Escada summer LEs. Stay on the path of righteousness. Go sniff some Carons, tell me what you think. I canNOT get there.

    Thanks for your comments!

  • March says:

    Dusan — glad your package got there! Yes, that’s my mailing address on the envelope, I would love to sample your faves! (I typed “wares”, how wrong does THAT sound?!?):”>

  • March says:

    Monica — I’m supposed to be working today, so I’m going to wimp and give you a link to Robin at NST’s excellent discussion of linden…

    En Passant is similar in weight but a completely different feeling. Very wistful, and the smells are sequential and drift in and out in a way I just adore. The D’Orsay and the L’Artisan are lovely but much more linear.

    I’m working on those Guerlain reviews. I’ve been slammed and they’re too fricking once-in-a-lifetime special to rush through, I’m savoring them slowly. Probably next week, I promise!

  • March says:

    Sybil — yeah, that just cracked me up — like they were writing copy for Maxi-Pads. “Feeling of freshness and comfort” —- eeeeeeww! Although for all I know that’s strawberrynet’s laughable writing, not The Cavalli’s. I have a pair of Cavalli pants that are smokin’.

    Please pray for my relationship with vetiver.\:d/

  • March says:

    Emote — no weird facial stuff, yay for you. Tell them to stay away from that Axe stuff too. No, young proto-men, it is NOT sexy!

  • March says:

    Ina — yeah, FREE PERFUME!!! How ‘BOUT IT, SEPHORA?!?! C’mon, gimme gimme gimme:-“

  • March says:

    P — lemchase, indeed! Okay, I won’t mail you any MdeM. That linden shore is purty.:”>

  • March says:

    Marina — honey, I will send you The Dreamer. I suspect you’ll like it, if it doesn’t go all kerflooey on your skin. I find it supremely comforting, a statement that makes Dreamer-phobes shriek in horror.

    I’m gonna email you about The Derby…

    Oooooh, Russian Vetiver!! Does it smell like rubber feet?;-)

  • Sariah says:

    Hello March and Patty –

    I discovered your blog a few weeks ago and I love it – so witty and informative. Thanks for posting the Perfume 101, there is so much out there and it is kind of intimidating to get started. So far I’ve only checked out a few niche brands, and I think that I Love Weird. I got the wax sample book from Serge Lutens, and the ones that I want to try more are MKK, Tuberose C, and Borneo – they just made me go Wow. I bought the Santal de Mysore. The husband says I smell like Indian cooking and wood – weird but in a good way. Chene I found repulsive, it made my mouth water like I had just eaten a whole bag of salty chips, a coworker said that I smelled like a campfire. I’m looking forward to exploring more perfumes, weird or not.

    Thanks again for your great blog,

  • Dusan says:

    Dearest Marchie, I got your pkg yesterday and I’m loving my new friends 😉 , except The Dreamer, which I already love and actually plan to buy.
    Good job on the perfume-awareness raising, I’m sure the guy will be blown away by L’Instant as much as I am. And ladies, Hypnotic Poison is a must-have in your collection, men will surely go nuts over you, I know I do.
    March, I want to send you and Patty some samples of my faves and I have P’s address, but what about yours, I mean, do I use the one on the envelope as the return address? Thanks so much again, will post more about the bundle of joy when I’ve tried them all. Hugs

  • Monica says:

    Hi March,
    first of all thanks for bringing up more frags I need to hunt down, namely L’artisan Tilleul, how does this compare to Parfums d’Orsay and En passant? and whatever happened to those Guerlain samples from last week? I want them =)


  • sybil says:

    Oooh…March, are you really surprised that the Roberto Cavalli smells like a feminine hygiene product? It says it gives you a “lush feel of freshness & comfort” right in the ad copy! And freshness and comfort are right up there in feminine product descriptive language. Why Roberto thinks anyone wants to smell like a pantyliner is, well, weird to me.
    And vetiver…I share Marina’s hope that you will become enlightened to vetiver’s excellence, and that it stops being weird on your skin.
    Sorry to be so weird about stuff today…

  • Emotenote says:

    Good job on the tween advisory. I do the same thing in drugstores where tweens are staring at face cleansers. My husband is a dermatologist who brings his work home alot so I can say “Nooo don’t get that weird musk ox gland facial oil…get the one that won’t dry you out or make you smell like buffalo butt.” (ok I’m not sure about those samples in the giveaway but I did want to get the word in…) I haven’t tried that particular L’Artisan, my lemmings are rushing out the door as I write!

  • Ina says:

    Excellent choices for the guy! I totally agree, we should not only get a commission. We should get an automatic discount of 50% off or more. Ah, the girl can dream, right? 8-|

  • Patty says:

    Oh, bravo, you saved that man and helped his sex life at the same time, you get the Lifetime Achievement Award, Miss March!

    No, no drawing for me either, you keep that MdM on your side of the country where it belongs. :d

    Room spray? I have to go get some. I had to lemchase (cross between lemming and purchase) that Hypnotic Poison, it just sounds so yummy!

  • Marina says:

    Guerlain L’Instant Pour Homme and Terre d’Hermes!! Woohoo, good work, March! You made the man happy and his spouse, partner, whatever even hapier. Cool Water indeed! Euch.

    Now, I haven’t given up on you yet. Wait till I send you some Russian vetiver…bwah ha ha ha

    I have a bottle of the original Derby coming (fingers crossed and customs permitting!), so if you ever need some more…:)>-

    And finally, I am not entering your giveaway, even though I’d love to try Dreamer. There is…POTL there! *runs away shrieking*