Continuing my Chicago Smell-o-Rama:
In Nordstrom on Michigan Avenue we tried a number of the Amouage fragrances, which are known for their fine ingredients and high prices. They´re on the Great Wall of Fragrances, this big niche area off the general fragrance section, where they keep the niche/high-end product (although other things like Victor & Rolf´s F-Bomb are, inexplicably, in there next to the Guerlain). The SAs circle in droves on the floor but, for reasons we´re not clear on, pretty much won´t go in the Great Wall area; you´d think it had an electrified fence — which suited us fine. Anyway, sampling Amouage was fun for me, because I´ve tried a couple of dab-on samples but it´s not really the same. Well, if I´d taken better notes I could say which ones I tried (I believe Gold, Dia and Ciel à¢â‚¬” Ina might remember) and they were all à¢â‚¬¦ very expensive smelling, but as you can see I didn´t like any of them enough to actually write it down, which surprised me. They are, somehow, just not my thing.
Then Ina handed me a squat, homely bottle and said, here, try this, I think you´ll like it. And so I tried it, purely (sorry, Ina) out of politeness, because I was pretty sure there was nothing in that ugly little tub I´d fancy. And I was wrong. Because Jil Sander No. 4 EDP is à¢â‚¬” get ready à¢â‚¬” a Gold-Medal winner, and if you like florientals, do yourself a favor and try this one, because it´s à¢â‚¬¦ perfect. It is perfectly balanced. It´s floral, but not heady or cloying. It´s oriental, but not too spicy or challenging. It is rich and well-rounded, but not overpowering. My fragrance wardrobe is full of many special things that, in truth, I have to be in precisely the right mood for. Even my beloved Mitsouko has turned on me occasionally. Jil Sander No. 4 is a classic, beautifully worked scent that will never be wrong, but won´t bore you either, and that´s something I could use in the lineup. To my nose it smells just the tiniest bit amber-y, which is not my favorite note but works quite nicely here, prompting me to label this one a flamboriental. (Floramberental?) FWIW I looked it up on Basenotes, and every single review is positive, which I don´t see often, so I´m not alone in my affections on this one. (rose, geranium, plum, galbanum, violets, jasmine, rose, tuberose, heliotrope, ylang ylang, carnation, tarragon, myrrh, ambergris, oakmoss, vanilla, sandalwood, patchouli, musk).
The following day I took a stroll with my Chicago galfriend on Halstead Street in Lincoln Park, which has Fresh, Bluemercury and Endo-Exo Apothecary close to each other. In Endo-Exo I discovered that Norma Kamali has a fragrance line. The names are cutesy à¢â‚¬” Baby was meh, Olive You was à¢â‚¬” well, it smelled like olive oil. à¢â‚¬Ëœnuff said. The Zagara was too sharp, and the Jazmine and the Tea were just okay. Butà¢â‚¬¦ the Ceremony, a unisex woody incense, was a worthwhile discovery. There´s not much development à¢â‚¬” wood and incense and a little smoke are the whole story start to finish à¢â‚¬” but it had excellent lasting power and was rich without being too much for a warmish summer day, which is more than I can say for most of my incense fragrances. It´s stronger than Passage d´Enfer, but certainly lighter in spirit than, say, CdG Avignon or the Armani Prive. It´s distinctive enough to be worth trying on its own merits, if you love incense (and I do.)
At bluemercury we tried the Christiane Celle Calypso line. They were pretty enough, although not especially imaginative. The Mimosa, which is the signature scent, was probably my least favorite. The Jasmin I´d be writing a rave about right here, because it was indolic enough to smell deliciously dirty, but not enough to frighten anyone. However, it gets some sort of Reverse Genius award for disappearing entirely in, say, five minutes on my skin. Weird. I went back and re-sprayed. Same thing. You´d think something with that much skank out of the bottle might last to the point of overstaying its welcome. But no.
And finally, my Big Reversal à¢â‚¬” I´d ragged a little on the Donna Karan Essences recently, saying I needed the wenge (which the SA pronounced à¢â‚¬Å“wen-geeà¢â‚¬? with a hard g, I wonderà¢â‚¬¦) and labdanum, but the lavender and jasmine I could live without. Well, I can´t live without the Jasmine, which isn’t really indolic enough but, Lord, it is lovely. Again, this illustrates perfectly the fatal flaw in sampling from vials à¢â‚¬” dabbing these on is nothing like spraying them with an atomizer. The three layered together are The Bomb (the SA asserted that was Donna´s favorite combo). You can still keep the lavender, which is something I prefer to smell on my bed linens and in my garden. FWIW, I am not about to pay $165 per bottle for these. I bought a 4-pack sampler on eBay for $12 and I’m perfectly happy. I did re-sample Black Cashmere, and if you’d like the best of what the Essences has to offer, maybe that’s your cheap ticket — a wildly underrated fragrance, in my opinion, although a bit much for summer in my neck of the woods.
So. It´s hot as heck here, and I need to clear some more stuff off my shelves. Today´s giveaway is Oilily Papillon à¢â‚¬” look how cute that bottle is! It´s light, not overly sweet, and perfect for sultry summer weather, and I´m giving away a mostly full bottle. Notes are roses, white lilies, tart cherry. Be advised: it has a note that smells rather pear-ish to me, like AG Petite Cherie. If the mere thought makes you dry-heave, take a pass on this one. Otherwise leave a comment below that you want the bottle, and I´ll enter you in the drawing.