I took a stumble through our local mega-mall recently, looking for something that didn´t bore me to tears, and buried in the dross were some gems. Join me.
First stop — Bloomingdale´s, where I was assisted by an SA who was informed but laughably unfriendly. Fortunately I keep in fighting shape by browsing at Neiman Marcus (where an SA recently shushed me!), so I was unfazed.
Emporio Armani Diamonds – the bottle is pretty but less striking and sparkly than it looks in the ads. What´s inside? The same crap in Remix, City Glam, etc. I just looked it up – lychee and raspberry. Next.
Marc Jacobs Daisy – it´s so cuuute! Those white flowers? They look like hard plastic in the pics, but the petals are soft and bendy, and they don’t show it in the ad but the bottle’s wearing a matching white belt with more flowers. What´s inside? Who cares?!?! It´s so cuuute! I´ll probably buy one for Diva for Christmas. (Okay: it´s an innocuous musky floral.)
Marc Jacobs Essence – it was sitting right there, so I tried it – this isn´t me, but it´s very nice. Less gardenia/greens than the original MJ, which never grew on me, Essence has a mother lode of jasmine, as well as gardenia and orris. The opening would give Fracas a run for its money in terms of bomb-throwing sillage. But it´s a clean jasmine, even though it´s heady; those of you who gag on the indoles but like the jasmine concept might want to check it out.
The New Badgley Mischka Fleurs de Nuit – look at that gorgeous bottle. The same shape as the original with silver embossing. Seriously, seriously stunning. What’s in it? Big White Flowers (magnolia, jasmine, orange blossom) in their amber/musky base. Not me, and not particularly innovative (plus the lasting power was just okay), but if you´re looking for a present for a white flower queen it would be hard to top the presentation.
Judith Leiber – You don´t smell something like this every day. Notes: bergamot, mandarin, osmanthus, rose, jasmine, mimosa, gardenia, cedar, amber, musk, patchouli, vanilla. Much is made in their advertising fluff of the osmanthus, and FYI, the woman behind the counter rolled her eyes and threw the piece of paper at me when I said I wanted to write those notes down. I think she´s ready for a job at NM! Anyway, the in-store blurbage evokes the uncompromising, meticulous individual who knows her own mind. This fragrance not just unsexy, it´s anti-sexy – in other words, to me it´s a perfect adjunct to Leiber´s fussy, absurdist, eponymous Swarovski-encrusted minaudieres. The first few seconds are a sour mishmash that is barely recognizable as fragrance. I was so fascinated I didn´t scrub, and I´m glad I didn´t scrub, because the osmanthus is lovely when it emerges from that miasma, and the drydown was a dark, dense tapestry of patchouli and florals. It lasts forever on my skin, and comes in an interesting lay-down jewel-shaped silver and glass container. I wouldn´t wear it if you gave it to me, but it´s different.
Then off to Nordstrom, where a much nicer team of SAs (they do generally train them well there) honored my request to ignore me while I sniffed around – and then insisted they make me sample vials to take of whatever I wanted.
Guerlain My Insolence. Directions: take Guerlain Insolence. Subtract everything Guerlain about it. Et voila. It´s citrus-y while being less interesting than either D&G Light Blue or Moschino´s I Love Love, and that´s saying something. Next.
SJP Covet – I tried it on, finally. The bloggers are right – it´s much better on. The top notes still smell like bug spray to me, but the base is a woody, slightly gourmand musk. That bottle, though. Cripes. It´s a poisonous green with a transparent brown plastic cap, and it is a truckload of ugly. I´m still not clear where she was going with this.
And, most exciting saved for last:
The new (old) Givenchy gang of four fragrances! I sniffed and my heart soared. Now here´s a selection that says: I Want To Be a Grown-up. Full disclosure – except for Le De (which I sniffed a vintage sample of awhile ago but can´t remember) I didn´t smell any of these back in the day. I have no doubt someone can/will write in that, like most everything, they used to be so much better. I´m assuming these are EDTs, since they´re $85 for a huge 3.3 ounces, but at that price you can bathe in them. I can only compare them to themselves and the sea of mediocrity around them – and they come out smelling pretty darn good. If you look on the Nordstrom website they admit to “reworking” L´Interdit (horrors!), and Eau sounds a lot different than what people describe on Basenotes. Also, Le De isn´t listed on the Nordstrom site, for some reason.
Eau de Givenchy (1980) – hesperidic floral – bergamot, grapefruit, honeysuckle, jasmine, sandalwood. A wonderfully low-sugar floral for women who like their fragrances tart and dry.
Le De (1957) – My personal favorite. An antidote and an open rebuke to every hackneyed, market-driven tweener fragrance out there: look, you can make a fragrance that smells joyous and transparent and still be worthy of an adult. Coriander, LOTV, jasmine, sandalwood, olibanum. If tender floral scents like En Passant or Ineke´s After My Own Heart give you the shivers (in a good way), try this one. Up close to the skin it goes a little bitter on me in the drydown the way Chanel´s Cristalle does, and I wish it wouldn´t.
L´Interdit (1957) – floral aldehyde – powdery, reminiscent of Piguet Baghari (new version). Notes: aldehydes, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, pink pepper, orris, tonka. If you like the genre, smell this one. More elegant than Le Labo 44, softer than Baghari, a welcome smell in a sea of fruity-florals.
Givenchy III (1970) – chypre floral – dry, green, green, green. Cigarettes, high heels and a cocktail dress in a bottle. Galbanum, hyacinth, rose, jasmine, oakmoss, patchouli. Lord. Again, this isn´t my sort of thing, precisely, but it´s lovely.