Do You Think I’m Sexy?

I´m still working on my fig testing for the next installment of Figmania! I am really disappointed not to be able to include the several (five?) Ava-Luxe fig scents, a couple of which were highly recommended. She´s taking a break (I pray not a permanent one) from perfumery, and is there anything like knowing you can´t have something to make you want it desperately? I wanted to try her Honey too, since I´ve been craving honey and people feel so strongly about it (love it/hate it).

Also, I got a little behind last week with the multiple posts; I think I´ve responded to everyone´s comments now, and thanks for your patience.

So, today´s post. What´s the deciding factor in whether I blog on a fragrance? Often it´s something that sticks out a little, something unexpected that grabs my attention. Here are two decidedly different takes on “sexy.”

Escada Collection – sweetlife sent me a sample (thanks!) to go in my honey post. I didn´t even know it existed; the most common set of notes I see listed is: mandarin, cola, jasmine, tuberose, sandalwood, tonka. I thought it was special enough to highlight it further. It smells sort of like honey. Or, like Vanilla Coke. Or a Coke float (made with vanilla ice cream.) It smells like tonka. Maybe a little soft woods and vanilla? With maybe some alcohol poured over the top? Or: cherry tobacco. Really, take your pick. What it doesn´t smell like is a big fat tuberose/jasmine bouquet. It´s creamy, gourmand rather than floral, but not really edible.

It´s in the vanilla/comfort scent category, and you people who are into vanilla/gourmand stuff seriously need to check it out. I´m fascinated by it. It´s a WYSIWYG scent – it´s one straight smell, and you either like it or you don´t. I´m not even that into this type of scent – I can really hate me some artificial vanillin-type-deal. But we´re not talking cake batter here; it´s actually sort of … weird, in a really friendly, cuddly way. I think it´s the cola-tonka combo, which suggests vanilla tobacco, spices and bootleg hootch all together, rather than a cupcake. The humorous part: I had a few dabs on the back of one hand, and during my errand running I had three different men tell me how delicious I smelled, one in a particularly friendly way. Which demonstrates: a) maybe this is stronger than I realized; b) the back of the hand is a great location for fragrance, since (unlike my neck) my hands tend to be more up in people´s faces; c) it is true that men think vanilla is sexy.

There are 104 reviews of Escada Collection on MakeupAlley (with high overall and re-buy ratings), so I guess maybe I am the last person to know about it. It´s the 1997/98 version and has apparently been discontinued; do the later versions in different LE bottles smell differently? (This is the one on the purple card). Someone chime in here and set me straight.

Versace Crystal Noir – notes I see most frequently are: gardenia, amber, orange blossom, peony, sandalwood, and musk, created for Donatella Versace, gardenia being allegedly her favorite flower. An SA who knows what I like chased me around with the tester; I’m glad she did, because I’m not sure when (or if) I’d have smelled it on my own. It´s essentially a truckload of amber with some peppered gardenia and a hint of woods. It´s strong, as you´d expect; I dab. If Escada Collection is subtly sexy, this is, uh, more direct — fragrance-wise, it´s saying, (in Italian) lay me down and take me right here, in front of the roaring fireplace!! Its lack of subtlety – the brazen, almost RuPaul obviousness of its proposition – is both humorous and part of its charm. So yes, I expected it to be “sexxxy.” I just didn´t expect it to be quite so wearable. It´s comforting, and I am not Your Queen of Amber. It´s as rich and satisfying as a glass of barolo after that liaison in front of the fireplace, and yet I´m perfectly capable of wearing it to Trader Joe´s, although I doubt that´s what Donatella had in mind.

image: RuPaul (reminding me a bit of Donatella),

  • Camille says:

    March, Collection is to me what Etro Heliotrope apparently is to you: nothing. I keep spritzing and sniffing, convinced there has got to be a fragrance there, and …. nothing. I wish I got some of that Vanilla Coke-Cherry Tobacco!

    Your package went out today, by the way! 😡

    • March says:

      You remembered that about the Etro!!! I kept sniffing the vial … I joked that it was water. Doesn’t it frighten you a bit when you sniff something that everyone else can clearly smell, and you get zilch? And clearly that’s your same problem with Collection. Which I am ;)) about a little bit because to me it is so *strong.*

      I had totally forgotten about the pkg — thanks!

  • Robin says:

    It is rare that I don’t like any of the scents in a single post of yours, but you’ve got me today, LOL…so maybe that means they both need another try. Sigh.

    • March says:

      To be honest, Robin, I was surprised I liked either of these. I can’t see you within ten feet of Versace Crystal Noir; Collection was just zesty and a lot of fun. Sometimes I want to blog on something I don’t have to agonize myself through, you know?

      Hey, I just ordered myself some Philosykos shower gel! Am I going to like it?:-? My magic 8-ball says signs point to yes… I really want their coffret too. I suspect you own those four scents already.

      • Robin says:

        Good — 10 feet was about how far I wanted to stay from Crystal Noir, so if you’re saying I don’t need to try again, I won’t! Collection I can at least see the attraction, I just don’t love it.

        Ah, but I don’t have all the Diptyques…have only an almost-gone decant of L’Ombre, and samples of Do Son. So might try to find someone to split it with me and take the Philosykos & Tam Dao. Have tried the Philosykos soap and its lovely, but never the shower gel. Let me know!

  • sweetlife says:

    This has been most interesting…

    I originally acquired the Collection samples (lot of 10 — couldn’t commit to the bottle) because it kept coming up as a honey recommendation on various boards. As with Botrytis, I could smell it as soon as I opened the box, without unsealing the ziploc bag or uncorking the little vials. And from that distance the two scents were strikingly similar.

    However, where Botrytis smells of real things to me (raw honey, wine, flowers, vanilla) Collection smells, as you’ve intimated March, kind of joyfully synthetic. I have always wanted the cherry jam tobacco that Marina describes in her review of it, but I get Vanilla Coke all the way. It’s delicious and comforting, but plastic at the same time, especially if I have Botrytis in mind as I wear it.

    Also, for the record, the New Yorker just did a profile on Donatella and it said she first bleached her hair at 15, and was platinum by the time she was 18. To me, she has the classic “been doing it so long I forgot there was another way” look, and I kind of love it. The profile made it seem like she was aware of the looks (euro)trashiness, but also aware that she had been cast in a specific role and, for financial as well as emotional reasons, was destined to play it out. Think Dolly Parton, another fabulous drag icon…

    • March says:

      That is an excellent way to look at the difference between the scents — they’re both chemically synthetics, obviously, but yes — the Collection has a “synth” vibe to it, whereas the Botrytis is as you described. Botrytis, sadly, didn’t agree with me at all, but as you can tell I really enjoyed Collection. Thanks again.

      I have no doubt that Donatella’s look is absolutely intentional. I admire her consistency, seriously — she is who she is, not all over the place style-wise. Even though I find it pretty extreme, it’s a look she works very well.

  • Kelly says:

    So if you’re layering Escada Collection with Burning Leaves does that mean Escada is NOT smoky? I was intrigued – infatuated, even – until I read on the Perfumed Court that it was “smoky”. Unfortunately, that’s a deal breaker for me. Tea for Two? Ack!:((

    • March says:

      Um … okay, following along here — they sell Escada Collection on TPC? Duh, I’m sure they do, huh? No, I get ZERO smoke in Collection. I get vanilla and cola and sandalwood, and maybe a drop of tobacco, but not tobacco SMOKE — I think it’s actually a trick of the sandalwood/tonka combo. It’s more Vanilla Coke than anything else, IMHO. Made by Martians following a recipe book. =:)It’s like … if Versace Dreamer were the Pour Homme (hah!) this would be the femme, maybe?

  • Divalano says:

    Nah, that wasn’t me. I think DV has (ack) bergamot in it, making it Off Limits for me. And rose. Which is usually highly suspect in my house. I’ve been using Burning Leaves w Bois D’Argent. And today after reading Marina’s All Brooding, All Goth post I said I should layer it w Cuir D’Arabie next time I’m in that same mood.

    OK, back to tech hell here …. :-& Totally miserable Monday.

    • Divalano says:

      March, ack meant to post this as a reply to the above. 9 hrs to go & I’m already slipping …

      • Kim says:

        I made a suggestion the other day to layer Burning Leaves with the Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille – keeps the smoke going and cuts the sweetness of the vanilla. But the original idea for layering with Burning Leaves came from someone else the day of the Perfume Club – can’t remember who but it’s a great idea! Will have to get a sample of Cuir d’Arabie and try the same layerings. I can’t stand Burning Leaves by itself but it is amazing layered with amber/vanilla bases.

        • March says:

          I never did find my Double Vanille :(( but so far it is GREAT layered with:

          Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale; and
          L de Lolita Lempicka (both very vanilla scents)

  • Divalano says:

    Men really do like vanilla, or at least mine does. So much so that even tho I feel like I’m going soft & innocent when I spritz L’A Vanilia, he gets all woo, sweetie about it. Been thinking of layering that with CB Burning Leaves (my current obsession. what else can I punch up with Burning Leaves today? heh) so that I get in the hotsie totsie mood when I wear it too, get us both on the same wavelength.

    I think RuPaul is a more attractive Donatella than Donatella is. Shhh, don’t tell her. I think it’s because while her look is babe channels drag queen, he actually is one 😉

    • March says:

      The whole layering of vanilla and burning leaves is brilliant. Were you the one who commented a few days ago (I think it was someone else?) that she was disappointed the way the smoky part disappears on the Guerlain Double Vanille, and she boosts it with burning leaves? I’ve been looking for my dang decant of that Guerlain ever since then, I’m hot to try it. And that’s funny about your husband. I guess all those studies saying men like foody sents like vanilla and cinnamon buns etc. are true!

      You’re right, I think RuPaul works that look better.\:d/

  • Judith says:

    I admit to really liking Collection (or I did the last time I wore it–might be different now). If you do too, you might try Laura Biagiotti Venezia (preferably in parfum–if you can find it and afford it):). I love this (as do many others), though I believe that most of the usual suspects here have other opinions.:d I’ve never tried Crystal Noir–must do.

    YAY SOX!!!!!! (Sorry Patty)<:-p

    • March says:

      I’m sorry, I haven’t been paying attn to anything other than our absolute crushing defeat at the hands of the Patriots — I knew we were going to get spanked, but man, it was ugly.

      No no no not falling in love with something even harder to get than Collection! I’d describe Collection as Venezia Lite, anyway. Venezia was pretty plummy/rich on me. I admired it (I had a wee tester I think I sent on to Patty) more than adored it.

      Well, you have a lot better things to sniff than Crystal Noir. And so do I, I suppose.:-” But I enjoy the thrill of blogging occasionally about something you could walk into the mall and buy if you wanted to.

      • Judith says:

        Yeah, I think I might have sent the Venezia to you–I know I sent a bit to several friends, none of whom like it as much as I do.:(

        My husband is excited about the Patriots, but I generally pass on F-ball, at least until the end of the season.

    • Maria says:

      But, Judith, it was such a boring series. |-) Clean sweeps are stress-reducing for fans of the winning team, but for everybody else it’s a big yawn. The DH from New England was happy though. Congratulations!

      • Judith says:

        It was generally a wee bit boring–but it had its moments. And last night was a nail-biter at the end. At least we can sleep now! Those games ran LATE!

  • Renee M says:

    well hell I guess I might drag my butt off to try some of that Escada since is sounds pretty good! But I Do Not Like Escada so I’ll wait until a rainy day. I love going somewhere when it rains and seeing the SA’s looks of horror. I do horses for a living so I come in with hay and manure and sawdust clinging to me. :}

    The best damn honey smelling stuff I’ve ever obsessed over is Le Couvent des Minimes – Skin Softening BODY BALM – Honey and Shea. It used to be available at Bath and Bodyworks. This stuff was in danger of being eaten with a spoon.

    • March says:

      The Couvent line is absolutely delicious smelling, I agree. It’s one of the highlights of an otherwise increasingly overwhelming BBW.

      I sorta like that hay/manure smell. In fact, I have a couple frags that smell like that. Cheaper than riding.;)

  • Marina says:

    Crystal noir sounds like somehting I should (re?)try. I used to adore Collection, probably overdosed on it. These days it is the very opposite of sexy to me. The ones that says those things in Italian are, to me, the Black Orchid sisters. :”>

  • Elle says:

    I remember the panic on MUA years ago when the rumors first started about Collection being d/ced. I never did completely love it, which is odd since I did like Botrytis at the time and I agree w/ Louise that they were remarkably similar.
    Must get my derriere out and try the Crystal Noir. Sounds like it has real potential. Am mesmerized by Ru Paul channeling Donatella. She fascinates me. I always wonder just how she decided on that look and I wonder if anyone ever tells her the truth. Or maybe there are people who do like it? Does she like it? Is she secretly doing some sort of penance via tanning salon and bleached hair?

    • March says:

      I think that’s Donatella’s look (even though Ru-Paul definitely looks like he’s borrowed it) and she’s working it. It’s not me, sure — or you, I guess. But having spent a little time in Italy, I can see how that really hard, tanned/blond thing is popular. I hear she bleaches her own hair, BTW, using something she’s made up (peroxide and eye of newt?) but it’s hard to believe. And surely she irons it? I respect her consistency.

      I had a teeny vile of Crystal Noir, unlabeled, and I put it on (again) one day, remembered what it was, and laughed. Free of my bias (and what is that, anyway, since I love The Dreamer?) I thought it smelled tasty. I think you might like it, even if it’s not FBW. Don’t hit yourself with five big sprays in Macy’s, though, you might suffocate.:d

  • Lee says:

    I like the thought of Gaia stinking up the tofu. I’m gonna give that a go in Mitsouko parfum, though I once used to be a crunchy urban hippy myself…

    I’ve not tried either of these, but honey, you’re sexy as hell anyway.

    • March says:

      But do you think I look sexxxy like Ru-Paul?8-|


      Well, I have other things going for me, of course. What I wouldn’t do for some of that height.

  • Louise says:

    March-I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you, that you aren’t familiar with Escada Collection. I wore it for quite some time, enjoying it’s cokey-vanilla goodness, and yes, got a lot of complements, though more often from other ladies. The really bad fright is how much your dreaded Gineset Bot-thing smells so similar on me. I dug out my old sample of the GB after reading your reviews last week, not remembering it as bad at all. And it’s not, on me. Almost a dupe of Collection. Weird, since the notes are not at all close. Now you only need to chase me down with a squirt of that SMN boyhoney stuff that had you and Lee chuckling.

    Speaking of honey, but non-sexy things, the new L’Occitane honey lemon line is quite nice. Of course, it doesn’t last much on me, but has all kinds of nice body products to amp it up. Oh-and I have some AL honey for you to try.

    I like Crystal Noir quite a bit, though I found the gardenia a little strong and scary a few years ago. Must retry.

    • March says:

      Really. Ginestet Botul — Botrytis smells like Collection? Well, I can definitely see the general idea — I mean, sweetlife sent it because of the honey-ish note (although honey doesn’t seem to be listed). But I get more vanilla. And I can’t wait to try the SMN on you.

      I haven’t tried their honey-lemon yet, but I like several of their scents. I hope the honey-lemon isn’t a replacement for their honey gentle water, which is sweet and charming and kid-friendly. Their ancillary products are nice too.

    • Divalano says:

      Was in L’Occitane yesterday buying the teeny weeny tin of shea butter (best hand salve for using on airplanes, ever) & tried the lemon honey hand lotion. It smells like cough drops on me. I was afraid to spritz the actual scent after that, lol. Really. Cough drops. My bf agreed & made *that* face, lol.

  • Gaia says:

    March, This is getting scary: I have a half written “what is sexy?” series of posts- about perfume, fashion, makeup and nail polish. Though neither Donatella nor Escada are mentioned. I have kept far far far away from anything Escada in the last 10 years. Those juices have never appealed to me. But now you’ve got me curious.
    And you should see what I wear to Whole Foods. Those crunchy urban hippies never know what hit them as I pass by the tofu isle 😉 .

    • March says:

      Gaia — okay, we’ve clearly got some sort of mind meld thing going on. I don’t like the Escada Ibiza Hoochie stuff any more than you do, I’d guess. But the Collection was a different kettle of vanilla. And I am looking forward to your post.

      Lord, I wouldn’t have the stones to wear fragrance to my co-op. If they weren’t peace-loving vegans they’d probably kill me.