I´ve hurt the feelings of a couple of regulars on the blog recently. It was accidental, and one I couldn´t anticipate; the other … well, for someone (generally) sensible and sensitive, I have weird social blind spots. You guys know who you are, and again – I´m sorry.

So I decided that for these sins I would do a little penance, something I´m vaguely familiar with in concept, if not in actual execution. My mission: to seek out fragrances that make me gag … and then drench myself in them. Of course, typing this I see the tiny flaw in this plan — that by doing this post I potentially offend others of you, and so let me apologize in advance.

I eliminated the Paris Hiltons and the Britneys from the running almost immediately on the grounds that, while they are insipid, they don´t make me feel ill. I was actually surprised to find Fantasy muskier and less sweet than I remembered/expected. It´s very much not me, but I kind of … liked it. There, I said it. The Ralphs weren´t obnoxious enough, either. The Baby Phat bottle was broken, and I may have dodged a bullet on that one. I sniffed around some more (Cool Water, Euphoria, etc.) but nothing leapt out and strangled me.

The Lancome counter seemed a good place to visit next. I have a lot of Lancome makeup (I am particularly fond of their Definicils mascara, their lipsticks and their discontinued Star Gloss), but other than their lovely, retro La Collection line (Sikkim, etc.), which they keep hidden behind the counter in some insane conspiracy to kill it off, their perfume esthetic, whatever it is, scares me. Hypnose was tolerable, a gourmand musk. Miracle has spawned several stupid flankers, and the one called something like So Very Miracle, which the sweet young SA loved, smelled a lot like Angel to me. Poeme and Oui were empty, and she was missing Magie Noire, but I struck penance paydirt with Tresor. I drenched myself in it.

Tresor´s top notes in my world are raspberry and asparagus-tinged urine. In terms of high-piched offensiveness, it´s hard to beat. I had a sense of people backing away from me in the mall, and I couldn´t bring myself to eat anything, although I was starving. Interestingly, after maybe half an hour, either my nose died or the smell diminished considerably. In the drydown it´s a sour, musky rose, and at that point I dislike it rather than hate it intensely. I wouldn´t wear it if you gave it to me, but I wouldn´t betray my government´s secrets if you threatened me with it. (Addendum: Hypnose lasted through two days and a shower.  What is in that thing? )

Next was the obvious choice: Thierry Mugler Angel. Hey, I have an idea! Let´s make a torture-porn movie with Lindsey Lohan, who´s busy committing career suicide anyway. We´ll call it I Know What Perfume Killed Me. In the movie, Linds is locked in the basement and chained to a wall by a madman who sprays her with various horrible fragrances until she passes out and wakes up in the hospital – horrors! — without her sense of smell! For which she is grateful.

I described Angel on this blog once as chocolate vomit, but that doesn´t really do it justice. Angel is chocolate-circus-peanut-cotton-candy vomit. It is the smell of the excised portion of the Willy Wonka movie where Buddy McRude ignores the warning gestures of the Oompa-Loompas and sticks his arm into the caramel-covered cotton-candy-making machine and … ruh roh. Bad things happen, things too frightening for small children. How can you people bear it? If I live to be 100, I will never understand the popularity of Angel. I wore it until the flashing in front of my eyes indicated an incipient migraine, and then I showered and washed everything I´d been wearing.

Another part of my penance, found at Macy´s, was Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds. You´d forgotten about this one, hadn´t you? Often when people describe a fragrance as “old lady,” I know it´s probably a chypre, or an oriental, and I´ll probably like it. White Diamonds is simply a sad, sour, musky smell. It also has the half-life of plutonium on my skin, and it also took two wash cycles to remove from my cotton shirt.

Finally, it was off to Sephora to return some makeup. (Hey, did you know you can take used makeup back to Sephora, and even if you´ve lost your receipt they´ll let you exchange it? If you have your receipt you can return it and get your money back). So, after exchanging my Nars eyeshadow in an unfortunate shade of matte apricot that makes me look like Bunnicula for something more flattering, I asked the sweet young thing (they are working the purple shadow this spring and they look fabulous) which of the gourmand section was the grossest.

There’s a wealth of choices in the Comptoir Sud Pacifique, frankly. But I finally settled on Vanille Banane, a fragrance that smells like something a gifted 9-year-old boy would create as a joke. I sprayed half my body vigorously with that. Then I was torn between Aquolina Pink Sugar and Blue Sugar for the other half. Blue Sugar is marginally less repulsive, in that it´s got some “masculine” notes (it makes me think of hairy Corporal Klinger his frock in M*A*S*H), so I went with Pink Sugar.

And hah! Because as it turns out my sweet-eating-skin killed both in less than an hour. Banane slipped off, leaving behind a faint vanilla scent, and Pink Sugar in the drydown smells like my children´s candy-coated carseats. Meh. I´ve smelled worse.

P.S. Okay, how many of you kept trying to adjust the volume on the Pepsi commercial Patty stuck up last Friday, the subtitled one with the deaf guys looking for the party? Show of hands, please. Anyone? Nobody? Was I the only person fiddling with the volume control on my laptop for three minutes until my low-watt bulb of a brain went on?


  • julie says:

    I enjoyed your blog and I have to say I was gun-ho last summer and went on a quest to find and purchase a bottle of Angel (yes I know, I know…) and I got it home, ripped the box open with fear and trepidation and was HORRIFIED! How could such a beautiful box deliver such a vial substance !! At first I thought “let me give it a minute” I almost was liking it then BAM! It hit, the smell of some kind of (for lack of better words)B.O. If ever there was a “scrubber” it was this. Needless to say my 78.00$ bottle of new perfume soon found its way to ebay.
    I knew a girl who wore this a few years ago and it smelled soooo diffrent on her.

  • Patty says:

    Are are we all going to be wearing vilely scented hairshirts on Friday as we offend everyone?!?!?

    • March says:

      You betcha! Mine’s gonna smell like Yatagan and CB Musk! <):)

    • BBliss says:

      I don’t know what scandals I’ve missed, but I’m defintely tuning back in on Friday – sounds FUN!

    • Tara says:

      I am impressed at your dedication – the last time I tried Angel it lasted through 3 scrubbings and a dose of bleach. Hypnose and Blue Sugar were similar… I think they should be labeled with toxicity warnings.

      I used to wear Poison, Giorgio Ysatis and Tresor back in my early twenties, but wouldn’t touch the stuff now. I shudder to think of the sillage…

  • Patty says:

    You have more pennance to do, snapping JLo stuff in mail tomorrow. Heh.

  • moi says:

    I laughed at this post (White Diamonds really does have the half life of plutonium!). I cried at this post (I was so, so wanton with the Tresor for about a year in my late twenties). I went, “Hey, wait a minute!” at this post. (’cause I loves Moi some Angel. Mmmmm . . . donuts.)

    • March says:

      Okay, I am so confuzzled. All you sweet young things with the Tresor in your late twenties. Of course I was busy killing people with (as I recall) Poison and Paris, so what excuse do I have?


  • Heather says:

    Impressive, March! Truly. No one has ever done anything bad enough to wear the hair shirt of White Diamonds. If the gods don’t forgive you after that, I’d say find some new gods.

    • March says:

      I was going for one of her other scents — the Passion — which I keep complimenting women of a certain age on in the elevator. No, really. It smells like incense on some women. Not finding it on the shelf at Macy’s (I think I have to go to JC Penney for Passion, and they don’t have a tester) I settled for White Diamonds. It got the job done. :)>-

      • Heather says:

        I’m pretty sure they ship the surplus of White Diamonds to poorer countries for use as a delousing agent. Understandably, some sufferers prefer the lice. There’s a woman in my office who I’m pretty sure is trying to murder us all with it.

        I do like the Passion bottle. It looks like something you’d discover at the end of a long and satisfying battle in Legend of Zelda.

        • March says:

          I love your Passion idea! And honestly if someone in my office were wearing White Diamonds I’d be pushing for one of those no-fragrance arrangements. :-&

  • violetnoir says:

    Enough with the penance, you little masochist! Whatever you did, and I doubt it was anything cruel or ill-intended, you have done enough torture to yourself to last a lifetime!

    Did you really douse yourself with all of those uglies??? Geez, you are one brave woman!

    Big hugs!

    P.S.–Now, wash that crap off!

    • March says:

      I only wore washables (cotton) and laundered everything. In the case of Hypnose, twice. 😮

      I’m back to wearing charming things now. This silly A La Figue is really humoring me, it’s perfect for a gray February day.

  • Malena says:

    first of all: i love these skunks 🙂

    march, you were really adventurous – congrats!
    i´m sure you had much fun testing all these lovely frags :)) :d

    i never smelled white diamonds, but can comment on the others 😉

    angel isn´t a scent i totally loathe, but i would never wear it myself, it tends to get overwhelming & is too sweet for me (sadly, i don´t get any patchouli) & people that like = wear it seem to constantly overdose – especially in summer *ugh*

    CSP vanille banana is one of the most horrible scents i´ve ever smelled – it´s smells so synthetic & sweet & fake, i can still recall it though it must be more than a year (or rather two) that i tested it (on skin…lasting power was really good…) it still makes me shudder!
    you were lucky it didn´t last on you for so long, on me it took ages to settle down into the vanilla (though all other CSPs settle fairly quick & then they smell all alike).

    *psst* i´ve to admit, i used to wear tresor about 12 years ago or so. i´m biased as it was my favourite scent back then, so i might be the only one who likes it…i haven´t smelled it for a very long time, though, perhaps i wouldn´t like it that much, now. but anyway, the thought of it makes me happy somehow 🙂
    but i can´t stand hypnose: another overwhelming scent that is much too fruity-sweet & synthetic smelling – but it´s not as horrible as CSP vanille banana, though!

    • March says:

      I know I rag on the CSPs all the time, but I can understand their appeal, and for awhile they were sort of the “different” scent by being gourmand, and the fact that I’m not a vanilla nut means I don’t appreciate the line properly. The banane though … whose idea was that? That’s what fascinates me. What kind of a person would think, oh, hey — let’s make a *banana* scent. Leather, feet, crotch? Yes! Banana? No! :d/

  • PlaysbyScent says:

    Oh, Hypnose is not tolerable! Not! Not! Not! Besides, never trust a perfume that takes longer to scrub off your skin than skunk.

    Think about it. Seriously.

    I fumbled with the volume control – lots – throughout the commercial, too. I *got* it but I still expected music or something. I thought it was very funny because it had played a trick on me, thus showing itself to be smarter than me, and how many commercials can do that? :))

    • March says:

      I revised my Hypnose opinion after 36 hours and threw my free sample away. I figure the fewer people exposed to that, the better. Anything that goes on and on and ON like that is bad.

      We kept shushing each other last night during the Super Bowl so we could listen to the commercials. Some of them were lame, but some were pretty funny. And you’re right, how many commercials are smarter than we are?

  • Janet says:

    I love Bunnicula almost as much as I love Angel. It doesn’t smell like chocolate or candy to me…it smells like fresh cut pine trees, what a Christmas tree should smell like 🙂 I mix it with a drop of Tunisian Opium for a bit of smokiness…yum!

    • March says:

      Aha!!! You and Chaya are in agreement on the Christmas tree note then! And your fragrance mix sounds inspired.

      I should have put a pic of Bunnicula in the post, I had no idea of the fanbase!

  • sweetlife says:

    Those skunks are so damn cute!

    This post just confirms everything I already knew about your testing style, March. You are the Mad Scientist — let’s try this! let me scare myself with that! let’s layer four jasmines and go to the gym! I love this so much about you. You are unapologetic about your passionate dislike of some fragrances, but I can’t help noticing that you also keep trying them on now and again, and there has been more than one volte face.

    And dear, I’ve been meaning to mention, you must indeed have sweet eating skin: I’ve been sampling your beloved Courtesan and the opening is almost unbearably sweet on me. I totally see the sexy in it, but it takes a good 45 minutes before it arrives… I suppose it’s my payback for Botrytis. 8-|

    • March says:

      Well, um, you have hit on my basic fragrance philosophy, which (even when I am doing penance) is: this isn’t brain surgery, and let’s have fun! I feel like fragrance (as a category) gives me the same sort of thrill fingerpaints give my five-year-olds. They make me feel joyful and messy and greedy.

      Courtesan. You know, I keep seeing it at the top of the TPC popular sales list, and I wonder whether, right now, hundreds (thousands?) of people are sitting out there sniffing their samples, just like you, and thinking … WTF? :”>

  • Robin says:

    M,I can always count on you to make me spew tea on my computer screen. Today it was “a fragrance that smells like something a gifted 9-year-old boy would create as a joke”. Perfect description of VB.

    I don’t usually give much thought to the environmental/health consequences of wearing fragrance, but perfumes that last as long as Hypnose make me nervous.

    • March says:

      Seriously, I thought about the same thing on Hypnose! It’s not that strong, even — I mean, it’s there, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be that tenacious. Even Tresor left. But after 48 hours and some extra scrubbing it was beginning to make me worry.

  • tmp00 says:

    I’m more than sure that I’ve offended someone in my blogging, most likely because I’m an idiot. I have the attention span of a fruit fly and am easily sidetracked; I put aside a comment for rational consideration or a scent that someone sent me and it all gets lost in the folds. So if anyone’s reading this who I’ve offended, I heartily apologise and hope that you will forgive.

    But I ain’t going to douse myself in Blue Sugar and sit around marinating in it as penance. Besides, my co-workers would kill me!

    • tmp00 says:

      Oh, and no, I didn’t play with the volume on my computer, but that’s only because I saw the commercial on the news beforehand. I didn’t pay attention to the bobble-head newscasters intro, so I was madly raising the volume on my TV, thinking it was on the fritz. When the Action McNewsTeam came back on I thought I was going to GO deaf!

      • March says:

        Augh, I hate it when that happens!!! And then you blow your own eardrums out … I have a similar problem switching back and forth from my in-car iPod player (which requires maximum volume) to the radio. I think I blew the speaker doing that.

        No, you are perfect. I can’t think of anything mean you’ve said or done. You smell good, too.

  • Eileen says:

    No matter you may have done, March, you’ve made up for it! That was a wonderful inspiration
    on your penance, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading about it.

    My nightmare perfume (which I thankfully have forgotten the name) was a wretched mess
    of pine sap and cotton candy with the lasting power of nuclear radiation. Taught me to be very
    cautious about what I spray on my skin!

    As for the Pepsi ad, yep — I was a bit slow to catch on. But I enjoyed the ad even more when
    I figured our *why* it had no sound. Yep, I can be *really* slow..

    • March says:

      Yay! Someone else who didn’t get it! Yay! Come sit next to me! I’ll wear my cutest dunce cap! Which my daughter pronounced “doonce” the other day and we teased her mercilessly, because we are like that. We also have a running family joke that begins (quoting one of their friends), “well, I’m no Einsteen, but…”

      Pine sap and cotton candy?!? Wonder what that was. Ugh.

  • Dusan says:

    Can’t imagine anyone who knows you being offended by your words. But do agree that emoticons and smilies help clarify any misunderstanding. Not that you don’t use them 🙂
    You brave, hilarious woman! What a penance: Tresor — blech (plus an ex wore it)! Ditto on the BS. Of course, I love AngelVomit but can definitely see it hitting the gagometer for many, so I’m not offended. 😀 Mine would have to be spending a day suffocated under the miasma of say, Givenchy Gentleman aka Death by Patchouli.

    • Dusan says:

      On the subject of offending other people’s feelings/noses, I may just be doing that right now — am on the bus, wearing ISM, and I *feel* like people are backing away from me…

      • March says:

        Ooooh, will have to try Death by Patch! And if they don’t like ISM they can kiss your bell bottle. Weird. Okay, the laptop is not letting me insert the grumpy emoticon. Let’s see if 9 of them pop up when I hit “save”…

  • Debbie says:

    You know what the funny thing is about Tresor? Although the spray on stuff is gross, the body lotion is beautiful. I don’t know how they can make two things so different. Are they really the same frangrance? I don’t believe it.

    As for Angel (SHOUT OUT TO TIGS), I love it too. Can’t help it either. And I don’t care how much y’all don’t like it. “Chocovomit”, March?! No. But that’s hilarious. And you have convinced me that I need to try Borneo.

    ET’s White Diamonds? Oh, geez. My stepmom gave me a huge bottle of that once. I always knew that woman hated me. So harsh. A paint-thinner of a fragrance. That was true pennance there, March.

    Now let’s go on to the niche fragrances that are perfect for penance: Montale’s Orient Extreme. OMG. The basenotes sound terrific, but whatever’s in the topnotes is such a scrubber that I had to RUN to the bathroom to take it off. I tried my best. I endured it for several minutes. But, alas. No go.

    And while I loved Annick Goutal’s Amber Fetiche (mmmm…what IS that skank in there?), the other two were barf-worthy. Yes, I mean, they made me think of vomit that has that sweetish tinge. Oh so gross.

    And a very gentle hug to anyone is or was offended by this post or any of March’s: sweet thing, some people are opinionated and passionate about fragrance. It does NOT mean that something you love is bad or reflect on you personally. It means that, as far as YOU are concerned, they simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Or have such different body chemistries, their viewpoints are irrelevant regarding your favorite scent. It means nothing. Go on loving what you love! Completely! @};-

    • Teri says:

      Some day when you’re in a patient (or like March, penitent) mood you might want to re-try the Orient Extreme. I thought it was horrific when I first put it on, and I was literally on my way to the sink to wash it off when it suddenly and unexpectedly morphed into the most beautiful thing. I want to get it and to wear it, so I guess I’ll have to keep a clothes pin nearly to use for the first few minutes after I spray it! @-)

      • Debbie says:

        Shoot. I knew this was going to have a gorgeous drydown. Unfortunately, I tried it twice and just gave up, pitching the rest of the sample. :o( I am going to have to go back and read the notes in this thing. What is it in the top that is turning us off so?

        I don’t know, Teri. There are so many fragrances out there that are wonderful through all phases of development, I’m not sure I want to go through any “erg” topnotes. To change up the cliche: so many fragrances, so little time.

      • March says:

        Well, I’ve never tried it the first time, so I’ll let you know. There’s nowhere around here to try the Montales, and there are so many of them. It’s a gap in my knowledge, I admit.

        • Debbie says:

          March, I am really impressed with Montale. Sweet Oriental Dream was FBW. So is White Aoud, but I ran out of money. =(( Before I tried those, you couldn’t have paid me to wear anything with rose in it. I hope you get to try a slew of them soon.

          • March says:

            I have a hunch I’ll get hooked on the Montales at some point. I’m very good at discovering a line five years after everyone else! 😉

  • Tigs says:

    Just another Bunnicula fan here to say: You brave, woman. (Although I like the Angel. I cannot help it.)

    • March says:

      It’s okay. Many, many normal people like Angel. Obviously. I am certainly in no position to judge, given the fact that up there in the post I copped to thinking Fantasy wasn’t that bad, and I know I like a JLo or two…

  • donanicola says:

    Doing penance/saying sorry is good for general well being and I hope you feel better now, March! I’m sure you didn’t mean to offend. Last week I was rude to the guy who was dealing with my request for a replacement Oyster card (travel card thingy). It seemed to me that not only did I have to sign the Official Secrets Act but I had to disclose all my passwords/numbers and provide proof of the identity of my cats before they’d hand the freaking thing over and I was scratchy. I returned and apologised and he was gracious about it. But you really did do penance! Tresor! Vanille Banana! Pink Sugar – it makes me gag to think about it. I hope you’re wearing something beautiful and sympathetic today.

    • March says:

      Nice of you to apologize! And yeah, it’s a constant struggle, deciding how much of that info to give out, what to complain about. Over here we’re always instructed NOT to give out our Social Security numbers, and everyone wants them for various reasons. And I have a friend who’s trying to adopt a siamese cat from a rescue outfit and they are nice, sincere, well-meaning people, but she says she figures they’ll be ringing her doorbell with the lie-detector kit any day…

      Today I am wearing Satellite A La Figue! because it is silly and lighthearted and makes me smile.

  • Divalano says:

    ahahahahaha you are fabulous. really. high comedy for a Monday morning, you are way too good to us ^:)^

    OK, so Tresor was one of my early 20s GWP fragrance calamities that I still shudder to recall.

    I too suffer from Sudden Social Ineptness Syndrome. It’s even easier to do online where you don’t get any of the facial or verbal queues from the about-to-be-offended that you’re sticking your foot in it Right Now. I’ve done it before & am sure I’ll do it again. It sucks. Hopefully there will be no Tresor anyplace near.

    BTW appropos of nothing except maybe scents that make us gag … last night I was experimenting with samples & decided to resniff Arabie just to be sure I hated it & um. I love it now. Not sure what happened. It might pass but right now, just for today, I’m adoring it.

    hee hee hee Bunnicula snurkle heh heh

    • Divalano says:

      queuing the creepy music … just went over to perfumesmellin’ & Tom suddenly liked Arabie too last night. coincidence … or … you decide …

    • March says:

      You guys are scaring me with the Arabie. I wonder if I’ll be next?

      …. nah. 😉

      It IS easy to do online. And here’s something I’ve done on this blog: I’ve skipped somebody’s comment (either accidentally or because I wanted to research my answer, check spelling, etc.) and they notice I’ve skipped them and wonder if they said something … it is easy to screw that up, online, you have no visual cues. I’m trying to be really careful about the online comment skipping, I forget people notice.

  • Anne says:

    ^:)^ ^:)^ ^:)^
    Thats all I have to say.

    P.S. I too went a little crazy trying to a.) FIND the volume control (just made the switch from pc to mac and still making adjustments) and b.)trying to turn it DOWN when the horn and alarms were waking up my sleeping house. Idiot moi!

    • March says:

      Okay … wait a minute. Wait JUST A COTTON-PICKING MINUTE.

      There IS sound on that video?!?!? I mean, when you get to that part of the video, there’s horns honking, etc? Hah! Why do I get *no sound* on mine? I thought the entire commercial was silent, and I was just too dumb to get the joke, but the horns/alarms makes total sense.

      • Anne says:

        Gotcha! No sound, from beginning to end! I did fumble the whole time the video was playing, trying to get the volume up.

        Another confession, if you’re still talking to me. I have recently fallen in love with Morgane Le Fay Blue. Many, many commenters on Luckyscent say it is very Angel-like. Does that mean I might like Angel? I am feeling sick.

        • March says:

          Meanie meanie meanie! 😉

          Angel-like does not induce me to try things. It’s still okay if you like Angel, though. Just don’t snuggle up close to me in the theatre, okay?

  • Elle says:

    Anyone who mentions Bunnicula should *never* have to do penance (and what a brutal one)! Got my goddaughter addicted to the series and she’s named her cat Chester. Anyway, you’ve surely achieved sainthood for all your brilliant, hilarious posts.
    Oh, and I used to actually really like Lancome’s Oui in the summer. Wonder if it’s been reformulated. And who knew you could return makeup to Sephora? Must purchase more from them.

    • March says:

      I wanted to try Oui — I think some folks really like that (and Poeme.) So will have to go back at some point.

      I already loved Sephora because you can *try* things, and they don’t shill for a particular line. So this is just another thing to love. My general difficulty is finding someone over the age of 22 who appreciates what I’m going for, makeup-wise. But even the clueless ones are generally so nice and friendly I don’t care.

  • Judith says:

    You are a very brave woman, indeed!^:)^ A so-called “friend” once chased me around Sephora brandishing a scent strip of Pink Sugar. It never touched my skin, but I am afraid that many secrets were betrayed.:”>

    • March says:

      Pink Sugar surprised me. It’s not that tenacious, if you really open up and embrace it. In the sick, sad way I did.

      Diva was chasing me Saturday with some horrid thing in Icing! Called Sensual something. Smelled like Lucky Charms. Serves me right for being in a cheesy tweener store.

  • Marina says:

    “I wouldn’t wear it if you gave it to me, but I wouldn’t betray my government’s secrets if you threatened me with it.” Hahaha, love this phrase. Am totally borrowing it. :d

  • chayaruchama says:

    Ah, my fellow closeted Carmelite !
    I would love to see you resembling Bunnicula, BTW.
    [I myself, would prefer to resemble one of those angelskunks in your lovely photo !]

    I’m puzzled, though, Marchele…
    How come no one mentions the ‘fake Xmas tree spray’ scent I get from Angel-
    You know, the one that pierces you in the 3rd eye ???
    Triple FEH.

    Vanille Banane actually works on some sweet young things- if I hadn’t smelled it, I wouldn’t believe it.
    I traded a bottle of it at Louis’ with the sweetest SA , who gave me 2 SMN’s for it- a Potpourri and Muschio, if you can imagine….

    • March says:

      I think I would *welcome* a fake tree smell in Angel. The sharp notes would be a blessed relief from the chocovomit. Sort of like Pine-Sol. 😉

      That Bunnicula matte shadow I got talked into by a beautiful young girl with good intentions; she said it looked “fresh.” I think it’s incomprehensible for girls with tanned skin to appreciate how much pink-tinged bright-white people like me dislike those pinks — my eyes au natural are already a little pink-rimmed, ya know?

      I believe you about Banane … I believe there’s probably someone who can make almost anything work on them.

      • Debbie says:

        Regarding very young women selling cosmetics to older women (35+)…they just don’t get it. There were only two times I encountered SA’s who did:

        (1) All of the artists at the MAC counter in London. They came across with perfect shades that were just, well, perfect in enhancing the face rather than trying to make someone who’s 45 wear the same look as a 25 y/o. Beautiful products in the hands of people who knew color.

        (2) A young man at a Bobbi Brown counter. He was wearing a full face of makeup himself (as I discovered farther along in our encounter). It was beautifully done. You couldn’t tell it was there until you looked in a determined manner, and then you could tell it was just making him look beautiful. OMG; bedroom eyes. I’ll never forget them. He really worked beauty on my face.

        Naturally, I can’t get back to London, and the fellow in #2 has been replaced with more of the ditzy young things that think they know everything and might….for people in their 20’s. Grrrr.

        • March says:

          My guess it’s the mark of a true professional to find that sweet spot between what the client looks good and what they’ve been trained to do. I want to look youthful and yet age appropriate. I can be a bit more adventurous than some, I’m not working in an office as a lawyer. I’d say more of my problems spring from my fair pink skin than age, even. All the stuff they use as “highlighter” — those pale mushroom colors — disappear on me. They get confused by having to work in a reverse palette, is I guess how I’d put it? How to subtly low-light as well as highlight?

          • Debbie says:

            When I think about it, whether it’s age or a skin tone/shade one doesn’t see every 12 minutes, a true artist or someone-who-is-really-into-color SEES that and doesn’t try to force an overworked palette onto it. Too many of these people are just sales assistants and aren’t seeing what’s in front of them. It’s just so sad. Maybe it’s just my city.

            I also started noticing the difference in how makeup is used in British vs. US shows. It’s used much better in the former. Understated, breathtaking beauty whereas the latter is all too often into skank as beauty. The exception are shows where the people aren’t supposed to be wearing cosmetics; then they’re usually spot-on. It makes me think I ought to try the Ormonde scents.

          • Debbie says:

            BTW, March, I wonder if one really even needs to use highlighter with a very fair skin tone? Unless you want some pearlessence?

          • March says:

            Well … exactly. I giggled when I read this, because they put the “highlighter” on and … nothing! Then they make that baffled frowny face; where IS it?!

            And you should definitely try the OJ line, for no other reason than they are amazing scents and very much their own thing. Please don’t stop at OJ Woman (which I admire but can’t wear.) Pick through the appealing notes and sample a couple. Ta’if is an amazing spicy rose, if you are into that thing. Champaca makes me weep at its beauty, but it is more subtle.

          • Debbie says:

            I had Woman and Ta’if picked out as future samples, but will also definitely include Champaca. Thanks for the heads-up!

  • Louise says:

    March, I am so glad you weren’t paying penance on the day we met at Sephora-a budding new friendhsip might have died right there…

    To you to-die-for (literally) fragrances, I would add the Dumont Vanillas,really gaggy, and much of the BBW current stock. For your next round of apologies…but, hey, we all make social blunders, no? You’ve got such a good heart and well-meant intentions.

    No, I didn’t touch the dial. But I spent many years with deaf folk, so knew where it was all heading.

    • March says:

      Well, I *tried* to work those Laurence Dumonts! I mean, just the names themselves are so vile. I really felt that and the Lavanignilias (sp?) would be my babies for that experiment. But, nasty though they were, they wouldn’t adhere properly. I resorted to the CSPs because the volume is set so much louder.

      You didn’t touch the dial either. Sigh.

      I can’t go into BBW any more. It’s like freaking Yankee Candle in there, smell-wise.

  • MattS says:

    You’re the Joan of Arc of Scent today, up to your neck in gross fragrance rather than flames and I love it. I really need to smell Angel, ’cause everyone hates it so much. I have a bottle of A*Men and I kinda like it. It was one of my first weird scents, but I usually get compliments on it.

    Oh, you’ll appreciate this. I wore Borneo 1834 to work the other day for the first time, and, no lie, I thought they were gonna crucify me. Customers and co-workers alike; I have never had such a nasty reaction from people on a scent in my life. So, of course, now I love it even more. Such is the teenage rebellion nature of my brain. I have big green rainboots that I got for Christmas and the more people tell me they’re ugly, the more I rock ’em.

    Oh, and I’m with Cait on Bunnicula. One of my childhood favorites, that and Howliday Inn. So you’ve referenced Carson McCullers and Bunnicula in a week’s time. You’re obviously well-read and the coolest, so go scrub off and punish yourself no longer. Go and sin no more.


    • March says:

      Well, not *everyone* hates it so much. I think it’s got to be one of the top-selling fragrances in the US, no? I find it pungent, and not in a good way. But I love Poison, so I’m not reliable.

      BTW I like A*Men very much. Yeah, you should try the women’s and see what you think. And …. the only thing Angel reminds me of, that I hate even worse, is BORNEO! So you’ll love angel. And if I were your co-worker I’d have you removed from the building. 😉

      And thanks for the exculpation, or whatever that word is.

      • tmp00 says:

        True penance would be sitting for a few hours next to someone wearing a ton of Borneo.

        Just sayin… :d

        • March says:

          Yeah, like Matt down there. Dude’s gonna get a letter in his file.

          • MattS says:

            There’s a part of me that really likes the Clear the Room Fragrances. I just spritzed a healthy dose of Kouros for the first time, and I don’t necessarily want to say that I’m falling in love, but maybe deeply in lust. Dirty, filthy lust. Hooray!>:)

          • March says:

            ‘Kay, as a sign of how damaged I am … I really don’t get what all the fuss is about with Kouros. It smells fine to me. Rank, but fine. Go google chandler burr’s review of it where he compares it to French trucker shorts and calls it “unwearable.” I wouldn’t want everyone on the bus wearing it, but still … one guy … :-\”

  • Lee says:

    Those skunks are so darn cute. Sigh. I wish we had critters like that in the UK. I guess I should be happy with badgers and hedgehogs though. And they don’t stink so strangely (I quite like a little linger of skunk aroma though – maybe cos it’s so exotic to me).

    Hey girl, you going Catholic on us? I’m sorry you offended folks – like you, I do the same sometimes as though my often well-attuned social skills set suddenly goes haywire – some little boy inside is busy fiddling with the dial. What you’ve done is penance enough. Brave thing.

    And you had me chortle with your volume control issue. Too funny…

    • March says:

      Okay, you NEVER reached for the volume dial? Not even once? Didn’t do a mouse cruise to see whether your speakers were off?

      Oy. Okay, it IS just me.

      Hedgehogs! We think hedgehogs are adorable, and each of my children has gone through an I-want-a-baby-hedgehog phase. Do people keep them as pets? ARe they really pointy, or is that an illusion?

      BTW when we lived in the country our dogs got skunked a few times, and while I too strangely enjoy the distant aroma of skunk, I can tell you from personal experience that the smell of fresh skunk juice up close is astonishingly horrible.

      • Lee says:

        No, they don’t keep them as pets. We have one that snuffles around our front garden from time to time (hibernating now though). I’d love a few in my back garden to keep down the slugs, but seeing as it’s totally walled and I don’t think they climb, it’s unlikely ever to happen.

        They’re not porcupine spiky, but they are spiky. I made friends with some as a kid by feeding them dog food. My dog Fritz would get overly interested (in the food, more than the hogs) and his nose would end up pricked. He’s howl. I’d stay up late and watch them chow down, laugh at Fritz and generally feel happy with the world. Once, I even put vaseline on the lice one little hog was smothered in. Oh yes. I didn’t have many friends.

  • dinazad says:

    Never heard of Bunnicula before, and now I need to get the books! The things perfumemania makes me do……

    True penance for me would be a day in White Linen or Poison. Although Tresor sounds pretty bad, too. I admire your perseverance, March!

    • March says:

      Poison? No problemo. I could spend a day killing everyone around me (not so softly) with Poison. And I did so, back in the day. I resmell it periodically for a stroll down Memory Lane, but I don’t really wear it.

      White Linen is pretty background on me. That Tresor, though … shudder.

  • Maria says:

    March, you maniacally penitent soul! Why not settle for a hairshirt? :d I can’t imagine going through that smell torture and surviving. Except that I like Angel. But I’m not offended! Do no penance because of me.

    Of course I didn’t fiddle with the volume control. They were two DEAF guys, March. They didn’t need to produce sounds to communicate. Oh no, wait! Did I just offend you? I’m not drenching myself with department store counter crap!

    • March says:

      I googled “penance” for the image and came up with a bunch of images of self-flagellation and a lot of religious iconography. And this is Ash Weds. coming up, no? And then I pondered awhile how much *deeper* I could dig myself into the hole by using a religious image to illustrate this post — sort of a broad-brush offense. I passed.

      Okay, I’m a maroon about that commercial. I admit it.

  • Cait says:

    Hi March!

    I am so stoked that you mention Bunnicula. I lurve Bunnicula and refer to him as much as possible and that means it’s often a non sequitur. Actually, I have mentioned Bunnicula so much over the last twenty five years or so since I first read it that it has become a part of my family’s consciousness, too. It’s great when one can spread the madness.
    I just thought I’d take up some space to say hello.

    • Louise says:

      Cait-I thought I was alone in my Bunnicula love. Ah, to find a kindred soul!

    • March says:

      Well, the big girls and I love Bunnicula, but it’s too scary for the twins (no, seriously). It will come as no surprise to you that I like some of the more offbeat kids’ books, in addition to the classics — and I am *thrilled* that I have my several-hundred-book collection from MY childhood, since my parents never discarded anything, and I’ve got some great, rare stuff. My big girls were scared at the “right” age, too. I think it’s the visuals. I had to tuck the book away for awhile.:”>

      • Louise says:

        Bunnicula is scary. My son checked the veggie cooler for weeks after our first reading, just to make sure the goods were still pigmented and juicy 😉

        • March says:

          I think that stuff is very *real* to them when they’re young — you know, talking veggies, etc. So stuff that seems funny to us because it’s so absurd is scary to them.

    • Musette says:

      Bunnicula Rocks! I still love that book and am now scaring my grandkids with it! So do Maira Kalman’s books with Max Stravinsky (dreamer/poet/dog). Whenever anyone knows what I’m saying when I say “Sayonara, Mrs Kackleman”…well, it’s a little bit of heaven.

      When I was in my 20s I worked in retail, but in the advertising dept, with about 10 other young women. We would all go down to Cosmetics and drench ourselves in the latest thing – it got so we had to agree what fragrance we ALL would wear that day, sort of like Napoleon’s court edict. Just imagine Tresor, AnaisAnais,Chloe,Fracas, liberally applied….all together in an open environment(we called it The Pit)….doesn’t bear thinking, does it? Your penance sounds just like that!

  • Flora says:

    Oh, I LOVE your penance! I am laughing so hard! I too share your opinion of Tresor, it’s vile and unwearable and Lancome should be ashamed of itself though all eternity for that one. And the White Diamonds – oh, the humanity! It is on my top 10 hate list. Though I like many CSPs (sweet is not always bad)even I draw the line at Vanille Banane, which smells like melted banana ice cream in a very bad way. And the Pink Sugar WITH it? You are very brave! :-&

    (I can’t imagine why anyone who reads your blog would be offended by anything you say – they know what they are getting when they come here! I do anyway, and that’s why I keep coming back for more whether I always agree with it or not. Your site is more fun than oughtta be legal, so there.) <:-p

    • March says:

      What is *with* Lancome? I feel like … there’s a style there. Chanel has its thing, EL has her thing (which isn’t MY thing, but I concede many of them are very pretty.) The Lancome ones in a general sense smell wrong to me — bitter, or something. And you’re right, sweet is not always bad.

      Well, some of the stuff I do is head-slap stupid, offending people. And some of it is, I get emails and don’t respond to them promptly. I put them aside because they’re interesting and I want to give a thoughtful reply, and then days/weeks go by. I have hurt people’s feelings that way too. I am trying to be on top of this in 2008.

      • Cheri says:

        Tresor is just bad. Hypnose is so sweet it gives me a migraine. Personally, I think the sales associates hoarded the “La Collection” line because they are selling for over 200 dollars on Ebay. I like Sagamore and Sikkim, plus the Mille et Une Roses line (both versions). These are only Lancome fragrances worthy of purchase, IMHO.

  • minette says:

    no idea who you might’ve offended, but you should do it more often – your penance is hysterical. you are one brave woman, little missy. i could never have sprayed enough white diamonds or tresor or either of the sugars to get them on my clothes! or the csp. years ago i could’ve done angel that way, but no longer. (i actually loved it at first sniff in france in ’93 and for a few years hence, but then everybody ruined it by wearing too much.) the only fragrance i’ve gotten the vomit note out of is sl chypre rouge. it smells like vomit and the stuff they used to wipe it up with in elementary school. i have yet to get asparagus-tinged urine from a fragrance, but it wouldn’t surprise me if i did. great fun as always.

    • March says:

      Oh, I can definitely see your point which Chypre Rouge! That’s funny. I mean, I’m one of the nine people who love it, but I can see that with just the *teensiest* goosing of the notes I’d get cleaned-up vomit. 🙂

      To be fair, Angel must have something in it I’m sensitive/allergic to? It causes me physical pain. Of course, being me, every so often I go back and retry it to see if anything’s changed. /:) A*Men doesn’t bother me, though. Hmmmm.

      • minette says:

        i understand how you feel getting a physical reaction to angel. i had physical reactions to dawn spencer hurwitz’s stuff. i bought a bunch of samples and they all made me feel either nauseous or extremely irritable, even angry. and it wasn’t hormones. i had to wash them down the sink. the thought of them being in my abode made me feel queasy. it’s a shame, because she does an excellent job of marketing – would like to have liked something!

        • Debbie says:

          I don’t suppose you have any left over that you’d like to unload? I love her Cimabue and Oeillets des Rouges (sp?). I actually ordered a full ounce of the former and 1/3oz of the latter.

        • March says:

          I think even those of us who are fragrance nuts are bound to run across chemicals that make us ill. Although I’ve read complaints about Cimabue based solely on smell. (For the record — I love Cimabue.)

    • Vasily says:

      I tried some of the Art of Perfumery frags a year ago, and on me #2 was a delightful mix of citrus, very rancid butter, and very bad breath. Had to scrub & scrub to get it off. I still shudder to think of the experience. I pray that it was my skin chemistry, or a bad sample … that this wasn’t in fact A of P’s intent.