Look, let´s talk. You know I love a niche perfume
as much more than the next person – maybe a scent you can only get from a little shop on the outskirts of
But part of my snobbery is this – I´m a perfume omnivore, and I refuse to dismiss something as, you know, some sucky mall-dreck juice just because I hear it´s the number one seller at Sephora. I mostly try (even if I fail) to smell things and be open to them, because if I don´t then I´m just as much of an ignorant asshat as a chick who´ll only buy a scent made by Paris Hilton, or from
Which is my longwinded introduction to the fact that I finally took Calvin Klein Euphoria for a test drive. If I had a dollar for every time I´ve been told by a Macy´s SA that Euphoria is their store´s number one best seller, I could buy a bottle of Guerlain parfum. I don´t know if it´s true, and I´m too lazy to find out, but I´ll concede it must be wildly successful. When I was working on my penance post recently, it occurred to me: I had no idea at all what Euphoria smelled like.
Which is how I got busted by the SA in Macy´s last week as I hiked my jeans up and methodically drenched one (unshaved) leg in Euphoria and other in Euphoria Blossom, which was sitting right there, so why not try it too? She looked at me so weird. Like those women have never seen legs before.
Euphoria´s blurb on Sephora is blowing the Sex Trumpet (the strumpet?) – the words sexy, sensual, and seductive are used several times. The notes listed are pomegranate, persimmon, green notes, black orchid, lotus blossom, champaca flower, amber, mahogany wood, violet, cream accord.
Given that list, I was expecting something warm – young, fairly sweet, a little fruity, really amber-heavy for the sexy bit. Instead, it opens on a heavy, rich note that bears some resemblance to that patchouli blast from Prada femme. I can´t quite work out how you get there from the notes listed, but if you compressed the fruits into their unsweetened essences and amped up the amber and woods hugely, I guess that might do it. As it settles, there is a creamy, slightly floral sweetness – the hallmark (in some way I´m still working out in my mind) of a modern, mainstream “young” perfume. There is almost never any specific old fashioned flower reference (gardenia, rose, etc.) Rather there´s a generic floral-notation sweetness, like all the fruits and flowers in the world friended each other on Facebook.
In any case, Euphoria is surprisingly low-sugar, and more about the fruits than the florals, and not in the generic, sticky-sweet cocktail-drink way I´m always whining about. Instead it´s a little sour, and more than a little musky. It´s one of those fragrances you´d pick to hide the fact that you´re smoking cigarettes from your parents, because it has its own musky, woody density that makes me think of cigarettes without smelling like smoke. Alternately, it´s a scent you´d pick because you wanted your boyfriend to think you smelled sexy. And it is a sexy, musky smell – again, it´s much less sweet than I would have guessed, and it is both more fully adult and more sophisticated than I´d bargained for. It is also strong – so girls, do me a favor and don´t spray your entire leg with it like I did.
Euphoria Blossom´s notes are pomegranate, dewy green accord, zesty kumquat, orchid, pink peony, blond wood, amber, sheer musks. I found it both inoffensive and less interesting (if possibly more wearable) than the original. As you might guess it is a lighter, cleaner version. While it bears a certain similarity to the original, it is sweeter, although it´s still not some sugar monster. Its appeal grew over time. The buzzwords on this one are dewy, lush and fresh, but it´s not the Fresh Accord from Hell – it wears a little greener and a little more innocently than its knowing older sister.
Do I like Euphoria? No. It’s bitter and strange and the longer I had in on the more aggressive it seemed; I ended up laundering those jeans just to get rid of the smell. Blossom I like, sort of. I wouldn´t buy it, but if you gave it to me I´d probably surprise myself by reaching for it in the middle of summer when I wanted something light and sparkling and pretty that wasn´t a huge stretch – and yes, I definitely have those days. I think one side effect of all the weird stuff I sniff is there is definitely a place in my perfume life for fragrances that are the equivalent of Doritos and Coke on the challenge index.
The bottles are IMHO ugly, weird metallic things that look like they ought to hold something called Salvador Dali´s Nose Perfume. I have never understood the appeal, and there must be one, because all those gazillion people who buy it can´t think it´s as ugly as I do. What´s your opinion?
Finally, an aside about the Euphoria model (and frequent Calvin Klein clothing model), Natalia Vodianova. I am old enough to remember the 90´s supermodels – Naomi, Christy, Linda, etc. – and the current crop of anonymous blandes with anonymous faces does nothing for me. Natalia has stood out from the first as an exception — her face is so freakishly, childishly beautiful it is almost too much to bear, like Brooke Shields in her heyday. I like her better now that she looks, say, 17 instead of 12 (and what is it with Calvin Klein and the jailbait ads?) although I think in real life she´s 22 or 23 and seems perfectly happy, having gone from rags to riches and marrying English real estate magnate/minor royalty (brother of a viscount?) Justin Portman. Now that she´s had three (!) kids with Portman her body seems softer and riper and even more lovely – not lush by any normal standards, I grant you, but there´s something in-full-bloom about it.
Her face plays young, and so that´s how she often looks in her photos (I´ve plucked some favorites and dropped them in here.) I think her Vogue shoot as
Okay, assuming anyone´s still reading this – I promise to be back on Thursday with the usual niche-snob lineup. In the meantime – if you´ve smelled this I´d love your feedback. It was so much stronger and darker than I was expecting, I am really surprised; what do you think the appeal is? For what it’s worth, Diva (who at 13 has smelled a lot of weird product and is a little young for the target market) thought it was appalling — nasty was her word, and when pressed for more she just thought it smelled dirty — dirty like feet and unwashed bodies, not in a sexy way. Or, have you sniffed something recently expecting one thing and discovered something completely different?