Wander onto any discount fragrance website and you will find myriad choices of scents named Perry Ellis “something-or-other”. The one I´m writing about is the most recent simply titled release, and as far as I can tell, the only Perry Ellis scent available in the department stores. Don´t take my word for it; there could be various bottles hiding under counters and fetched from storerooms upon request, but when I went to Macy´s last week to check it out, there were no other Perry Ellises to be found.
The story of Perry Ellis the designer is a very interesting one. He started out in the mid-70s designing those horrid double-knit pantsuits my mother owned in every color imaginable. He then went on to start his wildly successful Portfolio line along with an equally popular menswear line. Accessories and of course, fragrances, followed soon after.
While I can´t say I wore any Perry Ellis clothing or fragrances in the early to mid 80s, I do confess to being cognizant of his existence. Even during my most hardcore grubby denim jacket-concert t-shirt-jeans-and-sneakers days, I was aware of his name courtesy of all the ads in the popular magazines. What I didn´t realize until recently was just how successful the Perry Ellis brand became posthumously: He died in May 1986 at age 46, and since then, his name has been kept alive in the industry via the eponymous award given out yearly to emerging men´s and women´s designers. Some of today´s most successful American designers got their start at the house of Perry Ellis: Isaac Mizrahi, Marc Jacobs (I actually forgot all about his infamous grunge collection for the brand in the early 90s), and Tom Ford. Today, there are about 40 Perry Ellis International stores in upscale outlet shopping locales, and there have been several additional attempts in recent years to revive the line with ready-to-wear collections, although those have not been well-received. On the perryellis.com website, there are few apparel choices for women; most of the available items are on clearance, and a wide variety on the men´s side. There is also a link to a corporate apparel site. As for fragrances, the new scent´s male counterpart is available as well as Perry Ellis 18, 360, 360 Blue and 360 White. For women, 18, 360 Red, Blue and White are for sale in addition to the newest scent.
Despite the dizzying array of Perry Ellis fragrances that have been released over the years, I´ll admit this new eau is the first one that ever piqued my interest. The older ones never grabbed me since they were mostly fruity/floral mishmashes, and there always seemed to be a Liz Claiborne scent lurking somewhere in the vicinity that smelled much more intriguing. When I entered the workforce in the late 80s, Liz Claiborne was my work wardrobe of choice, and so were her scents; maybe because my mother was generously footing the bill, or because I was secretly embarrassed by her love of those double-knit pantsuits of yesteryear.
When I smelled the PE scent strip in February´s issue of Allure, there was an appealing woodiness to it that I never found in any of the previous PE scents. Chalk it up to what I believe is the new trend of “friendly” woods in mainstream fragrances, thanks to Estee Lauder´s Sensuous. While Sensuous has some serious woods, it is also much sweeter and more complex. It hasn´t been sitting well with me lately because of its sweetness, and right now, I prefer PE primarily because it lacks the sweetness of Sensuous. According to Now Smell This, the notes are plum, apple, mandarin, muguet, white jasmine, gardenia, musk, amber and vanilla. I cannot identify any of these notes individually, but in concert, the scent starts out crisp, a little sharp, and almost refreshing. The woodiness begins to develop about an hour or so after application and warms up the scent considerably. If I had to guess, there is some sandalwood somewhere in the composition, because I absolutely do not get any amber or vanilla. The scent remains “clean” throughout, which typically does not happen when amber and vanilla are present. It is perfectly serviceable and easy to wear, and definitely falls into the inoffensive no-brainer category for me.
Perry Ellis Eau de Parfum is available now at Macy´s and macys.com. 50ml is $50.00, and 100 ml, $65.00; quite the bargain considering the exorbitant price tags on some of the newer, more upscale and niche releases. In addition, if you order from macys.com, the promotion code, SWEETIE, will get you free shipping and a Valentine fragrance goody bag with a $75.00 fragrance purchase.