Yeah, I know; I should be tied to a tree and pelted mercilessly with rotten eggs. Haven´t we already established that SJP NYC is just another addition to the vast pile of fruity floral bombs that doesn´t need any more editorializing? Well, I just can´t help myself.
When Sarah Jessica Parker released Lovely, her first scent post Sex and the City, I was intrigued. I liked Lovely, but it was very reminiscent of Narciso Rodriguez´s eponymous scent, and I could take it or leave it. For me, the best part about it was the bottle.
Then, I read Chandler Burr´s opus, The Perfect Scent, which described in detail how hands-on SJP was in the creation of her first fragrance. If his account is accurate, Ms. Parker was involved in every aspect from the creation of the juice to its marketing and advertising. Reading that, and knowing she favoured off the beaten path scents – I believe her signature concoction is a blend of West Village street musk oil, Comme des Garà§ons Incense Avignon and Bonne Bell Skin Musk – made me view her creation in a different light. Lovely is no Britney Spears teeth rotting, Steel Magnolia/cupcake mash-up; and, I have to admit that I admire SJP for putting a bit of her real self out there for the masses to judge. And judge we did.
Her follow-up to Lovely, Covet, and its flanker, Covet Pure Bloom, were not as well received. I happened to like Covet – with its lemony, earthy geranium and chocolate vibe, but Pure Bloom was as vile as a $5 bodega bouquet. Then came The Lovely Collection; a trio of scents named Dawn, Endless and Twilight.
Unfortunately, SJP´s foray into the celebrity scent arena has been hugely disappointing. Lovely is getting harder to find, Covet and Covet Pure Bloom are nowhere to be found, and the Lovely Collection of scents has been banished to the bottom shelves in places like Ulta and Shoppers Drug Mart. It´s interesting that this modern style icon struck out so badly in the scent category, and I think I know why: she attempted to peddle scents that were unappealing to the masses. She took a major brand (Coty) along for the ride, and it didn´t turn out to be the cash cow everyone was expecting; hence her latest offering.
I won´t pretend to have the inside scoop about why SJP NYC is a total departure from her previous scents, but I think I can flesh out the reasons, based on my wealth of inherent cynicism: SJP most likely owed Coty one more go-round on the fragrance ride, and since the latest Sex and the City movie is due to be released next month, they decided to take advantage of the pink elephant in the room, Parker´s alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw. In the interest of not unleashing yet another commercial stink bomb, they decided to tie it in with the film release, and refer to the scent as “something Carrie Bradshaw would wear”. Really? The fictional character who owned every Fendi handbag ever created and made Manolo Blahnik a household name now traipses around Manhattan in 6 inch platform Christian Louboutins smelling for all the world like a strawberry Lip Smacker? Come on! If you believe that, I´ve got a bridge to sell you.
I used to be a huge fan of the series Sex and the City. I own the DVDs. I watch them on occasion, when I find myself missing New York. Growing up in Brooklyn and working in Manhattan in my 20s, I sometimes wish that Carrie Bradshaw´s Manhattan was my Manhattan back in the day. When I worked at 51st Street and 6th Avenue, the coolest thing about it was the Sam Goody store on the ground floor of my building and the TGI Fridays down the street. There was no Today Show studio and the GE building wasn´t referred to as “30 Rock”. Saks Fifth Avenue was just another department store (that none of us could afford to shop in), and Bergdorf Goodman had about half a dozen cosmetic counters on its main floor. The best lunches could be had at the employee cafeteria in the McGraw Hill building, and after work, we went out for beers and Blue Whales at Houlihans, and scoffed at all the tourists having their pre-theatre dinners. Not exactly the life of a hip and trendy New Yorker, but I´ve made my peace with it and moved on.
Sadly, the legacy of Sex and the City the series has nothing valuable to offer; unless you happen to consider over-the-top consumerism valuable. However, you can take a Sex and the City Manhattan bus tour that stops at places like Magnolia Bakery and Pastis, where Carrie ate cupcakes and oysters, and of course, the Manolo Blahnik store, where she bought her legendary $400 strappy sandals. The real life struggles of single women in Manhattan all boil down to where you eat, which purse you carry, and who designed your shoes. I know that sounds terribly reductionist, but we all knew someone who wanted to be Carrie, Samantha, Miranda or Charlotte, drank Cosmopolitans and wished for a wealthy investment banker to get down on bended knee and propose.
As for SJP NYC, it really does smell like a strawberry Lip Smacker. That´s not necessarily a bad thing. If it had some grapefruit, it would be Marc Jacobs Daisy.
Will I go see Sex and the City 2? Hell yes… You can take the girl out of New York, but you can never take New York out of the girl.