Pure DKNY

There’s good news – if you read on a bit, this is an actual perfume review!

I signed up for a month of yoga at this studio I’ve been test-driving, after going five times in a ten-day unlimited-class special I purchased on a whim.  I don’t want to jinx it but I think it’s a really good fit for me.  The studio’s clean, close, the schedule will (I think) work when the kids go back to school, and it’s an open/flow structure.  Which means that I’m neither in way over my head nor stuck in a class where we move at a snail’s pace while we are talked through each detail. (I’m over-analytical enough already, thanks.)   The room’s a perfect 90 degrees (32C), which helps me and everyone around me bust a sweaty move without (I hope) the rosacea-aggravation and migraines that dogged me in the 105F+ (41C) of Bikram, as much as I loved it in other ways.  Finally, I alternate between a tall, serene Korean instructor who delivers a meditative, slo-mo yogic asskicking — you know, where down-dog is the rest position — and a short, gruff American gal maybe in her 60s, who manages to constantly help/correct/adjust those of us who suck are beginners in our practice without making it feel like nagging.

So there’s my backdrop for Pure DKNY, rolled out in every fashion magazine I read this month, with Angela Lindvall in a white dress, the essence of purity, against one of those whitewash backgrounds.  The photo’s interesting because it’s actually suggestive of an urban aesthetic – the top of a white-painted old-style radiator to the left, paneling to the right (she’s sitting on a windowsill).  It’s a big  office/apartment windowsill, and in the background is what looks to me like a high-rise, blurred almost into abstraction in the magazine ads.  There’s a glass of water to her immediate left.  All of this is signaling that she’s either kicking back in her white-washed urban living space, or maybe this is the floaty cover-up she wears to the yoga studio.    Do you want to find peace and serenity in your stressful urban environment, like this (expensively groomed, faux-natural blonde-highlighted) avatar?  Well, Pure DKNY is your mantra.

“A drop of vanilla sourced from Africa, a drop of goodwill.   Pure DKNY supports local communities by taking small steps to help make a difference.”  Go to their website and you’ll learn that the vanilla in question comes from Uganda and this is some sort of partnership with CARE to support women in a fight against global poverty, although if you can find any firm financial details you’re a better reader than I am.  The box is environmentally friendly and recyclable and (as you can see from the image) very clean-looking in an understated way.  Notes are Ugandan vanilla, dewdrop, floral petals, lotus, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, freesia, orchid, white amber, sandalwood and vanilla in water.  It is “a soft floral scent with a signature vanilla accord,” according to the ad.

That list might predispose you to think this is a heavier floral – maybe something along the lines of DK Cashmere Mist – but you’d be wrong.  Mostly what it is is fresh.  Not fresh laundry, or fresh linen.  No, it is the kind of fresh that torments yours truly (and Robin at Now Smell This, apparently.)   I never quite understand what’s happening to the smell as it renders itself in my brain, but this … note?  aromachemical molecule? —  is the antithesis of fresh, in that it smells to me mostly like that peculiar, sour note of sweat in synthetic garments.  It’s the smell of a basket of sour laundry, the UnderArmour shirt or the $6 black Target polyester that you throw on after spin class, with a focus on the armpit area.    I can smell the vanilla, soft and not overly sweet, against a background of attenuated, indistinct watercolor florals whose purpose seems to be to prevent this from being a gourmand.   Absent the pick-axe edge of the FRESH pounding into me, I’d describe it as a wallpaper scent.  I might have guessed a light summer scent from JLo, marketed as more “sophisticated” for the “mature” audience over the age of 25.

I’ll take another deep, cleansing breath and point out that, vague assertions of charitable aspirations aside, there are plenty of actual “natural” perfumes out there if that’s the way you want to swing.  I respect the idea of natural perfumery just as much as I respect the concept of people who want to, say, construct or clean their houses with a minimum of potentially toxic compounds.  There are great blogs about natural perfumes and related products – let me provide a link to Scent Hive – with plenty of diverse perfume styles.  Natural perfumery does not provide me with everything I want in a fragrance, and it’s susceptible to fraud – if the perfumers aren’t sourcing everything themselves, for instance, they have to trust their suppliers.  Beyond that, the more the merrier, and if we could not turn this post into the merits of natural vs. synthetic in comments I would be grateful.

Why did I bring this up?  Because to me, and I believe to the casual magazine-reading consumer, one might take away the impression from all this “pure” imagery that Pure DKNY is in some way better for the environment, or more “natural,” or less toxic for the wearer.  You know … pure.  Says so right there on the label — or it would, if the bottle weren’t blank in the top advertisement (you can see the name on the bottle at left).  But there’s nothing here to support the idea that Pure DKNY is any safer or more natural than Mitsouko or Gucci Rush.  Instead we’re offered an aesthetic, a sham purification ritual, that troubles me on some level.  There’s nothing pure about Pure, other than the level of b.s. in the marketing of it.  I bet there are women right now spraying this scent on before their yoga class, and if I wind up next to one of them while I work on my down-dog, I’m going to be pissed.

What did I wear to yoga this morning?  The very faint remnants of the majmua attar, which I could smell only because the room was hot, and only with my face inches from my wrists.  (I’m a big fan of fellow exercisers using deodorants, which are often scented, so I’m not going to issue a no-frag policy for exercise, but nobody should be wafting scent.)

Donna Karan has created some of my favorite scents – and some of the most intense.  Black Cashmere, Chaos, Gold, Fuel and even the original DK robo-duck are all things of startling beauty, no wallflowers among them.  I’m also a fan of the Essences, although I thought they were wildly overpriced (I think the newest reissues are priced lower.)  I’m not a fan of Cashmere Mist but I think it’s a nice enough scent, and in exchange for all that I’m willing to overlook the Be Delicious franchise and its endless spawn, along with their summer-fluff and duty-free releases.  I find myself strangely disheartened by Pure – it feels cynical to me, gimmicky, capitalizing on an Eat/Pray/Love level of self-regard in a way that seems even more dishonest because it implies a kind of purity which Pure doesn’t have.

Now, I’d like to end on a happier note.   WITHOUT DEVOLVING INTO A FLAME WAR, THANKS – I welcome suggestions from readers regarding particular scents they’ve enjoyed from houses that purport to be natural or botanical (can we phrase it that way?).  Off the top of my head, I’ve enjoyed L’Artisan Jatamansi, which I think is “botanical” and smells like a very expensive spa to me, as well as Strange Invisible Perfumes and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz (search for “natural” in the product search box).  And of course I’ll mention the attars again, from Tigerflag and White Lotus.

source: private sample

  • Iz says:

    Does anyone like Pure DKNY ? I ve only read bad reviews and I just got d biggest bottle… :(

  • Mary says:

    I agree, and I also agree that it is better not to get dragged in. And I realize, people enjoy saying and reading mean comments for their titillation value. But gosh darn it, mean is mean, and if “critic” takes a swipe at a whole genre of perfumery just for the pleasure of it, or because he can, that isn’t right, and it isn’t critical analysis, and it isn’t intelligent commentary. The negativity just bogs people down. I’m talking specifically about something I read recently in the NYT, though— not here. And, Now I’ll be quiet. :d

  • Mary says:

    Late to the party on this one– but the i Profumi di Firenze, Elisir de Medici has captured my imagination. It is difficult to describe, but there is rose around the edges of something waem and melting. Not very long-lasting. I’m going through it pretty quickly. Also on the natural side– Roxana Villa does a little sampler of solids– which are delightful. I keep a couple in my bag for a little fix every now and then. Chapparal is especially loveley. I have to say– for me, the difference between natural perfumery and the synthetic standard is like the difference between watercolors and oils– or prints. There are trade-offs, in terms of vibrancy and intensity of experience. The beauty is in the creation. I read the quote from LT in the NYT, where he dismissed most naturals with an unkind expletive. Well, ok, you are entitled to like what you like, Professor. But if perfumery is an art, you can’t dismiss a whole movement for what it is trying to do. I don’t get certain kinds of modern art, or music, and won ‘t pay to experience it. But that’s different from the some of the arrogant, mean spirited attacks I have read. If a perfumer wants to include naturals, or feels it is important to work with touches of both– how is that different from Klimt pressing jewels and glass into his wet paint, to achieve the effect he saw in his mind’s eye? I accept that perfumery is an art. Artists working in different genres should accept and respect each other, but do not necessarily have to take on each other’s preferred tools and materials. I like naturals and synthetics, the same way I can enjoy watercolor landscapes, renaissance oils, modern acrylics and mixed media presentations, and still be one person. :)>-

    • Mary says:

      I didn’t read anything arrogant or mean spirited here–sorry! I was thinking back to some other things I had read–sorry–hope that did not seem like flaming–:)>-

      • March says:

        No, no. I get it. To me it’s just an argument that’s counter-productive and I refuse to get dragged in. I *think* there are two issues: can you create the full panoply of fragrances with naturals? No. You’re never gonna make Mitsouko, and … that’s FINE. But I think both “sides” can take some blame. I have read some pretty aggressive stuff from the “natural” side of the arena as well. I don’t actually think my Guerlain is killing me. As I said, though, I totally support the concept of people who want to try to use essential oils, etc.

  • Dionne says:

    I won three (yup! three!) of the Mystery of Musk perfume giveaways, which caused squeals of delight and to be honest, a little bit of guilt by the third win. Son2 pointed out, “Mom, that’s like, 25% of the perfumes they gave away.”

    And I’ve discovered that this whole naturals-don’t-stay-very-long thing… doesn’t seem to apply to me. What’s the term for skin that DOESN’T eat scent? I’m ultra-fair with blue eyes and light brown hair, and dry skin (although the dry skin might be because I live in the Calgary region, which is almost desert-dry), so you’d think scent wouldn’t last on me. Baby, I am the Energizer bunny for perfume-wearin’.

    Anyhoo, DSH’s Musk eau Natural is fantabulous. Dang, that’s some good jus. Even Son1, the 17yo who complains that I usually smell like potpourri, gave a thumbs up for this one. His exact words were, “You smell like fudge and armpit, but in a good way.”

  • On the “pure” side of perfumes, I’ve been “naturally” enjoying Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure, Aftelier Parfum Privé and L’Artisan Parfumeur Côte d’Amour.

    • Mary says:

      I have been on the verge of orderin Parfum Prive a couple of times, and would love to hear more about it. Katie, I love your You Tube work. Have you reviewed Parfum prive?:)>-

    • March says:

      I smelled Cote d’Amour for about two seconds in the Paris duty free (where’s my whistling emoticon?) but can’t remember the smell at all! Aggravating.

  • Somerville Metro Man says:

    I am always driven by the credo does it smell good on me and I don’t give a fig about natural or synthetic.
    Artists choose to work with whatever materials they choose to work with. The best make art no matter what.
    My favorite Natural Perfumers are:

    Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
    Liz Zorn Soivohle
    Laurie Erickson’s Sonoma Scent Studio
    Alexandra Balahoutis’ Strange Invisible Perfumes

    As for pureDKNY I actually am liking it more than I like any of the Be Delicious line and much better than Donna Karan Iris. I am definitely not getting the sour sweat accord that you and robin are encountering.

    • March says:

      That’s a great list. DSH I have done several posts on, and I love a few LZs as well. I clearly need to spend some time in Sonoma Scent Studio.

      Huh, so you like it? The Pure? Well, good for you. I hate it when nobody argues with me. 🙂 And you’ve reminded me I really need to find my sample of Iris.

    • Booklover says:

      Long time lurker, first time poster here. I thought Pure was a good option if you wanted a more “grown-up” vanilla scent, not the teeny-bopper stuff at BBW. I really like Cashmere Mist, but I’m looking for a new, affordable fall/winter fragrance. I don’t like foodie scents, am not big on florals, and need something appropriate for work/day. Oh, and if age matters, I’m 40. Sorry but I can’t afford boutique scents right now. Thanks for any suggestions!

  • sharyl says:

    I am not much of a fan of natural perfume as they do not seem to have the kind of longevity that I like to have, but I have truly enjoyed Incense Pure, Mecca Balsam and also Myrrhae by L’Erbolario.

    • Masha says:

      I have a bottle of Myrrhae, also, and I’m hoarding it, because I don’t see it sold in Italy anymore, it seems to have left their lineup.

      • sharyl says:

        Oh my! It looks like you are right about the Myrrhae. The website that I have ordered it from before does not have it listed anymore and I also googled to see if I could find it somewhere else — but no luck> :(( I only have a bit of it left and am going to miss it very much as fall and winter come on.

    • March says:

      OK I really need to try that Incense Pure obviously.

  • Vasily says:

    The only “natural” houses I’ve tried are Ayala Moriel and (the nearly natural) Sonoma Studios; I’ve tried nearly all of Ayala’s frags and many of Sonoma’s. The only Ayala frag I really care a lot for is Rebellius … and that’s on my bottle-worthy list. Here’s part of what I wrote on Basenotes: “… Imagine hiking home through a damp forest after a meal of Indian food, and finishing the night with a mug of tea sweetened with Barbancourt Haitian rum and a pipe of plummy sweet English pipe tobacco with your beloved hunting dog drying at your feet before a roaring fire…” The rest of her frags, meh. I kind of like Arbitrary and Democracy but not enough to buy a bottle.

    Sonoma Studios Tabac Aurea is also on my bottle-worthy list … reminds me a bit of SL Fumerie Turque but not as plummy. I did buy a bottle of it for cool weather wear … I suspect it’s not all that “natural”. ;) I’m not crazy about the other Sonoma frags I’ve tried.

    I do want to try some of Liz Zorn’s offerings, and the Tigerflag attars. Particularly the majmua which sounds like it’s right up my alley. But I’m not that much of a natural scent guy (much to the horror of a massage therapist friend I run into from time to time who’s into aromatherapy big time).

    • Masha says:

      Rebellius is fantastic, I love that one!

    • March says:

      … lord, I read “hunting dog dying at your feet…” and thought — wow, that’s a depressing smell! Duh.

      Hmmmm…. trying to decide if I’d like Fumerie Turque if it was less plummy? I love that plummy note so much but totally get how Serge and his fruits work some people’s last nerve.

      Eh, I’m not much of a natural scent guy either. 🙂 I have no doubt I’d NEVER have tried the majmua if it weren’t for Masha.

  • Rappleyea says:

    March – you’ve made a strong comeback with an excellent post! You made me laugh at myself as I’ve practiced aromatherapy in conjunction with my massage and energy practice for almost 20 years, and yet haven’t sampled the natural and/or organic perfumes. The exception being Jatamansi, which I really like.

    My only addition to the discussion would be the newest from Sonoma Scent Studio – Incense Pure (oops – that word :o). While it’s not 100% natural, Laurie used a very high percentage of naturals in it. Gorgeous, gorgeous incense scent.

    • March says:

      ooooooooooo! I should try the SSS Incense, I know it’s come up before and that’s a huge gap in my sample-age!

      • Rappleyea says:

        Can you see my email March? If not email me at rappleyea11 at yahoo dot com and I’ll be more than happy to send you some. I was lucky enough to be one of Laurie’s testers so I’m feeling a little like a proud parent and am happy to spread the love!

    • Daisy says:

      ohhh….Incense Pure is on my “buy” list for fall ! So nice. It bears a slight resemblance to Balsamo della Mecca…but is much more “refined” in attitude. Love it. Laurie is a GENIUS ….of course it’s been days since I waxed poetic about Champagne de Bois so just allow me to say ….Champagne de Bois is the most glorious cold weather scent ever!

      • Rappleyea says:

        You know, Miss Daisy, I’ve got CdB on now, and I’ve worn it all summer (and it’s been a HOT, humid summer) and it’s been great. I guess it’s the aldehydes; they make it seem bubbly and cool.

        • Daisy says:

          lucky girl! If I am wearing CdB and I get hot it GROWS until it can be overwhelming….of course it might have something to do with my penchant for over application…..maybe….. :”>

  • I couldn’t agree more with you about Pure, which was a bitter disappointment to me on a cross channel ferry recently, though I had been looking forward to trying it. I gave it a prime skin site on one wrist and sprayed Loulou on the other to remind me why I used to wear it in the 90s (I am still wondering). Both were ghastly on me – Pure for just the reasons you describe. A bit like Noa Perles but with something artificial and slightly “off” about it – nothing like what I would have hoped for with that marketing premise. : – (

    • March says:

      What a great mini-review!!! And interesting that you had the same problem with it that I did. (Hilariously, I tried Loulou recently as well, which I had not worn before, and hated it.) Good catch comparison to Noa Perles.

  • Musette says:

    LizzieLizLiz’s Tobacco and Tulle, fo’ sho.

    I only know it’s ‘natural’ because Shelley Said It. As you know, I am one of the most Unnatural folks on here. Big fan of formaldehyde in nail polish (Scent Hive knows this – I am always the apologist for formalin). I hated when Nail Magic changed its formula – that stuff was my HG! I consider the whole of cosmetics to be such artifice that the idea of ‘natural’ in beauty products(bad or good) just never occurs to me

    xo >-)

    • March says:

      You are so unnatural your skin is bluish-green.

      I am late getting on here because I am READING METZGER’S DOG LMAO!!!! Thanks so much!!!!

      Did I try T&T? I must have.

      • Musette says:

        March,

        That is the book that nearly caused me to die of hypothermia! I picked it up on a whim at a used bookstore, did that thing where you open a book when you get in the car because you are a morong thing – you know that one? Alas, I did not actually START the car. And it was February. Around 5p. Dumb. Luckily I had on required winter gear, else I would be typing with the >:)

        xoxo >-)

        I’m sure you tried T&T – it was on my ‘shut the hell UP about it already’ list from awhile back. You know, that list certain (insert whistling emoticon) have of stuff I can not yark on about??

        yeah, that one. I think it was on there. A good Liz. smoky.

        xo

  • Joe says:

    Congrats on finding a yoga regimen that works for you… and for making me feel guilty that I haven’t gotten my ass back to the studio. This will sound lame, but sometimes $13 per class just seems … well… expensive. It is great to have instructors who gently correct without reminding us too much of how much we suck are beginners.

    As for Pure… I really do aspire to a mindful approach toward sustainable, local, etc, etc… but of course it’s also a gimmick and I am highly entertained by all the meta-criticism of the trend “movement.” I mean, you have to laugh at it — the Eat, Pray, Love fantasyland — the same way one laughs at the hyper-aware “parenting” manuals. Of course, I’d still rather be a well-intentioned cliche than a Hummer-driver who doesn’t give a damn. As a former boss astutely pointed out: “everyone’s a hypocrite, it’s just a matter of degree.”

    Strangely, I was thinking about Pure this weekend, though I haven’t smelled it (and it sounds like it wouldn’t do much for me)… it’s because I decided (laugh if you must) to taste what a “drop of vanilla in water” would taste like. Not bad, but it’s not replacing lemonwater anytime soon.

    As for “natural” lines: I like Buddha’s Fig by Infusion Organique. I also just tried a couple Acorelle scents the other day (won a sampler set from NST); they were okay, but I was disappointed that the almondy goodness of Amande de Blé dissipated way too fast. Jatamansi is a nice, herbal shaving-cream scent. I think I might like that Côte d’Amour one better.

    One final thing — that pure white ad art direction makes me think of the following favorite scent from Absolutely Fabulous:

    • March says:

      I know, I know! I try to hold my hands over my eyes… it’s definitely an incentive for me to sign up for a monthly program and go as many times as possible, then I lower the per-class cost. If I last another month or two I’ll probabaly sign up for a year.

      Uh. Don’t get me started on the navel-gazing of Eat Pray Love. I must be the only woman in the US who didn’t get all misty-eyed at that whiny fool and her ooky, self-absorbed Journey of Self Discovery. Of course I might have to see the movie just to mentally undress Javier Bardem, unless they kindly do it for me, but the rest of it gives me indigestion.

      I wish you’d smell Pure and put in your two scents. And I’ll check out that link!

      • donanicola says:

        checking in late to say AHAHHHHAAAAAHA I totally agree re EatPrayLove. Actually there was a bit I quite liked and that was the food descriptions in Italy otherwise you hit it on the head March, ooky and self absorbed. But oh yes, Javier Bardem. Clever clever Penelope who I love too since she saw the light and split from TC. You saw the Woody Allen film “Vicky Christina Barcelona” right? Mmmmnnnn………

        Can’t talk about Pure when having v impure thoughts about JB.

        • March says:

          I KNEW there had to be someone else who agreed with me on EPL!!! Yes, I loved the food bits in Italy, but the rest? Please. And Vicky Cristina was so hot.

          Javier Bardem should do a frag called Impure.

          • Mary says:

            Javier Bardem scared me so bad in No Country for Old Men that I cringe whenever I see his picture. Right after I saw that movie, I think if I had seen him on the street, I would have either run away or had a heart attack. Or both. I know it was just a movie, but it’s hard for me to even think about him as a romantic figure. BTW, this is a great post, as usual, March! (Did you know that Andy Tauer wrote about you on his blog, echoing your feelings about burn out?) It’s interesting that after all these years, Anita Roddick’s clever, ethical marketing ideas are being used by Donna Karan’s Co. Years ago, Anita spoke passionately about sourcing materials in a way that supported small businesses, and to help lift people out of poverty. If we are going to pay so much for these emulsions of water/oil/perfume, we might as well spend the money where it counts. That really resonated with me, so I confess, I will pay a little extra for coffee beans from small organic farmers, and so on. As well as perfume. :)>-

      • Disteza says:

        No you’re not the only one who didn’t like it–I slogged through the whole thing thinking “Now here’s the perfect example of someone who’s manufacturing issues becuase she’s never really experienced anything approaching adversity in her life.” Whine about how you’ve destroyed your relationships and are too caught up in your own head all you want, but it certainly won’t turn me into a fan. I’ll be off reading Brave Vessel, about the would-be colonists who shipwrecked on Bermuda during a hurricane on their way to help save Jamestown. The amazing thing is that they eventually did make it to Jamestown to save the colony.

      • Aparatchick says:

        I got to, I don’t know, maybe page 50 something when I said to myself “THIS is what everyone is raving about?” :o

        Disteza, I’m with you. I’d rather read about someone like Emily Eden who accompanied her brother, the Governor General, to India in the 1830s. Now there was an interesting life! Her spirited, witty book about it (Up the Country) is well worth reading.

        • March says:

          The Italy part was fun and interesting, but as soon as she left there … eyeroll. There was a great piece in the Sunday Wash Post, they asked three travel writers to read the book and cover their areas of expertise (Italy, India, Bali.) The book drove the India writer RIGHT UP THE WALL. I guess whatsername never even left her ashram.

      • Louise says:

        I only get misty-eyed at the thought of Javier Bardem…

      • Nlb says:

        Joe – I LOVE that “Ab-Fab” clip! One of my favorites. Stacks more honest than the hokey, doofiness-incognito that is “Eat. Pray. Love”–a path that leads us to moments about as deep as “one drop of vanilla”. But I’m sure some cerebral Zen deconstructionist, somewhere, could play-up that quality in its favor.

        I do agree with your opinion, March, on the shifty marketing strategy showcased here. The majority of the buying public probably isn’t trained to interpret advertising B.S. for what it is and know the difference between the safe and eco-friendly qualities of an ingredient vs. the way in which an entire fragrance is manufactured and distributed. I knew “Pure” wasn’t pure from the get-go (and I can’t get past associating wickedly hilarious cocaine references with it; I see the fashion model dipping her finger in a bag of white powder and tasting it, then tilting her head in the direction of “Deep Thought” whenever I see “PURE”) but the idea of a salty, vanilla musk, with an almost lactic quality to it, interested me.

        So, despite the “whitewashing” of the ad, I’d read that some picked-up salt and tonka bean notes in “Pure” and I wondered how many agreed. Is there a “cereal” type quality to the vanilla? Is there a salty-muskiness that’s similar to that found in Les Nez’s “L’Antimatiere”? I thought “Cashmere Mist” was pleasant enough, if bland, but I did like the raw silk aspect of it. Is there something like that found in “Pure”?

        (As for “natural” fragrance–I’ll assume here that “natural” in this context means cruelty-free and made in an eco-friendly way from as many sustainablly harvested ingredients as possible–I also appreciate the blends from “Pacifica”; although, some of them are a little sweet for me. The “Waikiki Pikake” has a nice, clean almost cheesy aspect to the pikake that I like. I also like the inclusion of a dry hyacinth in their “French Lilac”–it fits well and gives it a “Springtime” air. “Eden Botanicals” has some interesting blends–their “Sandalwood Dreams” is very nice. “Auric Blends” has some nice ones, too, although many of them veer too close to classic hippie-headshop-oils to suit me. Their most popular blend, “Egyptian Goddess” is actually a very nice, clean musk with a hint of Spikenard-infused white florals. I also love “Ava Luxe” stuff but I don’t know how “natural” her ingredients or blends are. I think she might even use some actual non-synthetic, animalic ingredients in them, but I’m not sure.)

  • Aparatchick says:

    Generally, the price of naturals puts them in my “sadly, no” category. Two exceptions are Liz Zorn’s Chrysalis and Grand Canyon which I managed to pick up on a sale somewhere last year. Chrysalis (Absinthe, Cognac and Fig, Jasmine, Orange Blossom, Carnation, Incense, Amber) demands that I pay attention, while Grand Canyon (Orange blossom, Spice, Vanilla, and some sort of woods) is a comforting beauty.

  • Shelley says:

    Vamp à NY, I ? Les Carottes
    Total love

    Liz Zorn (from the naturals line), Love Speaks Primeval
    dude, if you the skank lover haven’t tried this yet, go there; I want to hear what you think

    Liz Zorn, also Underworld and Tobacco and Tulle from the naturals line

    Roxana Illuminated Perfume, Greenwitch
    a cipher of a chypre that is the one from this line that develops on me

    Strange Invisible Perfumes, Black Rosette and Magazine Street
    the first because it sent me down the rabbit hole (to this day, it is a strange ride); the second because I like it, man, and the opening doesn’t win the trademark challenging SIP opening contest

    Such is the list off the top of my head. I’m forgetting something. I’ll come back. :)

    • Shelley says:

      HEART those carrots, dangit! **I want my symbols back!!** (insert “wahhhh” face here)

    • Shelley says:

      Criminey. I remembered.

      Ayala Moriel: Grin, L’ecume du Jours, Rainforest, Immortelle L’Amour
      first three are variations on green happiness; the second is a version of immortelle that doesn’t get too syrupy (and I don’t mind the right dash of syrup, in the right mood)

    • March says:

      Oh! I should try Greenwitch, I don’t think I ever did. It sounded wonderful.

      • sweetlife says:

        Oooh, March, I don’t know about Greenwitch for you. It’s like a rootsy Chanel No. 19 minus the rose. Big galbanum, big oakmoss. I adore it, and especially love the quality of the galbanum she used, but I know you’re not always down with the green stuff.

  • Disteza says:

    I’m a huge fan of SIP; I fell hard for Magazine Street, Tosca, Fair Verona, and Narcotic. If only Black Rosette hung in there a little longer it would be the perfect anti-rose rose. I also really like Roxana Villa, who makes perfumes that are similar stylistically to SIP. Her Vespertina is amazing, and Vera is one of few lavendar perfums that really do something new and interesting.

    • March says:

      If they weren’t so hideously expensive, I would probably own a bottle of at least half the SIP line. They often take awhile to warm up to, at least for me, but the lasting power is excellent.

  • Kathryn says:

    La Via de Profumo’s Balsamo della Mecca by Dominique Dubrana is an all natural perfume that strikes me as pure genius. I also like almost everything by Stange Invisible Perfumes, especially L’Invisible and Fire & Cream. Ayala Moriel’s perfumes are always worth smelling, too. I really enjoy wearing Ayala’s Espionage and Razzala.

    Even in perfumes that aren’t all natural, a high proportion of natural ingredients is generally a good sign to me, not so much because of “purity”, whatever that is, but just because they smell good. Vero Kern has said that her perfumes contain about 60 to 70 percent natural ingredients and I think Andy Tauer’s must contain something comparable. All natural perfumes sometimes smell too heavy to me, but a judicious use of synthetics can elevate a high proportion of natural ingredients into something approaching transcendence.

    • sweetlife says:

      Totally agree with “judicious use of synthetics.” It’s the difference between employing them for art’s sake and using them because they’re cheap and reliable. (Though that can be part of art, too…)

    • March says:

      I love Mecca Balsam! That was a great find last winter … odd, I’m suddenly tempted to go put some on, even though it’s 90-million degrees. Again.

      I will … hm. Not sure about natural/synthetics. I know that “synthetic” becomes associated with “cheap,” and I’m willing to guess that as a generalization, less expensive mass-market perfumes contain more (cheap) synthetics than natural ingredients. However, some synthetics, the proprietary stuff, are very, very expensive. And my guess is that some of my odder favorites might have a high percentage of synthetic notes — again, though, they’re likely not the cheapie synthetics.

  • sweetlife says:

    If money were no object I would own several of Roxana Illuminated’s perfumes: Q and Greenwitch would be at the top of the list. And I think I’d have some Mandy Aftel’s as well, though I’ve never been able to get a hold of enough of one to test it properly–maybe cepes tuberose, though… Alas, although I would love to love many of the other naturals I’ve tested, I can’t seem to get my mind or skin around them.

    On another note–I am always a little freaked out by the rhetoric of purity, no matter what venue it appears in, or with what intention or politics. Instead of thinking of clear sparkling water and fresh air, my mind goes straight to eugenics and antimiscegenation laws. But I know I’m the minority in this…

    • Shelley says:

      No, no; it’s the rhetoric that sends the radar bristles up on me, straightaway. As my clever students liked to say: “All natural? Arsenic is all natural. Digitalis is all natural.” It’s the assumption that saying “all natural” immediately translates to “good for you” that give me a knee jerk devil’s advocate response.

      That said, I don’t dismiss the possibility that using essential oils as they are found in nature, versus using a lab-created re-enactment/re-production of the experience of a smell, has an advantage in terms of how our bodies respond. I’m just not smart enough to come up with a definitive opinion. :)

      • sweetlife says:

        Thanks for chiming in, Shelley. I have a whole different beef with “natural” than I do with “pure,” but if I had to pick, I’d go for the former everytime…

        And agree with you about the specificity of the essential oil experience–I’ve had some very strange encounters with those powers that are impossible to dismiss!

        • March says:

          I’m all eyerolly about “natural” stuff and I am telling you, this majmua attar is extremely … something. Focusing. And I’m never in a big rush to assign those powers to scent.

    • kathleen says:

      If you like Greenwitch, you should try Gracing the Dawn. It is mimosa & violets, with a similar feel to Greenwitch

    • March says:

      Uh, well, I took out my description of Angela Lindvall as lily-white as (possibly) Too Much. It’s all a little … white for me up there. The Aftelier boutique used to be in Bendel but is sadly gone, like the whole perfume area (jammed into an alcove.) >:p

      • sweetlife says:

        Oh sure, I’ve tested them there. But there’s always a million other things I want to sniff, you know? And I have the feeling they need several days of independent skin time to really show their stuff.

        It is pretty white, isn’t it? Thanks for seeing that side of it…

        • March says:

          Yeah, but that’s actually really interesting, thanks for raising that point. I wonder whether marketing folks even think about the backlash against the whiteness of it?

          • sweetlife says:

            I’d say they just know they’re target audience–actual and aspirational–pretty damn well, unfortunately…

            That photo could come from any number of catalogs that arrive in my mail.

          • March says:

            yeesh, don’t I know it! I swear they are all using the same five models btw (none of whom is Angela Lindvall) and they don’t look like you or like me. [-(

  • melanie says:

    Can I move away from the perfume review for a moment and ask you a nail polish question? I need help choosing a polish color, for both manicure and pedicure, to wear to a wedding in Fort Lauderdale in mid October. I plan to wear a midnight blue cocktail dress, with strappy shoes. The wedding is at the Ritz Carlton, starts 6 p.m. so what color polish? I am a blue eyed blonde with fair skin. I don’t tan too well.
    thanks….this is not my usual area of expertise.

    • March says:

      WHERE IS LOUISE? She’ll have an opinion!

      I’d probably go one of two directions — either a midnight blue (not too glittery or shimmery, that might look cheap) that matches the gown, doesn’t have to be “exact” – just a dark blue. Blue’s the new red, you could probably find a decent deep blue at the drugstore.

      GO GET IT DONE IN A PROFESSIONAL MANI/PEDI YOU WILL THANK ME LATER. Do NOT try to do this yourself. Actually, if you know where you’d do that, you could check their colors and not buy the polish. But you can bring your polish with you (not everyone knows what.)

      Other alternative I’d suggest is a neutral/mannequin hands effect — something like Sephora OPI Tickle My France-y, or Run With It! (which has a slight shimmer.)

      I personally would probably do fingers and toes the same but no doubt someone on here will say: old school. Or, I’d do mannequin hands and blue toes.

      • melanie says:

        thanks for the input. I will definitely have it done professionally…for me, manicures are like hanging wallpaper and a few other things people say, “oh, it’s so easy, you could do it yourself”, and I’m thinking, yeah, right, not a good idea. I will start checking out the colors at the various stores.

        • L says:

          If the Essie brand is an option, you could always get Mademoiselle. Beauty editors are always recommending it. It’s a very sheer pink. Makes you look well-groomed and put together.

      • Louise says:

        OK, I’m back. I’d suggest a silvery/champagne tone-such as OPI Glamour Game. It would be a subtle contrast to the blue, and still festive.

  • Nava says:

    Hey – if I can track some of this down here in T.O., would you mind a redux on Friday? I’ve been curious about this one, but I think it was only available on the DKNY website for a while.

    In case I can’t get my hands on some, I will say I agree with what you said about the ambiguity of “natural”. A major commercial house like Donna Karan is trying to capitalize on a certain aesthetic that most people might not understand. I know she’s a big zennie with her raw food diet an yoga, but not all of us are. And to market that in the guise of “natural vanilla from Uganda” is pretty smarmy.

    I do have my natural perfume faves: DSH, Aftelier…but the one that always pissed me off was Rich Hippie. They all smell the freakin’ same to my nose. And they cost a fortune; even the samples. What’s the point?

    • March says:

      Absolutely not! Write away! I know you like these sorts of scents, and I also know you like Cashmere Mist. I’d love your take on whether this is a good wallpaper scent, my guess is you’ll not get whatever it is from the musk that drives me insane.

      I think I can say with a smile that I never tried any of the Rich Hippies.

  • mals86 says:

    The whole “natural, organic, pure” marketing angle just annoys me. (I can say that, right? It’s not actually flaming… maybe a little hot spot.) So I don’t intentionally seek out these scents.

    But I do love DSH Rose Vert. For a natural, it seems to hang around on me for several hours, and it is beautiful: citrus, foresty undergrowth, and roses off in the distance.

    • mals86 says:

      Oh – and I totally dig Vamp a NY, another one that stays for hours. Root beer tuberose vanilla? Mmm. Trashy, but lots of fun.

      • March says:

        It IS fun, and how you get root beer out of tuberose is beyond me, but they did. But it’s SO root beer on me I just can’t take it seriously. I’d rather have the Mandorlo Siciliana from Blu Mediterraneo (sp?) or, really, L’Artisan’s trashy Vanilia.

        • Joe says:

          Trashy Vanilia!!!???? I lurve Vanilia. Sad they dc’d it.

          However, I think that Vamp thing has a buttered popcorn vibe. Not in a good way.

          I love the Carottes thing though. Haven’t worn enough to figure out if it lasts more than an hour.

          • March says:

            Yeah, rootbeer PLUS buttered popcorn, I’m pretty sure I mentioned the buttery note in my review. And I still haven’t compared the Honore Carottes to L’Artisan, but it’s not like that one lasted forever either.

          • Shelley says:

            It doesn’t win in the longevity department. But I still like it. :)

        • Rappleyea says:

          Is there ylang ylang in it? Depending on the source, etc. that can sometimes have a root beer vibe.

          • mals86 says:

            I went to check the notes: yep, ylang. I have a small vial of ylang absolute, and it’s gorgeous but not very root-beery, more like banana. But that’s probably the origin of the root beer angle of Vamp.

          • March says:

            I think I recall from my review that (natch) that was an Amurrican take on it, the rest of the known world not drinking rootbeer?

    • March says:

      It doesn’t annoy me if it’s actually TRUE. I mean, if Susan Smith makes a natural perfume, and attempts to define natural, and MEANS it, hey — as I said, the more the merrier. People with chemical sensitivities, etc. (although frankly if I had MCS I wouldn’t wear any scented product at all, I don’t think)

      What annoys me about PURE is I think the imagery and minimal text suggest quite strongly that this scent is somehow more “natural” without even using that word, and it simply isn’t. It’s a marketing gimmick.

  • kathleen says:

    So you’re enjoying the “hot” yoga. I’ve benefited from adding yoga to my daily workout schedule, to no end.

    SIP – Persica, Lady Day (gone but not forgotten), Magazine St, L’Invisible, Fair Verona, Fire & Cream
    Soivohle – Ankhara & Solstice
    Ayala’s – L’Imortelle Amour
    Roxana’s Illuminated Perfumes – Greenwitch & Gracing the Dawn
    Sonoma Scent Studio – Vintage Rose
    Ajne – deLavande & Fleur Blanche

  • Melissa says:

    If the naturals didn’t cost so much then soak their way so quickly into my skin, then maybe I would try a few more. I hope that I’m not inviting an argument, but that’s just how I experience them.

    But, a few of them really are quite beautiful and I’ve bought the small sizes of them, despite the price. These include: InCarnation from Ayala Moriel and Underworld (fully natural?) by Liz Zorn and some of DSHs. But the lasting power and lack of waftage frustrate me. I could snorf up one of the smaller (4.5 ml) sizes of Underworld in a few days if I let myself, and it costs a pretty penny. I would love to try some of the naturals from the musk project that Carol mentioned above, but again, I choked on the prices.

    So for the most part, I’ll stick with my chemical baths. But certainly not anything with “Pure” in the name, or promoted with way-too-clean models in way-too-perfect settings.

    • March says:

      Please no don’t wear Pure. And I understand your frustration with the way they wear on you. Yosh scents do sort of the same thing, and the DS Durgas were something of a disappointment that way.

      • Joe says:

        Are DS Durga supposed to be natural? And Yosh? I like the DSD Orris Root and the Coriander, and I’m expecting a sample of Yosh Ginger Ciao, which I’ve heard is delicious.

    • Louise says:

      M-you are just sooo not Pure ; )

  • waftbycarol says:

    I just recieved a sample from dupetit ( bioscent.info ) that he did for the musk project . Called Botanical Musk NR. 5 it opens with a slap of birch tar, and then softens to a beautiful jasmine , beeswax , mastic symphony that is long lasting , lovely !!
    It’s not for sale on his website yet , but there is a sample set of all eleven of his other creations that is in my shopping cart right now !! I had never heard of this German perfumer before , and have no affiliation .
    http://www.bioscent.info , WORTH CHECKING OUT !!

  • karin says:

    Honoré des Près Sexy Angelic!

  • Masha says:

    I’ve started running Tabata Intervals again, brutal but effective! For yoga, I usually only wear Scent of Samadhi, on wrists or as a deodorant. It’s a beautiful tulsi (holy basil), sandalwood and rose powder. But it is totally about the dreaded ROSE, big, jammy, red roses (real ones), so it’s probably not for you, March! Maybe someday, they’ll make a jasmine or champaca version.

  • L says:

    Pacifica is my favorite natural line. They offer a variety of scents in a variety of incarnations – sprays, solids, lotions, candles… I’ve liked all of the fragrances I’ve tried from them, though admittedly, that’s only about half the line. Per their Web site: “Pacifica’s fragrances are free of petro-chemicals, phthalates, propylene glycol, nitro-musks, and benzene.”

    From what I’ve read, they also seem committed to sustainability and protecting the environment. I have no way of verifying that. The only thing I can say for sure is that they make some fine smellin’ stuff. Gardenia and Malibu Lemon Blossom have been great this summer. I will break out their Sandalwood in the fall.

    • March says:

      Are they all natural? I suppose I thought they weren’t, given the price point and their scents. I love their fig, the tibetan mountain incense, and a couple others. In fact, there’s not one I don’t at least like. Their jasmine is pretty ripe IIRC.

      • L says:

        I think so. For instance, in their sprays, they use what they call “natural denatured alcohol” and their own blend of “natural and essential oils.” Their solids are made with coconut, soy and apricot wax along with the “natural and essential oils.” So I think that qualifies as natural, right?

        In addition, all products are labeled “No parabens, animal testing, animal ingredients or artificial colors. 100% VEGAN and Gluten-free.”

  • Daisy says:

    A brief cheer first for going 5 times in 10 days —“YOU GO GIRL!”
    Exercise is often more like torture…and now that it’s “hot” to have a behind…I’m trying to hold out until someone decides that “sturdy” thighs are hot as well. Until that happens let’s talk about perfume. It’s awfully kind of you to forgive DK for that whole Delicious travesty. I haven’t ascended to that level of spiritual development yet, but if I give myself a spritz of Gold perhaps I’ll be able to type the word “DKNY Delicious” without curling my lip and making unpleasant faces. Nope, no luck yet, but I’m working on it.

    I have not yet come across an “all natural” perfume that doesn’t end up smelling like a mess on me. I do have some of DSH’s fragrances but I never searched her site for ‘all natural’ and I don’t think they are. So I have to agree that natural perfumery doesn’t seem to do much for me … I’ll continue to reuse and recycle whatever I can and hope that Mother Earth forgives me for liberally spritzing my regular ole perfumes.

    • March says:

      The first Be Delicious (?) I think got some props from people like Bois de Jasmin who thought it was an interesting rendition of apple made some completely different way. I’d given up by Delicious Night and it’s much worse now.

      Hey, I saw this discussion relating to engagement rings recently. (they didn’t want any blood diamonds) What could be more green than buying old, unwanted perfumes secondhand and wearing them?

      • Daisy says:

        I’m afraid I have nothing good to say about apple in perfume….nothing to say because I’m probably way too preoccupied making faces…..

      • Mary says:

        I agree!! I love finding the old bottles, too precious to be used up or even opened by their previous owners. Life is short– wear that perfume!

    • mals86 says:

      I like to think of it as Vintage Perfume Rescue, almost as virtuous as adopting a greyhound.