Underappreciated scents (fall/winter): Costes 2

I was poking through one of my perfume drawers recently on a cool, rainy morning, trying to find just the thing to fit the Costes 2day. It wasn’t exactly cold enough to pull out the big guns, but yet something a bit warm and cozy was needed. Up and back into their compartments went the decants and vials until I pulled out a black mesh bag and looked inside: Costes 2.

One spray on my wrist and I knew it was just the thing. Not fancy, not flashy, but a soft, comforting scent that feels like a cashmere throw wrapped around your shoulders to ward off the evening’s chill as you sit outside on the patio. On stressful days, I’ve found it be quite calming as well. And with the holiday crush quickly bearing down on us, I’ll take all the calming I can get.

Notes are benzoin, Turkish rose, gaiac wood, Tunisian orange blossom and Ceylon cinnamon incense.

Costes 2 was popular when it came out, but you don’t hear a lot about this one or its older sibling, the original Costes, much anymore. But they are lovely scents created by the fabulous Olivia Giacobetti and made for the very chic Hotel Costes in Paris.

If you don’t happen to have this in your fragrance arsenal, but do have Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Pour le Soir (no, no — NOT the Absolue!), the MFK offers a very similar effect, although not quite as yummy on my skin as the Costes 2. Of course, YMMV.

Upon more poking around, I see Byredo’s Gypsy Water, which fills the bill similarly, just taking a little different route with its bergamot, incense and pine needles. It’s another low-key fragrance that’s lovely as well.

So what scent do you have that you might have overlooked for a while, but when you stumble on it and wear it again, it’s perfect. And you think “How did I ever forget this?”

  • noseknows says:

    I have some Jean Patou Que Sais-Je? (the 1980s re-issue EdT) and put it on a couple of weeks ago. Don’t know if it was the fall weather or my mood or what, but it smelled INCREDIBLE! I was huffing it all day and thinking, wow, THAT’s a perfume!

    • Ann says:

      Oh, that sounds wonderful! I am woefully unfamiliar with the Patou line, save for the divine, near-impossible-to-get Vacances. I really need to try them (the ones you can still find, that is).

  • Heather Wood says:

    When Donna Karan’s Black Cashmere first came out I tried it, loved it, never got around to buying a bottle, and eventually forgot all about it. When I abruptly tumbled down the rabbit hole recently I got a sample and found that I still love it. On my skin, it’s a quiet and subtle spice-oriental that goes with anything and never smells overdone. It makes such a good daily basic for me that I can’t imagine how I ever forgot about it, but then, just recently, I found that I had a black suede skirt in my closet that I had forgotten about, not for months, but for years. So these things happen, especially to people who don’t clean their closets very often.

    • Ann says:

      That is a great scent, Heather — I love it, too (and its cousins Chaos and Wenge and the original Donna Karan). It does wear beautifully with anything. i hear you on the cleaning out of the closets; I’m long overdue on that one myself. You’ve given us all a good reminder to go “shopping” in our own closets, as well as our perfume cabinets. Thanks!

      • Heather Wood says:

        I will soon smell Wenge for the first time, thanks to a very generous swap-partner. Haven’t smelled the original DK, and frankly I doubt that I will ever pony up the many, many dollars required to sniff Chaos. Which leads to a question for the Posse (possites or whatever the plural would be): so you spend money and move heaven and earth to smell all this rare stuff, and then what if you fall in love? What if it’s the Ultimate Perfume and you can’t afford more, or (worse yet) there isn’t any more? I’m upset enough that Black Cashmere is deep sixed, but at least it’s still on EBay and I can stockpile some. What if my ideal fragrance, Parfum Ultima Concepcion de Sensualo or something like that, is out there but all I ever smell of it is a tiny sample vial? Does that happen? Tell me the tragic tale ; ).

        • Ann says:

          Heather, you raise a good point. I do hear people bemoaning the loss of the Gobin-Daude perfumes, among others, and of course, the super-rare vintages that are no longer with us, so not sure what those folks do. I have not been in that situation much, so I think I’d just enjoy it for that one (or two) amazing wearings and be happy I got to experience it, however briefly. Then try to find something at least somewhat similar to fill in when I crave that rare scent. Perhaps some other Posse folks can speak to this more directly though.

          • Ann says:

            BTW, Heather, if you’ll give me your e-mail address, I’ll see if I can’t hook you up with a sample of Chaos.

          • Heather Wood says:

            OMG! I have been out sick for a while and didn’t even keep up with my email, so I missed your very lovely offer. My email address is wooddogs3 at gmail dot com. Oh no, now what happens if it’s the Ultimate Frag? Oh, right, I will soon be distracted by other wonders, thank goodness.

        • noseknows says:

          Heather, it’s a good question. I sometimes feel a bit panicked by a similar idea, namely, that my ideal perfume is out there but I’ll never smell it because there are so many perfumes to sniff and I won’t live long enough to give them all a good try, or, like you, that by the time I do it will be discontinued. So I tend to sample obsessively and haven’t found the Parfum Ultimate Nose Mate for Life yet. Clearly, most of us here are far from monogamous when it comes to perfume, and, moreover, because there is so much to try, one is quite soon distracted by other wonders.

          • Ann says:

            “One is quite soon distracted by other wonders” — what a great turn of phrase — I love it! And so true, Noseknows.

  • Heather F says:

    Love the idea of Costes 2, but sadly it’s another rose that just doesn’t work on me. I’ve only been on this perfume-collecting/obsessing kick since last February, but I do, in my small way, know what you mean about rediscovering something from the back of the cabinet. For me, it’s been a chronic condition as I buy FBs and then move on to focus on way too many samples. But maybe the biggest surprise has been Iris Silver Mist–it was my one and only perfume for over five years before I ‘fell down the rabbit hole,’ bought as a crazy splurge when I was a college student in Paris one summer, knowing nothing about perfume whatsoever. I had gotten tired of it (I know, sacrilege), but I returned to it the other week and was blown away once more. (And my partner was happy to smell the perfume that most reminds him of me again, too.) Thanks so much for the question, Ann.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, dear Heather! That’s so cool that your Paris splurge was on such a beautiful scent — looks like you’ve had good taste right from the start. And I’m happy that you’ve rediscovered it and love it just as much now as then. When that happens, it’s pretty wonderful!

      • Ann says:

        BTW, Heather, hang in there re: the rose perfumes. You’re bound to find one (or maybe a few) that will work well on you; sometimes it just takes a while to find the right one(s). Don’t give up! Even a rose-phobe like me has stumbled on a couple to enjoy.

  • tammy says:

    L’Artisan Vert Violette. I love violet, and have tons, but for some reason I am seldom in the mood to wear them. When I do finally spritz some of this, I am always so glad I did and wonder why I don’t do it more often. Light and dry and not very sweet…..it’s perfect for any occasion, really.

    • Ann says:

      Oooh, Tammy, that sounds terrific! So many violets are a bit too sweet and something else (not exactly sure what) on my skin, so this one is now on my radar for sampling. Thanks!

  • Mathieu Vaillancourt says:

    Every time I put on MKK after a couple of days (let’s say a week), I’m always amazed at how beautiful and perfect it is. As if I was rediscovering it again and again. Ah, love!

    Matt

  • Sherri Miller says:

    Alessandro…it was lost in the back of the decants. I put it on last week, and it was perfect, start to finish, got compliments, and I wondered how I could have lived without a fb for so long! Also, my Annick Goutals…there are so many niche offerings I forget how beautiful Heure Exquise, Songes, Grand Amour et al are!

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Sherri! Not familiar with that one, but happy you found it again. I agree; the Goutals are wonderful and sometimes get overlooked. This winter I’m pulling out my little dribs and drabs of Les Orientalistes (sp?) and wearing them until they’re gone. Thanks!

  • Mals86 says:

    Somewhere, I have a sample of Costes 2… don’t think I’ve ever put it on skin. I do try to rotate my scents, at least seasonally, so that anything I have a full bottle of does actually get worn, but there are those things that sometimes I put on and think, “Ooh, this is wonderful? Why don’t I wear this every day? ohyeah. All those OTHER bottles, that’s why.”

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Mals! Yep, “all those OTHER bottles” keep me busy, too. But it is fun to go into your stash and pull out something different.

  • Farouche says:

    That happened to me recently with Parfumerie Generale’s Iris Oriental (formerly Iris Taizo). My small decant got lost among the others until I wore it the other day and now it’s on my Christmas list.

    • Ann says:

      Oh, that sounds lovely, and glad it’s made it to your Christmas list. I think the name change may have confused me, but now that I know what it’s called — must try. Enjoy!

  • Elena says:

    Salvatore Ferragamo pour Femme (in the tall, thin, twisted bottle) is a favorite of mine in spring and summer. I’ve been wearing it for about ten years now, and it’s ubiquitous at TJMaxx so I think I overlook it in favor of more typical “perfumista” scents, but I am happy every single time I wear it, and that’s saying a lot. It also holds a place of honor as the one and only perfume that I’ve ever completely finished a bottle of.

    • Ann says:

      Wow, Elena! That’s quite a feat to have finished a bottle. I think I know which one you’re talking about; must go look it up. So glad you found something that makes you happy every time you wear it (and extra kudos that it doesn’t break the bank either!).

  • Portia says:

    Trouble, Songes, Blonde, Nikki De Saint Phalle and Ballets Rouges are all frags that get forgotten but when I do put them on I can’t believe how gorgeous I smell, sometimes wishing I was not such a frag HO and could wear just one

    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Portia! Life would be so much easier if we could be faithful to just one, wouldn’t it? I’m not familiar with Ballets Rouge — tell me more, please! But I do love me some Nikki; gotta go dig up my bottle now. Thanks!

      • Portia says:

        Ballets Rouges by Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes is so good but for some reason it only sees skin action once a month, once I wear it though it does a 24 hour cycle before I need to change for writing. Rose, deep, dark and extreme but still buoyant and uplifting. try it Ann, I think you’ll like it.
        Portia xx

        • Mals86 says:

          That is such a pretty Dark Rose Thingy. I’ve been enjoying my sample. Probably not going to buy any, not when I’m stocked up with L’Arte di Gucci (which fills the same niche for me), but it’s lovely.

        • Ann says:

          Good to know! Only the deep, dark roses seem to agree with me, so it’s likely that I could wear this one. Thanks!

    • Janlast says:

      Portia, the Nikki De Saint Phalle was the only bottle of scent I ever bought totally because I loved the bottle. Those entertwined enameled serpants were way to beautiful to pass up. Good thing there was nice juice in it, too. My too often overlooked scent is Jean Barthet’s Bibi. I love how I smell in this.

      • Portia says:

        Hi JanLast
        You are so lucky that you got the wonderful snake bottle! I have a very simple EdT 60ml bottle in navy and gold lid with embossed snakes entwined. It’s still lovely and interesting but nothing compared to the gorgeous snake enamel painting.
        Lucky you.
        Portia xx

      • Heather Wood says:

        I just pulled the parfum bottle up on Google Images, and anyone who hasn’t seen it should do the same. I’m not ordinarily much of a bottle-junkie, but this one could convert me, almost no matter what was inside.

  • rosarita says:

    Hi, Ann – it’s been a long time since I’ve smelled either Costes perfume and it sounds like time for a revisit. Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka is my favorite vanilla scent but sometimes months pass between wearings. Then I put it on and can’t believe I don’t wear it all the time.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, dear! Isn’t that always the way? I think we just have so much to choose from, plus new scents coming out all the time that we want to try. It’s no wonder some good stuff accidentally gets pushed to the side. BTW, I’ll be sending your Fairy Godmother package out late today or first thing tomorrow.