Go big or go home: Powerhouse scents

One recent dreary morning I could hardly drag myself out of bed and get moving. Cold, drizzly, gray, no sun in sight for the whole day: What’s a girl (or guy) to do? So I put on my favorite royal-blue turtleneck, my best red lipstick, poked through my perfume drawers and pulled out a couple of big (for me), powerhouse scents.

On the one hand (wrist), Hermes 24 Faubourg. On the other, I sprayed Givenchy’s Ysatis.

powerhouse ysatisNow as some of you may know, I’m fairly understated with my scents, usually erring on the side of conservative application (I’m more inclined to dab the big guns, rather than spraying). So this was a big step for me, although I see some of you out there rolling your eyes and thinking, “Oh, good grief! What a ‘fraidy-cat she is.” 🙂

Hey, it could have been worse! Dueling sprays of Angel and Youth Dew, anyone? (Apologies to those of you who might feel a headache coming on at the mere thought of this combo.)
I must confess, for a moment there, I did ponder pulling out the Poison as well, but quickly thought better of it. Two’s company, three’s a crowd, especially if the perfumes in question have diva-esque tendencies.

Nevertheless, my spritzing did the trick; it energized me and had me feeling like a beautiful, fragrant force of nature. Who wouldn’t, with all that gorgeous orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, floriental goodness swirling around you?

That went so well I decided to repeat the experience again. One rainy afternoon at home alone, I was looking through my Serge Lutens stash. I spied and applied two very different powerhouse scents: Tubereuse Criminelle and Ambre Sultan. For the rest of the day I kept getting wonderful wafts of one or the other. It turned out to be a great mood-lifting mix: a bright, energizing blast countered by waves of deep, rich, sultry comfort.

So if you want to pull out all the stops and make a scent statement, what do you apply? What are your powerhouse perfumes, your go-big or go-home scents?

  • Linda says:

    Diva for me! Many years ago, used to wear it to work, would you believe. A coworker told me she hated it, and I was mortified. So now I wear it only on weekends. I do still love it so!

    • Ann says:

      So sorry that happened to you, Linda — that was really rude of them. But you enjoy it every chance you get. And if I recall, correctly, it came in a gorgeous bottle, too …

  • mim666 says:

    Tea for Two has quite an outsize personality when sprayed liberally, and Bulgari Black, DK Black Cashmere, and Montale Patchouli. Ooooh and Jubilation XXV! and Frapin 1270 and MKK.
    I generally do this only on my own, am mostly a dabber. Many people are sensitive to fragrance around me, had a couple kinda mortifying moments…Will think about combining more too, this was interesting.

    • Ann says:

      Mmmm … Mim, I do love Tea for Two; I’ve only done it dabbed or in a single spray, but I can imagine it could get big if you hit the sprayer hard.
      I’m on the same page with you as far as fragrance-sensitive folks around me, especially at my office. I get happier with my application after work and on the weekends, ha!

  • Elia says:

    For me I’ll mention one that has a surprisingly huge sillage. Gucci pour Homme II. Distinguishable and well liked.

  • Persolaise says:

    Goodness me, I’ve got too many 🙂 But if I had to choose 3 right now, off the top of my head, I’d say:

    Amouage’s Tribute attar
    Malle’s Portrait Of A Lady and
    Chanel’s Antaeus

    What were you saying about 3 being a crowd…?

  • I don’t have many heavy hitters, but when I want one I go for Bulgari Black or Angel. If I owned bottles, Rossy de Palma and Jub 25 would be right up there too.

    One really great dueling arms combo came about when I was sampling Rossy de Palma and Musc Tonkin. I had one on each arm, getting alternating whiffs of each, and it was fantastic.

    • Ann says:

      Jennifer, I like the MT, too, but have not sampled the RdPalma. So glad you found a great combination!

  • Missyl says:

    Hey all! Can anyone give me a shout out on what I can layer with La Chasse Aux Pappions with..L’Artisan Perfumer..to make it last longer or be stronger? Love that stuff but Id love to find a ‘layer’…

    • I don’t have specific recommendations, but I could see LCAP layering well with something that has a base that’s darker and heavier on resins or vetiver, both of which have good staying power. I could see vetiver being a good complement to LCAP but I haven’t tried it myself. Another way to do it that I read posted in a comment somewhere is to take an unscented lotion (I think that person mentioned ALBA specifically) and add a touch of oakmoss absolute or something like that to it, then layer the fragrance over that. That might boost the staying power as well.

    • Ooh. another idea.. LCAP might be fun to try layering with a leather scent, like Knize Ten.

    • Maybe Sensuous? Senuous has a subtle white floral accord but you could amp that up w/ the Chasse and give it more woody drydown stuff to latch onto….

  • Ramona says:

    Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant- I bought a 30ml blind based on reviews and I absolutley LOVE it- Big, Beautiful, and Bodacious!

  • Millions says:

    While I have a number of powerhouse perfumes, my default power of nature scent is Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant! It really takes no prisoners… (and I love it so much)

  • Snowshoe says:

    My “heavy hitters” are, indeed, Angel and Youth Dew. I also like Cinnabar and essential oils like cedar, sandalwood, patchouli, amber, etc. Indigo Wild has heavenly soaps and Auric Blends has great essential oils.

    • Auric Blends does have some good stuff, and the fact that they’re cheap makes it more fun. I have their Black Opium and Aphrodesia, which are really nice layered together.

    • Ann says:

      Snowshoe, if you can wear those two well, I say go for it! And if you can wear them together, well, all I can say is “Wow!!”

  • maggiecat says:

    Thanks – I’d love this scent in a body lotion!

  • tammy says:

    My default perfumes are all huge (Part in Manhattan, Jub 25, Joy, Poivre, Opium) but I am a very discreet sprayer, so ya gotta be right up on me to smell them. (I spray with abandon at home, though) I do love rose soliflores and violets, but more and more I slap on the Grand Dames daily, just because.

    I have never tried Ysatis…..should I? YSL generally work well on me.

  • Farouche says:

    I adore Ysatis, and it was my signature for many years. If I’m looking for a powerhouse, I wear Versace Blonde or Krizia’s Teatro Alla Scala, but never together!

    • Ann says:

      Yay, another Ysatis fan! I don’t think I’ve tried either of the other two you mentioned, but I do recall liking some of the Krizias a while back.

  • Sherri says:

    Just about any Amouage is a powerhouse and guaranteed to get noticed, but my favorites are Beloved and Jubilation 25. I can’t imagine them one on each wrist though–it seems someone would get hurt (or worse have their perfume allowance cut off) for sure! 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Hi, sweet Sherri! You would have dueling divas for sure with those two, wouldn’t you? Though I think the Jub might just win in a head-to-head sniff-off.

  • Martha says:

    My BIG perfume would be Fracas or Rush by Gucci.

    • Ann says:

      Martha, I agree — those both have outsize personalities. I can’t wear Madame Fracas, much as I would like to, but a bit of Gucci Rush is mighty fine.

  • arline says:

    Today I am wearing patchouli oil and amber paste behind my knees and inner elbows, and Chanel Coromandel!!! I like to wear heavy essential oils and resins, strategically with my perfumes. It usually works, because I get a lot of complements.

    BTW this is my first time commenting, but I love the content of this blog!!!!

    • tammy says:

      Welcome, and my goodness, what a good idea. I love oils. What are some other combinations you use?

      • Ann says:

        Hi, Arline, and welcome! So glad you’re here. Love, love, love Coromandel and would love to smell it combined with those oils.

      • arline says:

        Tammy, I almost always use sandalwood oil. I cannot imagine life without it. I often mix sandalwood with peru balsam, which I love.

        Patchouli is not an everyday oil, because it can overpower, but I do love it so much! (I hate that it still gets a bad rap sometimes), and mixed with amber paste, it is wonderful!!!!

        I love lavender absolute. It is richer than the oil. I like to put that on before bed.

        I often use a drop of geranium oil when I cleanse my face,
        I use marjoram on my belly when I have a stomach ache, and when I do, I get a lot of complements. I would love a perfume that smelled just like that.

        I have tried to make my own perfume, but have not been very successful. I should take a class, but I don’t want to be a perfumer. I just like to create.

        Ann I am really loving that combination, and I too love love love Coromandel!!!

        • tammy says:

          Thanks for the info, I appreciate it. And I think you should definitely take some classes. Learning is never wasted, and the knowledge and skills you gain will enrich your life immeasurably.

  • FearsMice says:

    Since I’m afraid of blowing away my scent-averse colleagues, I mostly just dab, and rarely Go Big. However, when I want to enjoy myself and remember my long-ago youth, I bring out my Fidji!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, lady — I have to be very careful about the co-workers, too, which is why I always dab lightly and NEVER spray when I’m going into work. I have a new office mate and I asked her what fragrances she liked. She said she never wore it as it made her eyes burn. So definitely no spraying for me.

  • Ann says:

    Hey, everyone! I have to go out of town for most of the day but I’ll be back late this afternoon to chat. Hope you all have a great day!

  • Diana Ross says:

    You guys must have smelled me doing this yesterday. Exhausted at the end of the world’s longest workweek, I grabbed the Big Gun: Alien. 2 sprays. I smelled fantastic all day even though I felt like a slug LOL

    Other times I’ll do Angel, or Youth Dew Amber Nude… but I never thought of putting them together! Sometimes I’ll roll around in the Tom Ford private blend coffret. Tuscan Leather and Amber Absolute are a fave combo.

    • Ann says:

      Mmmm, I love me some Alien too. I know you were wafting some wonderful sillage. Alas, I’m only brave enough to do 1 spray or 2-3 small dabs. Love your other combos as well.

  • Jodi says:

    I give myself a full dose of Chanel No.19 Eau De Parfum – There is something very familiar (yet I can’t put my finger on it) about this scent. I bought my first bottle of it when I was 22 and now at 50, I still reach for it 🙂

    • tammy says:

      I’ll be 50 in November and get the same familiar vibe from many green scents, which I love. I can never put my finger on it, either, but they transport me instantly to childhood and especially school.

      I”m starting to think my elementary school teachers must have worn them, which makes sense, because I think greens were very popular in the 70s.

      • Jodi says:

        Actually…now that you mention it about familiar scents – Someone I knew (and liked) must have worn Chanel No.19. So this makes a lot of sense. I have strong “scent” memories. I remember all the fragrances I’ve worn since I was a teenager (1977 -1983) and throughout my whole adult life. I even remember what other people wore. This is why you should always be careful which scent you wear on job interviews, romantic dates etc. You can unknowingly remind someone of their grandmother or ex-wife 🙁

        • Ann says:

          Wow — Chanel 19 and other greens are really striking a chord. Jodi, you make an excellent point about perfume at an interview, etc. Don’t want to unknowingly turn off the other person. Thanks!

  • chrissyinoz says:

    Powerhouse for me always means Opium (pre-reformulation of course!!!) Lucky enough to have a few bottles of vintage in my collection & with the hot & humid summer weather we’re experiencing here in Australia I find that the clove & carnation are amped to the max on my skin. I’ve been dabbing rather than spraying (trying to be considerate to those in my vicinity) & it blooms beautifully.

    • Ann says:

      That’s a good one, Chrissy. I used to love a bit (dab only) on vintage Opium. I wouldn’t dare wear it in the heat, but glad it works so nicely for you.

  • Hey Ann,
    I love wearing more than one and quite often do it while reviewing because it allows me to follow each fragrance better if I have something completely different to compare it to. It also stops me becoming nose blind to the fragrance so quickly. I can imagine you smelled gorgeous.
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, Portia! Good thinking there; I hadn’t thought of those benefits. It does make sense that it would give your nose a point of contrast as it goes back and forth between the two scents.

  • elvie says:

    I used to be a notorius oversprayer, (blush), though I’ve learned since my babies were born that this is not always a good thing. I’m more discreet now, but there are days when I need something more… there. I turn to Angel, Garofano, Ambre Russe those days, but at home at night, when the kiddles are asleep and only my hubby’s (often ignorant) nose to offend, I sometimes dare to apply two sprays of YD Amber Nude, Nasomatto Black Afgano, or even Black Aoud. On most days though, I’m too intimidated (Ha! Given my past of wafting clouds of Samsara or Angel… ?) to apply those heavy hitters. I don’t know, maybe it’s penance for my hideous perfume past:D…?
    Great article again!
    Have a nice day,

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, dear Elvie! Sounds like you’ve hit a happy medium, going light for others and then indulging yourself at home with a bit more. I think a dab of Angel or Samsara would probably be OK, but just a dab … 🙂

  • shaney says:

    Bulgari Black, Donna Karan Black Cashmere, Ormonde Woman, and Tom Ford Bois Morocain are all my favorite stronger scents! [though I’m also not averse to wearing them to bed!]

    • Ann says:

      Great choices all, Shaney! Funny you should mention the Bois Marocain — was one of my fave Tom Fords when it came out and then it kind of fell off my radar. Gotta find that sample and wear it again!

  • ScentofaMan says:

    Mitsouko and Habanita

  • Lisa D says:

    Ambre Narguile, Bois de Paradis, Kenzo Amour Le Parfum, Amouage Memoire Woman, and Vero Profumo Onda. All go big, and then maybe get SENT home perfumes. Lovely, but dabbers only for me; I’m skeered of spraying them more than once!

    • Ann says:

      Oooh, Lisa, you hit on some doozies there. I’d be right there with you on a single spray or a gentle dab or two. But spritz with abandon for those days when you WANT to get sent home, right? 😉

  • Jackie b says:

    I love the idea of having a different fragrance on each wrist, you’d never get sick of smelling yourself. Jubilation 25 is my biggest hitter…but what on earth would you wear with it. Nup, can’t imagine…
    And I also have Profumum Alba, but like it dabbed only, it will last a Long Time!

    • Ann says:

      Hey, Jackie, that is a good question about Jub 25. The only thing I can think of would be to wear a single-note scent, one that actually in the Jub 25, or a complementary fragrance that’s softer and echoes some elements of the Amouage.

  • nozknoz says:

    I also like wearing different complementary scents on my wrists. It doesn’t always work but it’s so much fun for the nose and brain when it does!

    Not a powerhouse in the 80s way, but sometime on the weekend during the day I find a great vetiver especially stimulating and refreshing. Today was sunny after a slew of dreary days, and I went to the Roads of Arabia exhibit and wore Turtle Vetiver Back. The exhibit is about archeological finds along the ancient incense and pilgrimage routes through Saudi Arabia and the incensey side of bracing vetiver was just perfect.

    • Ann says:

      Very cool, Nozknoz! Isn’t it great when your SOTD and your activity mesh so perfectly? That exhibit sounds wonderful, too, BTW.

      • nozknoz says:

        The Saudi Roads exhibit is traveling on to Houston, San Francisco and Pittsburg, too, by the way. Really worth seeing if you’re in or near any of these cities.

  • spiker says:

    I’m a little tentative with my perfumes – never more than one spray and I tend to save Hypnotic Poison (my guilty pleasure) for when I’m going to be home cuddled up with that yummy toastiness. Still you’ve inspired me. This week requires a little fierceness and I’ll go loud or at least increase the number of dabs and keep it interesting (2nd Cumming, perhaps?)

    • Ann says:

      I’m right there with you in that one spray is usually my absolute max. I need to try Hypnotic Poison; there are just so many flankers that I need to sit down and have a Poison sampling day, ha! Be fiercely fragrant and have a great week!

  • Rina says:

    Good thing you passed on adding Poison! It would have kicked ass and taken names. Which is why it’s my Go To when I need to do the same!

    • Ann says:

      No doubt about it, Rina, Poison is definitely one big go-to scent! I still can’t imagine it sprayed, only dabbed.

      • Rina says:

        Um…I still spray, but I must have a light touch, no one has complained yet (and they would!) 🙂

        • Ann says:

          Rina, I think it’d be lovely with a light touch. But I tend to have a heavy-ish trigger finger, so I’d still better stick to dabbed, ha!

  • Tiara says:

    The thought of Angel AND Youth Dew together….seems like something would blow up if they met. My biggest scent that I wear often is Songes with Angel as a rare pinch-hitter. Angel smells gorgeous on me but it just commands too much of my attention.

    • Ann says:

      Ha, Tiara! Can’t you just hear the automated voice: “Warning, warning, explosive perfumes ahead!” I want to like Angel, but even in the body products there’s just something about it that shouts for attention and refuses to be ignored. I do need to re-try Songes again.

      • Ann says:

        Hey Tiara — I just tried Songes on at the store and it came off fairly musty-dusty on me, almost dirty. Does that probably mean the tester bottle’s gone off? Thanks!

        • Tiara says:

          I’ve read that some get a mothball kind of vibe (or even rubber) from Songes — is that what you’re picking up? Can’t say I’ve ever experienced any of that. I get tons of jasmine so perhaps that’s what’s hitting you as musty?

          • Ann says:

            Yep, Tiara, that’s it on me: a tiny bit of jasmine peeking out from under some mothballs and a layer of dust. Guess I’m just out of luck … Think I’d better stick with my beautiful Grand Bal jasmine.

  • rosarita says:

    Hi, Ann! I love the smell of Ysatis; it was the signature scent of a good friend for many years. I like the thought of being a beautiful, fragrant force of nature. My current go big scents are Donna Karen Gold edp and, always, Shalimar.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, dear! Glad you love Ysatis, too. I wore it when it first came out and still enjoy the daylights out of it. Vintage, that is. Not sure what the current juice smells like, and I’m a little afraid to try it. Lucky you to be able to pull off Shalimar (she hates me), but I’m a fan of the gorgeous lily that is Gold.

  • eldarwen22 says:

    One of my guilty pleasures is CK’s Obsession. Just the tiniest bit goes a very long way. Some days Patou’s Joy can be pretty loud with the indolic jasmine (does pack a punch when humid too). After the Arabie/Sarrasins/MKK layering, I haven’t even attempted to layer anything since. All of my Amouages and Mitsouko refuse to be layered with anything else, they are good enough on their own.

  • Angelique says:

    I just got my sample of Kiehl’s Original Musk Oil 160th Anniversary Blend from you… it’s a strong scent that is Laying it *HOT.* I’ll need an escort to wear it out. *Laugh* Love it.

    • Ann says:

      Whoo-hoo! Sounds like a winner! BTW, make sure you get an equally hot escort 😉

    • ojaddicte says:

      It’s been soooooo cold lately, so the Youth Dew in MULTIPLE spritzes, Aromatics Elixir, O.J. Tolu, L’ambre de Merveilles, and Kate Walsh Boyfriend are all in heavy rotation. If one doesn’t like heavy hitters stay away from me!

  • maggiecat says:

    Ormonde Jayne Woman is my go-to need to be strong scent. It energizes me and boosts my confidance.

    • Ann says:

      Hi, lady — yep, that OJ Woman is a beaut, isn’t it?

      • Ann says:

        If you haven’t already, try the OJ Woman body lotion. It’s a lovely, softer version of the scent for when you don’t need to be quite so strong. I think Surrender to Chance has samples …

  • linda says:

    i’ll boldly wear jean patou’s sublime, sprayed once only! the rest i dab on, probably no matter what. i love 24 faubourg and can sneak that one by at work, even (dabbed, not sprayed)

    • Ann says:

      Hi, Linda! Glad to see a fellow dabber 🙂 The 24 Faubourg does wear fairly softly when dabbed, but it seems to “bloom” when sprayed, but I love it, too. Haven’t worn the Sublime in ages — must try that one again. Thanks!

    • solanace says:

      Sublime is great, I love the amber in there.