Talbots Fragrance: The Smell of Muffy’s Tears

talbotsI popped by Talbots to return a couple of fancy tees I’d ordered online during their sale – unfortunately on me the neckline is somewhere between square and a bit draped, so basically it looks like a bad fit – when I noticed, standing at the counter, a rollerball of their eponymous perfume.

Of course I had to try it on immediately. I love sniffing the “house brand” wherever I spot it, then evaluating whether I’m seeing any connection with what the brand is, or wants to be. And I’d sniff anybody’s house brand. I’d sniff (and probably buy) a McFlurry Rollerball if I happened to spot one on the counter at McDonalds.

From their fall 2014 press release: “Talbots, known for over 67 years for its brand heritage and classic American clothing, has created a new fragrance exclusively with the Talbots woman in mind. This floral, fresh and fruity signature scent has an easy elegance with sparkling top notes of Fresh Freesia, Pink Grapefruit and Watery Pear.  Beautiful floral notes of Magnolia, Tuberose Petals and Tiare Flower.  With a memorable finish of Blonde Woods, Peach Skin and Sheer Vanilla. This exclusive new fragrance will debut in October 2014.  Retail price, 1.7 ounce Eau De Parfum, $59.50, .25 ounce rollerball, $22.50.”

On first sniff it smells younger than I expected – really, Talbots should be ripping off Youth Dew or Azuree or some other chapter of the Estee Lauder grown-ass-woman back catalog. But what I’m smelling makes sense, because for the last few years Talbots is clearly (and annoyingly) trying to appeal to a younger demographic. I live in an area where grown women wear Lilly Pulitzer unironically to the supermarket, so Talbots certainly has a customer base here, and I wish they’d give up all pretense of style and go back to selling nothing but classic cardigans and quality tights and wool sheath dresses…. but I digress.

The first thing Talbots (the fragrance) offers up is a generous pelting of pear, quickly followed by a second, disharmonious sploosh of sour-citrus. The florality is abstract, less about any particular flower and more about those dubious, plasticky room scents from the dollar store, wherein the flowers are translated into something like “Tropical Passion.” As the fragrance develops further into the heart notes, I experienced the (hinted-at) aqueous onslaught suggested by the words magnolia, freesia and “watery.” Blond wood renders itself with all the authenticity of a pressboard shelf from Ikea; vanilla came from the same vat of macerating wood pulp. The drydown gets increasingly screechy; I was contemplating whether I needed to fetch the Liquid Tide for some relief, but then the whole sad scent gave a last blurp and dribbled off.

So I’m underwhelmed.  But hey, let’s turn this frumpy frown upside down!  Looking at the general category: which lesser-known or less-obvious-than-Chanel designer/luxury-goods fragrances do you enjoy? Or not? I’ve been randomly digging them out of my stash because they often (not always!) make good office-wear. I’ve got my Bottega Veneta violet-leather. Balenciaga hits me in the same spot. Kelly Caleche is perfect … there’s Bulgari Tea. I miss the original death-by-white-flowers Kate Spade, and consider its discontinuation a minor tragedy, although I wouldn’t have worn it to work… I still smell Prada Infusion d’Iris regularly on passersby, and I’m not complaining.  I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a Michael Kors or a Versace, except for the deliciously wack caramel-tobacco Dreamer. No fan of: Jimmy Choo, Tory Burch, Judith Leiber. What am I missing? Which have you picked up and enjoyed, whether or not you’d wear them to the office?


  • Ann says:

    Hi, March! Thanks for taking one for the team with the Talbot’s scent. There’s a store near me but since they seem to have quit carrying plus sizes there, I don’t go visiting there. When I saw you mention the late, great (and much lamented) original Kate Spade, my head wouldn’t stop nodding. The company would make some money if they would re-release it, as it sells for an arm and a leg on eBay when you can find it. Anyhoo, hope you are doing great and the job is going well.

  • Kate C says:

    I like quite a few of those but your story made me think of the original Ann Taylor perfume. It is nostalgic for me and reminds me of my mom, and also of my first shopping trip for my first office job (short-lived). It is discontinued of course but if I recall it was rather pretty. Amazon had it for about a bazillion dollars so I guess it wasn’t that pretty after all.

    • March says:

      Thanks, I don’t even remember Ann Taylor having a perfume. I think it’s a nice idea in theory, but in practice there are now so many fragrances, how do they even make a dent in the market?

  • leenie2 says:

    I used to love one of the Burberries (London maybe?) I should sniff it again, it’s been awhile. Oh, and I have a small stockpile of Banana Republic’s Modern. (I know Banana isn’t exactly luxury goods, but it was to me back when this was available.)

    • March says:

      Burberry London is in fact a nice, warm “you could do a lot worse” sort of scent and I think that’s the one I remember liking as well. And I remember those BR scents!

  • CbSutcliffe says:

    I’m laughing because I’m wearing the discontinued Kate Spade right now and I’m at my desk at work – clearly this one is a YMMV, and I was careful not to overapply.

    on the other hand, I usually wear something like Bulgari Femme which I think is a great all around scent. Oh, and the rose version too for when I want that note to come with me.

    • March says:

      Well I used to DRENCH myself in Kate Spade. I’m sure if I put it on with more restraint it could go to the office. Honestly, I don’t remember the regular Bulgari at all,I should revisit.

  • monkeytoe says:

    Victor & Rolf Spicebomb, Mugler Cologne, Lalique White, Eau de Cartier and the Zeste and Bois flankers, Armani Bois d’Encens, Maison Martin Margiela Untitled, Bulgari Omnia and Omnia Crystalline, and Donna Karan Signature all get semi-regular play on me at the office.

  • mim666 says:

    also I love the byline
    and Skarb Humiecki & Graef for men is the one with that whole manly Slavic tears stuff.
    Now I wish every perfume had to come up with whose bottled tears it would be

  • mim666 says:

    original Gucci! the brownish cumin orange blossom one.
    also the Dries van Noten Malle
    DK Black Cashmere, Bulgari Black, Fendi Theorema
    now that I’m thinking about it there are lots of good ones amid the mehs.

  • Caroline says:

    Noticed a boho-looking store called Calypso in NYC on previous visits. Think they have a Calypso-St Barth perfume or two, which I’ve never tried. Need to stop in for a spritz if it’s still there.

  • bevfred says:

    “The smell of Muffy’s tears.” What a great line!

    • March says:

      Thank you. I couldn’t figure out what to call this post, and then was inspired by the scent (I’m too lazy to google it) that was “inspired by male tears” or something equally fatuous.

  • Neva says:

    Balenciaga’s Rosabotanica and Florabotanica are very nice. I also like some of Dsquared “woods” and Gucci Rush is one of my winter favourites. It does not always have to be niche to be pretty.
    On the other hand, I can’t find anything interesting among the L’Occitane scents. They miss the depth and have no development.

    • March says:

      Gucci Rush — yummmmmmmmm. Fangirl fist-bump. That comes out regularly in my cold-weather rotation. I’ve liked a couple of the L’Occitane — I think from the “man” side — but not enough to buy them.

    • Alison says:

      I’ve been a fan of Gucci Envy for about a decade, for summer and standard office wear. My mother had Rush and I couldn’t disconnect my nose from my wrist when I tried it, but somehow ended up with Envy and am on my second full bottle and am happy with that.

      • Ann says:

        Yay, Alison, another Envy fan!! Where do find it that it’s still good? I got one from some discounter and it had gone bad (can you say improperly stored?).

  • KimB says:

    Elizabeth and James put out a nice set of fragrances and I actually own the Nirvana black perfume oil (the oil version seems to be richer and denser). I think the Atelier Cologne line has done a good job, although not a ‘house brand’. Same with Toca.
    But, at the end of the day, I am a hard core Chanel girl from way back so that is what is at the front of my perfume cabinet 🙂

    • March says:

      Except for the Toccas and Atelier, I haven’t tried these! What a huge perfume world we live in. I’m contemplating wearing Cristalle to work today, because why not?

  • LaDona says:

    The Marchesa fragrance at Sephora would be a good work scent. It’s fresh, floral and a little aquatic. I’m a nasty tobacco/smoke woody oriental girl, so it’s nothing like my usual niche-bombs….but it’s quite pleasant and fresh. Very clean.

    • March says:

      I’m a nasty girl too, but the occasional fresh, clean scent can be a palate-cleanser. I don’t think I’ve tried the Marchesa, I’ll remedy that the next time I’m at Sephora.