Tory Burch and Tory Burch Absolu

In my six months in the Nordstrom fragrance department, I sold more Tory Burch than any other perfume. More than Flowerbomb, more than Light Blue, more than Angel (and Angel ladies are devoted). I watched teenagers, mothers, and husbands all swoon over that bright, juicy blend of grapefruit and peony. At the time, I didn’t quite see the allure. Sure, Tory Burch was pretty, but in such an uncomplicated, unchallenging way. Unobjectionably appealing, like Ryan Gosling or a golden retriever.

Or Ryan Gosling AND a golden retriever!
Or Ryan Gosling AND a golden retriever! 

Tory Burch Absolu bears surprisingly little resemblance to its ancestor. It trades the original’s citrus sparkle for a thick, heavy jasmine note. All that jasmine is clearly supposed to make the Absolu a more sensual, nighttime perfume, but it just weighs down the original’s airy charm. I’m sure that Tory Burch Absolu will sell very well, especially to women who loved its predecessor, but I suspect that most people will still prefer the original.

Smelling Tory Burch Absolu actually gives me a newfound appreciation for the easy, breezy original. We all need a little uncomplicated pretty every once in a while. After all, who doesn’t love Ryan Gosling?

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Chocolate Perfumes

I was watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory the other day (the original, not the new one- although the new one is not without merits, I haven’t been able to watch it since MJ died *sniffle*) and it got me to thinking about perfumes with chocolate notes. So today, we’re gonna have ourselves a perfume contest the likes of which have not been seen since the Spears-Timberlake dance-off of ’02. I currently have, on various parts of my body, three different chocolatey perfumes: Vera Wang Princess, Bond No 9 So New York, and (god help me) Thierry Mugler Angel. I do it for you, dear readers. I do it for you.

Princess: Vera Wang claims that Princess contains a “dark chocolate” note. I hate to be contrary, but this is more like the Eminem of chocolate notes. The chocolate in Princess is white, and extremely sugary.

So New York: The chocolate in SNY is supposedly a “cocoa powder” accord. It comes across as high-quality milk chocolate, accompanied by a tart plum note.

Angel: HULK SMASH.

Ten minutes later…

Princess: Eminem has exited the building. There is no longer any chocolate in this scent whatsoever. All that remains is a very thin, very sweet lily-ish floral.

So New York: The chocolate’s still here, but it’s moved to the background. A more generic, albeit pleasant, fruity melange takes center stage at this point.

Angel: There’s definitely chocolate in here, but it’s hard to detect beneath A BUTTLOAD of patchouli. Oh my God please get it off my skin.

One hour later…

Princess: This is the most synthetic lily I’ve ever smelled. It’s barely identifiable. Needless to say, the chocolate is long gone.

So New York: Not much chocolate left here, either. Just that enjoyably tart plum note.

Angel: *Whimper*

Of the three, So New York is the clear winner for me- it is both the most pleasant and most chocolatey. What are your favorite perfumes with chocolate notes, dear readers?

Lolita Lempicka, L de Lolita Lempicka

If you were to ask me what the holiest site in Israel is, I wouldn’t respond with “The Western Wall” or “The Dome of the Rock”. Every woman knows that the most sacred place in our tiny, beloved country is the Michal Negrin store. Michal Negrin is primarily a jewelry store chain (although it seems to be expanding into the lifestyle business, with everything from clothing to wallpaper). The general theme appears to be wistful, old-fashioned pictures of women bedazzled by colorful rhinestones. It’s all very over the top, but somehow manages to stay on the right side of kitsch. I once spent a full hour there agonizing over whether I should buy the green version of the following 400 shekel ($100) decorative elephant. My best friend wisely dragged me away, but damned if I don’t miss that stupid elephant.

If the Michal Negrin store had a perfume line, it would undoubtedly be something like the Lolita Lempicka brand. Lolita Lempicka, with its stunning glass bottles and consistently interesting scents,  is somewhat of an oddity in the mainstream perfume world. Today I’ll be reviewing the original Lolita Lempicka, which was released in 1997 (which is freaking ancient in perfume years), and the newer L de Lolita Lempicka.

First up, Lolita Lempicka. In the wake of Angel, which was released in 1992, hundreds of copycats flooded the market, hoping to capitalize on Angel’s monstrous success. Lolita Lempicka has often been accused of being such a knockoff. I personally see no resemblance, although like Angel, Lolita seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it fragrance. I was solidly in the “hate” camp for many years. I thought it was the most disgusting thing I’d ever smelled. It was insanely sweet and smelled just like licorice (my least favorite note). I was legitimately puzzled as to how that gorgeous apple-shaped bottle could house such a revolting smell.

I finally retried it last weekend and am frankly feeling a little foolish. Lolita Lempicka is delicious and delicately pretty. It smells like sweet pastry dough and cherries. It is still very sweet, but when comparing it to L by Lolita Lempicka for this review, I was shocked to discover that Lolita Lempicka is actually less sweet and considerably softer. Luca Turin, a famous perfume critic, gave Lolita Lempicka one of his very rare five-star ratings in his “Perfumes: The Guide”. He declared it “the ideal accompaniment for flirtatious banter from prim girls in glasses.” As a lifelong four-eyes, I agree wholeheartedly. According to Basenotes, the notes are ivy, anise seed, violet, amarise, licorice, amarena, vetiver, tonka, vanilla and musk.

Unlike its predecessor, L de Lolita Lempicka gave me no trouble whatsoever. Created in 2006 by perfumer Maurice Roucel, L is imminently lovable. It begins with citrus and cinnamon, much like Maurice Roucel’s other masterpiece, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur. L is far softer than Musc Ravageur, and for the most part smells much like freshly baked Snickerdoodle cookies. L would be rather generic, albeit delicious, if it were not for a curious salty note lurking in the background. That saltiness can be attributed to the immortelle flower, a note rarely seen in perfumery.

L is not quite as intellectual as her older sister, but she’s quite a crowd pleaser. My friends often ask to borrow perfume from me before we go out. They don’t want my Prada or Classique (“too heavy”) and they certainly don’t want my Yvresse or Chinatown. Inevitably they reach for the sweet, irresistible L.

Lolita Lempicka has a new scent, Si Lolita, which was released in France last summer but has no U.S. release date beyond “2010”. However, it has been getting very good reviews on other perfume blogs such as Perfume Posse, and the bottle is nothing short of stunning. I eagerly await its arrival.

Disclaimer: I own bottles of Lolita Lempicka and L de Lolita Lempicka, both purchased at Sephora.