How Would You Spend an $100 Bergdorf Goodman Gift Card?

Bergdorf Goodman has been my favorite store in New York since I was 16, when I first entered their epic beauty department in search of the Kevyn Aucoin makeup line. The most understanding boyfriend in the world gave me an $100 gift card to Bergdorf Goodman for my 21st birthday, and with Sniffapalooza coming up THIS VERY WEEKEND, I finally have the opportunity to spend it! And since imaginary shopping is one of the purest joys in this life, let’s fantasize about how I should use it. Here’s what I’m thinking so far:

  1. Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee, $65. This is Drew’s cologne, and I get all manner of warm fuzzies when I smell it. Since he’s taken his bottle to London for the year, it’s really about time that I got my own.
  2. Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay, $110. This is the only fruity perfume I’ve ever really liked in years. That combination of savory bay and grapefruit is nothing short of magic.
  3. Chanel Les Exclusifs 28 La Pausa, $110. This delicately gorgeous scent is my all-time favorite iris fragrance. The price is actually relatively good, too.
  4. Annick Goutal Le Violette Soliflore, $120. SO FREAKING PRETTY.
  5. Kilian Back to Black Solid Fragrance, $95. I’m not familiar with the Kilian solids and their quality, but Back to Black is one of those warm pipe tobacco perfumes that I just adore.

Your turn! How would you spend my gift card?

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Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

Two criticisms are frequently leveled at L’Heure Bleue, created by Jacques Guerlain in 1912. The first is that LHB smells too “old”. This is no doubt due to a hefty dose of aldehydes and powder, the hallmarks of classical French perfume. With its sweetness and delectable anise note, LHB actually feels very girlish and youthful to me. It reminds me of childhood ballet lessons- the dusty pink color of the slippers, the rustle of the tulle skirts, little girls twirling gracefully in imitation of their beautiful French teachers.

The second complaint is that LHB smells “sad”. After all, it was allegedly based on the concept of the “blue hour”, the point at which the sky has lost its sun but not yet found its stars. I searched for the sadness and melancholy in this scent, but each time that I smelled it I felt only joy. To me, L’Heure Bleue is a rapturous perfume. It is so utterly stunning, so very beautiful, that to celebrate seems to me the only suitable reaction. I imagine LHB on the almost unbearably lovely Keira Knightley.

L’Heure Bleue is available in three formulations in the US. The EDT is sold on the Sephora website for $70 for 1.7 ounces. The EDP is sold at Neiman Marcus for $118 for 2.5 ounces. The parfum is sold at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman for $317 (the websites don’t specify the amount of perfume).

Disclaimer: I brought a sample vial into Neiman Marcus and made myself a tester.

Chanel 28 La Pausa

There was a girl in my high school, a professional dancer, who was so overwhelmingly beautiful that whenever someone spoke to her they often forgot what they were trying to say. Chanel 28 La Pausa reminds me of her. I try to conjure up words to describe its beauty, but it simply renders me speechless. 28 La Pausa is a supremely buttery iris scent with a great deal of warmth. It smells light and clean, but is far removed from the “clean” (read: harsh and sterile) feel of many modern citruses. Iris scents frequently have a great deal of powder and are therefore prone to melancholy natures, but 28 La Pausa has a distinctly sunny disposition. There is no list of notes online, but I’m sure that it must be aldehydes that give 28 La Pausa its sparkle and that classic Chanel feel. But aldehyde haters need not fear: this fragrance contains nary a hint of Chanel No 5.

When I really love a perfume, I tend to associate it with a book or a movie. In the case of 28 La Pausa, it’s The Lord of the Rings. Yes, I used to speak Elvish; yes, I have a life size cutout of Legolas in my room; yes, I am a tremendous dork. 28 La Pausa has the ethereal beauty of Tolkien’s Elves, too pure and lovely to survive in a human-dominated world. Liv Tyler, with those huge blue eyes and translucent skin, embodied that delicacy perfectly in her role as the Elvish princess Arwen. Does anyone else ever wonder how in the hell Liv turned out so gorgeous despite Steven Tyler contributing half of her DNA? It’s one of the great mysteries of our time.

La Pausa’s ethereal quality is something of a double-edged sword. It has weak lasting power, which means that Chanel only sells it in humongous 6.8 ounce bottles, which means that La Pausa is going to set you back a good $200. For this reason, I would also suggest Prada Infusion d’Iris. They’re not the same thing at all- the Prada is a little more introverted, a little less lighthearted- but Infusion d’Iris is another iris scent with a similarly classy, graceful vibe. It is available at Sephora and most department stores; Sephora sells a 1 oz bottle for $56. 28 La Pausa is part of the Chanel Le Exclusifs collection, 12 scents that are available at Bergdorf Goodman, select Chanel boutiques, and the occasional Saks Fifth Avenue. If you can afford it, buy it. It’s perfect.

Disclaimer: An extremely generous and knowledgeable SA at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase made me a sample of this fragrance.

Bvlgari Pour Femme

Bvlgari pour Femme is one of the very few florals in my perfume collection. It was created in 1994 by perfumer Sophia Grojsman, who is famous for her roses. For about a week now, I’ve been in the mood to wear pearls. I’ve been wearing them everywhere- to sleep, to lunch, to frat parties (where they are more than a little out of place). So when I walked into Sephora today, subconsciously I must have been searching for a perfume with that elegant, luminous aura that pearls always project. Bvlgari pour Femme opens with a light, sparkling rose very similar to that found in the lovely, popular-for-a-reason Stella McCartney Stella. At this point, pour Femme is more like a diamond than pearls. But soon an (unlisted) violet note joins in, creating a creamy effect that actually smells like a Lancome lipstick. The drydown is pure rose.

Lancome is my mother’s favorite brand, so I personally  find this smell to be beautifully evocative. Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose has that same genius violet-rose combination, and I would not hesitate to recommend Bvlgari as a reasonably priced alternative to Lipstick Rose lovers like myself. pour Femme is a bit thinner, but that is to be expected, what with the $50 price difference and all. On that note, pour Femme is available at Sephora, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bergdorf Goodman. It is White Patchouli-expensive at $65 for one ounce, $92 for 1.7 ounces, and $132 for 3.4 ounces. But trust, y’all, the people in your life will be much, much happier if you choose pour Femme over White Patchouli.

One of the reasons that I own so few florals is that I have difficulty with their lack of sex appeal. Like a string of pearls, pour Femme is more lovely than it is sexy. It is glamorous, but in a wholesome way. Bvlgari pour Femme is the kind of perfume that could class up even the notoriously tawdry Kate Moss.

Well, almost.


Tom Ford White Patchouli

After seven days of Snowmaggedon here in Baltimore, I finally made it to Sephora and Nordstrom for some perfume testing. I have long been intrigued by White Patchouli, with that stunning ad campaign featuring Erykah Badu. In my humble opinion, it is the most gorgeous ad that I have ever seen in my life. They should have used it for the fabulous Black Orchid, and not wasted it on this piece of dreck. Today was the first time that I actually tried White Patchouli on my skin. Let’s just say that I have some thoughts.

If White Patchouli were a movie, it would be the camp classic Labyrinth– that is to say, it is so awful that it is hilarious. Y’all, I am not a patchouli hater by any means, although I do think that it is often woefully misused in modern perfumery. The patch-heavy Prada is one of my very favorites. However, I can say with complete confidence that this is the ugliest, most unlovable patchouli note that I have ever smelled. It is the Carrie of patchoulis (the Stephen King novel, not the Sex and the City character). Sharp, bitter, and STRONG. Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies of all time, and hardly a week goes by when I don’t watch that classic tale of David Bowie and his epic package. In the world of perfume, however, the so-bad-it’s-good concept doesn’t work quite as well.

What did I tell you? Epic!

If you are, by some chance, a White Patchouli fan (and it does seem to have its supporters on Makeup Alley), it is available at Sephora, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, and Saks Fifth Avenue. It is far from cheap at $60 for 1 ounce, $92 for 1.7 ounces, and $138 for 3.4 ounces. OH MY GOD DON’T DO IT Y’ALL. Hey, how about this? If you like White Patchouli, please consider Estee Lauder Youth Dew instead. It’s similar in terms of strength, except for the part where Youth Dew actually smells good. It is also a bargain at $30 for 2.2 ounces. And that bottle is the cuteness!

Disclaimer: I sampled White Patchouli at Sephora. I have tried Youth Dew many times at Macy’s before.