Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540

Standard perfumista wisdom warns against wearing one of your favorite perfumes on first dates. That way, if the date goes badly, you don’t risk tainting one of your tried and trues with a negative association. (I still can’t touch Lush Tuca Tuca after a particularly rough OKCupid date at a Lord of the Rings-themed restaurant, during which I was lectured about the Singularity for longer than Return of the King. EXTENDED EDITION.)


In keeping with this principle, I decided on Baccarat Rouge, a scent I had spent very little time with, for the first date with my now-boyfriend Garrett. (This is the first time I’ve mentioned a boyfriend on the blog since college. I will be so mad if he dumps me tomorrow.)

No turning back now- meet Garrett, everyone!

Perfumer Francis Kurkdjian has described Baccarat Rouge as “burnt strawberry jam”, and that’s wonderfully accurate. Baccarat Rouge opens with a mouthwatering caramelized effect, candied with just a touch of savory. Fascinatingly, Baccarat Rouge is based around a very common ingredient, ethyl maltol, the sweet core of mainstream blockbusters like Thierry Mugler Angel and Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb. But where Angel and Flowerbomb are massive, hulking fragrances, Baccarat’s sweetness is airy, streamlined. It’s candy, but it’s polished, subtle candy, like a delicate toile of sugar on a Michelin-rated dessert. The burnt strawberry jam never fades away, but it’s gradually given depth by a quiet, fresh jasmine note, which just so happens to be the only kind of jasmine I can tolerate.

The ultimate proof of Baccarat Rouge’s allure? After a few months, Garrett ordered his own bottle.

What are your go-to date fragrances? Any scents you’ve had to banish after bad first dates?

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. 

Missoni Eau de Toilette

Ten years ago, Missoni released a daring, excellent fragrance by the immensely talented Maurice Roucel. It was a pretty drastic flop, discontinued by 2011. Missoni has clearly learned their lesson: no good perfumes ever again! Instead, we get Escada summer release rejects. Missoni Eau de Toilette is a juicy, more-than-a-little-plastic-y pear-based fruity floral. It smells fine, if very Bath and Body Works, but it feels a little like wearing a full Juicy Couture tracksuit in 2016. Like, oh, are we still doing that? Are we still doing cash-grab fruity florals? I thought we were doing cash-grab gourmands now.

Maybe that’s too harsh. If an interesting and quality fragrance didn’t succeed, I gueeeeeess I can see how going in the complete opposite direction could seem like the right answer. But forgettable perfume is never the answer. Not in the age of 1,620 annual fragrance releases. (And that’s just 2014’s number.)

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored (clearly!) and does not contain affiliate links. I tested Missoni Eau de Toilette at my local Bloomingdale’s.

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?