Making Laundry Into Lemonade

The scene of the crime. Utterly unrepentant.

Two days before Sniffapalooza, Zelda threw up into my one and only pair of high heels. That’s pretty standard procedure; as a Baltimore stray, she can smell abandonment coming a mile away. Multiple pieces of cat poop on the duvet, however, was a new development.

As I loaded up the washing machine, I found myself thinking about laundry detergent. More than a few perfume brands, including Le Labo, Maison Francis Kurkdjian, and Kai, offer laundry detergents these days. Even on the drugstore shelves, functional fragrances (like detergent and dish soap) are usually created by the same perfumers who do fine fragrance. Maybe a perfume-quality detergent would help make the task at hand a little more pleasant?

After sniffing expeditions to Saks and bluemercury, I’ve assembled the best-smelling of these upscale detergents. Unfortunately, I can’t report on performance; for better or for worse, Zelda doesn’t savage my duvet often enough to justify buying a $45 detergent.

Please don’t take that as a challenge.

The Laundress & Le Labo Rose 31 Signature Detergent

Very true to Rose 31’s wonderfully spiced rose. Of the five detergents I smelled, this is easily my top choice.

Tocca Laundry Delicate

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Laundry Delicate comes in five different scents; I was able to track down Stella, Florence, and Cleopatra. I actually liked the detergents even better than the fragrances! Stella’s orange note, for example, was much juicier in detergent form. Florence is a straightforward-but-lovely tuberose, and Cleopatra was a Coco Mademoiselle-eque fruitchouli. Stella leads the pack for me.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Laundry Detergent

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Definitely focuses on the lemon side of the Aqua Universalis equation. I wish there was a little more of that gorgeous sparkling lily of the valley you get in the fragrance itself.

Does your love of scents extend as far as laundry detergent? Any favorites that should be on this list?

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

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The Finish Line

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I’ve never finished a bottle of perfume. Wait, it gets worse: I’ve never even finished a decant. The closest I’ve ever gotten is a 30 ml Jo Malone Black Vetyver Cafe; I’ve managed to use up about 10 ml in the FOUR YEARS since I bought it. I know it sounds outrageous, but there’s actually a perfectly reasonable explanation. About half of the fragrances in my collection are discontinued. If I use them up, they’ll be gone forever! I also blame my overly cautious spraying habits (one to the neck, one to each wrist) and distressingly short attention span (my ADHD documentation places me in “the 99th percentile for attentional issues for [my] age and gender”!)

Of course, the sad truth is that no matter how carefully I ration my discontinued treasures, perfume eventually goes bad. So I have a belated fragrant New Year’s resolution: I’m going to finish one bottle of perfume this year. The previously mentioned Black Vetyver Cafe is the most promising candidate, but I’ve also been making good progress on Safran Troublant. Any words of wisdom? Should I be spraying more? Alternating between fragrances less often? How often do you empty a bottle of perfume?

Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse/Champagne

This is about as good as it gets, in my opinion. Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse was created by Sophia Grojsman in 1993, initially debuting under the name “Champagne”. The Champagne lobby wasn’t really feeling that, so YSL was forced to rechristen this fabulous perfume with a much less attractive name. Champagne is my very favorite drink. I always think of Holly Golightley drinking champagne before breakfast in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, her effervescent charm as intoxicating as those delightful bubbles.

On that note, just to give y’all a quick sense of who I am and what I bring to this site, I will say that while I often mention Marilyn Monroe in reviews, in truth I have much more in common with Audrey Hepburn (or, if you’re a Gossip Girl fan, I’m much more of a Blair than a Serena). Even as a blonde, I wasn’t quite come-hither enough to be a Marilyn. On the other hand, those classic Audrey standbys- pearls, big brown eyes, and wickedly flirtatious banter- have never failed me yet.

Anyway, back to Yvresse! Does Yvresse actually smell like champagne? Not really, although the drydown does smell quite a bit like wine. Rather, Yvresse captures the excitement of champagne, that feeling that you are about to break into giggles. Yvresse opens with glittering aldehydes and a blast of what Robin at Now Smell This identifies at nectarine, which almost feels like the tickle of champagne bubbles. It then becomes lusciously peachy and golden- fans of the juicy peach note in Bond No 9’s Chinatown will love this. There is also a supremely creamy vanilla note that reminded me very much of Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, one of my all-time favorites. The anise note is barely detectable, so don’t let that scare you off.

With basenotes of oakmoss and patchouli, Yvresse definitely falls under the category of chypre. However, the chypre reputation for “difficult” perfumes is all wrong for Yvresse. It is nothing but a delight from start to finish. To me, Yvresse sends a very clear message: “Why yes, I am impossibly glamorous. I probably have a mysterious past and some thoroughly delightful eccentricities.”

Yvresse is no longer sold in U.S. stores, although you can still find it on the Yves Saint Laurent website ($60 for 2 oz). However, it is very widely available at reputable online perfume discounters for around $20 for 2 oz. This is a frankly unbelievable price for such a stunner.

Disclaimer: I swapped for my bottle of Yvresse.

Bond No 9 Chinatown

When I was in California for Christmas this winter, we saw the new Terry Gilliam movie, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. It was strange, and very good, but mostly sad, because as everyone knows it was the last movie in which Heath Ledger appeared. As I watched, I really felt the loss.

British supermodel Lily Cole had a big part in this movie, and I can’t lie: I was pretty skeptical going in. When was the last time you saw a model do so much as a half-decent job as an actress? They gave Giselle all of, what, one line in The Devil Wears Prada? But to her credit, Ms. Cole was just fantastic. And more relevantly to this review, her character, Valentina, looks just like I imagine Bond No 9 Chinatown would if it was a person and not a perfume.

Valentina is a gypsy of a girl- flaming red hair, colorful, patched-up rags for clothes, a face that grabs and holds your attention. In my mind, Chinatown would be far from a conventional beauty (Lily Cole is actually quite weird looking). But like Valentina, some wild and indefinable quality about her compells all of the boys, even Heath Ledger, to promptly fall in love.

Chinatown is a juicy combination of peaches, bergamot, incense and sandalwood. It immediately reminded me of the most delicious plum tea that I once had. Unlike more “difficult” niche perfumes, Chinatown just plain smells good. One word of caution is that this “fruity chypre” is both very sweet and very strong. Although I think that the free spirited Chinatown is fabulous, it is a little too “hippie” for me personally. I fancy myself a little more polished, more of a Marilyn than a Brigitte Bardot. Chinatown would be perfect on some of the “boho” celebrities, like Jade Jagger, Sienna Miller, Erykah Badu.

Chinatown is often called the masterpiece of the Bond No 9 house, a line famous for gorgeous bottles and obscene pricing. It is not my personal favorite (that would be New Haarlem, which is essentially a wearable frappachino), but when I wore it for the first time in a while for this review, I was surprised and delighted by just how good it is.

Armani Code

I decided to do a quick review of Armani Code before I return that pretty blue bottle to Sephora. About two weeks ago, I was going through the rush process (meaning, the process of getting into a sorority). I was having a hell of a time deciding which perfume to wear to the rush events. I wanted something pretty, but with zero potential to offend. All of my perfumes and various samples had way too much character. Enter Armani Code. Code starts off interesting, with a blast of ginger that reminds me of my beloved Japanese food, but quickly becomes little more than a very clean orange blossom fragrance, and (as I have come to realize) more than a little masculine. Unfortunately for Code, rush is over, and I no longer have a need for such a nondescript fragrance in my collection.