Cheap Thrills: Bath and Body Works Velvet Tuberose

If the scent of tuberose (which is commonly mistaken for that of the gardenia flower) were a person, I imagine that she would be a blonde beauty queen from Texas. She would be gorgeous, with the warmest smile you’ve ever seen, and, more likely than not, a completely over-the-top personality. Think Robert Piguet Fracas, which Madonna wore in her cone-bra heyday. Tuberose generally dominates any perfume in which it appears, so while in capable hands tuberose can be done beautifully, it is more often unbalanced and a little scary (think the Texas beauty queen after she places 3rd).

Bath and Body Works Velvet Tuberose is tuberose done right, especially for the price point. It is sweet enough for mainstream noses but elegant enough for the perfumistas. Velvet Tuberose is slightly heady and has a glamorous, old-Hollywood vibe. It is one of the few perfumes that I can think of that would be suitable for a blonde bombshell (most “bombshell” scents work better on brunettes). VT is lush in a way that recalls both the sensational curves and the dreamy smile that made Marilyn Monroe a star.

My middle school hallways were perpetually filled with a wretched mixture of Axe and the shockingly unpleasant Bath and Body Works Sweet Pea. If more of the girls had worn Velvet Tuberose instead, I really think that it would have somehow improved my middle school experience.

Disclaimer: I have a bottle of Velvet Tuberose that I purchased at Bath and Body Works.

Sexy Times, Part 6: Tom Ford Black Orchid

This was supposed to be a very snarky review. I was going to talk about how Tom Ford, former designer for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, is the ultimate example of all style, no substance, and how if you look in the dictionary under “weirdly inappropriate” you will probably find a picture of Tom Ford, and also how he probably smells pretty bad since he’s admitted in interviews that he loves the smell of body odor. Tom Ford often reminds me of the sleazy uncle who you pray won’t try to grope you at Christmas dinner. And who can forget his infamous Vanity Fair cover? Poor, poor Keira Knightley, is what I’m trying to say.

For the love of God, Tom, please release her ear from your mouth.

However, instead of snark, this review will be offering a great deal of praise to Uncle Tom. You see, I am the kind of girl who carries around a copy of “The Bombshell Manual of Style” in an oversized pink purse wherever I go. I am constantly lamenting the loss of the ’40s and ’50s Hollywood bombshells. Little did I know that Tom Ford was vigorously nodding along to my Hollywood bombshell-related ranting the entire time.

Black Orchid, released in 2006, is the closest thing to old-Hollywood glamour that the mainstream fragrance market is ever gonna produce. Black Orchid opens with dark chocolate and some heady, earthy notes that I can’t quite put my finger on. There is gardenia and jasmine, in the tradition of the great bombshell scents of the past. Eventually a particularly smooth vanilla note and a little incense joins the fray. The first thirty minutes are the most exciting part about Black Orchid, but it remains highly sniffable until the very end.

In a field of ultra-light, “are you even wearing perfume?” type scents, Black Orchid is refreshingly strong. Black Orchid is not the shy, retiring wallflower in the corner, nor is she the loud, drunken chick dancing on the table. She is probably sitting by the fireplace, immaculately clothed in a fitted black dress, laughing with the group of men already under her spell. I find Black Orchid to be incredibly sensual, and I’m dying to have that stylish black bottle on my nightstand.

Disclaimer: An SA from Nordstrom gave me a sample of Black Orchid.

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.

Quick Notes- Prada L’Eau Ambree

Despite that stunning black-and-gold bottle, L’Eau Ambree inspires little creativity from me, so this will be a short review. L’Eau Ambree is remarkably similar to Prada’s Infusion d’Iris. This means that it essentially smells like a very expensive brand of baby powder. L’Eau Ambree is not some light, watery thing. It is actually rather heavy, but it does somehow manage to feel fresh despite all that powder. It is on the warmer side of things due to the amber, but I really can only barely detect this traditionally sensual note.

Many women find powdery scents to be very comforting, and I actually do find L’Eau Ambree to be a pleasant smell. It would be very nice to wear in a home full of loved ones on a wintery day. L’Eau Ambree has very little in common with the original, all-out sexy Prada. It is considerably more restrained, which I suppose translates into elegance. L’Eau Ambree would feel right on both a pretty young mother and a more mature, somewhat imposing high society type.

Disclaimer: An SA from Nordstrom made me a sample of L’Eau Ambree.