International Women’s Month: Olivia Giacobetti

Welcome to International Women’s Month! Scents of Self will be celebrating with tributes to the female pioneers of perfumery all month long. First up: Olivia Giacobetti!

I want to keep Olivia Giacobetti in my basement. Wait, let me try that again: I want to keep Olivia Giacobetti in my basement so that she can make me an endless supply of her brilliant fragrances. (Olivia, where are you going? Come back! I don’t even have a basement! OLIVIA I WILL TREAT YOU HUMANELY.)

A Giacobetti fragrance is instantly recognizable. She favors light, graceful strokes of bold notes, like a watercolor painting with bright colors. But it’s not just her talent that makes me want to keep Olivia in my basement (or the attic! Like Jane Eyre!) I also admire her unorthodox path as a perfumer.

Giacobetti is one of the very few perfumers who works outside of the perfume industry’s traditional fragrance firm system, and inarguably one of the most successful. She created her own company, Iskia, at age 24, after beginning her career at Annick Goutal at age 16. After 13 years of creating fragrances for the likes of Hermès, Diptyque, and Byredo, Giacobetti launched her own line, IUNX. Despite a challenging beginning (the original IUNX boutique closed in 2006), IUNX triumphantly reopened at the iconic Hotel Costes in 2008. Respect, Oli-G.

Choosing a Top 5 for my very favorite perfumer was so impossible that it almost immediately became a Top 7 list!

7 Olivia Giacobetti Fragrances Every Human Needs To Smell

L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!


L’Artisan’s tribute to the circus has Giacobetti playing lion tamer, softening this wild creature of leather and sawdust until it purrs.

Diptyque Philosykos


No discussion of fig fragrances is complete without a mention of the gorgeously green Philosykos.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant

safran troublant

My #1. Saffron, sandalwood, unearthly beauty.

Frederic Malle En Passant


Tender, dew-soaked lilacs. Probably my favorite floral.

Lubin Idole


First name greatest, last name ever. Rum, saffron, and a souk’s worth of spices. I would trade an alarming number of organs for a bottle of the now-discontinued eau de toilette.

Honoré des Prés I Love Les Carottes


The carrot fragrance you never knew you needed! A very clever olfactory magic trick; crisp, rooty iris smells like carrots from a certain angle.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Jour de Fete

jour de fete

Cruelly discontinued. MAJOR party foul. Jour de Fete was the loveliest candied almond fragrance around.

In conclusion, the Giacobetti-Weinberg wedding will take place in June, our cat will be the ring-bearer, and you are all invited.

What’s your favorite Giacobetti fragrance? Did I miss any must-sniffs?

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. All fragrances featured in the post were purchased at full price by me, to my horror. 

Dailies 07/18/14

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Daily Fragrance: Le Labo Lys 41. Despite the aggravating city exclusives and the intentionally confusing naming scheme, Le Labo always delivers on their perfumes. Lys 41 is a robust, true lily fragrance with a delicious vanilla drydown. I like it even better than the gold standard lily, Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee, which goes too sweet on me.

Daily Nail Polish: Illamasqua Raindrops. Caution: needs at least three coats. That third coat takes Raindrops from a streaky mess to an ethereal, shimmering dove grey.

Daily Game: Luigi’s Mansion Dark Moon. Dark Moon stars the unwilling ghostbuster Luigi, younger, greener brother to Nintendo mascot Mario (aka Maurice Roucel lookalike). Timid, bumbling Luigi’s willingness to face his fears (ghosts, and lots of them) in order to save his brother never fails to make me sniffle. Vacuuming up ghosts is also surprisingly satisfying!

Please feel free to share your own dailies (and to use your own categories)!

Five Gin Perfumes For World Gin Day


Happy World Gin Day, y’all! The less gin-soaked among you might remember that this fine holiday was actually last Saturday, but every day is World Gin Day in our hearts. To celebrate, I’ve rated the gin-tensity of five gin-themed perfumes from one bottle of Hendricks to five bottles. Cheers!

Atelier Cologne Cedrat Envirant

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The mouthwatering Cedrat Envirant is based on the gin-champagne-lemon juice combination of the classic French 75 cocktail, but unlike a real French 75, the juniper note is just a whisper beneath the sparkling lime opening.

TokyoMilk Gin & Rosewater

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Bombay Sapphire with a bright, girly rose note. If pink gin existed, this is what it would smell like.

Lubin Gin Fizz

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Phyllis Diller, of blessed memory, famously declared that “the only time I ever enjoyed ironing was the day I accidentally got gin in the steam iron.” Gin Fizz smells like that happy accident: a soft juniper note mingling with the hiss of hot steam.

Frapin L’Humaniste

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Gin and tonic with lots of pepper. I find this one a little boring, but my brief time selling Frapin suggests that half of New York’s mixologists wear it.

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

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The ultimate gin fragrance. Gincylopedia Brittanica. Gindiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Angeliques Sous La Pluie roars with crushed juniper berries. Hard to believe that this intense, earthy fragrance is a Jean-Claude Ellena creation.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Jour de Fete


L’Artisan Parfumeur Jour de Fete is a typical heliotrope fragrance, a luminously sweet almond scent with an unmistakable Play-Doh vibe. Like many of Olivia Giacobetti’s creations for L’Artisan, Jour de Fete is terribly pretty and just the right amount of strange. Like virtually all of Olivia Giacobetti’s creations for L’Artisan, the lasting power and projection are dreadful. I missed Jour de Fete the first time around, so unfortunately I don’t know how this re-release compares to the original in either smell or tenacity.

Why you should buy Jour de Fete: Even though there are similar heliotrope fragrances (Etro Heliotrope and Frederic Malle L’Eau de Hiver come to mind), Jour de Fete is actually the best-priced option at $100 for 100 ml.

Why you should not buy Jour de Fete: It’s limited edition. Boooooo!

I’ll probably buy it. I wish I knew how to quit you, L’Artisan.


Frederic Malle Dries van Noten

dries van notes par frederic malle

I have two reviews for Frederic Malle Dries van Noten. The first review is the matter-of-fact one. Frederic Malle has stated that he wanted this perfume to capture Flemish desserts, and perfumer Bruno Jovanovic’s interpretation is remarkably literal. Think Jeux de Peau, Serge Lutens’s danish with apricot jam. Dries van Noten is a more polished pastry, a crepe drizzled with lemon juice and sugar. I like Dries van Noten best at the beginning, when the bite of saffron and the lemon note temper those very sweet waffles. The sandalwood dry down is pretty, but no matter how many times Frederic Malle says “Mysore sandalwood”, I find it a little scratchy and thin.

Dries van Noten is $180 for 50 ml. There are very few perfumes that are actually worth $180 for 50 ml, and I personally do not feel that Dries van Noten is one of them. If it had more saffron and creamier sandalwood, I might consider $150. But it’s probably worth noting that I can’t think of any particularly similar fragrances that would be cheaper substitutes.

Now the second review.

I wore Dries van Noten when Drew was visiting from London this past week. It was the right perfume for the polka-dotted dress I wore to impress him on his first day back. It was the right perfume for our sunny walks with the cat stroller under the magnolia and dogwood trees. And it was the right perfume for my inevitable endless crying on his last day, when everything was a last; the last time he would hold the cat that he helped me choose, the last time we would go to a favorite restaurant together, the last time I could reach for his hand and feel him squeeze back.

Frederic Malle writes that Dries van Noten is supposed to convey “the sober warmth” of Belgium, and I really and truly sense that. For such a sweet perfume, Dries van Noten is not particularly light-hearted. Seriousness is a rare quality in modern perfumes, which are more likely to be marketed as “playful” or “flirty!” Drew’s visit was wonderful, but it was also incredibly sad, and Dries van Noten felt somehow respectful of both of those aspects of our time together.


I’m still not paying $180 for it.