Bulgari Omnia

I never expected to be able to write this post! The perfume gods are cruel and fickle, and Bulgari Omnia (the 2003 original) is one of their many casualties. Omnia was discontinued years before I ever knew I needed it. (Inexplicably, a good seven Omnia flankers are all still on the market, fruitfully multiplying.) So when Omnia popped up in an unusually great RueLaLa sale last week, I pounced! It was a risky little blind buy, but Omnia is everything I could have hoped for: an unsweetened chai latte of a scent, with gorgeous heaps of saffron, a splash of almond milk, and the gentlest dusting of spices.

Its closest living relative is probably Etat Libre d’Orange Tom of Finland (switch out the leather for woods), or a much paler L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two. Omnia is very light, but has surprisingly decent lasting power.

If I had to guess why such a gem was discontinued, I’d speculate that Omnia might not have fit particularly comfortably into the mainstream feminine fragrance mold. With little sweetness and no florals, it lacks any of the more obvious “THIS IS A LADY PERFUME WE PROMISE” signifiers. Which reminds me a little of Marni, another quality sheer, spicy perfume that quickly disappeared from department store shelves despite adorable packaging and aggressive marketing. Maybe someday, mainstream perfumery will have more of a space for more androgynous beauty. Until that day comes, $48.29 on FragranceNet, y’all!

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. My Omnia decant comes from a split with lovely fragrant friends.

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!

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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

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

L’Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant

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My #1. Saffron, sandalwood, unearthly beauty.

Frederic Malle En Passant

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

Lubin Idole

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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

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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

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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. 

Jo Malone The Herb Garden

I’ve been counting down the days until The Herb Garden finally sprouted up. (See what I did there, guys? Don’t make me make a “green thumb” pun.) It’s the first collection from Jo Malone’s new in-house perfumer, Anne Flipo, the woman behind icons like L’Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons and Alexander McQueen MyQueen. The last Jo Malone to really impress me was Blackberry & Bay back in 2012, so I can’t wait to watch Flipo work her magic.

With one exception, the five scents in The Herb Garden are a lot more ambitious than the last few Jo Malone collections (Rock The Ages, London Rain, Sugar & Spice). Unfortunately, they’re still plagued by that notoriously dismal Jo Malone lasting power. As always, the limited-edition bottles are deeply cute.

Nasturtium & Clover 

Notes: Rocket, lemon, clover, nasturtium, jasmine, vetiver

My favorite of the five, even though I’m still not sure what “nasturtium” is. (Turns out it’s watercress! Was “Watercress & Clover” not glamorous enough?) N&C is a leafy, vegetal green fragrance with quite a bit of depth. Immediately reminded me of a much less sweet L’Artisan Parfumeur Mimosa Pour Moi.

Wild Strawberry & Parsley

Notes: Strawberry, Blackcurrant, Tomato Leaves, Parsley, Violet

Probably the most conceptually interesting scent in the collection. WS & P is an aquatic fruity fragrance, a tricky balancing act between the sweetness of the berry notes and the tartness of tomato leaf. A little too sweet by the end, but it mostly works. Not distinguishably strawberry.

Carrot Blossom & Fennel

Notes: Carrot, Rose, Orange Blossom, Iris

An odd duck. Rooty iris, sweet, syrup-y orange blossom, and a touch of spice. I was hoping for a lot more carrot, like L’Artisan’s Fleur de Carotte, but I do have to give CB & F credit for being the only one of the five scents to last more than half an hour on my skin.

Sorrel & Lemon Thyme

 Notes: Lemon, Bigarde, Petitgrain, Sorrel, Lemon Thyme, Rosemary, Geranium, Moss

The weakest link of the five. This thin, tart lemon scent smells much closer to a citrus cleaning product than an actual citrus fruit.

Lavender & Coriander

Notes: Lavender, Coriander, Sage, Tonka bean

Barbershop lavender, dry and sweet. Nicer than Jo’s other lavender, Amber & Lavender, but nothing groundbreaking.

Disclaimers: This post is not sponsored and does not contain affiliate links. All samples were generously provided by the wonderful Katri, the most helpful and knowledgable sales associate at Bloomingdales Tysons Corner. 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

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My policy has always been that I don’t review discontinued perfumes. It’s just cruel, right? But while Tea for Two is very much discontinued, it does occasionally pop up on eBay or in those huge sales L’Artisan does about twice a year. It always sells out within minutes, so if you ever do happen across a bottle, I want you to be prepared!

Tea for Two is supposed to evoke Lapsang Souchong, that bafflingly smoky tea, but it’s much softer than its inspiration. This really is a delightfully strange fragrance. It juxtaposes the traditional chai spices (cinnamon, cardamom- the notes list ginger, but I don’t smell it) with this funny leathered paper note, almost like cardboard. Over time, Tea for Two becomes sweeter and more honeyed. I like Tea for Two best at the end, when it is delicious and comforting but still just a bit odd.

I always wonder what I would think of Tea for Two if I had tried it before Dzing!. I think that I would have thought it unique and marvelous. Chai tea and cardboard! But for better or for worse, I tried Dzing! first, and now I can’t help but perceive Tea for Two as Dzing! overlaid with cinnamon. Between the two, I think I prefer Dzing!, but both are unusual and enchanting fragrances, and I can absolutely see myself eventually deciding that I really need both.

What do you think of Tea for Two? Did you manage to snag a bottle before it was discontinued?

L’Artisan Parfumeur Poivre Piquant

Poivre Piquant always reminds me of a famous quote from Steve Jobs: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” I could never have predicted that I would enjoy Poivre Piquant as much as I do. Why would I want to smell like pepper? Pepper makes me eczema-y. But just as Jobs predicted, once L’Artisan showed me this challenging, beautiful pepper fragrance, I knew that it was exactly what I wanted.

Poivre Piquant roars to life with a burst of freshly-ground pepper. This part is pretty intense, but within two minutes, the pepper softens enough to allow you to catch a glimpse of the creamy honey note underneath. The combination is totally ingenious; the heat and kick of the pepper note keep the honey from ever becoming too sweet, and the honey note prevents the pepper from ever becoming too harsh. The two notes continue their tense dance throughout the life of the fragrance, with neither ever fully gaining the upper hand. The only other peppery perfume I’ve tried is Lolita Lempicka Si Lolita, which is somewhat heavy and dense. Poivre Piquant, however, is very delicate, even translucent. I find it totally addictive.