The Sweetest Thing

Remember when I told you guys about my dandruff OF THE FACE?

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Dandruff OF THE FACE is caused by a species of yeast that feeds on lipids, aka oils, aka fats. After an in-depth consultation with Dr. WebMD, I decided that cutting out delicious fatty foods for a few weeks was clearly the solution. (It is terrible and joyless and my skin looks exactly the same and I am stopping immediately.) During these fat-free weeks, I found myself compensating with sweeter perfume choices (lots and lots of L de Lolita Lempicka). That got me thinking: what’s the sweetest perfume I know?

Upon careful consideration, I think it’s a tie between Mancera Roses Vanille and Tauerville Rose Flash. Roses Vanille is much lighter, but both evoke literal sugar cubes marinated in rosewater. Even though just thinking about them gives me cavities, I actually enjoy smelling them on others. I know a lumberjack who wears Rose Flash, and I love the idea of him smelling like rosewater sugar cubes while swinging his axe. Very Monty Python!

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Okay, your turn! What’s the most toothachingly sweet fragrance you’ve ever tried?

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Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien

That Annick Goutal is spooky, y’all. How did she know about my long-cherished dream to smell like lemon-scented dishwashing detergent? Eau d’Hadrien gets a lot of love from the online perfume community, but quite frankly, after smelling it, I think that all of the hype must be some massive inside joke. I am honestly just perplexed. Am I missing some subtlety, some nuance? To my nose, Eau d’Hadrien smells much closer to a lemon-scented cleaning product than actual lemons. To add insult to injury, the lasting power of this fragrance is INSANE. And not a good, fun kind of insane, like Helena Bonham Carter.

HBC, you are a delight. Please never change.

My lovely, intelligent readers, I beseech you: please do not spend $95 for 1.7 ounces of dilute Cascade that is literally undetectable after five minutes.

Disclaimer: An SA at Nordstrom gave me a sample of Eau d’Hadrien.

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.

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.