Ask Ari: The Perfume Advice Column

I am a little too excited to bring back an older Scents of Self feature: Ask Ari, the perfume advice column! First up is a very, very real submission that I definitely did not make up. If you have any perfume etiquette questions of your own, please feel free to submit them for future columns so that Kanye does not have to sue me.

Dear Ari,

I’ve been talking about launching my own fragrance since 2011, but lately I’m feeling intimidated by the success of my wife’s fragrance line. I’m afraid that I just won’t be able to keep up with the Kardashians. How can I get over my insecurities so that I can give the world the best celebrity fragrance of all time? (OF ALL TIME!!!)


Definitely Not Kanye West

Dearest DNKW,

Choosing the right fragrance manufacturer is critical in creating a fragrance worthy of Definitely Not Kanye West. Most of your celebrity counterparts choose mass-market companies like Coty or Proctor & Gamble. The end result is usually bland and boring, which is why most celebrity scents only last a season or two on department store shelves. They might make their namesake celebrity some money in the short term, but your reputation will be cheapened in the long run when they end up in the Walmart aisle.

However, we’ve been seeing some smarter, more interesting choices from a few celebrities recently. The Olsen twins made a very respectable fragrance line for their Elizabeth & James brand through a direct partnership with Sephora, and Pharrell’s fragrance for Commes des Garcons was so well-received that it was picked up by prestigious retailers like Barney’s and Luckyscent. Ask Ari recommends that you follow in their footsteps rather than in Kim’s, especially since her fragrance line was infamously dropped by Sephora after violating their exclusivity clause.

Ask Ari would also recommend that you avoid keeping up with Khloe Kardashian, at least fragrance-wise. Getting divorced a year after you and your husband released a fragrance named “Unbreakable” gives us perfume bloggers years of material!

Definitely Not An Enormous Fan,


P.S. It was surprisingly difficult to find a picture for this post. Please take more pictures of yourself holding perfume bottles.

Dailies 10/07/14


Daily Fragrance: Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee. This little cutie is from the nicely-priced Miniature Discovery Collection. Vanille Insensee is my ex-boyfriend’s fragrance, so I hadn’t worn it in years. I’d forgotten how well-made and instantly appealing it is.

Daily Nail: Urban Decay Pulp Fiction Nail Color in Deep Red. On sale at Sephora for the ridiculous price of $5. (The Pulp Fiction palette is on sale, too!) It has a very subtle shimmer that I completely failed to capture in this photo.

Daily Graphic Novel: Jane Mai Sorry I Can’t Come In On Monday I’m Really Really Sick. My favorite cartoonist had a book launch last weekend! I had a lot of champagne.

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

Disclaimer: This post does not contain affiliate links. All products (and paws) featured in this post were my own purchases, much to my wallet’s dismay.

Pharrell Williams Girl


After years of watching Anthropologie have all the fun, Sephora is finally getting in on the niche/mass-market collab game. They’ve partnered up with Commes des Garcons and the very busy Pharrell Williams to create Girl, “a stylish wood-based fragrance for girls and boys that strikes an attractive balance of masculinity and femininity”. I loved the concept of a Commes des Garcons fragrance at Sephora prices, but admit to being a little nervous about the execution. I’m happy to report that Sephora got everything right, from the juice itself (a lavender and cedar blend as smooth as Pharrell’s ever-so-slightly autotuned vocals) to the adorably whimsical bottle and perfectly-priced 10 ml option.

Much like Pharrell himself, Girl is pleasant and interesting without being overly challenging. It’s as unisex as its tagline suggests: the notes are traditionally masculine, but the cedar note is sweet enough to make most men think twice. Girl is unquestionably the best celebrity fragrance of the year, and a very good perfume by any standard. I like it much better than I thought I would from the notes list (which starts with my nemesis, orange blossom). In fact, I’ve been talking about Girl so much that Daisy bought me the 10 ml bottle just to shut me up. It’s earned a spot in my purse, and I find myself reaching for it most days.

Vicarious Perfume Shopping


I don’t even know myself anymore. I bought five things in the Sephora VIB sale last week, and not one of them was perfume. I could redeem myself with one of the killer perfume sales going on right now, but I currently have no money because I am the world’s best daughter and spent all of it on my mom’s birthday present. (Who could say no to that face??)


Well, I might as well share the online perfume deals I’ve noticed lately with y’all so that I can get my vicarious perfume shop on!

Parfum1 is currently having a 20% off sale! If you’ve ever purchased from them before, you should have gotten a coupon email, but if not, I’m happy to send my code to the first person who asks for it. The sale ends on the 28th.

FragranceNet is doing 15% off until the 26th. The code is on the site’s front page.

Sephora is offering a perfume mini with every fragrance purchase over $25! I might actually participate in this one, because it’s just too tempting. I’m thinking the $25 Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine rollerball and then choose the 7 ml Narcisco Rodriguez EDT mini. The code is “TOPSCENTS”.

So will you be getting anything good? Or have you had any exciting recent perfume shopping exploits? Tell us in the comments!

P.S. Please note that the above links are not affiliate links. I don’t exactly know what affiliate links are, but they’re just regular old links.

P.S.S. The lipstick in the picture of my VIB sale haul is Clinique Black Honey. I usually avoid “cult” makeup products (like the hilariously unflattering NARS Orgasm blush), but I really like this berry color. I think I’m going to return the Fresh Rosé lip balm- it’s so much less moisturizing than the original!

Miss Dior Cherie L’Eau

Mother Nature, who apparently feels pretty bad about that whole Snowmaggedon thing, has decided to bless Maryland with absolutely fabulous weather. It’s 70 degrees, the sun is shining, and that most glorious of flowers, the purple crocus, heralds the approach of spring. Finally I have the opportunity to break out Miss Dior Cherie L’Eau, a recent flanker for the uber-popular Miss Dior Cherie. For some of us (me me me me me), the original Miss Dior Cherie was akin to a screaming toddler whose face is covered in ice cream- a gooey, overly sweet mess. These folks will be pleased to know that MDC L’Eau bears absolutely no resemblance to its predecessor (or to Miss Dior, but I was pretty sure that went without saying).

The official list of notes provided by Sephora claims that MDC L’Eau contains strawberry leaves, pink jasmine, caramelized popcorn, strawberry sorbet, and patchouli. This is rather bizarre, considering that MDC L’Eau does not smell like any of these things. MDC L’Eau opens with a citrusy top note and segues into a very delicate gardenia note, which then mingles with a light musk. MDC L’Eau can be thought of as a more feminine take on the traditional cologne. It has a refreshing quality that reminds me of my favorite flavor of gatorade, the light blue Glacier Freeze. There’s something very Easter-y about MDC L’Eau. It’s as if the perfumer created it using pastel colors, as opposed to the neon pink of original MDC.

Now, a word about cost, which is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. MDC L’Eau is available at Sephora in only one size, 3.4 ounces, for $82. Trust me, you’re gonna need that larger size, because MDC L’Eau has no lasting power whatsoever. Earth to Dior: those Marc Jacobs splashes have similarly poor lasting power, but they come in TEN ounce bottles for $68. Because I find the price outrageous, it is unlikely that I would ever purchase this. I will just have to sigh over what a truly pretty fragrance this is.

Disclaimer: I have sampled MDC L’Eau many times at Sephora.