If you spend any time at all on makeup and beauty boards & blogs, you will know that fragance reviews are all over the map and are highly subjective, to say the least. There is something about reviewing fragrance that seems to elicit a passionate response entirely missing from, let's say, eyelash curler reviews. I enjoy reading them immensely.
In no particular order, here some of my recent favourite perfume reviews...
Chanel Coco Noir
A Booker Prize-worthy review
"As Mademoiselle Gabrielle approaches the reverend age of 54 she gets fruitchouly hormonal and starts putting on some weight that will forbid her to wear her beloved vanilla trousers and so she starts obsessing just a tad too much about her fading jasmine glory and out comes her Madonna-esque 6th decade post-menopausal arousal of baroque sandalwood self-celebration, the way celebs become a photocopy of themselves as time goes by, but I digress...
Coco cleans her drawers and takes away all the amber, delicious clover and labdanum attempting to get rid of the dusty smell that an ageing body will inevitably emit... and then adds a grapefruit Glade bar for the crowd pleasing effect and the illusion that freshness will extinguish the anguishing economical crisis that chokes the free spirits and makes crowds run towards the "secure, inoffensive patchouly-grapefruit fragrances" aisle at every department store, with so many dupes and dupes of dupes to hide yourself among...
Also, the afore-mentioned world crisis calls for a black funereal dress to play it safe after the frilly Mademoiselle pink and white orange happiness of the golden 2000s.
So sorry, so so sorry Mademoiselle Gabrielle. We all know you didn't deserve such a sad treatment, and you certainly didn't deserve a perfumer who would downgrade you to synthetic triumphant Calvin Klein status."
Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue
Tell us what you really think.
And, by the way, I happen to rather like this fragrance.
"I do not like this at ALL. Gross. I got a deluxe sample from Sephora and I used the whole thing up, not wanting to waste it. It smells like an old musty rotting basement. Like a moldy wet rag you found laying in the corner. The smell fades extremely fast to be undetectable which is bad if you like it, but great for me, because the smell nearly gagged me every time I used this. I cannot understand what people like about this fragrance. It is not flattering and is just downright disgusting. I have gotten many compliments on my GAP Dream More, Victoria's Secret Summer Mist, and even scented lotions from VS but no one ever said a word all the times I wore this. At this point I am hoping they couldn't smell it and that's why they didn't comment! I have even gotten compliments on Clinique Happy and that's the most overrated teenie bopper crap you can buy."
Robert Piguet - Bandit
I think I would like to meet the writer of this witty, concise review
but only in a safe, well-lit public place...
"Uncompromising leather. This is a very active leather—for waxing skis, rubbing down horse tackle, and changing the oil on a high-performance car. It's feminine enough (after a while), but soft and pleasing are not the aims here.
Holds its own spot on the spectrum of leathers. Close enough to the tough walking end of the spectrum that a fragrance newbie will either be put off by it, or completely revolutionized.
Medium to big sillage. Tenacious."
Estee Lauder Youth Dew
The Grandmother of all polarizing Estee Lauder scents..
"I was given a bottle of this as a gift by a younger friend, and at first, I was a bit taken aback. "Youth Dew"? Was this some sort of snarky commentary on my thirtysomethingness?
Then when I smelled the product in the bottle, I thought, 'My God, this smells like something my eighty-five-year-old grandmother would wear!' So, again, I wondered again if my young friend was jabbing at my, um, increasing maturity.
But then I started thinking .... after all, my grandmother wasn't always eighty-five, and I know she has worn the same kinds of 'signature scents' since she was in her twenties. And, I should add, my grandmother was quite the diva in her day! So, impulsively, I decided to try some 'Youth Dew' one day.
I received compliments continually ... from my co-workers, from my students, from the guy who stood behind me in line at the grocery store. Whatever I thought it had smelled like in the bottle was NOT how it smelled on my person.
So it's a keeper.
Postscript: I finally asked my early-twentysomething friend why she chose that scent for me. 'I asked the saleswoman for a scent for a strong, confident, sexy woman, and that's what she suggested.'
First, rather than babble tritely about "old lady" etc., let's begin with the actual notes. Per Basenotes: "Top: Orange, Bergamot, Peach, Aldehydes; Middle: Clove, Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Cinnamon; Base: Amber, Tolu, Patchouli, Peru Balsam" Per Scentiments, the notes are "Rose, Jonquil, Lavender, Jasmine, Muguet, Spices, Moss, Vetiver, Patchouli," and Jan Moran at PerfumeMart lists them as "Top: Orange, bergamot, peach, spices; Heart: Clove, cinnamon, cassie, rose, ylang-ylang, orchid, jasmine; Base: Frankincense, amber, vanilla, oakmoss, clove, musk, patchouli, vetiver, spices."
There now, that doesn't sound like the nadir of all wickedness, the centre of the axis of evil, the heart of the destroyer, does it? It's just a perfume. For those who have remained in control of their brains and not gone into autospeak ("I Hate It It Smells Like Old Lady I Hate It It Smells Like Old Lady" and so forth), YD in fact sounds rather progressive and delicious, doesn't it? That's because it is.
YD is heavy, rich, sweet. It doesn't really "open" and then shift, it starts, for the most part, exactly as it will go on. There's a resinous balsamic accord not unlike cola, a dark bulgarian rose, patchouli, spice -- probably cloves, allspice, cinnamon -- ylang-ylang, vanilla, and a warm laundry/clean skin musk. As it dries down, the musk fades in more, so that after a few hours, the primary is the scent of clean skin right after a bath, and the secondary is the resin.
A little drop will do you. And if used sparingly, it smells incredibly expensive. Kind of french/arabian, if you can imagine that - a rich bottom accord with flourishes of spice. Now, for all of you still reading (who apparently have gotten through this unscathed), could we form a club dedicated to real reviews of things we've REALLY smelled and thought about, instead of turned-off-nose autospeak? And can we prosthletize?
"I love this, but it is very strong, so I have to go easy or I kill the local wildlife. For some reason it makes me feel like Madonna."
Coty - Truth or Dare by Madonna
And, speaking of Madge...3 rather frank reviews.
This is utterly foul dreck. This is one of those perfumes that turn people off of white florals forever. I don't personally wear Fracas, but I respect it, it is a perfume milestone and a classic. This is no Fracas. Trainstop bathroom freshener, maybe. That's about it. She should have listened to her perfumer's advice....
As a Madonna fan I was excited about this perfume. One smell brought back images of my childhood visiting elderly neighbors, my senior relatives, and my grandmother giving me hard candy.. no thanks.
I am so incredibly disappointed in Madonna! The fragrance is like a cheap/synthetic knock off of Marc Jacobs original, mixed with a little Fracas. It eventually dries down to a sort of powdery bubble gum vibe. THE SCENT NEVER LEAVES YOU ALONE! Like Madonna herself, it is persistent and relentless. I can't believe she really wears this? She should have called it 'I DARE YOU TO WEAR THIS WITHOUT GETTING A HEAD ACHE'.
Hermes 24 Faubourg
And for Overwrought Literary Types...some Hermes Weltzschmerz.
Somewhere buried in the prose is a review of Hermes 24 Faubourg
"Do you believe in World Sorrow?" asks the wonderful Denholm Elliot as Mr. Emerson in a highly memorable scene in one of my all-time favourite movies, "A Room With A View".
"No I don't", replies the very young, very pensive Lucy Honeychurch in sombre tones. "Not at all, Mr. Emerson!" Whereupon he proceeds to express the impassioned conviction ~ "At the side of the everlasting WHY, there is a yes, and a yes, and a YES!"
Every time I rerun this movie, my heart skips a beat as I watch that particular scene. I have often felt that I could not agree with either Mr. Emerson, or with Lucy. Sadly I do believe in this world sorrow. Indeed to my way of thinking one would have to be blissfully ignorant, or by contrast fairly blasé, to stay quite immune to the tragedy that is so much at the heart of the human condition; which in turn produces *some* degree of Weltschmerz we can none of us entirely escape.
Yet even if an answer to the everlasting WHY eludes us, we must surely never lose sight of the omnipotent YES, without which there is no joy, no rebirth, no life. Unlike Mr. Emerson or Lucy, I study the nature of opposites, and try to recognize that they are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
This sunny, generous, radiant fragrance says YES to life in a grand manner, quietly indicating perfect peace of mind; the sort of supreme confidence which dismisses negativity as a matter of course, brushing off any sad memories or thoughts as if such unwelcome shadows were mere specks of dust.
This is not the gentle sunshine of early dawn, nor the poignant fading out of the sun at twilight, this is a celebration of High Noon in the full strength of creative effort. The beauty and grandeur of it somehow resonate with my theory about deserving happiness ~ it has always been my belief that we must generate *some* positive energies in order to attract others. I do not wear it often, but when I do, I glory in my courage to rise and shine, then run and meet the sun halfway."