Four Dudes, a Classy Dame, and a Boozy Babe

….OTHERWISE known as Field Notes from Cowtown – this week’s ruberrific report on my spectacular sniffing experiences, out in the real world of designer fragrance, in the malls of flyover country.

But first, a message from our sponsor’s required movie of the day’s fragrance outing:

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If I tell you that this movie is hilariously witty, smart and perfect, then spray me down with Sécrétions Magnifiques as punishment for understatement.  I normally DESPISE the prospect of being dragged by my dear wife to the anglophile counterparts of jidaigeki (Japanese historical dramas).  So it was with rather low expectations that I discovered that not only can Kate Beckinsale act without black leather, but she can deliver an Oscar-worthy performance that sets a new standard for lovable anti-villains.

The story is wonderful – I refuse to spoil anything about it.  The dialog is crisp and filled with humor on every level.  My favorite quip, delivered in sociopathic earnest by Beckinsale: “Facts are such horrid things.”  Oh, my.  You can’t miss this one.

OK – where were we?  Fragrance!  Yes!

And what better way to start, than with one of my favorite houses – C H A N E L

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Chanel Allure Homme Sport Cologne.  As opposed to the old version, known as Chanel Allure Homme Sport Cologne Sport.  Yes.  They took the second Sport off the bottle, changed the sizes, and fluffed the marketing.  And that’s probably it.

There was some question on Basenotes as to whether there was a reformulation, or more accurately, a detectable reformulation.  Several members said no change in the scent, and I have to concur – at least in the opening.  If there actually was some tweakage, it was not readily apparent to my nose.

It was refreshing to smell this scent, nice and new, one more time.  My bottle is 8 years old, and the topnotes are – to put it nicely – GONE.  Well, not entirely true.  But the brilliance is gone.  Well, not entirely true.  The brilliance is MOSTLY GONE.  Yes – that’s it.  And it’s VERY noticeable.

Not sure I want to get a fresh bottle, but nice to know that I can.

And speaking of fresh…

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Thierry Mugler A*Men Ultra Zest.   I was interested in this scent, because one of the perfumers, Quentin Bisch, was a perfumer trainee featured in the wonderful BBC documentary, Perfume.  Bisch, as a complete n00b, was extremely compelling in his earnest desire to become a perfumer.  I always hoped he would make it through the training, and go on to do something neat and distinctive – AND HE DID!

The first time I smelled this, some time ago, I don’t think I really got it.  But this time – yes – I loved it.  So did my wife.  Zesty is about right.  A prickly, spicy, textured, citric freshness infused into the usual A*Men wall of olfactory sound.  Granted – we’re just talking some paper in the store, and that is NOT the way to judge any kind of A*Men flanker – BECAUSE BASE.  But still – topnotes on paper is Hurdle One.  Good job!

Moving along…..

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BOOM!

Yes.  Spicebomb Extreme.

Who did this one?  That’s what I want to know.  I got my first sniff of it, and YES – they actually made an “extreme” flanker that deserves the title.  In fact, the very beginning on paper is so strong, it’s a bit funky and off-putting, and it takes a very old-school moment for the scent to assemble itself into something that makes sense.

BUT WHEN IT DOES – BOOM!

I remember thinking that Valentino Uomo – which I love in a gift set way – was a bit like Starbucks Dark Barrel Latte in a fragrance (only perhaps a bit better and more perfume-ready).  Well, it almost seems like Viktor & Rolf took some of THAT – then took some of the figgy Tom Ford oudy oomph from Extreme, Noir, and Black Orchid, and blended it all into Spicebomb.  YOWZA.  Now THAT is some stuff.

Not sure it’s on the “buy” list, but this one will go on the “buyable” list without further inspection.

Well – is there anything left to do after the daisycutter of Spicebomb Extreme goes off?  Yes there is!

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You steal somebody’s graphic – probably from THIS YouTube video – and weigh in on the question of what happened to YSL La Nuit de L’Homme.

As the owner of a très vintage bottle of Nuit de L’Homme, I’m very interested in whether a new bottle is going to be as satisfying as my old one.  Based on what I smelled, I would say satisfying, but perhaps not AS satisfying.

The part that I really love – the cool, sweet, coumarinic fougère accord, not present in the original YSL L’Homme, is still there.  In fact, if anything, THAT part has been improved.  It seems clearer, sharper, and more thoughtfully crafted.  There was also a certain unfinished, scratchy aspect of the older formulation that seemed to peek around the main accord, and I always felt that this detail was a weakness.  When people first discussed the scent upon launch, the unfinished aspect bothered more people than just me.  So removing it?  NOT A PROBLEM.

However, cleaning the scent up came at a price.  Some of the DNA of the original L’Homme, which persisted in the older formulation of La Nuit de L’Homme, seems gone now.  Everything I was smelling on paper, from opening well into the drydown, seems to echo what was said on the linked video.  There is a change, it’s significant, and it’s not going to be to everybody’s liking.  This is a case where vintage matters.

And then we had to go.  But not before I pulled away from the wife, near the women’s section, grabbed a tester, and got what I needed.  ONE.  MORE.  SPRAY.

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Well, well, well.  I don’t know when they start serving THIS ONE at Starbucks, but when they do, I’m ALL OVER IT.

Yes.  Imagine taking Valentino “Starbucks Dark Barrel Latte” Uomo and somehow turning the beer and coffee into lipstick and cherry liqueur, and BAM – you got it.  Girls – this stuff is awesome.  The only question is whether you’re confident enough to back it up.  This is a head-turner.

The thing that’s really neat about this scent is that it checks all the girly boxes on the aggressive side, without actually being aggressive.  It’s basically “Oh.  Pardon my physical beauty.  I didn’t mean to make you look.”  Or in this case, sniff and turn your head.

Donna is……

  • Womanly without being matronly
  • Young without being immature
  • Sexy without being pornographic
  • Boozy without being barfly
  • Upscale without being elitist
  • Pure without being inexperienced
  • Powerful without being intimidating
  • Confident without being pushy

Like Spicebomb, another Nordstrom exclusive, Donna has “Nordstrom values” written all over it.  See the list above.  It’s not exactly surprising that Nordies chose this scent to put in their prime aisle-end real estate in the women’s section.

One of the things I find most amazing about this scent is how well the scent echoes the packaging and color (or vice versa).  The fragrance has clarity but not full transparency – just like the bottle.  Not cloudy – more like refractive.  It’s pink, but more like stone, or sky, and less like something in the window at Victoria’s Secret.  It’s VERY sweet – but ABSOLUTELY not in the usual tooth-aching, sugary, Hello Kitty way.

Last but not least – the scent dries down very nicely, holding itself together immaculately.  WOW. Impressive.

I don’t know if this one is going to steal any fans of Angel, but it’s probably going to find its way onto many dressers, right next to the blue star.

I really, really want to buy this.  The trouble is, the entire scent and package is just wrong, wrong, wrong for my wife.  I actually do know a woman who this scent is perfect for, however….

OK – maybe not.  How about a REAL woman!

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OK.  I give up.

Actually, there’s a great scene where Lady Susan frags up with a REALLY interesting antique “travel splash” – and then places the perfume bottle on her nightstand in the guest bedroom.  I can’t find an actual picture of that moment, but I can get one from the same scene.  Note the wooden vanity case in the background.  The bottle is inside it.

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OK – enough about Jane Austen characters.

Or maybe not.

For our last scent, we leave Nordstrom, and go to Tiffany.  Now – mind you – I’ve smelled all four fragrances in Tiffany ten times over.  I own two of them – Tiffany for Men and Tiffany for Men Sport.  I even have the after-shave balm for the former.  But let’s talk about the ladies’ scents.

The older Tiffany – the implied pour femme – is almost the opposite of Valentino Donna, albeit in a good way.  It’s just plain old-school.  It’s very, very, very Tiffany.  This is not a girl’s scent by any means.  It’s a great one, but it demands a LOT of gravitas, which most younger women simply don’t carry around in sufficient mass quantities.  Lady Susan could pull it off.  Her daughter, Frederica?  Not really seeing it.

But then there’s Frederica’s perfect scent, which her mom steals when she needs to pass as a human being.  And that scent is….

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No, wait.  That’s Frederica.  Sorry.  Here we go!

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Pure Tiffany.  Great scent, which my wife loves.  A fresh, clean, youthful floral that has plenty of gravitas, but not so much that a young woman of character can’t pull it off.  There is just a hint of skanky indolic floral badness underneath all the innocent goodness – but it certainly doesn’t spoil things.  This one is almost painfully Chanel-like – and yet it’s – well – pure Tiffany.  I don’t know if Coco is secretly jealous that this scent isn’t hers, but she has to be giving Tiffany an “attaboy” for getting it into their world.

I think that my wife actually gave an under-the table blessing for me to buy this for her – and I really think I have to, at some point, before it’s too late.  I would definitely regret not grabbing a bottle while it’s still possible.  Truly a fabulous fragrance.

OK – that’s it.  Moral?  Hmmmm.

There are stories to be told, and scents to be smelled.  Sometimes, it’s almost the same thing.  So just enjoy them!  Together.  I think that’s the twelfth commandment, come to think of it.  Book of Creed.  My favorite gospel!

Because, after all.  Facts ARE such horrid things.  And stories, like fragrance, are such beautiful lies!

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