Sunday, November 11, 2007

M by Mariah Carey, Hilary Duff With Love

I present these two perfumes together because as soon as I smelled M by Mariah Carey, I knew with my eyes closed that it had to have been made by Elizabeth Arden, the Prestige fragrance company that made Hilary Duff With Love. At first, they're quite different: M is basically a sweet but spicy almondy Gourmand scent to me. Maybe it's the Moroccan incense but it's really spicy. M starts out milky-sweet but it gets spicier over time, leaving me a little breathless to be honest. The sharp, cinnamon-like notes, even though they're compositionally well-balanced with soft white floral and vanillic-ambery "marshmallow" notes, mingle with these sharp, woody basenotes, and the overall mix feels intense and makes my heart beat faster. I think if you can wear it, it's a very pleasant, lovely fragrance, one of the best celeb scents to have launched. It's a little too much fire for me, though. I'm glad the great pop diva got the Prestige treatment which was well-deserved. Here's the part that reminds me of Hilary Duff's With Love: it has a coconutty undertone that seems to be a popular ingredient in mainstream perfumes these days. Considering only a handful of companies are in the business of actually creating aroma chemicals used in modern perfumery, it's not surprising that many perfumes smell similar.

Hilary Duff With Love is a milder take on the coconutty theme, starting with a lively and tart but still soft and smooth, citrusy fruitiness (mangosteen); then, a semi-floral creamy middle stage builds on a Gourmand theme and ends on a stronger, bolder, slightly dusty woodiness compared to M, reminiscent perhaps of vintage perfumes circa 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, to appeal to both mothers and daughters according to the promotional blurb. Woody, base-heavy scents were the style back then (Some say Woodhue is an example of this woody style of perfume--I think Lady Stetson smells bottom-heavy in a similar woody-Aldehydic style), and even from looking at the ad and bottle design, it's obvious they're appealing to the vintage lovers with this one. However, with all its vintage feel, it's a Fruity-Floral Oriental-Gourmand in keeping with current trends, and once again, the final dry down is all about coconut to me. On dry down, these two are almost uncanny. I like this scent, too, and although I like M, I find With Love easier to wear. Total honesty would be to admit I doubt I would ever buy either scent for myself, but I would recommend them to people who prefer their scents both sweet and woody, substantial and voluptuous but still modern, with a tropical flavor that isn't too upfront. I like this Hilary Duff ad but could she really play that piano in the background? Now, that would impress me above all else.

I add the following commentary as food for thought, since I've posted about classicism and racial hierarchy being pushed in perfumery: do you feel there is too much stereotyping going here, that both smell tropical but only M is marketed as being such, and that the one for Mariah is as spicy as it is? I was hoping Mariah's would smell more like marshmallows--mild and sweet, not so hot-cha-cha. We can say the scent was created to match the so-called persona, but it could also be seen as the perfume industry using the celebs to make a statement, too. I hope the industry will create some scents for celebs that break, not perpetuate, stereotypes.