This is a smorgasbord of sampling experiences in one post. To begin, I went to Sephora yesterday and found that there was neither anything new nor noteworthy to sniff. I briefly smelled the new Marc Jacobs Gardenia splash and thought it smelled like his first launch made by Coty, the eponymous Marc Jacobs' signature. The bottle is the same large rectangular bottle as his other splashes: Rain, Grass, Violet and Amber. My guess is that these single note splashes are fairly popular since there's a new note launching every season. I wish they'd do a Pomegranate for the winter, and maybe an iris. What the hey - perhaps they can expand into a line of soaps and lotions like Caswell Massey. Meanwhile, I look forward to the next perfume launch after Daisy which I really adored this year.
I also tried Ralph Lauren Notorious and hated it. I thought the scent strip in the magazine was bad, but the real thing is equally horrid, a cacophany of notes I can only describe as a saliva accord. I'm sure there are fans of this completely unsweet citric patchouli scent, but to me, it's the second coming of the leathery patchouli-heavy 1959 heavyweight Chypre, Cabochard, only "modernized" (but in actuality smells neoclassical, not mod). Keep in mind I also dislike Estée Lauder Knowing, Halston and many heavyweight classic patch scents from the '50s, '60s, '70s and the power-Chypre scents of the '80s which were retro even then. This is the worst thing Ralph Lauren's come out with since Chaps (1980).
This weekend, I am home testing vintage beauties and some new (or newer, I should say) launches, so here are my brief thoughts. I'll start with Guerlain Voilette de Madame, a precious sample my friend in Germany had sent me awhile back. This is a nice scent, a woody-vanillic aromatic-green Floral Oriental type, one I could compare to Guerlain Cologne du 68. They both remind me of Kilian Taste of Heaven. I would say these are semi-spicy and sweet woody-vanillic scents with a hint of Fougere. Imagine a more elegant and somewhat masculine Dior Addict and I think you are close. They also remind me of Guerlain Angelique Noire but that already reminded me of Addict.
Guerlain Vega: (I'm sorry for this but I was testing the wrong scent when I wrote this review. The scent I'm talking about here is Lancome Climat which I somehow got mixed up with Vega. My Vega review has been rewritten and moved here.) Sharp and aldehydic, green, powdery, unsweet, familar but not memorable. In a similar vein, I prefer Caron Infini. It's also not far off from Jean Patou Caline, but I suppose there are tons of fragrances that fit the description of a green aldehydic floral with chypre elements, since it was the popular accord of the past. It's amazing how the fragrance industry has succeeded in bringing back these classic scents the way they've made the cinch-waisted (made by male designers to make us look more like women) fashion sense of the post 1947 (New Look) era, popular and "modern" again. It smells to me like a '60s or '70s scent (like Trigere Liquid Chic, Yardley Oh! de London).
Guerlain Sous le Vent: Sharp, green not sweet, also well made, understated and stylish but also kind of masculine (in that herbaceous, Fougere-ish way), slightly boring and not memorable. My friend says this scent born in 1933 was once a beloved scent of Josephine Baker. Because she is also associated with Jean Patou Amour Amour (1925), my guess is she liked light fragrances. Did she also wear Joy (1930)? I am somewhat curious, since I have always adored Joy, the classic bombshell jasmine rose that doesn't skimp on sweetness the way Sous le Vent does. Heck, if you're as charming as Josephine was, I suppose you could wear ketchup and smell beautiful. Anyway, Sous le Vent is light but sharp and clear, sort of like Sisley Eau de Campagne. (Edited to add) It's quite cinnamon-spicy amidst all the green, citrusy chypre notes, reminding me of Caron Alpona and Eau de Guerlain.
Guerlain Djedi: (Edited) According to Michael Edwards, Chypres are known to become most popular post war, so that might explain the somewhat aggressive, severe character of Chypres. However, Djedi is softened by sweet Oriental notes as many flapper era perfumes were, following the success of Guerlain Shalimar. For those of you who are returning to this post, I'd written a long review of Djedi, far exceeding what I'd anticipated writing, and I realize now Djedi deserved its own post. Please read about my thoughts on Djedi here.
OK, I've got one more: Annick Goutal Mandragore. Wow, this is the sharpest fragrance I've ever smelled. If a razor blade had a scent, this would be it. It's a citrus fragrance, so if most lemon scents aren't piercing enough, try Mandragore.
(Image: What Happened to Rosie?, www.honors.umd.edu)