Scents 2.0: On dudesmells, why I’ll never buy a Marc Jacobs fragrance , and my guiltiest perfume pleasure

So, I had a little extra free time tonight, and instead of watching Honey Boo-Boo and eating a whole bag of Trader Joe’s white popcorn in one sitting, I thought I’d do something barely more productive.  I decided to wander around Nordstrom in search of inspiration for writing.  And my, how the waves came a’crashin!  It seems the first thing I gravitate toward when I wander through a department store is fragrance.  I’m always too worried that I’ll commit to something out of my budget if I look at the clothes a little too long, and as for the makeup department, well, I honestly have everything I need.  But there’s always something new to experience in fragrances; it’s rare that you’ve familiarized yourself with all for them.  And with the turn of the season usually comes a few new gems that designers and fragrance houses have tirelessly worked on to create a completely unique sensation.  Perfume has got to be one of the most fascinating things ever to me.  How something that’s virtually invisible on your skin can manage to evoke such strong emotions amazes me.  I’ve said it before, but while  I know folks who refuse to listen to particular songs because of the memories associated with them, I am one who refuses to come near certain fragrances because of the memories encapsulated in them.  My brain can’t take it.

But anyhow, back to my adventures in wasting time.  I’ve come to realize that I’ve been trying to really “grow up” when it comes to fragrance.  I can’t go for anything too cloyingly sweet anymore, and any kind of cutesy packaging will be enough to detract me from purchasing a fragrance that smells delicious.  The bottle of a perfume that I purchase these days can certainly be feminine, but it cannot be cute.  It cannot have jewel adornments, it cannot be too colorful, and it cannot look as if it belongs on college girl’s nightstand.  Highly mature nightstands only!  I think it comes with my obsession with trying to be a forty-year-old French woman.  For this reason (and practically this reason alone) I shun the fragrances of Juicy Couture, Marc Jacobs, and nearly all celebrity names (because seriously, have you seen celebrity fragrance bottles?  I didn’t realize Katy Perry’s target buyer was a two-year-old who also enjoys the Woggles and a fresh diaper.).  And when it comes to the others like Marc Jacobs, well, his latest called Honey smells undeniably pleasant, but it simply cannot be seen in my home.  But just hide it, you say!  Um, no no.  I absolutely have to display my fragrances.  I don’t know why it’s such a thing with me, but leaving my perfume out on display is just a weird necessity of mine.  It’s something I always envisioned doing once I moved into a place of my own; that and lighting candles when company comes over.  And offering them Cheetos only to be happily turned down so I can have them all for myself.  I think I have this weird fantasy of people smelling my perfume in my bathroom when I’m not looking and thinking, “Ohhhhhh, McKenna, she’s sooooooo mysterious and sophiiiisssssticated.  I’m overwheeeeeelmed by her myyyysssstery.”  And then I offer them more Cheetos.


See Balenciaga’s Florabotanica located in the center shelf?  Here’s a counterexample of my previous point: the bottle is everything I want in perfume design, but the fragrance is just meh.  Boo.  It’s that perfect blend of awesome bottle and captivating scent that gets me, and it has to be just right.


I’ve been eyeing the new Marni fragrance up top for some time now, as I’m crazy about the bottle and very intrigued by the scent.  And yet, I’ve debated that the scent itself (a little rosy, a little woodsy) isn’t too friend-friendly as I like to call it.  That’s my other trouble- I always worry about others appreciating my perfume selections.  I mean, a perfume is honestly there for others’ enjoyment as much as yours, no?  It’s one thing to wear too much of a good perfume; that can always be remedied.  But wearing any quantity of a perfume that’s just plain ick?  No fixin’ that, and it can do a disservice to those around you.  Some scents are universally wonderful (and those I patiently search for), but others are very subjectively appreciated.  I’ve literally stopped wearing perfumes that I’ve purchased on account of realizing that they just weren’t friend-friendly enough for my taste.  When you wear a fragrance that others appreciate, they compliment you.  This really is the case.  People consistently ask you what you’re wearing.  I’ve had one or two in my time though where that has not been so, and it has left me wildly insecure.  I hate for this to happen, and so in the past year or so I’ve vowed to take my sweet, sweet time searching for the perfect scent that others will love as much as myself.

I’ll also take a brief moment to address that otherworldly blue and silver bottle you see on the shelf, Thierry Mugler’s Angel.  The concoction is almost unbearably sweet, and yet intoxicating all at once.  You cannot stop smelling it.  It seriously invokes this sense of infinity and overwhelming nostalgia in me.  With notes of dewberries, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, red berries, and honey, I am not kidding- it is cloying, and yet powerful.  I once had a friend who used to wear it all the time, and for that reason alone I cannot wear Angel.  I can’t think of anyone but my old friend when I smell it, but it is a true masterpiece of a scent.


A brief word on men’s fragrances- WHY DOES THIS NOT HAPPEN NEARLY AS MUCH AS IT NEEDS TO HAPPEN?!   Males (especially the younger set) seriously underestimate the power of a sophisticated fragrance.  A couple spritzes of a Tom Ford something-or-other seems to carry the potential to change Tracy Jordans into Ushers, Judah Friedlanders into Jon Hamms (not that those men can’t clean up, but you get it).  How this all occurs in terms of biochemistry is lost on me, but I’m a believer.  Don’t have the money for something, dudebro?  No worries, but save for something tasteful.  Do not wear Bod.  Do not wear Axe.  If you choose to wear Axe, I will personally pray for ladies to hiss at you as you pass by on the streets.  As wondrous as fragrance may be, do not buy into advertising that says that women will suddenly be happy to serve you as your playthings simply because you bought a cheap, albeit cough-inducing, body spray.  Axe carries the subtlety of a garlic sandwich, and consider it the male counterpart to Mariah Carey’s Lollipop collection.  And yes, if you’ve been searching for the snob in me, you’ve found her.  And yes, I’ve familiarized myself with an Axe fragrance or two so that I may pray for hissing.

But you know, I really shouldn’t talk too much.  I mean, we all tend to have those guilty pleasures when it comes to things like scent.  That ginormous birthday cake-scented candle?  Or the Bath and Body Works four-for-twenty deals, or whatever they are?  You know how it is.  While I dream in my heart of hearts of being a forty-year-old French woman that only wears Jour D’Hermes or a Frederic Malle’ elixir, I know my weakness for Country Apple and Love Spell.  And speaking of Love Spell (WHICH I KNOW YOU KNOW), can we be honest in naming my absolute guiltiest pleasure when it comes to fragrance?  I seriously just spent twenty minutes trashing on Axe for their sex-based advertising (though I do think its problems go beyond just being “sex-based”), and yet I’ll come clean and say that I have major difficulty resisting the following brand when it comes to perfumery, and their entire name is built on sex and the idea of a human “angel” (which would consist of no less than a full C-cup, mile-long legs, a six pack, and hair with extensions).yes

Awwww yeeeeeeee.  You know what I’m talkin’ about!  You’ve stood at this table!  You’ve smelled that smelly stuff!  AND YOU LOVED IT!  You KNOW you loved it.  Victoria’s Secret might carry some of the best fragrances I’ve ever laid my sexy Angel nosehairs on, and their popularity is testament to that.  Fragrances like Dream Angel’s Heavenly and Bombshell have won countless awards, and I’m always impressed by the brand’s ability to tow the line of girly-femme and bold modernity with their scents.  Save for the sticky-sweet teeny-bopper VS Fantasies collection (featuring the likes of Love Spell), nothing here seems to ever veer too far into berry-bubblegum One Direction Our Moment territory, which is exactly what keeps me interested in VS fragrances as a customer.

vic room

The place might be far too pink and sparkly for my taste, but it’s the smelly stuff that keeps me coming back!  Victoria’s Secret Bombshell is my personal favorite, though I have to say, the bottle itself is very, um, French can-can dancer Barbie?  And I’ll admit that there are times when I look at the posters and photos of VS models around the store and think, Good God, Lemon!  You wearing one of these fragrances is like trying to make a cucumber spicy.  It might not work.


Victoria’s latest offering is called simply that- Victoria by Victoria’s Secret.  And I’ll admit it, I’m smitten.  The scent is DEEEEEEE-lectable.  It’s sparky-sweet and very gourmand, and it reminds me of a more grown-up version of a Harajuku Girls fragrance I used to wear (oh yes, the ones with the little Gwen Stefani dolls on them).  However, LOOK AT THAT FREAK OF A BOTTLE.  The thing makes me gag!  I see poodles and cherries and Louboutins and pearls and nearly EVERY OTHER THING THAT I DO NOT WANT IN MY LIFE (and yes, I do not desire Louboutins; different discussion, different blog).  THE BOTTLE ALONE is stopping me from literally BATHING in this heavenly stuff.  Ughhhhhhhhh.  I know!   If you love how it smells just buy it and stop worrying so much about the stupid packaging!  But for whatever superficial reason, I cannot help but believe that the items I purchase say something about my taste, my aesthetic, my identity.  And I DO NOT identify with that bottle.  Sorry, Vicki.  Lose the bow, and then we can talk.

So anyhow, my trip into the Great Beyond of fragrances this evening turned out to be quite a  … trip.  I’m currently using Flora by Gucci, and while I’m highly satisfied, and I have to say that I’m not much of a signature scent gal so I know that once the Flora runs out I’ll be gettin’ along to the next thing I find (and I’m realizing that sentence just made me sound like some vagabond heartbreaker cowboy).  I’m still searching for my next olfactory love, but in the meantime, I’ll leave you with a shot of some old favorites.



Lancome rarely does wrong when it comes to perfume, and that pretty little thing sitting in the front is what I was wearing this time last year.  La Vie Est Belle, if we must name it.  That might’ve been the fragrance that earned me the most compliments out of any that I’ve worn.  Shall I return to The Beautiful Life?  Je ne sais pas, mes amis!  Alright, time for bed.  Forty-year-old French woman is now demanding too much attention.  xo, MR



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