We Need To Talk About Perfume

Fragrance is a peculiarly emotional thing for me. I weirdly feel like my identity is tied up in the fragrance I wear, so I can’t just choose something that “smells good.” I have to choose one that feels as if it fits both my personality as I am and the kind of person I fantasize myself to be- mysterious, layered, not consuming jalapeño Cheetos late at night at age thirty-two.

But finding a fragrance that both fills me with a feeling of  wonder and relatability, of “beyondness” and a sense of grounding, of myself and very much not myself, is difficult. Identifying a smell that is both aspirational and cozy – two words that I often need to feel  if I am to love it – is a challenge. And what makes things more complicated is after finishing a particularly excellent scent, I’m not interested in just purchasing the same one over again. I want to find something new. There are too many options out there in fragrance, and there’s always something unexpected emerging. The right, new fragrance can seem to open up an unexplored cavern in your imagination, a possibility or way of sensing the world previously unknown to you. And once that perfect, unexpected combination of notes hits your olfactory system, you’re addicted.

So the problem for me arises during the turning of fall and spring, when the latest fragrances make their debut. I have an itch for something new! This August, there are a couple in particular that have grabbed my attention: Lancome Idolê, Yvés Saint Laurent Libre, and Azzaro Wanted Girl.

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Idolê is beautiful, with a lightly sweet and very feminine air to it. It smells like optimism! But for how wearable it is, I can’t quite identify with it. I love the ambassador for Idolê – Zendaya – but I can’t quite relate with her in an intimate, fragrance-type way because of 1. her age and 2. her HBO show, Euphoria. I’ve not heard great things content-wise, other than what I’ve heard about the makeup. It’s funny how much the face of a fragrance will affect me. It’s the same as when I smell Dolce & Gabbana The Only One and love it, but can’t quite pull the trigger on the purchase because its ambassador is Emilia Clarke, and I can’t identify with her most known work in Game of Thrones. While smelling Idolê, I asked the lady at the Lancôme counter if she thought the fragrance was too young for me (she insisted not), mostly because I wonder if Zendaya is too young for me? Who knows. And the bottle is gorgeous, but it does evoke the feeling of a phone in your hand. You can definitely tell what generation they’re targeting.

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I have a different issue when experiencing Yvés Saint Laurent Libre. The bottle itself is stunning, a true work of art that anyone would love to display on their counter with its over-the-top glamour. The fragrance itself is sophisticated and luxurious. It smells like wealth, like something a Bond Girl would wear. However, Libre is a little too much on the aspirational side for my taste. I think I’d feel like a fraud if I wore it regularly. There’s certainly a depth and mystery to Libre, but it’s missing the approachability I need to feel comfortable wearing it every day. It feels more meant for a night out at Marché Moderne and less for work days at churches and schools where I often find myself.

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Azzaro Wanted Girl is the sweetest, most easily likable of the three fragrances. It’s juicy and warm (dulce de leche!), with a coziness that I always crave in perfume. However, I feel like I’ve done this fragrance before when I wore Lancôme La Vie est Belle for three years. I loved the warmth and tranquility that perfume brought to my mind – I’d wear it again, even with the obnoxiously sparkly commercials with very shiny Julia Roberts teeth – but buying a new fragrance with a similar feel doesn’t sit right. While I often have an urge to repeat fragrance purchases, the call of the undiscovered is too strong for me.

And so, what do I wear this fall? What will feel new, but what will also feel like me? What will smell sophisticated, but somehow friendly too? Well, this go-round I’ve managed to do something I’ve never done before- I’ve purchased a fragrance sight unseen, or moreover, smell unsmelled. Yes, I’ve made an online purchase that I’ve not sampled or smelled before. How on EARTH, in my world of extreme preparedness, did this manage to happen?

A Google rabbit trail lead me to discover Jeremy Fragrance, an award-winning German YouTuber who thrives on reviewing fragrances of all kinds. I’m sure I’m late to the party but WOW- the content is GOOD, y’all. You wouldn’t imagine a YouTube channel about fragrance to be particularly intriguing – I mean you can’t exactly “participate” – but somehow Jeremy takes you there. His uber- classy German accent, combined with an impeccably tailored wardrobe and perfectly-rolled R’s, make for the greatest listening experience next to hearing Mary Berry praise a lovely bake. Seriously, listen to him say “Carolina Herrera.” It’s unreal.

So upon discovering his channel several days ago, I watched Jeremy’s video ago titled “Top 10 Most Seductive Perfumes for Women Romantic Date Night Fragrances 2019”. Bit of an awkward mouthful there but hey, I was curious. I listened to him describe a range of scents – all veering on the sweeter side – that he perceived as sexy and seductive. Now, I’m pretty sure no matter what fragrance I’m wearing, I’ll still cross my eyes too much in conversation and emanate more Liz Lemon vibes than Kate Beckinsale vibes, but anyone can agree they’d still like to smell like Kate Beckinsale even if they can’t look like her. And so, I chose to take maybe the biggest gamble of my life and purchase the number-one fragrance on Jeremy’s list without smelling it first (because it’s literally sold nowhere so I had no way to smell without buying): Hugo Boss The Scent Private Accord. Apparently it makes Jeremy want to “smash [his] head into a wall.” I mean that’s a little violent but ok! I had never heard of it but as the youths say …….. “Yolo.”  I am all about a good recommendation and this one was so off-the-wall confident that I thought, you know what, this is what I’ll buy.

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The (um gorgeous?!) bottle arrived just less than an hour ago on my doorstep. And yes, the scent is good. Very good. I have to give it a bit to feel like me, but wow- I am excited about this. The description provides the following: “Addictive Cocoa Absolute pulses at the heart of BOSS THE SCENT PRIVATE ACCORD For Her. The freshness of Sweet Mandarin and captivating Osmanthus contrast with warm Tonka, for an irresistible Eau de Parfum that seduces the senses.” I can confirm it is indeed like a mandarin orange dipped in chocolate. Aspirational? Yes, decently. Approachable? Definitely, maybe too much. Sweet? Yes. Mysterious? My guess is yes. But suited for me? We’ll have to wait and see.

What are you wearing this fall? I want to know! xo, MR

 

 

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The carrot.

What do you do to motivate yourself through a Master’s course where you are composing the first parts of your thesis in education? What do you do to motivate yourself through a course that has caused you to miss two awesome birthday parties (one with a 1920s-40s theme … I can’t even think about it, I had my outfit all planned out and everything), as well as spend countless hours frying your brain in front of a computer screen doing …… research?

You employ the rewards system, of course!

When I’ve got such a task ahead of me, I’ve found that the easiest way to help myself through it is to put a little something at the finish line so that it’s waiting for me when I, um, finish. It could be anything. Sometimes it’s not even a thing, sometimes it’s just an event to look forward to. However, in this case my reward at the end of the finish line came in the form of the newest Lancome fragrance- La vie est belle

I bought this baby a couple months ago in a manner not unlike how most of my fragrance purchases go down. I smelled it at Ulta one day and I literally could not … get it … out of … my brain. It was just so warm and sweet, like a delicious vanilla musk. I instantly knew that this would be my scent of Fall 2012. “But so soon?!” I asked myself, in the sweltering heat of early August. It just seemed like a little too much instant gratification to have it right then, and I had two perfumes that I was trying to get through anyhow! So I made a deal with myself- finish your next course for your MA (by October), and then you can open it. And in the meantime, finish one of your other perfumes.

Well, the coursework is finished as of tonight (finished early!) and I’m aaaaalllmost done with my Givenchy Ange’ ou Demon Le Secret. So, I’m not quite ready for it yet, but the plan is to unleash The Beautiful Life at the commencement of October. So be warned- if you’re around me at all this week I’m likely to be drenched in Ange’. I gotta make room!

For now, here is the most extravagant, hilarious fragrance commercial ever created, just for this “groundbreaking” perfume I’m about to bathe in. Man, is there anything better than a ten-trillion-dollar fragrance commercial? Well, maybe this.


xo, MR

I smell so good all the time. And no, I’m not wearing ‘Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend’.

I have used a lot of fragrances in my lifetime. Those folks that have their “signature scent” and can stick to just one fragrance … yeah, I don’t get them. I wish I could do that, but I’m a smell-aholic. Or a smell-ophrenic. Or whatever.

I remember Roxy’s Hula being the scent of ‘hot female’ in middle school. Seriously, girl walks by on campus and you smell the Hula on her … you got jealous. The guys thought she was a babe and she’d probably blazed passed all us other girls in the puberty department. In other words, she was a true woman, tube top and all. I tried wearing Hula in middle school … it just didn’t work the same. I just couldn’t understand why no one wanted me as I stood there covered in my butterfly clips and wearing my Osh-Kosh holdovers from fourth grade (yes, things fit me for a very long time) on the black-top. As I picked my nose.

And then came high school, and I don’t quite remember what scents I wore then because all I can remember as far as the olfactory sensations go is a haze of fruit. That’s when you discovered Bath and Body Works and boy, did we all go to town. We were all trying to discover our inner sexiness, and apparently ‘sexy’ in high school smells like being shoved head-first into a can of fruit cocktail laced with sugar, marinaded in sugar, and paired with … hmm, brown sugar and Fruit Loops? Heck, my senior year I even started wearing a perfume called Pink Sugar. Man, that was the stuff. That’s the first scent I remember wearing and feeling like it was mine. I wore it strictly throughout my senior year, and was thus able to associate it with all the memories that came with those days. Even when I get a whiff of that stuff these days, Aquolina Pink Sugar is a potent memory-trigger.

Throughout college and up until today, I’ve had a hard time nailing down a favorite fragrance. I can’t pick just one. If I go to Sephora, I smell twenty and I like them all. I like the weird ones, the overly-saccharine ones, the musky, masculine ones, and the lighter, clean ones. I’m just as happy to smell like a forest as I am to smell like a Funfetti cake. And so, I’ve acquired a few over the years.

The Givenchy one (pronounced zhe-von-SHEE, to the best of my description) on the right is one I fell for as a result of … shocker … advertising. Uma Thurman was the model used for the Ange ou Demon Le Secret ads, and I smelled it in a magazine and couldn’t get over it. I’d never appreciated a scent that was more founded in tea notes rather than fruit notes, as this one is. I think of a blush wine mixed with white tea; it’s unique. The gold bottle, Gucci Guilty, I can’t say I really love. It’s a floral-oriental but it’s a bit too “rich, daring, powerful woman’ for me … and I am a poor, cautious, hesitant woman.

The D&G L’Imperatrice is a friend-favorite. It’s inspired some purchasing among my acquaintances (more on that in a minute), and I will say that it is pretty delicious. It’s lighter because it’s an eau de toilette (not an eau de parfum), but it still has plenty of fruity notes such as watermelon and kiwi accord. Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gioia is my newest, and it reminds me of the water. It’s a scent that makes me fantasize about places I’ve never been, places that are misty, cool, and clean. Rather than the beach, which one may usually think of with such a zesty fragrance, I think of the fjords in Norway. No joke. Calgon take me away!!!!!!

And here, we find the fragrances I carry with me when I’m teaching at high schools. Victoria’s Secret Bombshell keeps me feeling like a sophisticated woman in an arena so devastatingly dominated by Justin Bieber Someday, and Bath and Body Works’ Secret Wonderland so I can fit in with the sixteen-year-olds just a little bit (and it makes me think of Christmas!).

And so, that wraps up the current smelling sauces I’m drenching myself in these days. I should warn you though … I don’t do well with those that wear the same fragrance as myself (which, unfortunately, could eliminate perhaps five of your options at a time). Scent is one of the heaviest identifying factors that I associate with a person, and having anyone else smell like me is a huge pet-peeve of mine. I have a friend who wore Thierry Mugler’s Angel for years, and I refuse to wear it despite the fact that I could funnel that stuff straight down into my nostrils (because it smells that good). Why? Because that’s her scent. I want you to like how I smell, but I don’t want you to buy it. And sure, I may have used five scents within the past year, but, well, that’s just too bad for you. You can’t smell like me. My dad bought my mom my same fragrance one year for Christmas because he’d liked it so much on me. Just … no.