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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Best Of The Met Gala 2017

And tonight, once again, we witness Kardashian & Kompany turn out of for fashion’s most garish, most opulent night- Anna Wintour’s annual Met Gala.

Of course, we always hope to see more than just Kendall and Kylie competing for highest slit in a sequined gown, but in recent years that’s sort of what’s happened to this event.  The themes continue to remain quite highfalutin, but the guests and what they choose to wear and try to accomplish have seemed to wane in sophistication as of late.  The Met Gala used to appeal to me as the very height of fashion on parade, the epitome of bougie-ness and unattainable class.  Now it’s got more of a who’s-who-of-Snapchat flavor.  But that’s what makes a celebrity these days I guess, and the times have undeniably changed.

The theme of this year’s Met exhibit is “Rei Kawakubo/Commes des Garçons: Art of the In-Between”.  To make it clear, the exhibit is honoring revolutionary female Japanese designer and founder of Commes des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo.  Her designs are known for being high concept, visually stunning, architecturally forward, and typically weird.  And I mean really weird.  Her craft is the definition of avant-garde.  Kawakubo’s work has never seemed to be about making a flattering dress or celebrating the woman’s body as it is with some designers.  It has seemed her work is more about her.  “Pretty” isn’t what she goes for. Or at least, your definition of pretty.  Give her a rule, and she’ll break it.  The woman does what she wants, and so she has forged for herself a formidable career.  To read more about her exhibit and see more of her work (and trust me- you want to), check out this Harper’s Bazaar article.

So what can we expect with tonight’s looks?  Well, based on the theme, we can expect weird.  And that’s good!  Although, I wouldn’t have pulled a Solange Knowles and shown up in a puffer coat.  But we’ll get to see what many celebrities define as “weird” or at least a little off the wall.   A ball honoring Rei Kawakubo demands something far beyond the boundaries of a column gown.  As always, my same rules apply when choosing favorites: dress/outfit, hair, makeup, and accessories must all work beautifully in tandem.

Most This-Is-What-I-Would-Do – Rose Byrne in Ralph Lauren 

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I talk a big talk when it comes to the Met Ball, but I know I probably wouldn’t be brave enough to actually wear one of Rei Kawakubo’s designs.  Because they’re Charlie Sheen levels of crazy.  However, this I can do.  I like the wild hairdo.  I love the architectural neckline of this dress in this bright shade of true red.  I like the artsy jewelry.  And the makeup is beautiful.  This, I can do.

Most Not-On-Theme-But-Still-Fabulous – Jennifer Lopez in Valentinojennifer-lopez-met-gala-2017-ftr-1

Paging Betty Draper!  Or Meghan Draper.  Or Joan!  Or all of them at once!  Anything that makes me think of Mad Men is more than fine with me.  The powder shade of blue, the chiffon, the cape, the high neckline, the incredible jewelry, and obviously the hair and makeup made this a stunner look straight out of the sixties.  And thank you, J.Lo, for abstaining from a naked dress!

Best Model That Didn’t Try To Just Look Like A Model – Lily Aldridge in Ralph Lauren Custom Collection

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Even though none of my favorites have worn Commes des Garçons (yet…), I still appreciate models like Lily for taking a risk and clearly pushing boundaries with the intent of paying homage to the design house’s outlandish creations.  It’s interesting to see a lot of Ralph Lauren at this event; that’s a designer I would’ve guessed as too safe for the Met Gala.  But the accessories and styling of this white gown have kept it from just looking like another skin-baring dress on a model.  I love Lily’s crazy red boots (Balenciaga) and her fuchsia blush netting that she’s wearing across her face.  Her makeup is also spectacular.  I saw a lot of incredible makeup this evening regardless of what folks were wearing, with this being a particular favorite …

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Now that is eyeshadow fit for the gods.  Alright, now for my last pick …

Best Fantasy Moment – Zendaya in Dolce & Gabbana

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This woman is such a chameleon.  She wears anything she wants, and she does anything with her hair that she wants.  It’s so evident that she loves fashion, and I love watching that.  Her hair and makeup are gorgeous, and I already such a huge affinity for parrots- this is the dress of my dreams.

Most Perfectly-On-Theme-And-Still-Fabulous – Rihanna in Commes des Garçons

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Ok, finally we have someone that interprets this year’s theme literally and wears Commes des Garçons!  And of course it’s Rihanna.  I love that she’s always such a team player when it comes to the Met Ball themes.  Remember when she wore this insanity for China: Through The Looking Glass?!  That gown was the creation of a legendary Chinese designer and there was no better opportunity to wear it.  That’s what you’re supposed to do at the Met Ball.  So yes, this dress … or outfit, whatever we’re calling it … is perfect for a Met Gala dedicated to Kawakubo.  It’s one of her own creations, it’s a breathtaking-if-not-baffling work of art, it’s weird, and it’s Rihanna, who doesn’t seem to mind weird.  And be sure to search close-up shots of her makeup.  It’s incredible.  Perfect.

There’s lots to still sort through from tonight’s extravaganza, but other honorable mentions go to: Dakota Johnson in some excellent Gucci, Kate Bosworth in Tory Burch that looked dangerously similar to Dakota Johnson’s Gucci, Jennifer Connelly in Louis Vuitton (because DUH I’m obsessed with her), Elle Fanning in some very Cinderella Miu Miu, Doutzen Kroes looking natural and relaxed in Brock Collection, Ruth Negga in a very avant-garde cape thingy, and Lupita Nyong’O in a gorgeous shade of orange.

Let me know what you think, if things got weird enough for you, or if they just couldn’t get weird enough.  Anything goes at this party.  But you know who didn’t go to this party?  Taylor Swift.  xo, MR

Photo credits in order of appearance: Instagram, Rex/Shutterstock, Rex/Shutterstock, Instagram, Getty, Getty/John Shearer

Best Of The 2016 Golden Globes

So, if you know me and how I am with the red carpet, I’m always demanding to be entertained with something unexpected, probably unfairly so.  I’m tired of column dresses, I’m tired of solids, I’m tired of black or neutral or white or red (done plainly, I should say), and I’m tired of a lack of risk-taking in the gowns chosen by celebrities for events like the Golden Globes.  I want more drama, I want more volume, and I want more I’m not sure if that’s ugly or amazing.  In short, I kind of want more fashion and less good-looking.

So, the gowns I tend to freak out over are typically not the safest ones.  Granted, they may not always be the most flattering ones, but they’re at least fun to look at.  Like I’ve said before- If you’ve got the world of fashion at your fingertips, why not take advantage of that and go for something a bit weird that perhaps you wouldn’t have access to otherwise?  But hey, I get it.  People want to look good.  It’s when people play it safe at the Met Ball, now that’s when I get really perturbed.  Ya’ll got no excuses at the Met Ball.

Anyhow, I digress.  On to the favorites.

 

Best Use Of Color – Jaimie Alexander in Genny
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I have only seen Jaimie Alexander in Thor: The Dark World as Lady Sif (and future Valkyrie, apparently?), but she is one of those people that is scary beautiful.  The dark hair and hazel-green eyes amount to a terrifying kind of beauty that is very intimidating to me.  However, maybe it’s the stunning shade of emerald that’s making things extra striking today.  I love the metallic texture and the geometric pattern, as well.  It’s all very Metropolis-meets-Picasso-meets-Oz.  Fabulous.

 

Best Use Of Texture And Construction – Zendaya in Marchesa

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I never understand why dresses like this get canned the way they do.  I love this dress.  I just want to twirl in it.  I love the floral pattern and the dramatic three-tiered silhouette.  I love the texture and construction and ambition behind it.  I also love that somehow, even with the plunging neckline (which was super popular this year, by the way), the dress still looks very young on Zendaya, who is still basically a child at 19.  The color is also enchanting; it reminds me of wine and Eastern Europe and opera.  Mmmm.

 

Best Dress That Transports Me To Another Era – Cate Blanchett in Givenchy

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I can’t decide if this amazing dress belongs in the 1900’s, the twenties, or the thirties, but either way, it is heaven.  The color is so lovely (and definitely one of Pantone’s colors of the year, rose quartz), and anything that scratches my nostalgia itch just sends me.  I mean, this has such a deco feel to it with the fringe and the silhouette that just sort of hangs on her, and not to mention the deco design of the bodice.  Delicious.  Put me in this dress, fix me a sidecar, play some Gershwin, and watch me die of happiness.

I always love that Cate really goes for fashion on the red carpet.  She’s never too interested in what’s flattering or what’s sexy- it’s always about fashion, and that makes me always look forward to seeing her.  That and Givenchy is probably my favorite house of fashion for the red carpet.

 

Best Overall Because It’s Hard To Make This Person Look Bad – Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Versace

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You know, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is not ugly.  She’s just not.  Therefore, it’s kind of difficult to make her look that bad.  But you know, when the whole package comes together with the hair, and the makeup, and the skin (I mean, have you ever seen such healthy-looking skin?), and the gown, you kinda have to give credit to the team that’s making it all happen.  This look, as a whole, was great.  The gown is not my absolute favorite because it’s still very safe for me, but the styling makes it all perfect.  Rosie is the picture of glowing beauty here.  And she makes me want to exfoliate and tan and moisturize and do yoga until I glow like Apollo.  And congrats on that engagement to Turkish.

So there they are, my favorites.  I don’t really have any least favorites, just ones that I thought were boring and various other disappointments.  I never think Dior and Jennifer Lawrence have a good relationship, I miss Keira Knightley, Rooney Mara always looks like Rooney Mara, Jennifer Connelly never shows up to anything anymore, J.Lo needs to lose the cape, and hopefully Diane Kruger will show up at one of the after parties.  Speaking of, time to check out all my feeds for after party gowns.  Party on, kids.  xo, MR

** None of the photos featured here in this post belong to me.**