Gucci Guilty

Am I the only one who gets a little bored seeing “scandalizing” skin flashing ad campaigns for perfumes? I mean, I loved the cute and girly approach Miss Dior Cherie took. I also liked the commercial for Covet. And just to be fair, those were two perfumes I blasted. Now Guilty, on the other hand, it’s a fine perfume. Very interesting release for Gucci actually. But its ad campaign is once again one of those show as much skin, have as much writhing as possible, dealies that’s so overexposed that the ads are just boring now. I’m not a prude. In fact, I’m the opposite of offended and/or shocked. I’m just bored to tears by racy ad campaigns and I wonder if anyone else is also tired of the age old adage that “sex sells”. They even had Frank Miller come in, and he gave the commercial a fabulous look and feel–it’s just too bad it boils down to the sexualization of a fragrance. Oh, right, we’re doing a fragrance review.


In Bottle: Fruity citrus topper with a spicy kick. Pink pepper, is that you again? Wow, it’s like I’m seeing you an awful lot around these parts now.

Applied: Pink pepper’s on the verge of becoming one of those overused trump cards in perfumes. It seems there’s an awful lot of fragrances released lately with pink pepper thrown in there for a bit of spice. It works well in Guilty, giving the top fruity citrus notes a bit more complexity than they’d have otherwise. The fragrance heads into its middle stage still smelling fruity with a lingering bit of pepper as the florals come up with a bit of sweetness to keep Guilty young and approachable. The florals being lilac and geranium, neither of which are very heavy hitters, are really sheer so the mid-stage smells mostly fruity with the pepper receding into the background. The dry down is marked with a surprisingly interesting warm smooth amber and cleaned up patchouli. I’m surprised Guilty used those two to end on an oriental note and I was happy to note how pleasant it all was and how nicely it rounded itself off at the end.

Extra: Guilty’s commercial and ad campaign is a benign drop of raciness in an ocean of racy perfume ads. It’s nothing special to behold and in the end, despite its big ticket production, the ads fall flat on me. However, the perfume was good so I’m glad I looked beyond the ad and got to what matters.

Design: Fascinating little glass bottle encased in a gold outer shell. It reminds me of 1 Million. I can’t say I’m a fan of metallic outer shell bottles like this but it looks all right. The elements are balancing, the shape is appealing and the logo is used in a rather clever way. Not my favorite design but not bad at all.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Oriental

Notes: Mandarin, pink pepper, peach, lilac, geranium, amber, patchouli.

So is Guilty as racy as its ad campaign wants you to believe? No. It’s a benign office scent that smells like flowers and warm amber. I guess that’s another part of why these sexy commercials bore me. Very rarely do they ever advertise a fragrance that’s actually sensual. Guilty’s main appeal to me is actually in how wearable and inoffensive it is. This stuff smells like a grey dress with long sleeves, a high collar, and an ankle hem. It is not, in other words, your little black number.

Reviewed in This Post: Guilty, 2010, Eau de Toilette.

Balenciaga Paris

Perhaps you’ve heard of Balenciaga before, no, not their handbags that seem to be gaining in popularity these days. I’m talking about Le Dix, the street, the clothes, and the perfume. Mostly the perfume though. It’s a classic aldehyde, beautiful, but that’s not who we’re talking about today. Let’s jam it up with Balenciaga Paris.

Balenciaga Paris

In Bottle: Paris opens with a sheer, undetected level of sophistication and elegance. It’s violets and sun dew floating in the air.

Applied: Paris is incredibly light, it clings close to the skin and stays close for hours upon hours but what it won’ do is shout. This is a scent that’s meant to stay personal. I smell violets first of all, sweet little powdery violets drenched in dew. The mid-stage sees more violets, the dewy quality evaporating leaving me with a little bit of spice a nice hint of woods and a quiet little whisper of patchouli on the dry down. You shouldn’t expect projection with this fragrance. Paris’ angle is subtle and sleek. Get them while they’re close and keep them there with that violet softness.

Extra: Balenciaga is a fashion house with its headquarters in Paris, France. It was established in 1914. Other popular fragrances by house Balenciaga include Cristobal, Rumba and Le Dix.

Design: I love the bottle. I love its cap, love its shape, love the heft of it. It’s got nice weight, nice aesthetics and even though it’s a bit busier than the usual things I like, the business is well-designed, well-proportioned and very balanced.

Fragrance Family: Modern Chypre

Notes: Bergamot, spices, pepper, violet, carnation, oakmoss, cedar, vetiver, labdanum, patchouli.

Yes, believe it or not, this is a modern chypre. It’s got the right build though.

Reviewed in This Post: Balenciaga Paris, 2010, Eau de Parfum.

Hilary Duff With Love

As of January, I have officially aged out of the demographic for this fragrance–according to their ad anyway that said With Love by Hilary Duff has an age range of 15-24. So I’m a few days too late to be in with the Duff crowd. With Love still smells okay.

With Love

In Bottle: Fruity, tropical, sweet. The hallmark of most celebrity perfumes. Sometimes they’re tropical, almost always they’re fruity and sweet. With Love doesn’t bring anything new to the table here.

Applied: Blast of tropical fruit, that mangosteen note seems to be working overtime. It takes a little while for the fruitiness to settle down where we’re treated to a warmed up woody fragrance with a surprisingly interesting deep milky amber quality to it as well as a spicy note with a hint of clove. This is a shocker, given what I was experiencing in the opening. It’s still sweet, but it’s warm, smooth woodsy sweet now. This is a few steps above sweet fruitiness which is what everyone else seems to be doing. The fragrance further ages, leaving more sweetness behind as it dries down to a respectable but somewhat dull woodsy scent, losing some of its warmth and amber in the process but retaining the smoothness. Nonetheless, I was pleasantly surprised by the mid-stage, bored by the top and dry down though.

Extra: With Love was surprising to me. I fully expected fruity floral going in and there’s some of that but it’s a rather competent scent for a celebrity perfume. One of the better ones out there, I’ve got to say. With Love was launched in 2006, it is also a song by Duff and has a flanker called Wrapped With Love.

Design: Something about the bottle’s design reminds me of Parisienne by Dior. Anyway, the bottle is attractive enough. It’s got a neat texture on its glass with an interesting gold head ornament. It sort of looks like an earring or a pendant. Not ugly, not the nicest bottle. It’s just okay.

Fragrance Family: Sweet Woodsy

Notes: Mangosteen, spices, chai latte, mangosteen blossom, cocobolo wood, balsam, incense, amber milk, amber musk.

I might not like her music but her perfume is okay. Surprisingly okay, in fact.

Reviewed in This Post: With Love, 2008, Eau de Parfum.

Chanel Beige

Beige is a member of Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line. It’s an agreeable perfume that, like most Chanels, has that “smells expensive” (often is expensive too) quality to it. It’s also a fantastic little office number that can be worn almost anywhere.

Chanel Beige

In Bottle: A pretty little floral fragrance that floats and moves like a gentle, calming breeze. If you’re used to Chanels smelling heavy, too sweet, too heady, then Beige’s sheer first impression will surprise you like it surprised me.

Applied: That sheer floral accord up top again, gentle and soothing. Something I never thought I’d say about a Chanel was that it was soothing. Chanels are bold and usually bright. Beige is quiet and reserved. Still utterly elegant but she doesn’t shout her presence, rather, she reminds you of it by sitting in the corner and smelling rather pleasant. My friend tuberose comes up light and wispy dragging with it a sweet powered honey scent that lays itself over the fragrance and stays there for the rest of its lifespan. Tuberose has the bad habit of being too obvious in perfume but Beige gives its tuberose just enough lead to be noticed but not enough to overpower. I’m surprised at how well-behaved it is, and how well-behaved it keeps being as the fragrance evolves into a warm frangipani cleaned up with a sweet freesia note. I particularly appreciate how nice the freesia and tuberose are playing together. The dry down comes on a bit quick, Beige doesn’t project much or have very good longevity, I get a bit of bitter green in this that creates an interesting mix with the honey powder.

Extra: Of interest is Beige’s history or rather, the history of its name. Its moniker was borrowed from another Beige, a vintage fragrance by house Chanel that lived many decades ago.

Design: Beige is bottled similarly to the other members of Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line. A big glass rectangle. Excellent to hold, has a great weightiness to it, totally minimalist in style that completely suits the perfume and the icing on the cake is that addictive metal cap.

Fragrance Family: Sweet Floral

Notes: Hawthorn, freesia, frangipani, honey.

What I love about Les Exclusifs is the fact that the bottles come in 200ml. They are expensive for sure, but you get a lot of perfume for your money. Beige is a great choice for Chanel if you feel their mainstream attractions are too strong or too boring. She’s sheer and easy to work with.

Reviewed in This Post: Beige, 2010, Eau de Toilette.

Bath and Body Works Carried Away

Carried away, released recently by Bath and Body Works is a fragrance meant to invoke springtime. And considering the snow dumps and the cold air that’s been blowing about here lately, I welcome spring’s arrival any moment now.

Carried Away

In Bottle: Bright, green citrus with a soft floral undernote. Not entirely interesting but doesn’t smell bad. This is fairly on bar with other Bath and Body Works fragrances. It’s not unique, it’s not daring, but it’s definitely functional.

Applied: I get a sharp hit of citrus right away with the lemon and mandarin mixing together up front. There’s a slight tartness from the raspberry note that carries the sweet little pear note a little further and when you start digging into the mid-stage, the sweet and light florals waft in to distract you while the citrus note sin the opening bow out. There’s nothing to phone home about in the mid-stage as it’s a mild floral, easy to wear, easy to like, not the least bit offensive. Though I will give Carried Away points for taking its springtime theme and running with it. This smells fresh, clean, femininely floral. The dry down is uninspired, the vanilla is sweet, comes up during the mid-stage and accompanies sandalwood on the way out.

Extra: Carried Away, like almost every other Bath and Body Works scent comes in a line of bath and body products such as body mists, lotion, body butter, and shower gel.

Design: Same shape and general design premise as the other eau de toilettes from Bath and Body Works. Glass rectangle with designs on it. Plastic cap. The designs for Carried Away are colorful turquoise and pink ribbons wrapping around the glass. Pretty, generic, but works very well.

Fragrance Family: Fresh Floral

Notes: Bergamot, meyer lemon, mandarin, pear, raspberry, freesia, tuberose, jasmine, violet, sandalwood, vanilla, musk.

I’m not jumping on this fragrance mostly because I’ve smelled similar stuff that I like better from Bath and Body Works. For freshness, I go with White Citrus. For florals, I prefer the roses in P.S. I Love You. And if I want clean, I’ve got Cotton Blossom.

Reviewed in This Post: Carried Away, 2011, Eau de Toilette.

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Tamora

Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Tamora seems to me like it should smell like a warm fruity floral with a bit of woodsiness. But what I get is an interesting blend of peaches and woods instead. Tamora

In Bottle: Woodsy florals with the heliotrope being a dominant note followed by the dry sandalwood and a touch of flowery peach. There’s a bit of warmth and amber to this too.

Applied: Like with a lot of BPALs I get a collection of scents from the get go that doesn’t follow a traditional fragrance pyramid. So I can tell you there’s strong peach in this and a dominant sandalwood on my skin and to my nose along with a sweet note that hangs out during the entirety of the scent. Heliotrope makes a wavering effort to be noticed here and there but the real stars are the sandalwood and peach team to me. The amber lends a nice warmth to the fragrance that comes in rather quickly and hangs around for a nice while. The vanilla in the fragrance isn’t detectable on me until the sandalwood calms down a bit and once I smell the vanilla, it is an interesting powdery vanilla treatment with a slight hint of dirtiness thrown in there. Very interesting, though not to my tastes, this is a little fun romp through an unconventionally built fruity woodsy scent.

Extra: Tamora is a member of the Illyria line from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Its name was based on a character of the same name from the Shakespearean play, Titus Andronicus. Tamora was the Queen of the Goths. Which I just find is delightfully hilarious.

Design: Tamora is bottled in much the same shape and style as older style Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab bottles. You’ll note the bottle pictured in this post differs from the usual. This bottling style with the blue glass was abandoned in favor of the newer bottles with the amber glass. I can’t positively date this particular bottle of Tamora but if I were to hazard a guess, it’d be pre-2006 but I can’t be 100% sure. If anyone can positively date the bottle pictured above, I would be grateful.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Woodsy

Notes: Amber, heliotrope, golden sandalwood, peach blossom, vanilla bean.

I’m actually not a big fan of Tamora because I feel the sandalwood was a bit too overpowering. Still Tamora’s a nice peachy scent with an interesting mix of sandalwood thrown in there.

Reviewed in This Post: Tamora, ~2006, 5ml Bottle.

BnBW P.S. I Love You

P.S. I Love You was released in 2009 from Bath and Body Works. A time when I had just gotten my first Bath and Body Works lotion after hearing about them for years. I was all right with the lotion but I was more curious about the perfume they were introducing in their promotional postcard. Turns out, it’s a competent rose.

P.S. I Love You

In Bottle: Bright and pretty, I smell citrus more than I smell florals but the roses are in there, mingling about with a slightly sweet thickness to it that gives P.S. I Love You surprising body.

Applied: Citrus to start that launches into a mild sweetness with a waft of peony before it evolves rather quickly into its rose stage. In the mid-stage is there P.S. I Love You  shines. The roses come up, light and airy at first before they get deeper and turn into a surprisingly lovable smooth and spicy, utterly feminine, rose scent. Make no mistake, P.S. I Love You will deliver perfume’s most beloved flower with a dash of lightly dusted peonies and a hint of sharp musk. Near the end of the mid-stage I get an interesting amber note, it gives this scent a pleasant warming quality. This is a surprisingly well done rose that took me by surprise. It’s young, definitely, but it’s very likable. The dry down is marked with a rather predictable sandalwood accompanied by a bit more fleeting rose and full-bodied  sweet amber to warm the fragrance.

Extra: Something interesting to note is the perfumer of P.S. I Love You who is known for composing fragrances for Ralph Lauren, Bond No.9 and Tom Ford.

Design: P.S. I Love You comes in a couple of concentrations–eau de toilette and eau de parfum. I was testing the eau de parfum version that comes in a cute little bottle that you see pictured above. Unfortunately, the eau de parfum was a limited edition item (as far as I understand it) and is no longer available. Bath and Body Works still carries P.S. I Love You in the eau de toilette version which looks pretty much like every other Bath and Body Works perfume bottle. Both designs are rather tasteful though I vastly preferred the eau de parfum design.  P.S. I Love You’s design reminds me of brush strokes, love letters and flower petals.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Citrus, lychee, peony, yellow rose, riesling, scarlet velvet rose, orchid, lilies, jasmine, incense, creamy sandalwood, patchouli, amber, and musk.

I know a lot of people are afraid of rose. I find rose beautiful but many are understandably wary of it. It is often associated with “old fashioned perfume” but P.S. I Love You is a very youthful an interpretation and  there are still people who find it difficult to love. Though the majority of people who try it, still like it well enough.

Reviewed in This Post: P.S. I Love You, 2010, Eau de Parfum.

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Iris Ukiyoé is Jean-Claude Ellena’s tribute to the iris flower, not the orris root which is often encountered in perfume. Iris Ukiyoé is less of a literal interpretation of an iris flower than it is a conceptual piece of nose art. I will call it nose art if I want to.

Iris Ukiyoe

In Bottle: Fresh and sheer, clean with a sweet citrus scent floating about it. So far I’m not getting the personality of  iris here, but I do get a lot of green and clean power.

Applied: After the initial sweet citrus, Iris Ukiyoé remains sweet as it introduces some dashing roses into the mix. The scent remains green and sharp except with a flowery background to support it now, as it slowly adds in a bitter note.  The rest of the scent lingers in the green, bitter floral territory until the end where a woodsiness mingles into the scent to form a rather pleasant picture of flowers blooming near a tree trunk. Is this iris flower? No, not in the least. It’s more of an homage to orris root, but even then that part of it doesn’t appear for the majority of the fragrance. In fact, Iris Ukiyoé pays more attention to rose. What Iris Ukiyoé is, however, is beautifully composed. It smells fantastic, light, dewy, easy to wear and fabulous to smell.

Extra: Iris Ukiyoé is a part of Hermessence a collection of exclusive scents by luxury fashion house, Hermès. Hermessence concept is reminiscent of exclusive collections from other luxury houses such as Guerlain’s L’Art de Matiere and Chanel’s Les Exclusifs.

Design: Hermès usually does very well with its design elements. I’ll admit I haven’t held a bottle of this stuff yet but I hope to at some point in my life as the juice is just so pretty. The bottle itself is a pretty bland shape of rounded rectangle. It has some nice subtle design elements on the glass. Where I have to stop and shake my head is the cap that’s leather wrapped and stitched. It takes away from the beauty of the rest of the bottle and I rather wished they’d used metal or something instead. Then there’s the leather sheath you can slide the bottle into. Not necessary on a strictly design standpoint and rather ugly if you ask me.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Mandarin, rose, orange blossom.

Like most exclusive line fragrances from a luxury house, you can expect to pay more for Iris Ukiyoé. A full bottle will retail for $235. You can get a set of four 15ml fragrances for a more affordable $145.

Reviewed in This Post: Iris Ukiyoé, 2010, Eau de Toilette.

Serge Lutens Un Lys

I couldn’t mention Un Lys in a recommendations list without doing an actual review of it. But the truth is, Un Lys is a pretty lily soliflore that leads the way in pretty lilies. It’s rocketed itself up my personal favorites list to number two, just behind the ever beautiful Spiritueuse Double Vanille.

Un Lys

In Bottle: Cuts the chatter and gets straight to the lily. This is a soft, creamy, gentle lily fragrance. Unmistakable and hard to miss or confuse the notes in this.

Applied: Well, considering there’s really only three notes in Un Lys, and considering the fragrance’s name you expect there to be lily and that’s what you get upfront. It starts off sharp and green and leafy with the lily gaining way over the sharp greenness until it takes over the stage. This is a white, soft and dry lily fragrance that lilies it up from the get-go and keeps going for a few hours time before meeting a vanilla note and clean musk at the end where the lilies keep living until its time to fade completely. Utterly beautiful and fabulously done lily fragrance.

Extra: Un Lys is an interesting contender in the Serge Lutens line where most of their fragrances tend toward heady, rich and deep, Un Lys is the sweet top floating floral t.

Design: Un Lys is bottled in the same way other Serge Lutens fragrances are. A thin, simple, glass rectangle. It’s done well, done elegantly and without flashy gimmicks. And, if you line up a bunch of Serge Lutens bottles in a row, it looks quite nice.

Fragrance Family: Soliflore

Notes: Lily, musk, vanilla.

I love Un Lys, but then, I also love lily scents and love floral scents in general. Un Lys is a particularly well done lily that should be a big hit to anyone who favors the fragrance.

Reviewed in This Post: Un Lys, 2010, Eau de  Parfum.

Guerlain Mahora Commercial

They made them so beautiful. Mahora, while far from one of my favorites, has this absolutely stunning commercial. The play of colors, the lighting, the music, the flow of the commercial itself.

This commercial was released in 2000, and I hope Guerlain can pump out more like this.