Dior Poison

Poison by Dior is one of those classics from the 80s that I don’t give a whole lot of run time to. Because I don’t like it. I tried to. I came around to Opium and eventually cultivated a reverence for Jicky, but when it comes to Poison, I am still left wondering why. I guess I just don’t like it! But I’m going to review it anyway because it is a well composed beast of a fragrance that remains one of Dior’s most popular perfumes. Poison

In Bottle: Smells sweet in the bottle, almost like cough syrup with a slight spiciness to it that layers over a faint woody presence.

Extra: Whew, Poison! You sure came in loud. There’s nothing quiet or gentle about Poison. She’s big, she’s bold, her volume’s all the way up and she isn’t afraid of share what she thinks. Poison starts off with a sweet plum and blossoms mix with a spicy blast that projects like crazy. The top notes are guaranteed to clear quite a bit of distance around you and create a Cone of Smell sort of thing as the mid stage comes in with a added dollop of spice that’s coated in jasmine, rose, and heliotrope. My favorite friend, tuberose also makes an entrance here. Dragging behind it is a very irate cedar scent. Amusingly enough the cedar in Poison is the type that teeters into loud and obnoxious territory but the rest of Poison is so loud and bold that the cedar smells almost tame on me. Once the sweetness and fruitiness of the opening calm down we get into the end stage where Poison is a spunky lady that smells of incense and sophisticated florals holding onto cough syrup in one hand while she applies lipstick with the other.

Extra: Poison was the original in a rather lengthy line of flankers. In addition to the original, we’ve got Poison Tendre (green), Hypnotic Poison (red), Hypnotic Poison Eau Sensuelle (also red), Midnight Poison (blue), Pure Poison (white). And that’s not including the elixirs. Clearly when Dior decided to go bold and different with the first Posion in 1985, they really hit it big.

Design: Poison’s bottle is in the shape of an apple and the glass is purple. Seems to be a popular motif for perfumes here, apples and forbidden fruits and whatnot. I do like the design of Poison’s bottle, even the blatant use of the symbolism is okay with me because the bottle is beautiful, feels nice to hold and is decently easy to handle.

Fragrance Family: Spicy Fruity Woodsy

Notes: Coriander, cinnamon, orange blossom, honey, pepper, plum, rosewood, rose, tuberose, wild berries, cistus labdanum, carnation, jasmine, heliotrope, cedar, vetiver, musk, vanilla, sandalwood, opopanax.

I’m pretty sure Poison’s tendency to smell a bit like cough syrup is what’s keeping me from this fragrance. But don’t let that stop you, she’s  big and brass and if you’re looking for that, definitely give her a try.

Reviewed in This Post: Poison, 2007, Eau de  Parfum.

Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance

Amber Romance is a part of Victoria’s Secret’s Secret Garden Collection of which Love Spell is a member. Most of the fragrances are relatively simple, with some minor complexity but if you want complexity, you’ll likely have to look elsewhere. Of all the Secret Garden scents, Amber Romance is probably my favorite. Amber Romance

In Bottle: Creamy vanilla flowers with a hint of fruity, licorice-like cherry sitting on top. This stuff is sweet, strong and very familiar.

Applied: Blast of something over-sweet and fruity right up front that is quick to fade as the flowers and some smoother, rounder, creamier fruits take up the mid-stage with the florals being dead center. The vanilla is ever present, lending a nice sweetness to the whole scent and into the dry down the vanilla gets a bit more cakey and sugary when the florals recede. This stuff reminds me a lot of Chanel Allure and Fruits and Passion Orchid. Mostly because these three fragrances are sort of built on the same floral vanilla principle. Chanel Allure has a hand above Amber Romance for being a much more complex scent with a better blend. It also tends to last longer with a nicely tempered projection as well, whereas Amber Romance goes on loud, then settles down and disappears much quicker. I prefer Amber Romance to Fruits and Passion Orchid, however, as Amber Romance’s dry down does not involve the slightly strange powdery plastic that I detected in Orchid. The dry down to Amber Romance is a pleasant soft wood and vanilla without a whole lot of fanfare.

Extra: Like most members of the Secret Garden collection, Amber Romance has a number of other products available so you can layer your scent and make it last longer. There’s lotion, body mist, shower gels, body creams, body butters, hand sanitizers, and of course the eau de toilette featured in this post.

Design: Amber Romance is packaged in the same way as Love Spell. An unassuming small glass cylinder bottle with a spray nozzle and a metal cap. The fragrance’s name and other identifying markers are presented on a clear sticker applied to the bottle. The rest of the information is on a sticker applied to the bottom of the bottle. No fancy tricks, no fancy shapes, just simple and easy.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Black cherry, crème anglaise, vanilla and sandalwood.

Amber Romance is a remarkably powerful scent for what it is, and if you plan on getting some of this stuff, keep that in mind. If you’re not a fan of strong scents, definitely opt for the body mist over the eau de toilette or ease up on the trigger finger. It’s powerful stuff.

Reviewed in This Post: Amber Romance, 2009, Eau de Toilette.

Bath and Body Works Twisted Peppermint

With Christmas coming up, I thought it would be nice to visit an old favorite of mine and a favorite of a lot of other people too. Bath and Body Works’ Twisted Peppermint is a seasonal offer that smells just like its name; peppermint candies. Twisted Peppermint

In Bottle: Strong sweet, sugary peppermint candy. There’s not a whole lot to say about Twisted Peppermint that you can’t get from immediately smelling the fragrance. It’s strong, it’s festive, it’s sweet, it’s just plain fun.

Applied: Twisted Peppermint goes on with a big blast of peppermint followed by the sweetening sugar that layers on top of the fragrance, sitting in place until the vanilla comes in seconds later. There is no progression to this fragrance and very little in the way of complexity. As stated, it’s just plain, easy, simple fun. The peppermint in this lends a nice cooling, tingling effect to add some extra zing to the fragrance. This makes a great cooling spray for summer but you might be a little out of season wearing this stuff in July. It really does smell like peppermint candy and candy canes. The vanilla is the typical synthetic kind, but it’s easy to ignore that when you first spray it on. It will become apparent that this stuff isn’t composed of the highest quality materials as the scent ages, taking on that “something is off” smell that you get with synthetic scents sometimes. I find the synthetic smell distracting during the fragrance’s final stages and find it near impossible to tolerate in the lotion. In the perfume, it is easier to ignore. This stuff does not have a whole lot of lasting power as it will fade on you within a couple of hours. But for a couple of hours you can at least smell like a festive candy cane.

Extra: Twisted Peppermint comes in a variety of products. My favorites include the lotion and 3-in-1 shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath. These two, plus the body mist, have that same peppermint oil tingling effect that I really like.

Design: Twisted Peppermint has gone through a few makeovers as far as I can tell. Its current incarnation is as a plastic globe containing a shimmer mist. The sprayer nozzle is a little wonky as it is made out of plastic and it is trying to disperse sparkles as well as scent. I sometimes have to wipe the nozzle opening to clean the sparkles off or the sprayer will dribble product instead of spray it. I have an old bottle that lacks the sparkly business whose sprayer nozzle works much better.

Fragrance Family: Gourmand

Notes: Peppermint, sugar, vanilla.

If you’re looking for a fragrance that’s candy-like and will remind you of the holidays, then this stuff should be right up your alley. I think it’s kind of cute that Twisted Peppermint’s tagline on the bottle is, “Mint with an attitude”. There’s no attitude to this. It’s just a peppermint candy. A sweet, delicious peppermint candy scent that’s done rather well.

Reviewed in This Post: Twisted Peppermint, 2009, Body Mist.

Fragrances as Gifts

So the Christmas season is beating down on us and for those of you who celebrate it and know someone who’d enjoy getting a bottle of perfume might be wondering what kind of fragrances could make a good present. Whether it’s for Christmas, Valentine’s Day or a Birthday, perfume is often trotted out as one of the more popular options for gifts for both men and women. I’ve been asked several times for fragrance recommendations for people that I don’t know or have never met. The exchange usually goes something like this:

Well Meaning Individual: Hey Kay, you’re good with the perfumes. I want to buy one for my mom/wife/sister/friend/husband/father, which one should I get?

Me: I don’t know. What do they like?

Well Meaning Individual: . . . Something floral, but not too floral? Maybe clean but sexy? Something spicy but nothing with cinnamon or cloves in it. Oh yeah, something classy but young. Sweet but without vanilla. Oh yeah and nothing with jasmine or rose. Something not too heavy but will last the whole day. Oh and she/he hates musk. Nothing with musk in it. And I need it to be under $20. You know what? I don’t really know what she/he likes.

Me: . . .

The moral of the story is, don’t get your significant other a perfume without a clear idea of what they like in a fragrance first. Every year there is a torrent of tears and wrinkled noses as well meaning individuals hear other well meaning individuals like perfume and go out to purchase a fragrance without a clear understanding of what their intended likes in a fragrance. And year after year there’s cries of, “Oh God, this stinks!” Or, more likely, “I got a perfume for Christmas that I don’t like, can I exchange it?”

Now, you don’t have to go through the song and dance of lining up at the exchange counter. Instead of blind buying a fragrance (something no one should do), try getting your giftee a sampler pack. Sephora and a few other retailers (Shopper’s Drug Mart, if you live in Canada has a couple of these sample packs) have come up with a rather ingenious way to sell fragrances.

Basically the consumer goes to the store and picks up a perfume sampler pack that might contain 9 – 12 fragrance samples of the store’s top selling perfumes. They wrap that sucker up and give it to their giftee. Giftee opens it up and can sample from all the different fragrances in the pack and decide which one they like best. There is a voucher included in the pack they can take back to the store to exchange for a full sized bottle of perfume. And that’s how you deal with the person who likes perfume but doesn’t really know what they like.

Sephora sells a variety of fragrance sampler packs for men’s fragrances and women’s fragrances. Take a look on their site for more information.

This sampler pack business is all fine and dandy but the best way to get a fragrance your giftee will like is to find out what they actually enjoy. Don’t go buy what you like to smell as many people have discovered that pitfall when Judy wanted a bottle of Viva la Juicy and John bought her Santal de Mysore.

Granted, if someone bought me a bottle of Santal de Mysore, I wouldn’t complain at all!

Marc Jacobs Lola

Marc Jacobs Lola was supposed to be a more grown-up Daisy. And I had seen this fragrance touted so much that I had to go and find some just to see if all the hype was true. I left underwhelmed with the scent but pleased with it all the same. Lola

In Bottle: Bright grapefruit, clean spice, and fruity pear. This smells juicy and clean right off the bat. It’s almost like a Herbal Essences shampoo.

Applied: Fruity off the bat with a pile of flowers rolling in like a scrubbed clean tide of–uh–fresh flowers. I’m tired. Cut me some slack. That shampoo smell lingers for a bit in Lola as the opening stage gives way to the mid-stage where the flowers rise up a bit more and the fruity, juicy opening dies down to hold Lola at “Smells like shampoo”. This is a really nice, clean and feminine scent and I can definitely see where people would say this is a grown up Daisy. It doesn’t smell like Daisy but it does smell a little more mature. Not mature in the sense of a classic sophisticated perfume but if we were to assume Daisy is meant for the teen crowd, then Lola would be good for the college kids. She lacks the bright, grassy freshness and youth of Daisy but she makes up for it by being a clean pretty floral with a hovering sweet rose. Sweet rose being a good alternative to classic rose that tends to infuse a bit of youth into perfume’s most popular and, strangely enough, polarizing note. The dry down is a typical affair of sandalwood and vanilla with lingering traces of nice shampoo. Lola reminds me a bit of Gucci Flora with a less sweet mid-stage.

Extra: Lola’s spawned a number of offshoot products. One of the ones I see most often is the solid perfume ring adorned with its iconic vinyl flower.

Design: A big bright, red, purple, blue and green vinyl flower adorns the cap of Lola. The glass bottle itself is a purple color while the circumference of the cap is a textured gold-colored metal. There’s two bottle designs for Lola. The smaller (50ml) is a tall bottle. The 100ml is a squat, wide bottle. The design for Lola took a few pages from Daisy’s bottle design and it’s cute as a button. I didn’t think I would like the bottle design as much as I did but heck, it’s adorable. Not sophisticated at all, a little silly but not the least bit pretentious.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: Pink pepper, pear, red grapefruit, peony, rose, geranium, vanilla, creamy musk, tonka.

If nothing else, Lola is an eye catcher for its bottle design. Subtle is not this lady’s business. The 100ml bottle in particular is huge and comes packaged in an equally huge box due to the giant vinyl flower cap.

Reviewed in This Post: Lola, 2010, Eau de Parfum.

Parfums de Coeur Vampire

I don’t know why I’m drawn to do reviews of some of these more silly fragrances sometimes but you can chalk this one up to curiosity. Like that time I smelled Danielle Steel and decided I didn’t like her. Vampire

In Bottle: Citrus with a bunch of florals, rather sweet, with a violent note that makes me think of sticky flowers floating in cough syrup.

Applied: Goes on as a citrus with a sweetened pile of sugar. Again, that sticky flowers in cough syrup scent. It’s quite distracting as Vampire seems to want to get sweeter and sweeter on me as it slowly introduces more and more flowers. But it hits a road block before it goes too far with the chocolate note coming in to join the fray. What I end up with is a sickly sweet floral with chocolate slathered on top. The dry down occurs about nine hours later because Vampire has one major thing going for it and that is that this scent will not give up. It’s strong and it’ll last a very long time. Anyway, the dry down is remarkably pleasant if somewhat banal as the sweetness finally goes away giving the base of Vampire a rather pleasant mix of sandalwood and gentle amber. But that’s after you survive the top and middle notes.

Extra: Parfums de Coeur etched a place for themselves making “Designer Impostors” a somewhat different concept than counterfeits–I guess. Impostor fragrances basically try their best to match the scent of a designer perfume. Often they are sold at a cheaper price in cheaper packaging as is the case with Parfums de Coeur. Whether you approve of this practice or not, Parfums de Coeur offers a few “Designer Impostors” and a few original fragrances, such as Vampire.

Design: The bottle design for vampire is obviously not for me. I’m not entirely sure what was being accomplished here but the bottling is a major turn off. I like simple though, and this is anything but. It seems like the bottling took a strange mix of Cashmere Mist and original Chloe’s packaging and mashed in a muscles or veins motif onto the glass.

Fragrance Family: Floral Gourmand

Notes: Clementine, plum flower, wisteria, violet, chocolate cosmos, sandalwood, amber, musk.

I don’t think cheapie is going to do it for me. I already have a cheapie in my top ten favorites with Plumdrop and Vampire is geared at way too young an audience for me to pull off. It’s sweet, it’s a gourmand, it doesn’t make me think of vampires or sultriness. But it is very young, and the price is right.

Reviewed in This Post: Vampire, 2010, Eau de Parfum.

Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur

A lot of good things have been said about Musc Ravageur. The one that caught my eye the most was the comment that this stuff smells like cinnamon buns and leather. Always on the look out for a cinnamon bun-like fragrance, I got my hands on Musc Ravageur. Musc Ravageur

In Bottle: Spicy citrus, I get the cinnamon but mostly I get citrus, a little bit of dark musk and strong lavender.

Applied: That lavender mixed with citrus makes an interesting scent that many people might say smells medicinal or even powdery. But no, that’s just lavender doing its thing. Wear Musc Ravageur for a little more and it will evolve into a sweeter confection with a blend of smooth vanilla and cinnamon with clove dashed in there for extra spice. This stuff is powerful, projects like crazy, and it clung to me all day, staying in that delicious mid-stage where, I have to admit, it does smell a little bit like cinnamon buns but there’s an undercurrent at work here making it far more exciting. I catch whiffs of leather, incense, and musk.  Musc Ravageur has a dark  base that wafts in and out here and there taking this a little farther away than just as a gourmand. It’s a spicy, dense, sweet, delicious but very grown up. When Musc Ravageur finally chills out, the sweetness leads way into a spicy woodsy scent with a dark vanilla note, aided a bit by fading leather, and a lingering animalic muskiness.

Extra: Frederic Malle’s line of fragrances includes such beauties as Musc Ravageur and one of my other favorites; Angéliques sous la pluie by the much esteemed Jean-Claude Ellena. You may also find in the Frederic Malle line the rather famous Carnal Flower a–what else–tuberose dominant fragrance. Musc Ravageur, itself, was composed by Maurice Roucel who also composed Insolence by Guerlain, Donna Karan Be Delicious, and many others.

Design: I don’t own a bottle of Musc Ravageur but it looks like its bottled in a rather simple cylinder. Musc Ravageur, I guess, is not about the packaging as it keeps things as simple looking as possible. Classic-looking bottle and I really like it that way.

Fragrance Family: Spicy Gourmand

Notes: Lavender, bergamot, clove, cinnamon, gaiac wood, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka, musk.

Out of all the gourmands I’ve tried, Musc Ravageur is one of the nicest. It’s a well blended fragrance with a lot of interesting evolution going on when you wear it. It has excellent longevity and projection.

Reviewed in This Post: Musc Ravageur, 2009, Eau de Parfum.

Banana Republic Rosewood

Seems Avril Lavigne’s Forbidden Rose was borrowing from Rosewood’s style of fragrance naming as there is no rosewood to be had in this scent. What there is, however, is a very nice sweet woodsy fragrance. Rosewood

In Bottle: Warm, sweet and sandalwood. There’s a sugary vanilla in this but it’s not overdone like some fragrances and actually blends really well with the sandalwood.

Applied: Sweet and warm sandalwood. Smells very comforting. I want to believe there’s a floral note somewhere in here but if there is, it’s very sheer. Rosewood, is lacking the note from which it draws its name but it’s a very pleasant and wearable woodsy fragrance. The sandalwood is comforting. The vanilla and amber makes this approachable and the scent as a whole smells soft and gentle and clean. I get the occasional kick of warmed spices here and there that my brain wants to associate with cinnamon but Rosewood is predominantly a two-trick pony. Warm amber and vanilla on one end and sandalwood on the other. Into the mid-stage is pretty much the same deal with the sweet sandalwood and the dry down gives us a more comprehensive sniff of the amber but by and large, Rosewood is one-dimensional. And hey, it works because I think this is a great scent for work that’s graduated a few levels above your typical easy to wear fruity floral.

Extra: Funny thing to note is Banana Republic selling this fragrance as a floral oriental when there’s barely any florals in here to trace. An oriental? Okay, I’ll give it that. Rosewood has actually polarized a portion of the fragrance lover community that those who hate it feel misled by the name and those who love it just like its clean simplicity.

Design: The bottle itself is an ugly thing to behold. It’s a very squat, rounded shape built out of muddy glass that feels a bit lumpy when held. The sprayer nozzle works just fine but the shape and how wide this bottle is makes it hard to hold for spraying. The metallic cap has a leathery-material as a band around it. I like the metal cap, I could do without the leathery-thing. The one good thing I can say about Rosewood’s packaging is the cylindrical wooden container it comes in. It looks nice in a way. The lid is magnetized and it does a great job at hiding the rather hideous bottle. I only wish the thing was more reusable but Rosewood’s bottle is a pretty specialized shape so just about the only thing the wooden container can hold after you’re done with the fragrance is the original bottle or something equally squat. I’m thinking my sample size perfumes are going in this thing when I’m all done with Rosewood.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy Oriental

Notes: Bergamot, champagne, white tea leaves, and white amber.

That notes list is pretty much bunk as it’s missing a great deal of what, I assume, is actually in this fragrance. There’s a spice note to be sure, and sandalwood, and something more than just amber. Which I suspected is vanilla.

Reviewed in This Post: Rosewood, 2009, Eau de Parfum.