Paris Hilton Passport Tokyo

As I’m looking at the couple of drops I have of this thing, I’m currently contemplating the amazing fact I just read on Perfume Posse. Paris Hilton–she of the Reality TV, zany antics, and Hilton Empire stardom–has sold $1.5 Billiondollars of perfume. That makes me just a little bit sad.

Passport Tokyo

Passport Tokyo

In Bottle: Light and citrus with a  bit of cedar and a little touch of sweet flowers. Whoo hoo.

Applied: Forgive my lack of enthusiasm for this one. I’m still reeling (two days after the fact) over the sum of money Hilton’s made on stuff like this. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but in the same vein, it’s not good either. In fact, it’s only not bad because it strikes a dull chord in my nose and tells me it’s all right, but if I want to be wooed and I’m not already swooning then I ought to get out of its way. Passport Tokyo’s mild and sheer citrus layer is joined by a sweet apple-like scent that blends into a really limp sweet floral woodsy fragrance that smells like it’s been diluted a couple of times. On the one hand, I’m glad the cedar isn’t assaulting my nostrils. On the other hand, I’m really disappointed by how toothless this is. Don’t let the repetition of the word ‘sweet’ fool you into thinking this is going to give you amazing amounts of sweetness. The whole affair is really light and mild.

Extra: Passport Tokyo was released in 2010 as a part of the Passport series of fragrances. The other two in this line were Paris and South Beach.

Design: Kind of garish and seems to be marketed at a much younger crowd. The bottle is clearly not aiming for luxury, but rather for fun. However, I just don’t think an EDT should ever look like that as it’s much more of a body spray packaging choice than something for an actual perfume.

Fragrance Family: Citrus Floral

Notes: Lemon, apple, frangipani, orange flower, jasmine, iris, sandalwood, cedar,musk.

Passport Tokyo’s a bit forgettable and I wouldn’t even really recommend it to anyone interested in a light citrus scent. It just smells watered down. And, come on! $1.5 Billion! Sorry, still can’t get over that.

Reviewed in This Post: Passport Tokyo, 2010, Eau de Toilette.

Fake Spotting Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

Here’s something a little fun for today. Let’s analyze a real bottle of Coco Mademoiselle against a fake bottle of Coco Mademoiselle. Keep in mind that we will be working from a limited pool of images and information. The purpose of this post is to get you used to seeing signs of a fake bottle, not to dissect what makes a particular bottle fake.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

These are authentic bottles of Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle. Take the time to look at the details, pay attention to the craftsmanship, and the little elements like the logo, spacing of the characters on the label, the quality of the glass, the types of materials used, the information on the label, and so on. And if you were to go buy an item like this on eBay go out of your way to scrutinize an authentic item first to get yourself used to its details.

Real Bottles of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

Real Bottles of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

I know Coco Mademoiselle is an extremely popular fragrance. Its youthful, fruity floral oriental scent has captivated the noses of a great deal of young consumers and the Chanel label only hooks them in further. So naturally, Coco Mademoiselle is prone to a tremendous amount of counterfeiting to the point where people selling old bottles that they believe to be real, aren’t. There are a lot of good dupes out there too, so it’s important that you know what to look out for. Thankfully, most of the fakes are easy to spot. Like the one we’re talking about today.

Fake Number One

Fake Coco Mademoiselle


This one didn’t take long to find. It was on the first page of eBay when I plugged “Coco Mademoiselle” into the search bar. In fact, it was being sold by three “different” sellers. Two of which had zero feedback and joined less than a day apart. The third had six feedback–all positive (feedback is not always 100% accurate, especially if a seller has very little feedback). The seller or sellers claimed one bottle was brand new in box, while the other two were slightly used. While I have said in the past that you are safer buying used than brand new in box, you are not always guaranteed to be safe. This is one instance where the seller is trying to make it look like you’re getting a mostly full bottle for a good price because 5% used of an expensive fragrance like this is nothing to cry over if you’re paying a deep discount.

This is, however, a very bad fake. Here’s where the mess falls apart:

– The first thing I noticed was the shape of the interior of the bottle. Scroll back up and look at the authentic Coco Mademoiselles. Notice how the interior vessel is shaped on the real bottles. The vessel should be a straight and perfect rectangle until it reaches the bottom where the vessel domes up. Everything on the real bottles is symmetrical. Looking at this fake, we notice there’s a clear deformity on the interior vessel, making it wavy and there’s a noticeable lack of a dramatic dome at the bottom. This particular specimen has a domed bottom, but it’s imperfect, crooked, and sloppy. This is actually one of the easiest ways to tell a fake Chanel from a real one as making a perfect replica of the real bottle and having it be perfectly symmetrical is somewhat challenging. Chanel’s interior vessels very often have a symmetrical dome at the bottom. If there is no dome, or the dome is off-centered, lumpy, or set too high then it’s probably fake.

– Second thing I noticed was the label that looks like it’s been damaged in some way. If this were truly a new bottle shipped in box, there wouldn’t be any deformities. Remember my earlier post about companies and their stringent branding practices? Chanel, of all companies, would never let a defective bottle like this see the light of day on the consumer market. Their brand is about quality and luxury. What does it say about them if they shipped a product with a scratched up label like this? They probably wouldn’t.

– The logo on the band that runs along the cap’s neck is too large and appears to be somewhat stretched vertically. On an authentic bottle of Coco Mademoiselle, there is a bit of white space above and below the logo. On the fake bottle, the logo is flushed against the gold bands. This is another easily identified foible. Many counterfeits get the tiny logo on the band wrong. Maybe it’s the inferior printing practices? Whatever it is, an imperfect logo on the band often indicates a fake.

– A minor giveaway would be the bulge in the bottle’s cap. It looks a bit thicker than it should be. Though the one image we were provided doesn’t do us any favors because of its poor lighting and quality. If this had been a less obvious counterfeit, I would ask the seller for more photos.

– The box looks a bit beat up, but it’s difficult to scrutinize it because there’s only one photo of the box and it’s being obscured by the bottle in the foreground. Another dead giveaway of a fake Chanel is the typography used on the packaging. Sometimes counterfeiters get the typography right, but the lines are a little bit too thick or too thin. A lot of times they get the typography wrong, making it obvious to a keen eye that something is amiss. This sort of scrutiny is harder to tell in seller photos, especially if the seller only has one photo of poor quality and the typography is being obscured by lighting, angles or props.

– Finally, I would like to note that this one image was used for all three listings–including the new in box listing. Every time you see one image being used to sell a luxury item–especially when three different sellers are listing the same image, be instantly suspicious.

Probably the scariest part of this was how many bids were put in for these bottles. The “Used” bottles had 7 and 10 bids. The “New” bottle had 5 bids. And this fake was very easy to spot.

If this post proves useful or anyone is interested in more Fake Spotting, I’ll do more of them in the future. In the meantime, Dino 2.0 has a very thorough dissection of a real Chanel Coco Mademoiselle and a fake one.

Layout Change

I had been back and forth about this one a lot and finally decided That Smell should start working with a new layout so the blog can keep growing without getting too cumbersome. There’s going to be some color changes and shifting around in the next week but nothing major. I hope you find the new layout easy to use and–with a little styling–easier on the eyes.

B&BW Coconut Lime Breeze

After buying some candles at Bath and Body Works, I found that I had a choice of a free item. So I wandered about the store and picked up the Coconut Lime Breeze fragrance and gave it a sniff. Its similarity to Coconut Lime Verbena is probably not a coincidence, but the two aren’t exactly alike.

Coconut Lime Breeze

Coconut Lime Breeze

In Bottle: Sharp citrus scent with an equally heavy layer of coconut.

Applied: Pretty much the same impression I got in the bottle. There’s a stronger citrus element in Coconut Lime Breeze than compared to Coconut Lime Verbena. The fragrance opens with a rather strong blast of lime followed by a bergamot and citrus zest scent. It digs more into its coconut notes in the mid-stage where I get the occasional waft of florals and vanilla. The stars of this scent, though are quite obviously the coconut and the lime, with a little more emphasis on the lime. That is how the scent starts and that is how the scent ends–with the classic blending of coconut and lime. Now, I love coconut anyway, and clean coconut tends to behave a bit better to my nose because the clean or sharp element helps mask the often synthetic smell. There is a harshness to this fragrance though. It’s not a game-breaking harshness like the overuse of cedar in some perfumes. The harshness here has to do with the lime being a bit aggressive and astringent. There’s not much in the way of progression as you will start with a sharp lime and coconut scent and end with a softer lime and coconut scent. It’s a good combination, there’s a reason why musicians have lyrics to the combination of coconut and lime and it’s because they work well together.

Extra: Coconut Lime Breeze–much like many of Bath and Body Works’ many other successful fragrances was released to replace the discontinued Coconut Lime Verbena. Again, there are some differences between the two. Coconut Lime Verbena focused a bit more on the coconut note and was overall a softer fragrance. Coconut Lime Breeze has a sharper, stronger citrus note and is a bit more noticeable at first. At least, that’s how it is to me.

Design: I was delighted to see Bath and Body Works had changed their body spray packaging from the somewhat boring curvy bottle to be more similar to Victoria’s Secret’s Beauty Rush bottles. We now get a straight cylinder with a metallic cap and a unique design wrapped around the packaging. The bottles feel heavier, feel smoother and generally looks much more professional. Nicely done, Bath and Body Works.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Floral

Notes: Tangerine, lemon, neroli, lime, bergamot, melon, muget, pineapple, jasmine, lime blossom, coconut, sandalwood, vanilla.

I like the stronger citrus in this than Coconut Lime Verbena. In terms of similarity, the two are alike enough to satisfy people looking for a citrus and coconut combination. But if you were looking for the exact same fragrance, you may have to look up stray bottles of Coconut Lime Verbena, as there is a noticeable difference between these two. And if you were looking for a more subdued interpretation of coconut and lime and have money burning a hole in your wallet then Creed’s Virgin Island Water is still one of the best coconut-based fragrances I’ve smelled so far.

Reviewed in This Post: Coconut Lime Breeze, 2012, Body Mist.

Know Your Branding

It might seem strange to someone looking to become a fragrance enthusiast to be told that they need to understand branding, how it works, and how branding can help them. After all, isn’t the point of perfume to enjoy the artistry of the scent and not ogle over what Chanel’s doing with their logo?

Guerlain Ad

Guerlain Ad

Well, yes, it is mostly about the juice. It should be mostly about the fragrance and the art and science behind our imperative but often overlooked sense of smell. Where branding and knowing your brands helps is when it comes time to identifying real bottles from fake bottles, and being able to recognize the big players in the field. There are some general rules when it comes to being brand aware. Don’t worry, you don’t need to study hard or spend hours staring at a bottle of perfume in order to tell 90% of the fakes out there from real stock.

Here are some quick and dirty tips to keep in mind as you try to familiarize yourself with how a perfume house might brand its products.

1. No matter mid to high end fragrance houses will always get their logo right. If you got a bottle where any of the logos looks a little too thick/thin, looks out of place, or the type doesn’t look completely legit then you need to go compare your bottle with a known authentic bottle. Perfume houses–as with any brand–are going to be strict about their brand identity and how their logo is displayed. Companies who have logos treat it very seriously. They have design documents that are sometimes hundreds of pageslong that outline what colors their logo can and cannot be, what sizes the logo can and cannot be, and what their logo can and cannot be printed on. With restrictions like those on how to use an image, no brand would (or should) ever let a defective or awkward looking logo adorn one of their authentic products.

2. Misspellings are not always factory errors. Sometimes products go out the door with old information or misspelled information. I’ve seen it sometimes on things like kitchen appliances and lighting fixtures. With more consumer products being made in foreign countries, I’ve seen more than my fair share of misspelled product manuals with barely coherent instructions. The scariest one was a misprinted warning on a plastic bag that informed me that the bag “should” be placed over a child’s head. Heck you sometimes get misprinted money, but a misspelling on a high end product like perfume would make me a bit suspicious. Especially if there’s more than one misspelled word on there. Fragrance houses, due to the perceived luxury of their product, should be keeping close eye on what their product labels say. Once again, if you’ve got a misspelling, that product needs to be checked against a known authentic bottle.

3. A company would never misspell their own name. I know how blatantly obvious this is, but there have been instances where people go on the search of answers when they have a counterfeit bottle of Channel No.5 or Gerlaine Shalimar. I know some of us just aren’t strong spellers, but before you buy something, make sure the company name is at least spelled right. Remember, this stuff can get expensive. You want to drop $100 on a bottle of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, and not a bottle of Chanel Coco Madamoselle.

4. All design elements are uniform on all bottles of the same production. Yes, flankers exist and bottle redesigns happen often, so you need to do your research before you buy. If you’re buying a brand new bottle of Chanel No.5 you need to go out of your way to make sure you’ve got a really clear picture of the present production line Chanel No.5. That means making sure all of the markings are in place, all of the letters line up, and absolutely nothing is missing. Even something relatively minor like a small missing gold band around the neck of the bottle is a telltale indicator that the bottle is fake. The key here is to make sure you are up-to-date on what the bottle you’re going to buy looks like. A vintage fragrance like No.5 has had numerous updates to its look and packaging over the years, but if there’s a bottle marketed as recent release that doesn’t match any of the other recent releases on the market then be very suspicious.

There’s numerous other topics to be discussed when it comes to knowing your branding. I’d like to discuss some of the nuisances of each fragrance house and some of the (often confusing) bottle redesigns that have happened to some of our favorite fragrances over the years. But for now, keep the above four tips in mind when you’re new to fragrances and want to make sure you’re getting the real stuff.

Doir Tendre Poison

The more of the Poison line I discover, the more I puzzle over the fact that the original Poison, released in 1985, has eleven flankers. No matter what fragrance you’re talking about, that’s still a lot of flankers.

Tendre Poison

Tendre Poison

In Bottle: Fresh, sweet and woodsy with a hint of spice and a bit of ambery quality.

Applied: Tendre Poison comes out right away with a big hit of fresh citrus that rolls with a sweet opening that takes you on a trip down to floral and woodsy in no time. There’s a bit of amber quality to this, perhaps a result of the honey warming up the scent as it combats the blast of cool citrus that came out from the opening. The fragrance hits a floral chord in the middle stage with a nice tuberose making a rather grand entrance to my nose. The tuberose gives the rest of the florals–and the scent as a whole–a very nice creamy quality that compliments the woodsiness that settles this fragrance down and takes it into its base notes. Tendre Poison ends with a smooth woody and spicy fragrance.

Extra: Tendre Poison is a rather old showing when it comes to the Poison line of flankers. It came out in 1994 and seems to be a bit difficult to find in the general market these days. At least, I haven’t seen any of it kicking around store shelves. You may have to hit up eBay for this one, but be careful, there’s a sizable counterfeit presence for the Poison line of fragrances.

Design: The shape is generally similar to the original Poison bottle. It’s still a very nice bottle and I still think it’s a lovely use of the apple shape that imparts a certain level of playfulness while maintaining an aura of luxury at the same time. I’m not too wild about how bright green this iteration is, but the general aesthetic is all right.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy Floral

Notes: Bergamot, tangerine, mandarin, galbanum, rosewood, honey, freesia, orange blossom, rose, tuberose, musk, heliotrope, vanilla, sandalwood.

I rather liked this one. It’s unique in that I haven’t quite smelled something that’s progressed in this way before. It also smells modern, despite its release in the early 90s. But then, it’s earlier release date might help it steer clear of the more recent releases that tend to smell a little generic to me.

Reviewed in This Post: Tendre Poison, 1995, Eau de Toilette.

Paper Samples

I remember when I was much younger, how my mother would like to hover around the fragrance counter and look over the new releases. And I’d marvel whenever the sales associate would just hand over some cute little glass vials filled with fragrance. Later on, my mother would let me try some and I’d find myself puzzling over how pretty and delicate those little sample vials are.

Paper Samples

Paper Samples

These days, you’d be hard pressed to find sample vials at some stores as fragrance houses seem to have gotten stingier with their sample stock. I also remembered the very rare occasion when a sample vial would get deposited in the mailbox. This had, in fact, only happened on two occasions and then nothing since.

Part of me thinks the reason sample vials don’t show up in mailboxes anymore is because of the cost. But another part of me knows that some people just don’t like the idea of finding a little glass tube in their mailbox filled with a fragrance that might be too strong or that they just don’t like.

My other frustration stems from the fact that department stores have gotten incredibly stingy with their samples over the years. A decade ago, if I expressed some interest in a fragrance I got a sample. These days, it’s only a few stores that will provide samples for me. And those samples work! I’ve purchased a number of full sized bottles because a sample charmed me into it. But it seems that practice is a bit rare these days, as fragrance counters hold onto their vials and the only time I ever really get offered a sample is if I buy something–and even then, it’s up to luck and the mood of the sales associate.

So in the stead of glass vials filled with scent, the fragrance companies have come up with a somewhat frustrating method of delivering their samples–at least by mail and print. For the longest time they’ve been wedging scent between sheets of paper, gluing them together, and wedging those pieces of paper inside of magazines and sales flyers.

I have to say, I vastly prefer the vials you can still get at some stores over this paper card business. There’s a luxury to the glass vials that you just don’t get out of a paper card. The vials are also much more effective at containing a fragrance as opposed to some paper. And needless to say, you can try the scent on yourself if you’ve got a vial of the stuff. I’d hate to think of people rubbing these scent cards on their wrists and getting a faint and skewed impression of a fragrance.

At the moment, I’ve got three scent cards plucked out of a Dillard’s sales flyer; J’Adore, Estee Lauder’s Beautiful, and Donna Karan’s Cashere Mist. I’ve reviewed or have it in my queue to review all three of these fragrances so I keep them around simply because they smell nice and they were free and someone else would have thrown them out anyway. I can’t say they’re filling me with the desire to go buy any of them as they’re all giving out an absurd amount of scent despite none of them having been opened yet and in a month or less they won’t smell like they should anymore.

It seems like a less effective practice to me. And the fragrance industry, despite periodically being annoyed about counterfeits, grey markets, and other products of “lesser value” are sure not conveying the same amount of luxury and prestige they could be projecting if they brought the glass vials back. I don’t necessarily want the vials to show up in my mailbox or wedged in some magazine. I just want those little vials to be a bit more plentiful at a department store.

Frederic Malle French Lover

French Lover is classified as a men’s fragrance, but why should this earthy and dark scent be exclusive to one gender? I’m happy to be back between the gears of Frederic Malle’s scent machine.

French Lover

French Lover

In Bottle: Fascinating in a dark and earthy way. This is dirt, dust and ruggedness in a perfume.

Applied: Dark and earthy is my first impression. French Lover opens with a strong galbanum presence coupled with angelica and a bit of patchouli and moss. Despite the moss–which I often associate with dewy–French Lover’s moss and other ingredients present a very dry interpretation. This is desert and power. It’s unrelenting with it’s show of strong materials and continues to be powerful way into the endstage. As the scent wears on, it gets stronger with a middle note of smoked greenery. Add in a dollop of cedar, a dash of vetiver and tone down the angelica and you’ve got the final experience as French Lover rolls out with a strong showing of dry woods.

Extra: French Lover was launched in 2007 and composed by Pierre Bourdon.

Design: Designed in much the same way as most other Frederic Malle fragrances. Bottled in a simple, but luxurious to hold cylindrical bottle with a simple black label running along the glass to tell you what you’re getting. All this topped with a black cap. I like the design well enough and the bottle has a very nice weightiness to it.

Fragrance Family: Earthy Woodsy

Notes: Galbanum, angelica, spices, incense, cedar, vetiver, oakmoss, white musk.

Probably the most interesting thing I’ve smelled in a while. It’s not my kind of thing, but it’s a very well-composed fragrance with a lot of personality.

Reviewed in This Post: French Lover, 2008, Eau de Parfum.

Victoria’s Secret Love Bitten

I was actually attracted to this because of the packaging. Something about lace makes me feel better. One of those odd character quirks I have, I guess.

Love Bitten

Love Bitten

In Bottle: Apples with a clean soft white musk and a load of woods.

Applied: Pretty much what I got in bottle, I got on my skin. It smells of apples and clean musk and wood. It’s like a basket of apples sitting next to a pile of wood. But this isn’t a great apple note as there’s nothing authentic to how these apples smell. These are artificial apples, the flavoring kind you get from a Jolly Rancher candy and not like an actual apple that you pick in an orchard. It’s serviceable though and it works well with the two notes it was paired with. The woods give the apple in this a more grownup feel as plain old fake apple fragrances to tend to project an air of carefree youth and candy. I don’t dislike this, but I also don’t like it. It’s certainly not one of the best apples I’ve smelled, but it’s a pretty good scent if you can work your way around the fake apple.

Extra: Love Bitten is a member of Victoria’s Secret’s Attractions Collection. It was released in 2011 and is no longer available because Victoria’s Secret–like Bath and Body Works–has this terrible habit where they introduce a fragrance, get a bunch of people hooked, then pull the stuff off the market.

Design: The lace was what drew me to the fragrance. I can’t help it. I love lace. The design itself is pretty good. The lace looks a bit out of place on the bottle at times, but it is eye-catching and effective in that sense. The bottle itself is pretty standard size and shape. It’s easy enough to hold and pretty good for a body mist.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Woods

Notes: Apple, woods, white musk.

Love Bitten, while it was still sold by Victoria’s Secret, had an entire line of body care items in addition to the body mist. If you’re still interested in Love Bitten, it’s available on eBay and through resellers on Amazon.

Reviewed in This Post: Love Bitten, 2011, Body Mist.

Gucci Flora Gorgeous Gardenia

Gorgeous Gardenia

Gorgeous Gardenia

Gucci Flora was like my guilty little pleasure where I knew the fragrance wasn’t super sophisticated, but I still like it and wear it anyway. So I got curious when I saw they had come out with some Flora flankers. I had my reservations, after all, Flora wasn’t anything to call home about so how good could the flankers be? I know I shouldn’t judge a flanker by the perfume it was modeled after. But what bothered me most about Flora Gorgeous Gardenia was its somewhat silly name.

In Bottle: Pear and sweetness with a little touch of floral.

Applied: Pear upfront with the sweetness rolling out its game very quickly. Gorgeous Gardenia smells of candy and lace and fruity summer drinks with little umbrellas in them. After the initial blast of fruit juice and candy, Gorgeous Gardenia settles down a bit and introduces a very mild and difficult to pick up floral element. I can’t say the gardenias are making much of a show as this tends to enjoy smelling like generic flowers and sugar. The sugar in this isn’t too strong. It’s actually used rather well, giving the fragrance a soft lilt that sort of brushes your nose instead of slamming into it. I like that about it, but as for everything else, it’s a pretty bland affair. The dry down isn’t very noticeable either with the sugar cleaning itself up a bit and leaving a ghost of itself behind with a dry and cleanly scrubbed patchouli note finishing the scent.

Extra: Gorgeous Gardenia is only one of five Flora flankers to be released. The other four are Generous Violet, Glamorous Magnolia, Glorious Mandarin, and Gracious Tuberose. Makes me wonder what other “G” words they can come up with to couple with some unsuspecting flower. Perhaps we’ll get Grandiose Rose.

Design: I really liked the design of Gucci’s Flora and the more I used my little 30ml bottle, the more the design grew on me to the point where I decided it was adorable and that I loved it–just in time for all the juice to run out. Still, I liked the packaging for Flora and I like the packaging for Gorgeous Gardenia which is largely similar except in a tall bottle as opposed to squat and with pinkish liquid.

Fragrance Family: Fruity Floral

Notes: Pear, berries, gardenia, frangipani, patchouli, sugar.

I did like how Gorgeous Gardenia smells, but it’s far from interesting or new. It’s a very functional fragrance much like Flora–though the two don’t smell alike. Gorgeous Gardenia tends more toward sweet and fruity as opposed to sweet and floral like Flora did.

Reviewed in This Post: Flora Gorgeous Gardenia, 2012, Eau de Toilette.