While a pre-teen and then a teenager, my fragrance interests were not original. You know what I'm talking about: Love's Baby Soft and those ubiquitous Avon colognes in the curious bottles, then Lauren in high school.
After college, I sought a Signature Scent and it never occurred to me that I could have a collection of fragrances. I gave myself the task of finding "the one." I canvassed the counters at my local Kaufmann's department store and nearly killed my husband's olfactory system (I needed a second opinion, and he has a better sense of smell than I do) with aldehydes.
Finally, I fell in love with a scent for the first time, and I treated myself to a department store splurge: Cacharel's LouLou. And so, starting with my first crush, I present to you my Perfume favorites (so far):
I admit that the beauty of its bottle initially intrigued me, but the fragrance, once against my skin, slayed me. My God I smelled wonderful, and the scent stayed with me all day.
LouLou, sadly, was discontinued in the United States by the time I had finished my bottle. Since it was not then to be my signature fragrance, I jumped on the Chanel No. 5 train.
I still love Chanel No. 5 but I no longer own a bottle. I moved on when my husband gave me Dior's Dolce Vita for Christmas one year.
I loved this beauty and received a ton of compliments on it whenever I wore it. For a few years, I alternated between Dolce Vita and Chanel No. 5; I could never bring myself to choose one. They were so different, and so fantastic on my skin. Regrettably, they stopped selling Dolce Vita stateside a few years ago, although it can be found online.
My fragrance philosophy changed when I read the book The Bombshell Manual of Style by Laren Stover. The descriptions of Bombshell perfume favorites are uncomparable, so one is unable to resist trying them all. This one, especially, piqued my interest: "It is a youthful scent, combining lusty leather and tobacco notes with innocent, sing-songy, powdery carnation, iris and ylang-ylang and is recommended for Bombshells with wanderlust.... Comfortable in fast cars, slow cars, grand cafes in Vienna, casinos in Monte Carlo, nightclubs anywhere." That, my friends, describes:
It was tough getting my hands on a sample: Caron does not sell Tabac Blond in department stores. Apparently, it's only available in Caron boutiques--Paris, New York--and I've never been to Paris and haven't travelled to New York in years. I could have ordered a bottle from the NYC store, but I was of course hesitant to spend over $100 on an untested scent! Luckily, my enthusiasm lead me to the Fragrance Board at MakeUpAlley.com (MUA--more on them later). Not only a fabulous source of information for all things fragrant, through MUA I was able to split a full bottle of Tabac Blond with other perfume aficionadas and so, for $22, I scored a precious "sample."
I can't tell you what the basenotes are or describe a perfume's drydown like most other perfumistas. I can only tell you what I like, and I adore Tabac Blond. Okay, so I admit that I can smell the leather and the tobacco, as well as a voluptuous floral that's simultaneously overwhelming and comforting. And I love leather and tobacco--it's my husband's leather jacket when we first met and the unfiltered Gauloises that I crave (and try not to smoke too frequently).
I can't wait to go to Paris and purchase my own flacon of Tabac Blond. I hear they fill the bottle straight from an imposing crystal Baccarat urn.
Antonia's Flowers Floret and L'Artisan La Chasse au Papillons
I discovered these two amazing florals through recommendations on the MUA Fragrance Board. I've loved the scent of sweet peas since I was a little girl and had a doll that (ostensibly) smelled like the flower, and so one day, curious, I asked the Board for sweet pea-based fragrances. Floret was overwhelmingly recommended. It's not easy to find. First I purchased a sample from the Antonia's Flowers website, then I later went back and bought a full bottle. You can also find it at stores like Barney's, I think. It's a sweet and dainty perfume, but although I typically prefer more robust scents, sometimes it's exactly how I want to feel.
If you love white-flower florals, you can't go wrong with La Chasse. I had it on my wish-list for awhile, and finally my husband gave it to me when I graduated from law school. Some people wear it only in the summer, but I wear it year-round, whenever I feel like being surrounded by gorgeous garden flowers.
Guerlain L'heure bleue
Another find from The Bombshell Manual. It took me awhile to convince my husband that this was a beautiful scent--at first he claimed it was too "old lady." But he came around. Less overtly floral than Floret or La Chasse, L'heure bleue is dusky and powdery and sensual. If I HAD to choose a signature scent, this would be it, because there are very few days or occasions in my life in which L'heure bleue wouldn't be wildly appropriate (my other favorites all demand a certain sensibility, depending on whether I'm feeling happy or sad, warm or cool, conventional or bohemian, et cetera...).
Serge Lutens Daim Blond
My newest scent, Daim Blond is warm and leathery, but not at all masculine. Whenever I wear cashmere, I'm drawn to wear DB. A second runner-up in the for-all-occasions category. If you haven't tried Serge Luten fragrances yet, run to Neiman Marcus or Saks or Barney's and try them all! My other Serge Lutens favorite is Sa Majesté la Rose, and I'm dying to try one of their newer creations, Five O'Clock Au Gingembre.
Here are all the fragrances in my current collection. No, I don't usually keep them on my windowsill; typically they live on a tray in my closet.
From left to right, they are:
- Lolita Lempicka: I only bought this because of the apple-shaped bottle (I collect apples). A bit too licorice for my taste.
- L'heure bleue: My precious.
- Serge Lutens Daim Blond.
- Pure Tiffany: Okay, but I won't repurchase. Too Madison Avenue--I like to wear it with suits.
- La Chasse au Papillons: Beauty in a Bottle.
- Prada: Not quite a favorite, but I love it all the same. Best in the fall and winter, with Frye Campus boots.
- Antonia's Flowers Floret: If only I could grow sweet peas like this in my garden.
- Dior Dolce Vita: The last of the bottle. Sob.
- Tabac Blond: my vial of cosmopolitan cool.
On My Wishlist:
- Pucci Vivara (mainly for the bottle)
- L’Artisan Fleur de Narcisse (expensive as hell)
- Carthusia Mediterraneo (the movers killed my last bottle)
- Plus I have a whole other list of scents I want to try!
Find out More:
Buy your fragrances at aedes.com. I've never been to the Aedes store in NYC, which must be amazing, but their online shop is fun too. You can order samples at first, and when you finally cave make sure you have your purchase sent to you in their fresh-flower gift wrap! My husband, good man that he is, has this url bookmarked! Other good online sources are Luscious Cargo and Lucky Scent.
Meet fellow perfumistas on MakeUpAlley's Fragrance Board. Through MUA, you can swap perfume samples with other MUAers, which is a great way to try lesser-known or hard-to-find brands.
Don't limit yourself to the perfume counter at Macy's (although they have a ton of great scents!). Explore the world of boutique fragrances: L'Artisan, Serge Lutens, Frederic Malle, Montale and so many others.
Go for the perfume or eau de parfum if you can.