Hey, I’m squeezing in my April perfume notes just in time for Mother’s Day (May 13, 2018)!
Spring is in the air, and while my list contains a fair few carryovers from the winter, there are also many romantic, warm weather-friendly scents, as well. If you haven’t bought your mom (or yourself!) a gift, yet, I hope these mini reviews will give you some ideas.
- Alaïa Alaïa
- Alaïa Alaïa Blanche
- Annick Goutal Un Matin d’Orage
- Annick Goutal Rose Absolue
- Annick Goutal Rose Pompon
- Annick Goutal Songes EDT & EDP
- Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise
- Atelier Flou Sloane Rose
- Calvin Klein Eternity Air
- Chanel Les Exclusifs: Coromandel EDP
- Dior J’Adore
- Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Fig
- Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey Nectar de Parfum
- Jennifer Aniston Near Dusk
- Maison Margiela Replica: Lipstick On
- Narciso Rodriguez Narciso EDT
- Nina Ricci Les Monstres: Luna & Nina
- Ormonde Jayne Ta’if
- Paco Rabanne Olympéa Aqua EDP Légère
- Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger
- Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille
- Van Cleef & Arpels Collection Extraordinaire: Orchidée Vanille
- Vera Wang Embrace: Marigold & Gardenia (yellow florals, melon)
- Vera Wang Embrace: Rose Buds & Vanilla
- Yves Saint Laurent Mon Paris EDT
I also tested all of the scents in the Berdoues sampler I got from Sephora, but I’ll write a separate blog post for those!
2015 | Marie Salamagne
Top Notes: airy notes, pink pepper
Heart Notes: freesia, peony
Base Notes: animalic notes, musk
I wanted very much to love the eponymous first fragrance from designer Alaïa, especially since the bottle is so beautiful, but it didn’t move me. It is deep and a bit dark, but also a little too cloying. I wouldn’t mind trying it again for a better grasp of it, but my initial impression is not very favorable. I don’t love any of the notes in it, so I suppose it is not a surprise that I didn’t fall for it.
The stunning bottle design echoes Alaïa’s gorgeous, laser cut handbags:
2015 | Marie Salamagne
Top Notes: almond
Heart Notes: heliotrope
Base Notes: animalic notes, musk, vanilla
While the original Alaïa did not do it for me, the first flanker, Alaïa Blanche, is another story.
Blanche is a terribly pretty, elegant, and feminine scent. It might suffer from a bit of blandness, but it’s soft, a little fluffy, and I found it very easy to wear. I’d like to test it again more fully, but this is now on my wishlist. I’ve heard that these two Alaïas have been showing up at T.J. Maxx / Marshalls / Winners…
Un Matin d’Orage EDT & EDP
EDT: 2009 | Isabelle Doyen
Notes: lemon, ginger, gardenia, shiso, magnolia, champaca, jasmine
EDP: 2014 | Isabelle Doyen
Top Notes: magnolia, tuberose
Base Notes: vanilla, guaiac wood, myrrh
I fear I may be partially anosmic to these—I tried both the EDT and the EDP. The notes sound phenomenal, but I didn’t get very much from them. I will have to re-test; it’s possible that my nose was just overwhelmed by all the other perfumes at the store. The name translates to “a stormy morning,” which sounds wonderful for a perfume, doesn’t it?
EDP: 2014 | Isabelle Doyen
I adore a good rose fragrance, and it boggles my mind that it’s taken so long for me to try Rose Absolue. It’s a pure, living rose with a massive bouquet of notes from May rose, Turkish rose, Bulgarian rose, Damask rose, Egyptian rose, and Moroccan rose. My favorite rose scents are Lancôme 2000 et une Rose, Serge Lutens Sa Majesté La Rose, Yves Rocher Rose Absolue, and Stella McCartney (the original formulation)—all of which are rose plus honey, amber, spices. Annick Goutal’s Rose Absolue is the purest rose, and I will have to add it to my list of favorites, and, of course, to my wishlist!
2016 | Camille Goutal, Philippine Courtière
Top Notes: raspberry, blackcurrant, pink pepper
Heart Notes: rose, peony
Base Notes: cedar, patchouli, white musk
Rose Pompon, on the other hand, is not my cup of tea at all. I kind of despise it, actually—and I should really have known from the notes (pink pepper, raspberry, and peony!). It’s quite sweet, very girly, and very pink pepper-y and berry jammy. Not for me. The original bottle is adorable, though.
Songes EDT & EDP
2005 | Isabelle Doyen
Notes: frangipani, tiare, jasmine, ylang-ylang, vanilla, benzoin, patchouli, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper
I sampled Songes many years ago, and remembered enjoying it, but I recently re-tested it and fell head-over-heels!
It’s a bomb of white florals, with a generous twist of tropical flair thanks to the frangipani (plumeria) and tiare (Tahitian gardenia). The EDT is, as you’d expect, a bit fresher and lighter, whereas the EDP is richer, longer-lasting, and has stronger indolic jasmine, thick and luscious but never veering into “dirty” territory the way jasmine sometimes does on me.
The spice notes are perfect in this. I usually run screaming from anything with cumin in it, perfume-wise (I adore it in food!), but here, it is well-balanced and enhances the lush florals beautifully.
I’ve already picked up a bottle of the EDP, and I’ll probably add the EDT to my collection one day. The behave differently enough to justify owning both, and I really am completely smitten… I did make sure to buy from an online discounter so that I got a bargain and the vintage-style, ultra-femme bottle now that Annick Goutal has been acquired by AmorePacific and the entire line’s name and packaging has changed. I do not mind the new bottle design—in fact, apart from the slightly incongruous-looking cap, I think the new bottle is not bad at all—but I do wish they’d kept the name Annick Goutal. I don’t think Goutal Paris sounds as pleasing at all.
2004 | Isabelle Doyen, Camille Goutal
Notes: angelica, almond, vanilla, musk, sandalwood, guaiac wood
I should probably just stop testing the Annick Goutals, because my wishlist is getting lengthy and expensive. I went on a bit of a vanilla kick this spring (more details down in my mini review of Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille), which is bizarre since spring is not really the time of year I associate with vanilla scents, and I normally am not crazy into vanilla scents.
But I tried several, and fell in love with a fair few. Vanille Exquise is one of the best ones and, frankly, I am going to have to get it for the winter. It’s almondy and milky without coming across as an actual gourmand, and, unlike many mainstream vanillas, it is never too sweet. It’s soft, sensual, low-key, and I think extremely versatile. I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on it—and it should layer well with many other scents, as well.
Top Notes: jasmine, violet, orange
Heart Notes: rose
Base Notes: cedar, amber
This is the first scent I’ve ever tried from French house Atelier Flou, and I’m intrigued enough to want to try more.
Sloane Rose is a delicate, refined rose sweetened with jasmine and violet, which give it a vintage feel. Honestly, it smells a bit too simple to warrant the high price tag, but on the other hand, it does come in a gorgeous bottle and I really do enjoy the scent! It is also a very well-blended fragrance and lasts fairly well for being so light and gentle.
Eternity Air for Women
Top Notes: grapefruit, blackcurrant, ozonic notes
Heart Notes: peony, lily-of-the-valley, pear
Base Notes: cedar, ambergris, musk
I tried to sample the new Eternity flanker, but it disappeared into thin air…
Seriously, though, it barely smelled like anything to me—I think I got something very airy, light, squeaky clean, and vaguely fruity—and what was there dissipated rather quickly. Utterly pointless for me.
Les Exclusifs: Coromandel EDP
2016 | Jacques Polge
Top Notes: citrus, neroli
Heart Notes: jasmine, rose, patchouli, orris
Base Notes: incense, frankincense, benzoin, musk, wood notes, white chocolate
Coromandel, originally composed by Chanel’s house perfumer Jacques Polge in 2007, was more recently revamped in 2016. I never smelled the original, but recently got to try out a single stingy spray at the Chanel counter last month. (The SA somehow refused to let me handle the testers; she insisted I smell it on a card, first, and when I told her I liked it, she seemed surprised but deigned to spritz a little bit on my hand. What on earth was that all about?) In any case, Coromandel is one of the more hyped fragrances in the Les Exclusifs line so I was keen to sample it.
It is, like the other Les Exclusifs I have tried—Beige, Cuir de Russie, Sycomore—immaculately blended, painfully elegant, and expensive-smelling. I’ve liked or loved them all, though I haven’t developed enough love to shell out for any bottles. It is the same with Coromandel, which is cozy and warm (earthy patchouli, sweet milky notes, soft powder), yet coolly distant (a vague whiff of mint and medicine) at the same time. It’s intriguing, but I don’t feel the need to wear it.
1999 | Calice Becker
Top Notes: mandarin
Heart Notes: jasmine, plum, orchid, rose
Base Notes: amaranth, musk, blackberry
This modern classic has certainly been reformulated since I tested it back in ’99 or ’00 when it was first released, but my impression is generally the same.
I don’t care what the notes say—J’Adore is so well-blended that I can’t pick much of anything out except for a neutered jasmine. The result is a perfume that is crowd-pleasing and, to me, smells exactly as I’d imagine a very expensive soap would.
It’s clean, elegant, and perfectly pleasant, but I’d never go out of my way to wear it myself.
Green Tea Fig
Top Notes: bergamot, clementine, fig leaf
Heart Notes: green tea, fig, violet leaf
Base Notes: tonka bean, musk, clary sage
I don’t know why I try so hard to like the Elizabeth Arden Green Tea line, but I just never care for any of them. They smell like inexpensive body sprays to me, and with near zero longevity. The bottles are kind of cheap-looking, too. They really look like they should cost $10 a bottle.
In defense of the new flanker, Green Tea Fig, it does start off with a nice figgy note. Then, as usual, it disappears after a few minutes. I really don’t see the point of these. I suppose they must actually last on other people’s skin!
L’Eau d’Issey Pure Nectar de Parfum
2018 | Fanny Bal, Dominique Ropion
Top Notes: honey pear
Heart Notes: rose
Base Notes: sandalwood
I first sniffed L’Eau d’Issey Pure Nectar de Parfum (could the name be any longer?) on a card, and thought it smelled intriguing. Some time later, I went back for a spritz on skin. I was really hoping I would like this one, as it would be the very first Issey Miyake fragrance that called to me—I never cared for L’Eau d’Issey original, A Scent, Pleats Please, and so on. Also, the rose gold bottle is so pretty!
It was not meant to be, as what smelled like a romantic, honeyed floral on paper became a blast of syrupy honey and cloying florals on me. It also has a very odd marine note that mixes strangely with the rest of the scent. Honestly, I thought it smelled very ’90s, but in a bad way.
Now, I know I make it sound awful, but honestly this is a perfume that could work well on some people. You’ll have to try it to know. It’s a no-go for me, but I could certainly see someone else working it!
2015 | Jean-Marc Chaillan
Top Notes: pink pepper, nectarine, coconut water, sea spray
Heart Notes: orange blossom, jasmine, peony
Base Notes: musk, white amber, blonde woods, vanilla
Over the holidays, I picked up a 3-piece rollerball set of Jennifer Aniston scents. I already owned one in spray form, Jennifer Aniston (originally Lolavie), and like it a lot. I was mostly curious about Near Dusk, which was supposed to be a nice tropical scent.
I’ve gotta be up front about my rollerball-hate, though. OMG why. Who invented these things, and why are they everywhere? Little bits of skin and dirt will get onto the rollerball and into the perfume! The perfume doesn’t even smell as strongly when rolled on as it does sprayed. Just make it a travel spray, people! Aaaaaargh!!!
Anyway. Near Dusk smells very nice. It’s coconut, vanilla, and a little white floral, some watery notes, and it has a pleasant musky drydown. Clean and beachy, as I’ve come to expect from Jennifer Aniston. For me, it’s like the daytime version of Versace Crystal Noir, which goes super-duper coconutty on me.
Will I get a full-sized bottle? Unlikely, but I suppose I’d get it if I found a bottle on the cheap. And, who knows how long it will take me to use up this hated rollerball format…
Replica: Lipstick On
Top Notes: bergamot, heliotrope, neroli
Heart Notes: orange blossom, iris, galbanum
Base Notes: tonka bean, vanilla, patchouli
So much hype! The marketing description sounded wonderful and right down my alley: a vintage, floral lipstick scent. I knew I had a sample from Sephora somewhere in my stash, and I finally found it last month. (For some reason, I also have about three samples of Replica: Jazz Club lying around.)
And you know what? I can understand the hype, completely. It does what it says on the tin, as the saying goes—yet it fell quite short for me. Yes, there’s a powdery iris, a waxy sweetness, a strange plastic note to recall a lipstick case. It smells like a romantic notion of a dressing table from a black and white movie. Maybe it’s because I prefer my cosmetic scents smelling like powdery violets and rose, but Lipstick On is too cloyingly sweet for me. I’ll stick with Givenchy L’Ange Noir for now (a proper waxy lipstick scent, ha!) and look forward to Guerlain Météorites Le Parfum in the fall…and I should revisit Frédéric Malle Lipstick Rose, as well.
Top Notes: peony, rose
Heart Notes: musk
Base Notes: cedar, vetiver
The original Narciso EDP is one I enjoy very much, and I was a little surprised to note that I like the new EDT and find it different enough to want it, as well. It’s a little lighter, as you expect from an EDT, but the longevity remains quite good. The original is still recognizable in it, but here it simply feels a bit brighter and more clean. The EDP and EDT are wonderful skin scents! I only wish I could have loved the Narciso Poudré version as well.
Les Monstres: Luna & Nina
Les Monstres Nina
2018 | Olivier Cresp
Top Notes: pear, blackcurrant leaf
Heart Notes: cotton candy, peony
Base Notes: praline
I’m lumping these two together because, frankly, I can’t be bothered to tell them apart. I’m pretty sure I’ve sniffed both Luna and Nina in the past in their original bottles before, and came away unimpressed. The new Les Monstres editions turn them into sugar bombs rather than fruit bombs, with literal candy notes of cotton candy and praline.
Les Monstres Luna
2018 | Christophe Raynaud, Marie Salamagne
Notes: pineapple, lime, caramel
The limited edition Les Monstres bottles are, depending on your point of view, utterly adorable or quite inane. The artwork on the bottles is by Brazilian artists Ana Strumpf and Guto Requena.
Personally, I kind of like the faces on the fruit bottles, and I especially dig the huge, fluffy pompons (Ariana Grande’s perfumes have these, too), which admittedly do make the bottles a bit tricky to use. I dropped Les Monstres Nina’s cap in the store—thank goodness it didn’t skitter too far away!
I just don’t like the perfumes inside. They’ll probably be adored by teen girls, who I assume are the target demographic. I’d definitely buy one as a gift for a teen! If I had to pick, I personally liked Les Monstres Luna a bit better than Les Monstres Nina—but I am partial to lime and caramel over pear and praline.
A third Les Monstres, Les Monstres Luna Blossom, also exists, but it is an Asia exclusive. Because Asia, it has a mochi rice cake note that I would so have liked to try! Thanks for nothing, Puig fragrances.
Les Monstres Luna Blossom
Notes: mochi, orange blossom
2004 | Geza Schön
Top Notes: pink pepper, saffron, dates
Heart Notes: rose, freesia, orange blossom, jasmine
Base Notes: broom flower, amber
Pencil shavings, with a hint of a dry, peppery, spiced rose that I have to work to pick out. The notes really led me to believe this was a far more sophisticated scent than it turned out to be.
My sample is pretty old, so maybe it’s just gone off…it doesn’t smell like it has, though. The woodchippy notes don’t make me compelled to get another sample for confirmation.
Olympéa Aqua EDP Légère
Top Notes: lemon blossom
Heart Notes: salty-vanilla calamondin, quatic notes, jasmine, ambergris
Base Notes: cashmere wood
The original Olympéa Aqua EDT flanker from 2016 gets an update in Olympéa Aqua Eau de Parfum Légère, which comes in a beautiful coral rose bottle.
Like the original Olympéa, I kind of like this new flanker, but it doesn’t pull me in at all. It smells beachy and luxurious, but too heady, sweet, and intense for a scent that seems like it should be refreshing and airy. It’s not a bad scent, but it’s not for me.
Un Bois Vanille
2003 | Christopher Sheldrake
Notes: vanilla, coconut milk, bitter almond, licorice, beeswax, benzoin, tonka bean, sandalwood, guaiac wood
I was never much for vanilla-centered perfumes, but I am starting to think that it was because I’d never really tested anything more sophisticated than Aquolina Pink Sugar (not that there’s anything wrong with it! It’s yummy!). Or maybe Mugler Angel and Guerlain Shalimar, but those are more than just “vanilla” scents to me. This spring, I suddenly found myself wanting to cozy up in vanilla scents—snow in April will do that to you!—and tested some different vanillas: Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise, Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensée, Berdoues Vånira Moorea, Lavanila Fresh Lemon Vanilla (which I blind-bought at Winners), Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidée Vanille, and Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille.
Well, that opened up a world of vanilla to me that I’d never previously bothered to consider! It’s intriguing to smell vanilla when it isn’t surrounded by flowers or cake and candy notes. Un Bois Vanille is a touch gourmand with coconut, licorice, and almond notes, yet it doesn’t really smell foody—it’s sweet but not cloyingly so. There’s a dryness to the scent that hints at fireplaces, candles, amaretto, leather. It’s the epitome of a cozy scent. I could probably do with the wood notes toned down a bit, but it is called Un Bois Vanille, after all.
If you’re a vanilla lover, you need to try this. You may not love it as much I did, but it will be worth your while.
Some Serge Lutens fragrances are currently at online discounters in their old bottle labels (pictured here is the new label); the brand has recently undergone a logo change. I ordered my bottle of Un Bois Vanille as part of my Mother’s Day gift this year (I blind-bought Molinard Vanille Fruitée as the other half, and will try it this Sunday!).
2003 | Christopher Sheldrake
Top Notes: citrus
Heart Notes: orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, white rose
Base Notes: musk, hibiscus, cumin
If you enjoy orange blossom, as I do, this is a stunning one. It’s heady, intoxicating, borderline opulent. The spice in the base is addictive and a little dirty. If I’m quite honest, though, this perfume is simply too much for me. I enjoy it, but not on myself. I’ll stick with Elie Saab Le Parfum for a more polite, honeyed orange blossom, or the sweet and charming L’Amande Neroli, because I really don’t have the personality to handle Fleurs d’Oranger.
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS
Collection Extraordinaire: Orchidée Vanille
2009 | Randa Hammami
Notes: mandarin, lychee, bitter almond, dark chocolate, rose, violet, vanilla, cedar, tonka bean, white musk
Almost ten years ago, luxury jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels released a collection of six Extraordinaire fragrances, each signed by a different perfumer. I’d only recently gotten the chance to try some of them, and spritzed California Rêverie, Gardénia Pétale, and Orchidée Vanille on cards. While they were all perfectly lovely and genteel, the one that stunned me was Orchidée Vanille. Like I said in the Serge Lutins Un Bois Vanille review, I wasn’t very much into vanilla scents until recently, and I was knocked off my feet.
I expected Orchidée Vanille to be sickly sweet, cloying, intensely heady. Instead, it was delicious, charming, romantic, and freakin’ perfection.
Or so I thought. Another day, I went back specifically to give it a test on my skin. Well, I don’t know what happened, but it fizzled out on my skin. Did I kill it? I was so sad. What smelled so multifaceted and intriguing on the card ended up smelling merely overly-balanced and only pleasant on me…definitely not $230-plus-13%-tax-for-75-ml pleasant! (Though let’s be honest, I’d wait for a sale.) It also did not have especially good sillage nor longevity, which, at this price range, I definitely expect.
Well, money saved. I still adore the scent on the card, though. I envy those with skin that allow this fragrance to bloom, because it is a beauty.
Embrace: Marigold & Gardenia
Top Notes: mango, melon
Heart Notes: gardenia, marigold, orange blossom
Base Notes: cardamom, sandalwood, cedar, musk
I rarely have any luck with Vera Wang’s scents. They’re often hairspray in the top notes and blandness in the middle. Sometimes the drydowns are nice. The Embrace series is a reasonably-priced fragrance line of simpler scents with descriptive names. I recently tested two, and Marigold & Gardenia was by far the better one, to my nose. I don’t really recall marigolds smelling especially nice (aren’t they good for keeping bugs away?) but thankfully, this fragrance smells more like a lightly spiced white floral-fruity which gives a sunny, “yellow” impression.
Would I buy it for myself? No, but it was pleasant enough to try. It’s a terribly lightweight scent that does not last very long.
Embrace: Rose Buds & Vanilla
Top Notes: rose, mandarin
Heart Notes: cyclamen, iris, magnolia
Base Notes: musk, vanilla, sandalwood
What a waste of time. This is a watery, fleeting floral that is too sharp in the opening, and only vaguely smells of roses and vanilla as it dries down. (Honestly, it smells so little that I wonder whether I’m partially anosmic to it.) Incredibly dull, and, frankly, not too surprising for me based on my opinion of most other Vera Wang perfumes I have tried. There are so many other better rose scents to try!
YVES SAINT LAURENT
Mon Paris EDT
2017 | Olivier Cresp, Harry Fremont, Dora Baghriche-Arnaud
Top Notes: bergamot, blackberry, raspberry, pink pepper
Heart Notes: datura, peony, jasmine, orange blossom
Base Notes: patchouli, Cashmeran, Ambroxan, musk
I actually bought the original Mon Paris EDP earlier this spring, having inexplicably fallen in love with it after despising it for years. I hadn’t realized that an EDT version was released last year, and was kicking myself for not trying it until I noticed that the notes are actually different.
Mon Paris EDP is all about juicy strawberries, and surprisingly, the strawberry note is missing in the EDT. Yet, I have to say that the EDT does smell similar to the EDP, but lighter, fresher, and gentler. It’s perfectly nice, considering I generally am not a fan of heavy raspberry notes plus pink pepper. However, I’m happy to have the EDP instead.