I get as much joy out of a brand new lipstick as the next girl. Feel exhilarated when I crack open a new body wash. Can’t believe my good fortune when I get my hands on a mascara that actually performs.
But you know that feeling—that THRILL—when a fragrance speaks to you? It may not happen often, but when it does, look out. Because you simply must own it. And it makes every morning just a tiny bit better to apply—pat, never rub—a scent that is just perfect for you.
In my experience, the fragrance discovery process happens best when it is organic. Not in the grass-fed, free-range type of way (although I do swear life-long allegiance to Red Flower’s organic Guaiac), but when you just happen upon it in your day-to-day life and are compelled to adopt it as your own. There is one scent I wear which I’ll tell you about someday, and people stop me ALL THE TIME—cab drivers, random females, creepy men—to ask about it. (Am convinced there must be drugs in there, or something.)
Now, since they have yet to figure out how to transmit scents over the Internetz, I’m going to attempt the second best thing today and narrow down what *I* think are the 10 best fragrance buys out of the many more that have crossed my desk this fall. Because honestly? The whole fragrance marketing thing is TOO MUCH. Too overwhelming, too highly commercial—and too many boring, mediocre scents thrown in amongst the good ones to confuse you all.
So—if you’re hankering for something new, get thee over to your nearest Sephora, Murale, Holt Renfrew or Shoppers Drug Mart to catch a whiff of one of these:
10. Belle d’Opium by Yves Saint Laurent
Quite possibly I’m taken by this perfume purely because of the advertising imagery. (This happens a lot with YSL and me.) I want to BE one of those languid, sensual, Greek goddesses dripping in gold jewelery. Of course the juice itself is an Oriental. It has patchouli, which I normally run screaming from, but in this instance it’s tempered by the jasmine… and maybe the hookah! Wow.
Notes: Casablanca lily, sandalwood, gardenia, white pepper, jasmine absolute, patchouli and hookah
9. Twirl by Kate Spade
I know, I know—Kate Spade is not really the hippest brand going anymore. But this, which is the first scent from the brand since 2002, is a fruity fanatic’s dream. I mean, *I* even like it. It doesn’t have that overly sweet, saccharine feel that many fruity scents do, nor does it smell cheap. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not exciting or “different”, but what it IS is very wearable.
Notes: watermelon, blackberry, red currant, orange blossom, star jasmine, tiare, magnolia, musk and French macaroon
8. Womanity by Thierry Mugler
One of the world’s top Parisian perfumers once told me that all great scents have just a bit of the masculine in them; it’s that contrast that makes them great instead of “common.” Womanity does this with a savory/sweet mix of caviar and fig. It’s not as divisive of a scent as Angel (which you either loved or hated) but has a pleasing salty tang that cuts the floral.
Notes: fig, caviar, fig tree, leaf
7. Play for Her Intense by Givenchy
Givenchy can usually be counted on to make great perfumes. And this—the little sister of the Justin Timberlake-fronted men’s Play franchise—is simply gorgeous. It’s warm and slightly musky without being heavy, and the hint of Tiare flower is, in my book, always a welcome addition. There is also a non-intense, regular Play for Her version, but I like this one much better.
Notes: pink peppercorn, white peach, orange blossom, heart of magnolia, Tiare flower, orchid, sandalwood, patchouli, tonka bean and benzoin
6. Lady Million by Paco Rabanne
Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million scent for men was the sleeper hit of 2009. (I know—who knew? I put Paco Rabanne in the same cheesy ’80s-wear category as Pierre Cardin.) Anyway, the lady version is nice too, and surprisingly very, very fresh. I think it was the orange blossom that had me at hello.
Notes: citron, raspberry, neroli, orange flower, jasmine, gardenia, patchouli and honey
5. Acqua di Gìoia by Giorgio Armani
If you hate heavy, heady, “fall” scents, this is the fragrance for you. It’s a lovely fresh and citrusy marine scent that is just slightly warmer than the famous (now 14-year-old) Acqua di Gio. I will bust this out come January, when I’ll be dreaming of sunny beaches and begging the weather for mercy.
Notes: crushed mint leaves, lemon, aquatic jasmine, dewy peony, pink pepper, cedar, yellow sugar and labdanum
4. Beauty by Calvin Klein
This scent feels very grown-up to me, in an elegant, understated Diane Kruger sort of way. (She IS the face, after all.) It’s a quiet, no-nonsense floral, kind of like Guerlain’s Idylle from last year but less show-stopping, if that makes any sense. This would be a perfect “office” fragrance.
Notes: lily, ambrette seed, jasmine, cedarwood
3. Sensuous Noir by Estée Lauder
I’ve always liked Estée Lauder scents, maybe because I find them more subtle than most mainstream fragrances. Sensuous Noir is the “sexier” version of Sensuous (which launched in 2008) and is simply a fantastic, fresh, musky oriental—if you like that sort of thing. (I know it sounds a bit contradictory to describe a musk as fresh, but that’s exactly what this is.) I love it.
Notes: purple rose, jasmine, black pepper, melted woods nature print, creme noir accord, patchouli prisma, spiced lily, benzoin, vanilla, honey and amber
2. “Wicked Style” Harajuku Lovers
Okay, so these aren’t one scent but five. And truth be told, I don’t actually USE them. But they belong here because gosh darn it, I’m just a teensy bit obsessed with these little guys. Purely because they please my inner 5-year-old. So let’s skip the business about talking about the actual notes, and just appreciate them for the kitsch factor, yes? Thank you Gwen Stefani.
1. Love and Tears, Surrender by By Kilian
Is there any scent as delicious as ylang ylang? I don’t think so. And that’s why By Kilian, the fragrance line launched by Kilian Hennessy—yes, of THOSE Hennessys—has stolen my heart with this scent (his 9th). The whole premise of the line is that it’s super-high quality, using precious essential oils—so instead of funneling their entire budget into paying for celebrity endorsements, it goes into the product. (Imagine!) As you may know, while I can appreciate the art of fragrance-making, I am not a mainstream fragrance person when it comes to my own personal habits. (Also because a lot of the chemicals in most fragrances make me sneeze.) So this? Right up my alley.
Notes: jasmine, orange blossom, ylang ylang, ciste, bergamot, petit grain, cypress
So now tell me…
Have you sniffed any of these scents yet?
Or are you more of a signature scent type of person?
Even if you are, PLEASE try By Kilian, next time you’re at Holt Renfrew. You must!