Ipso Olfacto

fragrant musings


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Fragonard Miranda (EDT)- A Non-Suntan Lotion Coconut Scent!

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Sweet, milky vanilla scents aren’t just for wintertime! As you all know, my penchant for sweet, rich gourmands often is at odds with the blistering heat of Arizona summers. Miranda to the rescue! From the classic French house of Fragonard, Miranda is a perfect contradiction, in that it manages to be an indulgently creamy, vanilla and coconut scent while also feeling fresh and breezy.

In the opening of Miranda, I get a green, non-sweet citrus zing. It almost feels waxy, like smelling the skin or the rind of an unripe lime.  Then, a milky, sweet coconut note emerges. It’s not heavy or syrupy – just that light, milky sweetness of opening a fresh coconut. The vanilla shows up to add sweet, gourmand delight. It’s not a cheap smelling vanilla, but it’s definitely a gourmand, almost ice-cream-like one.  As Miranda dries down, the vanilla gets more rich, and some oppoponax (sweet myrrh) adds a lovely balsalmic, resinous sweetness that isn’t too cloying. Some light white florals are in the mix somewhere, but don’t emerge in any pronounced way. At the end of the day,  Miranda really is all about the vanilla and coconut, but the secondary players (waxy citrus, light florals, resins) are just enough to prevent it from being a more generic coconut suntan lotion type of scent.

Miranda is also rather light – you can kind of just spray away with it, without worrying about choking people out. It’s certainly not a body spray or anything, it’s just not a terribly dense or monstrous scent- I tend to get around 4-5 hours out of it. This lightness makes Miranda perfect for the summer heat, but it can certainly be worn year round. And at around 60 bucks for a huge, 200 ml (!) bottle, this summer indulgence can be enjoyed with no guilt.

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Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere- The Perfect Modern Update

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Updating a classic fragrance for the younger crowd is an intimidating venture on its own – let alone when it involves updating Chanel No.5, probably THE most iconic fragrance on earth. Now, I know Chanel released No.5 L’eau recently, but I think they already hit the nail on the head as far as updating No.5 with 2015’s Eau Premiere . L’eau is nice, but a bit too far removed from No.5- it ends up feeling like more of a neutered version than a cool, modern take. Eau Premiere is certainly lighter and easier to wear than the original No.5 EDT and EDP, but it still has that distinct No.5 DNA, as well as, most importantly, it’s attitude. 

Upon spraying Eau Premiere,  your nose is tickled by lemony, fizzy, aldehydes that are a genius modernization of the OG No.5’s often nostril-burning ones. Here, they feel buoyant and fresh, like a crisp glass of champagne. Buttery ylang-ylang eventually emerges, along with some light rose and Jasmine.  In the drydown, Eau Premiere skips out on the more dated notes of the original: the animalic civet, the musty oakmoss- and instead presents a slightly creamy base of sandalwood, vetiver, and vanilla. Think of Eau Premiere as the Konmari’d version of No.5- it gives you that classic smell, only streamlined (and probably more likely to “spark joy” with most of today’s noses.)

The magic of Eau Premiere is that it smells classic but not dated.  Let’s face it, No.5, although an icon, can smell kind if jarring to “the youths” of today – it just smells so blatantly from another era of perfumery. I mean, when was the last time we had a major mainstream release that was aldehyde-based, or that even contained civet? Eau Premiere is also incredibly versatile – it feels just as at home with a tee shirt and jeans as with a ballgown. So, even as a millennial-friendly update, Eau Premiere is still as chic and classic as ever. 


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How Useful is the Term “Niche?”

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Am I the only one who finds it a bit odd that somewhere down the line, we all decided that the main way us frag-heads would categorize fragrances is by whether or not they are “designer” or “niche”? Look at the description of most YouTube reviews – you’ll usually see the “designer” or “niche” designation in lieu of listing even the fragrance category (or any multitude of more relevant things about the scent…) The agreed upon meaning of a “niche” fragrance brand is one whose main focus is producing fragrances… Which is, ironically, really,  really broad, in almost direct contrast to, y’know, the actual definition of the word “niche.” Why are we so fixated on what is, at the end of the day, just an interesting anecdote about the fragrance company?

Now, I imagine that “niche” is a useful classification to those who actually work in the fragrance industry, and thus the term probably made its way into the common fragrance junkie’s lexicon as a result. But how relevant is this to us, really? The mere fact that a company only (or mostly) makes fragrances doesn’t mean that they’re catering to a “niche” customer base at all. Most importantly, it tells you nothing about how a fragrance will smell. The kicker is, the actual, real use of the word “niche” would be useful in talking about fragrances, as that would tell you that you’re gonna smell something a little unusual and uncommon- made for a smaller audience. As of now, though, scents like this can be found in both “niche” and designer fragrance lines.

For instance, Michel Germain is technically a niche fragrance house, but their stuff literally smells like what you find at Victoria’s Secret and you can buy their scents at your local Macy’s. Comme Des Garcons is technically a designer brand, but their fragrance offerings are very creative, unique, and often times avant-garde to just straight up weird. Then, you have fragrance companies that produce many fragrance lines- including more mainstream ones alongside an exclusive or “prive” line that feels more “niche.” For example, Guerlain is technically a niche brand, but Shalimar and all those darn La petite Robe Noir bottles are super ubiquitous, while something like French Kiss can only be found in certain boutiques (and comes with a MUCH less friendly price tag.) And then you have indie brands which are apparently their own, separate thing. It’s all kind of a mess.

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Overall, I think that the whole “niche” vs. “designer” thing is silly to get hung up on. Unfortunately, too many people outright dismiss either category, insisting one is superior to the other, despite how arbitrary and pretty irrelevant these terms are. By being so absolutist, one ends up missing out on tons of great fragrances. At the end of the day, we need to fixate a little less on the minutiae of the fragrance companies business operations when judging a scent, and smell it on its own merits.


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Womanity- A Refreshingly Weird Summer Scent

 

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Womanity by Thierry Mugler is an infamously weird, wacky fragrance that actually isn’t that weird. It’s certainly unique- there’s not really anything else out there that smells like it. But there are so many overwrought reviews of this one that insist that its downright disgusting- that it smells of rotten fish, puke, and/or “dirty vagina.” Hoookay. No. (And uh, maybe see a gyno?) What Womanity is is an incredibly unique, fresh beach scent that conveys summer without resorting to cheesy coconut/suntan lotion vibes.

I was very late to the game in trying Womanity– I bought my bottle just last summer after acquiring and subsequently falling in love with my sample. The rather graphic reviews only made me want to try it more – after all, I was already a huge devotee to the other Mugler creation with a stinky reputation: Angel. I was morbidly excited to try my sample, bracing myself for something nasty and… hmmm… yeah, it’s a bit metallic… there’s a sweetness that’s a tad ripe… definite saltiness… but nothing gross. In fact, what I was met with was a lovely fresh, green, woody sweetness wrapped in that same cold-metallic-fruity quality found in Muglers Alien. Womanity has this weirdly metallic, sour nuance that reminds me of that feeling you get in your mouth after sucking on a sour warhead candy- it kind of makes your mouth water.  That’s thanks, I guess, to the full fig lineup featured in the notes- fig tree, fig leaf, and fig fruit, but the result isn’t exactly naturalistic. The metallic sweetness combines with an incredibly vivid, not aquatic, salty sea air accord. They call it “caviar” in the note listing, but it really feels like a cool, fresh beach breeze. Completely refreshing.

Now, even though I already stated that I completely disagree that Womanity smells like “dirty pussy”… I actually get where these people are coming from (hyperbolic as they are.) I think it’s pretty apparent that the concept behind Womanity was, shall we say ” the scent of a woman.” The pink juice, focus on the fig tree, the scent’s metallic nuance in the opening, the fact that ITS CALLED WOMANITY- yeah, they’re not exactly hiding it. But Womanity is no Secretions Magnifique- it doesn’t veer into vulgarity. Its just a lovely perfume inspired by something human. Like how Chanel No.5 (with both its soapy aldehydes and animalic civet) was inspired by the smell of a woman’s clean skin – even clean skin will have something dirty in there, because that’s what makes it human.

With Womanity, Mugler set out to make the first “savory” gourmand. The sweet/salty juxtaposition certainly provides that, but I’d say that what makes Womanity truly weird is how its a (summer!) gourmand that also feels (to some, vulgarly) human. In a world where summer fragrance options are mostly limited to generic fresh-ey citrus aquatics, Womanity, in all its ripe, metallic, salty glory is, ironically, a true breath of fresh air.

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Estate Sale Find: Vintage Miniatures!

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My nosy self has always enjoyed estate sales- it’s one of the few socially accepted ways to enter a strangers house and root through their stuff. Bonus- you may end up finding some treasures, especially vintage gems, on the cheap! Recently, I found an adorable, unopened box, or “coffret,” of miniature vintage perfume treasures from *~Paris~*!

I was so excited to open the box- it was still wrapped loosely in its original cellophane-

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I could already detect that familiar, powdery smell of vintage perfume…

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Unfortunately, the nature of the bottles meant that they weren’t sealed very well, and most of them had either evaporated completely, or had very little (likely turned) juice inside. But for 2 bucks, I can’t say I care too much. They’re an interesting piece of history- they look to be from the 60s.

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Perfumes have always been a natural souvenir, especially for tourists to a glamorous locale like Paris who want to bring a little French Girl Chic ™ home with them. The little insert had some funny ad copy:

“Here are 10 perfumes that promise to be the new fashion of the Paris season. Be careful how you use them; never, never more than a day. You’ll know when you’re it [sic] on your own special scent when you get that flattering reaction that says: “You’re different, but I can’t say exactly what it is that makes you different.’ That, my friends, is true glamour. !” [all grammatical errors and emphasis theirs, lol]

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It’s funny, I’ve never even heard of any of these fragrances, other than maybe “Shocking” by Shiaperelli and of course, “Tabu” by Dana- am I noticing a pattern here? These were the NEW fashion at some point, I guess. I especially like the Lucien Lelong “Indiscrete.” How positively scandalous.


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Gap Close- The Bargain Summer Skinscent

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Unfortunately, my fragrance tastes don’t really align with the typical weather here in the desert. My absolute favorite scents are heavy, sweet, smokey, earthy, and rich. That’s all well and good, but when it’s triple digits outside and the sweat is rolling, those aren’t exactly the smells that you want mixing and mingling with your hot and heavy bad self. I’m not a huge “shower fresh” kind of gal, but sometimes ya just need to do shower fresh, for survival’s sake. A shower-fresh scent that I love? Gap Close. The kicker? It costs less than a movie ticket.

Like any fresh fragrance, Close opens with a citrusy, slightly aquatic zing. However, that goes away rather quickly to reveal a creamy, lotion-like scent. It honestly smells like freshly-lotioned skin after a shower- real skin- slightly salty, a bit creamy, and musky. This comes thanks to a lovely salt water note, along with some almond and fluffy, non-sweet vanilla. The whole package is tied together with soft, non-cloying white musk. It’s a very well blended scent, so these notes don’t take turns taking center stage, but all merge together in this lovely scent of healthy, clean skin. It’s so well balanced in that it’s fresh but not sporty, clean but not detergent-like.

As the name suggests, Close stays close to the skin- which is what you want on the hottest days where even a relatively light scent can become cloying. It lasts almost all day on clothes, but disappears from my skin in 3-4 hours. But at less than $10 for a 50 ml bottle (at my local TJ Maxx,) you can reapply with no guilt. So many sporty-fresh-aquatic scents just smell so.. robotic. Like, nobody naturally smells like calone. That’s why I’m so thrilled to have found my perfect summer skinscent- something to make me smell clean and fresh, but still human.


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My Top 6 Summer Gourmands!

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The phrase “Summer Gourmand” may seem like an oxymoron- but this ride or die gourmie has been able to find plenty of satisfyingly yummy gourmands to get me through the summer heat. The secret is gourmand notes that are sweet without being sticky, paired with fresh, light notes like mint, fresh fruit, or green/medicinal accords. Below are 6 of my favorite yummy summer picks (clockwise from bottom left):

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First up are the EDT and EDP from Salvatore Ferragamo’s Signorina line. These are what I call delightfully generic. Yeah, they’re kind of just typical fruitchouli gourmands, but they’re so adorably girly, and actually quite distinct. And that bottle? Total vanity table eye-candy. The EDP is a lovely creamy strawberry-flan type of smell, along with some well-behaved patchouli and a hint of what smells like a tea note (maybe the peony and pink pepper?) The EDT is a crisp, milky rice pudding with a hint of tartness thanks to litchi fruit, along with a fresh watery rose accord.  Ciao Bella!

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Next up is a recent love of mine: Replica: Tea Escape from Maison Martin Margiela. This is such a specific, highly unique fragrance. Ever had matcha (japanese green tea) flavored bubble tea, or green tea mochi ice cream? That’s basically what this smells like. It has that distinct green earthiness of matcha, combined with a lovely, milky sweet rice accord. A hint of mint in the opening adds some more palpable freshness.

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Now we’re gonna take a right into Mugler-ville, because when you want great gourmands, there’s not really a better house to turn to than Thierry Mugler. First up is Angel Eau Sucre- which is kind of Angel for people who hate Angel- in that it doesn’t really smell like it at all. But, that’s okay, because it’s wonderful in its own right. An incredibly accurate tart, sweet berry sorbet accord swirls with toasted meringue and light patchouli to create a sweet scent that feels like a refreshing, cold dessert.

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Our next stop in Mugler-ville is the somewhat controversial Womanity. I think some people not really knowing what to think of its “caviar” note is solely responsible for some of Womanity’s vocal bad reviews saying that it smells “like rotten fish,” because there’s absolutely nothing fishy about it (caviar doesn’t even smell/taste like fish, you plebes!) Womanity is simply a lovely, sweet, breezy beach scent. It has fruity notes of fig, as well as green and woody notes combined with, yes, a “caviar” accord, which just translates to the smell of fresh, salty sea air. It’s a bit weird, in true Mugler fashion, but still totally wearable.

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And last, we have Angel Eau de Toilette– the lighter, fresher version of Angel. For fans of the EDP, this one hits all the right beats while using milder, easier to wear notes. Fresh crisp berries, nutty praline, and clean, mentholated patchouli mingle together to create a much more well-behaved, and yes, summer appropriate, Angel.

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What about you? Let me know your favorite summer gourmands, or just general summer scents, in the comments!