Mariah Carey Forever ~ perfume review

Mariah Carey Forever fragrance advertMariah Carey Forever fragrance bottle

All those recent stories about how the celebrity fragrance trend is dying? Don't believe 'em. They've been saying that every year that I've been writing this blog, and look around — do you see fewer celebrity fragrances? Au contraire. The pie might be shrinking, but apparently everyone still wants a slice. And here is Mariah Carey (you might not recognize her right away given the wildly enthusiastic photoshopping) with Forever, her third fragrance in two years (not counting one flanker and two collector bottles).

Forever hopes to reflect Carey's satisfaction with how well her life is going:

I am in a wonderful place right now, surrounded by all the things I love, and Forever captures this moment in time.1

Forever is supposed to be a "modern opulent floral", and if you take modern opulence to be watery rather than full-bodied, that's exactly what it is. The opening is crisp, fresh and watery, with tart apple plus some added greenery and citrus; the heart is a watery gardenia/tuberose floral blend with vaguely fruity undertones. The florals are strong and diffusive for a very short time, after that, they're sheer, and need not scare anybody. The base is clean, pale musky woods.

Forever is nice, and doubly nice for what it isn't: it isn't a fruity floral, it isn't pink, it isn't an Angel clone, and it doesn't end up with buttery caramel or any other kind of candy. It has a more grown up feel than Carey's two prior efforts, M by Mariah Carey and Luscious Pink. That isn't to say it's wildly original — it's sort of like a mashup of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue and a much-diluted, less creamy Marc Jacobs for Women2 — but we don't get all that many straight-up white florals in the celebrity genre so it's a welcome addition. Still, personally I'll take old fashioned opulence over modern opulence any day: Forever's base is too anemic to hold my interest after the florals die off, and besides, I'll take full-bodied over watery. Worn next to Marc Jacobs for Women or Estee Lauder's Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, Forever feels like a diet-decaffeinated-budget variation on the theme, and the Marc Jacobs and Estee Lauder versions are still going strong hours after Forever has fizzled out to a little dollop of musk. If most white florals are just too much white floral for you, though, Forever might be just the ticket.

Mariah Carey Forever was developed by perfumer Olivier Gillotin and features notes of neroli, lotus blossom, dewy green apple, tuberose, gardenia, white musk and exotic woods. It is available in 30, 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum ($42-65) and in 15 ml Parfum ($250).

1. Women's Wear Daily, 8/14/2009.

2. With props to jonr951, who smells all the celebrity fragrances before I do and tells me what other perfume(s) they smell like.

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  1. miss kitty v. says:

    I sniffed this on my way out of Macy’s yesterday. I agree: it’s not bad, but it’s not the revolution either. I have to say, I was surprised by how NOT BAD it was. But maybe that’s not a ringing endorsement. I think with a little more oomph it could’ve been a little better than not bad.

    • Robin says:

      Totally agree: a bit more lush in the heart, a bit more of something — anything! — in the base, and it would be way better. Mostly this exercise reminded me of how good the Estee Lauder & Marc Jacobs are.

      • alltheprettythings says:

        Estee Lauder I can agree with, but nothing from Marc Jacobs has ever swayed me to open my wallet… in perfume, anyway.

        • Robin says:

          I’ve never bought the Marc Jacobs, but I do think it’s a really nice scent…. and still the best he ever came up with.

    • Juniper says:

      Off topic…
      Wanted to let you know MAC will be releasing a real BLACK lipstick called ‘black knight’. It’s part of their Style Black line that isn’t out yet, and I don’t know if this will be available everywhere or just online and pro shops…

      • alltheprettythings says:

        Wonderful! As a MAC junkie, I get ridiculously excited with their LE collections. :)

      • miss kitty v. says:

        Yay!!!! Thanks for letting us know!! I need to go check that out… :)

        • alltheprettythings says:

          I haunt to check out upcoming MAC collections – they are die hard MAC fans and atists and give great sneak peeks!

  2. Jessica says:

    Hah! to “wildly enthusiastic photoshopping.” I didn’t recognize her for a second, although I admire the attempted homage to legendary Hollywood portraitist George Hurrell! ;)

    • Robin says:

      Perfect call — thanks for the link!

    • miss kitty v. says:

      Jean Harlow is my idol. Sorry, Mariah, you can’t hold a candle to her… :)

    • mals86 says:

      Anybody remember Mariah when she was slender? And by that I mean, small on top? Before the b**b job? Anybody???

      I used to admire her voice greatly; her choice of material didn’t thrill me much.

      • Robin says:

        Not me — didn’t know she’d had “work” done.

      • Tama says:

        I’ve always thought her voice was wasted on crap material and too much riffing.

        • boojum says:

          And proving how high her vocal range goes in EVERY. SINGLE. SONG. We know you can hit the high notes, honey…please stop breaking our eardrums.

          • miss kitty v. says:


      • Dolly says:

        Mals- Yes, I remember the way she used to look and sound-circa ’89-’92.After that, she turned me off. Seemed to have lost that soulful sound and was more concerned with attempts to break the sound barrier. Still, I will stop and try the juice-not holding my breath since I didn’t care for her 2 previous efforts.

  3. CedriCeCCentriC says:

    Haven’t tried this yet, but I remember Mariah saying (before she had a fragrance deal) that her favorite perfume was L’Eau d’Issey. This could explain the watery notes…

    • Robin says:

      Sort of doubt that was the inspiration, but who knows? And who knows if she had anything much to do with it.

  4. SmokeyToes says:

    To me, it kind of has that look of Jane Russell in “The Outlaw”. Don’t know why but….
    I’m about to head off to Macy’s to try this one, and a list of others at Nordies…..

    • Robin says:

      Have fun at the mall!

  5. platinum14 says:

    The bottle is very 1960′ dressing table set isn’t it?

    • Robin says:

      It’s supposed to be art deco, apparently.

      • mals86 says:

        Art deco? Okay, I sort of see that… parallel lines… but it’s a bit angular and asymmetric for fidelity to the period. I guess they were going for Art Deco-Inspired, and that’s fine. It still looks like something you could cut your hand on.

        I will now cease picking on Mimi’s perfume bottle design (that reminds me of some other perfume bottle design… Liz Taylor Passion, maybe, except not purple?).

        • alltheprettythings says:

          When I think of Art Deco, I think of old school Hollywood movies. If an item can fit into my imagined H’wood set, it works. I can visualise this bottle as a lamp.

        • laken says:

          rococo style?

      • lightgreen22 says:

        It looks more like an odd mash up of glass for the bottle but it does have a very cute stopper

    • Fuddy Duddy 101 says:

      I agree that the bottle is very 1960’s dressing table-ish. I like it. To me, it’s trying to evoke glamour from old Hollywood and I love that.

      And Robin, great review. I really like it when you compare these new perfumes to other perfumes. It really helps me get a great idea about the scent. And now I know I won’t be trading in my EL PC TG or FM Carnal Flower anytime soon for this! ;)

      • Robin says:

        Gracious…I would not have even compared it to Carnal Flower — or Fracas. That wouldn’t be fair, LOL…no, you won’t need to trade anything in :-)

  6. megank4 says:

    Wow. She actually has clothes on instead of short shorts. Has she managed to stay married all this time (what, a year and a half?)

    • Robin says:

      Did not know she was usually in shorts, and did not know she was married. So I’m no help!

      • vickyjane says:

        We should all chip in and get you a subscription to ‘People’ magazine!

        • Robin says:

          Either that or I need to go to the dentist more often. I do read it at the dentist! But it’s hard to keep all the people straight.

          • kaos.geo says:

            Don’t worry R, If we look at the news, celebrities have a hard time “keeping it straight” themselves! ;-)

            I have never tried the Marc Jacobs for women… my interest is officialy piqued now that you paired it with the EL Tuberose Gardenia (which I love) .
            I’ll see if I can get a whiff of it soon.

          • Robin says:

            The Marc Jacobs is creamier & way less “airy” than the EL (although the EL as you know is not light). It’s supposed to be gardenia, but like most gardenias, it’s only a bit gardenia. Nice tropical floral though.

    • alltheprettythings says:

      Hey, I think it’s 2 years now. Her husband seems like a genuinely nice guy.

  7. Joe says:

    Not that I’m a white floral aficionado, but some white florals are way too hardcore and overwhelming, especially in warm weather. So a homeopathic version might not be bad for some, I guess.

    However, given that this opens with apple (!) and citrus, how is it not a fruity floral? Because the apple burns off quickly?

    • Robin says:

      It isn’t a primarily fruity scent…the top notes are crisp & fresh more than sweet & fruity, and don’t forget that citrus notes are their own fragrance family — in other words, lots of citrus doesn’t make something a fruity floral. I have read many explanations of fragrance families & never found one I liked, but to me, it’s a matter of smelling something and determining what it’s “about”: this one is not about fruit. Does that make any sense?

      And lingering fruit notes don’t necessarily make something a fruity floral…you can have lingering fruit notes (+ flowers) in an oriental, or in a chypre, or whatever.

    • miss kitty v. says:

      The apple made the white flowers a little brighter. Gave it a clean smell, rather than fruity. I actually thought it was muguet I was smelling at first, but apple makes sense. It definitely is not a fruity floral.

      • Robin says:

        Yes, that’s a good way to put it.

  8. Daisy says:

    I think Mals is right about the bottle—reminds me of Liz Taylor’s.
    I’m afraid that apple is almost the deal breaker that lavendar is. And “watery” ….well, this just doesn’t sound very appealing to me.
    It sounds summery and maybe would be nice and refreshing in the heat and humidity? I’m all geared up for the full-bodied fragrances of fall…..seriously; I’d take fall all year long. I do really like a handful of summer fragrances but they are really just a stop-gap measure to tide me over until I can wear the heavy stuff again.

    • Robin says:

      And I’d take year round summer, in a second!

    • mals86 says:

      Ohhhhh, me too!! Fall, fall, fall. I’ve been waiting ever since I GOT that darn bottle of Magie Noire for a chilly, windy day on which to wear it.

    • Daisy says:

      I do love summer stuff like working in the flower beds, swimming, biking and not having to bundle up until I look like the Belle Tire Man just to step out the door……but I love being outside in the fall; the sun on my face but the air has that crisp quality, tromping thru leaves as they change color and begin to fall…business at my bird feeders begins to really pick up: the birds know. Hmmm….okay, here’s the deal….I want a handheld “select-o-season” device, so depending on my daily perfume preference I can determine the outdoor conditions……”weather control” is right up there with “World Domination” on my to-do list. ;-)

  9. Absolute Scentualist says:

    I’m with you on that score, Daisy. Fracas, Angel, L’ame Soeur, and SDV have been calling to me. Never mind the impossibly intriguing releases going on right now. *bounce* It’s going to be a great autumn!

    I own Lucky No. 6, and it is very sheer and crisp, but in a high quality spa product fragrance way, not a watery and thin way. It’s ideal for summer or non-intimate close contact situations. I don’t know if I’d want a watery tuberose. Seems oxymoronic to me. :)

    • Robin says:

      I do like Diptyque Do Son, which is also watery tuberose, but more sophisticated than this one.

    • Daisy says:

      oh yeah, I’m still lemming that L’Aime Soeur…..don’t think I’ve forgotten it just because I’ve been drooling over Epic, Attrape Coeur and SDV…..I can lemm and drool simultaneously —I’m all about multi-tasking. :-)

  10. jonr951 says:

    Ive been at the beach all day!!! Totally hate that I had 2 wait all day 2 read ure review!! It was spot on and great, like always! Thanks 4 the little shout out! lol.

    • Robin says:

      Ha…I’m trying to feel bad for you spending the whole day at the beach!

  11. jonr951 says:

    O and what did u think of the bottle? i liked it.

    • Robin says:

      It’s nice. Not my favorite, but ok. I think the cap should be shorter…reminds me too much of nail polish at the height. But the bottle itself is nice.

      And the outer clear plastic bag thing tied w/ a ribbon they’re putting it in is just wasteful (and not biodegradable) packaging, I don’t see why the box was sufficient.

  12. alotofscents says:

    I love the bottle, I love white florals that aren’t too cloying. I haven’t smelled Marc before, our mall doesn’t carry it. It sound’s like something I might like, except the bottom notes sound blah, and lasting power might be a deal breaker.

    • Robin says:

      You can usually find the MJ at Sephora. And I think at Bloomies? Can’t remember.

  13. RossM says:

    Ok, so, as you may well know, I think this site is fantastic and your reviews, as well as the other reviewers, are excellent and entertaining and very informative. I also really like how you review all fragrances across the spectrum without any discrimination or pre-conceived bias. But I was a bit surprised to see this particular offering from Mariah Carey reviewed, not sure why, but I figured there must be something interesting about it to warrant a mention – maybe it was really terrible or actually quite good. It seems however that it was really neither -maybe more floral and not the usual fruity thing we’ve been getting lately. Sooooo, to cut a very long story short, I was wondering why this particular fragrance was chosen to be reviewed seeing that, to me, it didn’t seem to have many interesting facets either way?
    Just curious, obviously I’ve got way to much time to think about this stuff!

    • pigoletto says:

      Ross, NST reviews just about everything they can get their hands on! I’m guessing by having her blog, she wants to have reviews of most stuff that is relevant to what’s on the shelves. If you look at the reviews, there’s plenty of celeb scents that get talked about. I think it’s helpful, if you think that a perfumer who did something you’d think craptacular may also have created something niche and beautiful. Most of these guys and women are just guns for hire anyway.

    • Robin says:

      Thanks for the kind words! It’s hard to give you a real answer other than to say that my goal is for NST to be as “generalist” as possible, and to cover all sorts of things, celebrity, prestige, niche…everything, except that we do an admittedly lousy job on mass market because it’s just too hard for us to get samples, and I will readily admit that sometimes even when we do, the fragrances aren’t interesting enough to talk about.

      In this case, I guess the justification is that lots of people are interested in this scent. Readers would probably be surprised to know the wild divergence between how many people comment on an article and how many people read it…the celebrity articles are consistently the most read on the site, so I know there is tons of interest among the general public even if it it isn’t what most interests the small subset of people (most of whom are perfumistas, for obvious reasons) who comment.

      Also have to say the celebrity fragrances interest me personally — they’re an interesting reflection on current trends in the fragrance industry, I think.

  14. Dzingnut says:

    Just to add, I will read any review of any fragrance on NST, because I always learn something, and the reviews are so well written and immensely enjoyable. In these economic times, I’m always looking for a great fragrance that is on the inexpensive side (less than $100, and therefore free!), so reading reviews of “non-niche” and vintage scents like Jolie Madam has led to low cost purchases that smell great. So please keep up the across-the-spectrum reviews!

    • Robin says:

      Oh, that’s really nice, thanks!

    • vickyjane says:

      I agree – I read every word, even if the fragrance itself doesn’t seem, at first glance, like something I would be interested in, as the reviews themselves are so interesting. And sometimes the articles on the lamest-seeming products lead to the most entertaining post-article comments!

  15. RossM says:

    Sorry everyone! I think maybe I didn’t phrase my question correctly and I’ve somehow started that whole ‘ reviewing celebrity scents’ debate which was very very far from my initial intention. I love reading the celebrity scent reviews, it’s always interesting for me to see what Britany/JLo/&co get up to and I of course recognize that these are very popular and people will obviously want to read about them.
    I’m really not so conceited to think that only niche or expensive perfumes should be reviewed as I enjoy EVERY review I read on this site – drugstore, mainstream or whatever! Believe me, I’d buy whatever if it was good and the price was right!
    I was merely just curious to know why this particular scent was reviewed considering so many hundreds of celebrity scents are released a year and this one didn’t seem to have much character either way.
    But the review itself was excellent and well written as always – I always get a great sense of the fragrance, what it’s like, what to expect, etc…that I really enjoy and appreciate.
    I’m actually a bit upset now because I think everyone thinks I’m one of ‘those’ posters! You know the ones, right?
    Anyway, Robin I was curious to know whether you could guage the popularity of a line by how many times it was clicked on by people wanting to read reviews and that would of course give you a good indication of what to bother reviewing or not – so I guess that was along the lines of the answer I was expecting. Either that or I was expecting the answer ‘because I felt like it!’ or ‘because I can!’ LOL
    Anyway, I hope I didn’t offend anybody because that was never my intention!

    • laken says:

      Well, I for one was not offended by your post, RossM!! I’m sure it was totally inoffensive. Any way this perfume

    • Robin says:

      Oh no, Ross, really, I didn’t take your comment that way at all — it’s a perfectly reasonable question, and I wasn’t offended in the least.

      I should add that we don’t always plan to a T what we’ll review. I was going to review Jessica Simpson Fancy Love, but couldn’t think of anything to say about it. Sometimes I plan to review something then can’t get a sample easily, or by the time I do it doesn’t seem so important to cover the scent anymore, or it just doesn’t seem interesting enough — even if it’s not a bad scent, sometimes it just doesn’t “say” anything to me. Sometimes it’s just whatever you’ve got sitting around that week that seems a) relevant and b) you can think of something to say about it.

    • Daisy says:

      I don’t think anyone was offended either….seems like a legit sort of question: there are LOADS of releases each year, some will get reviewed and some won’t….. and your tone wasn’t snotty or anything like that.
      Robin–that’s interesting that the most read reviews are the celeb. fragrances. Most celeb. fragrances are so easily accessed I guess I thought that people would just sniff them at the mall.
      The mix of articles is good though. :-)

      • RossM says:

        Cool, no worries – and thanks for the info. Robin. That makes perfect sense to me!

  16. laken says:

    Sounds too watery for me. If I want watery, I would just have a shower. I like my perfumes to be power-houses! I realize thats not everyones cup of tea though.

    • Robin says:

      Well, it isn’t a powerhouse, but then again, it’s got some stamina in the early stages.

  17. eminere says:

    The bottle looks like the sails of the Sydney Opera House and the outline of the Australian continent.

    • Robin says:

      Hey, maybe it will do well in Australia then!

      • yzahbelle says:

        omg robin~ you just made me laugh!

  18. eminere says:

    Modern opulence this is not.

    The bottle is beyond tacky. :(

    • Robin says:

      It’s not my favorite bottle either.

  19. zumieb says:

    I usually hate celebrity perfumes (Britney Spears, Celine Dion, Gwen Stefani, J.Lo, The Beckhams, Reese Witherspoon), but I was quite shocked by how good Mariah Carey’s were. I tried M at Macy’s, and wore it for an entire summer, receiving endless complements from co-workers and dates. What I really enjoy about it is how subtle and classy it is – it’s perfectly suited for both work and fancy dinners.

    When I bought M, the Luscious Pink was also available, but I really disliked that one. It seemed for catered towards teens and those that just prefer to use a Bath and Body Works splash.

    I got an ad with a Forever sample back in October from Macy’s, and I have to say, it may be my favorite. It’s definitely a bit bolder than M, and more mature, as well. It’s definitely on my Christmas wishlist.

    • Robin says:

      Hope you’ll get it for a gift!

  20. jonr951 says:

    So her new ones going to be called LOLLIPOP BLING!!! How bad is that! Its probably going to be extremely sweet!! It comes out in June. We’ll c.

    • Robin says:

      Please tell me you’re kidding!

  21. jonr951 says:

    Im not!!! Elizabeth Arden said it themselves!!! Awful right?! I prefer Luscious Pink!! LOL!

    • Robin says:

      Gosh. I prefer most anything. That’s just *asking* to be made fun of.

  22. jonr951 says:

    Right!!! Even if I like it, I’ll just say I’m wearing Mariah! It really is an awful name! What were they thinking?!

  23. APassionateJourney says:

    FINALLY! The information and ad for Lollipop Bling

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