For my last review during Drugstore Week, I wanted to track down an old drugstore classic, like Coty Sand & Sable, Jovan Jungle Gardenia, or the fragrance I eventually landed, Dana Classic Fragrances Love’s Baby Soft. You’d think this would be easy, but no. Drugstores have really classed up their fragrance offerings.
At Walmart, my first stop, a half ounce bottle of Coty Exclamation was $14. Forget it! Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose of a cheap thrill? Nine-tenths of the fragrance display was celebrity fragrances and perfume you can find in a department store. I moved on to Walgreen’s. A friendly SA with virulently blue contact lenses attended the locked display case. “Among the older ladies, the Elizabeth is popular,” she said, nodding toward Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds. “The younger ladies like Jessica, and I absolutely love Dare Me,” she said, referring to Fancy Jessica Simpson and a Baby Phat fragrance. “Have you smelled the Hilary? It’s quite nice.”
For a moment I wondered if Hillary Clinton had fronted a perfume, then recalled Hilary Duff. “Do you have anything cheaper? You know, a small bottle of something older, like White Shoulders or Exclamation?” I asked.
“I personally can’t stand White Shoulders,” she said, “And I’ve worked here a year and we haven’t sold a bottle of Exclamation yet.” She leaned forward. “Once I smelled Tabu on someone, and it was awful!”
The fragrances were relatively pricey, except for some Jovan musks I’d already reviewed, and more Parfums de Coeur fragrances. On to the next drugstore. At CVS I hit the jackpot. My niece begged me to review something called Bod Squad, but it was another fragrance by Parfums de Coeur, and I'd already covered two this week. For old times sake, my choice was Love’s Baby Soft. I remember clouds of Love’s moving down the halls of my high school, and I desperately wanted a bottle of the pink liquid with the domed top. (When it came down to it, I chose Babe, instead.)
That night, I settled into bed with a copy of Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man and a pillowy coating of Love’s Baby Soft. Talk about cognitive dissonance. I was sure I’d dream of Hello Kitty gangsters guzzling bootleg scotch. The copy on the back of the Love’s Baby Soft canister reads: “As soft and gentle as a kiss…It speaks in a powdery whisper…It’s the fragrance of first crushes, innocence and cherished new memories. Everyone loves Love’s.”
Does everyone love Love’s? If you like candied violet and rose snowed under by powder made of recycled plastic bags, by all means get yourself a bottle. I love a good powdery perfume and often turn to Molinard Habanita and Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut. I wouldn’t say no to bottles of Cadolle No. 9 or Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige, either. But there’s a chilly, butane-inflected plasticity to Love’s that makes it a no go for me. After a little while, the butane and plastic does fade, and a faint powder hugs my skin. This stage is nice, but could be accomplished by a shower with rose-scented soap or a dusting of bath powder.
I like powder fragrances that are warm and if not subtle at least elegant. I can appreciate a powder fragrance that’s supposed to be youthful and cuddly, as I suspect is Love’s Baby Soft's goal. I don’t know if Love’s has changed over the years or my taste has become more discerning or both, but for me Love’s Baby Soft was a disappointment. I guess cherished memories die hard. I don’t dare search out Babe.
Dana Classic Fragrances Love's Baby Soft is $12.50 for 30 ml Cologne Spray, and is also available in a wide variety of other sizes, formats and flankers.