The Monday Mail ~ help Susan find a new perfume

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Today we're helping Susan, who says she has too many fragrances and wants to find that one perfect signature fragrance she can wear year-round. She usually buys her fragrances at department stores, but she'll go online if need be, and she's willing to spend up to $200. Here is what we know about Susan:

She's a stay-at-home mom in her early 40s. She loves her family, her friends, and animals.

She also loves cozy mysteries, watching scary movies and knitting.

Susan likes florientals, and some notes she likes include freesia, orange blossom, heliotrope, jasmine, tuberose, fig, incense, myrrh, benzoin, sandalwood, fruits, sea notes, tonka bean, vanilla and woods. Perfumes she has worn include Gale Hayman Delicious Feelings, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, Trish McEvoy Trish, Guerlain Vol de Nuit, Natori, Balmain Ambre Gris and Ungaro Desnuda.

Susan does not like very sweet fragrances or straight-up florals. She also doesn't generally care for the brands Dior, Guerlain or Lolita Lempicka, and she doesn't like celebrity fragrances. Notes she doesn't care for include rose, violet, gardenia, white flowers, strawberry, mint or tomato.

What say you?

Note: image is Richmond Green by Mike_fleming at flickr; some rights reserved.

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  1. hongkongmom says:

    Wow I am first to comment..for the first time. Susan u sound like me a bit and have enjoyed some of the fragrances I have.
    So here goes a few random choices:
    bois de isle (chanel) and champagne de bois (sonoma scent studio) for woods
    myrrhe ardent (annick goutal ) and i think you would like her amber fetich as well
    her ninfeo mio is a lovely fig.
    tiempe passate, antonios flowers.
    hope u find ur signature scent…

    • Rappleyea says:

      Seconding Champagne de Bois. I love this fragrance as much as anything in my collection, it always elicits compliments and I could definitely see it being someone’s signature scent.

    • Daisy says:

      YAY HongKong! This means you got your bottle of Champagne de Bois…..hahahaha ! I’m so glad! you LOVE it, don’t you!? :-D

      • hongkongmom says:

        FINALLY!!!! and now I feel kinmanship!!!! CdeB is awesome, and it is right up there with bois de isles edt…if not a little bit higher for the extra strength and facets! i would probably choose it above b de i as a signature scent! So dais…whats next?

  2. Tortola says:

    My suggestion would be Bois des Iles. It has a lot of the notes Susan likes including sandalwood, benzoin, orange blossom, jasmine and tonka bean plus a touch of spice. Not sure how well it would wear in the summer where Susan lives but it does come as an EDT. Also if I had to wear just one fragrance for the rest of my life (heaven forbid!!) then this would be it. It is warm, smooth, comforting and classy.

  3. Dilana says:

    I say have a yard sale and place all the extra fragrances which she wants to edit out, on the table. If she finds that she can’t bear to part with (or certain of them), then she’ll know she will be always be a multi-fragrance lady.

    • FOandW_oh_my says:

      That would definitely be an interesting experience.

      My votes would be to try Bois des Iles (Chanel), or 31 Rue Cambon (Chanel as well).

  4. Bee says:

    I was thinking about Dzing! (L’artisan parfumeur) but I’m not sure it’s a signature scent.. warm-animalic-friendly kind of scent (after the first ,maybe scary 5 minutes, but hey, you like crime & Co.), a sort of cousin is Bvlgari Black.
    Iris Taizo (nowadays oriental) parfumerie general could be interesting too

  5. dee says:

    Ah, the perfect signature. In a large collection, it’s nice to feel that one or two are your go-to little black dresses.

    You say you don’t like Guerlain, but have you tried L’Heure Bleue?

    From Kevin’s review: “Its “floriental” recipe includes: bergamot, aniseed, carnation, orange blossom, heliotrope, Bulgarian rose, tuberose, iris, vanilla and musk.”

    I don’t get any rose at all from it, and I think a rose-hater could safely love L’HB.

    • Dixie says:

      I thought of L’Heure Bleue too!

  6. elise says:

    I think Bois de Iles (Chanel) would be perfect! And try a sniff of Eau Suave (can be strong, but I think it might be what you are looking for). I’m wearing Serge Lutens Cedre today and really like it. How about Annick Goutal Heure Exquise?

  7. miss kitty v. says:

    This is so boring, but what about Chanel No. 5?

    • ajuarez says:

      I second the Chanel No. 5 .

      • elise says:

        And AG Heure Exq. has been compared to No. 5…

    • Tulip says:


      • SuddenlyInexplicably says:

        Vintage Coco!

  8. Regina says:

    My first thought for you is Estee Lauder’s Sensuous, pretty enough to wear every day but different enough that you could certainly call it a signature. And I think you’d really like the floral/woods combo.

    Or, what about Narcisco Rodriguez for her or Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese?

    • Owen says:

      Sensuous is my mum’s new signature scent. :) I like it too

      how about Armani Code by Giorgio Armani and I think it’s classed as a floriental.
      the notes are: orange blossom, jasmine, honey, ginger, and I think there are some woods?

      and they have eau de toilette, eau de parfum and summer editions so it’s wearable day or night and in the summer.

  9. Dolly2 says:

    Wow this is hard. her not liking rose makes things difficult, but not impossible. CdG’s Red Carnation. That is a nice floriental.

  10. TallulahRose says:

    Well, I brought it up recently, but I would have to suggest Alahine by Teo Cabanal again.

    It is in that rare signature fragrance category; it is elegant and beautiful, but works for the everyday context too. Technically an amber oriental, it is so beautifully blended that you just experience it without teasing out individual notes.

    Brian and Abigail over at “I smell therefore I am” each wrote beautiful reviews of it… Here they are; I hope that you find them inspiring:

  11. maggiecat says:

    How could Chanel No. 5 ever be boring? I recommend the Eau Premiere version – a bit more modern, still lovely. And Bois des Iles! On the less expensive side, getting some samples from Sonoma Scent Studio would be a great idea. And I quite like Donna Karan’s Liquid Nude, a flanker for Cashmere Mist which i think has a lighter, fresher character. Good luck!

  12. egabbert says:

    How about Donna Karan Gold (lily and amber) or Sonia Rykiel Belle en Rykiel (notes include heliotrope, incense, vanilla and patchouli). As a bonus both can be found very affordably online.

  13. 3dogmama says:

    About 3 years ago, I think, I was “Susan”–and everyone on this blog offered me some advice. At the time, my fragrance likes were Yankee Candle “Clean Cotton”-ish smells, Cashmere Mist, and Perfect Veil. Geesh. What a difference three years makes! Now, many hundreds (thousands? probably) of dollars, swaps, splits, translated google searches, international phone calls, and a re-designed closet to accomodate my perfume later, I can actually make an educated recommendation: For me, life’s too short for one signature scent. I think we all go through stages of likes, LOVES, must buy, now bored with……etc. So I would suggest maybe spending some money on lots of samples–searching your favorite notes on a website like Lucky Scent and do some sampling. So much fun! Then maybe you can narrow your search to a few favorites and purchase some decants or splits. I do think it is difficult for one fragrance to serve all purposes, especially if you live in a climate where the weather changes drastically each season. All that said: try L’Artisan Premier Figuier Extreme. Not overly sweet, not overly green and has a lot of the notes you like. Good luck!

    • Dilana says:

      Presumably S. has, at least, at one point, desired each of the perfumes she already has. The fact that she seeks a new “all-purpose” fragrance suggests to me that she is still seeking something new, even if the new purchase will supercede at least part of her old collection. Otherwise she can simply use her favorite from her existing collection.
      That is why I suggested beginning by editing out from the existing collection. The process might identify the one favorite, or might identify that she loves too many to settle on one, or might identify the “hole” in her collection which could serve as the “everyday” scent.

  14. Haunani says:

    Susan, if you haven’t tried Boucheron (the original one for women), I highly recommend that you do. It’s a beautiful floriental! Here is one notes list I found:
    Top: bergamot, lemon, basil, orange flowers
    Middle: tuberose, geranium, sandalwood, iris
    Base: tonka bean, benzoin, civet, oakmoss

  15. DJ says:

    Two suggestions!
    1) FM L’eau D’Hiver – I think it can be found for under $200.
    Cozy, casual, heliotrope-y goodness. Easy to wear and a nice, modern counterpoint to BdI (which I love, don’t get me wrong!)

    2) Eau de Merveilles – orange blossom, sea salt and ambergris. Haven’t tried the new flanker (‘eau clair’ ??) but it also sounds gorgeous.

    • dee says:

      Eau de Merveilles is great; I wear it often when I’m not sure what I want to wear, and it’s a wonderful evening/sleep scent too!

  16. RuthW says:

    A.Goutal Eau de Charlotte – jammy blackberry with a dusting of chocolate and some green peeking through

    • RuthW says:

      I forgot to add that while this does lean to the sweet side, it is not remotely in Angel territory and the green scent of ivy is a nice balance for the floral/fruity component.

  17. Blimunda says:

    How about Bois de Paradis by Delrae? It’s fruity and woody and easy to wear, it would suit most weather conditions…….

    Incense Extreme from Tauer. Bright, crisp, minimalist incense – again, would suit all weather I think.

    Champaca from Ormonde Jayne. Stunning floral, slight hint of myrrh and some interesting rice/green tea notes. Just exquisite.

    • miss kitty v. says:

      Bois de Paradis is a good suggestion. Maybe she could get a set of the Delrae samples– I feel like there’s something for everyone in there somewhere.

  18. Prudietwoshoes says:

    What about Burberry for women, in the pebble-shaped bottle? It has notes of vanilla, jasmine and sandalwood. Or Laura Mercier L’Heure Magique? It has vanilla, bergamot, spices and musks. They are both lovely florientals.
    Or even Prada’s Infusion d’Iris? It would be great for year-round wear, a bit light.

  19. jo says:

    i second the motion to edit out first.

    then i would go to perfumed court and see what sounds good of all the suggestions here.

    unfortunately, my recommendation does not appear any longer on perfumed court.

    i love Ambre et Diamant Noir by Ambregris (, in Paris, France). It is pricey, to be sure, but you can go to the website and have Ambregris email you an order form.

    from the website:
    “Oriental ambery it starts with a fresh and citrus top note, develops a floral and woody middle note,then reveals a vanilla and musky base note. Come and discover its olfactive pyramid …”

    and from another source: ”
    bergamot, tarragon, lavender, sage, and neroli, jasmine, rose, orris butter, orange blossom, jonquil, and ylang-ylang, coumarin, benzoin, vanilla, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss, civet, castoreum, and ambrein.”

    i understand that it would be great to get a sample of this instead of ordering blind, but if you have friends/family on their way to paris, let them know that this is what you want!

  20. Dixie says:

    SSS Jour Ensoleille-so lovely!

  21. ponderous says:

    I’m a floriental gal too, and I would recommend The Different Company’s Jasmin de Nuit and Hermes 24 Faubourg.

  22. Asha says:

    I love orientals and florientals too, and Bois des Iles is an excellent idea! Along the same lines, you may want to try Chanel Egoiste (NOT Platinum Egoiste) which is very similar to the drydown of BdI EDT. It is marketed to men, but wearable by women and a bit more easy to find in the shops.

    Other fragrances you might like: Givenchy Organza and Organza Indecence, Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe, Guerlain Habit Rouge EDT (also very wearable by women).

    Also for some reason I feel compelled to recommend an Osmanthus fragrance for you–perhaps PdE Osmanthus Interdite, TDC Osmanthus or Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan. Even though Osmanthus is a floral, these fragrances tend to be dry and somewhat leathery with very subtle tinges of fruit.

    Also, the suggestion for No.5 Eau Premier is excellent–I have found it to be extremely versatile for different weather and wearing situations!

    • Asha says:

      Sorry, had a type-o—Habit Rouge EDC is the one I recommend in that line.

  23. PekeFan says:

    Anne Pliska (for incense)- reasonably priced too
    English Pear and Freesia by Joe Malone
    Chanel Coromandel

  24. fluffypuppy says:

    Barbara Bui? I’m not sure it would work for summer, particularly if you live someplace hot and humid, but it is beautiful (and cheap!) for three seasons of the year.

  25. SmokeyToes says:

    If you like Jasmine and Sandalwood, how about Samara?

  26. loledinburgh5 says:

    Bois des Isles is a very good one and so it is CDB.
    I’ll add Phylosykos or Premier figuier for beautiful figs .
    I’d also suggest to get a sampler from Ormonde Jayne,there are beautiful perfumes in that line,good luck,L.

  27. helenviolette says:

    My first thought was also TDC Jasmine de Nuit- based on what you like- even if it isn’t the winner- I think it may become a staple for you :) I will also second the Bois des Iles and Champagne de Bois- must sniff and sniff agains…

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