Four celebrity perfumes: Taylor Swift Wonderstruck, Beyonce Pulse, Jessica Simpson I Fancy You & Sean John Empress

Angie's post yesterday on celebrity fragrances she'd like to see reminded me that I have fallen woefully behind this year on reviewing celebrity fragrances — the real ones that she'd rather not see. So, in the interest of catching up before it's too late, here are four celebrity fragrance reviews, listed in order from not so very bad to not so very wonderful. In other words, we're going to start out lukewarm and things are going to go downhill from there; consider yourself warned.

Taylor Swift Wonderstruck

Taylor Swift Wonderstruck

I was wonderstruck reading the recent New Yorker profile on country pop star Taylor Swift. I had heard her name, but had no idea — number 7 on Forbes' list of Most Powerful Celebrities? More albums sold in the last five years than any other musician? Who knew? Anyway, her debut perfume came out this fall under a licensing deal with Elizabeth Arden, and it's about what you'd expect: a "charming and sparkling surprise of vibrant fruits, kissed by a bouquet of soft petals and a touch of sweet indulgence." In other words, it's a sweet-ish fruity floral with plenty of vanilla in the base, along the lines of Britney Spears Fantasy, and while there's not much to distinguish it from the two bazillion other variations on Britney Spears Fantasy, it's perfectly wearable and it's reasonably age-appropriate for the target market. Oh, and there's a bunch of charms hanging from the neck, each with a special meaning for Ms. Swift (and presumably, for her fans), and there are reportedly 13 floral notes because 13 is her favorite number. The lasting power is not all that great, but you can't have everything.

Taylor Swift Wonderstruck was developed by perfumer Olivier Gillotin; notes include freesia, green tea, apple blossom, raspberry, dewberry, Hawaiian blanket, hibiscus, honeysuckle, vanilla, musk, peach and sandalwood. It is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum.

Beyonce Pulse

Beyoncé Pulse is the singer's third fragrance (it follows Heat and Heat Rush) and it's supposed to reflect her "incredible energy and powerful femininity".

Pulse starts with a heavy dose of pear with a smidgen of tropical fruit, and a strong but short-lived booze note. Then it's mostly sheer watery florals over creamy and mildly powdery vanilla musk. The pear, unfortunately for me (it's sad but true: I'm anti-pear) lingers long into the proceedings, and as usual it makes me think of shampoo or body wash, not perfume. But, that might be a plus for you — in the comments to the fragrance announcement, a reader pointed out that it reminded him of Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo, "the most comforting smell in the world". So I didn't like it, but you just might.

Beyoncé Pulse was developed by perfumers Bruno Jovanovic and Loc Dong; notes include pear blossom, curaçao, bergamot, bluebird orchid, peony, night blooming jasmine, vanilla, musk and woods. It is available in 15, 30, 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum.

Jessica Simpson I Fancy You

Jessica Simpson I Fancy You

I Fancy You came out this past summer. It's the latest (and reportedly the last) in the "Fancy" series from Jessica Simpson — see  Fancy, Fancy Love, Fancy Nights — and it's my least favorite of them all, by far. It's sort of what you'd get if you reimagined Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely as a budget dryer sheet: a clean, cleaner, cleanest musk with an apple + pear opening and a bland but insistent floral heart. The fresh (make that FRESH) musky base will last all day and then some.

Jessica Simpson I Fancy You was developed by perfumer Cecile Hua; notes include Fuji apple, pear, bergamot, lily of the valley, tuberose, hyacinth, sandalwood and pink musk. It can be found in in 30, 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum.

Sean John Empress

Sean John Empress

As usual, I am hampered by my complete lack of up-to-date gossip about the sorts of celebrities who land perfume deals. Is Puff Daddy no longer in favor? Whatever's going on, this one seemed to land with a thud, in stark contrast to the fervor that greeted his past efforts under the Sean John label (Unforgivable, Unforgivable Woman, I Am King, plus a few random flankers). Mind you, I'm not arguing that it deserved more attention. It was announced as a "crisp fruity floral", but something, somewhere, must have gone terribly wrong along the communication chain. It smells like a not very competent generic sport cologne for men, fresh but loud. The foody notes listed in the press materials are mostly MIA. That is, there is lime, and there are berries, but overall it does not smell like dessert, just like generic sport cologne with lime and berries. Sweet fruity florals, crisp or not, aren't really my cup of tea, but offhand I can't think of a sweet fruity floral that I don't prefer to Empress. My least favorite of the Sean John line, and possibly my least favorite celebrity fragrance this year.

Sean John Empress features key lime pie, mandarin imperial, starfruit, imperial french berry, raspberries, passion flower, peony, cardamom, ambrette seeds, vanilla, sandalwood, crystallized caramel and second skin accord. Sean John Empress is found in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Parfum.

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47 Comments

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  1. mutzi says:

    I’m not very interested in any of these, although I do own a 15ml of the original Fancy. But I do want to give high marks to Beyonce and Jessica (or whoever is responsible) for offering the smaller sizes.

    • Robin says:

      Fancy was really well done.

      • pyramus says:

        It really was, wasn’t it? Nothing game-changing, but amazingly good for a celebrity scent, and actually better than some recent Guerlains and Chanels.

        These four sound pretty dire, though.

  2. Emily says:

    I’m sure someone remarked on this in relation to the original post about Wonderstruck (too lazy to go check), but WTF is “Hawaiian blanket” supposed to smell like? Should we expect a fall/winter-oriented flanker with “Snuggie absolute”?

    • Robin says:

      They did remark, and I didn’t know then and don’t know now, sorry!

  3. LaMaroc says:

    Robin, I think this is how you should review all celebrity fragrances – in threes, fours, fives…whatever it takes just to get through it! lol It would be a mercy for you as well as the rest of us, I think. Unless, of course it’s an exceptional fragrance like a Deneuve, Elizabeth Taylor, SJP or some such minor miracle. :)

    • Robin says:

      I guess, but many of them I *am* more than lukewarm about! Or the other way to look at it is that sometimes I do like to go on, LOL…

      In general I don’t think it’s been a good year for celebrity perfume.

    • mutzi says:

      The problem with that is that no one will agree on what is a “miracle” and what is not. SJP was simply disgusting on me and it singed my nose even sniffing it on a strip.

      • Robin says:

        On the one hand, yes, on an individual level nobody will agree. On the other hand, most critics thought Lovely was pretty good…it’s widely considered to be better than most celebrity fragrances, just as most critics think Chanel No. 5 is genius, even if on an individual level, you or I may hate it. But you’re right that it’s too soon to say how it will be thought of 5 or 10 years from now.

        • Lovetosmell says:

          SJP Lovely has discontinued so it won’t be around in another 15 or 20 years.I know that Lovely gets high marks from critics but, I think it is over rated its simply a cheaper version of NR.It hasn’t been well recieved by the masses but of course to the critics we know nothing.Iam so sick of hearing about Lovely that perfume made me so sick.

          • mutzi says:

            I am so glad that I wasn’t the only one who had that reaction to Lovely.

          • Jada in GA says:

            I hadn’t heard that Lovely had been d/c’d?? (don’t hate me, but I really like it in small doses!)
            You couldn’t tell it’s been d/c’d at Belk! They have Lovely gift sets aplenty, with Christmas bows attached.

          • Robin says:

            I hadn’t heard it either. They did axe Covet.

      • Lovetosmell says:

        No your certainly not alone my friend also hated it so did my husband I never got compliments when I wore it either.I am so glad its discontinued.

  4. jonr951 says:

    Shout out! Ha! I really enjoy Pulse. I’ll have to get me another bottle soon. I still want Wonderstruck, but just for the bottle. Ha! I don’t need I Fancy You or Empress. I guess my favorite celeb this yr would be Rihanna’s. : )

    • Robin says:

      So of course Rihanna’s is the one I did not try! Figures. I know you liked Pulse — I just don’t like that much pear, ever.

  5. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Thanks for these reviews, Robin. I have to confess I was moderately curious about all but the latest Jessica Simpson, and suppose I would smell them in passing if I had the chance. I’m even a little curious to smell Rihanna’s, silly name and all, but must confess these really do push my “I’ll wear it if it smells good.” motto. There are so many small perfume companies to whom I’d rather give my money and so many classics I want to own. *shakes head and fight off a case of the snobs* I do own some celeb scents so can’t complain too loudly. ;)

    • Robin says:

      And I was the *most* curious about the Jessica Simpson, since I do think they’ve done a good job with her line so far. But no go.

      • Lovetosmell says:

        I liked Fancy and Fancy Love was nice but Fancy Love sounds like it will be too weak and lack of personality.

        • Lovetosmell says:

          I mean the new one I Fancy You.It seems like they just rushed out with a new fragrance hoping to appeal to people that like clean inoffensive fragrances.

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Ab scent, I guess I need to stand in line next to you! I just can’t quite get myself to even try most celeb scents. I just assume they will be at best boring, and at worst, hideous. I guess I’m a snob, too!

      • Absolute Scentualist says:

        Glad I’m not the only one. I’m familiar with some of the celebs (the twins are rapidly approaching ten so I hear way more of Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Rihanna etc. than I’d like) and it is hard to a. give them even *more* money on the off chance I like a frag and b. get past a persona which, in some cases, I find just all kinds of blech and meh. *sighs and sprays self with Mitsouko to relieve angst*

  6. Rappleyea says:

    Just commenting to say that I read and chuckled. Thanks, R. :-D

  7. wondermelmo says:

    A day without hearing Rihanna’s nasally vocals is a joyous day indeed, but I must admit to liking the I fragrance very much. I was pleasantly surprised!

    • Robin says:

      That must be why my life is happy — I’ve never heard her sing! But looks like I need to try her fragrance.

  8. annemarie says:

    I’m glad to know about all these (except maybe the last) so many thanks. Yesterday I picked up a tester of Pulse and just managed to contain a yelp of fright at the blast of sweetness I got just from sniffing the sprayer.

    With so many celebrity releases, JLo’s Glow and SJP’s Lovely seem to be transcending their origins and becoming classics.

  9. The only one of these I’ve tried is Pulse which I quite like. I prefer it to Heat and I love the bottle. I am eager to try Wonderstruck.

    • Robin says:

      I am sure it has lots of fans! I am becoming more rabidly anti-pear all the time, don’t know why.

  10. RuthW says:

    Thanks for falling on the proverbial sword and testing these, confirming my suspicions that I won’t be seeking ANY of these out.
    I admit to owning and enjoying a bottle of Jessica Simpson’s Fancy Nights which is IMHO a well done incense comfort scent. I was gifted a bottle of Beyonce Heat Rush by my hubby which I do not recommend:)

    • Robin says:

      Agree on Fancy Night! I missed Heat Rush entirely, glad to hear I don’t need to worry about it.

      • Absolute Scentualist says:

        I actually got some Heat Rush in a set for Mother’s Day and quite like it. It is fruity, but has a really lovely woody base that works well. And it is one my daughter and I share from time to time and isn’t bad for a celeb scent, imho. It could easily pass for one of my beloved Escadas with more depth and staying power. But if you don’t like orange and tropical fruits, then you probably wouldn’t care for it. ;)

  11. RusticDove says:

    Just wanted to say, sorry Robin. That’s an awful lot of insipid fragrances to endure. I feel absolutely guilty enjoying my Guerlain Bois d”Armenie today. LOL

    • Robin says:

      HA…as well you should ;-)

    • Rappleyea says:

      Ha! That’s what I wore today (yesterday too). Great isn’t it?

  12. sheree.s says:

    This is going to sound completely bizarre, but when I first tried the Empress, something immediately reminded me of Thai food. I have no idea where that came from, but it was the instant association my brain made. Maybe it’s because a Thai place I used to love put a big lime wedge on top of their Pad Thai as a garnish?
    The Pulse is the only other one I have tried, and it was a “no” from me too. I actually don’t mind pear, but it was just SO “in your face”, it felt like I got slapped by the scent. Not a winner. I had the same reaction to the Rihanna though – it might be a nicer scent from a distance, but my first sniff felt like an assault on my nose. Lucky for me, my boss loves both of them, and they’re extremely big sellers. Woooooo…

    • Robin says:

      Oh yes, I do think it was the lime…used the same way as that Thai food one by Jo Malone, Sweet Lime & Cedar. Except that I liked Sweet Lime & Cedar, and I don’t like this.

  13. faylene505 says:

    The celebu-scent about which I’ve heard the most recently is Kate Walsh’s Boyfriend. Has anyone here tried it?

    • mutzi says:

      I received a sample from Sephora with my F&F order. SO and I both liked it – warm, mellow, and sexy. In fact, he loved it and told me to order the bottle or the Kit.

  14. NaDia2011 says:

    I mean no harm but Taylor Swift fragrance smells JUST like Brittany Spear’s Fantasy if I’m not mistaken… But I smelled it before. Won’t spend my money on something I already own

  15. nelleeflamboyant says:

    Pulse is gorgeous, really refreshing. Only wish it lasted longer, even layered with the shower gel and lotion it still only lasts 2-3 hours on me :(

  16. jonr951 says:

    Beyonce Pulse Summer Edition! Cool bottle! Ha! There’s still pear in it though so sorry Robin! Ha! : ) http://www.beyonceparfums.com/pulse-summer-edition

  17. eminere says:

    Hawaiian blanket? Second skin accord?? Now they’re just saying words.

  18. jonr951 says:

    Robin, did you see this new one from Swift? Sorry, but I’m EXCITED. Haha! : )

    http://img2.timeinc.net/instyle/images/2013/WRN/052913-taylor-swift-fragrance-340.jpg

    • Robin says:

      Literally just finished posting it, but thanks!

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