The Monday Mail ~ help Molly find a new fragrance


Today we're helping Molly. She says she's a perfume novice, but she's learning, and she wants to find a new day and evening signature scent. Her most recent signature scent was original Burberry for women, but she's bored with it now, and she'd like to find something a little more interesting. She can spend up to $120 or so, but she'd rather spend less than $100, and she'd love to find something she can test locally (she has easy access to Macy's, Sephora, Barney's Coop and  Blue Mercury). Here is what we know about Molly:

She's a public interest attorney living in a large East Coast city in the U.S.

She's married and in her early 30s. No kids yet, but they do have a cuddly labrador retriever, and one of her favorite pastimes is taking him for a hike.

Molly likes  the outdoors, especially mountains, forests, and lakes, but she's not much of a beach fan except in the off season.

She loves city living, trying out new restaurants, sipping good coffee or tea in a local cafe and curling up with a book on a rainy evening. Molly says she does well in social settings, but at heart, she's more of an introvert.

Her taste runs towards the classic. A well-cut suit, heels and pearls for work, cashmere sweaters and dark-wash skinny jeans with brown riding-style for weekends.

Molly likes oriental and gourmand notes and fragrances: vanilla, amber, patchouli, cinnamon and  honey. Past favorites include Calvin Klein Obsession, Thierry Mugler Angel, and Lancome Tresor.She recently tried Prada Eau de Parfum, and she loves it, but she wants to shop more before settling down to the Prada. She does find opening of Prada a little too harsh, but she loves it after 10 minutes. She's also been wearing Kenzo Amour, and she likes it, but finds it lacking something, and she wishes it lasted longer.

Molly dislikes anything overly fruity/teeny-bopper, aquatic scents, and anything that smells too strongly like tobacco, rubber or synthetics.

Here are some of the fragrances she has tried:

 Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille: not enough oomph, and husband says it smells like a candle.

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre: too sharp and harsh, and maybe too masculine.

Serge Lutens Arabie: too much like a fruit cake soaked in rum.

Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan: too sharp. 

Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau: she didn't like it, and can't remember why.

Chanel No. 5: she hates it and suspects she dislikes aldehydes. 

L'Artisan's Havana Vanille: she did not like the smoky tobacco note.

L de Lolita Lempicka: too sweet.

L'Artisan Bois Farine: too heavy on the cedar / pencil shavings. 

What say you?

Note: image is Buzon-de-correos [cropped, doubled] by alicedice at flickr; some rights reserved.

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  1. Jillie says:

    Maybe Guerlain’s Samsara? It is oriental, and the sandalwood is quite creamy and to the fore. I don’t get too much jasmine from it, and it mellows down to that sort of vanilla base. EdP better than EdT. The original in the 90s was a bit of a power perfume, but the current version is less so, and is perhaps more suitable for daytime wear (although I prefer the vintage!).

    • Rappleyea says:

      A big second here. And the older bottles (clear ones, not red) are still reasonable on eBay.

  2. thegoddessrena says:

    If you have an Anthropologie near you, I’d recommend Lollia Relax–it’s all honey vanilla floral yumminess on me. It’s under $50 if I remember correctly. I’ve also seen it in various little boutiques around town (I’m in the Boston area)

  3. SmokeyToes says:

    I’d say Prada Candy would be nice and inexpensive, easily available at Macy’s or Nordstroms. For something a bit more elegant though, my top suggestion is Ormonde Jayne’s Orris Noir, second would be L’ Artisan’s Safran Troublant.
    I second the Samsara recommendation.

    • Dixie says:

      2nd Orris Noir!
      Anneyake Miyako-discontinued but can find online or ebay
      DSH Vintage Patchouly-wii have to buy online.

    • Dilana says:

      Ormonde Jayne is running an international free shipping promotion right now.

    • dee says:

      Seconding Safran Troublant!! :)

    • Eroica says:

      I second the Prada Candy!

  4. thegoddessrena says:

    My other suggestion is Costume National 21 (at Barneys)

  5. Sapphire says:

    Seconding Prada Candy for daytime. Also, Gucci Guilty Intense sprayed lightly for day, more squirts for night. You might also like Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee for day (the small bottle is about $60). Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang-Ylang starts out somewhat floral/sweet, but is all vanilla sandalwood comfort after it dries down.

  6. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    Perfume suggestions for Molly:
    Chanel Coco
    Chanel Coromandel
    Serge Lutens Feminite Du Bois
    Lolita Lempicka (original in the purple apple)
    Guerlain Samsara
    Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial
    Bvlgari Jasmin Noir
    Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison
    Christian Dior Midnight Poison
    Estee Lauder Sensuous
    Estee Lauder Sensuous Noir

    • Meg says:

      Was going to throw out Coromendel too-closely related to Prada, I think, but better/deeper/more sensual.

    • Eroica says:

      I second the Hypnotic Poison. As a gourmand lover you might find this one interesting.

  7. Kady says:

    My first thought was Prada Candy, and I see I’m not the only one. Don’t let the name “Candy” fool you into thinking it’s for pre-teens only; it is a very sophisticated gourmand.

    Also, for something different, try Bottega Veneta. Leather, patchouli, a hint of fruit. I wear it to work regularly and it feels “right” somehow with my suits. It’s elegant, but not cool or standoffish – I wear it on the weekends, too.

  8. sayitisntso says:

    I’m going to cast a vote for Guerlain’s Jicky (think lemon cheesecake, lavendar, herbs de provence, and vanilla) and if she doesn’t mind ‘borrowing’ from the men’s section Chanel’s Egoiste (tangerine, Bulgarian rose, coriander, sandalwood and vanilla) . Jicky EDT for the day and Egoiste for evening.

  9. Blimunda says:

    Outdoorsy and classic, suitable for both day and night……Ormonde Woman!!

    • sayitisntso says:

      Lovely. OW is a stunner.

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Seconding OJ Woman!

    • Knit1CurlToo says:

      Thirding :) OJ Woman!

    • bergere says:

      Third on the Ormonde Jayne Woman. Several of her other scents have gourmand elements you might find appealing; none are “frooty” and all are for grown-ups: Champaca has a spicy note as well as a whiff of basmati rice Frangipani reminds me a little of guavas, Osmanthus has a floral apricot air. If you didn’t like 5:00 au gingembre, you may also wish to avoid PG’s Un Crime exotique, which was “eau de Christmas shoppe” on me. Give Dolce Vita a try, though, which is a tempered spicy scent. Feminade by Sahlini was a bit too saffron-loaded for me, but it’s very nice and it might be great on you! Chopard Madness is also an interesting spicy oriental. Have fun!

  10. capillary says:

    Givenchy Organza Indecence and FM Musc Ravageur are my favourite spicy, ambery scents – both have a gourmand aspect, especially the Givenchy. You could also try Tolu by Ormonde Jayne – clearly not available in your area, but you could order a sample!

    • capillary says:

      Also, for the honey and cinnamon, Cologne pour le Soir by Maison Francis Kurkdjian is very soft and elegant.

    • galwaygirl001 says:

      I was also going to suggest Organsa Indecence and Tolu!
      Also Chanel Coco.

  11. FragrantWitch says:

    I’d recommend

    Costume National 21
    Bulgari Black
    Habit Rouge
    Mecca Balsam
    Lancôme Poeme
    Vintage Emeraude
    Ralph Lauren Safari
    Prada Candy
    Donna Karan Chaos

    • PetronellaCJ says:

      Second Donna Karan Chaos (which I am wearing today btw)!

  12. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    I was going to suggest Ormonde Jayne Tolu, so you should definitely get that sampler because, yes, also to Woman and Orris Noir.

    Also second Chanel Coromandel and while you’re at it Chanel Bois des Iles. For a sheer, spicy oriental, check out The Different Company Oriental Lounge (Barney’s carries that line).

  13. Rappleyea says:

    My immediate take when I read Molly’s likes, etc. was Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille. A bottle is out of the price range, but decants can be had on either on The Perfumed Court or

    Also, you might want to check out some of the Sonoma Scent Studio fragrances – well done, interesting and reasonably priced. My favorite is Champagne de Bois with Nostalgie second.

    • dee says:

      Yes to Champagne de Bois! Better yet, get a sample set of several Sonoma Scent Studio fragrances— they’re so good!!!

  14. dominika says:

    Dzing, just because I seem to have similar tastes and love it :)

  15. Vetiveria says:

    I’d suggest Calamity J, for the amber, iris, and patchouli.

  16. KRL says:

    L’Artisan Tea for Two (some cinnamon & honey)
    Serge Lutens Chergui (warm honey, hay)
    Byredo Seven Veils (sweet-spicy open w/vanilla & sandalwood)
    Van Cleef & Arpels Vanille Orchidee (slightly boozy vanilla)

    Prada has an amber scent, I think it’s just called l’Amber. I don’t personally care for it, but you may.

    Just for kicks, see if you can get a sniff of Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant. Great and unusual oriental.

  17. mim666 says:

    Seconding Safran Troublant by L’Artisan.
    Should check out the whole line, really, but try this one first. It immediately came to mind for these preferences even though it is a lot lighter, less heavy/basenotes-y and more transparent than many of the past faves.

    Fourth(?)-ing Ormonde Jayne Woman
    (these are two of my personal faves)

    Some of my personal faves which seem in the ‘ballpark’ of the ones mentioned as faves (some more expensive, but can obtain a large split/decant):
    Ginestet Botrytis (sweet, strong honey),
    Andy Tauer’s L’eau du Desert Marocain,
    Guerlain Bois d’Armenie,
    Dior Bois d’Argent (might have changed the formula),
    Diptique Eau Lente (super cinnamonny),
    Caron Parfum Sacre and Poivre.

    Parfumerie Generale: Like L’artisan, should check out the line. For these specifications, my top…however many:
    L’Ombre Fauve, L’Osieau de Nuit, Cadjmere, Une Crime Exotique, Iris Taizo, Aomassai, maybe also Indochine, Cuir d’Iris…

  18. Perfumista8 says:

    It’s a little freaky how much Molly and I have in common from the description–lifestyle, dog and all :)
    I’d second, third or whatever the following:
    Andy Tauer’s L’eau du Desert Marocain
    Costume National 21
    Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee

    And I’d add:
    Pacifica Tibetan Mountain Temple
    Donna Karan Black Cashmere – via the web from Neiman Marcus
    Hermes Kelly Caleche
    Kate Walsh Boyfriend

    And, if you can get a deal on ebay, I bet you’d love:
    Hermes Ambre Narguile
    Kilian Amber Oud

    • Perfumista8 says:

      Oh yeah, I agree with Mim666 too – I’d definitely check out Parfumerie Generale – in particular Intrigant Patchouli Eau de Parfum since you like patchouli. The patchouli is beautiful in this.

  19. elise says:

    I’ll second Samsara and Ormonde Jayne (especially Woman, but I think you’ll like Fragipani).

    How about Chanel 19? Or 22? Coromandel would be worth a sniff as well!

  20. poodle says:

    I’ll throw in my vote for Prada Candy too. Also I’ll second whoever said Kate Walsh Boyfriend. I got a lot of vanilla from that one. It wasn’t a keeper for me but a lot of other people do like it.
    If you like licorice I would say try Reglisse Noire. Indiescents carries it. It’s a favorite of mine. You could try a sample first.
    I know you said Lolita Lempicka was too sweet but Lolita Lempicka Au Masculine but be worth a sniff.

  21. Cybele says:

    Youth Dew Amber Nude by Estee Lauder
    think its discontoinued but you can find it online for a bargain

  22. Parul says:

    Her love for Angel makes me wonder if Coco Mademoiselle would work? Or maybe Hypnotic Poison (since she likes vanilla/gourmand notes)

  23. sllat says:

    Hi Molly,
    I have three suggestions for you:
    1.) Sira des Indes by Jean Patou (a tropical floral perfume that runs toward the gourmand)
    2.) Cuir de Lancome (a creamy leather with a touch of sweetness)
    3.) Ambre by Parfums Corania (a beautiful, addictive amber)

    The first two can be found at online discounters for $40/1.7oz or so (a fraction of their original retail cost). The third is currently at Urban Outfitters for $30/1.7 oz.


  24. throughsmoke says:

    Seems like Molly doesn’t like anything too offensive or harsh. I’m wondering if a soft floral might do the trick. First thing that came to mind is serge lutens un lys. it’s got a nice vanilla dry down with a hint of musk so it’s not overly sweet. the lily is soft and not too in your face.

  25. juicejones says:

    I 2nd Ambre Narguile and perhaps Eau Claire des Merveilles. Any of that lot, really. Enjoy your search, Molly!

  26. Christina says:

    Perhaps SL’s Daim Blond? Apparently it has some tobacco but I find it to be quite sweet yet refined and still interesting (a little will go a long way though). For something a little different, I would also seek out FM’s Carnal Flower! Stunning.

  27. Addicted2Pretty says:

    I second Serge Lutens Daim Blond. I will also recommend the following:

    Guerlain L’instant price point starts at $70
    Prada L’eau Ambree price point starts at $80
    Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise price point between $55-$100
    Tokyomilk Dead Sexy price point is $30
    Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb price point starts at $105
    Serge Lutens Douce Amere price point varies, be sure to look on reputable fragrance discounter sites for the best deal.
    Bond No 9 Success is a Job in NY price point starts at $160

    Happy Scenting!

    • Cybele says:

      second the Guerlain and Prada

  28. kristens says:

    I second (or third?) Dior Hypnotic Poison

  29. Eroica says:

    You may want to venture out and sample Jo Malone fragrances. I love them – staying power not the best. I’m a gourmand lover and Blue Agava and Cocoa is 1 of my favs.

  30. Ginny M says:

    Yes, JM’s Blue Agave/Cocoa is lovely, but doesn’t last long enough. If Molly loved Angel, she should look for Neonatura Cocoon by Yves Rocher, discontinued but it still shows up on ebay for a reasonable price. Patchouli and chocolate — I get plenty of compliments on this one. Others for consideration (some repeats from earlier suggestions):
    Breath of God — LUSH
    Black Cashmere — Donna Karan
    L by Lolita Lempicka (for a not-too-candle-y vanilla)
    Eau d’ Hadrien — Annick Goutal (for a not-too-bright, not-too-creamy lemon/grapefruit citrus)

  31. Chrissy48 says:

    By Taylor Swift

  32. floramac says:

    Hi. I’ve not posted here before, but I’ve returned after a long absence to the world of fragrance so I’ve started to follow a couple of perfume blogs. Love this blog, by the way.

    Molly, the couple of scents I’ve run across in my recent explorations that you might like are Estee Lauder’s Cinnabar and Parfums de Nicolai’s Sacrebleu. I just ordered a sample of Sacrebleu and am wearing it now. It’s gorgeous: vanilla, a little spicy, a trace of smoke. I’d describe it, paradoxically, as gourmand with an underlying austerity (from incense?). It might be more than you want to spend, but I recommend trying it. Our tastes sound pretty similar. Cinnabar is readily available though and well within your price range.

  33. Robin says:

    Posted for Molly:

    Thank you all so much for your wonderful suggestions! I am really excited to try many of them out, and will post in the future with the results. The first suggestion that caught my eye, though, was Costume National 21. And Robin’s review described it as being something like a deeper, spicier version of Kenzo Amour, which sounds perfect to me. So I’ve just ordered a sample from Luckyscent. But you have all given me a lot of fun food for thought, and I’m sure I’ll try many more of your suggestions.

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