The Monday Mail ~ help Kelly find a new perfume


Today we're helping Kelly, who comments on Now Smell This as MerrilyRow. She'd recently divorced and starting to date again, and wants to find a fragrance to accompany this new phase in her life. She generally wears one fragrance for day and another for evening, but would like her new scent to bridge the two. She wants it to be sexy and alluring as well, but she doesn't want anything that seems like it is wearing her: she wants "I love the way you smell" not "What perfume is that?" Here is what we know about Kelly:

She's in her 40s, and is fair & blue-eyed with long curly blonde hair. She was born & raised in the San Francisco area, and has lived in Los Angeles most of her adult life.

She has a 10 year old boy who is a "super-taster" with an excellent sense of smell and strong opinions about her fragrances.

She works from home in the arts & media, but also has many client meetings, meals out, events, etc. She also does charitable work in education and the arts.

She loves the outdoors, literature, cooking, nature and travel.

She wears black, white, blue and gold, and her closet has everything from 25 year old black cowboy boots to platform Louboutins, with the boots a bit closer to her heart.

Kelly likes incense, orientals, citrus, warm skin scents, aldehydes and chypres. She also likes some unisex fragrances, but she doesn't want anything too masculine.

She currently wears Shalimar parfum (formula from 15 years ago, rationing it drop by drop), Creed Millesime Imperial, Helmut Lang parfum, Hermes Jardin en Mediterranee, Hermes Jardin sur le Nil (the one she gets the most compliments on), Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude (a gift and she is not sure she likes it), Voyage d'Hermes (a bit too masculine). In the past she has worn L'Artisan Premier Figuier, Dior Eau Sauvage, Guerlain Samsara, Chanel No 5, Hermes Eau d'Orange & Caleche, Bulgari Jasmin Noir, Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien, O de Lancome and Donna Karan Gold.

Kelly doesn't like anything sweet or fruity or overly fussy, gourmands (vanilla as a note is great but she doesn't want to smell like food, especially sweet food), anything too adolescent or pop, anything aquatic (smells like rancid walnuts), celebrity perfumes, anything too clean (a little funk is fine), superficial fragrances without depth, anything she smells on everyone else.

Perfume lines that don't work for Kelly include Estee Lauder (with the possible exception of Sensuous Nude, she hasn't decided yet), Narciso Rodriguez (meh), Stella McCartney (too rosy), Acqua di Parma (just not engaging), Calvin Klein (boring), Armani (really boring), Michael Kors (too obvious), Thierry Mugler (off-putting), Issey Miyake (ditto), Prada (want to love at least one but just meh), Parfums DelRae (ham-handed) and Chloe (underwhelming).

What say you?

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

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  1. lupo says:

    Dear Kelly, first of all best of luck for this new phase in your life! A new start is always good, and I wish you all the best.
    Back to business: how about Lyric Amouage? Rose and incense, a bit pricey but absolutely worth it, either the Men or Women version (the Men one is better, IMO), and it works as a day or night scent. Second, I’d suggest Balenciaga l’Essence, a sort of androgynous take on violets and green notes with a hint of leather. Last suggestion, since you seem to borrow from the men’s shelves, did you try Villoresi’s Acqua di Colonia? It’s an eau de cologne with a very interesing herbal twist. Happy search!

  2. Haunani says:

    I like the Balenciaga l’Essence recommendation. Also recommend trying Etro Shaal Nur and Balmain Jolie Madame.

  3. FragrantWitch says:

    Another Shalimar fan here and can completely understand the rationing! You didn’t mention a budget so the list runs the gamut. My first thoughts are Black Cashmere, A Taste of Heaven, Mecca Balsam, Bal a Versailles, Ralph Lauren Safari, SSS Incense Pure , Ormonde Jayne Woman and Donna Karan Wenge Essence. The wenge would later wonderfully with the Black Cashmere making a day to night transition combo (Chaos would also work well with both). Good luck!

    • KRL says:

      I’ll second Safari. A lovely chypre that is uncommon in every way.

    • Merrily Row says:

      Love Black Cashmere but it’s my mom’s signature scent! And I wore Bal a Versailles but it recalls a specific time in my life that is happily in the past. Safari, SSS Incense Pure and OJ Woman seem like excellent places to start. Thanks!

  4. Quimby says:

    How fun is this? For evening (or any time, really) I’d recommend Miller Harris l’Air de rien, based on current and past likes. Love the dirty note. Not fussy, not floral.

    I love Chanel No 5 Eau première and Shalimar Parfum initial. Definitely worth a try for daytime (or night, of course).

  5. ladymurasaki says:

    Firstly, enjoy your new phase of life, Kelly! For fragrances that feature incense, I would recommend Tauer Incense Extreme and Incense Rose, COMME des GARÇONS Kyoto, and Serge Lutens L’Eau Froide. I got a free sample of L’Eau Froide from SL and it is a cool fragrance with incense and citrus.

  6. egabbert says:

    When I read “incense, orientals, citrus” I thought immediately of Tauer Perfumes — Eau d’Epices, Incense Rose, L’Air du Desert Marocain, and Une Rose Chypree are all really lovely, unisex, not to sweet or too floral.

    YSL Y is a great chypre with some aldehydes.

  7. capillary says:

    I think we have rather similar tastes! Chamade and Bois des Iles come to mind as scent that work for both day and evening: elegant but definitely alluring with those warm oriental basenotes. Bois des Iles especially I think is suitable for almost any occasion and really stunning as well. I think since you like no. 5 it would be well worth a try.

  8. Addicted2Pretty says:

    All the best on this new chapter in your life! For scents that I think go great from day to evening, that also run the gamut of what you like, I recommend: Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds, Bottega Veneta, VCA Bois d’Iris, Creed Royal Oud, L’Artisan l’eau d’Ambre and Serge Lutens Douce Amere.

    I know you’ll find the perfect scent (or two) for you!

  9. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    Perfumes Kelly should try:
    Chanel Coco
    Chanel No.19
    Balenciaga l’Essence
    Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial
    Bottega Veneta

  10. kristens says:

    It’s just an instinct, but…Chanel Sycomore!

  11. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    Tolu by Ormonde Jayne
    Oriental Lounge by The Different Company
    Noir Epices by Frederic Malle

  12. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    Beautiful, very wearable incense is Miyako by Annayake (wish I had a bottle).

  13. Karin says:

    Hi Kelly, maybe Hermes Eau des Merveilles or Eau Claire des Merveilles?

  14. elise says:

    Ormonde Jayne Woman, Chanel Bois de Iles, and there is an incense I wanted to recommend but can’t remember the name…Avignon maybe? oh, and Annick Goutal Heure Exquise!

  15. Desirae says:

    I may be off base, but what about Rochas Femme? It dries down to a warm, plummy skin scent. It does have that dose of cumin, though, and I don’t know how you feel about that.

    • Haunani says:

      Desirae, this one occurred to me, too. I think it would be worth a try for Kelly!

  16. Merrily Row says:

    Thank you so much, everyone, or both the good wishes and great suggestions! Ormonde Jayne Woman makes so many appearances on NST, and here, I think I have to finally try it.

    I thought I’d get a lot of Sonoma Scent Studio recommendations too, but so far none?

    I appreciate Chanel #19 and Coco, but neither move me. Sycomore is on the must-try list though. I thought I was going to love Bottega veneta but found it kind of flatly masculine on me. And as much as I consistently find plenty to love among Hermes fragrances, none of Merveilles fragrances are for me.

    Keep the ideas coming…and thanks again for all your thoughtfulness. This is so fun!

    • LexfordRose says:

      Belated response re SSS fragrances – I suggest Incense Pure (already suggested by others), Champagne de Bois, Fig Tree. Actually, I suggest you order a bunch of Laurie’s samples and see what you like. Her fragrances are all exceptionally well made and very reasonably priced. Have fun!

  17. poodle says:

    Someone else mentioned SSS Incense Pure which I will second and I’ll also say you might like Tabac Aurea by SSS as well. Tauer’s Incense Rose might work for you.

  18. ladymurasaki says:

    Seconding Ormonde Woman. It’s my SOTD. It’s beautiful.

  19. Many people have mentioned Tauer’s incense-heavy scents, but I also wonder if you would enjoy his delightful citrus-oriental, Orange Star. I adore that one.

    How do you do with powder? I was going to suggest Mona di Orio Musc (sexy powdery skin scent).

  20. Poppie says:

    She didn’t mention woody, herbal, or grassy scents, it seems like if she is up for a change she might want to move in that direction? Not wanting to smell like everyone else means boutique or niche, or hard to find. Also if she is in the dryer areas of Los Angeles, she would want something lighter than if she is in the more humid coastal areas. Cowboy boots close to her heart makes me think of Ralph Lauren — maybe Safari for Women? Or Turquoise?

  21. maggiecat says:

    My first thought was Ormonde Jayne Woman – it’s such a magnificent scent and something i wear for strength and confidence (always good on a date!) Tolu might also be a good one to try, though it might be a bit heavy for symmer months. I also like Bulgari’s Jasmin Noir, but liked the flanker Jasmin Noir L’essence even more – it’s a bit lighter and might be better for warmer months Enjoy this new stage of your life!

  22. juicejones says:

    How about Armani Prive Bois d’Ensens? Armani, but not mainsteam.
    I get compliments on Lovely, Soie de Caleche and EdM Elixir. None of them my favorites, but always great audience response.
    Good luck with this new chapter in your life!

  23. sllat says:

    What about Mitsouko? You’ve already mentioned other Guerlains and this is, of course, THE classic chypre. Have you given it a try?

    Another thought is Paloma Picasso. Readily available, yet probably a bit forgotten by someone currently reaching out for a “new” fragrance. This is one that could definately double as a day and evening fragrance.

    For something really different, what about Etat Libre d’Orange “Archives 69”? Just a thought.

    Best of luck!

  24. nozknoz says:

    There are several By Kilian perfumes that smell great and are not too heavy, especially Liaisons Dangereuses (rose plum), Beyond Love (the joyous tuberose), Straight to Heaven (absinthe/lavender), Pure Oud, Rose Oud and Back to Black (honey tobacco). There’s a great exploration set that included all of these but the ouds.

    Parfumerie Generale Indochine is also great and versatile – I think it’s been reviewed here. Acqua di Parma Profumo is a wonderful chypre, too. 28 la Pausa is lovely, natural, unusual and always perfect.

    All the best – looking forward to hearing what you chose!

  25. Omega says:

    1) BVL Jasmin Noir L’essence
    2) Ineke discovery kit- she may like Evening Edged In Gold & Chemical Bonding
    3) Sonoma Scent Studio sample box kit- for incense, vanilla & aldehydes

  26. bonardi says:

    It is like I am reading my own like-dislikelist (exept shalimar, I do’nt like)
    Try la Perla classic qas a chypre ( you have to run….a reformulation is on it’s way…)
    For a warm skinscent Ambre gris , Balmain, delicious!! And try soie rouge Maitre parfumeur, bought it one year ago.All of a sudden i begin to like it, a bit a floriental, hard to di
    scribe for me..Good luck in your new life!!

  27. Merrily Row says:

    Thanks again to all of you for the warm responses and excellent suggestions. I’ll get sniffing right away and let you know how it goes.

  28. Dixie says:

    Bulgari Omnia-in the rust colored bottle. It’s discontinued but can easily be found online.
    I second Noir Espices and Anneyake Miyako.

  29. Blimunda says:

    Hi Kelly – for some reason, I want to recommend Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne for you. it is a gorgeously feminine oriental rose with notes of saffron, date and some rich, incense/amber base to lend it depth and punchy dry-down. To me, this is a perfect ‘dating’ perfume. Chandler Burr wrote of it: “one of those hot, dry santa anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. etc etc” It’s quite a sheer fragrance and would transition well from day to night.

    As for a citrus/warm skin scent I heartily say Bigarade Concentree from Frederic Malle. This is one of the all time top citrus fragrances, in my opinion. And it is youthful, rich, complex, juicy, lighthearted and happy, bright, joyful and dries down to a warm, relaxed, sensuous skin-scent. Everything a girl needs for fresh beginnings in life and love!

  30. Cybele says:

    Hi Kelly,
    very expensiv but I recommend you to sample Promesse de L’Aube (most beautiful Chypre) and Enlevement en Serail (+ a little funk) from Parfums MDCI. Also, Chanel 31, Rue Cambon which is like Promesse de L’Aube with a little sweet powder added and Chanel 22 with aldehydes, incense, vanilla. All of them have something warm, intimate about them and are never loud. Good luck!

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