The Monday Mail ~ help Patricia find a new fragrance

Buzón en La Habana Vieja

Before we get started with today's subject, Patricia, I wanted to mention that this is the last Monday Mail post until September — the Monday Mail likes to take a summer vacation every year. We have cleared through the waiting list, but anyone who is interested in getting on the list for September, do check out the instructions.

Patricia, who occasionally comments here under the name farouche, wants to find an everyday (office?) scent for the cooler months. She has been wearing Gucci II but it is beginning to bore her. Her perfect scent will be perceptible and have some complexity, but it won't overpower. Patricia says she is pretty familiar with the classics and would appreciate suggestions for newer fragrances and niche fragrances, and especially scents that push her outside of her floriental comfort zone. She can spend up to $200, and is also open to suggestions for perfume stores in the Boston area. Here is what we know about Patricia:

She's a youthful 60, and married with two grown children, a dog, and a horse.

She worked in the publishing industry until being laid off last year; now she works part-time at her husband's office.

Her passions are horseback riding, reading, hiking in New Hampshire, and collecting perfume.

She says she is a friendly introvert: she loves being with people but also needs a lot of alone time to pursue her quieter hobbies.

Patricia likes florals, especially white florals, as long as there is something else going on to add interest. Other favorite notes include jasmine, bergamot, citrus, and vanilla; and patchouli, vetiver, and leather in small doses. She already has some great fragrances for summer, including Guerlain Eau de Guerlain, The Different Company Bergamote, Kenzo Parfum d'Ete and Parfum de Nicolaï Eau d'Ete. Other perfumes she has worn in the past include Miss Dior; Nina Ricci Farouche & Capricci; Yves St. Laurent Y & Rive Gauche; K de Krizia; Givenchy Ysatis; Scherrer 2; Prescriptives Calyx. She currently wears Bulgari Pour Femme; Frederick Malle Eau d'Hiver. For evening she likes Robert Piguet Fracas and Bond no. 9 Chinatown.

Patricia doesn't like fruity florals, which she doesn't find age appropriate.

Here are some of the fragrances Patricia has tried:

Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia: she likes it on others but not herself, and in general finds the Lauder perfumes are too strong.

S-Perfume 100% Love: smelled like an outhouse.

Tauer Perfumes L'Air du Desert Marocain: she found it unpleasant.

Bvlgari Black: she didn't like the rubber note.

L'Artisan Parfumeur Bois Farine: she didn't like the bread scent.

Tom Ford Purple Patchouli: too harsh and too heavy on the patchouli.

Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia: all mushroom and no gardenia.

Keiko Mecheri Canyon Dreams: she loves the bright opening followed by woody desert dryness, and bought a decant.

Guerlain Myrrhe et Delires: gorgeous woody oriental; she also got a decant of this one.

Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanilla: sickeningly sweet.

By Kilian Water Calligraphy: another decant purchase; a watery floral that blended well with her skin.

L'Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant: she liked it but wished it lasted longer.

Prada Infusion d'Iris: the first iris she tried; she loved it and got a decant.

Yves Saint Laurent Cinema: very wearable and just the right amount of flowers, amber, and vanilla.

Bottega Veneta: overpoweringly floral; reminded her of the big-haired eighties numbers.

Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel: too heavy on the patchouli.

Aedes de Venustas Signature: too masculine.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Cimabue: too much going on — a scrubber.

Frederic Malle Une Rose: too strong, too much green rose — another scrubber.

Sonoma Scent Studio Nostalgie: overpowering.

Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely: too girly.

What say you?

Note: image is Buzón en La Habana Vieja [cropped] by Quadrophenius at flickr; some rights reserved.

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Parfums Raffy


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  1. Jill says:

    Hi Patricia! Have you tried Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint? It’s one of my favorite summer scents, and it works well for being in close proximity to others. It’s perceptible, but definitely not overpowering.

    • farouche says:

      Hi Jill, I’ve never tried White Jasmine and Mint, but it sounds cool and refreshing for summer. Thanks!

  2. blecky says:

    Odori Iris
    Dior Homme
    Ormonde Jayne Ta’if

    • farouche says:

      Hi Blecky, I have a sample of Ta’if and like it. However, the Dior Homme and Odori Iris are unfamiliar to me. I look forward to trying them!

  3. Blimunda says:

    For some reason, I want to suggest Heeley Parfums. They strike me as very well suited for office wear as they are modern and streamlined, complex but in a deceptive way. His Iris de Nuit is simply gorgeous – dark and complex, but sheer and slightly powdery. Cuir Pleine Fleurs is a soft leather with violet leaf, and is very unusual. I had to try it a number of times before I understood it’s brilliance! Have a read about his perfumes and try some samples if you can, if they appeal.

    Sel de Vetyver from The Different Company is one of the best and most interesting vetivers I’ve come across. It has cardamom and patchouli, but in small amounts, seamlessly blended and subtle. Give it a go!

    • farouche says:

      Hi Blimunda, I’ve never heard of Heeley Parfums, but both suggestions sound lovely, especially the Cuir Pleine Fleurs. I like Vetiver Pour Elle, so I’m anxious to give Sel de Vetyver a try. As long as the patchouli is blended and not overbearing, it should be fine. Thanks for your suggestions!

  4. Amy G. says:

    I wonder if you have tried Vero Profumo Rubj? It isn’t overly sweet, and is intriguing. Fits the white flowers with complexity bill.

  5. eaudemale says:

    Hmmm… I started reading and thought… She might like Fracas, as for Fracas, Truth or Dare by Madonna (but might not be a definitive fragrance).

    Ambar/Floral and comercialish ala YSL Cinema: Lancome Poeme, Organza by Givenchy.
    Niche: Dzing!, L’Air du desert marocain, Absinth (she wanted something different).

    …I’d definitely go with the Lancome Poeme for her ;)

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Poeme and Cinema definitely share a kinship but I find Poeme more ‘innocent’ and Cinema more ‘worldly’.

      • farouche says:

        At 60, I’d have to say that I’m more “worldly” than “innocent” ;)

    • farouche says:

      Thanks for your suggestions! I’ve heard good things about Truth or Dare and will also definitely try Dzing! Organza, and Absinthe. L’Air du Desert Marocain turned too dry and smoky on my skin.

  6. ladymurasaki says:

    Patricia, you might like to try the following.
    Van Cleef & Arpels Gardenia Petale
    Roja Dove Scandal & Danger
    Serge Lutens A La Nuit
    Annick Goutal Le Jasmin
    Ormonde Jayne Woman

    • FragrantWitch says:

      Strongly seconding the Ormonde Jayne Woman. Positively gorgeous stuff!

    • farouche says:

      Ladymurasaki, I’ve tried Woman and love it, but the other suggestions are new to me, and I look forward to sampling them. Thanks!

  7. thegoddessrena says:

    My recommendation are Songes from Annick Goutal
    And 31 Rue. Cambon from Chanel

    Shopping in the Boston area–Colonial Drug in Harvard Square (though you have to have the clerk bring over the testers), Saks is in the Shops at the Prudential Center, Neiman Marcus and Barneys are in the Copley Place Mall (connected to the Pru), Louis is down by the waterfront, the Chanel boutique and the Hermes boutique face the Public Garden

    • farouche says:

      Thank you so much for the Boston perfume shopping suggestions! I will try Songes and 31 Rue Cambon, too.

  8. Emily says:

    Etat Libre d’Orange Tilda Swinton Like This is, in addition to being a mouthful, a terrific office-friendly scent that works well in cooler months (though I wear it year round). Patricia especially might appreciate its juicy mandarin opening, and she might also like its gourmand-ish aspects. I hesitate to call it a straight-up gourmand, though, because I don’t find it particularly edible.

    Also, Jacomo Art Collection #08 is a lovely cardamom-milky-tea scent that’s appropriate for office wear.

    • farouche says:

      Hi Emily, The mandarin opening of TSLT sounds very appealing. I like tea scents, so the Jacomo #08 could be a real winner. Thanks for your suggestions :)

  9. OhLily says:

    Mary Greenwell Plum. Tuberose and gardenia, very well done and a nice drydown – if you like the big whites, it’s definitely worth a sniff.

    O.J.’s Ta’if. Really gorgeous, especially in cooler weather.

    Nicolai’s Le Temps D’Une Fete. Soft green floral.

    Parfum d’Empire’s Eau Suave and Azemour.

    Happy sniffing, Patricia! :)

    • farouche says:

      I found Plum to be a bit overpowering on me (especially for office wear), but I do like Ta’if very much. Le Temps d’Une Fete sounds good, as I like green scents. I’m not familiar with Parfums d’Empire, but will try to get samples of Eau Suave and Azemour. Thanks for your helpful suggestions!

  10. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    Frederic Malle Noir Epices for orange mixed with spices in a smooth, subtle scent that would work well for the office.

    Sushi Imperiale for a spicy, subtle vanilla. They might have this at Barneys (they do at the SF Barneys).

    Have you been to the Chanel boutique and tried the Exclusives? Maybe Chanel 22 for white flowers and incense? Also, even though it’s not your notes, Bois des Iles is such a beautiful, subtle, warming fragrance that would work well in the office in the cooler months. For patchouli, nothing beats Coromandel.

    • farouche says:

      Hi Suddenlyinexplicably, Noir Epices was a little too spicy for me when I previously tried it, but I’ll give it another go. Sushi Imperiale (also FM?) sounds intriguing, and I’d love to give it a try. It also sounds like a trip to the Chanel Boutique in Boston is in my future! Thanks for your suggestions.

      • thegoddessrena says:

        Sushi Imperiale is from Bois 1920. The local Barneys doesn’t carry the line but Colonial Drug does (or at least they did last time I was there)

        • farouche says:

          I remember Colonial Drug from my college days (eons ago). Can that be?

  11. Sharon C. says:

    Living in the Boston area, I would recommend a trip to Neil Morris Fragrances on Massachusetts Avenue. He has a wide variety of fragrances, many of which are not listed on his website. There are very generously-sized samples available, and the prices for both perfume and EDP formulations are exceptionally reasonable for niche. He and his partner David Garten are very helpful as well.

    • farouche says:

      Neil Morris Fragrances sounds like just the type of shop I’ve been looking for. I’ll definitely plan a trip there during my lunch hour or on a rainy Saturday. Thanks so much :)

  12. hollyc says:

    For interesting white florals Patricia, you might enjoy trying Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower or Divine’s Divine (similar to Ysatis, but oh so much better). Chanel Gardenia? Perhaps Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion. Amouage Dia and Ciel are hard to beat if you wanted to do decants to stay on budget. I also love Caron Narcisse Blanc extrait, so much better than Noir in its current formulation. Hope you find a Holy Grail amongst our suggestions!

    • farouche says:

      Hi hollyc, Love Carnal Flower and just discovered an untried Divine in my sample vial box. Will put it on immediately :) Your other suggestions sound great, too. I’m especially interested in trying the Narcisse Blanc extrait. I see a lot of decants in my future!

      • hollyc says:

        If you like your Divine sample, it’s worth noting that they offer it in extrait as well. Lord I miss the days when most frags were offered in three strengths. Divine has a great website and the service from France was amazing. They are also generous with samples when you order.

        • farouche says:

          Will def check out the Divine website!

  13. farouche says:

    How can I miss finding my new Holy Grail with so many wonderful suggestions from all of you? My heartfelt thanks for taking the time to help me find a new fragrance.

  14. helenviolette says:

    I will toss in SIP Black Rosette and Hermes osmanthe Yunnan. I also think Esprit D’oscar is worth a try and Chamade parfum (but guessing you have tried this perhaps).

    • farouche says:

      I own and like Osmanthe Yunnan and Chamade but am not familiar with Black Rosette and Esprit d’Oscar. I will try them both…thanks for the suggestions!

  15. juicejones says:

    Patricia weighed in when I mentioned scoring a bottle of Farouche recently. We have an almost indentical perfume history.
    I would suggest Timbuktu if you like the Scherrers. Not new, and not too popular, you might enjoy Elixir de Merveilles. As far as new or niche, I layered Escentric Molecules 3 with Yosh Sombre Negra at Barney’s today. Not because I have a creative, adventerous spirit. Simply forgot I have only two arms.

    • farouche says:

      Hi Juicejones, I love Timbuktu, but on my husband! It has become “his” scent :) I like the Merveilles, perhaps the parfum version is my favorite of the three. Haven’t tried Escentric Molecules 3 or Yosh Sombre Negra, and I have a Barney’s nearby so will have to make a stop there soon.

  16. Martitia says:

    Our scent histories have some common threads – I second/third TDC’s Sel de Vetiver and 31 Rue Cambon. Since you liked FM’s Eau D’Hiver, wonder how Angeliques sous la Pluie might do for you.

    Speaking of office scents: does anyone know of one like Barney’s Route Du Thé that isn’t quite so piercing? As a kid it was my office scent. Recently sniffed and sprayed some…it about knocked me over. Ah, the ’80s. Every elevator was someone’s potential migraine.

    • farouche says:

      Hi Martitia, Will try Angeliques sous la Pluie (love the name!). Back in the day I liberally sprayed myself with Rive Gauche during one lunch hour then wondered in the elevator who the woman was with the strong perfume. Talk about gauche!

  17. nozknoz says:

    I agree with the suggestions of the Heeleys and Chanel Exclusifs. 28 la Pausa is a wonderful iris vetiver. I also love AG Vetiver. Also really love MDCI Enlevement au Serail.

    • farouche says:

      Hi nozknoz, I will go a little crazy with the vetivers and add 28 la Pausa and AG Vetiver to my list. Also MDCI Enlevement au Serail. What fun this has been!

  18. JolieFleurs says:

    I second 28 la Pausa (though ’tis very fleeting on me) and will add Niki St Phalle…the eau defendue (sp?)

    I have no idea why, really, other than it’s dry and woody and odd and I love it. Plus it’s cheap and you can get a bottle to match your Zodiac sign! :P

    • farouche says:

      Hi JolieFleurs, I have an old mini of Niki de Saint Phalle and haven’t worn it for years (decades?). I’ll try it again and agree that the bottle is very pretty. A contemporary scent that I also liked was Paloma Picasso, but it always gave me a splitting headache…the only perfume ever to do so.

      • hollyc says:

        Farouche, we are scent twins. I adore Paloma, but can only sniff the bottle I have as in my case, it gives me a sore throat. You are obviously a chypre lover as am I. Have you tried Sisley Eau de Soir. I know Turin and Sanchez gutted it, but I find it a full blown chypre with a strong citrus opening and the loveliest long drydown, somewhat similar to Miss Dior ( yes the REAL Miss Dior) not the renamed strawberry mish mash Cherie . . . . humph, how dare they! Also too Divine’s L’enfant and Eau Divine are very pretty demure offerings. L’enfant being mostly floral musk and Eau being a chypre as well. My, you are going to be busy!

        • farouche says:

          I am a chypre lover, but have only in the last few months learned how to pronounce it (thought it was ky-per)! I adore the original Miss Dior and still have an old bottle of it (Dune is another favorite). Haven’t tried Sisley Eau de Soir or Divine’s L’enfant and Eau Divine. Will have to add them to my ever-growing list!

  19. Bee says:

    you have quite a lot of testing to do, I’d add Balenciaga Paris (both versions) to the list

    • farouche says:

      Another chypre, but a modern one. And it has that woody accord that I find so lovely (looked it up on Fragrantica). And violet? Yum yum. So going on the to-be-tried list!

  20. lupo says:

    I would add Aqua Universalis Kurkdjian, a very nice white flower perfume, very office friendly. The Aqua Forte version is pretty good as well. Have you tried Magnolia Nobile ADP (which happens to be a Kurkdjian creation as well)? Really lovely. On a completely different note, since you like K de Krizia (my mums’s signature, such a wonderful scent!) give a go to Acqua di Parma Profumo, a bit on the expensive side but worth every penny!

    • farouche says:

      Luckily I already have a sample of Aqua Universalis Kurkdjian and an eBay acquired mini of Acqua di Parma Profumo but haven’t tried them yet. I will add Magnolia Nobile ADP to the list!

  21. finanna says:

    I would suggest Orange star by Andy Tauer (my skin does not comply with L’air either but this is pretty and contrary to some reviews, not the ultimate sillage monster).

    La pluie by Miller Harris has very enjoyable white flowers note, somehow it reminds me of the better aspects of Chanel’s Gardenia.

    Although you dont like fruity florals, I would recommend trying le Parfum de Therese from Frederic Malle’s editions. The fruity notes are not overpowering or sweet but rather complement the flowers. My mum who usuallu does not wear perfume fell in love with this, nicked a sample from me and is working through her third bottle now.

    • farouche says:

      Orange Star sounds lovely. The only Tauer I’ve tried is L’Air du Desert Marocain and I didn’t like the incense, but this sounds very wearable. La Pluie is also going on the list. I didn’t like the heavy patchouli in MH’s Fleur de Sel…this one sounds much more to my taste. I have tried Parfum de Therese and liked it, but it might be a bit much for daytime office wear. I made a note “for evening only”!

  22. maggiecat says:

    Great suggestions, and I’m taking notes for myself as we have similar tastes! I was thinking Chanel’s Bel Respiro might be nice – I’ve recently retried this one, and it’s a pretty green floral and is very office-friendly, yet still sophisticated. I also recently sampled Trish McEvoy’s Gardenia Musk, and a light spray is very nice – you might like it, even if it is American and consequently a bit loud.

  23. farouche says:

    Hi maggiecat, Yes, aren’t these wonderful suggestions? Trying all these fragrances should keep me out of trouble for the rest of the year! Chanel’s Bel Respiro sounds very sophisticated and different and I’m anxious to try it. Not sure about the Gardenia Musk, though, as I’m not a huge musk fan unless it isn’t an overwhelming characteristic. Also loved your comment about loud American fragrances!

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