The Monday Mail ~ help Lisa find a new perfume


The Monday Mail returns from its summer vacation this week, although it will be off again next Monday for Labor Day. Our first subject for the fall season is Lisa, who has been seriously interested in perfume for a couple years. She would love to find a really special fragrance — possibly her signature fragrance. She'd prefer something that is unusual and distinctive but not hard to wear (or too "in your face"). It should be suitable for evening wear rather than a casual or a skin scent. She can spend up to £150, and is willing to buy samples and/or decants. Here is what we know about Lisa:

She's in her mid-30s and lives in the north of England.

She likes her work, but lives for her time off.

She loves the outdoors, particularly mountains and rivers. She enjoys paragliding, rafting, walking and canoeing.

She loves to travel, particularly to the United States, Italy and the Alps.

She also enjoys time at home, especially cooking for friends, and she loves going to the cinema and listening to classical music.

Lisa likes notes of tea, wood, vanilla, dark rose, smoky notes, citrus so long as it isn't too green, violet, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, apricot, frangipani and Turkish delight notes. Sometimes she likes ylang ylang and jasmine. Perfume likes include Hermès Vanille Galante, Eau  des Merveilles & Eau Claire des Merveilles (but none of them last long enough), Lolita Lempicka (she loved it, but she's worn it for a long time and is tired of it) and Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille (although a bit too sweet and domineering).

Lisa doesn't care for marine and ozone notes, heavy tuberose, white florals and orange blossom, dirty leather, musks or overly sweet celebrity perfumes. She does not care for the Chanel or Tom Ford lines, Guerlain Shalimar (she likes the opening, but not the later mustiness), Serge Lutens Daim Blond and Arabie (too much stewed fruit), Frederic Malle Noir Epices (too harsh) or Honoré des Prés Sexy Angelic (she liked the almond, but the lasting power was poor and it was too one-dimensional).

What say you?

Note: top image courtesy of Victoria of Bois de Jasmin.

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  1. Dawnkana says:

    Hi Lisa,

    First perfume to come to mind is Amouage Epic Woman. Definitely a great evening scent. It’s a big one and lasts forever on the skin.

    Epic Woman Notes:
    cumin, pink pepper, cinnamon, damascene rose, geranium, jasmine, tea, amber, musk, frankincense, oud, sandalwood, guaiac wood, patchouli, vanilla and orris.

    Happy sampling ahead. I am sure you will get more really great recommendations from others.


  2. lucasai says:

    I would suggest Serge Lutens Five o’Clock Cologne Gingembre or Parfum d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite as nice tea scents.
    The newest Atelier Cologne, Rose Anonyme is a gorgeous, deep, a little “dramatic” rosy scent with a darker side.
    Great citruses are Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien and Eau du Sud.
    For cinnamon, Dsquared2 Potion is great (and there will be a female version soon) but Alambar from Laboratorio Olfattivo is gorgeous as well.

    Lucky sampling!

  3. Satsuma says:

    Secret de Rose by Les Parfums de Rosine would be a great choice – suitably dark and sophisticated, with not an inch of ‘Turkish delight’ about it.

  4. egabbert says:

    Tea for Two! Great smoky, spicy scent.

    You might also like DSH Mahjoun, a really complex and lovely gourmand.

    • Kady says:

      Tea for Two was my first thought, too; it’s tea + spice + smoke.

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Yup! I “third” Tea for Two (although there are rumors it’s discontinued).

  5. TexasSnow says:

    Although she doesn’t like Chanel, I’d still suggest Bois d’Iles from the Les Exclusives line (soft floral, spice and wood), or Laura Mercier L’Heure Magique (pikake, Bergamot, rose ,geranium, Sandalwood and amber.

    • maggiecat says:

      I second Bois des Iles!

  6. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    Ta’if by Ormonde Jayne for a dark, spicy rose scent with a middle eastern influence.

    Parfum Sacre by Caron (preferable vintage) for a gorgeous incense and rose scent.

    Feminite du Bois for a beautiful wood scent.

  7. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    Perfumes Lisa should try:
    Bvlgari Omnia
    Guerlain Insolence EDP
    Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire (2012 edition)
    Hermes Kelly Caleche
    Christian Dior Midnight Poison
    Stella McCartney Stella
    Lancome Tresor

    • Lys says:

      Good list – LOL ChocolatEyes613 if it includes some of your likes, we’ll have to trade notes!

      Seconding Omnia, Insolence *EDP*, LPRN (might be a little sweet?), and Tresor.

      • ChocolatEyes613 says:

        The list does include some of my “likes”. I do not wear all of them, but I do appreciate them. Trading notes sounds like a fabulous idea, Lys!

  8. OhLily says:

    For dramatic evening roses some possible sniffers may be:

    Rossy de Palma by ELdO – dark rose with some spice and smoke

    Portrait of a Lady by F. Malle – opulent rose with a bit cinnamon and clove along with incense and woods

    Dark Rose by Czech & Speake – dark rose with some saffron and oud

    Happy sniffing, Lisa, and please let us know how it goes! :)

  9. Lys says:

    Lisa, absolutely try Guerlain Lupin Voyou – it’s like Bois Vanille with more complexity interesting chypre-ish touches. It starts out a little masculine (it’s marketed as a men’s frag) but it warms into a smoky, woody vanillic benzoin scent.

    • Lys says:

      (should read “complexity and interesting touches”)

  10. Abyss says:

    Ormonde Woman! Ticks all the boxes – special, unusual and distinctive but not hard to wear, suitable for evening, well within budget.

    Top Notes: Cardamom, coriander and grass oil
    Heart Notes: Black hemlock, violet and jasmine absolute
    Base Notes: Vetiver, cedar wood, amber and sandalwood

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Seconding OJ Woman!

      • Eroica says:

        Triple vote on OJ Woman!

        • maggiecat says:

          And I’ll be the 4th vote for this amazing (and one of my all-time favorite) scents!

  11. Marjorie Rose says:

    Only thought that hasn’t been mentioned so far: By Killian Rose Oud, which I find to be a lovely, full, true rose. Haven’t priced the FB, but a decant might be an option.

  12. Cybele says:

    Hi Lisa, to my mind comes Guerlain Rose Barbare a spicy slighly gourmand rose and Serge Lutens Bois de Violette, both are beautiful and special and easy to wear. For vanilla/turkish delight try By Kilian Love and Back To Black. Actually, all of those 4 are among my favorites, yum!

  13. Slaapmuts says:

    Tea for Two is the first that springs to mind, still available in Europe, should’t be a problem to find it (L’Artisan does a great online sale in july and december, check it in a few months time. Last july Tft was on sale for a bargain). Bois d’Iris (the Van Cleef & Arpels one) should be a hit, woody, soft, on my skin a sheer vanilla veil. If one is looking for a LONG lasting scent: Angelique Noir by Guerlain. It is in the exclusife line and therefore quite expensive, but somewhere you should be able to find a decant. On my skin this lasts and lasts and lasts. Lastly: how about L’Artisan Traversee au Bosphore. Smoke, apple, turkish delight, yummmm.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Seconding Angelique Noir and adding Bois d’Armenie from Guerlain.

  14. Blimunda says:

    First thing that came to my mind was Ormonde Woman, like a few other people have already mentioned! Woody, spicy, slightly green, extremely unusual. Suitable for evening. Noticeable, but not ‘in yer face’. This range also has a sensational frangipani which you must try as well, with an amazing lime peel top note. And while you’re at it, as has been said already, Ta’if is perfect. Perhaps you should just order the entire discovery set……

    Woody spicy came to mind as being Dzongkha and Timbuktu from L’Artisan Parfumeur. Both highly unusual.

    A dark rose would be Une Rose from Frederic Malle, or Rose 31 from Le Labo.

    If you want a really ‘evening’ vanilla, you cannot go wrong with Mona di Orio’s Vanille Les Nombres D’Or. It brings out the spicy and green facets of the vanilla and is elegant rather than ‘foody’.

    • Cybele says:

      second Le Labo Rose 31, very distinct and different but still easy to wear.

  15. amarie121 says:

    I’d also recommend Ta’if and add that Guerlain Nahema is beautiful and worth a try. If she likes the Hermes Merveilles line enough I recommend either layering or spraying on clothing. I went to sleep last night with Au Claire on my PJs and I could still smell it’s lovely fragrance in the AM. Kenzo Amour is also easily acquired and has a comforting vanilla (also frangipani!) which is balanced and not cloying. Finally, Chantecaille Frangipani is a complex evening scent which, even though it is named after a “white flower” smells more like a dark vanilla. So comforting!!! Also, and this is a stretch, Diptyque’s cologne L’Eau de Tarocco is fresh and sparking. Cartier Eau de Bois may be worth a try as well. I agree with many other posts, and you should have a great time sniffing them all!

  16. Sapphire says:

    Seconding all the recommendations for Bulgari Omnia. Also, you might like Prada Candy. Crabtree and Evelyn has a new tea scent called Blue Himalayan. All kinds of spices and ginger are listed in the notes, but I mostly just smelled a nice, calm tea. Guerlain Angelique Noire starts out a little green, but without being bitter, and dries to a gorgeous vanilla. Oh- and almost forgot Diptyque Eau Duelle (vanilla and tea, nice and dry, but yet soft) and Atelier Vanille Insensee (very similar to the Diptyque, but with vetiver at the end–I personally prefer the Diptyque). Hope that helps. Will look forward to hearing what you tried and what you thought!

  17. LJ says:

    Hi all,
    Thanks for all your help so far, so many perfumes to try, and all of them sound lovely! Will definitely order the OJ discovery set. Lisa

  18. Kate says:

    OJ woman is just lovely, and maybe 2 of the Nicolaï range; Vanille Tonka is a smoky grown up vanilla, and Sacrebleu which is a bit sweeter with a big hit of clovey garden pinks.

    Also AndyTauer’s Une Rose Chypree might work for you; it’s not an everyday scent, but is wonderful

    • turbovivi says:

      I selfishly don’t want OJ woman to be popular. It is absolutely lovely.

  19. Aparatchick says:

    Great suggestions above. I’ll throw out the suggestion to look at Sonoma Scent Studios. They are excellent quality scents that are “unusual and distinctive but not hard to wear.” She ships internationally.

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Oh, good thought! I practically lived in Nostalgie for a few weeks when it first arrived–a lovely, deep rose! Distinctive but still approachable.

  20. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    I suddenly realized how much 150 pounds is! You can afford Amouage! Definitely check out Amouage Lyric Woman. A gorgeous dark spicy rose that I prefer to Ta’if. I’ve heard that Amouage Lyric Man is also a gorgeous scent that is suitable for women, though I haven’t smelled that–yet. If I had your budget, I’d snap one of those up. Find a shop in London where you can smell the whole Amouage line because it’s over the top gorgeousness with quality ingredients.

    Another idea is L’Artisan Safran Troublant. A beautiful saffron rose scent.

    You also might want to explore the Montale rose scents. There are many with oud but some without. I really like the Ta’if rose from Montale and Highness Rose is very special.

  21. Wordbird says:

    Since Lisa likes apricot, I’d suggest looking out for Osmanthus in a perfume name as it’s an apricottish-scented flower. Specifically Hermes Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan since it combines tea and osmanthus but also Osmanthe Interdit from The Different Company.

    For day to day casual ‘whack some on’ wear, what about Arden’s Spiced Green Tea (red bottle) it’s rosy and slightly spicy and tea-ish. Good in hot weather and for office wear, as it’s not overpowering. Plus it’s cheap cheap cheap in the discounters, so leaves plenty of pennies for more interesting frags. Another one to sniff while passing a perfume counter is Je Reviens by Worth. Simple, spicy and again cheap as chips so you can splash it on.

    I’d suggest trying Serge Lutens’ Daim Blonde. It’s like apricot suede. Definitely not dirty or animalic, very soft and snuggly but sexy too.

    Getting into the woods and while you’re in Uncle Serge’s department, have a go of Feminite du Bois. It’s a classic, so worth a shot anyway, but it may well bowl you over, as it’s plums and woods. If you find it a bit too powerful or radiant on you, try Dior’s Dolce Vita (same creator, he just fiddled with it a bit) or Calvin Klein’s Secret Obsession (again cheap cheap at discounters). Plus Uncle Serge went and created some remixes of FdB, which you might enjoy sniffing – Bois de Violette would seem to be a hot contender, though it’s worth smelling the others as well.

    For a deceptively simple and elegant wood, go to the Ava Luxe website and order 5mls of Bois Exotique. You won’t regret it, and it’s handbag sized.

    For vanilla, if you don’t like Shalimar, perhaps try Molinard’s Habanita. It’s a big bosomy tobacco and vanilla vavavoom scent that dates back to the 1920s.

    Alternatively, if you like the fresh part of Shalimar but not the back end, what about Guerlain’s Jicky? I have a theory that all women have a classic Guerlain that will appeal to them: from Shalimar, Mitsouko, Jicky, L’Heure Bleu and Apres l’Ondee. I’d certainly suggest trying them all, if only to be able to say ‘don’t like that’. I don’t get along with Shalimar either but I love Jicky because it’s fresh but also sexy.

    For spices and a little tip of the hat to the Alps, what about trying Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer’s creations? He is stunningly good at woods and incense and his L’Air du Desert Marocain is a modern classic. But if you find that a bit too incense-laden, try Le Maroc Pour Elle, which has some lovely rose and woods in it, or possibly his Incense Rose.

    And a tip for travelling: go to accessories for and order a little pack of 5ml screw top bottles and/or a couple of 10ml handbag atomisers. That way you can decant your favourites and stay inside the dreaded plastic bag restrictions while still being able to enjoy a choice of perfumes on your travels.

    Finally, since you’re in the north of England, you might not be able to visit Les Scenteurs in London to try a lot of these fragrances (though their sample service is excellent). But if you’re near/in Lancashire, there’s a place in Lytham that’s recommended by Flittersniffer:

    Good luck!

    • Blimunda says:

      Ah, what a brilliant idea – every woman has a Guerlain perfume suited to them! It immediately got me thinking…..which Guerlain Girl am I? It could be the topic of a new Poll Thread…….I reckon I’m an Apres L’Ondee!

  22. Rappleyea says:

    Best vanilla ever (imho) is Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille – a great smoky, woody vanilla with some rose.

    In a totally different vein, I’d also recommend Sonoma Scent Studio’s new Forest Walk, a really beautiful hemlock scent with just the faintest touch of floral. Laurie of SSS also has several rose scents so you might want to check them out.

  23. CM says:

    I recommend Brecourt Harum. It has notes of Cinnamon, bergamot, date, cedarwood, patchouli, tobacco, labdanum, benzoin, vanilla, tonka bean, musk.

  24. helenviolette says:

    My first thought was also Tea for Two. More ideas: OJ Woman and Frangipani. Cartier les trezieme heure. Serge lutens douce amere and Boxeuses. Enjoy your hunt!

  25. LJ says:

    Thanks for all suggestions, I have visited Lytham before but was unaware of any good perfume shop, I will seek it out next time I am there.

  26. austenfan says:

    A very random recommendation is Divine. It is very different from other niche houses. They have good customer service and a very nice sample set. Another bonus is that they are not very expensive.

    I second the recommendation of Ormonde Jayne.
    Have you ever tried any Goutals? One of my favourite houses, their best tea scent ( Eau du Fier) is unfortunately no longer available, but the line has many gems.
    Have fun hunting!

    • LJ says:

      I have tried some Goutals but haven’t found any to my liking really. I tried Ambre des merveilles today which is lovely, although it is just Clair with added amber to me.

  27. KRL says:

    Some will be repeats, but here are a few suggestions:

    1) Rose: Ta’if, Parfumerie Generale Brulure de Rose
    2) Vanilla: Van Cleef Arpels Orchidee Vanilla, PdN Vanille Tonka
    3) Tea: L’Artisan Tea for Two
    4) Wood: Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere
    5) Leather: Lancome’s Cuir de Lancome is a lovely floral leather

    Just for kicks, I’d like to suggest you give Lutens Chergui a try. It’s really lovely and I think you might like it. I also think you might like a very sophisticated floral, L’Temps d’une Fete (Parfums di Niccolai). It’s not sweet at all and is in my view, a modern chypre that doesn’t slap you in the face.

    • KRL says:

      Oh, and of course, Ormonde Jayne’s Woman

  28. Squirrely says:

    I know I’m late, but I want to recommend Lumière Noire pour Femme by Maison Francis Kurkdjian. The midnotes are a little animalic, but wait it out, because the dry down is an elegant floral, but not stodgy; rich and fun.

  29. Minxieme says:

    I am a bit late to the party but if you like vanilla, cinnamon and a bit of citrus you should try Fendi’s discontinued Theorema. It’s very sensual, different, yet a comforting scent at the same time!

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