The Monday Mail ~ help Elena find a new perfume


This week Elena wants us to help her find something more complex and rich than what she usually wears, but something she can still wear frequently — not a special occasion perfume. She has no set limit on the price, but she'd prefer to find something under $200. Here is what we know about Elena:

She's in her early 30s, and lives in the Massachusetts suburbs with her young daughter, husband, and two greyhounds, one of whom tries to clean any perfume or lotion off of her immediately.

She says she is a very nerdy, bookish jock.

She plays tennis and Ultimate frisbee, loves taking her dogs and daughter for long walks, and also loves to read.

She describes herself as outgoing and friendly, analytical and intelligent, goofy and playful.

Elena loves leather, iris, and green fragrances, but says she doesn't know many notes — this is just what she has figured out so far. Fragrance favorites include Hermès Un Jardin en Méditerranée & Un Jardin après la Mousson (though it verges on too gingery to her lately), Guerlain Mandarine Basilic (for playing tennis or hot weather), Tom Ford Violet Blonde (very animalic/cumin-y on her, and sexy). She also has a bottle of Bvlgari Black, but it seems "too much" and tends to languish unused. She used to wear Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, but would like something less popular.

Elena dislikes Christian Dior Poison, and thought Thierry Mugler Womanity was interesting but definitely not for her. She would probably prefer something that isn't too sweet or too strong.

Elena has tried...

Chanel Coco: she likes it, but it's too sweet.

Chanel Cuir de Russie: gorgeous, but she feels too young for it.

Guerlain Mitsouko: she liked the dry down, but not the peach.

Guerlain L'Heure Bleue: she sort of liked it, but not the anise.

Diptyque L'Ombre dans L'Eau: she's been wearing a sample, and loves the tomato leaf opening and the rose that smells like it's outside.

Update ~ a few more that I inadvertently left off the list, sorry!

Bottega Veneta: she liked it because it was easy to wear, but it didn't make her swoon.

Robert Piguet Bandit: she liked it but it is difficult to wear.

L'Artisan Mure et Musc: it was too sharp; she didn't like it.

What say you?

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

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. ladymurasaki says:

    Elena, try Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile and Kerosene Whips & Roses.

    • lucasai says:

      Seconding Iris Nobile!

      • Ann-Sofie says:

        Seconding Iris Nobile as well (or thirding, as I am seconding Ladymurasaki and Lucasai). As your budget is 200 USD, maybe you could consider two more than one fragrance? In that case I suggest Rive Guache from YSL – quite abstract, beautiful and wearable everywhere – makes an impression without being either sipid and boring or overwhelmingly intrusive.

        You might also try Gianfranco Ferré: Ferré, a soft iris fragrance, slightly powdery – I found mine in a Swedish webshop for like 20 USD (100 ml eau de parfum – a steal!). It is truly lovely. Nose is Pierre Bourdon, who earlier did Iris Poudre for Malle. If you decide to try this one, be careful to get the correct fragrance – Ferre adores his own name and all fragrances in the line is baptised in different versions of Gianfranco Ferré. The bottle shall be rectangular, and I think it is named Ferré.

        And perhaps Arpege from Lanvin? Try it – it is outstanding.

        Good luck!

        • Elena says:

          I did try Iris Nobile when I first started out, and I forgot, but yes, I loved it! I’ll try Whips and Roses too. What a great name. I’ll see if I can find the Ferre as well.

  2. lucasai says:

    Try Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman for an amazing orrised leather fragrance. It will smell great upcoming winter and late fall.

    If you have a chance try L’Artisan Parfumeur Iris Pallida (unfortunately discontinued)

    • Elena says:

      I will try Cuir Ottoman. I will try the other if it falls in my lap, but I don’t want to fall in love with something discontinued.

      • lucasai says:

        I totally understand. I fell for Iris Pallida and now I can’t have it.

  3. Squirrely says:

    You might like Hermès Iris, or some of the options in the Atelier Cologne line (particularly Trèfle Pur, which is a bright green unisex scent). These are the fragrances I reach for when I want something unique but fairly “simple” and easy to wear.

    • Elena says:

      Love the bottle for Hiris. I seem to remember it smelling like a whiskey barrel on me though. I will revisit it!

  4. springpansy says:

    Bottega Veneta, Cuir de Lancome for very wearable leather fragrances on the softer side. She also might like Jo Malone’s new Blackberry and Bay. For niche it might be fun to try 1000 Flowers Reglisse Noire or Parfums Delrae Mythique or a Parfumerie Generale or two.

    • Elena says:

      I’ve been considering buying Cuir Lancome blind because of the price. I’ll definitely have to sample it.

  5. Dawnkana says:

    I am starting to sound like a broken record, but Cuir Fetiche Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier once again seems to fit the bill here.

    Great leatherette scent. Can be worn everyday and can also be used for nights out. It’s the perfect all around leather scent.

    It’s lighter than Cuir de Russie with a touch more floral and it has a creaminess to it.

    Have fun Elena sampling all the wonderful recs you have received thus far and the ones after.


    • Elena says:

      Sounds good, I’ve never met anything called “cuir” that I didn’t like!

  6. KristinS says:

    I would recommend Chanel 19 and Estee Lauder Private Collection. Especially the 19 EDT for it’s green leathery gorgeousness. You might also give The Different Company Bois D’Iris a try and seconding the rec for Delrae Mythique.

    • Elena says:

      Ooh, ELPC, one I can actually sample in person! I’ve heard so much about it. I hope they have it at my EL counter.

  7. blecky says:

    What everyone else has said and I’ll throw in Dueto Parfums Golden Boy, nice modern floral leather, does not smell retro, Odori Iris, cool, elegant unisex iris, can be found online for $70 for 100 ml, and getting away from leather Parfum d`Empire Wazamba, its complex but easy to wear and very versatile and unique.

    • Elena says:

      Cool, thank you!

  8. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    Some perfumes Elena should try:

    Bottega Veneta
    Hermes Kelly Caleche
    Prada Infusion d’Iris
    Chanel No.19
    Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial
    Chloe Love, Chloe

  9. Merlin says:

    And Lucasi mentioned Cuir de Ottoman higher up, and I will add Equistrus to it which is also a Parfum d’ Empire leather and iris scent. For a green fragrance Chanel’s exclusive collection has Bel Respiro which is lovely.

    • lucasai says:

      Merlin, Equistrius would be also good, but it’s lighter and better for spring maybe. Nevermind, I’m getting a bottle of it.

      • Dawnkana says:

        Equistrius is great!

        Lucasai, hmm, now I am pondering a purchase of Equistrius.

      • Merlin says:

        Personally I think I prefer Cuir Ottoman!

  10. aimiliona says:

    For leather, try Jolie Madame (leather plus violets). The current version is easy to find at the discounters.

  11. maggiecat says:

    I agree that the Bottega Veneta is a lovely soft leather, very wearable. And I always seem to recommend Ormonde Jayne Woman, but it is an amazing scent with the outdoor quality Elena seems to like. And defiintely different – you won’t smell it on everyone (though I wish I did smell it, as opposed to the ubiquitous Flowerbomb in my college’s ladies room!)

    • Elena says:

      Maggiecat, thank you, I didn’t realize it myself, but I LOVE the smell of the outdoors/woods/gardens in my perfumes. Thank you for picking that fact out of my choices. So funny that it seems so glaringly obvious now, but I never saw it before. Ormonde Jayne will definitely go on the list.

  12. FragrantWitch says:

    Definitely second the Whips and Roses and Jolie Madame as they were the first two that came to mind. Kelly Caleche and Arpege are sniff-worthy as well. Also, because it is so so great I have to recommend Ormonde Jayne Woman. (Reminds me of home sometimes- I am a Southern NH native transplanted to the UK.)

  13. Elena says:

    So many recommendations already! Thank you all. For those of you who recommended no. 19, you nailed it. That is one of my absolute favorites, and I got a FB shortly after submitting my name for this and of course forgot to update it. Oops! :)

  14. Blimunda says:

    Oh, I definitely second Ormonde Woman. In fact, I suggest you purchase the sample set and try them all, quite frankly!

    I am an Iris lover! You might like Cuir D’Iris from Parfumerie Generale. Also, Heeley’s Iris de Nuit would make a perfect ‘everyday’ scent. I just treated myself to a bottle of L’artisan Numero 8, which is a musky, powdery, tenacious iris mixed with a hint of jasmine. It is amazing, and transitions from day to night beautifully.

    Maybe try Stecca by Hilde Soliana for a green, tangy tomato leaf and jasmine experience! And there are some stunning greens from Parfums Nicolaii, particularly Le Temps d’un Fete. Sisley’s Eau de Campagne is a lovely fresh, floral meadow green.

  15. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    For a green iris with rose and sandalwood, try Annick Goutal Heure Exquise. Just so beautiful! Another idea is Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir, a peppery iris scent.

    I also love Guerlain Vetiver pour Elle. In this case the vetiver creates a green aspect for the floral notes. It’s spring in a bottle!

  16. SmokeyToes says:

    How about Volutes by Dipqyque, it sounds like something she would enjoy…. Notes (from pink pepper, pepper, saffron, clove, tobacco, honey, suede, hay, strawflower, amber, iris, myrrh, opoponax. I’ve tried it on skin and it’s very pretty, discreet and long lasting.

  17. bluepinegrove says:

    Estee Lauder’s Azuree is an easy to find, low-cost leather. It’s not sweet at all and smells very outdoorsy to me, very atmospheric. I just bought a bottle and am loving it. No one wears it!

    Vetiver Dance by Andy Tauer might be of interest to you. It’s an interesting take on vetiver, very vibrant and peppery, and less earthy. Not sweet or sultry, and it has the same kind of clarity that the big greens have.

  18. Cybele says:

    try Prada Infusion Iris the original (very cool) and the Absolut (more complex and warm). Possibly Vetiver Tonka, Hermessence could interest you and Vetiver pour Elle is gorgeous!

  19. poodle says:

    You might like Fleur No.1 by 1000 flowers. It’s got green and soft floral notes. Another outdoorsy sort of scent might be Tutti Matti per Colorno by Hilde Soliani.
    I used to have 2 greyhounds. They were so lazy. Hubby wants another one someday. One of ours liked perfume too.

  20. eaudemale says:

    If you want an alternative for No.19, consider sampling Untitled by Maison Martin Margiela and Cabotine de Gres, trust me on the Cabotine though, it’s cheap and smells expnsive plus it’s not popular at all.

  21. mough says:

    Maybe someone else has suggested this , but I really love Bois d’Iris from Van Cleef and Arpels. It’s a bit pricey, but really lovely. Best of luck. I love leathery stuff, too. Jo Malone had an odd one out a while ago called Iris and Oud, I think. If you get a chance, check it out.

  22. nozknoz says:

    Many great suggestions here – I really love Cuir Ottoman myself, and it’s especially nice for winter.

    One of the loveliest iris scents and imminently wearable is Chanel 28 la Pausa, which is grounded with vetiver. I usually find Chanels too cold and perfect, but this one is very natural and relaxed.

  23. sllat says:

    It seems I have similar taste in perfume (iris, leather, green scents). As for iris, I really like Chanel 19, which has been listed above many times. Last year I blind-bought a leather and a green fragrance after reading so many good things about each; the leather was Cuir de Lancome and the green was Niki de Saint Phalle. I love both of them! I love Cuir de Russie, but it is very rich and seems to require a bit more of a special occasion than Cuir de Lancome, which is lighter and easier to wear. If you know you like leathers, I’d imagine you’ll enjoy it. Niki de Saint Phalle is hard to find in person, but rather inexpensive to order online and I find it a charming and complex green. I like it much better than Bandit, which I think goes sour after awhile. Anyhow, happy perfume hunting!

  24. CM says:

    Try Juliette ha a gun Citizen Queen for violet, rose and leather. Yum! And I’m seconding Cuir de Lancôme, chanel #19. You might also try le temps dune fete for a rich smooth green. Try dzing! For an interesting musky leather. I find it’s perfect for layering, esp with soft florals. Chergui is another leather based scent to try. Ave fun!

  25. Emily says:

    Elena, try Dzongkha (by L’Artisan). It’s a dry, woody iris with a hint of leather, a little incense, and a cool, stony angle — and it’s the one scent in my collection that always seems to hit the spot.

  26. PetronellaCJ says:

    I second Dzongkha, Cuir de Lancome and both Infusion d’Iris, all favourites of mine. I also suggest trying Dior Homme (iris w woods and dry, dark cocoa) and Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial (dustpuffy powdery iris).

    For greens I suggest Maison Martin Margiela Untitled, Balenciaga L’Essence and L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer.

    Happy sniffing!

  27. LaurenO says:

    Maybe Dzongkha?

  28. Dixie says:

    I realize I’m a bit late, but what first came to mind when I read “rich and complex” was Xerjoff Richwood. You can get a sample at Luckyscent.

Leave a reply