The Monday Mail ~ help Gabby find a new perfume


This week we're helping Gabby, who wants to find a deep, good quality but not too expensive evening fragrance — something unusual but comfortable. Here is what we know about Gabby:

She's in her early 20s, and is from and currently lives in New Orleans.

Gabby is a legal assistant and is applying for MFA programs in creative writing. She double majored in philosophy and comparative literature with a minor in math, and her favorite book of all time is War and Peace. She also tutors 6th-8th graders in English, and finds that more fulfilling than her current job.

She says her personal style is eclectic but feminine: dresses with interesting prints paired with vintage lace-up ankle boots. Like many young people, she's always short of cash, so she cooks for herself and shops at thrift stores.

She loves dancing, waterskiing, canoeing, biking, sneaking into hotel pools, and sometimes just loafing around with a good book and some decent coffee.

Gabby tends towards perfumes that are unisex but lean a bit towards the feminine side. Her absolute favorite smell is sweet olive, aka osmanthus (and no, she has not tried the local versions by Hove or Bourbon French). She also recently smelled benzoin essential oil, and she can't get enough of it. Other favorite smells include honeysuckle, wisteria, jasmine, bread pudding, basil, rosemary, cardamom, old books, good incense, a yuzu body lotion she bought from a spa, and rose tea.

Her favorite samples (she doesn't have any full bottles at the moment) include By Kilian Back to Black and Rose Oud, and Hermès Eau and Elixir des Merveilles. She sometimes enjoys Love, Chloé, but it's too powdery/girly-girl to be a favorite. She has only tried the Eau de Toilette version of Guerlain Shalimar — she likes the opening, but then it loses its depth and is reminiscent of Avon Skin-So-Soft. She sort of likes Prada by Prada, but it lacks warmth. She used to adore Tom Ford Black Orchid, but she wore it so much that it started to remind her of cucumbers. By Kilian A Taste of Heaven is nice but a bit too masculine, and Liaisons Dangereuses is well done but has this one artificial note that she can't deal with.

Gabby doesn't like artificial musks or aquatic scents, and she's burned out on vanillachoulis and Chanel Chance/Coco Mademoiselle on everyone. Bvlgari Jasmine Noir is "too potent and kinda sleazy"; Clinique Aromatics Elixir induces coughing fits.

Gabby recently tried Hermès L'Ambre des Merveilles and By Kilian Pure Oud, and loved both but they didn't seem terribly different from what she already wears. Tom Ford Champaca Absolute was interesting but a bit heavy; Tom Ford Jardin Noir Café Rose was awful.

What say you?

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

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  1. Regina says:

    Hi Gabby! I love the cardamom in the parfum version of Hermes Voyage…. Given the other things you like I also think the Andy Tauer line would be worth a try for you, especially Une Rose Chypree. (And it sounds like you’ve heard this before, but the Hove tea olive really is worth a try – they have a solid perfume that’s a good bargain, too, IMO.) Good luck!

  2. GalileosDaughter says:

    Well this is easy!
    She has two fantastic perfumeries right in New Orleans: Hove and Bourbon French. I suggest that she goes and has a fun day of sniffing at both. I’m sure she’ll find something to love; both perfumeries have a wide range of perfumes and price points.

  3. nozknoz says:

    In addition to the New Orleans osmanthus fragrances, Parfums d’Empire and The Different Company do osmanthus perfumes that are worth sampling. TDC is drier and lighter than the PdE.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Doesn’t PdE also have a yuzu scent?

      • nozknoz says:

        Yes, you’re right!

    • Emily says:

      Second both of these.

      • alyssa says:

        Big third, especially on the Parfums d’Empire, which has a deep, almost leathery base I think you will love.

  4. Omega says:

    Pear and Olive by Slumberhouse

    • poodle says:

      I was going to say that too.

  5. Jillie says:

    Maybe one of my current favourites? Parfums de Nicolai’s Eau a la Folie? It is a unisex veering towards the feminine; it has a honeysuckle note that reminds me of Diorella, but there is more spicy warmth. And its citrussy opening reminds me a little of yuzu. It is lovely day or night, has quite good sillage and length and, as with all PdeNs, it’s very good quality for a not bad price! And it’s the only perfume lately that people have commented on when hugging me, saying how lovely I smelt!

  6. thegoddessrena says:

    Reading very benzoin heavy on me is Kalimantan from Chantecaille. It comes in a travel rollerball that’s under $70 if I remember right and it’s strong and long-lasting

    • Bee says:

      also benzoin-heavy Prada Candy

      • Squirrely says:

        Yes! If she isn’t utterly fearful of sweet scents, Candy might be right up her alley (though the musk can be a little bright for some people).

  7. FragrantWitch says:

    Oh, I adore New Orleans! She definitely needs to get into Hove and Bourbon French and do some sniffing- particularly Creole Days at Hove. Definitely try the EDP and Parfum versions of Shalimar they are different creatures from the EDT and have the depth and warmth she is looking for. I would also say to try Donna Karan Chaos ( cardamom and incense) and Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus and Ta’if. Also OJ Woman because it is just gorgeous! Have fun!

    • maggiecat says:

      A late amen to all of this! I adore New Orleans and if I lived there, I’d be in Hove’ and Bourbon French all the time (but I’d still love my OJ Woman!)

  8. lucasai says:

    My suggestions:

    Parfum d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite
    Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan
    Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin
    Atelier Cologne Trefle Pur
    Comme des Garcons Kyoto
    Parfum d’Empire Yuzu Fou

    • nozknoz says:

      That’s a great list, Lucas!

  9. Lys says:

    I’m too busy to be attentive right now ! but stopping in to mention that Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau is a dead ringer for bread pudding with enough complexity to keep it interesting; and as I have before I’ll also recommend Prada Infusion d’Iris Absolue this time for the full-bodied benzoin, the whole thing is very good and a modern classic.

  10. JillS says:

    What about Ormonde Jayne fragrances? I believe they have an Osmanthus one.

  11. poodle says:

    If you like Love Chloe sometimes you might want to try Putain Des Palaces by ELDO. It’s not as powdery as the Chloe is.

  12. Blimunda says:

    Well, for incense I would definitely recommend trying the Comme des Garcons range – there are 5 incense fragrances to choose from! All VERY well done.

    L’Artisan Parfumeur sounds like a range you might like- particularly Dzongkha and Timbuktu for incense, and Bois Farine for bread pudding with peanuts!

  13. songeuse says:

    Maybe YSL Nu? Cardamom, incense, marketed to women but a lot of people consider it to be pretty unisex, and I’ve heard it can be found online for a fair price.

    • egabbert says:

      Nu is a great spicy incense with some jasmine! And you definitely won’t smell like everyone else.

    • Emily says:

      Nu was one of my first thoughts, too. Gabby should be sure to look for the old EDP (which does still pop up at discounters and on eBay for about $50). It’s in the round silvery atomizer (not the round blue one, which is the old EDT; or the light pink one, which is the new EDT).

  14. dolcesarah says:

    The first things that come to mind are: [ and I don’t know why??? ] 888, by Commes de Gârcons and Carthusia’s 1861 or is it 1681? Anyhoo, I own it and it has those herbs she said she liked at the beginning, middle and end. I encourage you to try I Profumi di Firenze, it’s an Italian line that has the lightest, yet most Italain cooking scents. They have some florals that are gorgeous. Acqua Chiarra, Tulipnero, Senza Fine. I have a few of the ambers. The Nepal, and 2-4 others thy $100/50 ml. You only need a dab.
    Subsequently, would you say you like seductive scents, gourmand, florals, or soft and powdery?

    I never have tried Tom Ford’s frags, I liked him at Gucci then after that,..WHATEVER. I JUST DON’T TAKE THOSE SERIOUSLY. I DON’T KNOW WHY. .

  15. Espe1963 says:

    I recommend Tous Touch. It has the osmanthus note, great for a young woman that loves aquatic sports but also seems to be a bit of a romantic

  16. dolcesarah says:

    I say go to a Blue Mercury store and sample some Serge!!! You will fall in love like POW!

  17. galwaygirl001 says:

    guerlain bois de armenie – benzoin :-)

  18. Vincent says:

    A* Men Pure Havane- warm, an excellent tobacco, warm,cheap and unissex.
    Oud Ispahan by Dior, Highness Rose by Montale Avignon by Comme des Garçons.

  19. Emily says:

    No full bottles yet? This will never do :)

    Try Comme des Garcons 2 Woman — on me it’s a dry, woody rose with an interesting inky note, and for me it epitomizes the idea of “unusual but comfortable.” Really hard to describe accurately, but I think you’ll like it. 10 Corso Como is another nice woody rose, accented with incense and agarwood. If you like this style of scent, vintage Caron Parfum Sacre is worth seeking out, too. None of these read as overtly femme to me.

    Robert Piguet Futur is a lovely green jasmine with a cedar-vetiver base. I also have a weird hunch that you’d like retro green chypres — maybe Estee Lauder Private Collection or YSL Y?

    • Emily says:

      Oooh — or Lancome Magie Noire. I much prefer the vintage (which is still available on eBay), but the current formulation has its fans.

  20. nozknoz says:

    I hadn’t focused on yuzu before, but now I’d add Yuzu Rouge by Parfums 06130. This was revealed recently as the fourth scent – S01E04 – in Chandler Burr’s unlabeled perfume adventure series on OpenSky. You can get samples on LuckyScent and read more about it on OpenSky. There are also some interesting reviews on perfume blogs, too, if you google it.

  21. audreylicious says:

    How about Prada L’Eau Ambree? Cedrat, rose de mai, amber, citrus, patchouli, vanilla, oppoponax. It’s warm prada :)

  22. Calypso says:

    Gabby might also want to consider some from the Keiko Mecheri llne, including Osmanthus and Jasmine. I like both of these, delicate and well done. I see on Luckyscent there is another one featuring Yuzu. It is Hanae, with notes listed as white petals, Japanese grapefruit (yuzu), wildberries, crystalline musk. I like many of the same things you do, Gabby, and I really love Keiko Mecheri’s Datura Blanche. I own that and also Oliban (Frankincense). Datura makes many people fun (fast) in the other direction, but in her treatment it’s lighter and mo!!re frothy or something. (But I also love it in Serge Lutens’ Datura Noir, I guess I’m a datura slut!). Hope you can find this line to try some samples of.

    • audreylicious says:

      Second Datura Blanche! Lovely stuff. Also is very similar to PdN Kiss Me Tender.

  23. chrisskins says:

    Rice pudding is good, too – Kenzo Amour.

  24. Squirrely says:

    So late to respond, but it’s been that kind of week! I like the Prada suggestions you’ve already received, and add to list with Ineke’s Evening Edged in Gold, osmanthus is the top note, and it’s spicy, but easy to wear. I also recently tried Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde and was surprised at how much I liked it – not hyper-feminine (the marketing on it – yeesh!), and it reads professional enough for the workplace.

    On the unisex side, I second the Atelier Cologne rec that Lucas gave earlier, the Trefle Pur and Oolang Infini, both are technically unisex and I (arguably, a lady) wear them constantly. Really, their entire line is worth seeking out and sampling.

    Have fun!

  25. Dixie says:

    I find Costes to be very comfortable and warm to wear. It’s the original Costes.

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