This week we're helping Catherine, who wants to find a grownup, seductive evening fragrance that counteracts her youthful, girl-next-door appearance. When she first wrote to me, her perfume experience was minimal, and largely consisted of a "mortifyingly long stalemate" with Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue, which according to Catherine didn't even smell good on her skin. While she has been on the waiting list, though, she has tried a truly impressive number of fragrances (see below). Here is what we know about Catherine:
She's single, in her early 30s, and is finishing her dissertation in grad school.
She says she has a sort of apple-cheeked, girl-next-door appearance that makes people think she is younger and sweeter than she actually is, sometimes to their disappointment.
She has just lopped five inches off her girly hair in a related effort to look a little more grown up.
Her clothing tends towards the classic and romantic — her favorite garment is a blush-pink suede trench coat from a small French designer — but she gets bored if there isn't some kind of unusual design element or a little bit of edge (lately she is coveting Rag + Bone).
Catherine wants a fragrance with some complexity, but she is not necessarily looking for something overly challenging. She also wants something with some warmth, but she tends to be drawn towards lighter, easier to wear fragrances. She's hoping to find a happy medium.
Catherine doesn't want anything overly sweet.
Here is what she has tried:
Chanel No. 5: does not appeal.
Guerlain Shalimar: it was worn by her inexplicably malevolent grandmother and smells like family holidays in hell.
Lacoste Inspiration: she likes the dry down, but the first hour is too young, candied and sweet.
Guilty by Gucci: she liked it, but wants something more refined, and with a little more kick.
Narciso Rodriguez for Her: she thinks it is the sort of thing she is looking for, but she doesn't love it.
Burberry Brit Summer for Women 2012: she liked it, but would be happy with something deeper.
Tocca Bianca: same, appealing but not enough depth.
Acqua di Parma Magnolia Nobile: likable but tame.
Juliette Has a Gun Romantina: like but not love.
Escada Especially: too much pear.
Creed Love in White: too light.
Stella by Stella McCartney: like except for the sharp citrus.
Jo Malone Dark Amber and Ginger Lily: nice but maybe a shade too sweet.
Jo Malone Wild Bluebell: way too tame.
Versace Versense: not super sophisticated but easy and likable.
Diptyque Philosykos: she likes it, but it's more interesting than romantic.
Diptyque L'Ombre dans L'Eau & Do Son: beautiful but not necessarily attractive.
Tom Ford Violet Blonde: more impressive than attractive.
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb, Tom Ford Black Orchid, Ineke Sweet William, Lancome La Vie Est Belle, Guerlain Angelique Noire: all too sweet.
Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire 2012: a black cherry and licorice hellscape.
Thierry Mugler Angel: it made her gag. Way too foody.
Caron Nuit de Noel, Jean Patou Joy, Robert Piguet Fracas, Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps: beautiful, but more old-school than she can manage.
L’Eau d’Issey Florale: detergent with a bitter dry down.
Serge Lutens Santal Blanc: too foody.
Chloe Love, Chloe: likable but a little young, and she got tired of it.
Prada Infusion d'Iris & Balenciaga Paris: beautiful but not her thing.
Michael Kors (original or Suede): liked both, but even the Suede was too heady.
Dior Hypnotic Poison: she got a kick out of it — sugar and spice and more naughty than nice. But it's not what she wants right now.
What say you?