The Monday Mail on Tuesday ~ help Melissa find a new perfume

Boites aux lettres

Again this week we're doubling up on the Monday Mail articles so that we can clear out the waiting list before the holidays. Right now, there are 3 people on the list for January, so it's still a good time to sign up if you're interested (instructions can be found here).

So today we're helping Melissa, who wants to find a daytime fragrance for autumn and winter (she has plenty of summer fragrances already). She used to wear Ralph Lauren Blue, and still loves it but doesn't feel like it fits her anymore — she'd like something with more depth. She can pay up to $200 but would rather keep the cost at $125-$150; she is fine with shopping online.

Here is what we know about Melissa:

She's in her mid-30s, and lives in Dallas but considers San Francisco her home. She works in a prison as a forensic psychologist.

Melissa says she is reserved, especially with people she doesn't know. She dresses quietly and doesn't like to be the center of attention. She appreciates subtlety and dark humor in life and in perfume.

Melissa is a fan of modern art and fashion, and is an avid reader.

She loves autumn, and hates summer (and notes that Texas has approximately 10 months of summer). In cooler weather, she likes to wear jackets, layer clothes, drink hot chocolate, sleep with the windows open, and curl up under a blanket; she also loves how the the smell of harvest, pumpkins, earth, maple syrup and football mix together.

Her favorite smell, ever, is a candle from Yankee Candle called Harvest.

Melissa likes leather, amber, bergamot, sandalwood, pepper, grapefruit and orange. Some of her perfume favorites include 10 Corso Como, Bottega Veneta, Byredo Gyspy Water (even though she is not a huge fan of vanilla), Hermes Un Jardin en Méditerranée, Tokyo Milk French Kiss, Calvin Klein Truth, Lanvin Eclat D'Arpege, Creed Aventus, Bulgari Blu II, Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, Lush Gorilla Perfume Karma, Acqua di Parma Arancia di Capri, By Kilian Straight to Heaven (something about that boozy, heady concoction makes her smile).

Melissa doesn't like rose, violet, grass or gardenia. She also doesn't like powdery notes or anything overly green. Perfumes that don't work for her include Maison Martin Margiela Untitled, Kai, Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau and celebrity scents in general.

Here are some of the perfumes she has tried:

Chanel Coco Noir: she forgot what it smelled like as soon as she walked away.

Chanel Bleu de Chanel: also forgettable.

Guerlain London: she didn't like the rhubarb accord.

Guerlain Jicky: she only smelled it once, but she liked it and wants to try it again.

Guerlain Mitsouko: too loud.

Marc Jacobs Dot: too pedestrian.

Balenciaga Paris: she liked it, but not enough to purchase.

Chloe Love Chloe: too powdery.

Comme des Garcons Wonderwood: like but not love — it was not warm enough.

Kate Walsh Boyfriend: "Bleck! (and you can quote me on that)".

Kiehls Aromatic Blends collection: all boring.

Serge Lutens A La Nuit: too much jasmine.

The Different Company de Bachmakov:: another like but not love — it needed something else to add more body to it.

What say you?

Note: top image is Boites aux lettres [cropped] by besopha at flickr; some rights reserved.

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Parfums Raffy


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  1. egabbert says:

    Sonoma Scent Studios Winter Woods or Champagne de Bois for sandalwood/amber/woodsy fall goodness. Same goes for Ormond Jayne Woman.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Seconding Champagne de Bois. That was one of my initial thoughts.

      • poodle says:

        I was going to say Champagne de Bois and maybe Tabac Aurea. I also think ELDO’s Like This would be good.

        • Rappleyea says:

          Great minds, Poodle! :-D I also recommended Like This in my comment below made earlier!

  2. farouche says:

    I’ll start off and recommend my latest favorite for autumn, Volutes by Diptyque, in either the EDT or EDP. The EDT is brighter and lighter and the EDP is spicier and creamier but both have a lovely cherry pipe smoke note and are close to the skin. No huge sillage here :)

    • C.H. says:

      Yeah–depending on which way Melissa would like to go, a few different Diptyques could work. In addition to Volutes (which it sounds I need to go smell!), Tam Dao, Philosykos, and Eau Duelle also come to mind as viable choices for winter daytime (though I’d also happily wear Philosykos in the summer, and Eau Duelle could hold its own at night, I think.)

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I would recommend Ormonde Jayne Tolu, a lovely resinous, fall-like amber floral, but I have been experiencing TERRIBLE service with Ormonde Jayne lately. I have been waiting two weeks for them to ship my Tolu. First they told me they shipped it, then, two weeks later after further emails, they admitted that they didn’t. Now I am *still* waiting for them to ship my darn order. Fifteen days later. Awful!

    • Abyss says:

      Huh, I placed an order with them a little over 10 days ago (got tempted by free Tolu parfum offer) and, after being charged but hearing nothing for over a week, I called them on Sat and they told me my order wasn’t shipped, they might be out of Tolu parfum but they would look into it and get back to me to let me know what’s happening. I got fed up and called them to cancel the whole thing yesterday (I have some unexpected vet bills so perfume has to take a back seat, anyway) but I’m still waiting for a refund. The lady did tell me that they are moving into a new studio so that might have something to do with it but it sounds like my situation wasn’t a one off. Shame, hope they get their act together!

      Apologies for going off topic, I was about to recommend Bottega Veneta but I saw that Melissa was already a fan. Since she likes both leather and sandalwood, how about some classic Chanels like Bois de Îles and Cuir de Russie?

  4. LaurenO says:

    Like This by Etat Libre d’Orange might be great for you!

    • Bee says:

      that was my first thought too, I would also recommend trying out the L’artisan parfumeur scents, there are quite a few which could be interesting (thinking of la traversée du Bosphore, Seville à l’aube, Dzing!)

      • AnnieA says:

        NOT that this is going to help Melissa or anyone else in the States — unless same thing’s happening at US sister store TJ Maxx — BUT Winners in Canada has a bunch of L’artisan parfumeur! There’s even La Traversée du Bosphore! I’m guessing $50 for a 50 ml bottle is pretty good, right?

        • Robin says:

          Ack. Majorly Jealous.

        • C.H. says:

          So jealous as well! And sadly I was just in TJ Maxx this afternoon where there were no L’Artisans in evidence…

        • ojaddicte says:

          Are these deals to be had in the GTA? If so, I’m gonna have to hit the local Winners.

          • AnnieA says:

            I saw the APs in the downtown Vancouver store — would be curious to hear how widely the AP fairey has spread her wings at Winners stores…

          • Dionne says:

            Whoa. Crossing my fingers these will show up in the Calgary area. Thanks for the heads-up.

  5. JolieFleurs says:

    At least sample Caron Poivre and Nuit de Noel, in extrait.

  6. AnnieA says:

    Also, Melissa, a couple of really nice cold-weather perfumes are PG L’Eau Rare Matale and JM Dark Amber and Gingerlily.

    • C.H. says:

      Co-signing Dark Amber & Gingerlily; and if you make your way to a Jo Malone counter, you might also try Wild Fig & Cassis (has fig in common with Jardin en Med) and Pomegranate Noir (nicely wintery; to me it smells like Christmas) while you’re there.

  7. July says:

    I see you like Lush’s Karma, so Frederic Malle Noir Epices (orange and dry, light spices) might be right up your alley.
    A few others worth trying are Hermes Voyage (I prefer the parfum, especially in winter) and Poivre Samarcande.

  8. Lollipop says:

    Gold by Donna Karan and Coco by Chanel (eau de parfum in both instances) both of these say autumn to me…. and both are deemed “delicious” by my husband!

    • Lollipop says:

      Ooo, just remembered for soft leather and subtlety, Cuir de Nacre by Ann Gerard, it was gorgeous but you need to apply a lot… doesn’t last too well.

  9. Rappleyea says:

    I’d recommend trying Chanel’s Cuir de Russie (parfum if you can, although the edt is lovely), Sonoma Scent Studio Forest Walk, Incense Pure and Champagne de Bois (mentioned above), Le Labo Patch 24 (don’t worry if you don’t like patchouli; you won’t smell any), Etat Libre’s Like This, and Parfum d’Empire Azemour (although to me, that one is a bit more summery). Good luck!

  10. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    Perfumes Melissa should try:

    Estee Lauder Sensuous
    Donna Karan Woman
    Lolita Lempicka Le Premier Parfum
    Lolita Lempicka Si Lolita
    Chanel Coco

  11. audreylicious says:

    Safran Troublant (I know you said no rose….I don’t like rose either but I looooooove this for all its golden silk glory), Amber 114 (Histoires), Mona Di Orio Oud, Chanel Exclusifs Rue de Cambon.

    • audreylicious says:

      Whoops! I meant to put in By Kilian Amber Oud (the three travel sprays) instead of the Mona. The Mona was too pricey.

  12. FragrantWitch says:

    We like a lot of the same things so I would suggest Champagne de Bois, Ormonde Jayne Woman and Tolu, Donna Karan Chaos, Eau de Merveilles or Ambre de Merveilles, Mecca Balsam and by Killian A Taste of Heaven. Happy sniffing!

  13. Lucy says:

    Hi Melissa!

    John Varvatos Artisan is orange, orange blossom, and amber. It is nice in the fall, but could be worn year round.

    Chanel Coco is my favorite fall/winter scent. I can’t remember the notes off the top of my head (more orange blossom and amber?) but it goes really well with holiday dinners and parties. It’s more sophisticated than Mademoiselle and, um, better than Noir (IMHO.). I see others have suggested it too. I really hope you’ll give this one a try.

    L’Artisan L’eau D’Ambre – I don’t know the notes for this one, other than amber, and I’ve only tested it a few times, but I remember it has that warm, comforting feel. Also try their Tea for Two if you can find it. It’s sweet, smoky tea with some cinnamon spice. I love it, although I don’t know that it’s appropriate for everyday.

    I have a sample here of Hermes 24 Fauborg. I haven’t researched it yet so I can’t explain why I think it will work other than it has warmth and depth.

    Because you said you like Tokyo Milk’s French Kiss, try Gucci Rush. I think French Kiss is Rush’s doppelgänger, and is a bargain in comparison, but your nose might be able to detect some differences. Also, Rush lasts a really long time on me. One spray is good for the whole day and it will stay on clothes until they are washed. (I have a “bar” coat that has retained the scent for months.). –Not that French Kiss has any longevity problems. This is not really good for everyday, even though I used to wear this to the office as a naive 22 year old. I just thought you should check it out while you’re shopping since you like French Kiss.

    Good luck.

    • annemarie says:

      24 Faubourg could indeed be worth a go: orange blossom and amber, Like Chanel’s Coco, it is supremely elegant, but not (to my nose) so lush and sweet.

      • annemarie says:

        Oh, and maybe Dioressence (vintage if you can get it; Surrender to Chance sell it at a reasonable price and it is in good condition). Patchouli, orange, rose, geranium, carnation, and lots of spicy wintery notes in the base. It is slightly green though, not quite a cozy blanket like some of the sweet orientals. Drop dead sexy in a commanding sort of way.

  14. nozknoz says:

    You might like Pd’E Cuir Ottoman and BK Back to Black – worth trying!

  15. sweetgrass says:

    Tokyo Milk Dead Sexy might be worth a try. To me it smells like Dzing! but with a slight extra peppery note.

  16. Blimunda says:

    I concur with the Ormonde Woman suggestions – it is perfect for a dark humoured, subtle lady such as your self! I wore it last night for the first time in ages and it was wonderful.

    I would also suggest Noir Epices, full of orange, wood, spice and warming for the winter months. This is one of the most unusual fragrances I’ve worn in a long time. I would hazard to say, masterpiece……..

    You should definitely give Bergamote from Le Labo a try. It is bitter grapefruit and juicy, vibrant citrus notes with an ambery, woodsy drydown. It’s a citrus that you can wear in the winter time. It really lasts well and stands up to the cold.

  17. Jessica says:

    Another vote for Etat Libre d’Orange, and I’m also thinking of Annick Goutal’s Sables.

  18. Thora_W says:

    Thanks so much for all the suggestions! I am going to have a great time sniffing and smelling my way through all of these great fragrances! :)

  19. maggiecat says:

    Melissa – I’m in Dallas too! Would love to get together with a like-minded person and sniff through some of the shops here! By all means try Ormonde Woman and Tolu by Ormonde Jayne. I’ll also second Donna Karan Woman (though I prefer Hove’ Parfumeur’s Diverti for a lovely woodsy scent. Hove has samples available through their website, and I love their scents – also not expesnive!)

    • Thora_W says:

      I would love to have a perfume buddy to smell things with!

  20. KRL says:

    If you like Jicky, try Vol de Nuit – not as cold as Jicky. Also for leather, Cuir de Lancome and sandalwood Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere.

  21. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    Frederic Malle Noire Epices is an unusual spicy oriental that is based on an orange note, rather than vanilla. I love it, but also noticed you that mentioned orange as a favorite note and dislike vanilla). Caron Parfum Sacre (try to find the vintage) is a beautiful woody rose-incense, with a peppery note. Most people find it gorgeous (so give it a try even though you don’t love rose). Try to find the vintage or the new “intense” version. There are so many beautiful ambers. I particularly like Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche and Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan.

  22. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    Have you tried the Chanel exclusives? They now come in smaller bottles so are more affordable. Bois des Ilse is such a beautiful spicy sandalwood scent. Also for a subtle, beautiful amber, check out Chanel 31 Rue Cambon. Then for the leather, check out the Cuir Russie.

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