The Monday Mail ~ help Liz find a new fragrance

Boites aux lettres

Today we're helping Liz, who is looking to replace her longtime fall/winter fragrance, Abercrombie 8, now discontinued. She says that although she has grown up since she started wearing it, she still loves it. She is happy to shop online and will pay up to $200 for something perfect. She's also happy to buy decants of spendier fragrances. Here is what we know about Liz:

She's in her late 20s, and is a social media director and improv actress in Chicago.

She says her personal style is a deliberate blend of polished and undone: think Jackie O with a hint of Bardot.

She enjoys comedy, long-distance running and politics.

Liz likes notes of coconut, vanilla, cinnamon and similar spices, most woods, white flowers that aren't "too church-y", grapefruit, lavender.

She dislikes talc, animalic notes, anything overtly aquatic, and some gardenia. 

Here are some of the fragrances Liz has tried:

Chanel Les Exclusifs Beige: she loves it for spring and summer, but wants something warmer for cold weather.

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle: She likes it quite a bit. The dry down smells warm and sophisticated, but the first 30 minutes are very loud and make her bathroom smell like a busy day at Sephora. It's good enough for now, but she's open to something she could fall in love with a little more (and possibly something less popular).

Chanel No. 19: Lacked warmth; smelled a bit like motor oil.

Miss Dior Cherie L'Eau: A nice "safe" fragrance, but difficult to find and also a little more of a spring/summer scent.

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb: Not terrible, but overly sweet and aggressive.

Profumum Acqua di Sale: Too mineral-like and metallic, like Noxema.

Guerlain Mitsouko: Everything she read led her to believe she would love it, but she hated it more than anything else she tried. It smelled like dust and mothballs.

Hermes Eau des Merveilles: She liked that it smelled dry, clean and wealthy... but after a day of wear it just smelled too "serious" and a little too close to AXE.

Tokyo Milk Sparrow: Gardenia done wrong; smelled like a little girl's piano recital.

Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey: Not objectionable, but she'd prefer something more complex.

Annick Goutal Songes: Cloying and church-like.

Guerlain Jicky: She expected to love it, but couldn't get over the "staleness" of it. It definitely smelled like a human body, but not hers.

Penhaligon's Amaranthine: Also far too body-like; there is a note here that smells like feet.

What say you?

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

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  1. FragrantWitch says:

    I feel like I am always recommending the same fragrances but they ARE really good…
    I would think she should try Ormonde Jayne Woman, definitely
    not mainstream and smells like a gathering of sprites in a deep wood.
    Donna Karan Chaos because it is warm and complex without weighing on your mind.
    Ambre de Merveilles all the good bits of the original warmed up and grounded with amber. No Axe/Lynx here!
    Also, Kerosene Whips & Roses. For me, not at all aggressive rather a lovely leather, skin, rose and gardenia scent. Wistful. Not churchy gardenia at all.
    Shalimar parfum because it is amazing
    Original Dior Homme or Jo Malone Amber&Lavender

    • e_liz says:

      If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Monday Mail, it’s that Ormonde Jayne Woman is always a valid answer. :)

  2. friede says:

    I seem to have a similar taste to Liz (minus what seems like an animus about white flowers), so here’s what I have in my fall/winter scent arsenal:

    – Lutens Jeux de Peau (nutty, toasty, but not foody)
    – Arquiste Anima Dulcis (dry aztec chocolate that became addictive)
    – Imaginary Authors Memoirs of a Trespasser (vanilla pods in an oak barrel with whisky traces still in it)

    You might also try
    – Aqua Allegoria Pampelune (grapefruit open, warm patchouli drydown that is very winter to me)
    – Penhaligon’s Artemesia (reminds me of DK Cashmere Mist, but not so powdery)
    – Eau des Merveilles L’Ambre might work (I didn’t like the original but the flanker was much better for me)
    – warm or wood-backed orange blossoms like Seville a l’Aube or Lutens Fleur d’Oranger
    – other grown-up vanillas like CB I Hate Perfume 7 Billion Hearts (dark and dry), Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille (traces of smoke)
    – you might also try some of the Ateliers, separate or alone — a mix of Orange Sanguine and Vanille Insensee (which I don’t get the incense from) might hit the spot…

    • Rappleyea says:

      Seconding Guerlain SDV. That was my first hit for Liz.

    • e_liz says:

      You had me at “whiskey”!

      Seems like a lot of support for Eau de Merveilles L’Ambre here, so I may just give it a try.

  3. egabbert says:

    For coconut I recommend Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess (great summer fragrance), Serge Lutens Datura Noir (ditto), and Diptyque Philosykos (a woody, coconutty fig fragrance).

    You might also want to try Spicebomb, which I find vastly superior to its feminine counterpart. It’s a spicy woody tobacco fragrance.

    • C.H. says:

      Co-sign Spicebomb (it has some nice, non-foody cinnamon, also) and Philosykos (I can’t speak to the others, alas!)

      A number of other Diptyques come to mind as well:

      – Eau Duelle (vanilla and spice, gourmand but not overly so)

      – Olene (a friend who used to wear Flowerbomb now wears Olene as a step more sophisticated; perhaps that would appeal?)

      – Vetyverio (I have only sniffed this on paper, assuming it would be drier/woodsier than I wanted, but it was actually softened/prettied up with some florals; now I really want to try on skin.)

      …for that matter, if you’ve made it to a Diptyque counter, why not try Tam Dao (not my thing but a sandalwood beloved by many!) and L’Ombre dans l’eau (a beautiful, and much less sweet floral) too! (Haha, so, basically all of them.)

      • Emily says:

        Thirding Spicebomb and seconding all those Diptyques. Also, Volutes in EDT might work for Liz.

    • Eroica says:

      I second the Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. I always think of this fragrance around January. Ohio weather gets me down. I also love the grapefruit in Fresh’s Hesperides. My favorite vanilla is M. Micallef Note Vanillee – very heady.

  4. Abyss says:

    For a wintry Chanel with some warmth, Liz might like Coromandel.

    I’m also going to suggest Hemres Ambre Narguile which is a foody, cinnamon-y amber.

    • e_liz says:

      Thank you! I would never pass up the chance to discover a third suitable Chanel.

  5. farouche says:

    Warm, spicy, woody and wonderful, my recommendation for Liz is Iris Oriental (formerly Iris Taizo) by Parfumerie General. The notes are cardamom, iris, fig-tree honey, vanilla, and balsamic resins. Every time I put it on I wonder why I don’t wear it more often!

  6. lucasai says:

    Parfum d’Empire Aziyade comes to my mind, as well as Histoires de Parfums 1725 Casanova and 1826 Eugenie de Montijo.

  7. Sapphire says:

    For warm, cinnamon-y vanilla, Organza Indecence is wonderful. For something similar to Coco Mad without the screechiness in the top-notes, Lancome La Vie est Belle is nice. (the husband, who normally never asks what I am wearing to avoid feeding the addiction, said he “woudn’t kick me out of bed for wearing it,” which is his way of saying he actually liked it, and he apparently dislikes a lot of things I am sampling).

    • Karin says:

      Seconding Organza Indecence!

    • e_liz says:

      Ha, sounds like quite the endorsement! My own boyfriend has two possible reactions to a perfume: making a face, and not making a face.

  8. I can’t argue that No. 19 has warmth, but all the same I can’t restrain myself from urging you to try a sample of the extrait from one of the decanters, because in my view the extrait is an entirely different perfume. If you love it, it is still in production, even if you have to look outside the US to get a bottle.

    Coconut immediately made me think of Parfumerie Generale Cadjmere. It’s a soft, warm, not-too-edible blanket of foody and woody notes.

    The Different Company Oriental Lounge is, IMO, gloriously warm and friendly and complex and brightly colored in a jewel-colored-tapestry way. Someone, I forget who, referred to it as a “gateway Oriental”. You don’t drown in it and it’s not the least bit dirty. I like dirty more and more as time goes on, but I still love this one.

    Another vote for Iris Taizo. If, like me, you find it not quite sweet enough at first sniff, wait a while; for me, it develops from just a little challenging to sweeter and friendlier, at just the right rate.

    Serge Lutens Un Lys and Parfums de Nicolai Number One are both florals that have enough warmth and texture to work for me in the winter.

    Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture also works for me in the winter, but more as a bright, smooth, cool blast of floral in an overheated room; I imagine touching smooth white fur that’s just come in from the cold.

    Serge Lutens Daim Blond, on the other hand, is smooth white fur that’s already nice and warm.

    • e_liz says:

      Thank you for the thoughts! Your description of Daim Blond sounds especially perfect.

  9. ladymurasaki says:

    I think Liz should try the following.

    Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle – tuberose with a hint of coconut. Not too sweet and oh so good.
    Infanta en Flor by Arquiste: a sensuous floral bouquet of Mexican tuberose, frangipani, magnolia, etc.
    Datura Noir by Serge Lutens: another coconut and tuberose combination but with an Oriental flavour.
    Frangipani by Ormonde Jayne; soft and creamy frangipani scent with a hint of citrus.
    I also second Ormonde Jayne Woman.

    • ladymurasaki says:

      Sorry! Please replace Infanta en Flor with Flor y Canto… quite different fragrances!

    • e_liz says:

      All of these sound wonderful. Carnal Flower has been on my to do list for some time now.

  10. C.H. says:

    In the vein of Coco Mlle, but quieter, you might try the Elie Saab in the eau de toilette (confusingly its official name is “Elie Saab Le Parfum Eau de Toilette”). It doesn’t have the same staying power, unfortunately, but for me, being obliged to touch it up is well worth the trade-off of a more manageable start.

    Likewise (and by the same ‘nose’ as the Elie Saab, incidentally), I find Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance bears some tonal resemblance to Coco Mlle (though their notes are not identical). Romantina also, perhaps. Neither Lady Vengeance nor Romantina announce themselves as distinctively as Mlle (especially not Romantina), but maybe that would be just the ticket. And, happily, the complete JHaG sample set can be had from their website for just 10euro (about $13US right now), with free shipping.

    In a totally different direction, I’m not much for coconut, but for those who are, I’d note that the Kiehl’s Aromatic Blend Fig Leaf & Sage actually smells much more like coconut than like either of the titular notes. Worth a sniff perhaps, and while you’re there you could also try Nashi Blossom & Pink Grapefruit (more summery than you may be looking for right now, but nice if you like grapefruit) as well as Vanilla & Cedarwood. I found the latter a much foodier vanilla than I care for, but others have said just the opposite, so, why not try!

    • e_liz says:

      All great ideas. There is a Kiehl’s nearby, so I may just stop in for some casual sniffing soon!

    • dolcesarah says:

      Second Lady Vengence. I’m just in love with my bottle. Glad I got it when I did. I was looking for that exact elixir and didn’t even know it. First came to me as a gift from one of the major niche site’s president or manager whatever Stamatis is he’s the bomb. He sends me little treats all the time. Just recently sent me all four of the EVERGREEN, for you I would recommend the black, white, and gold. Black and white are what you can imagine but the gold reminds me of a much pricier Amouage that I cannot place maybe Gold or Jubilation 25. Try those. You’re bound to fall in love with one of the Evergreens. And Lady Vengence by Juliette has a Gun is remarkable.

  11. Cybele says:

    highly recommend you Hermès Santal Massoïa (Hermessence
    line), it’s soft and creamy with coconut and sandelwood. You might also like Comme des Garcons White with lot’s of cinnamon and woods.

  12. e_liz says:

    Hi all, letter writer here. Thank you so much for the recommendations so far! Such thoughtful and inspiring suggestions.

    The only one people have mentioned that I have tried already is Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, which I enjoyed intensely for a week or two over the summer, and then grew tired of. I’m really looking forward to trying the rest.

    • C.H. says:

      Hey Liz, somehow the first time through, I read right past the first sentence–I actually have a bottle of Abercrombie 8 that, realistically, I’ll probably never wear! (Got it for a few bucks unsniffed from a thrift store just last week, and indeed it’s rather nice, just not my thing.) I’d be so happy to give it to someone who’d use it. You can reach me at catherineh789 (I will write out this next part to foil spambots as best I can) at the email service that is from Google.

      (This is not meant at ALL to discourage the hunt for something new, which is its own pleasure! Just in case you’d like to have a back-up bottle of the old favorite.)

      • e_liz says:

        That is so kind of you. I actually have a nearly full bottle of 8 left right now… but perhaps you’ll be hearing from me next year. :)

  13. maggiecat says:

    I second Ormonde Woman, Chanel’s Coromandel, and Diptyques’s Eau Deaux for wonderfully cozy cold weather scents.

  14. poodle says:

    I also think Spicebomb is worth a sniff and I think Field Notes from Paris by Ineke may be good too.

  15. sbe13 says:

    What about L’Artisan Parfumeur Havana Vanille or Donna Karan Black Cashmere?

  16. I’d second the recommendation for Lancome’s La Vie est Belle as a replacement for Coco Mlle… to be honest, I think it smells better! It’s in the same family as Flowerbomg and Coco Mademoiselle but I think it the best out of the three.

    If you like cinnamon, what about Andy Tauer’s Pentachord Auburn? That’s one of the most cinnamon-y fragrances I’ve ever sampled. While you’re trying some Tauers, how about Reverie au Jardin (lavender), Pentachord White (flowers/vanilla), or Tableau de Parfums Loretta (fruit/tuberose/woods).

    • e_liz says:

      I’ve heard a lot of love for Tauer. Looking forward to checking those out.

  17. Emily says:

    How about Anne Pliska? It’s a gorgeous orange-spice-vanilla-amber that I wish I’d known about during my own Chicago winters. Chic, cozy, classic, and not remotely like a busy day or any other day at Sephora. And for $200, Liz could get the EDP and the parfum with plenty of change left over. Luckyscent carries both concentrations.

    • e_liz says:

      Great tip – I hadn’t heard of this one.

  18. Blimunda says:

    HI Liz. I’m a runner too and know the joy!

    I second Tubereuse Couture for non-churchy white flowers and coconut combined! It would be a great winter one. You might like to give Ormonde Jayne’s Champaca a go too, while you’re sniffing frangipani. It’s a creamy orange flower, but light and fresh and paired with basmati rice!

    Dry woods……Timbuktu and Dzongkha from L’Artisan. Also, Tauer’s
    Incense Extreme is a wonderfully desert-dry incense/woods.

    Vanilla fragrances: Vanille Absolutement from L’Artisan is boozy and spicy, Mona di Orio Vanille for spicy, slightly fresher vanilla.

    For a spicy scent, the incomparable Noir Epices is a MUST! It blends foody spices with bitter orange, but manages to be a proper perfume rather than a christmas bauble.

    Lavender…….well, Vero Profumo does a lovely, unusual lavender called Kiki. Lutens’ Gris Clair, and Tauer’s Reverie au Jardin.

    • Blimunda says:

      to clarify – champaca is not ‘orange flower’. It is a pale orange coloured flower, i believe! The scent itself is a creamy white-flower style.

    • e_liz says:

      Fantastic. Boozy and spicy sounds just right!

  19. Eroica says:

    Would it be safe to say NST most favorite fragrance right now is OJ Woman? LOL I see it in almost every post. I love it too!!

  20. farouche says:

    Liz, I hope you see this late post. I just bought a large bottle of Fendi Theorema from a discounter for around $100 and am loving it. It is spicy: cinnamon and nutmeg mixed with sandalwood, lightly floral with some amber and patchouli in the drydown. It stays close to the body but it fairly long lasting. Good luck in your search!

    • e_liz says:

      That sounds perfect… I’ll add it to my list!

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