The Monday Mail ~ help Genevieve find a new perfume

Pink letter slot

The Monday Mail is helping Genevieve today — she'd like to find a perfect first-date scent. It should be a little unusual but not too sexy or too unisex. She'd be happiest if it cost under $100 — she doesn't go on so many dates to justify a huge splurge — although she'd go as high as $150 if she had to. She has good access to major department stores and specialty shops, and she's willing to shop online so long as she can test the fragrance first.

Here is what we know about Genevieve:

She's in her early 30s, and works as a librarian.

She says her personal tastes are eclectic and inspired by film noir and punk rock.

She's definitely a city girl, and she likes good food, live music (anything from country to opera), and learning new languages.

Genevieve likes spice, incense, citrus, some honey, and lighter florals, especially soft jasmine and orange blossom. She'd like to experiment with leather and tobacco notes. She also loves heavy florientals but not the elevator-clearing effect. Her day-to-day rotation includes Comme des Garçons Ouarzazate, Jennifer Aniston and Victoria's Secret Dream Angels Wish. Her "night out" perfumes include Lancôme Poême (which she has worn since high school and will never give up) and Yves Saint Laurent Nu. Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb is next on her to-buy list.

She dislikes fruit and chocolate, and generally anything too sweet. Her mother wears Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and Chanel no. 5, so she'd prefer to stay away from the aldehydics.

Here is what she has tried so far:

Elie Saab Le Parfum: she loved it in the store, but it turned out to be way too heavy for enclosed spaces.

Prada Infusion d'Iris: pretty, but varied with wear — sometimes a "gorgeous earthy thing" and sometimes "old-lady-bathroom-potpourri". 

Kenzo Amour Indian Holi: pleasant and soft, but a bit monotonous, and maybe too quiet and ladylike.

Hermès Eau des Merveilles: on the "maybe" list but feels almost a little too dressy.

By Killian Back to Black: smells amazing on her and she has been wearing it to work, applied very very lightly.

What say you?

Note: top image is pink post [cropped] by jenny downing at flickr; some rights reserved.

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  1. lucasai says:

    I was just about to suggest CdG Kyoto when I read she enjoys Quarzazate already. I would suggest Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman (leather), Eau de Gloire (tobacco) and Aziyade (spices).
    Also Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure and Tabac Aurea for pure pleasure of incense and tobacco.
    I haven’t tried it yet but Jour d’Hermes sounds like it may be something you’ll like.

    Good luck!

    • Lise says:

      I second Jour d’ Hermes.

    • Lise says:

      I second Jour d’ Hermes. And will also suggest Au Lac from Eau d’Italie. Very charming and feminine floral. My husband looooves it ;-) Good luck on your date(s)!

  2. Marjorie Rose says:

    Ok! First dates! I’ve had a few of those in the past year, so I’m happy to depart some of my wisdom! :)

    In the smoke and spice category, you might want to try L’Artisan Tea for Two. For just spicy tea without the smoke, Jacomo #8. This latter one may be a bit safer than TF2, as I find the smoke to be a bit much, sometimes. Safer still is Bulgari Omnia, discontinued, but easy to come by. And weirdly, a real man magnet.

    In the leather category, I have felt really confident wearing Traversee du Bosphore. It does have some fruit, but it’s not overwhelming, and it’s not froot.

    Finally, I believe there was some discussion a while back that OJ Woman was the perfect date scent, since it expresses confidence and unique style, without being too much. Notes are earthy, with a lot of woody hemlock.

    Good luck and have fun!

    • C.H. says:

      Seconding Tea for Two! Any fans of Spicebomb should def check that out. Maybe wait to buy Spicebomb, even–I thought I totally wanted Sp until I tried Tea for Two, which I love even more.

      • egabbert says:

        Sadly Tea for Two has gotten nearly impossible to find. :( But Spicebomb is a pretty good substitute.

        Another leather you might like is Midnight in Paris.

        • C.H. says:

          Arg, that is so crushing.

  3. kindcrow says:

    I suggest Jacomo #08. Indie Scents has samples, and they list the notes as: Cardamom, Ginger, Black Tea, Freesia, Milky Accord, Dried Fruits, Cinnamon, Honey, Amber. It’s not very fruity, so don’t be afraid. Oh, and I love punk rock and libraries! Movie recommendation: Party Girl with Parker Posey. OK, I’ll stop it with the non-fragrance references :-)

    • farouche says:

      Love Parker Posey!

    • missgenka says:

      Genevieve here. I love that movie and will confess it was part of the reason I went to library school!

  4. chrisskins says:

    I’d start right at your local higher-end department store with Bottega Veneta by Bottega Veneta. It’s one smooth operator.

    • sunsetsong says:

      Date perfumes are tricky, what if your man doesn’t like perfume? Is he abandoned in the restaurant?
      Seconding Bottega Veneta. Have you tried Prada Eau Ambree?
      Also suggesting La Petite Robe Noire out of left field as my SO is usually quite meh about perfumes (I know!!) but loves La Petite Robe Noire.

      • missgenka says:

        Wasn’t super impressed by Petite Robe Noire in the store. And someone who doesn’t like perfume would have a hard time dealing with me in the long run, I think. :)

  5. kristinacologne says:

    What about Diptyque’s latest scent “Volutes”? Notes are iris, honey, tobacco, dried fruit, pink pepper, black pepper, saffron, hay, immortelle, myrrh, storax, opopanax and benzoin. It’s warm and smoky and just a little bit sexy, also it has a reasonable prize!

    • Robin says:

      I was going to suggest Volutes too, although not necessarily as the “first date” scent, but just as something she might like. It’s at some Nordstrom & Neiman Marcus stores.

      For a first date scent, wondering if she tried the Eau Claire des Merveilles at Hermes? And if it’s too girly, had an idea that it might layer perfectly with Ouarzazate, although haven’t tried that myself. But, betcha somewhere there is a floral that would layer nicely w/ Ouarzazate.

  6. hajusuuri says:

    For orange blossom and incense, I suggest L’Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l’Aube. For tobacco, I suggest Diiptyque Volutes EDP or the EDT. For leather, Serge Lutens Daim Blonde and Boxeuses are gorgeous.

    • C.H. says:

      Cosign Seville a l’aube and Daim Blonde! I’m not much for leather and even I love Daim Blonde, so it could be a good route in.

  7. Lucy says:

    Wow, only seven comments in and my suggestions have already been offered: I’m seconding Bottega Veneta, Daim Blonde, and Tea for Two.

    Bottega is a beautiful, elegant, soft leather. It’s extremely easy to wear during the day or night, but it still feels special. I’ve worn it while watching sports in jeans and a t-shirt and to a black tie event.

    • kristinacologne says:

      I third Bottega Veneta. My boyfriend isn’t too much into perfume but this one he loves.

    • Lucy says:

      I forgot, Balenciaga Paris is a really pretty light floral. It may be too much romance and not enough sexy, but it’s worth checking out while you’re shopping.

      • missgenka says:

        Balenciaga Paris is next on my list to buy for my mother, so that’s right out!

  8. LJ says:

    Seconding Sevile a L’aube, it’s not too sexy but it has a romantic back story of holiday romance. It’s a gorgeous honey orange blossom scent with real class. Good luck!

    • C.H. says:

      Thirding! Orange blossom, jasmine, incense, lightly honeyed, romantic–it’s slightly above the high end of the price range but apart from that I think it matches the description nearly exactly.

  9. songeuse says:

    Second Bvlgari Omnia (but make sure it’s the original in the brown bottle and not one of the flankers) and L’Artisan’s Séville à l’Aube and Tea for Two (also sadly discontinued recently, but you should still be able to find it).

    A few other ideas:
    -Caron Parfum Sacré: Myrrh, pepper, and spices with rose. Warm, feminine, pretty, and classy, yet unique and a bit mysterious. Should be able to find 100 ml for less than fifty dollars on Amazon or ebay.
    -Dior Pure Poison: Jasmine, orange blossom, gardenia, citrus. Feminine, very good longevity.
    -Parfums de Nicolaï Odalisque and Sacrebleu: The notes I found for Odalisque are bergamot, tangerine, citruses, lily-of-the-valley, jasmine, orris root, oakmoss, musk. I thought this was really lovely when I sampled it. Sacrebleu also has some jasmine, but mixed with incense and spices (however there is some fruit there as well). Parfums de NIcolaï is very reasonably priced for a niche line too.

  10. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Recently, I’ve discovered Kate Walsh Boyfriend. It’s a wee bit sweet but earthy and sexy, too. Also Etat Libre d’Orange Like This (pumpkin, florals and spice) and Fils de Dieu (rice, citrus, spice and leather). Ineke Field Notes from Paris is a gorgeous tobacco-orange blossom that isn’t too heavy but still has presence. I also have to agree with Volutes, Bottega Veneta, Omnia, Traversee du Bosphore and Seville a l’Aube.

  11. Cybele says:

    Hi Genevieve, you might enjoy the new Marni release, it contains incense, spices, woods and rose. I perceive it as transparent and close to the skin. For a very soft floral try Osmanthe Yunnan by Hermes. For spices give Yatagan a try- lightly applied.

  12. Dilana says:

    All of the above seem terrific. My suggestion would be to chose something you feel beautiful in. Unless you are dating a fume head, chances are he will notice perfume/not perfume, more than any subtle signals which you attribute to niche/non niche or to any particular style or notes.

  13. Zazie says:

    Hi Geneviève!
    I think you might like Kai (in the soft floral genre,), and I think you might love caravelle epicee from Frapin.
    A warm spicy fragrance, very nuanced and comfortable and interesting. Just a tad gourmand.
    You will find a very likeable tobacco effect in Hermès’ Ambre Narguilé. A transparent oriental, if you will. Contrary to the other commenters, I don’t advise Jour d’Hermès as a first date scent: the opening is nice, but the base is shrill and insistent…not something that will draw anyone close – but of course, you should try for yourself!

  14. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    Perfumes Genevieve should try:

    Bottega Veneta
    Hermes Kelly Caleche
    Bvlgari Jasmin Noir
    Narciso Rodriguez For Her EDP
    Lolita Lempicka
    Estee Lauder Sensuous
    Chanel Coco

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Oh, I forget about Sensuous. It is very pretty, approachable, and dispite the name, not overly forward. A good thought!

  15. Desirae says:

    If you like incense, Annick Goutal’s Encens Flamboyant might be worth a try – you can find small bottles of it online for quite cheap, sometimes. Another possibility might be Noora by Swiss Arabian. It’s a fairly simple yet very pretty honeyed orange blossom. I think I got mine for $15 on ebay. There’s a review of it here:

  16. Sapphire says:

    Seconding Bvlgari Omnia, Traversee du Bosphore, Volutes, BAck to Black and Boxeuses. Bottega Veneta and Seville a l’Aube don’t work for me. If you find you don’t care for them, you might consider Donna Karan Black Cashmere for incense. Dolce and Gabbana The One never gets much love, but smells like honey to me. Though expensive, Guerlain Cuir Beluga and Oriental Brulant might be worth decants.

  17. elise says:

    I’ll second Boyfriend and Like This and add anything from the Soivohle line! If you like spices, tobacco, and something unique, Soivohle/Liz Zorn is the way to go! I’m thinking Meerchuam and Love Speaks Primeval….

  18. solocha says:

    I would go for Samsara, you may like it. Also J. Galliano Edp. No1,
    Boucheron original, Violette Blonde, Shalimar Parfum Initial, I agree with Seville a L;Aube and trying some of Eau d’ Italie fragrances. Fendi too, perhaps, they can do leather well.

    • C.H. says:

      Seconding Violet Blonde for an iris that is very modern/never old-lady-y. (Infusion d’Iris is a great scent but Genevieve, I totally know what you’re talking about.) Violet Blonde also varies on me, but what changes is whether I get a little bit of honey or whether it almost verges on bitter, so it def wouldn’t be overly sweet, nor overly sexy (but kinda sexy! Just a different kind of sexy; not ‘skanky’, as they say.)

  19. solocha says:

    I must add 2 more: Eaudemoiselle and Lady Million.

  20. poodle says:

    I’ll put in a vote for Field Notes From Paris and also I think that Serge Lutens Chergui might be a nice choice.

  21. Merlin says:

    The mention of punk rock brought Bulgari Black to mind. The first time I smelled it I got this image of a guy in a leather jacket, revving his motorbike. Just behind him are some wonderfully surreal flowers blooming. Some great adventure/romance is about to begin! To me it has this wonderful sense of anticipation about it – and its not particularly masculine.
    Another suggestion is Ellie Saab EDT. It came out later and many people preferred it: very light and pretty.

    • C.H. says:

      Seconding both of these–funny to say since they’ve pretty different but I do love both and it’s def true that Black is very exciting, which could be great fun for first dates…and meanwhile, I’m def among the people who prefers the Elie Saab in the EDT. It fades rather fast on my skin, but I’m pretty happy to touch up in exchange for not being overwhelmed!

  22. eswift83 says:

    What about Etro Shaal Nur? May not necessarily be for a first date, but it starts as a crisp citrus but then moves into a beautiful summery incense. My husband is a florals guy but I get compliments from him every single time I wear this. It’s worth a try for the price!

  23. C.H. says:

    As a fellow Spicebomb fan, I wanted to throw out a few more scents (in addition to Tea for Two) that strike me as having an element or a couple in common with Spicebomb: Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur, Amouage Memoire, L’Artisan Dzing!, Dior Addict.

    Some or all of those may get disqualified for being out of the price range and/or a lot more forward than you want for this purpose (I would def say Tea for Two and Memoire are the most reserved of these, and they’re hardly pushovers), but… could be worth trying, just for fun!

  24. helenviolette says:

    LA Seville a L’aube. Orange blossom and soft incense…would be great for a first date…also worth a sniff: Serge Cuir Maresque and Boxeuses.

  25. Jennifer1977 says:

    Ms. Genevieve sounds like an interesting lady.

    Try Azuree by Estee Lauder. It’s not expensive (I want to say $50?) and easy to find, but it is unusual. You may not like it at first. I sure didn’t! But it’s a citrus leather and if you give it some time you may really enjoy it. I adore it, it always reminds me of September.

  26. maggiecat says:

    I agree with many of the recommendations here – OJ Woman, Bottega Venetta, etc. I’d also suggest Jo Malone’s Honeysuckle and Jasmine – discontinued but widely available. It’s a light floral that I love and others seem to appreciate as well.

  27. sacre bleu says:

    try a sample of Odori Iris, which smells less like the root and more like the flower, to my nose – which is to say smoothly intoxicating; and you won’t smell like anyone else, either.

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