The Monday Mail ~ help Andrea find a new perfume


The Monday Mail is recovered from the holidays and back in action: today we're helping Andrea, who currently wears Prada Infusion d'Iris for work, but wants to find a fun signature scent for her off-duty hours. She has reasonably good access to perfume stores and can spend up to $150. Here is what we know about Andrea:

She's in her mid-30s, and owns a funeral home with her husband in a small town in Ontario. She also has a 3 year old daughter who already loves smelling perfumes with Mommy.

Andrea loves fashion and beauty, and is currently a lifestyle columnist for her town’s newspaper. She says she is artsy yet practical, and loves to write but would never have the patience for a novel. If she's not dressed for a funeral (in dresses, not suits!), she's wearing jeans, cool boots and a novelty t-shirt.

She also enjoys cooking and wine – and working out, as a result!

Their lifestyle is a little eccentric, and they don’t fall into the sad, somber stereotype of funeral directors. They're young and they like to do fun things, like enter floats in the town’s Santa Claus parade, play badminton and tennis, do karaoke, and participate in small-town life.

Most of Andrea's collection is gourmand; they tend to work great with her body chemistry. Thierry Mugler Angel smells great on her (and her husband loves it for sentimental reasons), but it’s a bit much for every day. She also loves Chanel Gardenia (mostly on hot summer nights), Prescriptives Calyx (hot summer days), Prada Infusion d’Iris (its cool elegance is perfect for work), Givenchy Organza Indecence (but it only works on cold nights, too heavy otherwise). Notes she loves include leather, smoke and vanilla (in moderation), citrus, spice, iris. She is often intrigued by scent descriptions for men’s colognes, but they tend to wear far too manly on my skin.

Andrea doesn't care for strongly floral perfumes. Rose makes her nauseous, and it doesn’t work with her chemistry – it turns to cat pee. Marni and Balenciaga Florabotanica were both too heavy on the rose for her. She also doesn't care for peach and apricot notes.

Here is what Andrea has tried:

Hermès Eau des Merveilles: she likes it but it’s too close to everything else she owns.

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb: ditto.

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine: she loves the orange, but it’s not complex enough on the whole.

Bottega Veneta: the apricot note was too much, and she couldn't smell the Eau Legere version at all.

Prada Candy, Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire: both too cloying.

Balmain Jolie Madame: it doesn't smell like her – too crisp and cold.

Chanel No. 5: turns to sour smoke on her.

Tom Ford's Shanghai Lily: she liked it and found it interesting, but not enough for the price.

Valentina Oud: cool bottle, but she smelled like a chemical fire for hours, even after trying to scrub it off.

Bottega Veneta Pour Homme: didn't get any leather, just lavender.

Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black: she bought it after it was on her skin for only five minutes, and has received many compliments. It's mostly sandalwood with a touch of unsweet vanilla, but her concern is that she needs three or four sprays to smell it, and it may be a bit too heavy when the weather warms up.

What say you?

Want to be a participant in the Monday Mail? See the instructions here.

Note: top image [cropped & tripled] is courtesy of Victoria at Bois de Jasmin.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. galbanumgal says:

    How about PdE’s Equistrius or Cuir Ottoman? Also Shalimar and the Ode a la Vanille flankers–vanillic without the cloy factor. Suggest looking into Comptoir Sud Pacifique for inexpensive gourmands.

    • PekeFan says:

      I second the Ode a la Vanille flankers, especially Mexique. It is gourmand without being cloying. I love it and I don’t like gourmand fragrances.

  2. Janice says:

    Two came to mind right away: Chanel Cuir de Russie, and Le Labo Patchouli 24 (which is really more smoky leather and vanilla and not so much patchouli). Ann Gerard Cuir de Nacre is also a nice iris-leather combination.

  3. Erin says:

    No real suggestions for Andrea, but wanted to comment what an interesting person she sounds like! Andrea, I’m in Toronto, so if you’re ever in the Big Smoke, please feel free to drop me a line and we can sample and sniff over coffee and chat about our three-year-olds or something…

    • hodgko says:

      Oh Erin, you’re too kind! I lived in T.O. prior to making the move out here 10 years ago, but go back occasionally to go to Pearson or shop — a meetup would be a hoot (with or without the kiddos)! Do you have some good recs for perfume shopping other than the usual suspects? I’m getting out of the loop!

      Ah, three-year-olds… a never-ending source of discussion! My daughter’s in daycare today so I actually have some quiet time!

  4. lucasai says:

    I say…
    Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee
    Carner Barcelona D600
    Dior Ambre Nuit
    Ramon Monegal Barcelona Mon Cuir

  5. hodgko says:

    I wanted to be the first to comment, but I’ve been beaten to it! I’m Andrea, this week’s scent-seeker… thanks in advance for all your suggestions, I’ve been wanting to do this for years!

    I should clarify that I am looking to get away from gourmand scents; they’re my default, easy choices. That being said, new options will always be considered! Rose seems to be my nemesis in this challenge… it’s a difficult note to get away from!

  6. Dilana says:

    I second Vanilla Insensee, since it would combine the Vanilla you love in Angel with a citrus/cologne style.
    For fun gourmand take on Iris, I would suggest I Love NY Les Carottes, which adds the rootiniess of carrots (Yeah, the Bugs Bunny kind) with a rooty Iris)

    • hodgko says:

      I’ll have to give the Vanilla Insensee a try — been avoiding it because of the name.
      Carrots? Why not? I made a huge pot of carrot soup for lunch today… the house definitely smells great. :)

      • Rappleyea says:

        Les Carrottes is an organic perfume so it is light and relatively short-lived. But it is great in the summer for a shot of a not-too-sweet fragrance.

  7. JolieFleurs says:

    Hmmmmmm… kind of a longshot, but the Stephen Jones/CdG collaboration might fit the bill. It’s a violet, but it skews kind of irisy to my nose and it’s very interesting, not an old-lady violet at all.

    Mona d’ Orio Violet Fumee is out of your price range, but I’d try to sample it anyway; it’s really very nice…the opening is very bright and fun, then it dries down to gorgeous smooth perfection. Wish I could afford it!

    Finally, I think you should try some of the offerings from Etat Libre d’Orange …they’re always fun! Vraie Blonde struck me as one you might like, but keep in mind while I don’t get rose or peach from it, they are listed as notes. And I’m not sure how you feel about aldehydes!

    Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde is nice, but it does have rose. (It’s another one I don’t get rose from, but it’s in the notes listed!)

    And finally…have you tried Grey Flannel? I wear it a lot, and don’t get a super manly vibe from it, although you might if you knew any guys who wore it.

    • hodgko says:

      Does Barney’s carry Etat Libre d’Orange? One of my best friends lives in Brooklyn so I do get to hit up NYC once a year… but I get so excited that I end up overdosing on smells and can’t keep them straight. :) Too funny that you recommended Vraie Blonde, because I am one!

      Haven’t smelled Violet Blonde in a while — perhaps a revisit is due. And I think there was a discussion about Grey Flannel a while ago (or Bois de Jasmin) and it piqued my interest.

      • hodgko says:

        Whoops, I meant Bendel’s, not Barney’s. Calm down, me.

      • JolieFleurs says:

        Oh, I’m sorry, I have no idea about Barney’s or Bendels, for that matter. I’ve never been in either one.

        I live wayyyy out in the sticks in the rural Deep South of the US……if Wal-Mart doesn’t carry it, I have to get it online! :P

      • Dilana says:

        Bendel’s has discontinued carrying the line. They may have a few bottles of some of the weirder scents around. I believe Min New York still carries the line.

        • hodgko says:

          Just had a look at Min New York’s website; pretty impressive! I’m definitely adding it to my “must visit” list for my spring NYC trip, thanks! Any other shops you’d recommend?

          • hajusuuri says:

            OsswaldNYC has a lot of niche perfume brands.

            If you are interested in single note exploration, the Duane Reade Pharmacy on 60 Spring Street (downtown NYC) has just about the entire Demeter Fragrance Library with testers!

          • Stacey C says:

            I’m a little late commenting, but would just add that you should try visiting Twisted Lily the next time you visit your friend in Brooklyn – they carry Etat Libre d’Orange as well as some other hard-to-find lines and there is an Atelier Cologne across the street!

  8. Ericgmd says:

    The preference for gourmands immediately sent me in a direction. Then I started shaving off a few potentials after reading Andrea’s no-go’s.
    The only one that remained as a potential is a costly one but well worth considering. Its vanilla is delicious and its boozy rummy spicy side, with benzoin and frankincense are to die for. There is the slightest hint of rose but it’s not a floral nor a rose scent by any means.
    Its price is higher than Andrea’s budget but it’s a very potent high quality eau de parfum and one drop will last all day. Well worth saving up for.
    That scent is Guerlain’s L’Art et la Matiere “Spiritueuse Double Vanille”.

    • hodgko says:

      This sounds glorious and I love how authoritative you sound in your recomendation… I’m also scared to sniff it for I may love it too much!

  9. C.H. says:

    I love Chanel Gardenia as well, so some pretty, fleurmand-style compromises come to mind–Frederic Malle En Passant or Ormonde Jayne Champaca perhaps? If you haven’t tried the OJs, it’s a good time–the sample kit is on sale this week for $57, including shipping, w/code NewYear (not affiliated!)

    But those are both very well behaved. For -fun- in the form of leather, slightly (but not overly) gourmand, and just a hint of masculinity, do try L’Artisan Dzing!

  10. ChocolatEyes613 says:

    Perfumes Andrea should try:

    Geurlain Shalimar
    Geurlain Shalimar Parfum Initial
    Lolita Lempicka EDP
    Reem Acra EDP
    Estee Lauder Sensuous
    Estee Lauder Sensuous Noir
    Chanel No. 19
    L’Artisan Parfumeur Mure et Musc Extreme

    • Dixie says:

      Second Shalimar Initial, EL Sensuous (and Noir), and Chanel 19.

      The new Lancome fragrance Les Belles est Vie (or something like that) smells great on a couple of my coworkers.

      Check out Kelly Caleche.

  11. Rappleyea says:

    Perhaps you should try some of the indie lines for a fun signature scent. I’m particularly fond of Sonoma Scent Studio, but my goal this year is to investigate others. Laurie of SSS does do a lot of rose scents, however she has a great variety other than the rose ones. Her fragrances are well-priced and extremely well done. Good luck!

    • MikasMinion says:

      I agree. Was going to suggest Tabac Aurea and Ambre Noir (which does have rose but is really worth a try).

  12. Cybele says:

    Bulgari Black and L’Artisan Dzing!

    • hodgko says:

      I haven’t spotted Bulgari Black at any of the usual retail suspects in Canada lately… I tried it ages ago and need a refresher! I’m keeping my eyes peeled at Winners (classier T.J. Maxx) for it in case it’s been discontinued up here. I’ve had some good luck at the discounters, finding the Balmain, Prada and Calyx at various locations — and in great shape.

      • hajusuuri says:

        Sephora in the U.S. carries Bvlgari Black!

      • AnnieA says:

        Try Real Canadian Superstore (!) for the Black. I bought my backup bottle there on a crazy sale, but even the non-crazy price is something like $40.

        • hodgko says:

          That IS crazy! Though — the one nearest me does have a LOT of Demeter. I usually get stopped by this display before getting any further… :)

  13. Sapphire says:

    Andrea, you and I seem to have similar tastes (except that I can’t do Angel). I would recommend Diptyque Eau Duelle. The EDP is a little deeper and smokier than the EDT. Also, Atelier Cologne Silver Iris (though you may have to go for a decant, as it is a little spendier than your upper limit). You could also look at VCA Bois d’Iris or Orchidee Vanille. Good luck!

    • hodgko says:

      I have a sample of Silver Iris (and Gold Leather) coming from a Brooklyn-based friend who is coming back to Canada for a visit next week — can’t wait!

  14. kindcrow says:

    I recommend Spicebomb. It is NOTHING like Flowerbomb.

    • hodgko says:

      I do like Spicebomb! Last time I tried it was on a stiffling, hot and humid day and it just about knocked me over — I had a similar experience with Egoiste. Need to try both at this time of year to get a different perspective.

      • kindcrow says:

        Definitely a cold weather fragrance. I can’t handle in the heat, either.

  15. egabbert says:

    Check out Serge Lutens — lots of interesting unisex oriental options, mostly at your price point. You might try Chergui (which Angela just reviewed here!), Five o’Clock au Gingembre, Cuir Mauresque, Santal Majuscule. If you’re worried about heaviness, dab instead of spray, I prefer many Lutens frags this way.

    • yukiej says:

      I second (third? at least) Chergui! I also recommend L’Artisan Safran Troublant, Kenzo Jungle l’elephant, SSS Sienna Musk, SSS Winter Woods, and pretty much anything else from SSS really. Also, maybe Atelier Oolong Infiniti?

      • hodgko says:

        Angela’s Chergui review definitely piqued my interest! And I’ve almost ordered the Kenzo numerous times… should just take the plunge one day!

        • Cybele says:

          If you like the Kenzo try also Chaos by Donna Karan!

  16. sweetgrass says:

    Andrea, have you tried anything from Ineke? There are several in her line that might work for you, like Evening Edged in Gold or Field Notes from Paris. She offers a great sample set so you can try the whole EdP line. And the prices aren’t bad. The sample set is $25 for 8 samples, the bottles are $95.

    Diptyque Volutes might be worth a try for you as well. It’s soft, honeyed tobacco and iris.

    I also second SL Chergui and Etat Libre d’Orange. Bijou Romantique or Fils de Dieu might be good ones to try.

    • hodgko says:

      I do have Sweet William from Ineke; I like it but find the clove to be a bit sharp, for lack of a better explanation. Thanks for the tip on the sample set — I’ve just ordered it! Evening Edged in Gold sounds very interesting, and I LOVE how evocative the name is.

  17. Gardeniagirl says:

    Seconding Diptyque Volutes, and would also strongly recommend Aedes Iris Nazarena – lovely smokey iris with a slightly salty twist – delicious!

  18. Samantha L says:

    I agree with the suggestions of Dzing and Bulgari Black. Maybe SL Daim Blond?

  19. thegoddessrena says:

    Vanillaville from Soivohle is a smoky, leathery nonsweet vanilla. You might also enjoy Marron Chic from Nez a Nez. Seconding Volutes and Equistrius

  20. Liza says:

    You might try Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain

  21. hajusuuri says:

    I’m probably seconding, thirding, fourthing, etc…at this point, but here’s what I suggest:

    – Annick Goutal Heure Exquise
    – Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise
    – Atelier Cologne Vanilla Insensee
    – Bvlgari Black <– biggest bargain ever…it's one of my desert island scents
    – Dior Mitzah
    – Diptyque Eau Duelle
    – Diptyque Volutes (EDP and EDT)
    – L'Occitane Eau de Bavx
    – Olfactive Studio Autoportrait (you can get a discovery set of all 5 Olfactive Studio perfumes from Lucky Scent and layer Autoportrait or Chambre Noire with the others in the line)
    – Olfactive Studio Chambre Noire
    – Oriza Legrande Chypre Mousse – very strange mushroomy, wet forest floor and really defies description (best to get their sample set)…and read Kafkaesque for the review on this
    – Sonoma Scent Studio Forest Walk
    – Sonoma Scent Studio To Dream
    – Tauer PHI Une Rose de Kandahar (I don't find this very rosey)
    – Tom Ford Violet Blonde

  22. aspazy says:

    Since you mentioned gardenia, I would suggest estee lauder tuberose gardenia from private collection. It is not gourmand and not fruity floral sweet, but elegant and bitter. Havent tried the parfum version, it is too expensive, but the edp is also great and stays all day on me.

  23. Lise says:

    L’Artisan Traversee du Bosphore. Gourmand, leather, iris….

  24. nozknoz says:

    More complex orange perfumes: PdN Maharanih and Parfum d’Empire Azemour les Orangers.

    (Luckyscent seems to only have Maharanih Intense now. I hope that’s basically the same as Maharanih, but I haven’t actually tried it.)

    Enjoy the hunt!

  25. AnnieA says:

    Not sure who has it online at the moment, but Cuir de Lancôme is pretty nice.

  26. lbsimmons says:

    We have very similar tastes. I think you might like By Killian Back to Black. Fresh tobacco, sweet, but fresh and interesting. It’s kinda pricey but you can get samples

Leave a reply