Easy Perfume

Amouage Beloved

Sometimes I think it’s easier to find a spectacular perfume than an easy, but still interesting, perfume. The market overflows with blockbuster orientals, juicy fruity florals, and assertively clean steam-iron musks that shout their presence. But what about the friendly fragrances without attitude? The fragrances you can wear anywhere that don’t announce their presence and aren’t trying to prove something, yet still please the choosy perfumista?

Let me explain further by describing what an easy fragrance isn’t. It isn’t simply “pretty.” Robin’s terrific post “5 Perfumes: Pretty Spring Florals” lists loveable, pretty perfumes — basically, fragrances Cinderella would have on her dressing table (and perfumes I dearly love, too). But, with the possible exception of Hermès Jour d’Hermès, they’re perfumes that announce themselves. When you wear Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temp d’une Fête, for example, you smell like a fantasy of narcissus wrapped in fur, and it’s noticeable. Sure, your sillage will mesmerize the people around you, but they’ll tune in to its personality. It makes a statement, even if that statement isn’t edgy…

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Parfums Raffy

Rundholz Parfums Sept.21.1966 ~ fragrance review

Rundholz Parfums Sept.21.1966 brand image

Have you ever wondered what portion of fragrance sales is due to branding and what part is actually owed to the fragrance itself? This thought crossed my mind when I began investigating Rundholz Parfums Sept.21.1966. The fragrance comes in a stylish cylinder with hip lettering (see below). The Rundholz website features casual, avant garde clothing and shoes with an earthy European, yet hip hop, edge. The perfume’s name is mysterious. (I had to wonder if any of Rundholz’s customers are actually old enough to remember 1966. Maybe stylish Germans trend older than stylish Americans.) Then there’s the enigmatic, beautiful photo of the girl blowing on a dandelion. Does it have anything to do with the fragrance?

We all know it: Nouveau niche fragrances are more common than houseflies these days, and many of them get by — at least initially — through the “cool” factor. A consumer thinks, This brand is cool; this packaging is cool; I’m cool; therefore I will buy this perfume and certify my coolness. More than half the time the perfume is simply not cool…

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Etat Libre d’Orange True Lust ~ fragrance review

Etat Libre d'Orange True Lust, brand image

One of the hazards of reviewing fragrances for so long is that I can’t always remember what I’ve sampled. When I read that Etat Libre d’Orange True Lust combined Putain des Palaces and Dangerous Complicity, I drew a blank on what that might smell like. I even had to go back to confirm that I’d reviewed Putain des Palaces at all.

On rereading the reviews, it started to come back. Both fragrances are feminine, silk-stocking-ed sort of perfumes. Putain has a feral kick while Complicity might be the prettier of the two, although it lost my interest as it dried down. Now that I’ve smelled True Lust, I’m not sure why Etat Libre bothered to combine them. All three fragrances are lovely, and none is ferociously different from the other, at least not in mood…

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Why I Love Old School Chypres

Cyprus Lemnos), Theatrum Orbis Terrarum by Abraham Ortelius

Many people recoil at a whiff of an old school chypre. A chypre’s citrus-oakmoss-labdanum-patchouli signature doesn’t pander and can be downright off-putting for the inexperienced. Grand chypres are so old fashioned. They rarely seduce you with mouthwatering berries and Orange Crush-like fruit. They don’t flaunt their sexiness with blatant oriental notes. They waft fusty oak moss. I get it. I understand all the repugnance. And I love old school chypres just the same.

When I say “old school chypre,” I mean a big chypre, a chypre that doesn’t hide its identity under woody musk. Some of the classic old school chypres, besides Rochas Femme and Guerlain Mitsouko (perhaps the benchmarks), are Christian Dior Miss Dior (now called Miss Dior Classic), Acqua di Parma Profumo, Chanel Cristalle, Hermès Calèche, Niki de Saint Phalle, Nina Ricci Fille d’Eve and Balmain Miss Balmain, to name a few…

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Oriza L. Legrand Violettes du Czar & Heliotrope Blanc ~ fragrance reviews

Oriza L. Legrand Violettes du Czar & Heliotrope Blanc

Some people might not understand why you’d want to wear a soliflore. After all, why smell like one flower — a flower you’re probably already familiar with — when you could smell like an original blend of notes? Following that logic, there would be no reason to look at paintings of the ocean once you’ve seen the real thing, even though seascapes vary in styles — think of those by Turner, Homer and Hokusai. If I had to pin a style to the Oriza L. Legrand soliflores Violettes du Czar and Heliotrope Blanc, I’d call them Victorian.

Oriza L. Legrand is a relatively new niche brand with an old history. According to the perfume house’s website, the house was founded in France in 1720 and originally famed for its creams and powders based on rice. Over the years, the brand grew, winning awards and furnishing products for royalty. During World War II, Oriza L. Legrand closed. In 2012, the house was bought and launched again with the mission of reviving the old fragrances…

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