Pretty Woman by Barbara Orbison ~ fragrance review

Barbara Orbison Pretty Woman

Wait! Don’t click away! Had I not smelled Pretty Woman by Barbara Orbison, I, too, would have been tempted to scroll past this review. There are enough celebrity fragrances on the market to carpet Mars, and, as far as I’m concerned, another planet is exactly where most of them belong. A fragrance named after the dead wife of a dead rock legend (Roy Orbison) doesn’t inspire cheers of delight.

And then I smelled Pretty Woman. It’s not fashionable or pandering, but neither is it overly clever or challenging. Instead, it’s a warm, heady 1930s-style perfume with rich sillage and a long simmer on skin. Pretty Woman is kind of a lame name for it, really. It smells more like Sultry Broad…

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Parfums Raffy

The Perfume that Gets Used First

Chanel Cuir de Russie, Eau de Rochas, Ananas Fizz and Miss Dior

This month marks nine years — !! — that I’ve been reviewing fragrance for Now Smell This. At, say, 50 reviews a year, that’s a whopping 400 fragrances I’ve written about. After all those perfumes and reviews, I thought it was time to talk about the fragrances that have stuck around in my perfume cabinet, those whose decants I drain and bottles I turn to again and again.

Chanel Cuir de Russie: At least three times a week, I wear Cuir de Russie. I started with a 10 ml decant, and when it was finished I thought I’d be fine relying on one of my many other leather scents. Not. Cuir de Russie stands alone…

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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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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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