Omnia by Bulgari

Omnia was recommended to me as a sort of "everyday oriental" warm and spicy, but close wearing and well behaved. I can tell now that it is indeed a very mellow milk-tea oriental, lightly spiced on an incredibly quiet ambery-woody-vanilla background. On paper it is fresh-smelling and incredibly dimensional; a spicy tea floral set to a creamy woods and amber background with all the components musically set.

On my body, the scent of bitter orange rind blooms and crushes all other components beneath it's acid weight. Three hours later, valiant sandalwood and white chocolate have successfully crawled from under it's girth, but the orange accord had already been publicly declared unpleasant by family. It's as if Omnia reproduces my natural skin scent so closely that the only difference IS orange oil.

Another amazing perfume I'm not sure I can wear.

Coco by Chanel

Disillusioned with Mademoiselle - which was very specifically targeted towards my age group - I requested a sample of the original.

Good god, this thing is beautiful.

This was back when I wanted to make Shalimar my signature - the smoky citrus-vanilla wore on me like second skin, sexy like a cozy cable knit sweater “accidentally” showing off the lace of my bra.

Coco is aggressively sexy. She's a big, bosomy, come-hither spicy floral with solid musculature and good bones. Smoky, resinous and rich, I imagine a dark-haired ingénue towering over me in a power suit and heels. Her eyes are kholed and cold. Red-lacquered lips form words through a cloud of cigarette smoke; “You are not worthy.” I cower and slide coco back on the shelf. Such voluptuous magnificence was never meant for uncertain waiflike figures.

Yet I covet this thing I can never be. When I am brave enough to wear it, my nose is glued to my arm, lost in a fantasies of impossible romantic escapades. I am powerful, aggressive, beautiful, transfixing. Desire me. Fear me. I am Coco.

Coco Mademoiselle Eau de Parfum by Chanel

Coco Mlle was the first perfume that really fascinated me. Enraptured as I was by marketing and brand, I was very eager to test what was certain to be perfect.

Coco Mlle is a sweet citrus powder, slightly shrill, but with a good, strong note of bitter mandarin peel that slowly dries down to a powder base. Vetiver bestows an herbal edge and gives the sweet fruitiness a “natural” angle. There's a disinfected patchouli earthiness in there, more like garden supply store planting material than actual dirt. It's a very pleasant fresh-yet-sumptuous scent.

Coco Mlle was a huge trendsetter. Every young woman today knows someone who wears it, or a clone. It's doubtful the “modern chypre” trend would have emerged as it had without it. It has unfortunate aspirational connotations, esp. the EDT version, which is easily affordable to most office ladies who wear only one or two fragrances. It kills some of the youthful “luxeness” of the scent.

Ultimately, I found CCM disappointing. It just wasn't me. I reluctantly moved on to her big-hair eighties godmother and was brought to my knees. In a good way.

Shalimar Parfum Initial by Guerlain

I love the original Shalimar, so I thought I would try Initial.

Honest verdict: It smells a bit like Tresor.

In regards to the old Shalimar, the "underside of his mistress" aspect of Guerlain fragrances has has been removed and been replaced with a peachy frutiyness. Thick, powdery iris stands in for oriental resins. The vanilla/citrus aspect remains the same and Wasser has thankfully refrained from cleaning up the bitterness of the citrus or reputed impurity of the vanilla grade. The result is a fragrance that is much more complicated and effortlessly sophisticated than the vast majority of fragrances aimed at my contemporaries.

Long wearing, smoky and syrupy sweet in equal measure, slightly bitter with massive silage. Great.

But the old dame is still better.

Cabotine Rose by Grès

I have often seen Cabotine Rose held up as an unsung rose fragrance of reasonable price and excellent quality, when I saw an abandoned bottle in a discount store - I tested.

It's an industrial-strength, pink-pepper, citrus aerosol that dries down to floral soap and stays what way for hours. It definitely smells more like a mimosa, a "cherry blossom," not very "rosy" at all.

Not to my taste, but a great value if it's to yours.

Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf

Dear Flowerbomb,

I have tried, truly tried, but I do not understand you.

In spite of your listed notes, you are no floral. You are Boston fruit slices in a bottle, assorted penny candies liquified, a poor rose swimming in simple syrup.

Descended you are from Angel, Lolita Lempicka, Euphoria, Coco Mademoiselle and Juicy Couture JC, yet they manage to be interesting while you twirl your hair and drool. How is it you are so astonishingly popular? I am shocked by it. I wonder if today's girls simply find no discernible difference between flies and men.

Poor Flowerbomb, a classic of perfumery you are not. You are to Coco Mademoiselle as Giorgio was to Poison. As your simple charms lose their appeal, your formula will cheapened, reduced to a 40 dollar EDT in Wallgreens for our daughters to buy discounted for their "naughties" theme parties, where the teenage girls of 2030 will dress like hipsters, dance to "Sexyback" and say "I can't believe Mom used to wear this!"

Play Intense for Her by Givenchy

I've kept samples of "Play" and Play Intense for Her in my jewelry box for months. They were freebees when I bought moisturizer at Sephora. "This one" said the SA, dangling the plastic packet of Intense over the bag, "is my favorite. It smells soooo goooooood!" I try not to grimace as I smile and nod.

It's funny how the designers will list all of these exotic sounding florals and woods in their new releases, when in reality they are hawking liquid penny candy. Intense smells for a brilliant split second of blueberry and then devolves into a cloying sweet amber possessing the disturbingly addictive and slightly wrong dichotomy of powdery and chewy sweetness found questionable culinary anomalies like circus peanuts. It smells like the caramelized bottom of a macaroons, like reams of button candies and is purple like the non-latex medical gloves used in dental offices.

Most specifically, this smells of a kind of chalky, candy cigarette I consumed as a child. I used to hold them between my index and middle fingers like a real cigarette, wear an inappropriately haughty expression for an eight year old and slowly gnaw on the end of it, pretending to smoke and imagining myself as a very rich and classy older lady.

A perfect metaphor.

Beyond Paradise by Estée Lauder

Disclaimer: This review is of an in-store tester.

Turin Loves this and he and I are typically on the same page, I am one of the few who agrees he's spot on with Tommy Girl and understands exactly what he means when he says Insolence "brilliant" in spite of my hating it. At the very least, his recommendations tend to have a certain je ne sais quoi to them worth shoving your face into.

I tested this fragrance in Ulta - a store which very intelligently displays it's fragrances before a massive set of west-facing windows. I expect the bottle was "off" I just don't know by how much. This Beyond Paradise smelled of aerosol room freshener and sinus headache. In two words, it was "boring" and "ow." I expected something more radiant - a kaleidoscopic Tom Ford Black Orchid, which smells strongly of tropical fruit to me. As it is, BP smells of Frangipani soap.

Great if you hate fragrance and Febreeze is you best friend.

Covet by Sarah Jessica Parker

There is a seaside candy shop two towns south of me where you can buy individual lavender chocolates for 25 cents each. I usually buy five dollars worth and hoard them for a few weeks. I spend up to half an hour nibbling each button- sized piece.

Covet is nothing like my precious floral confections. It starts out as a bag of smirking lemonheads but something in the mix of florals, musks and fruits in the heart and drydown just smells like an improvisational powdered drink cocktail - An unappetizing concoction where the last packet of lime kool-aid is stretched with the inclusion of 3 varieties of crusty two-year-old instant iced tea, a bit of chocolate powder (oops) and too much water.

A scrubber.

Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune by Guerlain

I truly love this grapefruit. Where most citruses have a candied feel to them, AAPamplelune accurately renders the very specific smell of the fresh white rind, with just enough musky sweet undertone to keep it interesting.

Opium by Yves Saint Laurent

A spectacular incense of monstrous proportions, it is the scent of midnight mass in a massive gothic cathedral, creating images of a priestly procession, chanting in Latin, where an incognito woman of the night crouches in the knave, lighting candles before an icon of the virgin. Opiums' sensuality is brilliant in that it relies entirely on the protestant imagination's ability to re-envision the unholy corruption of the old church. It may be inspired by the rare spices and resins of the orient, but Opium is is a European as a perfume can get.

I sprayed Opium last night and 12 hours later it's still humming along on my wrist. In small doses, Opium is not incompatible with dining, clubbing or romance. Used excessively it will ward off flies, humans and evil spirits.

Gucci Guilty by Gucci

Gucci Guilty Recipe: Take two ounces Dolce and Gabanna the One. Subtract Loud lychee and vanilla extract accord. Replace with canned mandarin slices and a light, patchouli floral base.

Guilty? Try innocent. (Unless you mean of being overpriced.)

Stella by Stella McCartney

Stella is triple-milled rose soap of the highest quality in a spray bottle. As such, it's hard to fault anyone for liking it, for who truly dislikes a clean smelling person? As a fragrance - or even a rose fragrance - it's weak. Stella is close-wearing and subtle, but like a mezzo-soprano whose notes are always slightly sharp, there is something shrill and timid about it. There is an ever-so-slight amber warmth in Stella, but as the other basenotes are musks of the detergent variety, it's addition serves only to differentiate it from generic dryer sheets. Stella is not particularly sophisticated, but she's trying really hard!

Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker

I want to like this fragrance. I really, really do. Unfortunately, this is one scent where it's appeal to Mr. Turin will forever go over my head, as I simply can't smell it. I get white flowers and then nothing. Light, airy, instant vanishment.

Tommy Hilfiger Dreaming by Tommy Hilfiger

Should be called "Tommy Hilfiger Metallic Peaches." I smell no legible florals, simply strange, syrupy quicksilver peaches dripping off the crook of my arm. I like it, but not enough to purchase it. Peach is a lovely scent that blends nicely with human skin. Silage is low and longevity is average to good. Would make an excellent gift for a young girl.

Anaïs Anaïs by Cacharel

A white, spicy carnation that is perhaps a tad too spare, sour and powdery to pass with today's girls, despite it's pleasant, soapy realism. I have a scent memory connecting Anais Anais to my pediatricians office when I was barely four years old. It bears the same scrubbed and sterile aesthetic, without being unpleasant.

Nina (new) by Nina Ricci

A gourmand fruity floral that smells good? What is this nonsense? Nina Ricci Nina 2006 I guess. It's mainly this lovely apple blossom and burnt caramel scent accented by light candied citruses and a super-clean musk. Turns out, I smell this everywhere. It's not too sweet or cloying or musky - it seems to agree with everyone - and yet it has a definitive character as a fragrance, a feat in itself in this bloated fragrance category. It's optimistic and sweet and without being stupid.

Not something I would wear, but it is something I would recommend. Perfect for teenage girls and anyone trying to feel like one.

Moschino Glamour by Moschino

I found moschino glamour to be a very creamy and smooth fragrance featuring a very noticeable topnote of tangy tangerine.

The entire composition is sweet, but not as overtly sweet as many popular fruity florals, such as the Juicy Couture line. It has a well-balanced sweetness certain to please a crowd and is fortunately priced at half that of a higher-end designer fragrance for the same quality.

Glamour is very mainstream and "safe" smelling, nearly nondescript. It has almost no silage or longevity. The unlisted vanilla, cedar and amber combination is very weak. Three hours after spraying a very large amount on my wrist, the scent is almost gone - just a faint lingering of creamy salty sweetness - while the cheaper perfume I sprayed earlier that morning keeps radiating dusty rose. As such, Glamour isn't really for a night on the town - it's an appropriate office fragrance or perfect for a weekend "jeans and T-shirt" day, a college girl with one fragrance on her chest of drawers, perfect for a high schooler to stash in her locker. Essentially, Glamour smells as many young women today want to: Sweet with a hint of ambery sultriness, but mainly unintimidating and agreeable.

I may be young, but I am not that girl.

Extra points for the adorable bottle.

Rose The One by Dolce & Gabbana

Comparing “Rose the One” side by side with its predecessor “The One,” it's obvious that this flanker chucked all of the syrupy original's notes except for the vanilla/amber base and signature lychee topnote.

The original is a seriously sweet candied fragrance aimed at the wallets and hearts of 20 year olds who grew up wearing cotton candy bodysplash. “The One” is a more luxurious version of the fruity-floral-gourmand concept, smelling of a honeyed fruit tart served piping hot in an Indian temple, the air thick with Nag Champa.

“Rose the One” has left the orient, but remains in the kitchen. Floating above the vanilla/amber base is a rose/peony/lily bouquet accented by an herbaceous smell reminiscent of thyme and sweet basil. “Rose the One” possesses understated elegance in spite of it's squeaky clean soapyness. It is demure and pretty – a modern “clean” floral with just a hint of warmth.

Do I like it? Yes. Would I wear it? No. Why? Longevity and silage are crap - especially for the price.

Cabaret by Grès

Gres fragrances have this habit of coming on too strong. The often bad topnotes come screaming into the room like extra-concentrated air freshner. The fruit in famous Cabotine is a case in point; the drydown is all pretty green springtime freshness but getting there can be an ordeal. In this case, the knockout opener is an evil, acid and spicy peony I've come to call “eau de sneeze,” since this is what I do every time I spay.

(EDIT: This reaction has faded; Now the opening is all rose-pepper and sneezing is no longer a problem.)

Fortunately the smell changes within five minutes and Cabaret becomes a soft, but dry, rose potpourri, becoming more woody and dark as the perfume matures and the florals fade. The base is a lovely, creamy floral musk grounded in a fine patchouli incense that has an air of familiarity about it.

Cabaret is close-wearing and persistent, lasting for several hours after application. It is also affordable. A three-ounce bottle can often be purchased for under twenty dollars.

Hypnotic Poison Eau de Toilette by Christian Dior

Hypnotic Poison is supposed to smell like a plumy, coconut-tinted, vanillic, almond-pasty amber oriental, but the end result is a perfume that smells precisely of root beer. Any perfumer could set out to make a sassafrassy root beer scent: take a cheap vanilla base, sugar it up and create a boozy aldeheydic topnote to simulate carbonation and call it a day – but Dior skipped that and created an unintentionally genius root beer smell that captures the mysterious and nuanced quality of the soda syrup, without all the sugar. After cruising thought the soda fountain, Hypnotic Poison enters a grand and polished cherry wood library, the smoky almond and soft vanilla humming contentedly in a leather chair.Fabulous.

Shalimar Eau de Parfum by Guerlain

(Modern EDP)The first few minutes of Shalimar is a blast of bergamot-citrusy freshness. It is an oddly “scrubbed and showered” opening for an oriental – unexpected and honestly delightful. Later, as the perfume blooms, the smoky, dirty floral cloud takes over. The transition has a clumsy moment when the civet breaks through, smelling for a brief moment of that man who neglected to wash his hands after using the toilet, but the rosy-jasmine florals take the reins for the heart of the fragrance. Shalimar's smoky, vanillic florals have a lightness that is absent in many modern interpretations of the genre, which use boozier vanillas and sugar their fruits. An understated vanilla is the core of Shalimar and has only just enough presence to lend the fragrance a warm glow. It smells cozy, lived-in and comfortable. Perfect on someone who feels the same way.

Black by Bulgari

While Black is renowned for its rubber/leather accord, at its core this perfume is essentially a traditional oriental, clouded in the same powdery mist as Shalimar. The offbeat “burnt rubber” accord weaves in and out of a vanilla extract base, all wrapped in a powdery haze of cedar, jasmine and fleeting hint of citrus. A dark and romantic scent, Black is lightly sweet, sleek and modern.

Cabotine by Grès

Cabotine opens as a sweet fruity/floral where the berries are tart and the florals are incredibly dry and soapy - almost fresh-cut - but comparisons to fabric softener and air freshener are unfortunately apt. The fragrance is wrapped in a headache-inducing chemical haze.After only twenty minutes of wear Cabotine begins to dry down. The end scent is a dry, woody and floral powder with green sharpness. The question is, is the pretty drydown - a "paupers' chypre" scent - worth the headache? The dry-down lasts and lasts so sometimes, yes.Sill, I have to give this a neutral. If it gave me a headache, it probably did worse to others.

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